New York Times and Bob Stein

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The first visit of the fantastic New York Trip was the New York Times. The interior hallway had an incredible piece on display. It was the first sign that this trip was going to be incredibly memorable.  The piece consisted of multiple small displays that would display live feeds of the New York Times website. In the department itself, we discussed the R and D at the New York Times, and their approach to analytics and relationship with readers. Everything they use is stream based, allowing for live feedback. This allows for excellent feedback which is integral to running a news oriented service. They have many other feedback sources told through beautiful looking data visualizers. These help identify what he called “postures” in the readers, allowing them to discover and analyze trends. The goal is to deepen the relationship with the readers as opposed to increasing web traffic. “They aren’t chasing after clicks”

For me, this was by far one of the most influential visits for me. I never realized that the R and D department for something as big as the New York Times would be so open and friendly. The work ethic was incredibly powerful to me. Their focus on transparency and being honest to their readers and subjects was such a relief amidst all the speculation of piracy scandals. It was also a very collaborative environment. Everyone was always bouncing ideas off of one another. One of the incredible things however was how they aren’t pressured by the higher ups to create something that will increase revenue or readership. They are given breathing space which sounds like an incredible change from most corporations.

  1. Is the workspace a collaborative environment where you share ideas and make decisions together?
  2. What are the development times from prototyping to actually using something in the workspace?
  3. How do you feel about the scandals popping up about privacy and transparency?

 

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(The game that I mention. It is one of the most powerful games I’ve ever played)

On the same day we visited the ITP department within one of the New York University buildings. We listened to a lecture by the amazing Bob Stein on the nature of publishing and fiction. Bob Stein believes that modern publishing is clueless to certain trends in the modern world. He showed that the trends are moving past static and non-interactive mediums for more interactive and collaborative mediums. Publishing companies are still stuck in past of non-interactivity and static-ness when everything is pointing in the opposite direction. In particular, he strongly believed that gaming is going to become the dominant form of fiction and literacy in the future. He cited games like World of Warcraft as an example of collaborative fiction, as each player works together to create their own worlds and stories. He also noted that games are introducing new forms and techniques of storytelling.

                This was another very interesting discussion that is actually quite relevant to family. I read from time to time but I am by no means a heavy reader. However, my father adores literature and is pretty much always on a novel or three. We don’t really see eye to eye on gaming as a source of well written narrative. Games such as the Last of Us has taught me that games can be an incredibly tool for storytelling. I agree with Bob Stein on many of the points he made. I also found his metaphor of the mountain to be quite profound. It has me looking into the past now to see if what he says is true.1

  • My dad believes that games are not a powerful form of narrative. What do you think is a good way to convince him otherwise
  • What are some games that you feel really push the boundaries of storytelling?
  • Where would you recommend starting in terms of looking at the past?

 

 

((I have no idea why its formatting my posts to squish the photos like this??????)))

HackLab.TO

Questions

1)Are there any tools that you personally or your members are eager to get for the space?

2)How do you go about deciding what kinds of public workshop or events to hold?

3)Do you find members collaborating in ways you didn’t initially imagine when starting HackLab?


 

Visit

Arriving at HackLab’s new location we were introduced to Eric Boyd. Eric spoke to us about HackLabs start as a smaller co-working space with mostly programmers and hackers to a now larger space with fabrication equipment, traditional tools and a diverse range of members. The main area had 3D printers, computers, and a bunch of custom made gadgets that augment the space. He then showed us another room with some more traditional tools and a laser cutter. We then moved on to see the shared kitchen and the lounge area. Finally we visited the back room that is used for teaching workshops and classes, sewing, traditional photography development, bio-hacking and more.

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Eric Boyd of HackLab.TO

Reflection

This was my second time visiting HackLab. The first time I visited HackLab was in their much smaller Kensington location. This time the growth of their business was very evident not only space wise but member wise. I recognized familiar faces but also recognized a collection of new members with more diverse interests. It was nice to see how this kind of maker space is sustaining itself and evidently flourishing. I was interested in the way the space continues to meet the needs of so many different kinds of makers, and what it took to maintain a space like that. Eric was very candid in answering questions about how much it cost to run the business and his vision of the future of the space. After visiting so many different collaborative and co-working spaces both in Toronto and New York has really inspired me to think more about the power of these kinds of spaces.

Links

http://hacklab.to/

https://nowtoronto.com/news/preview-the-toronto-mini-maker-fair/

http://www.betakit.com/the-biggest-canadian-startup-stories-of-2014/

 

Parsons

Questions

1)What ideal in particular from the punk rock ethos do you think is underrepresented in games at the the moment?

2)Are there any contemporary examples of games that you think embody this balance between socially conscious and entertaining game design?

3)How do you imagine the “mainstream” of games culture changing as independent distribution continues to rise?


Visit

During our visit to Parson’s New School of Design we visited the Design & Technology Program and PET Lab. There we met with Associate Professor of Games & Learning John Sharp and Associate Professor of Media Design Colleen Macklin. First we were introduced to the work PET Lab does at Parsons in conjunction with Games For Change. We then played a quick round of The Metagame designed by John and Colleen. After a round John Sharp gave a talk on Punk Rock and the Indie Development scene. The talk highlighted the similarities between the punk rock ethos and how its ideals can help innovate games, the same way indie games are. After John’s talk we quickly jumped into a rapid game building session. Each team was given a challenge associated with the punk rock ethos to incorporate in our games. After we were done we demoed our games we continued the conversation concerning indie game design and innovation.

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Making punk inspired games at Parsons New School with Colleen Macklin and John Sharp

Reflection

I was extremely excited to get the opportunity to visit Parsons. Parsons was the first school in the United States to offer education in design. It was exciting to visit the school knowing its history and the many talented people who had studied there. I was also pleased to see that Parsons was embracing games in a unique way. The way John and Colleen spoke about the importance of indie games that are coming out of disenfranchised individuals or those with a unique point of view was inspiring. I think it was an important point to make and understand; that there is a way to make games that can be entertaining and socially conscious. It was a point that really inspired me to think about what my voice means in games.

Links

http://amt.parsons.edu/blog/spacewar-punk-rock-the-indie-dev-scene-and-john-sharp/

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2093152267/the-metagame-discuss

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3038418/asides/how-to-design-a-game-with-a-social-message-thats-also-fun

Museum of Modern Art

Visit

During our evening in NYC a small group of our classmates made it out to the Museum of Modern Art. Upon arriving we excitedly downloaded the MoMA App to first and foremost locate Kate Hartman’s Botanicalls within the permanent collection (seriously, how cool is that?). We made our way up to the third floor and toured the architecture and design gallery collection. The floor was filled with a diverse collection of industrial design, tech, and art objects. Any piece with a label that explains the process of a piece always is always most exciting to me. The first piece I found that spoke to me was a table called the “Cinderella Table”. The table was made from a digital image of two different tables morphed together. The piece was laser cut into thin vertical slices that were then adhered manually to create the three dimensional table (so cool).

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Cinderella Table, Demakersvan, 2004. Museum of Modern Art.

Shortly after we found Kate’s piece in a wall mounted display, hilariously right next to the Little Bits prototype. It was surreal to see Botanicalls on display. I wanted to stand next to it and brag that my professor has a piece in the MoMA. Sadly I did not.

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Botanicalls looking snazzy in the Architecture and Design Gallery at the Museum of Modern Art

After that we power-toured the remaining gallery spaces. I really enjoyed the Applied Design exhibit displaying pieces of video game history. It was really inspiring to see these games I have grown up with and love so dearly being recognized the way that they are. Before we knew it the final announcements were being made and it was time to leave.

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Pac-Man at The Museum of Modern Art

Reflection

Having the Museum of Modern Art be the last visit I made just before leaving New York City was probably the best way I could have possibly left the city. Although a few hours is not nearly enough time (realistically I would have needed days the way I like to tour a museum) it left me time to slow down, think, reflect and really be appreciative of everything we got to do and see. Seeing Botanicalls and Little Bits displayed was so exciting and reassuring to know how our society values and perceives the innovations being made in creative and technological spaces. The Applied Design exhibit was a really emotional experience that reminded me of why I love games so much. Touring that exhibit and seeing people playing, smiling and interacting with each piece really reaffirmed my decision to pursue games as a future. And before I descend into a puddle of overwhelmed, excited, and nostalgic tears I will say one more thing; I think the Museum of Modern Art is an incredibly important visit. Not only to appreciate the old masters of art and design but to see the new innovators that are paving the way for people like us to do what we love. This is all so cheesy but I promise it is sincere.

Links

http://www.demakersvan.com/

http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2011/talktome/objects/146358/

http://www.wired.com/2013/05/moma-video-games/

MAGNET – NYU Game Center

Questions

1)What are the qualities you look for in potential candidates for the NYU Games Center graduate studies programs?

2)Do you find that the co-working spaces available to students part of MAGNET has inspired more collaborative projects to be produced?

3)What do you imagine are the underlying benefits of virtual reality games?


 

Visit

Upon arriving at the NYU Game Center we met with the Director of the NYU Game Center Frank Lantz. Frank introduced himself and then gave us a tour of the spaces that students have access to as a part of the MAGNET programs. We first saw the large entrance used as a co-working space for students in a multitude of different programs. Next, we saw the Open Game Library where students had access to a library of over 2,000 digital and traditional games. Frank then showed us some of the other facilities like the lab with open access to laser cutters, traditional tools, and multiple desktop 3D printers.

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NYU Games Center & Open Library

After Frank Lantz finished showing us around we met with Ken Perlin, acclaimed professor of Computer Science. Ken showed us the virtual reality studio where students had access to multiple Samsung Gear VR headsets and full motion capture technology. There Ken and some Game Center students demoed a Unity Game built using the Samsung Gear VR headsets simulating a recreation of the studio itself. Ken and his students were looking to explore what can be achieved within VR that could not be done traditionally in games. Our students got to demo the tech, and ask Ken about his experience with the current and next generation of VR experiences.

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Kate Hartman, Ken Perlin & Daniel Jones testing Samsung Gear VR at the NYU Game Center

Reflection

The NYU Game Center truly seems like a dream school to learn about game design and game culture. The facilities were incredible, encouraging students to interact with one another and collaborate, and giving them access to a large variety of tools and resources to improve their understanding and creation of games. I really loved their philosophy of understanding games as a creative practice and cultural form. I think this visit got me thinking most about the power of collaborative work spaces, and in what ways Digital Futures could adopt some of these approaches as the program evolves and establishes itself over the years. This visit was truly inspiring.

Links

http://gamecenter.nyu.edu/

http://gamecenter.nyu.edu/faculty/frank-lantz/

http://technical.ly/brooklyn/2015/03/13/why-gaming-matters-to-brooklyn-tech-triangle-u/

The Office For Creative Research

Questions

1)Being an multidisciplinary research group, how does your company go about finding the projects that it does?

2)How do you balance the practical economics of running a business with working with clientele that share your interests?

3)You have a background in both the sciences and art, how do you think being multidisciplinary has helped you in the workplace over a single expertise?


Visit

After navigating Manhattan’s Chinatown district we arrived at a small, precarious door that led up to The Office For Creative Research. There we were introduced to fellow Canadian Jer Thorp. After shuffling into the cozy office space Jer first demoed Specimen Box for us. Specimen Box is a data visualization project developed for the Digital Crimes Unit at Microsoft to analyze and investigate Botnet activity. Jer showed the diverse functionality of the project, and the ways in which in encompassed both science and art to produce an interface that was both intuitive to use and understand and incredibly complex in the data that can be extracted from it. After showing us Specimen Box, Jer continued to discuss what other kinds of projects the team is involved in.

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Interface for “Specimen Box”

Reflection

I was completely blown away by the work being produced by The Office For Creative Research. One of the aspects of this visit that stuck with me was the integrity of the business. Throughout the visit Jer explained the companies desire to use their knowledge in technology and science to develop things in creative and interesting ways. In that way, their clientele varied greatly. This was very far from a traditional design firm that works to make ends meet but rather a space that prides itself upon creating work that is thoughtful, impactful and curious. It was nice to see a business that’s last priority is making exorbitant amounts of money but instead exploring creative research methods. I think it was extremely important to visit this office to really understand that there are really diverse business models within the creative and technological economies.

Links

http://o-c-r.org/

http://o-c-r.org/2014/11/15/specimen_box/

http://www.coolhunting.com/tech/the-office-for-creative-research

Shapeways

Questions

1)Are there any possibilities for food-safe materials to be 3D printed and offered by Shapeways?

2)In what ways does Shapeways highlight its community members’ work?

3)Do you envision Shapeways building more facilities worldwide as the company continues to grow, or expanding the two existing spaces to accommodate for that growth?


Visit

When we arrived at Shapeways’s location in Queens we were introduced to community and outreach manager Eleanor Whitney. Eleanor gave us a tour, first showing us the office space where a team of designers were working on prepping user submitted files for printing. Eleanor gave us an overview of the tools the team uses and the process from user submission request to final shippable product. We then toured the factory first seeing the industrial grade nylon and plastic 3D printers. Eleanor discussed the ways in which desktop 3D printers differ from the industrial grade printers found at Shapeways. We then moved on to a larger room with more 3D printers and got to see the machines working up close. After that Eleanor directed us to the next room where finished batches were taken apart, cleaned off, and organized for either shipping or dying. Finally we returned to the office space and lounge area to further discuss how the company has evolved over the years as well as Eleanor’s own responsibilities as community and outreach manager.

 

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Samples of 3D printed materials from Shapeways

 

Reflection

What I found personally interesting about Shapeways was their growth and evolution as a business. As Eleanor Whitney explained the company started in the Netherlands. Very recently the company expanded by acquiring its factory space in New York by attracting investors looking to create manufacturing and tech jobs locally. In that way it was interesting to learn about a startup that was able to expand internationally yet still keep a small ecosystem of under 60 employees. It was encouraging to hear that a creative/tech company could gain the kind of attention Shapeways did to help invest in the growth of their company.

Links

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/shapeways-raises-30-million-to-bring-3-d-printing-mainstream/?_r=0

http://www.fastcompany.com/3002303/shapewayss-new-3-d-printing-factory-brings-manufacturing-jobs-tech-scene

Girls Learning Code – Roman’s perspective.

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Instead of going to the field trip to New York, several people, me included, stayed in Toronto and volunteered at the Girls Learning Code camp. This is a special independent organization that helps children and adults to get familiar with various technological concepts, such as programming and web design. This particular camp was all about helping girls, from eight to thirteen years old, learn basics of web design in form of learning HTML and CSS.

Girls Learning Code

For me the camp started on Sunday before the first day, when I was going to the briefing and tutorial for volunteering mentors. I arrived about one and a half our earlier due to early departure because of unfamiliarity with the area and absence of traffic on Gardiner which is the scourge of my existence during rush hours. Therefore I was able to help with the setup of the camp which took about an hour.  There I met the camp coordinator Laura Plant, camp lead Kathryn Barrett and Lindsay Fry also one of the leaders. Then I and other three mentors, received rules and regulations forms explaining everything on how not to accidently sexually harass anyone, as well as some directions on actions during stressful situations. Particular point that attracted my attention was “Mentors are prohibited from… <other points> eliminating snacks.” I was quite curious what meaning did elimination mean in this context, total annihilation by eating or willful extermination using flamethrower – I did not know, but hesitated to ask Laura. Then Laura answered some general questions and we departed, anticipating the following first day.

On the first day I arrived half an hour early, at 8:00 AM to be there on time and meet everyone first. To do so I had to wake up at 5:00AM and take one of the earliest trains. On the spot I met few other mentors who were five to seven years older than me and long time working at different companies. Then the rest of the mentors arrived, the 80% of mentors who were FreshBooks employees and conveniently volunteered for half day while also being near work place. By 9:00AM first girls started arriving with their parents and one of the exceptionally extraverted mentors, whose name was Tyn, took them for a tour of the study area. After everyone was there Kathryn explained to girls the purpose of mentors such as myself, and a bit on corporate ethics – the trend was called “Warm Fuzzies” a bag where people could donate notes with positive feedback about the owner of the bag. As well as discussed several other formalities, such as general directions of the camp and learning outcomes. Then was the time to learn. I was assigned to a group called JavaScript, which I was proud of because some of the others were Python and Basic. The team started with generating the idea for the website. Due to my lack of educational knowledge I tried to not interfere with the process and only help with general directions, such as writing points out while brainstorming and voting for the best idea. Even though the cancer cell of “Endangered animals” was present in our group, all girls voted for the original idea of free WiFi. I call the topic above the cancer cell because 5 out of 8 groups were doing that topic, which does not mean it was bad, but rather rapidly growing in the closed society. As soon as the topic was selected, which took half day we went to have lunch. After lunch girls designed the logo for the team in Pixlr, looked at some basic ways to modify a website and studied some general structure of web pages. I was quite exhausted so I left as soon as my shift ended at 4:30PM.

The next day I volunteered was also the last one. Friday, was the presentation day, when girls showed their websites they made throughout the week to their parents and it seemed, the entire personnel of FreshBooks. I was very curious as to how my team managed throughout the week and what is the final version of what they planned looked like. This day Chris was also there so it was better and more cheerful than Monday. When I finally got to my group I discovered that they still were halfway through the task from last day. They inquired as to where have I been during the week, which surprised me, because I didn’t think they would remember me. So we had to rush through the Thursday assignment of making video using Mozilla Popcorn – web based video editor and to make things worse, also implementing it into the Mozilla Thimble – web development app. Since girls were relatively new to the software even with my help they were not doing that fast. Thankfully Kathryn came to rescue and helped the team. After lunch was final polishing round then girls went through the website practicing the presentation. And then the presentations happened… and it was over. Not much to say about presentations since parents were the target audience. Then everybody grabbed their Fuzzy Bags and left, while me and Chris stayed a little longer to help with the takedown of the camp. We helped to pack everything up and deliver it to the van, which took it to the mysterious place called – “The Lab”. Then me and Chris parted ways on the crossroads in front of FreshBooks building, I went north while he went south. Thus our bizarre adventure has ended.

Reflection: The experience received from this activity was probably incomparable to the New York one yet it was valuable. Girls were especially bright and picked up everything right away. As Kathryn wisely noticed – she learned all that in university, while kids can already get a hand of such advanced technology at such a young age. But personally the most important experience for me was to see the insides of a company such as FreshBooks which does financial advising for startup businesses and some promo-advertising. While mentoring on the first day I had a chat with a guy called Jeremy who is doing promotional video for FreshBooks and it was quite interesting to see how people use familiar to me technology to achieve such distant goals. Therefore as the conclusion every experience in life is valuable, yet some are more valuable than others and this one was definitely one of the important ones.

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