Saturday, July 30, 2005

revoking your right to pass

SF Photo Flash Mob 041
Originally uploaded by Avant Game.

Today I met up with 20 other photographers at One Bush Street, the site of much blogger controversy this week, for a small photomobbing adventure. We were there to exercise our rights to photograph interesting buildings from public spaces -- for example, from the sidewalk or the street.

As we non-confrontationally took photos of each other and the local architecture, we were asked many times to leave certain areas of seemingly "public plazas." Tiny little plaques in the ground confirmed that our right to pass could be revoked by the private landowner of the so-called public space.

We each carried a print-out of "Your Rights and Remedies When Stopped or Confronted for Photography", an excellent guide prepared by a civil rights attorney. We had some... challenging conversations with security guards along the way about this document.

CBS News saw fit to cover our photomobbing, and I met some very cool folks. Better still, I discovered a few new interesting corners and crevices in an area of San Francisco I've always loved most for supergaming. My favorite: a tiny abandoned back ally, with rights to pass fully revokable, with an old-school security camera, and seemingly nothing to surveil and no space to be revoked out of.

UPDATE: My Flickr set from the One Bush Street photo-mob was Boing Boing'd! Now, more than 20,000 people have viewed my photostream. Thanks, Cory, for the shout-out! Also, yay: 6 of my One Bush Street photos made the top 100 most interesting photos on Flickr for August 30. I'm a big fan of Flickr's new "interestingness" metric. Always fun to coin new words to describe emergent social network hive mind massively parallel interest!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"Jane -- KEEP AWAY!"

Originally uploaded by Avant Game.
When I arrived at Sandia National Laboratories Wednesday morning, the day after an eventful cookie rolling session at Albuquerque International Airport, I discovered a special message waiting for me at the continental breakfast station.

Several members of the Advanced Concepts Group (where I've been participating in a really intense and productive workshop on the public's role in security practices, and the relationship between face-to-face community and security) had set me up!

The note on the plate of scones, oh so round and with perfect rolling affordance, read; "Jane-- Keep Away. These are for EATING only." Taped above the plate, a printout of a color photo they had grabbed of me installing my cookies at the airport.

I swear, this is the closest I've ever come to fraternity hazing. Love it.

roll bizcochitos roll!

Originally uploaded by Avant Game.
I cookie rolled somewhere I never thought I would get away with it: an international airport.

At Albuquerque Sunport, I installed the word "up." Directly, and helpfully I thought, in front of the up elevators. On your way to ticketing and check-in, please help yourself to a bizcochito, the official state cookie (yes, really) of New Mexico.

More stories and links later tonight from Oakland.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

imagine Sisyphus happy

In the immortal words of Helium... For you! The first 10 words. And the new home of the cookie rolling project.

Speaking of which: this week, I'll be rolling cookies in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Philadelphia, PA; and Moorestown, New Jersey.

Mo'town, as we called it in high school, is my childhood hometown, and much to my twin sister's horror ("GAG ME!!!" was how she put it in her email, I believe), it was recently named The Best Place to Live in America. Well, some people might like the, um, "tree-lined oasis, dotted with gingerbread homes and million-dollar mansions," but urban it ain't. No regrets about the first 17 years, but these days... I'll take Manhattan. Or Berkeley.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

My cellphone trebuchet

My cellphone trebuchet
Originally uploaded by Avant Game.

Today I experienced the experience of catapulting my cell phone down the historic mint alley in SOMA. It was part of a pervasive play experience designed by the prankish Austrian art collective monochrom. I was thrilled to hear they were going to be conducting local mischief here in San Francisco. I have loved monochrom ever since they invented massively multiplayer thumb wrestling. I am probably the most hard-core MMTW gamer in the world, since I frequently require students and audiences to play it. Yes, no doubt soon my Node Runner world championship status will be superceded by my MMTW global domination.

Alas, my phone did not survive the trip, which consisted of a rather dramatic arc 30 feet in the air and a fatal crash landing 60 feet down the pavement. The damage inflicted: a smashed LCD screen with leaking crystal, a detached battery, a broken hinge, and exposed innards.

If I don't return your calls for a few days, you know why.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I am wearing a secret message.

I am wearing a secret message.
Originally uploaded by Avant Game.
You are reading the secret message.

Is it for you?

Speculate now.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

ice cold playtest

Met at Cesar's for ice tea and playtesting today. The waitress seemed annoyed that we were too busy playing our first flash mockup to order food. Just couldn't take our attention away from Greg's laptop long enough to explain what we were up to. We probably seemed like a bunch of Cal techies not suitably socialized for midday bar outings. Maybe Cesar needs a tool to wake up Wi-Fi zombies like us. (Sean, you reading this?)

What I couldn't tell the waitress at Cesar's, I can tell you. We're bringing together four members from the design teams for Organum and Demonstrate to collaborate on a new Alpha Lab project... a kind of social software gaming system for, shall we say, an unexpected population. (No, it's nothing like Dogster.) We're calling the system Generation.

No more public statements for now, but feel free to ping me if you'd like to help playtest. Long distance playtesting is a-ok. All you need is access to a phone of any kind.

Today's playtest generated the following poem as one of its outcomes:

Woman, skipped, skipped, rip things up!
Guinea pig, I repeat myself. Tomatoes.
Pinatas, make oatmeal, to do list.

Your interpretation invited.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

salty burning numb (yum!)

I went hiking in Claremont Canyon yesterday to clear my head. Three hours, six miles, and 1000 ft elevation change later, I was sweaty, sunburnt and still fixated on the bug and its countdown. While up there, didn't pay enough attention to the trail... scratched my palms slipping on loose gravel, more than once. Now it hurts to type. (July 20 2004)
I went hiking in Claremont Canyon yesterday. It was just me and Kiyash. He was on the Claremont hike last year, too, but I didn't mention him back then because damsels in distress need to be single. I didn't scratch up my palms this time, because we did the loop backwards. We've done that trail maybe a dozen times since we moved to Berkeley in Summer 2001, and every time we've gone up one way and down the other. This time, we reversed it. Amazing what a difference that made. Both the ascent and descent were markedly more difficult, but felt exactly right. The ascent should be up the narrow, scrambly hillside path, the path I scratched my hands up on last year. And the descent should be down the shaded woodsy widecut swath. Sort of like we were hiking in reverse all these years, but of course those hikes were good, too, and memorable--two New Year's Day hikes, for instance.

Today we went to stomp around the salt ponds by the Dumbarton Bridge. That bridge is a lovely firmament which until today I had experienced only peripherally, furiously powerpointing across it in the passenger seat on my way to the PARC forum last spring. Getting to know the Dumbarton Bridge a little better, we did a mash-up of the Tidelands Trail and the Newark Slough Loop Trail. Salt flies everywhere. Chaotic flocking behavior of bird overhead. Funny... last night we watched the Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter. Mick Jagger kept imploring the violent Altamont crowd to "get it together, can't we all just get it together?" The birds overhead for awhile really seemed like they were just not going to get it together. Not going to do that emergent self-organizing bottom-up woo-ha everybody writes about these days. Watching Gimme Shelter was research, although I didn't know it when we started the DVD. (At first, it was just an attempt to clear out a Netflix that has been lingering around the apartment while we plowed our way through all five discs of Season 3 of Six Feet Under.) But those of us who ask people to assemble in large groups in public for festive and playful occasions have a responsibility to understand why it occasionally goes wrong. Also, I'm interested these days in how non-festive crowds might get it together. Spontaneous community in public spaces. Working on it. More. Soon.

We also experienced the salty burning numbness of a barely sweet Cucumber Chile popsicle today.