16 August 2007

Catching up

I haven't blogged in a long, long time. Lots happened since May.
Let's see if I can remember it all.

I went to Maker Faire in San Mateo.
I went to Banff for the WWW conference.
Then I went to Kyrgyzstan for some consulting.
Then I went to FOO camp in Sebastopol.
I wrapped up my stint at Microsoft Research.
Then I went to Beijing.
Then I went to Defcon in Vegas.

I think back in April I went to San Jose for CHI. I feel like there was another Bay Area trip in there somewhere, but I can't remember.

Pictures of most of this on flickr.

Soon I start the commute to Cambridge for a fellowship at Harvard's Berkman Center.

I'm still getting the hang of sabbatical.

My current aspiration is to spend a sunny afternoon in a park reading a paperback novel. It's good to have goals.

17 May 2007

New discourse communities

Last weekend was ToorCon Seattle, a beta version of the full ToorCon down in San Diego. It was also my second attempt to learn some vocabulary in a new field. At Shmoocon I had Bre to explore with, and he was back in Seattle for this event. It's very good to have another non-native speaker traveling along in order to help navigate.

Headed down to Maker Faire this weekend, where I will get to see David and Sarah (yay!) and San (yay again!).

In other news, I'm diving into python and the wonderful world of SMS. Here is one of the coolest scaffolds out there -- an SMS toolkit for folks who want to build an SMS service. Developed at Microsoft Research India; it's pretty amazing. But check the license before you use it to launch your next startup!

14 May 2007

Sabbatical hair

Hair that says I'm on time off." Such was my hairdresser's assessment.

11 May 2007


More MoSoSo
I'm in Like with You

I'm so not the target demo, I lied about my age. For the first time since I was a kid parading around with a fake id to get into clubs.

I still want to see creative MoSoSo not centered around the hookup.

I'm in Banff at the moment, at the W3C Conference, where I gave a paper on my research group's work on mobile social software for the developing world. The paper is on our website, but mainly we want to think about scaffolding tasks of everyday life with MoSoSo -- not just in the developing world. Not that drinking and flirting aren't awesome daily tasks. But there's a bit more to the everyday.

Isn't there?

06 May 2007

rehearsal vs. performance

learning vs. teaching

work vs. play

rehearsal vs. performance

23 April 2007

Mo MoSoSo

An amazing compendium of social networking sites, including MoSoSo.

Btw, the 18 months story is migrating. If you want to read it, let me know and I'll tell you where to find it.

09 March 2007

Where the time goes

For the past few months my life has experienced a bit of rerouting, straight down Aurora Ave and to a little place called the Public N3rd Area.

Last weekend, we had a test launch for a high altitude weather balloon carrying excessive amounts of electronics.

Bre's podcast:


or just look for tags ahab and balloonsinspace on flickr

Our wiki is at balloon.pbwiki.com

video from the payload, pointing down during launch (fast forward through first few minutes before it reaches the air)

We were foiled by bad weather, but we rallied with the test. Next launch is planned for April 7/8.

I'm having more fun than I can remember having for a long time. And I'm learning more than I did in any pursuit of a degree.

When I walked out of class yesterday, I talked to a friend. And I said this:
I'm done teaching for 18 months.
I'm going to spend the next 18 months learning.

I hope PNA is where much of that will happen.

Magic begins

Today is my last day at work for a while. As I mentioned in the last post.

It feels nothing short of magic, to be where I am right now.

Where I was last night, though, was out with some friends, and carrying around a magic wand that seems somewhat emblematic of what I'm feeling.

The wand might very well be the best score ever from helping a friend move. Wednesday night I am helping Bre pack up for his move to NYC. Odds and ends mercilessly tossed to the street corner as giveaways. But then he finds a magic wand. And offers it to me. At first, I consider giving it to a friend's daughter. Then, I decide I need a little magic in my life. So it's with me for the time being. I took it to class yesterday. I had it in my purse when I met a friend for dinner, and then went to meet some folks later that evening at another bar. And before I could say anything about it, at each site someone would ask almost immediately, "is that a magic wand in your bag?" The magic must indeed be palpable, even from a distance.

So I am taking great pleasure in going up to people and asking them if they have a wish (they can keep it secret if they want), and waving my magic wand. Granting wishes seems like a fine way to share the delight of my new adventure. I feel like the luckiest girl on earth, a little startled at how I came to be staring at this amazing gift of 18 months. Eighteen months. Imagine. *Everything* can change in 18 months. I expect everything will.

Stay tuned. And watch.

Avalanche of the quarter

The term got the better of me, as it often does. Time to catch up. Several posts at once...

But the HCI class was, well...amazing. We started out with a bunch of flickr assignments that had the students out taking photos of:
tech used as part of everyday routines
things being used in the manner for which they were not designed
ubicomp about which they had some curiosity

If you want to see some of their sets, check out the contacts for flickr user tc319 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/friends/)

The students did an amazing job with a syllabus that really asked them to do some unusual things. One of the assignments was a fieldtrip of their choosing. Left totally open-ended, their task was to go out into the world and learn something about how people use info/comm technology, and then to come back and tell us what they learned. Fieldtrips included visits to the new Seattle Sculpture Park, the Weird Science Fair, the Telephone Museum (aka, Museum of Telecommunications), 911 Media Arts Center, and other cool places and events in town.

They did lots of presentations -- on class readings, readings they found on their own, their design projects. And we had some amazing guest speakers, including 3ric and Pablos from the Shmoo Group, Christina Drummond who is Seattle director of the ACLU program on Technology and Freedom, and Emma Rose from AnthroTech. I took one group over to Microsoft Research one day because their project had some overlaps with Aura, and some students came down to the Public N3rd Area on various weekends. It was a pretty amazing quarter. And I even got a round of applause on the last day.
There's an abbreviated version of the syllabus at courses.washington.edu/tc319/syllabus.html if you want to see any details. The readings actually worked *really* well.

It was a great class. Really great. A terrific way to start the next 18 months.

Yes, 18 months of sabbatical is what starts after today.
Well, 3 months at Microsoft Research. Then 15 months of sabbatical. But, 18 months away from my everyday routine.

I have, um, literally been hopping with excitement. It makes people laugh-- to see me standing there, talking or listening, and then suddenly give a little hop in the air. Their laughter, however, doesn't hold a candle to the absolute, sheer exhilaration I feel.

11 January 2007

Children of Men

I just saw Children of Men.


I'm not sure whether I should go home and slit my wrists or go home and procreate.

Upcoming: Memphis

Off to Memphis tomorrow for the National Conference for Media Reform where I'll be working with the folks from Games for Change to help introduce media reform and advocacy organizations to how they can use games to advance their agenda and reach their respective audiences.

Seattle being so very far away from everything else and it taking an entire day to get there, (I couldn't miss work today, and I am way too old to take a two-flight red-eye), I'll only actually be able to make it there for a day. But it should be a fascinating day, and I'm excited to see where the conversations will lead.

As for the lengthy travel time, all I can say is thank god for upgrades.

02 January 2007

HCI readings

Still working on the syllabus.
Finding the right amount (and kind) of readings.
Vannavar Bush.
Emma forwarded a rec from a list for a 1955 book, Henry Dreyfuss and his _Designing for People_ which sounds pretty interesting.

I've got a passel of readings from CHI proceedings. And excerpts from the usual suspects.

Still needed: a couple good pieces on RFID.