Archive for category maren stuff

BIL Hits the Big Time

I’m pretty thrilled that BIL has made it mainstream by getting face time in the Wall Street Journal – in fact, I think the article even ran on the front page a few days ago! I guess the notion of counter-culture or, rather, counter-elitism makes good news these days given the rash of political uprisings against dictatorships recently.

It’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to make BIL this year as it is next week in Long Beach (5th-6th) and chances are I’ll be in a delivery room pushing out my own art/science project. I am, however planning on attending the first Quantified Self Conference, May 28-29, 2011 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. I’ve been supporting Gary Wolf and the team to get things going and will probably be working registration on one of the days…who knows, maybe I’ll even present something on the Archive again.

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A Maker’s Approach to Health

I’m noticing a bit more of a shift toward self-reliance in what is known as the “maker movement” and highlighted by events like the Maker Faire in San Mateo each year. This observation might be more of a symptom of living in the Bay Area, but I’d like to think that the increasing popularity of steampunk is also fueling the fire of a do-it-yourself culture.

I’ve always had a propensity to want to make things, partly because of my creative background and inclination but also because the process and tangible end product are so much more rewarding than just throwing down a couple bucks. I have mountains of crafts projects stashed away but an equal number in everyday use or pulled out for special occasions like this past weekend’s Steampunk Exhibition in Emeryville where I decked out in regalia that I had partially made, modded and refurbed myself.

So, why couldn’t we take a similar approach to our own health? Where we spend time carefully crafting the food we eat, or the containers we carry our lunches in (steampunk lunchbox anyone?) In our increasingly virtual world, creating tangible things is hugely gratifying, and making things that make you happy AND healthy are the most valuable way to spend your most precious commodity – time.

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My Dream 3D User Interface

One of the slides from my presentation.

Frankly, I’ve pretty much reached the point of exhaustion with tracking my life through the Archive. It’s been over a decade of meticulously shooting, collecting, prepping, organizing and assembling as many data channels as possible into a single “scrapbook on crack” stream. At 19 volumes, this project that has fed most of my OCD tendencies, needs to take on a new form so that I can get on with my life.

I didn’t fully realize what I needed in an interface to execute this phase change until I was intensely interviewed (for 3 hours) last November by a team from Jump Associates. Apparently I met the requirements for an “extreme user” of notebook documentation and thus made the perfect subject to probe for ideas. The session turned into therapy for me as I dolled out all my “in a perfect world” scenarios for documenting my life.

The key take-away for me was that this new interface MUST be tangible. If I can’t move stuff around with my hands, feel textures, physically arrange images/ideas/data in a space, then it just ain’t gonna work for me.

The problem is that the technology just hasn’t fully arrived yet. But there is some cool stuff out there for content access (a la Minority Report, but called the g-speak spatial operating environment) and for content entry/interaction (who hasn’t seen Pattie Maes & Pranav Mistry’s TED talk from last year?).

The questions is, how do you combine these technologies (instant tangible data entry with instant tangible data access)? I want to gather information, sort it, rank it, edit it and then store it in the appropriate category all within a few simple moves. In fact, maybe I could turn it into an interpretive dance…

I’m going to speak about this during the Quantified Self Meet-Up next Wednesday the MedHelp offices at 927 Market Street.

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A “tech” poem that always seems to touch me….

Machines of Loving Grace

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My Brother…What Can I Say?


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I Made a Protocell!

Well, in a virtual sort of way. I was at Scott Snibbe’s studio in San Francisco yesterday where he showed me his team’s latest interactive creation: Looking for life.

Scott getting zappedOur protocell!This piece is a visual representation of primordial goo that invites you to interact by first self-assembling a lipid bilayer around you and then zapping some lightning to get the generative process rolling. By touching a neighbor you can join membranes and form a protocell that floats up the wall. It’s addictive and possibly coming to a museum near you.


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March 11, 1996.

Maren x-rayI don’t really remember the details of that day, or week for that matter, but I do want to say that if it hadn’t been for the support of my friends and family I don’t think I’d be around today. I just want to say thank you to everyone who was there for me, it’s been 13 years but still, thank you.

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Impressions of Dubai

Betty and Maren in DubaiI recently took a field trip to Dubai because my buddy Beth Carey in NYC is an amazing Information Architect who was hired on contract to help build the website for one of the largest development companies in Dubai…and she was kind enough to invite me to come hang out with her over Christmas.

I was only there for a few days but came away with the distinct impression that Dubai is the equivalent of Miami Beach, just with a few more Abayas. The SUVs, American fast food joints and rampant malls didn’t really give me the sense that I was on the other side of the planet.

It wasn’t until Betty and I jumped into the car and drove to neighboring emirate Sharjah that we experienced a more authentic sense of Mid-Eastern culture. What impressed me the most was the incredible calligraphy heritage that was documented in their Islamic Art museum.

Modern Islamic calligraphyIslamic calligraphy is one of the most revered art forms in Islamic culture because it was the primary means to preserve the Qur’an. What I found fascinating is that there is a vibrant movement of modern interpretation of calligraphic styles which involve mixed-media and a growing number of female artists.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a local professionally trained graphic artist write my name in calligraphy based on the phonetic pronunciation:

"maren" calligraphy

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Out and about in Emeryville: Annual Amoeba Art Show

Last night I enjoyed the festivities at the 3rd Annual Amoeba Art Show in Emeryville. It really pays to get to these things early as there was a ton of food, booze and space to check out all the installations… by 9 the line was around the block and the libations were decimated.

I want to point out two pieces that grabbed my attention:

  1. Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott’s The Ghost in the Machine piece asked viewers to form a visualization of what they thought the ghost in the machine looked like. Their exhibit comprised two ceiling-high chat windows of commentary from SecondLifers flanking a corkboard to pin your drawings.  A collection of smiley faces and abstract sketches were posted during the course of the evening as people struggled with the challenge – to ease the pain a philosopher was seated by the exhibit to facilitate conversation.Untitled 6
  2. Camille Utterback was running Untitled 6 from her External Measures Series. This interactive piece tracked the movements of viewers and generated graphical elements through a software application that Camille wrote. Watching people intact with the piece was as fascinating as getting sucked into the projected movements themselves.

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