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Archive for June, 2006


TTNM Conference, Day One

Posted by Leith in News

The conference that I attended (in case I hadn’t linked to it already), was called Thinking Through New Media. There were people there from all kinds of disciplines, from English to Romance Studies to Mathematics and so on. The first day had the introductions from everyone about the organisations that put it on in the morning. This was kind of interesting, actually, and all of the people speaking were very engaging. We then broke for lunch before starting on the student presentations.

The first ones I listened to were on geodemographic segmentation, archaeology, digital poetry and basket weaving. The Geodemographic segmentation was basically making mashups of demographic and geographic information and then exploring it physically with the data displayed somehow on a viewfinder or something. Kind of interesting application of new media, particularly when you view if from a marketing or insurance point of view. The archaeology one was about how new media and technology has impacted their techniques and processes, particularly comparing on a site where they had previously had “old media” research and digging going on. The digital poetry one was quite interesting, as the poem changed every time you viewed it, and used various bits of technology to incorporate an evolving structure based on who visits it. The basket weaving one interested me less, although it was more to do with patterns and digital archiving. Not really my thing.

It was during the previous session that I had realised I wouldn’t be able to see everything, because they had split things up in to different rooms. This was a little distressing, as I knew from looking at the schedule a bit more closely there would be things I wanted to see that clashed with each other. However, this stress was later alleviated by Cristin (one of the organisers that I had been corresponding with) telling me that the whole lot would be available for download at a later date.

The next session was an odd one. It started off with a study of a particular website called Beautiful Agony, then something on virtual environments, then I switched rooms for something on mathematics visualization before heading back to the other room for some interface design and a study on the effects of teleportation in videogame environments. The study of Beautiful Agony was certainly a peculiar one. The site itself is one where you watch videos of people masturbating, but only with the view of their face. The guy made some really weird (but kind of interesting) conclusions about the site and how it presented New Media, but it was certainly something off-the-wall that I wasn’t expecting. The virtual environments one was fairly unremarkable, as was the racecar one. The mathematics one was pretty interesting in that it was exploring ways of enhancing textbooks by providing visualizations of the mathematical problems. Fairly practical as well in that they provided an add-on for the LaTeX file of the book (which it would undoubtedly be written in) to then create these little animated versions of the book. Good stuff. The teleportation one was kind of interesting as well, as it was a study of what travel means to a user, how much time is spent on it and what the effect of having teleportation means. Even being aware that there is teleportation later in the game has a direct effect, which I found pretty interesting.

After another short break we had the last session of the day, in which I just stayed in one room to listen about artificial females, women in podcasting, ‘otherness’ in synthetic worlds and race in New Media. The artifical females one was a study of the representation of artificial females (i.e. robot women) and people who have fetishes to do with them (primarily to do with those that frequent the alt.sex.fetish.robots newsgroup). A really interesting presentation actually, and certainly not something I was expecting to see. Females in podcasting was fairly uninteresting, mostly just looking at what women talk about online and wanting to know where are the sections devoted to ‘women’s issues’ in podcasting sites. The otherness in synthetic worlds one was quite interesting as it was a study of how cultural groups and stigmas form in virtual environments – given that the virtual environment is something that interests me, I found this one a bit more interesting than the one prior. The other one I don’t really remember all that well, but it was a moderately interesting take on things.

After that I stayed behind a bit to help with the clean up since I wasn’t staying in the same hotel with all the other attendees, then I got a lift out to the restaurant where we were all having dinner, called Mt. Fuji. The atmosphere was really cool, I got to know some of the attendees a bit better and the food was pretty damn good. There was a lot of food as well. They just kept on bringing it out. We eventually packed the stuff up and it was going to end up at a shelter or something, which was all good – the organisers certainly took note that they got too much food! Anyway, dinner was fabulous. ^^

Jen came and picked me up from dinner (with Josh, her new boyfriend and Amanda, her cousin whom I’ve met several times before). It was good to see Jen again after six months in Seattle and Amanda after again, a couple of years I think. We headed back to Al and Susan’s place and I worked a little (but not a lot) on my assignment that I got an extension on and talked a bit with the family. Then to bed, dead tired as it was a loooong day.

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Off I fly to North Carolina

Posted by Leith in News,Travel

Well, before I left my apartment there was that last little bit of packing and handing in my keys to the desk. Then it was bussing with my large bags out to the airport. First it’s a bus to downtown, then another one out to the airport. The one from downtown to the airport had lots of people with large bags, so I didn’t feel so bad! After that was the flying… I don’t really remember all that much about the flights, but I don’t think they were too bad. Certainly nothing scarring and nothing remarkable. Lisa (Jen’s mum) came and picked me up from the airport, it was wonderful to see her again. I hadn’t seen her for… yikes, probably a couple of years, I guess. Anyway, we chatted and stuff and went back to Al and Susan’s, where I had bagels and a mini-tour of the house, since I hadn’t been there before. Anyway, at that point it was rather late, so we went to bed.

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The end of the quarter

Posted by Leith in News,Work

Ok, so while I’m gonna date this so that it coincides with the end of the quarter, I’m actually writing this in a lot later. Anyone who bothers to check this and read it (and doesn’t decide to slit their wrists with how depressing it is) will know I haven’t updated it in months, so the next few entries are going to be clumped together. The stupid thing about it is, of course, that I wrote little notes about what I did during the day for ages, I just didn’t bother putting it into actual entries on here. Ah well, here goes.

The end the quarter was a very stressful time for me, as I had a lot of work to do. I spent a lot of time in my office working on assignments, not sleeping very well or very much and generally being stressed about not being able to get things to work. I had a couple of presentations that I did in there as well, which went pretty well for one and ok for the other.

I went out with Christian, my German office mate, on his last day here for food and drinks. I also met up with Jenny and had ‘coffee’ with her before I left which was good. I had dinner with Greg and a young relative of his (nephew, I think), I also managed to lock myself out of my apartment (right before I’m about to leave, go figure). Luckily this happens all the time and I just went and got the spare keys from the Terry desk. Somewhere in there I saw the Da Vinci Code and X-men 3 when I was trying to un-fry my brain. At some point I also re-watched Romeo Must Die, which is a movie I really like. When I was packing things up, Greg let me store a bunch of stuff in his attic (like my bedding and so on) and I also shipped some stuff back to Anastasia so I wouldn’t have to carry everything, although I did end up carrying a lot anyway.

Seattle had a whole bunch of rain during this time, and I mean it rained more than usual. Rain here is usually not that bad, but it started to come down a fair bit during these last few weeks I was here. Not as bad as down in Florida, but still pretty bad for Seattle. Also, when I was working with Nate on our presentation/assignment late at night at some point, I can’t remember who said it, but someone said: “Ah procrastination, the mother of tangential creativity.” I can’t even remember what the context was now, but I thought it was funny and wrote it down.

After all that I was still very stressed about a project that I spent a lot of time on and couldn’t get to work. The professor gave me an extension after I had demonstrated what I had done and told my TA about the absurd amount of work I was doing (apparently academic insanity can be a mitigating factor). Anyway, I still had to leave, as I was headed to North Carolina for a conference and then down to Florida for the summer. Unfortunately due to how my exchange works, I can’t be enrolled over the summer. I had explained that to Brian, my adviser, briefly in person before I left and then a bit more in detail in email, although he was busy travelling off to some places as well, so I didn’t really hear back from him.

Still stressed out but all packed up, I bussed over to the airport, lots of bags and all. I was off to North Carolina for my conference, Amanda’s graduation (that’s Jen’s cousin, for your information) and to see everyone again.

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