This is a way to document the progress of my Master's thesis. It's partly a way to force myself to do work every day, partly a way to participate in https://pwr.now.sh/, and partly a way to use tools developed by the are.na community, like the platform this website is built upon (https://there.am).
I will be posting images, thoughts, short texts, sometimes incomprehensible or cryptic bullet points, but hopefully in the end I will have a working prototype of my thesis proposal.
Roughly, the idea is that I will design, fabricate and deploy in the world a number of objects that will capture, play and share in a p2p way audio messages. My motivation is to explore how a small decentralized network, supported by these physical nodes, performs in a real world scenario (in this case, the MIT campus), how the audience interacts with it and whether the nature of information collected by these objects differs from what could be carried by a conventional website. I am curious about the interaction design component, whether users would care about the fact that this is a non-centralized repository of information, and whether they are ready to sacrifice some of their "user comfort" in order to prioritize locality and data ownership. This is an experiment aiming to probe the question of whether, and how, we can bring the Internet back to a smaller scale in a meaningful way. Hence the title, which is "Internet as an object". The PDF with the submitted abstract is below.
Selections of sketches I have made so far are below. I am trying to open up possibilities to different designs and modes of interaction, knowing that the fabrication and the microcontroller needs will force me to narrow down.
In terms of prototyping I will be using foam (and a hot wire cutter) and cardboard (lasercut). I will aim to have a dumb prototype for each design (just the form, and different "states" of interaction, not wired to the microcontroller) so that I can get some quick feedback.
Lasercutting: Using Corel sucks, I spent a couple of hours this morning trying to clean up the Rhino exports (a lot of ghost elements). I am definitely messing up the units and have to fix everything to account for the cardboard thickness (I believe its a C-flute). The control box came out looking OK, will take a photo soon. I am waiting for a friend's Raspi with a microphone, a soundcard and outs for the small speaker, so I should be able to wire the control box up on Monday.
Foam: I didn't have time to check out the handheld hot wire cutter, will do so on Monday. I found foam tho ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Exploring the possibility of having one pair of headphones always attached to the object, as well as having more than one audio jacks active (unplugging from one and replugging into the other could trigger a state change)