Monday, November 28, 2011

Tinkering Studio, a Single Point of Huge Inspiration

Mike and Karen (and their whole team of course) at the Tinkering Studio are a constant source of tinkspiration.

Here are my favorite quotes from a new article about the studio:
- "What's so great about the Tinkering Studio is that you are having a conversation with the materials"
- "Here, the philosophy is that whatever you come up with on your own is truly valuable, and the important thing is to take charge of your path."
- "thinking with their hands"
- "I love my job every day. I'm a cog for artistic direction. The people who work here are really good at what they do. They take their work seriously, but not themselves."
- "I try to shy away from things where I already know the end result"

The Full Article

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beautiful Drawdio Remix

By Fernando a.k.a. "resistor"

Including headphone out jack and 3d CAD of circuit design.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

UC Santa Cruz Radio Interview

I met Nada at TEDx Santa Cruz. She runs a radio show about art and games, two separate segments. She asked if I could talk about both, and I thought sure why not. The radio station, like most of the campus, is nestled in the redwoods in some foothills overlooking the pacific ocean -- pretty much an unbelievable campus situation, complete with wild deer that aren't too skiddish. Her and her cohost interviewed me for an hour, and they were very sweet. I recommend the 2nd half as I heard from listeners that was the most interesting half.
KZSC 88.1 Interview

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Jodi Made Us Matching Pants/Hat

One sweater, two new garments. Cashmere. Jodi has a song she made up called "If You Have a Husband." The basic format is, "If You Have a Husband Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm, [insert something nice you do for him here] Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm" where the "Hmmm's" are punctuated at the beginning by a kissing sound. For example: "If you have a husband, give him lots of kisses, take him to the movies, buy him cashmere hats." The "Buy him cashmere hats" became a staple line of the song because I loved the cashmere hat Jodi had bought for me at Boomerangs (used clothes store) a couple years back. But we couldn't find it anywhere recently. So she got an old cashmere sweater and made me a new hat which I love (the color!). Then she took what was left and made an adjustable size pair of baby pants for Oak.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Google Science Fair Video Featuring Lifelong Kindergarten

Google Science fair is in full swing. Google visited my lab to make a video advocating science fairs featuring my advisor, two of my labmates, and myself. Here it is:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

RADical Design for LEARNING

For the past 10 years my collaborators and I have been getting dangerously stoked about radical education philosophers. Finally we, The Beginner's Mind Collective, are holding a formal MIT class, for credit (and grades), on the topic of "Radical Design for Learning." The premise is that we're at the end of a the dark ages of learning. There's a trend toward being disgusted with traditional/industrial schooling models, and now is the perfect time to experiment with redesigning learning experiences as we know them. The great news is people already are, and there are many learning saints to look up to who came before us: Ivan Illich, Maria Montessori, John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Grace Llewellyn, Larry Harvey, Rudolf Steiner etc. They've collectively created Not Back to School Camp, Waldorf Schools, Burning Man, and much more.

The first assignment in the class is to design your own grading system. We take all the illegitimate "power" we have over the students and hand it directly to them to do with as they wish (want to assign yourself an A arbitrarily? Great! Want your friend to assign you a letter grade based on how much you grow? Okay! Now let's move on with the real learning). From there we meet with the direct students of our learning saints for discussion.

We open class by singing a song about revolution, "Go Back to the Mountain Turn the World Around." Then we have a minute of silence. Our first activity was to share our best and worst learning experiences with each other, and then try to distill insight from each of our experiences to start to create a list of guidelines we call the Folk Wisdom of Learning Experiences.

Since it's also an Action Laboratory, we undergo various learning experiences ourselves: Awareness Exercises with local artist Jeff Lieberman (host of Discovery's Time Warp show), Sufi Dances, Technology Workshops with the original creators of Scratch, Design Blocks, and Mod Kit for Arduino, etc.

Finally, each person designs a learning experience of their own, for themselves or for others. One option is like an art class where you paint a picture in the style of a famous artist, so you might create a manipulable in the style of Montessori and leave it on a playground to see what people do with it. Another option is to take your own direction: throw a party for 36 hours with platforms hanging from your loft ceiling -- the catch? No one can touch the ground for 36 hours. (Is that a learning experience? What are people learning?) Design a tour of the city that highlights the wealth-poverty disparity and offer it along side the traditional tours. Make a seed bombing handbook, and try it out with people. Anything goes! As long as you try something out that you are personally stoked about and as long as it's experimental enough that it might fail, and try it more than once (iteration!).

Here is the webpage for the course:
We do all of our discussions on this Facebook Group, so feel free to join the group and discuss the media (readings, videos, etc.) even if you're not enrolled in the course. If there's enough popular demand we will try to get an online component going.
And for goodness sake watch the 3 minute Movie Trailer.

Our first class was on Tuesday, and we were excited by the diversity of people in attendance (and overwhelmed by 34 people, more than 3 times the number we can handle). One student was formerly part of Il Sistema, one from MIT Business School with a background in Peace Corps, MIT lecturers, undergrads, grads, dropouts, everything! The first class was also attended by the leader of MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten, founders of Sprout Community Center, and a Not Back to School Camp long-time senior counselor.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A New Standard

Provoked by yesterday's lunch meeting with LLK, Barry Fishman, and Marlene Scardamalia, I had a dream about a new set of standards. I know there's a huge literature about standards, and I don't know what it says, but I think that if we're going to have serious and meaningfully testable standards we've got to move out of the dark ages of the silly testing of tiny byproducts of real learning. Hundreds of years ago the U.S. constitution (among others), whether you love it or not, was written in a style that the most modern of any widely enacted public education standards in our country could quiver standing next to, with it's reflexivity, self-modifiability, and forward thinking of balancing power with power and power with rights (for white men everywhere!)

Here's a first attempt at a list of 10 new standards that can reign down on school children everywhere:
1. The ability to recognize whether a test is evaluating far-reaching contextualized skill sets derived from lived experience and involving the ability to accomplish real world goals that represent a broad spectrum of human activity, and the tandem ability to effectively refute and refuse a test that does not meet this rigorous condition.
2. The ability to work with people who have navigated the learning landscape previously to identify personal motivators, unique to each individual, and choose a pathway through the learning landscape that coincides with a high level of personal motivational learning that discards the idea of retention in favor of transformation and journey.
3. The ability to learn new real (note: real means not simulated) systems and languages in unfamiliar real situations, and the ability to revitalize and maintain an old real system in a known real situation over long periods of time, sometimes under conditions necessitating vast collaborations in the context of variously sized organizations.

I left 4 through 10 blank for others to fill in.

Let the teaching to the test begin!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oak Sol Silver has a middle name.

In case you haven't already met Oak, he's a baby boy born at 11:59pm (procrastination style), 9 pounds (american style) at the end of October. Here is some media about him:
Newborn Pix

1-2 Weeks Old
Video - beau and rachel's song

Middle Name
We just decided on his middle name after 2 weeks of watching for signs.

What is Sol?

According to
Sol is a boy's name who's origin is Hebrew and means "Peace", or it's Spanish and means "Sun", and is a form of "Solomon" who was a king known for his wisdom.

According to
The boy's name Sol \sol\ is a variant of Saul (Hebrew) and Solomon (Hebrew), and the meaning of Sol is "prayed for; peace".
Sol is a somewhat common first name for men (#1050 out of 1220) ... (1990 U.S. Census) Displayed below is the baby name popularity trend for the boy name Sol.Sol

According to Jay and Jodi, Sol is "Saul," "Sun," "Soul," "Solomon," and/or "Peace"
  • Saul: Sol is a form of Jay's middle name "Saul" which is also Jay's great grandpa's name who migrated as a stow away on a ship from Latvia around the turn of the century.
  • Sun: Sol is Spanish for sun. Jodi felt like Oak was a sun inside her belly.
  • Peace: As a variant of Shalom, Sol means "Peace"
  • Solomon: Representing wisdom, as in the king
  • Soul: The homophonous meaning of Sol is "Soul" or essence or spirit
You can pronounce it however you want (really!), and we will love it! Jodi and I will usually (for now) pronounce the "o" sound like "oa" as in "boat" or "mole" like the spanish pronunciation. However, I'm sure some of our Jewish relatives will pronounce the "o" sound like "aw" as in "awesome" and thus like the Hebrew pronunciation, and we will do this sometimes too.

Yay, Oak Sol Silver!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Top 10 Toys for The Creative Scientific Thinker

Jay Silver's Christmas Recommendations for the creative scientific thinker for 2010:

(In no particular order, except the order of my thinking)

1) EyeClops or any lens (but Eyeclops is seriously amazing in terms of modern lenses), binoculars, night vision, see through crystals.

2) A cheap but fully functional stethescope or any other listening device (this is just a good but cheap example, not anything special)

3) Airzooka or a Dyson Fan or anything that provides interesting gas flow situations (but these two are especially intriguing)

4) Ultra Bubbles . I once bought these but don't know where you can buy them now. You can build things with them, decorate with them, and play games with them, plus whatever you can do with traditional bubbles.

5) Dominoes (just one of many good examples) or anything that can be used to set up elaborate machinery without any training (think rube goldberg but more readily accessible). This category also includes marble machine supplies (the guy who made these now works at Exploratorium). I just think dominoes provide so many opportunities for thinking about flow, digital systems, directional branching, etc., and all so visceral. Honestly I also think this is the category that Scratch fits into and it's free. Dominoes and marbles can be procured for free or near free often times.

6) Any kind of persistence of vision toy (this one is a DIY kit)

7) Some nice tree climbing gear (good when paired with a magnifying glass or pocket microscope)

8) Anything that transforms sensory experience especially while letting you build inventions. Drawdio is a great example of this, as are other things built by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum (many of which are free like glow doodle and singing fingers)

9) Any Klutz book by Pat Murphy. Right now there are 3: Invasion of the Bristle Bots , Bang Splat Kablooey , and Flying Machines

10) Any real "professional" sound sampler (or a high quality toy one). Sample Toy is the best one for your money, but there are so many out there.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Diary of Lonely Man (Filmed at Sunseed)

This short 3-minute movie was filmed at my Dad's store in Cocoa Beach, FL. It's a non-profit cooperative health food store with a health and wellness center attached.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Come on Pregz Lady Just Bust a Move

So I'm at my wife's midwife's house, and her son is playing Young MC on his pickup truck stereo, and I'm like what that is some good old school shit. So later that day I jump on groove shark and start jamming out some Young MC, and Jodi starts dancing. So I pull out my camera and this is what happened. Shot in 5 minutes. Edited in 45 minutes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Singing Fingers

Singing Fingers Lets You Finger Paint with Sound

Make a sound while moving your finger to record a sound-drawing. Touch the drawing you just made to play the sound back: forward, backward, sideways, or any way. That's it! Singing Fingers Basic Explanation Singing Fingers lets you see music, hear colors, and re-see everyday sounds for the beautiful playground that they are. Singing Fingers lowers the floor to let beginners play with sound as if it was finger paint, and raises the roof by letting advanced DJs break out of the grooves of the records into a world where sounds take any shape you give them. Your own fingers are like the needles that play the sounds back. Just like records and tape recorders were breakthroughs in simplicity and power, Singing Fingers has no complex buttons, menus, or rules. One simple medium, one simple touch of the finger, millions of possibilities.

How it Works
While you drag your finger across the screen, your voice or any other sounds nearby are turned into colors on the musical canvas. The pitch of the sound is translated into a color, while the loudness of the sound determines the size. If you start on a blank white space you are recording. If you start on a colored space you are replaying. Use up to five fingers to play back many sounds at the same time, forwards, backwards or sideways.

Making Instruments, Telling Stories, Performing, Exploring, and Drawing Pictures
Tap the keys of a piano or sing a scale while dragging your finger on the screen, and you'll have just drawn your first playable musical instrument. Tell a story while drawing the story on the screen. Explore a sound in the world, like rain or thunder, visually and see what it sounds like forwards and backwards. Use your voice as the "paint" to draw a picture. Laughter and yelling gives dozens of colors, Scribbling with Singing Fingers while whistling a note can give you a specific color.

Cross-Sensory Creative Thinking
When you holler out and move your finger around on the screen, Singing Fingers turns the sounds into a concrete visual object. By transforming the pitch of the sound to a color and smearing it across the screen, people can learn to "see music" and "hear colors." What is sometimes referred to as "synesthesia" or "cross sensory thinking" becomes an everyday part of playing with sounds. One of the goals of the people behind Singing Fingers is to help people to see the invisible and re-see the everyday world as the beautiful playground that life is.

The Next Evolution of Sound Recording and Remixing
A long time ago, only advanced technicians with handmade machines could record sounds. Exciting advancements like record players and tape recorders meant more people could play and record sounds, while cultural revolutions like scratching records and making summer mix tapes meant more people were mixing and remixing music. Computers have opened up many new ways to play with sounds, but none have been as huge a leap for people's expressiveness as we would hope for: iPods let you play music, complex software lets you mix it together, DJ Record and simple programs let you record sounds, but where is the big leap forward? We see Singing Fingers as a step toward the next big cultural transformation, putting all the power of recording, playing back, and remixing, literally at the tip of the finger for the most improvisational, fluid, sound interface we could come up with. Singing Fingers lowers the floor to let children play with sound as if it was finger paint, and raises the roof by letting advanced DJs break out of the grooves of the records into a world where sounds take any shape you give them and your fingers are like the needles that play the sounds back, with as fine control as your hand will allow. The scratching of records, the recording of tapes, the visualization of the graphics equalizer, and the remixing power of computers, in one little app that takes seconds to learn and years to master.

Interface Simplicity Lightning and Birds
Just like record players and tape recorders were simple and powerful new ways to work with sounds, Singing Fingers simply gives you a blank page. To manipulate sounds you only need your fingers to smear them onto the page and to play them back. No complex buttons, menus, or rules. In fact, to record, play back, and remix sounds there are zero buttons or menus (the buttons are only for file manipulation: saving, loading, and getting a new one). One simple medium, one simple touch of the finger, millions of possibilities.

By Eric Rosenbaum and Jay Silver at MIT Media Lab.

Real Sugar, and the Ants Know It

The Can Reads
PEPSI -- Throwback: Made with Real Sugar, Limited Time Only

So I've been going on and off drinking different sodas over the last several years (just went off, hooray!), and I started to become very aware of the exact ingredients including, for example, the exact milligramage of caffeine, and the type of sugar. For example take a 12 oz can of Coke or Pepsi as a unit of caffeine (aka the most common upper in the world). Then a coffee is 4 units, a black tea is 2 units, a green tea is 1 unit, and mountain dew is 1.5 units. Mug Rootbeer will net you zero units, and Barq's just over a half. Redbull is 2 and a half, and here's some you might be surprised by: mellow yellow is the same as mountain dew, A&W Cream Soda is just less than 1 while sunkist orange is just more than 1 (wtf?). (By the way 1 unit of coffeind is about 35mg of caffeine.)

So what about sugar? Well I started looking to drink sodas without high fructose corn syrup, looking instead for sugar. This concept is maddening. I'm trying to avoid eating unhealthy food by looking for sugar? Cause sugar is more healthy than another ingredient? Holy shit. So I find myself being thankful for "Mexican Coke" in the glass bottle at Mexican restaurants (I love glass, and it uses "real sugar"). And today I see this Pepsi (in the picture) left out in the courtyard at the dorm I take care of. Coke moved on from "real sugar" in 1980, so it's been quite a while. So for a limited time only, you can drink some Pepsi products without the high fructose corn syrup. Then its back to Jones and Izzy's or if you're at a real hippy spot China Cola and Spritzers (ok and let's not forget juice and water).

Well, I'm glad to be off the soda train for now, but I'm baffled by the lack of real food options in my world. Right now, I feel great -- just finished a fine all american dinner of tofu, squash, peas, and cornbread. Here's to eating for feeling good today which is usually aligned with eating for longevity but much more relevant.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Master Cleanser -- Living on Lemons

Note: this is a meta commentary on a text called the Master Cleanse by Stanley Burroughs which explains how to fast on maple syrup and lemons for 10 days or more at a time. I wrote this in response to a friend who is starting next week (I'll be joining him).

ok so here is the original source in all its absolutist glory
i highly recommend buying the book it's extremely affordable. i have bought many copies. i think it's worth reading the whole thing, but i'll go through play by play what i think are the most essential parts pasting all the essential text into this email:

while the whole text is clearly a masterpiece, there are some parts that are more important than others. i'd say if people only wanted to know the bare essentials i'd say it's the recipe that starts at the bottom of page 10
-------------------- start --------------------
2 Tablespoons lemon or limejuice (approx. 1⁄2 lemon) 2 Tablespoons genuine maple syrup (Not maple flavored sugar syrup) 1/10 Teaspoon cayenne pepper (red pepper) or to taste 8 oz water, room temperature Combine the juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper in a 10 oz glass jar w/lid and fill with the water. Shake it up and drink. (Cold water may be used if preferred.) Use fresh (organic) lemons or limes only, never canned lemon or limejuice nor frozen lemonade or frozen juice.
-------------------- end ------------------------

then for people who can handle a little more info and want to start to know what else is needed there is the other stuff you should eat starting at the bottom of page 12 and onto page 13

------------------------- start -----------------------------
As this is a cleansing diet, the more you can assist Nature to eliminate poisons, the better. IF YOUR SYSTEM FEELS UPSET, IT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT HAVING SUFFICIENT ELIMINATION. Avoid this possibility by following the directions completely. Above all, be sure you have two, three, or more movements a day. This may seem unnecessary not eating solid food, but it is Nature’s way of eliminating the waste it has loosened from the various cells and organs in the body.
They must leave the body some way. It would be just the same as sweeping the floor around and around and never removing the dirt from the house if the wastes were not passed out. The better the elimination, the more rapid will be the results.
A LAXATIVE HERB TEA is found to be the best helper for most persons. It is a good practice to take a good laxative herb tea right from the beginning— the last thing at night and first thing in the morning. There are several good laxative teas. They are best taken in a liquid form. Buy them in your health food store.
As it is necessary to bathe the outside of our bodies, so it is with the inside. Do not take enemas or colonics at any time during the cleansing diet or afterwards. They are unnecessary and can be extremely harmful.
There is a much superior method of cleansing the colonic tract without the harmful effects of customary colonics and enemas. This method will cleanse the entire digestive tract while the colonics and enemas will only reach the colon or a small part of it. Colonics can be expensive while our salt-water method is not.
DIRECTIONS: Prepare a full quart of lukewarm water and add two level (rounded for the Canadian quart) teaspoons of sea salt. Do not use ordinary iodized salt, as it will not work properly. Drink the entire quart of salt and water first thing in the morning. This must be taken on an empty stomach. The salt and water will not separate but will stay intact and quickly and thoroughly wash the entire tract in about one hour. Several eliminations will likely occur. The salt water has the same specific gravity as the blood, hence the kidneys cannot pick up the water and the blood cannot pick up the salt. This may be taken as often as needed for proper washing of the entire digestive system.
If the salt water does not work the first time, try adding a little more or a little less salt until the proper balance is found; or possible take extra water with or without salt. This often increases the activity. Remember, it can do no harm at any time. The colon needs a good washing, but do it the natural way— the salt water way.
It is quite advisable to take the herb laxative tea at night to loosen, then the salt water each morning to wash it out. If for some reason the salt water cannot be taken in the morning, then the herb laxative tea must be taken night and morning.
------------------------ end ----------------------------

From there on there is some other important information, in my opinion in the following order
- how to break the fast starting on page 15
--------------------------- start --------------------------
Coming off the lemonade diet properly is highly important— please follow the directions very carefully. After living in a semi-tropical and tropical climate for many years, I find that people have increasingly turned to a raw fruit, nut, and vegetable diet. Following is the schedule for people who normally follow such a natural vegetarian diet:
Several 8 oz. Glasses of fresh orange juice as desired during the day. The orange juice prepares the digestive system to properly digest and assimilate regular food. Drink it slowly. If there has been any digestive difficulty prior to or during the change over, extra water may be taken with the orange juice.
Orange juice in the morning. Raw fruit for lunch. Fruit or raw vegetable salad at night. You are now ready to eat normally.
--------------------------- end ---------------------------

- how much does one drink on page 12
----------------------------- start ---------------------
Take from six to twelve glasses of the lemonade daily during the waking period. As you get hungry just have another glass of lemonade. NO OTHER FOOD SHOULD BE TAKEN DURING THE FULL PERIOD OF THE DIET. As this is a complete balance of minerals and vitamins, one does not suffer the pangs of hunger. Do not use vitamin pills.
All solid food is turned into a liquid state before the blood can carry it to the cells. The lemonade is already a food in liquid form.
For those who are overweight, less maple syrup may be taken. For those underweight, more maple syrup may be taken. For those who are underweight and worried about losing more weight, REMEMBER, the only things you can possible lose are mucus; waste, and disease. Healthy tissue will not be eliminated. Many people who need to gain weight actually do so near the end of the diet period. Never vary the amount of lemon juice per glass. About six glasses of lemonade a day is enough for those wishing to reduce. Extra water may be taken as desired.
------------------------------ end --------------------------

- will it make me feel bad or week on page 15
------------------------- start -------------------------
In the cleansing process, some people experience a tremendous stirring up and may even feel worse for several days. It is not the lemonade that causes the trouble, but what the lemonade stirs up in the system that causes our dizziness and other disturbances. Vomiting may occur under certain conditions; increased pain may be felt in the various joints of the body; dizziness may develop on certain days.
If weakness develops at any time, it is the result of poisons circulating through the blood stream rather than a lack of food or vitamins. This diet gives a person all the vitamins, food, and energy necessary for the full ten days or longer in a liquid form. Rest and take it a little easier if you have to –although most people can go about their regular business without difficulty. Keep right on with the diet; don’t give up or “cheat”by eating a little food or you may destroy the benefits.
Even though the lemon is an acid fruit, it becomes alkaline as it is digested and assimilated. It is, in fact, ourbestaidtowardproperalkalinebalance. Thereisnodangerof“toomuchacid.
Alcoholics, smokers, and other drug addicts will receive untold benefits from this diet. The chemical changes and the cleansing have a way of removing the craving and the many probably deficiencies. Thus the desire for the unnatural types of stimulants and depressants disappears. The usual cravings experienced and suffered in breaking away from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco no longer present themselves during and after this diet.
It is truly a wonderful feeling to be free from slavery to these many habit-forming and devitalizing elements of modern living. Coffee, tea, and various cola drinks, as habit-forming beverages, also lose their appeal through the marvels of the lemonade diet.
--------------------------------------- end --------------------------

Everything else is pretty awesome, but if you read those sections then you will know the fundamentals.

And a few of my own comments on top of it to keep up with the times:

- There's still no cane sugar juice readily available in most of the U.S. as the author says. So it's probably still maple syrup for most of us. One thing that's changed since the book was written is that there's no longer grade "C" maple syrup just two grades of B, the second of which is what used to be called grade C. I prefer organic syrup for my own use, but it's not strictly necessary since pesticides aren't a big factor in the production of maple syrup.
- One of the best herbal laxitive teas I've seen people use for this diet that's been on the market for decades is "smooth move" though anything is fine as long as it's not processed and is plant based. That's what I'll use.
- Notice "organic lemons"
- He doesn't cover water, so he must have not thought it was too important, but I would tend away from any tap water with a large amount of fluoride or especially chlorine in it. But the author never mentions this. I'll be using spring water. (don't use distilled cause it lacks minerals, try filtered if you don't want spring).


On Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 2:58 PM, ryan
Hey man,

Doug I are gearing up for a Master Cleanse starting next
week. Just dropping you a line in case you or anyone else wants to
joint in. Some of the online guides recommended using a laxative tea
once a day or so... have you taken in anything besides the Lemon Juice
in the past?

See you in the Future.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Visual Frequency Identifier (VFID)

I'd like to coin a new phrase today: Visual Frequency Identifier (VFID)

It's when you use the color of an object to identify the object. It eliminates the need to embed any special chip in the object (as needed in RFID). And, it's very easy for people to read the VFID of an object. It doesn't uniquely identify objects, but it does let you use any item you have laying around as a token. So if you have a bag of m&m's, you have a full set of computer readable tokens that can be used as input to a system.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Validation and Ripples

So I was sitting out on the dock of the Charles River in Boston's esplanade (highly recommended) talking with my friend Jeff Lieberman. We were talking about the ripples from the boat that rode by a half mile away on the absolute other side of the river. They came in as small waves under our feet a couple minutes after the boat went by. But what we were talking about was how much these ripples are put out by all of our boats as we sail around our daily lives. We're not used to seeing or looking for these ripples, but they are there, everywhere. So this morning in pops Star Simpson to tell me about how we're going to swing this next Media Lab Tea (mini party thing) by forming the Yummi'ness Foundation and by making food and drinks that will make everyone in the lab feel alive (fresh juice, chai tea, nutritional yeast tofu on toothpicks...). Right so here I am telling you this story, and now you're watching the ripples go through you and maybe even into someone else? To top it off she show me this 16 minute video. "It's like Cafe Gratitude," she says. Well here it is. "Watch the first 2 minutes," she said, and so I say the same to you.

Note: I did not make this video or have any thing to do with it except watching it and passing it on.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Walking Through Walls... & Le Nature's

So today I get two beautiful little emails. The first one was from Brad Simpson about a dream with me in it. The funny thing was that at the same time he was having the dream he wrote me about, I was writing a generals proposal to do more or less what he was dreaming I was doing. Here's his dream email:

you can teach anything!

i had a totally amazing dream that you knew how to walk through walls, and the wall did this crazy ripple effect when you walked through them. and then you succesfully taught me and alec resnick how to do it as well. the trick was to put your fingertips on the wall first, and wait until the wall would "let" you pass in, it would start to sort of give way. thanks for teaching me how to walk through walls.

Meanwhile, I was at Joy Labs writing about how things like walls are more than just walls and if we can learn to see them the right way anything is possible with them. I was writing my goals for the next few years and how to accomplish them. I wrote them as notes to prepare myself to write a proposal for my generals exams. Here's the notes I wrote to myself while he was dreaming (at the same time):

Obtaining Limitless Vision: Learning to see every day life without limiting the possibilities of what we and our friends can become. This allows people to create their own world any way they imagine it and think of themselves as limitless and wonderful beings.

I want to help people learn to see the limitless possibilities of their everyday life. This means thinking without preconceived notions about what something is. These somethings include: your friends, trash, pencils, grandpa, trees, fridge food, rain, cats, t-shirts, play-dough, etc.

In "Last Child in the Woods," Louv says the loose components of nature itself are the world's biggest toolkit. I say Modern Nature has supplanted archetypal notions of nature. Modern Nature is both urban nature and personal nature. Urban nature includes wild and manmade. Personal means your hyperlocal environment is your actual real nature, not some picture of a mountain (unless that's where you live).

I plan to persue this in my PhD thesis by creating rituals, techniques, and tools for re'seeing and re'imagining the possibilities in our everyday lives. I will narrow the contexts to small and practical domains, like Drawdio does by only allowing musical notes as the output, while taking anything in your modern nature environment as the input.

For my generals, I would like to study how people make their view of the world (education/constructivism/constructionism/unschooling) with Mitch, how the everyday world can be transformed into textiles and interactive components can be woven in the fabric of life with Leah, and _______________ with ______________ (currently talking with Edith Ackerman and Nicholaes Roosevelt)

I thought this was a beautiful coincidence and it gave me a lot of confidence that I was on the right track. Around the same time I got a really interesting email about Le Nature's. I asked the author if I could share it and he said yes. I can't believe how much drama there is around this topic and that appreciation and information about what I wrote about Le Nature's continues to role in years later. Here's the letter about Le Nature's:

Hi Jay,

I was doing a search on breaking news about LeNature's and their scumbag management when I ran across your posting on ASS Water (funny as hell and very weird, all at the same time). Just thought you'd enjoy knowing that the former president, Greg Podlucky, and his henchmen are being indicted for their actions while at the helm of that shill of a company to the tune of $806 million.

Why am I interested in Podlucky? His dad took over the Jones Brewing Company in Smithton, PA back in the eighties, where my dad had worked for 35 years. He too deceived the government, scammed money, and ran that business into a premature demise. Sound familiar? Greg was actually an officer at Jones for a while, and his own dad fired him!

I'm not surprised that you were threatened by those juveniles, nor am I surprised that justice will eventually be served. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, boy!

Really enjoyed your posting!

Best regards,
xxxxxx xxxxxx

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Yogaville Intermediate Hatha Teachers Training

My training at Yogaville so far has been really positive. We're studying raja and hatha Yoga, including the Bhagavad Gita and lots of asanas. As always, there's lots of delicous healthy food, really supportive community of people, and a beautiful setting. Practice is regular, 6 days a week, 12 hours per day, and nothing silly like TV. The main Swami leading the course tells amazing jokes! My favorite pose we studied today was camel pose using the wall for support to go deep.

See The Rest of the Pictures

Read an old entry about the first time I visited Yogaville

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I've been trying to figure out which different establishments accept which actions as currency. One big one in academics is publications. But what's a publication?

-Books (kids/howto/philisophical)
-Other things that are totally out of the norm?

My goal this year was to try some of all of them, which has been a big challenge. I'm still working on it. If you know what you want to do next it's no problem, you just "publish" in the currency they accept. But I can't pick what's next, I can only unfold one step at a time. That's why I'm trying different paths out. I wish I could just pick one, and maybe I'll be able to sometime, but it seems like the only real currency I can offer is to step back and be who I am and let myself do the work that I'm meant to do. In that case I don't know what my "report card" will be, but I imagine it'll shine through.

For now I've got a few exhibitions

I've got a few exhibitions going on. This July I'll be showing Drawdio Brush at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts as part of the Freeze! show. Some doctors will be examining its value as a tool for art therapy.

The mural competition exhibition is starting this July 6th

And the Drawdio Table is still being shown at MITs Wiesner gallery for a few more days.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PowerPoint-B-Gone & Fruity Workshop

I'm at E Tech right now in San Jose. I'm having a good time, and we just finished running a workshop on scratch (article). It was the first Scratch workshop fully loaded with fruit and vegetable craft materials. One of the groups that really took to Scratch was "Play Power", so much so that they incorporated Scratch into their presentation the next day. I video'd their scratch "power point" presentation (it would have been power point if they hadn't switched), and i thought it was informative and got me out of my normal mode for receiving presentations. There were slides with words, lots of pictures, and lots of nonlinearities and live improvised music. I made a short video about it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Streetfight Interventionism (don't taze me bro)

Don't try this at home... Try it on the street of course!

It all started when me and Elliott ate an awesome veggie burger and fries at 4 burgers and decided to ride our bikes through central square to get home (asking for trouble already I know). Two guys stopped at a red light were fighting, one was out of his car, "Get out of your car dipshit," the other guy had his door open, "get back in your fucking car."

So what can be done but an intervention. Quick examination of the people... intuitive check to see which kind of intervention, and bam I'm on the street on my back flailing my arms and legs around "oh no there can't be a fight, everything's okay, everyone's gonna drive away happy..." and the corvette mustache guy who was out of his car bights and starts laughing, "It wasn't my fault he started it..." Good he has assumed he has to explain himself to me. That means everything will be over soon.

Then a cambridge cop car pulls up. Yay the cops are here to break up the fight, right?
"What the fuck are you doin on the street son?" Now since this is central square he's thinking "on a scale from 0 (no crack) to 100 (all crack) where between 50 and 100 is this guy at?"

"Officer, sir (they love when you say that) there were two guys about to fight and I wanted them to leave peacefully."

"What two guys?" The guys are sitting there in the cars right next to me.

"These two guys (without gesture) who were fighting, and I just wanted to distr..."

"Get the hell out of here! You're in the middle of the road."

"No you don't understa....."

"Are you talking back to me? Go!!!!!" (super mad!)

I answered his question by going. Meanwhile Elliott is still thinking "Should I chime in here with this hat I'm wearing (a joker hat with 20 crazy puffballs on the end of it) or is me talking just going to make things worse?"

And we were off and 20 minute later I'm at the lab just in time to write it down while it's fresh, fries still only 1/4 digested and paining my stomach. Sorry I didn't remember to take a picture.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What makes up our experience?

video and picture of me and Logan just before he died

You know when you are in a new place with new friends and new feelings and a new culture, and you almost can't remember what the last place you lived felt like? You can remember a few things about it, like what the air smelled like, but you forget other aspects, like what the slang and dialect were and more importantly how that slang made you feel or what it enabled or made impossible. Well, a few years back when I lived in Cocoa Beach a close friend of mine overdosed, and I made a webpage where people could post their memories. Today, someone posted on that webpage, and just reading it brought back so many aspects of what it felt like to be living and breathing and intertwined with Cocoa Beach and the mangroves and the people and the drugs and the ocean and the music. It's a slice of that life, and not one I always appreciate. It brought back a web of memories of living in a small beach town on 13th street, next door to Sean O'Hare, playing with Logan.

Sean Volland says:
i had a dejavoodoo the other day when i pulled up to 13th street to check the waves. so much has changed.its ohares street and we used to be best friends, and now arch enemies, but so goes cocoa beach, but the flashback was of say 93-94'ish, and bowman and logan were dangling there on the old boardwalk, b4 all of the storms and rebeaching, and they were punk teens on the verge of degbauchery, yet still golden hearted and harmless, just wound like balin wire, and we all know that im the advocate surfer for smoking cigs, and as usual, i was puffing a dirt, and they both approached me cautiosly as kids like them did in those days, and bowman said nothing, but logan winked at me and said, " hey col. can i get a cig off ya", and just as quick said, " dont tell my dad", so i gave him one, and bonehead was just carousing, spacing, no balls to ask for one himself, so i said, "hey kid, u want a dirt too or what", and he acknowledged, i obliged, and it was all cool. a step had been taken by groms, just as a decade before, i had asked billy atkinson and mcmillen for a bong hit as a teen, and although this is no grandoise story of mentorship, nor tuteledge of our youth, its the truth, and its the way it was, and still should be, and maybe we wouldnt be burying so many of our young hero's if we just treated them more like equals and men. i miss u lotion, i loved u dearly, and im so blessed that ive seen bowman grow up to be the best surfer intown on any board,(while slatz isnt around), and to be a good man and a gr8 father, and i know 99% of this town hates me and rightfully so, but im so real, im so here, and i so love cocoa beach, as did logan, bob, d. codgen, bruce, and all the others we have lost. GOD BLESS this shitty lil town. sean "da col." volland

Thinking about all of this makes me reflect on all the aspects of my current life that make up the flesh of my experience. What words are used daily? What activities? What is the attitude of the people who surround me? What tools do we use? What world are we creating for ourselves? This last one being the most important point: that we can create the experience we want by choosing and also realizing and reifying the landscape of a sweet great joyful awesome loving experience in every moment. And so I will. I will. I will.

Photo of me last week

Sean Volland posted a response to this post (above) on Logan's website. Here is his response reposted
im not sure i know jay silver, but he posted my comments on logan on his blog page, which being computer wetawded, i know lil' about, but he posted a video of logan jamming, playing air guitar, driving down s. a1a, and it was sooooooo real, and soooooo logan, and now im balling, snivelling, and really comprehending what loss really is. GOD BLESS U ALL!!!!! ill truly miss this place, as i miss logan, codgen, dr. al, sterling, foster, devon, valuzzi, my grandma, and anyothers i cant quite put my shrivelled mind on currently! reflection is a bitch, especially if u r sean volland, but 2 u all, tell someone how much u love them today; send an enemy a nice email or a card; hug someone u care about, apologize if if u didnt think u were wrong, becuz time is so short and we r all one another has. sorry 2 ramble, just way emotional right now, and thank u mr. jay silver, cuz that video made and ruined my day, and quite possibly changed my life. yall be good, 2 yourselves, and those u love, and those u dont even know, cuz one never knows where u will find, need, or lose a true friend. sean volland

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Dad with a gun (well sort of)

I'd like to start with an old picture of my dad. This is at his old party house way back in the day by the lake. The officer on duty was making out with chicks at the party, so my dad slipped on the officer's belt with loaded gun and started goofing around. Ahhhh the old days.

And now a recent article on my dad in the "The Beachside Resident" in a section called "20 questions"
Page 1:


Page 3:

Page 4:

(You'll need to click the images to enlarge them)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Tracking...

or Grownup Hide & Seek (at least we like to call it that)

This is the story of tracking a wildabeast (Jodi) through the snow. I highly recommend this as an awesomely exciting and contemplatively inward seeking game.

We went up to Vermont for the weekend to a friend's (Eric R) cabin.

If we looked out to the south there was a snowy field and some hills which we affectionately called "the show" (as in televisions many "shows"). It was a reality show.

The highlight for me was tracking down Jodi. She left 2 hours before I did with handwarmers in her boots (the night before was single digit (F) coldness.
(here she's getting suited up)

Then me and Eric left to try to track her down. At first we caught her tracks, but then they split in two direcitons. We weren't sure which to follow cause one of the set of tracks looked too big (but still human) and one set looked about the right size. But we ultimately decided to follow the bigger ones cause they jutted off the path which seemed like something Jodi would do. They turned out to be the wrong ones, but they crossed another pair of Jodi's tracks in the forrest. This turned out to be a real time-saver since we essentially shortcutted her circuitous route. Her tracks stopped at the stream but picked up on the other side so we crossed on a log.
(this is later after we found Jodi, but the same log)

There were lots of bunny tracks, deer tracks, and others,

and even some debatable moose tracks. We kept following the the Jodi-tracks and didn't lose her scent again. We saw some of her butt prints where she sat down too. We caught up to her after one hour (we were running for part of the time). She was sitting under a tree.

We laid under the trees for a while telling stories of the hunt from both points of view (she was watching us the whole time we were tracking her) and listening to the silence interspersed with hints of wild life.

The night before was the brightest full moon in years and years and as I listened to the noisy quiet I thought of how distinct my moon shadow was on the white snow the night before.

On the way back we walked over thin ice on the stream. I made it, but Eric fell through. The last thing I remember is "Ahhhh my foot is freezing cold, I can't feel it!!!!!!"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Drawdio: Turn Almost Anything into a "Theremin"

There's a whole set of new ways to use the Drawdio circuit now. Thought it would be time for a little update. Also, I never told the story of how it was invented. Here's the video that explains my current thinking on how Drawdio could be used:

Watch High Quality at Vimeo

Imagine you could draw musical instruments on normal paper with any pencil (cheap circuit thumb-tacked on) and then play them with your finger. The Drawdio circuit-craft lets you MacGuyver your everyday objects into musical instruments: paintbrushes, macaroni, trees, grandpa, even the kitchen sink...

One day I bought a "harmonium" kit at the street market in Bangalore. I hacksawed the keyboard off to make the first ever Drawdio circuit. We played with it at a local school in the slums using plants, water, our foreheads, etc. My friend told me graphite would work too. Meditating on it, I realized the Drawdio circuit should be literally attached to a pencil to "draw audio," and that's where the name came from: Draw + Audio.

DIY: Make it. Remix it. Play it.

See it on BoingBoing

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Update on Our Domestic Ecosystem

So much happening in my home ecosystem. Let's get started!
I can't believe a neon yellow mushroom popped up in my palm tree. It's totally a volunteer. It looks a little washed out in the picture, but it was a deeply saturated yellow.

Yesterday it had its cap down like an ubrella. This morning it raised its cap to almost flat.

This awesome mousy wandered into our green acrylic mouse trap. She was lured by chocolate and flax seed cracker. We let her go with one last survival meal under a bush.

Round two, ding! Another awesome round of fighting between our Cryptolaemus Montrouzieri (or "mealy bug destroyers") and our mealy bugs. Check out the baby mealy bug right behind the monsterous destroyer

Man let's hear it for the Cryptolaemus again, they're so cute!

The jade's looking healthier now that we moved it to the south facing window. I thought there was a spider egg sack in the dirt, but it was only styrofoam'ish soil-stuffs. But I did see our pet spider crawling on it the day before.

Even though it doesn't really count since it was outside my window... look at this massive organism that came from the direction of the Charles River right after the fireworks were over on July 4th. Sitting by the window watching this superorganism walk by for an hour made us feel like we were in a parade, but instead of us moving the crowd moved.

but even though these guys are outside the window, I do officially consider them to be part of our home. After a hiatus for the winter, the wasps are back building their nest again on our window. Any votes for this year's signage? (last year's signage said !!!WARNING!!! Please don't wash this window, it contains our experimental nest of hornets, we love them, thank you)

Sorry to all the life forms that didn't get a shoutout this time, maybe if you do something cute you can be included next time.

Suggestion taken from Todd Eddie in the comments:

another update!! by popular request... a video of the mealy bug destroyers

Thursday, May 29, 2008

ok2touch on BoingBoing TV

The opening clip has Beau beatboxing while wearing ok2touch, and the interview starts at 2:38 (2 minutes and 38 seconds in)
I'm finishing up some new human-touch technologies that are derived from ok2touch called puddlejumper and healing touch. they'll be ready soon.

Friday, April 04, 2008

mealy bug destroyers

Here's my Cambridge, MA dorm living room.

Whenever possible I try to increase the jungle-ness of it. Over the last year I've been doing battle with mealy bugs. Mealy bugs eat your plants at the joints between leaf and stem, at the main arteries, or just about anywhere else until the plant dies. I've tried everything from soaps to oils to alcohols. I even tried a test spot of systemic pesticides (this is disgusting never try this!).

The other day I ordered some mealy bug destroyers. That's what everyone calls them. They're beetles. They are so cool: they only and always eat mealy bugs. they'll eat aphids if they absolutely have to. they even eat mealy bug honey dew so not only do they eat the bugs but they clean up their mess too. they lay their larvae in mealy bug nests, and the larvae actually look like mealy bugs themselves! Here they are going head-to-head on my palm tree

That mealy bug is in the proces of getting eaten.

Here's a couple more of the destroyers roaming around

thank you Mother Nature

Friday, March 28, 2008

Creating Your Own World

This has been a theme with me for a while now: the idea that you can create your own world. The idea that your sphere of influence affects not only how you respond to things that happen, but it also affects how people approach you and interact with you. Here's a recent NPR story (3 minute listen) that illustrates a tiny little example of how you can create experiences with what you bring to the situation. It's a story about how a victim befriended a mugger.

I first concretely verbalized the idea that you can create your own world when I was talking to a friend who took me urban harvesting. He told me that before he had ridden trains he had never heard of anyone who jumped a train and wouldn't assume anyone would do that. But after he started jumping trains it almost started to seem that everyone might be a train jumper. He created a new world for himself in a way where he saw everything in terms of this mode of living. And he posed a question to me: "What other worlds exist out there that I just don't know about yet cause I haven't met the right person yet?"

I too wonder what worlds I have yet to create for myself... And I've found many successes in experimenting with making my world more how I dream it could be. Now I'm off to create!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ok2touch in "2nd Skin" Exploratorium

is designed around human-human contact with a special skin-to-skin on-switch. It turns your entire body into a musical instrument -- as well as the body of anyone who touches you. It's also now taken the form of a sling so that the interaction is designed to help people heal through human touch.

2nd Skin is a fashion exhibition at the Exploratorium in San Francisco:
An evening fusing fashion, technology, and art. It takes place on Friday, April 25, 2008 from 7:00-11:00 p.m. at the Exploratorium. Select works on exhibit through September 7, 2008