The keyboard is a ubiquitous interface, an eccentric interface, a limiting interface, a soft interface and a hard interface. It is also, often, an unconsidered interface.
I’ll avoid writing an ode to keyboards and their fascinating role in culture (besides, one blog post would be the to the subject as one key is to the board: entirely incomplete), although I’ll mention the question that got me thinking about keyboards long ago: do the Chinese, with there thousands of characters, use similar keyboards to British people?
I’m excited to announce that, come September, I’ll start as a PhD student at Queen Mary, University of London. I’ll be investigating the effects and efficacy of novel technology-enhanced human communication methods over the internet and other networks.
The longer I contemplate this opportunity, the more I realise it’s the direction I’ve been heading since I was 10 years-old. From making internet friends over instant messaging apps, web forums and chat rooms, to exploring emerging communication methods and web trends (hello Chat Roulette), to my recent Emojikken project in Japan.
Most of my projects and action have been about technologically-mediated communication between humans – either closing the space between us via technology or exploring realms of communication and relationships that couldn’t have existed without the internet.
I’m so excited to explore this formally and to be able to better contextualise my work in rigorous study. After all, as Friedrich von Schlegel once said, “every art should become science, and every science should become art.”
I was lucky enough to have been brought up at the dawn of the popular internet. We had to pirate our music from peer-to-peer services, and our internet connections were 0.054% the speed that they are today, but at least the people you interacted with were human.
Where has that gone?
As a modern digital artist, I sometimes think about the position and exposure of the modern digital artist. This time I wrote down my thoughts.
Marc was given a free Google Cardboard VR viewer last week, but I couldn’t get it to work on my new Elephone P9000 (the greatest phone ever bought for £170). The images overlapped and created a sort-of double-vision thing, and it generally sucked. But I fixed it and thought I’d share the solution for any other P9000 users.
I wanted to pass out a huge congratulations to my friend Ulla Nolden, on winning the FutureFest 2016 prize.
I first met as a classmate at Goldsmiths, and I’ve always admired Ulla’s steadfast devotion to the study and programmatic replication of movement, particularly with small insects.
I make no bones about being completely opposed to how Apples presents technology to users, but this really might be the worst thing they’ve ever done to users.
Apple’s closed (only available on iPhone? Come on) iMessage system is starting to allow third-party integration, much like the beloved WeChat software that is so popular in the far east.
Technology, as always, marches onward. Consumer gadgets, however, have been slowly trudging through a trench of safe features and dull design since the resurrection of Apple.
It’s an ironic twist of fate that Apple, in particular Steve Jobs and Jony Ive, who foregrounded the importance of good design in consumer technology, also created the circumstances that led to the space’s long stagnation.
Their stylish inventions of the late ’00s defined consumer cool in the era, with unspoilt lines, glossy glass and milled aluminum setting the standard for high-quality digital goods in the iPhone, iMac and the Macbook Pro.
The paradigm had shifted, and soon ever major technology firm was investing money in either copying Cupertino’s products (Samsung, HP), trying to out-do them (Microsoft, Google) or even out-doing them, changing their mind and reverting back to copying (HTC: you were supposed to be the chosen ONE).
I love time. I should be more clear: I love the measurement of time. It’s part astrophysics, part convenience and part social construction.
Considering there are 7 billion who can’t agree on a single language, religion or even football team (let’s just pick one as the best and finish everything, aiight?), it’s amazing that we’ve agreed on this 24/60/60 system created by the Summerians ~5000 year ago.
I was thinking about time a lot while creating Mondriane, a tribute to 20th century modernist Piet Mondrian and the 20th & 21st century modernist watchmakers Mondaine. Part of that piece is the abstraction of arabic numerals as indications of time, replaced with block colours which, in term, represent arabic numerals, which then represent the passing of allocated slots of the day.
At its most absurd, it’s colours representing scribbles representing social constructions representing astrophysical properties.
The whole mess reminded me of the much simpler Internet Time, created by Swatch in the late 90s and capturing my adolescent heart. Instead of time zones, hours and minutes, each day is broken into 1000 “beats”. For conversion purposes, each beat is 1min 26.4s. These beats are universal: if it’s 645 in the UK, it’s also 645 in the US and Japan.
The difference to our existing system is that rather than converting the indicator of time to our local area (e.g. the world wakes up at 7am and goes to bed at 10pm in any location, and it’s the time zone that moves), we simply shift the parameters of the day to match a universal time.
For example, in London, we’ll know our day is generally between 333 (~7am) and 917 (~10pm). In Tokyo, they’ll be getting up at 917 (~7am local time) and getting to bed at 550 (I’ve somewhat given up on the maths here, I’ll write an online converter at some point).
Aside from the practicalities this offers when working between time zones, the interesting part is how it changes how we perceive time itself. It’s no longer something bent to our locale, gently buffered by time zone lines, but a concrete, unending series of beats that we sculpt our existence around.
It sucks that an ever-increasing number of video games allow you to “pay-to-win”*. That mechanic has already failed to be fun in real life, so why are we adding it to gaming?
That’s why I love the piece https://highscore.money/ by artist and seemingly all-round cool dude (lives in Korea yo) @marckohlbrugge. You can pay real money to appear at the top of his arbitrary leader board. That’s all there is – it’s pay-to-win, reductio-ad-absurdum.
What’s really amazing is how it’s organically grown. It seemed to start with a few friends (including the artist’s brother) paying $5 to top the board, but as companies saw an opportunity for cheap advertising, it’s become increasingly corporatised and overrun by businesses linking to their websites.
*Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy that pay-to-win allows people who are stuck working all day have a way to access all the cool features that people with more spare time are able to get to just by playing, but there’s a better solution out there, somewhere. Somewhereeeeeeeee