MICHA.ELMUELLER

 

Interactive Installation: “Kunst oder Kitsch?”

 

Valerie is currently presenting on the ongoing exhibition “Kunst oder Kitsch?” in Bad Schussenried (13. April – 22. June 2014). The idea was to let different artists (eighteen in total) explore where the separation between art and kitsch lies. What is still art and what is kitsch? Where does the line lie?

I liked the exhibition a lot! The topic is really interesting and made me curious immediately. Some artists made artworks which run really hard on the borderline between art and kitsch and it is a lot of fun walking through the exhibition and discussing about specific creations and their classifications.

Some artists had the idea to complete the exhibition with a — not that seriously meant — interactive installation where visitors have the possibility to rate the exhibition: does it rather present kitsch or art? They asked me if I would like to build such a thingy. I started with the software and after a while Leo joined and developed the electronic hardware part: two large footswitches need to be pressed in order to vote. Valerie also greatly helped in building the funfair-like wooden base for the “Kitschometer”.

It basically works like this: you press one of the buttons to vote if the exhibition rather presents art or kitsch in your opinion. A random, fancy song will then be played and a tachometer will hit out on either art or kitsch, depending on how the previous voters have rated. The exhibition runs for three months and I think it’s a nice gimmick.

The code and technical documentation is up on GitHub. The installation could surely have been build technically more elegant, but in this case a pragmatic approach was taken due to time constraints. The footswitches are borrowed from the workshop at the University Ulm. This is exactly how a university should be! It should enable people to just do stuff and not constrain them in realizing ideas!

I would definitely like to create more installations.

 
 

The Principles of Datalove — Audiomashup

Some years ago the Telecomix crew came up with the term datalove and wrote an according manifesto (see here for more details):

Love data
Data is essential
Data must flow
Data must be used
Data is neither good nor bad
There is no illegal data
Data is free
Data can not be owned
No man, machine or system shall interrupt the flow of data
Locking data is a crime against datanity
Love data

I use the term datalove quite often when referring to the free culture or open data movement. About two years ago I had the idea to create a voice mashup from the text and recorded various female friends reading the text. In order to give the mashup an electronic, digital feeling I alienated the voices a bit over an ambient electronic track (2012 by pielkor, CC-BY 3.0).

soundcloud direct link

At the time, two years ago, the result was not like I imagined and I wasn’t satisfied. So I didn’t release it online. Yesterday I listened to the track again and was quite surprised. It was by far not as bad as I recalled it. This angers me somehow. I have a lot of stuff, video interviews, photos, software, visualizations, which I haven’t released because I was unsatisfied with the quality, got aware of technical shortcomings whilst working on the project or realized how it could have been done better. In part, I am also trying to avoid giving other people a possibility to attack my own work. Today I think it was stupid not to release projects like this and I regret it. It was a nice project and I should let other people decide if they can use it or not.

I have to thank Saron, Zenib, Sonja, Kate, Amrei, Natty, Jenny, Elizabeth and Lisa without whom this mashup would not have been possible. The track is licensed under a Creative Commons 4.0 International Attribution license (CC-BY 4.0).

The student group I participate in is called datalove as well, ulmAPI is an open data project by the datalove group.

datalove

“Scratches”

During autumn last year I had the chance to work as an assistant within a research project at university. The idea was to conduct a study on broken smartphone displays: how often do displays break? Where do they break most often? How does this affect the interaction of users with the phone and—most interestingly—what coping strategies have users developed in order to handle those limitations of the display?

I am quite proud to say that the results have been published as an academic paper at the CHI conference: “Broken Display = Broken Interface? The Impact of Display Damage on Smartphone Interaction.“—yay!

As part of the study we asked people to send us photos of their smartphones with broken displays. There were certain criteria which one had to follow in order to send us an acceptable photo—e.g. a green/white checkerboard image had to be displayed in full screen.

 

The first image shows the processed version of a submitted photo. It has been prepared using various techniques (cropping, white-balance, perspective alignment, etc.). The second and third photo show the manual annotations which we did as preparations to further analyze the photos.
 

A part of my work on the project focused on analyzing these photos. I used Matlab and the imagemagick suite to automate a part of this process (Unix style!). One late night, I was working on developing a “contiguous-area-search” algorithm. In order to better retrace if this process was correctly working I started rendering images with the resulting contiguous areas. I was quite surprised to see how interesting this looked and before I knew it I was diving into this. The hours went by and I kept working on improving the algorithm and the color scheme. Eventually I got to the results below, which in my opinion look really interesting. To further process them in an artistic manner I made a selection of twelve of these photos (there are about a hundred of them in total), vectorized them and scaled them to common proportions:

 
This is a selection of twelve photos from the complete set.
I have uploaded the according SVGs here: scratches on GitHub (CC-BY 4.0 International).
 

From my perspective the relation of science and art is really interesting and I aim to explore this space more. The way in which I see it, art and science depend heavily on each other. Art inspires and encourages to dream. Just think about the way in which e.g. Jules Verne or Isaac Asimov have influenced science.
On the other hand, science influences art by providing new insights and findings. Take the enormous area of art inspired by psychedelic substances for example. None of this would exist without the findings of scientists. Science provides new instruments and tools as means to create art. We have come a long way since caveman paintings: modern artistic expression has many forms, be it photography or e.g. electronic music.

The artistic process I used in order to create the images above is called Generative Design. It clearly separates from the way by which traditional artists operate. From caveman paintings to the modern process of creating illustrations (Photoshop and a cursor) there wasn’t as much change as one might think: it still breaks down to the same basic principles.

Generative Design is an entirely different process. The artist creates an algorithm which renders the results. But he doesn’t define specific images, drawings, shapes or colors. All of this is generated by the algorithm. This is an entirely different approach and we get some advantages which a “normal” artistic process does not posses. E.g. we get the possibilities of using the calculation power of a computer to create things which are not possible for a human (or at least only possible under the investment of a lot of energy). Examples of this are e.g. enormously complex forms or shapes which can be generated using a generative design process.

In my case the algorithm has been used to automatically process about a hundred of those photos. After seeing the results I adapted the algorithm as a mean to further influence the results. This is a typical generative design workflow: developing an algorithm, analyzing the results and iteratively adapting the algorithm.

I would love to present these generative works on an exhibition, gallery or something similar. If you are aware of any possibilities where this could be a fitting content I would very much appreciate to hear from you.

I really like the title Scratches for these artworks, Pasi deserves recognition for coming up with it.

Prague

 
 

Been to Prague for a couple of days with some friends. What a beautiful city! Loved the nice house facades, the beer, food and discovering the history of the city. The trip was quite cheap and I think I should do that more often. A very nice feature of Europe is that we have so much culture on so little place. With today’s public transportation system it is so easy to go somewhere.

One should take more advantage of this. I have taken quite some inspiration from the trip and always find it enriching and encouraging to travel and educate ones view of the world.

We went by train, from Ulm-Prague and back to Ulm this cost about 77€. Take the train to Regensburg (Bayern-Ticket) and from there the “Prague Spezial” to Prague.

Travelling Mexico & Guatemala

 
 
 
 

For three to four weeks I was travelling Mexico and Guatemala with two friends. We started right after the christmas evening and spend the new years eve + the first weeks of January there. I can’t describe all of my memories or the stuff that I have done here but I will try to give some insights.

It was very nice to meet different people with a different view of the world. Especially in Guatemala, where we visited a small festival, this was the case. One of the pictures that stuck most with me: One morning I couldn’t sleep anymore and got up to walk along a lake. The sun was going up and I saw an attractive young lady with long blonde hair who was meditating, while sitting nude on a rock some meters in the lake. This was just iconic.

I have some not-so-nice memories as well. The common way in which is dealt with the environment is just sad…laundries where the washer stands in the grass and all the sewage just drains into the ground. No wonder the supply water is polluted in such a heavy way. We once stayed in a little town in Guatemala where we were told that, in order to prepare a salad, the people have to put it in water and put some drops of iodine into it. After letting this mixture rest for fifteen minutes all bacteria is dead and only then you can eat the salad. The way in which people interact with the environment is unbelievable as well. We were travelling in a little bus and one of the bus guys started cleaning the bus while the other guy was driving. The implicitness by which he threw plastic bottles out of the window was the same by which I throw them in the garbage. I think a lot of this relates to education. If the people would know that garbage in a forest is not just an aesthetic thing, but also rots, attracts animals and could be the soil for diseases, maybe they would act differently.

Another not-so-nice memory was to watch fishermen dismantle freshly caught sharks at a beach. This is highly illegal, but still happens because selling the jaw and the fins is profitable. This was in a secluded, rural village and happened two days in a row. On the third day the marine appeared. Fierce soldiers with big weapons who closed the area off, made the fishermen bring out the shark cadavers and documented everything on cameras. This process went on for about an hour. Then suddenly a guy appeared and took the highest ranking soldier aside. Ten minutes after that all soldiers were gone. Guess why…. Well, about fifteen minutes after they had left another boat arrived and the dismantling process of fresh sharks started all over again. The fishermen who were quite dejected when the soldiers still were there, were now cheering at the newly arriving boat. This was disgusting to observe and made me quite sad.

However, some really good impressions I have taken from the landscape. Wow! So beautiful. Especially in the warmer regions the vegetation sprouts everywhere, everything is green and you can find all kinds of wild stuff growing there. Even saw wild cotton growing. Also you get fresh juices everywhere—it is just so much cheaper to get a fresh juice than to get a packaged carton juice. In Mexico and Guatemala a lot of coffee and fruits are grown. Ironically we found it quite hard to get good coffee or fruits with a high quality. This is especially true for the rural places and can be explained by the fact that the people there are so poor that they export everything they can (especially the good stuff). So the case of a farmer at a coffee plantation who drinks low quality coffee whilst having acres of high quality coffee beans is not implausible.

One thing really surprised me: You don’t get anywhere with English. It is really seldom that people speak English. Even in the center of Mexico-City, where we stayed at an international hostel for a short time, the staff didn’t speak any English–not even right/left/straight. From my impression the population tends to reject the English language due to emotional reasons. Especially in the international hostel case it should be quite unrealistic for the staff not to pick up at least some English words along the way.

Mexico, and especially Guatemala, are quite cheap. I remember that we bought a lot of stuff at a bakery in a rural village in Guatemala one day: sweet stuff, breads and other baked goods. We had a whole basket full of stuff and converted to EUR we payed only about 1.50€ for that.

Especially in the rural areas the opening hours of facilities tend to be quite “flexible”. E.g. in a little town there was a bakery which I frequently visited. Even though the opening times were from 8am-21pm, these specification tended to be rather vague (like +/- 2-3 hours). I once bought something there at around 12pm. I think this relaxed culture has something charming.

It’s quite easy to get to know people and make friends, though from my impression the friendships tend to be more shallow. We ate several times at a certain place and when we went there for the third time the staff (~four people) asked us if we would like to join them on a tour to another beach the next day. In the middle of the week they just spontaneously closed their place down and went on a trip (which we joined). Stuff similar to this happened several times to us. I admired and enjoyed this nice, open and welcoming mentality.

My two fellow travelers mostly eat vegan (or at least vegetarian). One experience which we made was in a very rural town where we arrived late one evening. We just wanted to grab some food before going to bed and went into one of the next restaurants. The guy cooking there was about 20-25 years old and we told him in multiple ways specifically that we don’t want to eat any meat or animal products. He prepared some stuff for us and when he brought it to us there was a certain ingredient which we couldn’t identify. We asked him what it was and described to him again in detail that we wanted vegetarian food. He assured us multiple times that everything was vegetarian. When we looked the ingredient up on the internet some days later it became clear that it was a type of—definitely non-vegetarian—sausage. After thinking about it for some time and talking to other people, I think it is most likely that he had the educational lack of not knowing that sausages come from animals. This lack of education pervades both countries and in my opinion is the reason for a lot of problems there.

In one Mexican village where we stayed there was a cock fight. Even though we didn’t attend you could hear the screams of the animals through the whole town. Incredibly barbaric and residual.

All in all I have a lot of impressions. As described above, good and bad ones. I have only written down a small part of them in this post. I think one of the main reasons for such an enriching journey is that we didn’t do a mainstream trip but were rather flexible and spontaneous and mostly traveled by foreign buses and transport possibilities. It is a really nice feeling to travel in a crowded bus through a rural area whilst being the only foreigners in the bus. We had only booked a flight to Mexico, one hostel for the first night and a flight back some weeks later. Everything else was decided there. In my opinion this is the best way of travelling.
In the case of Mexico my picture of the country before the trip was mainly defined by media coverage on criminality. This has changed now. I feel as if I have gotten a better impression of both countries. Also I feel more comfortable now to return there, after I have seen that the picture in the media does not represent the country in it’s entirety. This may sound like an obvious statement but for me it has much more truth after personally being there.

Besides the photos above I have uploaded some more to my MediaGoblin instance.

Reworking Typography

From time to time I find articles, texts or poems which I really like. But in some of those cases the text is typeset in such a poor way that it makes me sad. For me, typography has the same role as rhetoric—the way in which you say something can have a totally different impact and I think this is equally true for text and typography.

Sometimes I take time and make an effort to typeset the text in a better way. I have decided to publish some of these workings here from time to time. The first example is a poem by Kate, which was published in a collection last year. I love the poem and was quite saddened about the typesetting (on which she had no influence).

This is the published version:

And this is my reworked version:

In the published version the title of the poem was omitted and I don’t think the feather nor the font-face fit the text in any way. The photo quality of the feather really is as bad in the print as in the photo above. The font I used in the reworking is the Adobe Garamond Pro. The ornament is taken from the gorgeous Hoefler Text. If you are interested in the sourcecode of the newly set version (written in XeTeX): I have published it here. There you will also find the PDF version.

Looking back on 2013

Last year a lot of stuff has happened for me. This will be a longer than average article, I am aware that you as a reader might lose interest while reading. However, I consider it as a braindump of stuff I don’t want to forget.

I had been living with four technology-enthusiastic hacker friends in a shared flat for 1-1.5 years. Quite sadly three of them went abroad. The Nerd-WG was an awesome time for me and I often miss the creative environment of the days back then.

In 2013 I eventually managed to finish my Bachelor of Science and start with the Master program. I totally underestimated the safe feeling of holding a finished academic degree. Whatever happens now, I will always have a science degree from a german university. This is very comforting to me.

Work
I worked in several jobs at university. Mostly taking care of practical exercises for lectures. A highlight for me was to be responsible for the entire practicals of a lecture on web technologies together with two friends: Falco and Philipp who also write on the IOException blog. I am quite satisfied with the practicals and think we did a good job on setting up the exercises. We lay a heavy focus on the introduction of up-to-date technologies (node.js amongst others). I also worked as an assistant in two research projects. One is still ongoing and the other one is finished.

Publishing
From one of the research projects I have been working at, the results have been very nice and we wrote a paper on the topic: “Broken Display = Broken Interface? The Impact of Display Damage on Smartphone Interaction.“. The paper got accepted at the CHI 2014, one of the major conferences in the human-computer-interaction field. For me this is a huge success and I learned a lot while working on the paper/project.

Another publication I was kind enough to receive was the publication of a summary of my bachelor thesis, which was published in the proceedings of the Informatiktage in Bonn (more info).

Creatively I also managed to get a short story published: “The Autograph” was published in The Sparrow Anthology Vol. 7, a poetry and prose collection from the University of Ulm. It’s a real publication, owning an ISBN and available in the german national library. To be honest, I am not that satisfied with the story, it was a very personal piece at a certain time in my life, and now that time has passed I view it differently. That’s why I won’t link it here.

Travelling
Been to a lot of cities and events. Köln, Berlin, Geneva, Mexico-City, etc.. The event I liked the most was the Humitec Barcamp in Berlin. The city I liked the most was probably Berlin. But I also loved traveling to Geneva to attend the Open Knowledge Conference. There were certain mornings, where I would get up early in the morning, go to a Café/Bakery, sit down and order a bain au chocolat and a coffee. I would then just watch the surroundings, write a bit from time time, read a bit. Watch people coming in, grabbing themselve a quick Espresso at the front counter while standing there. I love to watch a city waking up, just to sit there and feel the flow of the city.

Short movie
Two stuck with me: Momentos is an exceptional example of storytelling. Forget me not stuck because of the photographic composition and musical underlying.

This extreme POV movie of a guy climbing one of the Stalin skyscrapers left me speechless and stands out.

Articles
A friend of mine studied Computer Science in a very intense way, received his Diplom and continued to receive a Master degree. He’s for sure one of the most competent computer science people I have gotten to know. However, he decided not to pursue a university career, nor participating in the software business. In this article he gives some insights on why.

This article inspired me to question my view towards intuitive user interfaces in a major way.

Blog Post
Build your own summary tool!” is a blog post on a naive implementation of a text summary algorithm. Since I always believed automatic text summary algorithms are highly complex and need a deep understanding of linguistics, it was quite surprising to see such an easy algorithm yielding surprisingly good results.

Quotes which stuck

Pragmatiker bringen die Welt nicht voran. Sie verbessern nur die Effizienz, nicht aber die Effektivitaet. Sie optimieren auf der gleichen Stufe, steigen aber nicht hinan. Idealisten sind es, die nach der naechsten Stufe streben. Sie denken nicht ans Jetzt sondern ans Morgen. Ihr Fortschritt aendert die Groessenordnung, nicht die Kommastellen, denn sie verfolgen Visionen. Sie stellen den Status Quo in Frage statt fuer ihn zu optimieren.

Markus Schnalke, Softwarebusiness
 

Sie aber zeigen nur auf das was sie wollen, neuerdings unterstuetzt durch Gesten. Ihre Kommunikation mit dem Computer beschraenkt sich auf die Moeglichkeiten eines Zweijaehrigen, unfaehig zu artikulieren was er meint.

Markus Schnalke, Computer Literacy
 

In the end programming languages are basically user-interfaces. You will get much better results if you think of it as UI design.

Alan Kay
 

Intellectual property” implies the belief that people can own and control thoughts. Phrasing it “Immaterial rights” is less wrong.

Peter Sunde
 

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.

Eleanor Roosevelt
 

The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.

Peggy O’Mara
 

Best purchase
I was lingering for an Ethnotek backpack for a while and in 2013 I finally got one. I am very satisfied and have taken the bag on many journeys to many different cities. It fits my needs very well.

Best music/song/album
The Gil Scott Heron album.
The Oblivion Score, by M83
The Foals have been a highlight as well.

Inspiring
I found Giorgo Morodor talking about his collaboration with Daft Punk quite inspiring:

When I came into the studio everything was ready and I had three microphones and I said “Are they afraid that one microphone would not work?”. So I asked the technician “Why are you using three microphones?”. He said “Okay, you see the one on the left is an old sound of the sixties, one of the seventies and this is today.” “Who would hear the difference?” “Nobody”. So I said “So why is Thomas doing it?”. “Oh he said, HE would hear the difference.”.

 

Best movie/series
I loved the first season of Elementary—an american adaption of the Sherlock Holmes story. However, things are different here. Sherlock is a tattooed, drug addicted, narcistic, brilliant analytic, working for the police. Dr. Watson is a women who lives with him as a “drug sitter”, in order to make sure he gets clean.

There were several movies which I really liked in 2013. Standing out most are “Rush”, “The Place beyond the Pines” and “Night Train to Lisbon”.

Website
reddit. I visit reddit a lot, not (only) for procrastinating, but rather as a news/information resource on topics which interest me. These are some subreddits which I have subscribed to: /r/Bitcoin, /r/Calligraphy, /r/dataisbeautiful, /r/minimalism, /r/openstreetmap, /r/sewing, /r/typography.

Traditions
There is a local cinema here in Ulm—the Mephisto—this year it was bought and quite sadly more commercialized. Before it was bought and renovated it was a very small, alternative cinema showing mainly art house movies. Each Monday there would be a sneak night where a lot of students would gather, pay their three euros and see some random movie, which would soon be released. I loved the non-strict atmosphere, nice people everywhere. Even the cashiers were students having a lot of fun. With a friend of mine, Mone, I went there basically each week for about 1.5 years. Met a lot of people there each time and had a very nice time. On Monday the cinema would be full with people, sometimes pillows would be brought in and people would be sitting on the stairs at the sides, because the cinema would be full of people. Even if the movie was shitty, people would have a lot of fun. The atmosphere was very comfortable and the staff would often do little quizzes before starting the movie, giving away little prizes. After the quiz they would throw sweets into the audience and show some funny or dramatic short movie before starting the actual sneak movie.

Best photo
Of a persona? This photo taken by John Mayer. Of infrastructure? This german refinery.

Best photo I shot

I think, I’ll go with this one. I can’t objectively rate the photo, it has a personal meaning to me and I am quite satisfied.

Projects I did
A lot of smaller stuff, some articles for the IOException blog, continued the interview series there. Did some talks, some lightning talks and stuff. I don’t want to list everything here, but my highlights are:

Visualizations
When do students submit their assignments?
Firstname distribution at the University of Ulm

Software
A Twitterwall, showing a stream of tweets on a topic.
An interactive map with open facilities in Ulm (using OpenStreetMap data): oeffnungszeiten.ulmapi.de.
differenziert.net: still didn’t get around to write an elaborate article on the platform, but will do so in the next weeks.

Five years ago I wrote a little website called myPresentIdea, the idea was to give people present-ideas based on a short characterization of the person they wanted to surprise. At that time I sat down and searched for presents, which in my opinion at that time would fit for a person with such a character. For most of the presents I would also display a link to an online-shop (when possible). For the presents linking to amazon I would present an affiliate link, meaning I would get a little monetary reward once somebody would buy the product via amazon. I sat the website up but never really continued working on it. Last year I checked the amazon account and realized there were about 20-25 euros in it. What a nice surprise! At one point I had even forgotten about the site.

I took this as an incentive to completely rewrite the site, it was originally created in PHP using the CakePHP framework and MySQL. The codebase was not that “sophisticated” (e.g. no human readable URIs). Of course it wasn’t sophisticated, I created that project even before studying. It took me about 5-6 hours in its entirety to rewrite the codebase in JavaScript (node.js) using the express and jade libraries.
Actually the whole process was on two train rides which I took on the same day. I went to another city in the morning (a three hour train ride away), spend some time there and took the train back in the evening. I also ditched MySQL and migrated to CouchDB. It was very nice to see how little time stuff like this takes if you are familiar with the technologies. The technology stack I have been working most with in 2013 is definitely node.js, express and CouchDB. Followed by Shell scripting.

Society
The general Open Data activities within the university group we founded here stand out. I finally managed to update the UlmAPI-website with pretty pictures of all the nice stuff we have done (like the OpenCityCamp 2013 and various hackathons which we organized).

Illustrations
I did some illustrations for posters, ads, etc.. A tee I designed for a competition earlier this year was printed as a collection. Together with some friends I drew a comic as a birthday present for another friend. One illustration which I am also very satisfied with is this poster (click to enlarge):


58 T-Shirt contest

Rough plan for 2014
As each year (2012, 2011, 2010) here comes the outlook. I want to contribute code to a bigger (>1 person) software project. I want to get a scholarship. I want to publish more of my creative writings.

On the technological side: I really have to get rid of Ubuntu, this is way too much abstraction for me. I want to have a $ top output, which I actually understand. Arch is the next step. Also finally I want to gain a much deeper understanding of “the Shell”. I consider myself quite familiar with Unix, but in comparison to Phil or Meillo I am still in kids shoes. Also I want to finally get a Unix-style mailclient (mmh) and start learning troff.

Random stuff from the last weeks

During the last three weeks some things worth a post have happended:

OpenCityCamp 2013
In June we organized an Open Data Barcamp in Ulm. In discussions with people who aren’t familiar with the term Open Data I often get asked what people could do with publicly available data sets. To better answer this, I created the tumblr opendatashowcase.tumblr.com in order to collect nice applications, visualizations and journalistic projects which are based on open data. I find nice examples all the time either way, so why not take ten seconds to post them into a collection? The other outcome of the Barcamp was the “When do students submit assignments?” visualization, on which I already wrote.

Karlsruhe
I stayed in Karlsruhe for some days at meillo’s place. Amongst other things, we attended some talks at the GPN. Meillo also persuaded me to do a lightning talk. Looking back, I have to thank him for this. My Lightning Talk on the minimalistic-web project went well and I should probably do more (lightning?) talks.
We were both eager to listen to the Plan 9 talk. If you haven’t heard about Plan 9, it is probably worth to inform yourself (here, for example). Plan 9 is an operating system by the guys who brought you UNIX (and C, and UTF-8). They have learned some lessons along the way and did a complete redesign about 20 years ago. Unfortunately they were probably one or two decades too early for humanity. You will find many of their concepts within modern operating systems, though the Plan 9 project didn’t have it’s large breakthrough.

Berlin
I stayed in Berlin for some days. Wanted to go there since quite some time. I have been to Berlin two times, but I was a teenager at that time and couldn’t really understand the city. However, this last visit was different and the days there were amazing. There are so many small communities, so many interesting people, so many cultural influences on so little place.

By chance, I met Amir, the developer of libbitcoin, the first complete Bitcoin implementation. I started to get into Bitcoin about two years ago. In my opinion, it is one of the most interesting, most underrated projects out there at the moment. In Berlin there are several facilities which accept Bitcoin, which I had to check out (of course). During my time there I made several transactions and am quite fascinated of the ease by which it is possible to pay in Bitcoins.

If you read about what financial researchers say about the currency, you will find that they mostly express that this “just can’t work”. Well…I don’t care. I ate some freaking awesome burgers and dinned like a king from them.

I also attended a Barcamp by the Human Factors group there. Alex, whom I got to know at the Informatiktage in Bonn earlier this year, had told me about the Humitec Barcamp. This was quite a nice event, the most interesting session for me was on Cyborgism. Enno, who gave the talk, is a Cyborg. He received a Cochlear implant a while ago. This enables him to not only have the “normal” human hearing functions, but also gives him features: his body is technically enhanced in a way that he for example can turn his hearing completely off. Quite nice when sleeping with a snorer or when living in a flat near a frequently used street. He is also able to directly plug an external audio device into his implant. This way he can “directly” listen to music, no acoustic noise is produced at all. The audio file is streamed into his nerves endings.
He can also switch his implant into a mode where he solely focuses on the sounds of a person directly in front of him. As he told us, this is a big advantage when talking in loud environments like clubs. At the moment he is about to found the German Cyborg Society. I find the Cyborg/Transhumanism community very fascinating and am quite eager for the next years. Check out this talk from the 27th CCCongress if you are further interested in this topic.

Cologne
After Berlin I went to Cologne for two days in order to attend the Interactive Cologne, a barcamp/hackathon. Met some Open Data activists there. Some by the Open Knowledge Foundation, some by koelnAPI, a group of Open Data activists from Cologne who took on our ulmAPI naming scheme :-) .

The event was held in an unused church. Electronical music was playing in the background the entire time, people with their laptops everywhere and quadcopters flying through the air. Quite a nice hacking atmosphere!

At all these events I noticed a clear improvement in gender balance. There were definitely more women attending than usually. This is quite a pleasant development.

About Me

I am a 25 year old techno-creative enthusiast and computer science student at the university of Ulm in Germany.

I care about exploring ideas and developing new things. I like creating great stuff that I am passionate about.

Mobile photos

License

All content is licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International (if not explicitly noted otherwise).
 
I would be happy to hear if my work gets used! Just drop me a mail.
 
The CC license above applies to all content on this site created by me. It does not apply to linked and sourced material.
 
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