Tag Archives: conf.NEW1

Language-Ideas Further to (and a Bit Against) Re-Imagining Conference Work

conf.{B}.OLD1.&and.conf.NEW1.frame.work_ideas I have found an analogy to our system-considerations, musings, etc. in my work in designing and developing for the web: what I find is that the system idea is actually instrumental in defining that transition point between a web site (static, 1D) and an /application/: somehow multi-dimensional, functional, more dynamic.

I can draw a direct connection from the definition we have been building for systems more generally (starting point, consideration of the neighborhood, auto-evolution) but also, it becomes clear in the actual experience of /building/, that somehow the thing I am working on is becoming more complex, almost taking on the characteristics of language, and in that, I think, it becomes systematic. Meaning patterns appear, and more concretely tools I use in one instance are adapted to another: in fact the way the DOM works, the cross-pollination of html, css and js on the client side, and then (in my case) python within the Django framework for web applications on the back-end, all start talking to each other in unsuspected ways! Suddenly, I can invoke a design idea I came up with months ago by mere reference to a css class: the design becomes part of a new pattern just established and brings /continuity/. In all sorts of manners, there are echoes, reflections, …

I think of /A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction/ by Christopher Alexander here. This book obviously is about architecture. But things get really intriguing when I actually take the basic modus operandi (identifying abstracted, archetypical instances, using them consciously for design projects) and apply it to a whole new field: what I am doing here.

So it really is a language then. I chose the punctuation, the occasional exclamation mark, or rather, this comes out of itself, organically: that, to me, strikes at the heart of what actually makes this a language. Like human language, that lives on, mutates, and is around long after the actual bearer perishes, this has a life of its own, with its own rules, idiosyncrasies. This is the system in my conference work, actually.

Introduction (to my /New/ Conference Work)

EDITOR’S_NOTE//sys.3.OLD1//conf.NEW1.introduction From abundant CIA evidence it seems clear that the present application is the original brain child of none other than Henry Rhodes Hamilton (HRH; although the actual authorship remains disputed). Founder of the Perfect Light Movement (PLM), this quixotic character of the early 20th century is known to us by way of a profoundly detailed index to a suppressed autobiography, written after a prolonged episode involving a plane crash and capture by insurgents, in Cambodia.

After the Tenth Convocation of PLM the proclamation of HRH’s divinity reports of Scientology-style apparatuses for measurement of personality types, explanations of the universe, and sometimes less specified purposes, start appearing. These ideas were born out of His interest in telepathy, and the experiments He Ran Himself. Hotly contested from the start, but especially following CIA infiltration and seizure of the equipment, most fruits of this labor have been lost. It is only thanks to this humble editor’s efforts that some of the original functionality of this instance could be restored for posterity.

It is unclear whether the results produced have validity (for our times), or even follow the scientific (or any) method. HRH, His Righteousness Himself, always had a vision that arguably transcended sanity, so much is clear. As such, when he asked for this application to be built, he also requested that every user and the information they submitted, along with the IP address for the machine they were using, is taken and collected in a large unspecified data storage facility in Tucson, Nevada.

The nature of this project is both mundane, and metaphysical. On a practical level, HRH is compiling the most extensive birthday calendar known to man, for personal, congratulatory use. He hates forgetting people’s birthdays.

On a more metaphysical level, HRH is convinced of the endlessly mirroring, echoing, fractal nature of information. What does it mean to be born in one place, at the time of great disaster in another? There must be a connection! Perhaps it is in the individual’s life, but maybe, just maybe, it’s a game of numbers: HRH believes, at the end of all of this, the database in the Nevada desert will hold the answer; like a tree, a Tree of Knowledge indeed, this thing emerges and stands tall in a wasteland of random Facebook quizzes.

(_)Elements, or: Ron Resch Now Digital (Picking Up: An Early System)

conf.{A}.OLD1.elem.ents.&and.conf.NEW1 Because the application is a system that only exists in relation to a user, a user who ultimately has to click and search through the application for it to reveal itself fully (it is informational, it exists on a server somewhere, but it is only actually “there” when it is read. Kind of like the tree that falls when no one is looking, except this is more about /use/: there is only a point to it if someone uses it) – it has to have an appeal and an elegance and a /flow/.

What emerges in our systems class is the idea of systems aesthetics, and I find the perfect application in an actual web application, at precisely this intersection of machinery and observer. For it to work well ultimately, these separate entities must work together, and the actual meeting point is the aesthetically sophisticated system. Where if it does not have sophistication (visual appeal in color and form, elegance and good function), the system is not only not engaging, but won’t be used in the first place. The internet and its web apps and sites are designed more and more to be consumable: something that is not palatable can easily be discarded in favor of something more usable. The internet is competitive and the drive goes towards consumability, in this sense.

But anyway, it’s what I wanted to achieve in designing a portfolio of systems: an actually system-inspired application, that more than anything, marches to the drum of system aesthetics.

While always being mindful of the too much and kitsch that might go with that. I don’t want to be the person with the crazy power point – all those transitions and effects, so that the thing is just unprofessional in how dynamic and centerstage it is. (You know?)

Finally, some concrete examples of what I mean here, in funkelsteine.com:

– the tabs in top of the site alert the user to their location in the logical flow of the website – the center piece of the page is a an animated triangular design (svg images loaded by a script) inspired by the work in my analog system right at the beginning of the semester (Ron Resch paper folding ideas). It is based on the scanned version of the actual, physical Resch fold:


  Subsequently turns into (screenshotted):

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 11.03.42 PM

– sitting on top of this field of triangles is a pop-up menu that follows the user and collapses depending on their location on the page (css menu manipulated by script). The idea was to have this be very dynamic, and also centered (literally) and prominent, hovering slightly above the rest of the page (drop shadow): the social media icons that will populate this “flower petal” menu are central to the content ideas of the project. The idea is that these things get shared and find their way to lots of users, so that something really /systems/ grows out of it.

Apart from these design ideas inspired by systems aesthetics, of course, the whole website, and the actual code that runs it, on a sever, is a system. I also decided to appropriate the thing as a portfolio of my work this semester: I am also showcasing the Garden of Life (processing piece running on Conway’s Game of Life logic), and last semesters work in Unity, on ADAM, on this website!