community · creativity · culture · design · learning · technology

Electric Sky Art Camp hosts artists, hackers, and nature lovers alike

I promise these guys are not paying me to promote this event. It just sounded cool and I thought I would share with other art, nature, and science lovers.

tubular lamp hanging from tree

Electric Sky is an art and tech weekend campathon June 8-11th 2017, bringing together artists, technologists, designers, hackers, makers, and friends to collaboratively engage with the environment in new and exciting ways. Electric Sky is a cross between an artists’ retreat and a hackathon, where you’ll spend several days in the woods, on the river, in our outdoor creativity lab, making stuff with people like you. You may arrive with well-developed ideas and half-finished projects, or you may arrive with no idea what you want to do but are game to jump in on a collaborative project.

This is a community-oriented event, and there’s plenty of space for camping, with lots to do in the area. In addition, we will have workshops appropriate for kids, so they too may experience the joys of creating with technology in the woods.

If you are excited by the idea of creating an individual or collaborative project around our theme the Wondering Woods, we invite you to apply to be a supported participating artist or creative technologist, to receive free tickets and funds to support your project.

They are taking applications for projects until May 1. Hosted in Skykomish in Western Washington. Check out the event page to learn more.

architecture · behavior · play · Social · technology

“Pokémon Go” Is Quietly Helping People Fall In Love With Their Cities

I have been fascinated with the incredible popularity of Pokemon Go. Some people are seeing it as an “annoying” new game, but I see it as an amazingly powerful tool to trick people into exercising and getting outside, and as author Mark Wilson observes, discovering your city.

In our collective hunt for silly cartoon monsters, Pokémon Go players are discovering history and architecture left and right. Users described their discoveries over the weekend, from Korean pagodas, to a Donner Party memorial in California, to the urban landscape of Perth at night, all documented on Twitter.

Read the full article at: “Pokémon Go” Is Quietly Helping People Fall In Love With Their Cities | Co.Design | business + design

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community · health · Nature · play · Social · technology

Draw A Walking Route In Whatever Shape You Want | PSFK

Looking to have a little fun with your walk? Now you can use mapping technology to do so…

The Trace app will let you turn a sketch on your smartphone into a physical walking route around a city. You can share your route with a friend, and the recipient gets step-by-step directions. Eventually, the app will reveal the shape on a map.

The walk creator can add signposts along the way—images, audio recordings, messages—which will pop-up at specific places in-route. Walkers can begin their walk anywhere in the city, and pick the duration of their walk. The app adjusts the size of the shape accordingly.

Sixteen walkers in Seattle, Boston and Chicago tested out Trace for a week, drawing over 150 shapes. They sent the walks to friends or tried the routes themselves. The results were presented in a study in Seoul, at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI conference last month.

more via Draw A Walking Route In Whatever Shape You Want.

children · learning · play · school · technology

This Throwable Computer Teaches Kids How To Code | Co.Design

Learning is fun. Or at least it should be fun. Little kids are always exploring, experimenting, asking “why, why, where, when, why?!” (can you tell I have a toddler at home?). This is a great example of trying to keep learning fun.

This Throwable Computer Teaches Kids How To Code | Co.Design | business + design

Coding is a great skill for kids to learn but it can be a lonely, sedentary endeavor. Hackaball, a new toy created from a partnership between the design agencies MAP and Made By Many, promises to get kids off their butts and playing outside—all while teaching basic coding skills and empowering kids to invent their own kind of play.

It’s a lot to ask from one product which is why Hackaball had to be meticulously designed. The ball is bigger than a baseball but smaller than a soccer ball, and it comes with several simple parts that can be put together using basic instructions, so kids understand what’s inside, and get the chance to start creating from the get-go. Once it’s put together, the toy can glow different colors, make noises, and even vibrate. As for how to use it? The kids get to decide.

Using a space-themed app, kids write if-then rules, learning the syntax of basic coding. An example: if you drop a ball, then it turns red. Or if the ball hits something, then it will make a noise. These games can be as complicated or as simple as kids want.

read more at This Throwable Computer Teaches Kids How To Code | Co.Design | business + design.

The Hackaball is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, where you can pre-order one for $69.

learning · play · technology · work

Building Fun into Work (Just Don’t Call it Gamification)

People seem pretty sick of the idea of “Gamification” of things. But here’s the rub: a lot of jobs need to be more fun. And can be made more fun. And technology can have a strong hand in doing that.

One of the best pieces of advice a boss of mine ever received, he said, was that “people like getting points.” Even if the points don’t culminate in anything, just having the most points on a forum board or in an app is a great feeling for people.

History of Mario Museum from Deloitte Digital

Ambition (for example) focuses specifically on gamifying the performance of sales teams. Its software provides customers with a dashboard full of real-time metrics, such as calls made or leads generated or emails opened.

Through Ambition dashboards, employees (and of course, their managers) can track performance in relation to individual and team goals on their computers and mobile devices. The software syncs with a company’s CRM technology, as well as phone systems and spreadsheets and any other tools an organization might use. The cost is between $20 and $30 per employee per month.

Using whatever metrics a client wants to track, the software creates an Ambition Score, which is an aggregate of all the metrics. A score of 100 means an employee or team has reached every benchmark for a given time period.

more via The Hot Software Niche in Search of a New Name.

My company is currently working on creating a way to gamify a frankly otherwise quite boring piece of learning, specifically for employees only.

Many kids enjoy cleaning up their toys if you make it a race.

What are some surprising ways you’ve seen fun and play incorporated into an otherwise boring task? Leave it in the comments below.

behavior · culture · design · emotion · happiness · technology

Daniele Quercia’s Happy maps and happier travelling

Can you map your happiness?

Mapping apps help us find the fastest route to where we’re going. But what if we’d rather wander? Researcher Daniele Quercia demos “happy maps” that take into account not only the route you want to take, but how you want to feel along the way.

watch via Daniele Quercia: Happy maps | Talk Video | TED.com.

Coincidentally, another researcher is also working on this problem, and creating maps that find the most relaxing routes based on people’s brainwaves:

MIT Media Lab’s Arlene Ducao is hoping to shed some light on which biking routes promise a more relaxing ride with her Mindreader Map. The project is a continuation of Ducao’s 2012 experiments involving a mind-controlled bicycle helmet that flashes different colors depending on the stress levels of the rider.

Using this type of data city planners could conceivably better plan bike lanes and traffic signals with an understanding of where the most stressful, and potentially dangerous, areas for cyclists are.

Have you changed your commute to be less stressful, even if it means a little longer ride or drive to work? Talk about it in the comments below.

creativity · design · happiness · health · mental health · technology · youtube

Cool Technology Allows Disabled People To Create Incredible Art With Their Minds

Art has the power to soothe, to heal, to empower, to raise awareness and to move people to action. Using technology to enable people to express themselves through art is great, whether it’s for a cause, or a brand in this case.

To raise awareness for their brand, an art supply company created this viral campaign featuring real people using technology to create beautiful abstract art. Sixteen disabled individuals in China (home to the world’s largest disabled population) were invited to participate in the project, which involved using advanced brainwave scanning technology in conjunction with detonator-equipped, paint-filled balloons. The video seems to show that by concentrating really hard, the participants were able to trigger the colorful explosions, resulting in some very unique pieces.

more via Cool Technology Allows Disabled People To Create Incredible Art With Their Minds.

behavior · education · health · learning · neuroscience · play · technology

Helping children receive and learn about brain scans through play | BBC News

We know children tend to be wiggly, but we’ve also seen them sit stone still when they are engaged in a good book or toy or enraptured by a movie. A hospital in the UK is tapping into that enraptured engaged stillness.

Many adults find the procedure of having a brain scan, which involves having to lie still for an hour or more while images are analysed, an unsettling experience.The process is no less daunting for young children, who are usually given a general anaesthetic when they have the procedure.

However, a pilot scheme at University College Hospital in London is helping young people have a scan without being sedated, by teaching them about it through play.

see the video via BBC News – Helping children learn about brain scans through play.

community · happiness · Social · technology · youtube

Social Networks Can’t Replace Real Human Interaction

Virtual space, including friendships there, does not fully replace that real live human interaction we get in real world spaces. More and more studies are finding this out, and people are reacting to it, often on social media.

graphic designer Shimi Cohen, based in Tel Aviv, has provided “a fresh and subtly soul-wrenching reminder of the way our screens can become cells of solitary confinement.”

The animation was Cohen’s senior project at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. Based in part on MIT professor Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together and Yair Amichai-Hamburger’s article “The Invention of Being Lonely,” inspiration also came from a personal place. “Like many others,” Cohen tells Co.Design, “I became addicted to socializing through my phone and social media. This started to bother me and intrigue me at the same time.”

Discovered at Co.Design.

This is a wonderful and simple reminder to get off the computer from time to time and actually go interact outside with real people.

anthropology · behavior · creativity · culture · happiness · play · Social · technology · youtube

Lolcats and the Harlem Shake: Play on the Internet


An article from the head of Google’s Agency Strategic Planning team published in Fast Company talks about why we play on the Internet; it’s a really good dive into the need and importance for play in our lives and share that playful experience with others, and how as we move towards a more digital space we are taking that need to share play with us. It is marketing/branding focused, but the message is clear; we all need play and are making space for it, at least in our Internet lives:

We [netizens] uploaded over half a million variations of Harlem Shake to YouTube in the past few months. Google searches for Cat GIFs hit an all-time high last month. And we took 380 billion photos last year–that’s 10% of all the photos taken . . . ever. But let’s be honest–these memes are fun, but they don’t matter, right? They’re pretty much a waste of time.

As the head of Google’s Agency Strategic Planning team, it’s my job to work with brands and creative agencies to help develop their ideas in the digital space. So I had to ask: Why would we be doing so much of all this “visual play” if it really means so little to us?
To get to the bottom of these memes, we assembled a team of original thinkers–anthropologists, digital vanguards, and content creators–to dig a little deeper into this “visual web.” We also spoke to gen-Cers–the people who grew up on the web or behave as though they did–and who thrive on creation, curation, connection, and community.

The research showed us that far from distracting us from more serious things, these viral pictures, videos, and memes reconnect us to an essential part of ourselves.

It may seem that all we’re doing is just capturing every mundane moment. But look closely. These everyday moments are shot, displayed, and juxtaposed in a way that offers us a new perspective. And then all of a sudden these everyday moments, places, and things look . . . fascinating.

As kids, that happens all the time because everything is new. Everything is unlike. And we aren’t constrained by the rules about what “goes together.” Why else was putting the Barbie in the toy car wash more fun than putting the car in the car wash?

Read the whole article here: Memes With Meaning: Why We Create And Share Cat Videos And Why It Matters To People And Brands