Class 1 – Interests and Computation

Computation and programming are fairly new to me, so I’m looking forward to seeing where these skills can take my work at ITP. To sum up my writings below, I’m interested in making experiences transportable, slow or awareness-building technology, and social impact oriented projects — and how computation can play a role in these areas!

My interests come from a background in music and visual arts with a community engagement framework, after majoring in Art History and Music History/Performance in undergrad. My working years have been defined by managing programs at cultural organizations, often with city partnerships involved.

Here are four directions I could go in at the moment (hard to say what might change here at ITP!):

  1. Transportable experiences or positive identities: Most recently, the music projects I managed at Carnegie Hall were designed for youth in the city’s juvenile justice system to create live original music, and if they like, continue with their interests at Carnegie Hall in midtown. I became pretty interested in positive documentation of young people’s interests. This is because despite big and positive changes in the system, motivating positive interests still get lost in transitional moments when a young person goes from one site to another — which is a shame, because without knowing these interests, it’s easy for adults to lose out on positive momentum and instead hyper-focus on what isn’t going well in that young person’s life.   In the last six months, I worked with a partner as they prototyped a paper-based “Interests Passport” that would capture a young person’s favorite pastimes & travel with them from detention to placement.  Before that, I worked on a VIP Pass, which explores a similar idea. I’d be interested in what a VIP Pass or Passport looks like with computation and physical interaction built in.  I definitely have some assumptions, obstacles and usability to explore, but I think it could be fruitful to explore how you can make positive experiences transportable, celebrated, and actionable by others.
  2. I’m also interested in how computation and programming can be built for “slow technology” (my most recent reading about this was in this article by Jack Cheng). Interactive technology is so addictive. Personally, I switched to a flip phone to cut down on my time online. But interactive technology can also increase someone’s awareness of their day to day. I explored this is a group project a couple years ago when I took an Codecademy in-person/online course in downtown Manhattan (10-15 hours a week…. I’m banking on it laying some groundwork!). The project was a “Rethink Happy” app, in which you get closer to understanding what actually makes you happy. In the morning, you use the app to guess how much your day’s activities will make you happy. And in the evening, you look back and rate again.  Maybe you thought you’d hate coding, but in hindsight you really loved those 5 hours. The app will help you see this change. The concept behind this relates to how your brain understands the future and past differently (which Daniel Kahneman talks about in his book Thinking Fast and Slow).  Anyway, I’d also be interested in exploring how computation can help you focus on the reality around you, rather than distract you from it.
  3. I’m intrigued by art-based visual projects. I’ve really enjoyed making paper collages. It could be interesting to try creating collages within the capabilities of the web browser.
  4. Lastly, I’ve been responsible for managing a lot of projects in which other people make music.  I’d love to try making music myself through digital means!