CogBlogged in ‘2014’

SPLOTting The Comparator

SPLOT! Hah. Blame Brian Lamb for the acronym (despite twitter banter, I like it) for an idea to frame some project ideas for my stint here at Thompson Rivers University. The idea is Simplest Possible Learning Online Tools, things that faculty or designers here could use w/o worry of south of the border servers and not requiring any logins. Something that can be tried and used in the shortest possible time. Just to get started, I picked something doable quick. I had seen Tom Woodward experiment with a jQuery widget that allows you to compare two images with a little slider, which I had also seen on the Killing Lincoln National Geographic i-documentary: That slider on the building allows you to compare photos of the same building taken in 1900 and 2014. It’s not that hard to do. It’s not to hard for me to do. There is an elegant […]

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A Third Leg for StreamMode vs StateMode

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC ) flickr photo shared by Marco Colin The thing about Mike Caulfied posts is that they work their way into your mind (“Captain, he put CREATURES… in our brains”). In What Iterative Writing Looks Like (and why it’s important) he delineates (strongly) between the streaming flow of social media content versus reflective blog content has been resonating in mine: StreamMode is Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. It’s also blogs to a large extent (though this is somewhat mitigated through cross-linking and backtracks). It’s internet comments. Email. Secret. Ello. Yo. While StreamMode has advantages, it’s also creating a world that largely sucks. We’re driven by news pegs, back and forth arguments that go nowhere, the latest shiny things on the radar instead of sustained thinking about older issues. StreamMode also is exclusionary — a stream of twitter comments often relies on extensive insider knowledge to be interpreted. It’s […]

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Technologies: Bluetooth modules, DAWN Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking Stack, iPac Pocket PCs with 802.11b and Bluetooth, microcontrollers, sensors, Umbrellas, software
Current URL: n/a (no response for
Wikibook Chapter:

A project conceived by Engineering PhD students Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki at Trinity University (Dublin), experimented early with networks operating with real objects that changed based on proximity to other similar objects. 

The umbrellas, connected via Bluetooth and what was then miniature PCs, and thus become a public performance art:

When a participant in opens her umbrella, the computer seeks to establish a wireless network connection with other computer-equipped umbrellas in the area. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) illuminate the umbrella, indicating the connection’s status: red when trying to connect and blue when connected. The hand-held computers include a text-messaging application and feature a graphical interface that identifies participants by name.

These are certainly done easier today with smaller embeddable technologies and concepts of Internet of Things. Would the dynamic then encourage participants to see out others to connect with? What was the significance of the umbrella going dark?

The original URL redirects to Kathleen Moriwaki;s current site. There is more information on the portfolio of Jonah Brucker-Cohen, described there as “Exploring coincidence-based network formation” including a photo of the hardware that fit around the shaft of the umbrella:

The “performance” is driven by a shared transient need to deal with rain (emphasis added)

In Dublin, Ireland, rainfall is frequent and unpredictable. Often individuals carry umbrellas with them in case they are caught in a downpour. It is common to witness during a sudden and unexpected flash of rain, a sea of umbrellas in the crowded streets sweeping open as raindrops first hit the ground. This collective, yet isolated act of opening an umbrella creates a network of individuals who are connected through similarity of action, and intent. The manifestation of open umbrellas on the street could be tied to a temporary network which is activated through routers and nodes attached to the umbrella, which operate only while it rains. While the coincidence of need exists, the network operates. When the necessity of action and intent ceases, it disappears. We believe these transitory networks can add surprise and beauty to our currently fixed communication channels.

The image of crowds and umbrellas took on a different meaning in 2014 with the Umbrella Movement spawned by the protests in Hong Kong — making one wonder how such a locative technology might have played a part in the actions in Hong Kong.

As another aside, this is one of five examples in the book where the original site ( resided in the tilde space of an early personal web site. I thought there might be more in the 35 examples in this book but most of the sites are late 19902 early 2000s when web hosting had moved to more regular locations in web structures.

Umbrellas continue to be outfit with Arduino controllers that can change their color such as Leslie Birch’s FLORAbella

While the technology is more built into the device, the network effects of the original project still stand up over time.

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Traveling Back in Web Time with Memento

Memento (nods to the Christopher Nolan’s genius) wants “establish a web that has a memory”. It’s part protocol / part browser tool that aims to make it easier to see a web resource at a past time of your choosing. In the video above I take a few steps back in time form 2014 through 1996, to look at my first site for the Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction and just for grins, tried to take the same steps back for Time magazine If you know the URI of a Web resource, the technical framework proposed by Memento allows you to see a version of that resource as it existed at some date in the past, by entering that URI in your browser like you always do and by specifying the desired date in a browser plug-in. Yes, you can do a lot of this via the Internet Archive’s […]

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creative commons licensed ( BY-NC ) flickr photo shared by xeophin Please, no not look. Thanks to some fun sponsored by Reclaim Hosting, I ended up with a new spiffy domain to play with. @ReclaimHosting — Alan Levine (@cogdog) September 29, 2014 I almost forgot about it when poking around my directories, and saw the directory sitting there. I thought about maybe putting my worst photos on a site… but enough about my photos, what about other photos? So here is the concept. This site now is set to every hour, rummage around flickr, and find a person who’s photos you most likely would never come across, and display their 20 most recent uploads: DON”T LOOK! This was a sloppy assemblage done in an hour or two of fiddling. It’s a layout I did as an experiment before just to experiment with calling the flickr api via Javascript. To […]

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Looking for Light/Looking for Ideas

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog For a break today, my first full day on campus at Thompson River University, I do the thing I enjoy most– wandering around with my camera. I do cite a subtle and maybe overlooked tip for photography is “to look for the light.” This means much more than conventional wisdom of having your back to light sources, which often does work to best light a subject outdoors. But there is just as much beauty in breaking that, taking photos directly into the light, or using strong side lighting. But I’d been thinking about something I probably operate at a more instinctual level, from experience with the camera, there is a feeling when I am in certain places, or noticing the way light is highlighting vividly, or when it is absent, or when shadows and light have interplay. I cannot […]

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creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by [ changó ] Here I try to try to start trying to… think out loud about part of my project here at Thompson Rivers University as an Open Learning Scholar. One component is to work with Brian Long in help broadening the use of their TRU Wiki platform named “kumu” (I know there is a story there on the name). On one hand I find myself thinking about trying to take on an understanding of the MediaWiki platform it is built on, which I’ve really not done much since my mid NMC years. But in first chats with Brian, it’s less about diving into the bowels of the machine and more about generating activity/interest there. What they have already is not the vanilla MediaWiki, but a version with the functionality and structure that worked well at UBC meaning namespaces for […]

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On the Road / Off the Road

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog From this perspective, actually laying down on Nevada highway 266, there is but one direction to go. I am the only person on the flickr using bellyontheroad as a tag; there is some sort of message there I won’t dwell too much upon. This road, and others, was over 1900 miles to go from home in Strawberry Arizona to Kamloops, British Columbia, where I will be based through March 2015 as an Open Learning Scholar at Thompson Rivers University, an opportunity made possible by Brian Lamb (and many others I shall get to know soon). More on that story as it develops. Here’s some notes from the road, a blurred experience coming on the heels of a 2 week trip to New Zealand that ended 5 days before I left again. On/Off/on/off the road. Go go go. I thought […]

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Clichés are Written 60,000 Times Faster Than Finding Sources

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by caddymob It’s time to start issuing citations for pooping on the internet. The sheer irony of what came in via a trackback (still value among the flotilla of spam) to my still un-solved pursuit to find the source, the actual credible source, for the oft asserted “””fact””” (triple scare quotes) that “visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text”. Please keep the internet clean and never NEVER EVER use that assertion in any form. Unless you like poop smell. And here is the poop piled irony- someone actually used my post doubting the existence of this fact as a citation of its existence. In fact, the entire “”””article”””” ought to be strip searched for credibility. The odor commences with the title A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words – And About 50 Milliseconds from the revered wisdom of AlignTech Solutions […]

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A Shiny New Edible Garden Project Site

From the Forgotten to Blog Department. And also filed in Last Site That Gets Updated is My Own division. About a year ago, Keira connected me with the folks at the Edible Garden Project (EGP) in Vancouver, who were looking to redo their web site. Check out the site at In calendar time it took about a year to get from old to new, some of it my schedule getting in the and sometimes the EGP folks were busy, but the thing was, this bothered neither of us. It was great working with Emily and her team, they brought a lot to the table in terms of what they said they wanted in a new site. There were some logistical steps to jump through before we even got to the pretty stuff. This is the original site, which is now residing at (my web fetish, keep a history […]

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