Particle Wind Chime next generation

After our successful hacking of a particle wind chime at Science Hack Day SF 2010, it’s time to see if I can build a standalone Web-enabled version. I plan to build a hardware module that will connect to a wireless network, download events, and play them. I still need to work out what settings to have in hardware and what to run from software, but that depends on how bulky it gets. The bonus is that the hardware version can automatically include the light show version of the wind chime very easily!

Basic idea: Arduino + XBee + MIDIvox + blinkM connecting to a web server that will feed the events in the correct format. (Update: an XBee won’t work of course for wifi so I’m looking for a good cheap wifi module. It looks like there are some good ones but I welcome recommendations!)

Do the setting of pitch, duration, volume, instrument to various particle properties via rotary BCD switches. (Poll via 5 digital pins, setting one to select channel and send power high while listening on the four output pins which are all in parallel between all channels.)

Also be able to select a known event (via two BCD wheels)–good for testing channel allocations–or request a random new event from a live stream.

Science and design barcamp

Basic idea: Bring scientists and designers together for a weekend to see how design can make science more effective, efficient, or enjoyable.

– Physical stuff: Equipment (glassware, tools, etc.)/labeling, recording devices, lab notebooks
– Shared space planning: corridors, shared spaces, public spaces
– Intrascience communication: Conference posters, advertising/event spaces, conference booths, conference forms
– Interscience communication: Colloquia, conference booths, etc.
– Outreach: publications, visitor centers, handouts, schwag, new forms, web
– Personal space planning: Office arrangements, lab space
– Behavioral: Travel, visiting/remote office, two-body problem
– Sociological: Team dynamics, group meetings, work sharing, collaboration tools/techniques, recognition of contributions (esp. in collaboration)
– Administrative: Paper preparation, grant preparation, whereami?
– Community: equivs of arxiv, SPIRES, blog networks, conference ARGs, etc.
– Innovation drivers: Sharing, meeting, cross-fertilization
– Play: Games, ARGS, quizzes, activities, ice-breakers

Designers: Questions, observations, offerings
Scientists: Problems, annoyances, common behaviors, norms, time allocation
Have a set of questions to answer to find problem areas. e.g.
– What do you waste most time on? (Specifically)
– What do you feel like should be easier?
– What items do you use most on while at your desk? In your lab?
– What action do you repeat most often in a day?
– What rule do you find most constraining?
– How do you travel to/from work?
– What times do you usually go to/from work?
– What is the most enjoyable part of a typical day?
– What is the most annoying part of a typical day?
– What behavior did you need to learn for your job?

Big Qs for us as planners:
What’s the incentive for designers to attend?
– possible contracts/projects/portfolio pieces
What’s in it for scientists?
– possible solutions

Experimental science writing publication

So much science writing comes in a certain set of forms. News, features, briefs, profiles, etc.

Why aren’t there more creative types of science writing? There is a movement of creative non-fiction, although that seems to have a fairly narrow view in itself. Why not an experimental science writing?

It probably doesn’t exist because there is no outlet for it. Nobody would publish such a thing, partly by definition because it’s experimental and there is not necessarily an audience for it.

So I’ll make an experimental science writing publication.

First a few key aspects of it.

1. What is experimental science writing?
It’s really any kind of story telling about science that uses unusual forms.

2. Does it have to be text?
Not at all! For a publication, it needs to be capturable in some way, such as text. But photographs would work fine. A recipe/algorithm for how to do something would also be fine.

3. What medium would the publication be in?
To get started so it doesn’t drown under the weight of dreams-too-big, I think that a print-on-demand magazine or book should be able to capture most of what we want. At least to start with. Later versions could be online and interactive.

4. Who would contribute?
Anybody who is interested. There is no need that your day job be as a professional science writer. You can define your connection to telling the stories of science however you like.

5. When will this happen?
I’m thinking now and writing this so it begins now. I’ll put out a call for submissions and see what we start to get in. Then we’ll take another look.

6. How can I be involved?
Contribute, edit, design, organize, contribute, contribute, smile, encourage, contribute, enjoy.

7. What are the kinds of things you are looking for?
I hate to say as it might push you in a certain direction, but I’m thinking about a few things myself. Translating an issue of a journal into haiku. Building an installation of a branching story in real space, photographed for the publication. Creating a rogue QR-code infestation in my town with each code telling a little story of science. Exquisite corpse, science style.

8. What do I do now?
Create something. Send it to me. Chat with me. I’m physicsdavid just about everywhere but I prefer gmail for contact. Or just add your name or a comment below and I’ll keep you in the loop.