Archive for the ‘information appliances’ Category

how to make a public text box

November 7, 2011

publictextbox, put yourself in front of it and type something

a public text box is a basic information sharing utility for a shared space. in this case, it’s a twitter account associated with a specific machine in a shared space rather than a person(who could be anywhere).

we tried this on macosx and linux. windows not tested but should work fine afaik.

1) download software and libraries

Processing:, Control P5 Library:, Fullscreen library:, Twitter Java library, twitter4j-core-v#.jar,

2) the code

3) where to put things, this will vary slightly with your OS, but should look about the same. if you open processing and save the same sketch and then search for that it will probably be something like /Documents/Processing/sketch_023d

So you want to create a folder processing/publictextbox and publictextbox.pde will go in there. Then create /processing/publictextbox/code and controlP5.jar, fullscreen.jar, and twitter4j-core-version#.jar files will go in there.

file locations for processing scketch and libraries, will be a .txt file with keys in it too

4) register and get twitter keys, put keys into .pde code

5) test it out yo! do yer best debugginn.

6) make some keyboard modifications. maybe if you’re going to put this in a public place you should make a keyboard that has no ESC or CTL key so people can’t get out of the app once it’s running?

7) build a box. make it look nice. think ATM, public telephone, arcade game. get crafty and creative. i believe in you!

8) maybe you will have an auto shutdown and restart that will allow the installation to run long term without crashing as much?? see video for mac version of this. on linux it will be crontab. on windows the answer is ??

subscribe to the feed and watch the strange messages role in….!/publictextbox

could you make the same for something like a reddit/facebook/?? account?

some random notes about using old mac 10.4 machine…


Boston Public Twvee visits Occupy Boston

October 30, 2011

The boston public twvee broadcaster cart has been to visit Occupy Boston on a few days.
Here are some compilation vids from those days.

boston public twvee hits north cambridge

Public Media Systems Workshop, Wednesdays 7-9pm in November, Cambrij

October 30, 2011

An informal workshop and working group around media systems.
What will happen?
We will discuss media systems. Things like television, internet, magazines, blogs, etc. We will view them with several lens including consumption/production, parallel/serial, horizontal/vertical, local/global, centralized/distributed, community/personal. We will then discuss small actions and cover how any new or old computer can become a local information server, a shared public appliance. Using free software, we will go over several ways you can accomplish this. You can do some physical building of a structures to house your device and we can talk about local venues that might house your unit as well. From cafes, music venues, to occupy boston.

Things you can learn to make if you want:
A videobooth, a public timelapse server, command line video remixing, computer timelapse self surveillance, youtube upload scripts, a public text box, and lots of good low level stuff about shell scripting and installing linux, systems thinking, etc.

What you should bring:
Your current computer or an old computer. Any old pc(win2k+) or mac (osx+) can probably be turned into a public information appliance. So bring one of those if you have it.
If you have an old webcam, bring that. If you have an old point and shoot camera from this list, please bring that:

Where: Industry Lab coworking space. 288 Norfolk St, 4th Floor. Near Inman Sq, Cambrij.
When: 4 Wednesdays in November, 7-9pm. Nov 9,16,23,30

RSVP to dan:

If you are interested but can’t make the time, you can still email and maybe some additional one-off sessions will be held at other times.

pieces of the broadcaster project narrative

September 20, 2011

“We are what we eat”
this is true of our bodies(food literally becomes us) and our minds. we consume massive amounts of video, print, digital. most of this content is designed to act as filler for commercial consumption messages. so how does local media provide a service that mass corporations are not providing? something truly connected to physical space. local media as local food for our minds. fresh, seasonal, small batch, made by people we know, sustainable, etc.

“face to face is the highest bandwidth”
for all our computer and technology advancements, nothing compares to the information bandwidth of face to face communication. this is what builds trust and long term productive relationships. so if that is true, why do all our devices make us spend more time communicating through a screen and typed characters?

“parallel vs serial devices”
a blackboard is a parallel media device. people can stand next to each other, both have write/read access to the surface and face to face bandwidth with each other. how would you design digital devices that have interfaces more like this? it’s so strange to see a classroom full of kids staring at individual screens or a train car full of people staring at their phones. phones and laptops are inherently serial devices. serial devices that tunnel long distances lead people to be disconnected from their local physical environments. like i am right now! 😉

“copying is the advantage of digital”
plain and simple, the distinct advantage of digital is it’s ability to be easily copied. existing old school players want protection but all the young kids don’t care about that if you get to them first. a media company service based company based on public domain media flow, more like a utility. metered up, metered down. do whatever you want with bits once you have them.

“publishing and record keeping as a service to the marketplace”
craigslist(goods, services and property), reddit(conversation), ebay(goods), github(software), and facebook(conversation) are all good examples. also, courtrooms, stock exchanges and news wires as old school versions. the ability for individuals to publish and broadcast is powerful. how does this become linked to a physical place rather than a personal device? the digital nature still allows mobility but doesn’t require ownership or maintenance of part of individual.

“media and group witness”
reading a newspaper vs going to church or a sports game.

“freedom of speech and write access”

How to make a timelapse shared memory server

July 14, 2010

The basic idea is this. You’ve got an old computer lying around. You’ve got a webcam or something else that can take pictures. So you can make yourself an information appliance. A simple one function shared device.

Can a timelapse server for a shared space serve a purpose like a logfile for a shared software development project?

1. Old pc/mac that is sitting a closet somewhere.
2. Capture card + external security cam OR usb webcam
3. optional web connection

Our current system is an old Dell Dimension running Fedora 11 Linux. Should work fine with most any linux distro.
Set up the machine:
1. install streamer(xawtv), ffmpeg, imagemagick, scrot(optional)
2. install scripts

The script for making timelapse movies is here:
File includes many old comments but it’s a rather simple script.
Basic functionality:

initialize to a daily directory.
while [ 1 ]
if (new day)
then {make movie with ffmpeg, reinitialize to new daily directory}
write timestamped jpg to daily directory
wait 20 seconds

The script for playing back the movies(

#! /bin/bash
while [ 1 ]
#mplayer -loop 0 -fs -shuffle /home/timelapse/Videos/copies/cam*.mp4
# vlc works too
mplayer -fs -shuffle /home/timelapse/Videos/copies/cam*.mp4
sleep 2 # this line is to make it easier to break out of.
# esc to leave playing. ctl-c to break out of script which will restart after 2 seconds.

don’t forget to make the scripts executable.

chmod 755 *.sh

If you’d like the movies to upload to a youtube channel automatically every night, you can do that as well. Instructions here.

A sample movie from the system:

Another earlier overview that shows some more detail about the actual connections:

another slight modified version that is at mit csail machine shop.