Autobiography Through Devices

I wish I could say it was love at first sight when my Dad brought home what I just now leaned was called an IBM 5150. According to IBM, “ it was dramatically clear to most observers that IBM had done something very new and different.” I guess I wasn’t most observers. My parents say I liked it but my memories of it little to do with it being a computer per se. It was inculcated in major events in the household. It could make grayscale banners and quarter-page invitations, letters to pen pals and family. Nothing about that computer, for me, had to do with programming. In fact, what I remember most about it was how mechanical it was: All the different, almost musical sounds it made when it was reading a floppy or printing something on its included dot-matrix printer. The spring-loaded keys on its impossibly heavy keyboard made the most intriguing sound; when all ten fingers were on that keyboard it sounded like a mechanical horse clacking and clinking. My favorite part of the computer was when you’d turn it off and it would make a beautiful tornado of green phosphorus accompanied by a sad whirling sound. It sounded like this almost-living thing was dying a small death every time you were finished with it. I loved killing that computer. (more…)

The Brilliance of Silver Spring #f2c

It’s as if a TED conference smashed headfirst into a hackathon and then fell into an NGO strategy summit. CEOs sit next to non-profit employees and eat boxed lunches as a dominatrix(@MClarissa) presents a slide on teledilonics followed up by a garage hacker-turned-million dollar project director quoting Alexis de Tocqueville. It is a supremely uncanny experience that all happens within the confines of a movie theater (and, later, a sushi bar). This is what one can expect when they attend the Freedom to Connect conference (#f2c) held in Silver Spring, Maryland. The conference is meant to bring “under-represented people and issues into the Washington, DC based federal policy discussion…” I left the conference feeling generally good that there are people out there working to preserve and protect open infrastructures. I just wish that team were more diverse.

Read more on Cyborgology.

Alternate Realities in the Developing World

A computer store in Kumasi, Ghana

 

I have a long post in Cyborgology coming up this week, about the social construction of cell phone use in the developing world. Until then, take a loot at what I was up to what I was in Ghana.

UPDATE [07/25/11] The "Alternate Realities" post has been syndicated (with sexier pictures than my own) over at the fantastic site OWNI.eu

Theorizing the Web Conference

I'll be attending the Theorizing the Web Conference 2011 at the University of Maryland on April 9th. I'll be on the titular "Cyborgology" panel with some really awesome people. Its going to be a really great panel. If you have some time that weekend, and live within a $30 trip to the DC area, you should totally come. 

The abstracts for the four panelists are currently up on the Cyborgology blog. But if you're feeling a little "tl;dr" then let me just give you an elevator pitch. Have you ever felt unfulfilled by the media's portrayal of twitter, facebook, and mobile computing platforms? Does the phrase, "facebook revolution," in the context of the recent populist revolts, make your cringe? If you have always yearned for an intelligent conversation about what Facebook is doing to our world, this is it. 

While we're on the subject of conferences, I also wrote a short reaction to the national GK-12 conference that was held in early March. You can read it here.