Author Archive

May 5, 2012

Etsy Hackers

by andrewharbor

Another article related to women in computer science: Etsy is awarding 20 women grants to attend the Hacker School this summer to develop their skills as computer programmers. It seems like there’s been a rise in recent years of large online communities geared towards traditionally feminine interests and dominated by women. This includes sites like Etsy, an online marketplace focused on handmade and vintage products, and Pinterest, a pinboard-style social website that allows users to share photos and organize them into thematic collections. These sites are based on the active creation of content, and I wonder if the increase in popularity of sites like these will lead to an increase in the number of women seeking careers in computer science. 

May 5, 2012

Signs of Progress?

by andrewharbor

One our classmates presented a project investigating the relative scarcity of women in STEM fields, which made me think of this article. It reports that in 2005 Harvey Mudd began requiring all undergraduate students to take a computer science class at least partly in an effort to encourage more women to major in computer science. Apparently this strategy has paid off, and now 40 percent of computer science majors at Harvey Mudd are women. Doesn’t Georgia Tech require all undergrads to take computer science? I wonder how the computer science demographics have changed here since that policy was initiated. Also, I had never heard of the “brogrammer” phenomenon before. Hmm…

May 5, 2012

iPavement

by andrewharbor

A Spanish company is creating wifi hotspots built into paving stones. I really like the idea of incorporating technology into the infrastructure of cities. I think it reflects how connectivity has become so ingrained into our lives, and of course it would be great to have free wifi everywhere you go. I’m not sure about this particular idea, though. Won’t it be difficult to troubleshoot these devices if something goes wrong? And it seems like paving stones are subject to a lot of wear and tear and environmental stresses. It’ll be interesting to see if this catches on.

May 4, 2012

The Creators Project

by andrewharbor

The Creators Project describes itself as “a global celebration of art and technology.” It posts blogs and videos of creators of technological art as well as provides a content creation studio and live events. Maybe some of us can contribute?

May 4, 2012

Census Visualization

by andrewharbor

This is an interesting tool for visualizing census data. You can create a household and see how that type of household has changed over time in terms of prevalence, demographics, etc. 

May 4, 2012

Tony “TEMPT ONE” Quan, EyeWriter, and “Getting Up”

by andrewharbor

I find this a fascinating story of creativity inspiring creativity inspiring creativity. Tony “TEMPT ONE” Quan is an accomplished graffiti artist who was stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) which immobilized his body. He was only able to communicate through eye movements, although his creative faculties were undamaged. Upon seeing his art and hearing his story, producer Mick Ebeling was inspired to raise money and reached out to Graffiti Research Labs to create EyeWriter, a tool to allow individuals with ALS to control a computer using eye movements. Ebeling’s wife Caskey began filming TEMPT ONE’s process of using EyeWriter to continue with his creative expression, which led to the documentary “Getting Up”. Doubtless TEMPT ONE’s art, Caskey’s documentary, and the EyeWriter tool have inspired an enabled further creativity. You can read more about this story here.

March 30, 2012

The unexpected benefits of new technology

by andrewharbor

It’s exciting and inspiring to see technology being repurposed with such dramatic results. This video shows how the Microsoft Kinect is being used as part of therapy for autistic children at the Lakeside Center for Autism in Washington. Although there were certainly many goals and inspirations for the design of the Kinect, it is unlikely that autism therapy was one of them. In a world where profit is the ultimate motivator for most big projects like Kinect, it’s good to see that profit is not the only outcome, as well. Hopefully, the next step is taking that technology and creating content that further enables its use as a therapeutic tool.

March 30, 2012

Wind Map

by andrewharbor

Wind Map

I find this map of wind patterns across the United States strangely entrancing. This isn’t data that was previously unavailable; there are wind maps out there on various popular weather sites. But this map makes wind patterns fascinating and beautiful, which in turn makes people think more about the potential of wind and wind power. That is, if they can stop staring at the map for a second…

February 23, 2012

8 Bit Adventure

by andrewharbor

An 8 bit video game character fashion show using recycled/recyclable materials. The script is based off the game ROM Check Fail and involves Pacman, Link and Princess Peach. Princess Peach as usual gets kidnapped, and it’s up to the boys to save the day!

Team: Siddharth Chauhan, Himanshu Sahni, Afshin Mobramaein, Emmy Zhang, Ashley Edwards, Andrew Harbor, Mikhail Jacob, and Sanghun Lee

February 19, 2012

“What does teaching creativity look like?”

by andrewharbor

I recently read an article in the online magazine GOOD entitled “What does teaching creativity look like?” which I found particularly relevant to this course. The article draws heavily from a blog post from Psychology Today by Michael Michalko that lists 12 things that people aren’t taught in school about creativity (but should be). The first thing he mentions is that everyone is inherently a creative and spontaneous thinker. If this inherent creativity is acknowledged and nurtured, it will grow and develop. If a person is taught early on in school that they are creative, they will begin to self-identify as creative and develop their creativity through practice.

I think that perhaps this divide between creativity and non-creativity also exists within each individual. In the American educational system, or at least in the variant I was educated in, we are taught from an early age that certain fields are creative (art, music, literature), while others are not (math, science, engineering). The idea is that we learn to think creatively when studying art and literature, and we learn to think analytically when studying math and science, and in the end we become well-rounded thinkers. But I think that what happens instead is that we learn to think creatively about “creative disciplines” and we learn to think analytically about “analytical disciplines”, and we don’t learn how to mix the two.

The result of this is that we struggle to think about math and science creatively, even if we have no problem expressing our creativity through art and music. Conversely, we struggle to apply the systematic and methodical techniques we use in math and science to our artistic endeavors. One solution to this problem is encouraging cross-disciplinary education and thinking from an early age. If we stop dividing our education into neat little bundles by subject but instead learned things like the chemistry behind mixing different kinds of paints and the mathematics of notes and chords, perhaps we would grow up to be creative and analytical in everything we do.

In her article “Environments for Creativity – A Lab for Making Things” Ellen discusses the “Leonardo model” for conducting cross-disciplinary research or projects. The idea behind the Leonardo model is that instead of forming teams of experts in different subjects, who will largely confine themselves to their particular domains, it is better for individuals to cross these disciplinary boundaries to develop expertise in all the fields necessary to accomplish their goals. I think this kind of cross-disciplinary thinking would be much easier if we didn’t have such different models for thinking about different fields. If we could discuss design and computer programming in a common language that combined creative and analytical approaches, it would not only be easier to move from expertise in one domain to expertise in the other, but it would also be easier for experts in each to collaborate on a broader, richer level.