Archive for the ‘project ideas’ Category

The People Reading … Poetry Archive


In the Guardian‘s “The Week in Books” last Saturday Andrew Motion drew attention again to the fabulous Poetry Archive, and in particularly that they have been working with the Poetry Foundation to add in American poets reading their poems, including one of my wife Kate’s favourites: William Carlos Williams reading “The Red Wheelbarrow“.

However I do think they are missing three opportunities, three opportunities that might be provided by an adjunct site.

Firstly I want to be ably to tag the readings – even if it’s something simple like an “add to favourites” but a more complex arbitrary tag would be great. This might be achieved using external services like delicious. For example one could imagine audio engineers being interested in tagging all the recordings produced by Richard Carrington, or listeners tagging aspects of the reading itself (slow, dry, romantic, …). It’s impossible to second guess what categories such folksonomies would produce, but I bet they’d be interesting and useful.

Secondly I’d want the public to be able to add their own recordings. It is fascinating to hear poets read their own work but theirs are not the definitive recordings. Just this weekend a presenter on Radio 3 was commenting that the recordings of Stravinsky conducting his own works are not the best interpretations of the pieces, and I expect that the same is true of poetry. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear the same poem read by the poet, other famous voices, and a host of people who just enjoy it?

Thirdly, and perhaps most extravagantly, I think this might be a great place to re-use Tom Coates and Tristan Ferne‘s project Annotatable Audio / Find Listen Label, an idea I’ve long wanted to rebuild. Since discussion and comparisons of different readings of the same poems would sometimes look at particular lines and the meaning implied by the reader a wiki that allowed listeners to narrow in on fragments of the audio to annotate and discuss them would be ideal.

Project Idea: Arduino Sous-vide Cookery


“Sous Vide Machinery” by
Ginger Gross

We’ve been glued to the BBC 2 series The Great British Menu We came across it during the week where Sat Bains and Glynn Purnell fought it out to represent the Midlands. They both used a strange cooking technique that I had not encountered before whereby meat is vacuum sealed in a plastic bag and then cooked for a very long time in a water bath at a constant surprisingly low temperature. The results seemed amazing. I asked Fabien (a knowledgeable food-loving colleague at work) and he pointed me to the whole new word of sous-vide cookery. I haven’t yet explored the cost of a large water-bath (or a vacuum packing machine) but it did strike me that this may be a great project to try on the Arduino, and I found an example water-bath electronics project online that may help.

Project idea: visualizing radio frequency whitespace with ferrofluids


Old seeping oil
by dumbledad

A few years ago we did some interesting work on using part of the DAB radio network in the UK for datacasting – i.e. for sending non radio content like video files or emergency procedures to mobile devices. Several of the people involved in that project have gone on to think hard about whitespaces i.e. what can we enable in the areas of the radio-frequency spectrum that are unlicensed or unused. Recently Gary Tonge and Pierre de Vries wrote a piece for Communications & Strategies (no. 67, 3rd quarter 2007) called “The Role of Licence-Exemption in Spectrum Reform”

Motivating countries to allow licence exempt spectrum is a difficult but an important debate. The difficulty is that the argument rests on the idea that licence exempt spectrum will encourage innovation, and unexpected successes (like wi-fi) will flourish. Of course it is hard to map out the unexpected.

Another problem is that people’s understanding of radio spectrum use and its actual use differs. Consider these two interesting visualizations of radio frequency.

First off I picked up by from Richard’s trends blog. It’s a 3d visualization of the RF spectrum, an atlas of electromagnetic space. Using it you are left with the impression that the RF spectrum is jam packed with legitimate and useful services. So let’s instead look at a radio frequency spectrogram that I first encountered in an earlier paper by Gary Tonge. It’s taken from an Ofcom consultation document in their 2004/2005 spectrum framework review: “Spectrum Framework Review: A consultation on Ofcom’s views as to how radio spectrum should be managed

The key may be difficult to read, but the blue parts of the graph are spectrum not in use at the time the frequency was scanned. This scan was done over a twenty four hour period in Baldock (near where I live) in 2004. It tells a very different story form the previous visualization.

The Ofcom spectrogram is a very clear way to see how much of the radio frequency spectrum was not being used during that day. I’ve been wondering if this might be a fun thing to visualize using ferrofluids – hence the oily picture at the top of this post. Some of the more hardware savvy people in our team at work have been starting to think about ferrofluids and I’ve been on the look out for an application. One magical thing about ferrofluids is that they make something invisible shockingly visible. Normally they just look like oil but when a magnet is held underneath they adopt physical shapes dependent on the magnetic field. There are some awesome videos on YouTube and some lovely photos on flickr like this one from David Nicholai:

So perhaps this could be used to visualise the invisible radio frequency spectrum. I imagine using a small pump, beam, and sump to produce a sheet of oily ferrofluid over a sheet of plastic or glass. Behind the glass we could use Phidgets or an Arduino to drive magnets mounted on a motorised linear potentiometer. This would then result in elements of the graph being rendered as lumps in the otherwise sheer sheet of oil, which I imagine would look amazing. Interesting? Mad? Comments please.

Project idea: Harry Potter page giveaway


Third coat of fluorescent green spray paint

Originally uploaded by dumbledad

I just want to jot down a project idea. I may have reason to buy another set of the HP novels soon and cut the spines off (more on why later). That would leave me with all the pages. Rather than just binning them I thought (as I jogged around Coton this lunchtime) that it might be fun to make a webpage offereing to give them to a worthy home. People could go to the site and choose their favourite page (I could show the first and last line of each page). Then if it’s not already taken I could send it to them. It would be a kind of participatory Harry Potter art piece, with the added bonus that I could produce a visualization of the popularity of all the pages (from recording peoples first choice).