Web With Things: Soft Infrastructure

Last week Jon and I hopped on Skype to keep developing our workshop idea ThingsCon, but in typical fashion, we got sidetracked with a million interesting other tidbits running through our heads. For the sake of later retrieval, here’s what we covered:

  • Mozfest Sneak Away Camp. It’s been a dream since last Mozfest to have a retreat with all the Space Wranglers. We could hire a ridiculously cheap Scottish castle, have picnics, cover the the beach in post-it notes, and otherwise dedicate a few days really deepening the festival program and pushing our ideas collaboratively forward. We should make it happen!

  • Lagos 2060. Sci-fi stories from Nigeria. Design frictions from different places.

  • Soft infrastructure. With the rise of smart cities and existing materials becoming more dynamic, we might think about a new layer of infrastructure. This is shaped by code, connected devices, and urban scaffolding. Human interaction, as well as other environmental variables, can change the infrastructure constantly. Be these the Japanese vending machines that recommend different drinks depending on your facial cues, or walkways that capture the kinetic energy from human footfall, there will be emerging instances of everyday infrastructure being “smart”, pliable, and dynamic. However, what does it look like to ensure that citizens’ rights persist as these new layers come online? Recommendation for the reading list: Extrastatecraft.

  • Open Scribblers. Conference proceedings tend to be boring and unread, or recently, improved somewhat through graphical recording. However, these tend not to have easy contribution paths for the conference participants to add their perspectives to the documentation. Jon is playing with how to hack conference proceedings by printing them on paper, circulating them at the event, asking people to cut ‘em up and sharpie all over them zine-style, and then scan them and republish.

  • *What’s past is prologue.”* An amazing quotation from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.*

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