HUMOR

If airlines started treating people like the U.S. government does

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How I apply acting lessons to my user research practice.

It’s a Monday evening and my first day of acting class at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Jack, our instructor, starts our class off with a couple improv games and then goes over our schedule for the next 10 weeks. We don’t touch a play until Week 6. I am confused. I thought you became an actor by running lines, so that eventually you would become convincing. I am all wrong. Jack shares Sanford Meisner’s definition of acting, which is to “live truthfully in imaginary circumstances.” I write it down in my notebook.

The next day I am at my job…


Making something to share with others.

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Can a poem whisper to you like a close friend does?

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SFPC culminates in a final showcase, when we invite guests into our space to show what we’ve made so far.

My piece was interactive concrete poetry with an accompanying zine, both titled “Still”.

“Still” by Agnes Pyrchla, SFPC April 2018

The wall text next to the piece read:

How much agency do we have over our own lives as individuals?

What have you been told you can and can’t do?

What have you told yourself?

Be still and it will speak to you.

Poem by Hannah Weiner, 0…


Digging into context to form critical perspectives.

One of the School for Poetic Computation’s core facets is a critical lens towards technology. As an executable practice, poetic computation first asks about the message, then about the technology best suited to deliver it. As pedagogical philosophy, it holds deep reverence for computation’s history and above else, considers building something as the best way to understand it.

Context is important for criticality. Two good tools for understanding context:

  • Dystopian fiction
  • Building “little t” technology

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Dystopian fiction allows us to critically examine our current context by imagining how it might change. When…


On saying something meaningful.

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Mid-point, we have arrived. At week’s end, Taeyoon hosted the first “Artist’s Toolkit” session. Unsurprisingly, the first part of the Artist’s Toolkit requires you to call yourself an artist and let people know what you’re about. An Artist’s Statement.

I almost skipped this class. The night before we had come together at 3 long tables for a lively family dinner hosted by Tega at Dark Matter, sitting amidst custom harps made for Bjork’s Biophilia album and electric wire trees that light up when you place your hand on an orb — on Friday morning, I…


Everything is programmable, somehow.

You just have to get to know its language.

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This week we kicked off our Craft class, dedicated to working with physical materials like paper and textiles.

When working with physical materials, you want to ask:

  • What does this material naturally want to do?
  • Am I imposing a behavior on this material?

More than anything, this class is about observation. To practice this, our class took 10 minutes to go out in the world and observe what was happening around us in detail.

Observation Activity

The first 2 minutes of a 10 minute static window were harrowing…


Hello, World. A one bit computer is born.

By the hands and mind of a complete beginner.

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In simplest terms, a computer is 3 components:

  1. Adder
  2. Clock (oscillator)
  3. Memory

But before we build a computer, first, a simple circuit. Hardware is uh… hard, so we took a week to learn about circuitry and logic, step by step.

Voltage regulator hooked up to a battery, LED, and resistor.

Thinking with my hands helped me integrate what I was being taught, especially once we put a switch in to build a latch (to turn the capacitor on or off). Basically, there are two paths the electricity can go here: one path…


Write code to create an artwork that directly translates or responds to another artist’s.

This is the premise of Zach’s software class, otherwise known as “Recreating the Past.” As a beginner, this approach resonates with me because:

  1. I learn about pioneering media artists.
  2. I can work my training wheels with a straightforward task (i.e. directly copying another artist’s work) to make sure I understand* the code I’m typing. *Let me tell ya, at this stage it’s very tempting to just copy and paste code without really getting it. This is a trap.
  3. I can “graduate” my direct responses by creating…


No computers this week.

A slow, intentional start to understand the fundamentals and context of what we’re about to dive into; the ultimate aim being critical thought and subsequently, critical action.

Critical action means (to me, in this moment), using (or shaping) technology in a way that is aware of its context and consequences; a response to the zeitgeist.

Today, so much of the conversation around technology sounds like, “this is happening so we have to accept it.” It is laced with fear. …


“I’m going to the School for Poetic Computation.”

“Cool!”

“Wait, what is that?”

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Enthusiasm, then wonder. Each time I announced my plan for the coming weeks, I received a response in this sequence. Poetic computation sounds so good, no one talks about it like that, I like this… even if I don’t really know what it is. After having completed week zero (for folks who have never touched code before) I offer some initial observations.

Poetic Computation. What drew me to this juxtaposition is the suggestion that these crafts can, and should, learn from one another.

First, what poetry…

Agnes Pyrchla

I’m here for my Internet education

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