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Besides the opportunity to promote the project and share my current work, this gathering is an opportunity to actively collaborate with artists and to observe first hand their creative processes and relationship with technology. This environment is also an excellent opportunity to perform tests and drive forward the code's development to provide useful functionality faster, taking it one step closer to being usable in real projects.
Take a look at the residency's wiki page to know about all the project being developed here.
And if you are in the neighbourhood, you are welcome to join us.
From the outset, dataflower is meant to be a practice based research project. My main motivation for it came from the experience of many years developing digital art installations with diverse teams, noticing many recurring technical and soacial patterns and thinking "there has to be a better way to approach these problems". Most of my research on this project so far has involved creative practice, but mostly in a non-participatory way, through observation, interviews and questionnaires. To actually get involved in creative projects and use practice as a way to shape the development of dataflower, I first need to have a minimal working version which actually does something interesting and useful.
I now have such a prototype of the whole system which I can use as a foundation for more active practice-based research, but I still need people to experiment and to try building projects with it and give me feedback, so I need to start meeting and working together with them more regularly, so i came up with the idea of organizing data gardens.
A data garden is an open collaborative development event for all those interested in learning, working with and improving the dataflower tools and on reflecting about the issues related with parallel, heterogeneous and distributed computing in digital art practice. The focus of each event will depend on the participants interests, but my plan is to have a specific topic to discuss or a new feature to test for each session, which should happen at least once a month.
Last saturday, July 19, I got together with a group of digital artists and researchers at Audiência Zero in Matosinhos, Portugal, to perform a pilot test for these sessions. Since this was a first and the tools are still a bit rough around the edges, I started with a small presentation to present the project and its motivation and to elicit feedback from the participants. I then presented a brief tutorial of FBP concepts using microflow and gave a brief overview of the upcoming libflow library. Next I presented a prototype of the dataflower environment and we had a brainstorming session on mental models for complex systems and collaboration tools.
Many thanks to Audiência Zero for hosting the meeting and to all who participated for their interest and wonderful feedback. The next data garden session is scheduled to take place in Coruña, Spain, from 17 to 21 of September as a work node part of the Artropocode residency, and you are most welcome to join us.
If you want to host or participate in a future data garden event, get in touch.
One of the cool things I got around to doing for my Codebits presentation this year was to finally dust off and publish microflow, my experimental Python implementation of the basic Flow-Based Programming concepts.
This small library was very useful to me during the early stages of my research, when I was first exploring the ideas around Flow-Based Programming, but it never actually worked in the sense that you could build anything but very simple applications with it. So while I was going through the FBP book again while preparing for my Codebits talk I took the chance to finish off the rough edges of the library and update it to use Python 3. I also optimized it for readability, so other could use it as a learning tool or as the basis of other runtimes.
Sure, there are other FBP or FBP-like runtimes written in Python, like Kamaelia or protoflo, which are more robust and better performing, but if you are learning about the basics of Flow-Based Programming, it could be a simple example to start playing with the concepts in a very expressive and readable language.
So, if you have some time have a go at it and let me know what you think. I hope it can be as useful to you as it has been for me.
The "Collaborative Practices in Creative Computing" study is now over, and the number of responses has far exceeded my expectations. I'd like to send a big heartfelt Thank You to all who have participated, your input will definitely help me develop new tools which will hopefully help your creative practices.
It will still take some time to fully explore the data from the study and draw some meaningful conclusions, so in the meantime my focus will be on building the code scaffold for dataflower, a minimum base platform that can be publicly released and used to develop creative projects.
As we enter the development stage, I'm also going to try and make better use of this blog as a communication and research platform. So expect more frequent updates beyond the odd announcement here and there.