Gumbo Labs Presentation at Pecha Kucha
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Gumbo Labs Presentation at Pecha Kucha



Oct 29th Presentation at Pecha Kucha about Gumbo Labs (a hacker space in New Orleans)

Oct 29th Presentation at Pecha Kucha about Gumbo Labs (a hacker space in New Orleans)



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  • In this talk, I’m going tell you what’s happening at Gumbo Labs. To do that, I’m going to talk what Hacker Spaces are. First, let me define the term hacker. (I’ll come back to how Hackers & Artists are related at the end.) Currently, "hacker" is used in two main ways, one pejorative and one complimentary. The pejorative, main-stream definition can be summed up as: a computer criminal.
  • The complimentary definition is harder to define, but something like this: basically, a hacker is a curious person that repurposes stuff, often in a playful or clever or creative way; stretching some-thing&#x2019;s capabilities in a new direction it wasn&#x2019;t designed for. Leonardo da Vinci was a hacker. <br />
  • Hacker Spaces have become quite popular lately. This map from Hacker Spaces Dot Org shows all the spaces that have registered on their site. A hacker space is a physical space where people with common interests can meet, socialize, collaborate, learn and teach. Common interests include: technology, art, tinkering, electronics, inventing, etc. <br />
  • Blinkenlights is a project that was first done at a German hacker space, I believe. They turn each window into a pixel and then do all kinds of interesting things with a screen the size of a building. People play pong against each other with their cell phones, etc. <br />
  • Pretty cool project. How do you make it all work? You need these folks... This is the master control room where they bring it all together and make everything work. Befriend some local hackers at Gumbo Labs and colaborate on a project. <br />
  • Now, on to Gumbo Labs. It&#x2019;s a hacker space in mid-city. First, some history: On Dec. 1 2008, I posted to the local 2600 forum about how I was inspired by this podcast interview with Bre Petis about hacker spaces he visited in Europe and how I wanted to start one in New Orleans someday. <br />
  • 2600 is a hacker magazine that loosly organizes hacker meetups in different cities on the first Friday of the month. Gumbo Labs kind of grew out of those meetings. <br />
  • March 29th, 2009. People read the wired article, googled &#x201C;hacker space new orleans&#x201D; and found the one page website I had since setup:, and left a comment on the forum.
  • April 7th, 2009, a largish group met at the 2600 meeting and talked about the idea of starting a hacker space. We read the slide presentation put together by some German hackers about how start a space. We followed their advice and decided to meet every Tuesday to get started.
  • August 1st, 2009, we moved into our own little $350/month studio space. It took us about four months to get it together and rent a space. We started with 10 original members paying $50/month in membership dues. We can afford rent and internet and save up for the $750 filing fee for IRS 501c3 status. <br />
  • Now on to some projects done by our members. Mike Perry made an automated, solar powered irrigation system in his retreat up in Arkansas. I pumps water from his spring-fed pond to a small vineyard he planted near the pond. <br />
  • One of our members, Benjamin Eckle, wrote up a detailed howto on connecting an RFID reader to an Arduino which got linked to from the Make Blog. We&#x2019;re going to use it as a fancy system to answer the question &#x201C;Who&#x2019;s working at Gumbo Labs right now?&#x201D; Cool, I should go work on that robot project with them.
  • Speaking of the Arduino, what is it? It&#x2019;s an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It&apos;s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
  • I&#x2019;m working on a project where I&#x2019;ll use a Shekere as not only a percussion instrument, but also as a kind of fancy remote control for a film performance. There wont be buttons on it, but there will be an accelerometer that tell the computer what gestures I&#x2019;m doing and then advance the film forward or backwards or trigger a sequence of images.
  • Back to question of How are Hackers and Artists related, I&#x2019;d like to quote Paul Graham&#x2019;s book &#x201C;Hackers & Painters&#x201D;: <br /> When I finished grad school in computer science I went to art school to study painting. A lot of people seemed surprised that someone interested in computers would also be interested in painting. They seemed to think that hacking and painting were very different kinds of work-- that hacking was cold, precise, and methodical, and that painting was the frenzied expression of some primal urge. <br /> <br /> Both of these images are wrong. Hacking and painting have a lot in common. In fact, of all the different types of people I&apos;ve known, hackers and painters are among the most alike. <br /> <br /> What hackers and painters have in common is that they&apos;re both makers. Along with composers, architects, and writers, what hackers and painters are trying to do is make good things. <br />
  • Search for dorkbot on youtube and watch all the cool stuff people are doing out there. if anyone wants to start a dorkbot in New Orleans, we should do it at Gumbo Labs. <br />
  • At the Gumbo Labs meeting on Tuesday, someone mentioned this DesCours thing which looks very interesting: &#x201C;DesCours is a free, public, week-long architecture and art event now in its third year, held the second week of December in New Orleans. This event invites internationally renowned architects and artists to create 14 architecture installations within &apos;hidden&apos; locations in the heart of New Orleans, including private courtyards, rooftops, abandoned buildings and walkways, all locations normally unseen, inaccessible or unused by the public.&#x201D; <br />
  • &#x201C;new media&#x201D; artists, physical computing, experimental music. someone told me about non-newtonian fluid at the Tuesday meeting and that caused me to start having new ideas about art projects etc. come meet interesting people and have new ideas.

Gumbo Labs Presentation at Pecha Kucha Presentation Transcript

  • 1. What is Gumbo Labs? ↓ What are Hacker Spaces? ↓ What is a Hacker? ↓ How are Hackers & Artists related?
  • 2. Blinkenlights Each Window Becomes One Pixel
  • 3. Blinkenlights Master Control
  • 4. Introduction Design Patterns Conclusion Regularity Patterns The Tuesday Pattern Problem Every weekday sucks. You will not find any day when every hacker can attend a meeting. Someone always has an appointment. Implementation Meet on Tuesday. Since all days are equally bad, just pick the Tuesday. End of discussion. J. Ohlig, L. Weiler 24C3 A Hacker Space Design Pattern Catalogue
  • 5. Join Us Collaborate with Us Learn New Things → Have New Ideas Gumbo Labs . org
  • 6. Get these slides here: Become a Facebook Fan to Get Event Updates. Visit us Tuesday nights from 7:30 - 9:00pm @ 4820 Banks St.