001.1: Back to School, aka Sh*t Gets Real

This week was the first back in class and I realized I'd been leaving problems for Future Sarah, but — oh shit, don't look now — I am suddenly Future Sarah. And this thesis is really, really real.

Cast of Characters

For the rest of this project, there will be some important buddies along for the ride. 

Kate is the prof. leading the thesis class. She has many good ideas.

Liz is our writing consultant. Fancy! A writing ~* consultant *~. I am excited to send her all the writings.

Arlene is my project advisor. She taught the digital fabrication class I took last term.

Marijke is my accountability partner. She is another person I can torture by showing gifs and sending drafts.

I just realized we're all women. I am super into it. And I bet not one of us has had our uterus go wandering around our bodies, despite our educations.

On to the updates!

The Bug

The BLE bug still lives. Wes and I messed around with it a bit more, ruling out all the warnings we were getting when the app compiled, but no dice. I posted on the Recurse Center Zulip for pairing help but got no responses. 😭  I am ascribing this to the annoying nature of the bug and not my personality. I also sent out some feelers at the Nodebots meetup, but no takers.

The next thing to do is to take the working example code and change it to get nearer mine, till it breaks. Another friend also has experience working with BLE, so I may have to draft him for help as well. He seemed less than psyched, but with a dream on the line, kidnapping always remains a possibility.


In better news, I got the form working and updating the database (except for the Concordance View, which needs a lot more structural thinking, so I am leaving it alone till I circle back around). Please enjoy this updated gif of screens.



Leading up to the first class, Kate asked us to put together a status document. In response to my insistence that the audience for this project is me, she suggested I check out the idea of taking a phenomenological approach to my project — that is to consider a research paradigm where my personal experience and exploration of the project is a part of the research itself. I've been reading Closer by Susan Kozel, which outlines her ideas of this approach. It's great.

Phenomenology is beginning to feel like one of the missing words in my research: an idea I have but don't have the terms to research. It really seems to be a unifier of other threads I have going on as well. Kozel brings up reflexivity and Varela (the second-wave cyberneticist and research partner of Maturana); phenomenology is essentially similar to the experiential theories from Dewey, which were picked up by the Fluxus artists, who have fallen off as part of my research but remain influential in the background. It is like a perfect little piece slotting and pulling other threads together. 


Most of the actual work I've done this week on my thesis has been reading. (Coding time has gone towards the EO1 commission, which is about as important as the thesis and has a much sooner due date.)

I read all of Ellen Ullman's Close to the Machine, a memoir of the 90s in Silicon Valley. It wasn't super related to my research except for a few passages on data and coming to work for a system — as opposed to keeping the system working for you — that are 💯  and will likely find their way into the paper. It was a quick read and well worth it. I also finished Proust's Binoculars, Roger Shattuck's meditation on optical imagery and the revelatory use of stereo-vision and multi-exposure memory in A la Recherche.  

Next Week

Next week will be a bunch more reading: Fred Turner's From Counterculture to Cyberculture, which will fill in the history mentioned in Hippie Modernism and finish tracing the route of the information dreams that inform computing culture and cybernetics from Russell to today. Then I think I will finish with history reading for a bit. I also have Closer cued up and I am expecting the last volume of A la Recherche next week, so that will be next. I do need to find a way to determine when I am done reading (or mostly done); I will probably talk to Kate about it.

I plan on presenting my project for our Level A prototypes next week. (It is a two-week presentation, but since I got plenty done over the summer, I think I should just get it out of the way.) And I need to do a bunch of structure and planning — set up a Trello, etc. Marijke, who I met with today, will be making a calendar of deadlines I can subscribe to on Google Calendar. 

Finally, code — I would like to spend some time on the next Bug Attack Approach and my initial plan called for figuring out GPS, plus calls to APIs for elevation and weather, given a location. I have no idea how to do this, so that should be exciting. But that's a whole lot to do, so tomorrow, it is all about reading in the a.m. and Trello in the afternoon.

A Note About Numbering

For the rest of these updates, the first number will be the week, with each week turning over Sunday. It will then increment sequentially. (Surprise!)