• CRCA researcher Tim Schwartz initiated a massive effort to help develop a set of tools & a website to assist with registering & tracking missing people affected by the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

    Here is how Tim describes the activities of the last week:

    I awoke wed to see disaster in Haiti. Got an email from a friend with links to donate, I thought immediately that there could be a better way to apply my skill set. (I'm an artist that uses technology heavily -> artinfo.com/news/story/33154/googling-ourselves/ and I am the CTO of www.famegame.com) I realized immediately that in our web2.0 environment with tons of social networking sites that missing people information was going to go everywhere on the internet, and it would be very hard to actually find people and get back to their loved ones if everything was scattered. So my initial goal was to create a unified database that would be the one repository for missing people data, and other online applications could connect to it. I quickly emailed all of the developers I had ever worked with:

    "An idea:

    A site that is up within 3 hours that has a quick and easy method to add and update a survivor in Haiti or a list of survivors.

    A hub for information on individuals in Haiti.

    A unified DB that can scrape and process other feeds on the internet.

    Want to make it?

    No governmental organization is going to get off their asses enough to help us out. People right now are trying to use CNN iReporter and Facebook to try and find information on individuals in Haiti. It's going to get messy fast. If we could make a simple website where someone could add a name and information on the person either asking for a status or from in Haiti adding the status of the person. OR perhaps twitter can be our friend and we just need to scrape their feeds and put it into some managed interface. How can we as developers help?"

    Immediately 10 developers began workign with me to create http://www.haitianquake.com By the early afternoon of the first day we had a website up with a database that was taking in information on missing ppl and survivors. By that night we had automated twitter updates on people and rss exports of our data. Most importantly we had written a scraper to bring all of the data from the ICRC's site into our database. (ICRC is affiliated with the red cross, but is a terrible system for family reunificiation in that, their site will not talk to anyone else's web application, which in our web2.0 state of things is rediculous, the site also doesn't have any way to post updates on anyone missing or survived, leaving the application mute.)

    So that first night we had a database of 6000+ entries that had been entered by users and collected from other sites, and our site allowed people to post images and leave updates on people in the database. By the next afternoon I had coordinated efforts with the development community and google had just started to move on ideas about family reunification. We coordinated our efforts with them and by friday morning google had the begining of their application out with an embed-able widget to take in data. Early on it was clear to me that as long as google was 100% behind their product and understood the scale of what they were taking on it would be incredibly important to fold our project into theirs so that all other websites working on family reunification would do the same. This would be the only way to create ONE repository. So friday night we moved the first set of 6000 entries over to google, and last night I moved over 16,000 more entires. Google is now up to 30,000 records and growing. They have an API for other applications to talk to their database. This tool will be THE application for missing people for this disaster and all disasters in the future as well I believe this can take over as the core application for missing people in the united states and abroad.

    What we need most of all right now is for all other projects out there to either fold into google or to use google's api to communicate with their data, so that we dont have silos of data all over the internet, we must be connected.

    The code that everyone built in the first two days became the basis for the SMS volunteer system setup by Josh Nesbit and Brian Herbert. In the first 24 hours or so they recieved 700 SMS messages from Haiti that have been redirected to the right people on the ground. Here are a few of the successful ones from the SMS system, and stats about what they've accomplished:


    A recent message sent out through the 4636 short code:

    FYI sending another useful message to people 650 citizens:
    [1/18/10 1:47:30 PM] Nicolas di Tada: Help available at Société Nationale de la Croix-Rouge haïtienne 1 rue du Muguet Route de Desprez 7, 6112 Port-au-Prince at Croix-Rouge you can phone relatives and register yourself or others as missing. Breakdown of the kinds of calls:
    28.06% Missing Persons
    12.23% Water shortage
    10.07% Food distribution
    10.07% Asking to forward a message
    9.35% Earthquake and aftershocks
    5.04% Persons News
    4.32% People trapped
    3.60% Emergency
    2.88% Health services
    2.16% Medical Emergency
    2.16% Died bodies management
    2.16% Response
    1.44% Looting
    1.44% Shelter
    5.04% Other

    Some of the developers names: CRCA Researcher Tim Schwartz, Austin Smith, Garland Davis, Josh Marcus, Jeremey Johnstone, Noah Schoenholtz, Ryan Leary, Matthew Hockenberry, Guy Hoffman, Udi Pladott, Wendell III and CRCA Technical Director Todd Margolis.
  • posted on: January 19, 2010
  • The Transborder Immigrant Tool was the subject of a whirlwind of media attention in the past week. The project has been developed by the Electronic Disturbance Theater, consisting of artists Ricardo Dominguez, Brett Stalbaum, Amy Sara Carroll and Micha Cardenas. The media coverage included television, radio and print stories including the Associated Press, BBC World, NBC, Fox, and the UCSD Guardian. While the actual stories are too many to list here, the following is a list of some of the major articles. Many media outlets improperly reported it as an Iphone app, others attempted to discredit the project saying it is illegal, and some interviewed Enrique Morones of the Border Angels, one of the humanitarian providers whose water caches the tools directs people to. Overall, the members of the group are extremely happy that the Transborder Immigrant Tool has been so effective in opening up dialog on the dire need for humanitarian aid at the border, where thousands of people have needlessly died. We look forward to completing and deploying the tool in the coming year.

    GPS tool helps illegal immigrants cross US border Associated Press

    Celular para cruzar ilegalmente BBC World

    Border Crossing: There's an App for That NBC San Diego

    Low-Tech App Aids in Crossing Mexican Border UCSD Guardian

    GPS para indocumentados Telemundo

    Border Crossing Application Fox 5 TV San Diego

    Smart phone application helps illegal immigrants navigate safely across border NBC Spokane Washington

    GPS Technology to Help Illegal Immigrants KSRO - Santa Rosa,CA,USA

    Poll: 56% say border-crossing tool threatens national security OC Register

    Border-Navigating Phone App Raises Concerns KMJ Now - Fresno,CA,USA

    mobile phone application gets mixed reactions State Press

    Border Crossing: There's an App for That NBC Chicago

    UCSD Researches Creating Phone App For Border Crossers MyStateline.com - Rockford,IL,USA

    Want to sneak into US? There's an app for that WND.com - Washington,DC,USA

  • posted on: December 10, 2009
  • Vice magazine wrote a long article this month about Ricardo Dominguez and the b.a.n.g. lab. The article covers numerous Border Disturbance Art projects, including the Freephone project, but focuses on the Transborder Immigrant Tool.



    CRCA researcher Micha Cardenas/Azdel Slade published a new article on Reality Shifting on Augmentology.com last week. It includes a short machinima she produced as well as other videos and links. Check it out and leave a comment with your thoughts!



    Elle Mehrmand and Micha Cárdenas recently performed in Second Life and at the Nevada Museum of Art as part of the Prospectives.09 festival, which also included UCSD MFA candidates Stephanie Lie and Rob Duarte. The festival, and our performance were reviewed by the Reno News and Review. The article, called Digital graffiti, starts out like this…

    "Projected onto the wall of a gallery, like a movie screen, is a computer image from the online virtual community Second Life: Two naked feminine avatars passionately embracing. Elle Mehrmand and Micha Cardenas, who bear better-than-passing resemblances to their virtual onscreen counterparts, approach the stage in front of the projection and begin disrobing.

    The onstage artists strip to their undergarments and attach heart rate monitors. A fluctuating rhythmic pulse—the artists’ heart rates—can be heard in the gallery. Flashing lights in the chests of the onscreen avatars signify that the same pulse beats there at the exact same rate. Mehrmand and Cardenas embrace, locking lips and enfolding limbs. The connection between the images onstage and onscreen are unmistakable, as their hearts beat as one."(by Brad Bynum, newsreview.com, 11/12/2009)

    The article is very interesting, includes more of an interview with Micha and discusses the rest of the festival as well.

    Read the rest after the jump. JUMP!

  • posted on: November 20, 2009
  • Film Premiere in Cyberspace Links Brazil, U.S. and Japan
    FILE 10 in Brazil

    San Diego and Sao Paulo, Aug. 3, 2009 -- The Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at the University of California, San Diego and partners including the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) staged the first feature film premiere to be streamed on three continents simultaneously in 4K – the super-high-bandwidth format that offers four times the resolution of high-definition TV.

    Audience at FILE 10 in Sao Paulo attends a Q&A session after the film premiere. Clockwise from top left: film director Beto Souza (at podium); wide shot of the conference hall; Calit2 division director Ramesh Rao onscreen in uncompressed HD stream from San Diego; and HD stream from Keio University in Japan. [Photo courtesy Michael Stanton, Director of Innovation, Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa, Brazil]

    The film by Brazilian director Beto Souza, "Enquanto a noite não chega" (While the Night Doesn't Come), made its debut to a packed theater at the Electronic Language International Festival (FILE 10) world festival in Brazil on July 30. The film (actually, 4K is a video format) was exhibited in Sao Paulo and streamed in real time over high-speed optical networks to the Calit2 Auditorium in Atkinson Hall at UC San Diego, and to Keio University's Design Media lab in Yokohama, Japan.

    The somber yet beautiful film – shot with a Red 4K camera – was produced at a resolution of 8 million pixels per frame, and it was streamed to San Diego and Japan with only a few glitches that were quickly fixed.

    Still frame from the Brazilian film, "Enquanto a noite não chega" (While the Night Doesn't Come), by director Beto Souza

    "Hollywood has dreamed of this for decades," reported CRCA Director Sheldon Brown, who is also Calit2's Artist in Residence and led a large contingent from UC San Diego to FILE 10. "Now an extensive collaboration of artists, technologists and scientists from around the globe – spearheaded by CRCA – has made history."

    According to Brown, the "global networks being joined together were upgraded to 10 Gigabits per second to support the high bandwidth required for this historic transmission." Brown attributed much of the credit for the success of the event to its Technical Director, CRCA's Todd Margolis, who coordinated all aspects of the streaming, network setup and teleconference setup.

    On July 31, the same high-speed network was used to stage a trilateral videoconference using HD feeds among high-ranking government and cultural representatives in Sao Paulo, Yokohama and San Diego , including Calit2 Division Director Ramesh Rao. The HD streams from Keio and Calit2 (pictured bottom left and right windows, respectively on the 4K screen) were in uncompressed HD at approximately 1.5 Gigabits per second.

    Map displaying network links required to get the film from FILE to Keio University in Japan and Calit2 in San Diego. [Network map courtesy Michael Stanton, Director of Innovation, Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa, Brazil ]

    FILE 10 has also become an important venue for new-media artists affiliated with CRCA and Calit2. At this year’s event, Sheldon Brown is showing his Scalable City , while Todd Margolis, Ruth West and colleagues are showing ‘ATLAS in Silico,” which had its premiere two years ago at SIGGRAPH in San Diego. 'Between Bodies' by CRCA’s Nina Waisman is on display in Sao Paulo’s SESI Gallery, and Tristan Shone performed 'Dub Machines' in the SESI Theater on July 30 following the 4K film premiere.

    In addition to Brown and Margolis, Miller Puckette, Brett Staulbaum, Calit2 Software Studies Initiative Director Lev Manovich and Calit2's Sonic Arts R&D Director, Peter Otto, were all scheduled to participate in various panels, presentations and workshops throughout the first week of the month-long festival, which runs from July 28 to August 30.

    UCSD's Lev Manovich leads a workshop on cultural analytics at FILE 10 in Sao Paulo. [Courtesy: Cicero Silva/FILELabo ]
    Also in Sao Paulo working behind the scenes: Calit2's Hector Bracho, who worked with Margolis in Sao Paulo and the Calit2 audio-visual team back in San Diego to ensure that the streams from Brazil to Calit2 and Keio happened with as few glitches as possible. "We've averaged two-and-a-half hours of sleep each night for the past ten days," reports Bracho, "and my whole team at Calit2 has been working continuously to assist us remotely."

    Calit2 loaned its two Zaxel Systems 4K streaming servers and other A/V equipment for the effort, and Bracho & Margolis oversaw 4K local playback in Brazil , including content encoding and tech setup (notably installation of the Zaxel servers, and 4K projector calibration at the Brazilian venue).

    On the San Diego end, the film was displayed in the Calit2 Auditorium, while Calit2's Rao participated in the July 31 videoconference from Calit2's HD Studio – when he conversed with representatives from Keio University in Japan and the hosts in Brazil . Calit2 shared the cost of Bracho's travel with its CineGrid partner, Pacific Interface, and Brazil ’s Mackenzie Presbyterian University (a major sponsor of FILE). Calit2's Events committee also supported the effort with cost-sharing to permit use of the 4K playback and Calit2 Auditorium for the film premiere.

    CRCA Director and Calit2 Artist in Residence Sheldon Brown at FILE 10. [Courtesy: Cicero Silva/FILELabo ]
    The network connectivity to support the first 4K film premiere between South America, North America and Asia was a patchwork of super-high-bandwidth (typically 10Gbps) links. The bulk of the U.S. connectivity was supplied by Cisco Systems’ C-Wave, an extensive Layer-2.5 switched network deployed on the National LambdaRail (NLR), and several regional optical networks such as the Pacific Wave between the West Coast and Chicago , primarily for the academic community to conduct application experiments.

    CRCA- and Calit2-affiliated visual arts professor Lev Manovich led a workshop on 'cultural analytics', and authored the introductory text in the FILE catalog this year. In it, he argues that a well-known 20th century computer-graphics technique for representing smooth surfaces -- Non Uniform Rational Basis Spline, or NURBS – is evolving into a new tool for cultural theorists in the 21st century, along with other computer graphics and visualization tools.

    FILE editorial board member Jane de Almeida (at podium) in Brazil speaks via HD video feed with Calit2's Mike Toillion in San Diego, before Toillion introduced his 4K short, BeatBox 360 . [Courtesy: Cicero Silva/FILELabo ]
    According to the FILE program, the Beto Souza film deals with “a theme that torments all human beings since the beginning of their existence – the end of life,” according to the late Josué Guimarães, author of the novella on which the eponymously-named film is based. “If the end is too close and everything around is finishing, the only thing left to do is the crossing with some elements that still exist. And all that with much dignity.”

    “The movie, while sad, was quite touching,” noted Calit2’s division director at UCSD, Ramesh Rao, after the screening. “I found myself watching the movie instead of the streaming technology.”

  • posted on: August 04, 2009
  • Becoming Dragon is subject of article in the San Diego Reader.
  • posted on: March 30, 2009

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