ART 781, Wind and ComputersWind is defined as air in motion. But it’s also a vital metaphor for any force in life, typically invisible, that appears to come and go, yet affects real change on its inhabitants and their environments. When wind is present, there is no way to avoid it. You either work with it or work against it. Ideally you work with it, but in your own intentional way. A wise bird once said this more elegantly: “You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” It’s good to remember there are different types of winds: gentle breezes, strong gales, and violent windstorms that blow us over and demand all of our attention to survive within. Today, one might consider the Internet a modern wind: it’s easy to get swept. The Internet is invisible to most, yet its effect is immediately palpable and increasingly visible in our world. Indeed, computers with the Internet have become ubiquitous in the present day, as we’re surrounded by smartphones and more and more domestic objects with networked capabilities, all calling for our attention. “Calm Technology” (originally coined by Mark Weiser and John Seeley Brown) declares calmness the fundamental challenge for all technological design of this era, or how to strike the balance of being informed without losing our current focus. Of course, not all technology needs to be calm; but currently too much design focuses on the thing itself while forgetting the opportunity of involving its surrounding context, environment, and the periphery. In this six-meeting course of mostly one-on-one sessions, each student defines and explores some winds specific to their lived experience. They then develop a technology-based project or proposal that addresses these winds in a concrete way, using the methods of calm technology as footholds to shape everyday habits and rituals in the present day.
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