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Plebian Design: Blog

Plebian Fiasco, May 8 :: call for proposals!

Posted by admin | April 4th, 2012 | No Comments »

The Fiasco.

The Fiasco.

Announcing Plebian Fiasco!!!! (Numero Uno)
20000 years ago we danced together around the fire — what do we do in 2012?

Plebian Fiasco is a 3 hour social experiment.
We are organizing an evening full of participatory group activities that fog the line between performers and audience.
We are expecting about 75 attendees, and we’re looking for your proposals and attendance!

When: Tuesday, May 8th, 7-10pm
Where: Club Oberon in Harvard Square, Cambridge

We want your proposals for activities. What to propose:
A 5-30 minute activity.
For the entire group to do together, or for a bunch of small groups to take on separately.
This might be song, movement, drawing, words, games, or other.

Social or asocial (group brainstorm vs meditation)
Electronic or analog (mobile phone light show vs painting)
Parallel or serial (pub song vs game of telephone)
Specific timing or evening-long installation (dance routine vs photobooth)

Most importantly, things you haven’t thought of yet.

Please submit ideas by email to plebian@plebiandesign.com by April 15, 2012
Include timing, materials, logistics, track records, etc.

Thanks! Please forward along.

From the Archives: Absolut Quartet Making-of Footage

Posted by dan | November 12th, 2011 | No Comments »

i stumbled on this a couple days ago and thought it would be nice to share. Jeff and Dan working on quartet. These are some clips from 2007.10.26 to 2007.11.21. Click the times in the video description on youtube if you want to skip ahead. It’s about 8 minutes long with a several distinct sections.

the ego satisfaction of comment spam

Posted by dan | August 1st, 2011 | No Comments »

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kickstarting with jeff and dan, moore kits and farmlapse

Posted by dan | March 29th, 2011 | No Comments »

We have heard about this crowdsourced fundraising thing and we’re trying it out. Check these two projects out (within the next 20-40 days):

Get a Moore Pattern Kit from Jeff (or make it your self from supplied engineering drawings):
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/xercyn/moore-pattern-a-kinetic-optical-illusion-sculpture

Help Dan make a timelapse farm movie (and get some doodle art):
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1464315496/1113721417

A Manifestivus

Posted by plebiandesign | November 16th, 2010 | 5 Comments »

“Our time is distinguished by wonderful achievements in the fields of scientific understanding and the technical application of those insights. Who would not be cheered by this? But let us not forget that human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life… What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind. What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living.”

- Albert Einstein

Look back at the history of our species and you will see countless moments of monumental shift in the grounds on which we stand. Before each of these transitions, we took for granted our way of seeing the universe. Whether sparked by Einstein, Jesus, or Picasso, our species has revolutions of the deepest kind: The previously unimaginable becomes real, and changes how we see everything.

Ponder the complex structures in our brains that give rise to consciousness and a question inevitably arises: Is the way you see yourself the only option? What would happen if the operating system in your mind was altered? Would a different kind of consciousness emerge? What might it look like?

Science tells us that, at our core, we are nested vibrations of energy, an energy that pervades the entire universe. As much as you are human, you are energy. Yet most of us experience life as human beings—not as ‘pure energy’—even though both are valid ways of seeing. Religion tells us that, at our core, we are one. That we are all interconnected, that everything we see is a part of us. That God is within us, without us—“Thou art God”. And that there are ways to directly experience this other reality, to feel it.

Maybe they’re both right. They’re saying the same thing, but speaking from different perspectives. Science speaks through a rational, causal model of the universe. Religion speaks through an experiential model. But at their essence, they are describing the same reality. Maybe the experience of ‘God’ is just a certain pattern of neurons firing in the brain—but this pattern may constitute no less than a fundamental shift in the way the mind works; the next step in our evolution.

Imagine there were a way to experience first-hand—not just intellectually—our interconnection with all things. This experience is so drastically different from the way we currently experience the world, as separate beings—it is quite literally the feeling that all things are one. From this perspective, things like death become inconsequential.

How would the first few people who first experienced the universe like this share their story with others? They would need to speak to us on our own terms, the terms of our time and culture. They would speak through metaphor and story. Millennia have passed since the first of these seers, yet most of us still fail to see beyond their metaphors to the truth that lay beyond.

Just as fossil evidence from from across the planet corroborates evolution, religious writings corroborate the common grounds of all the world’s religions. In their depths, beyond the words, they all point to the same thing. Trapped by conception, we forget that these beautiful metaphors point to experiences outside of anything we know. (Stories told with words are compelling and it is easy to see how we could get stuck.) By forgetting this, we face intolerance between religions, and a war between religion and science. We argue about the age of the earth and we hang on the words of the prophets, saying Jesus meant it this way, not that.

Perhaps we’re missing the point completely.

Religion may present the potential for a shift in human consciousness, one so foreign to our understanding that it cannot be accounted for by today’s science; one so difficult to communicate that it is misunderstood by the majority. The bickering between science and religion—between reason and spirituality—revolves around the same old questions. Maybe we’re asking the wrong ones.

Some irony is at work here. In its championing of evolution, science has neglected the possibility that human consciousness is evolving right before our eyes. In its adherence to dogma, maybe religion has neglected the universe beyond the metaphors. How would life change if religion and science ended their 500-year civil war? If spirituality and reason were seen by the world as two real aspects of a larger, inclusive universe? Imagine a union that did not simply placate each side, but fostered growth for both. Scientists could directly experience what they now know intellectually. The devout could access the beauty in science and use it as a tool, as a source of powerful imagery and as a myth of our deep interconnectedness.

Science offers religion a revelation, and religion offers science a revolution.

It’s only a hypothesis, and a controversial one at that. If it is even a possibility, though, should it not be something to be open to? The scientific and religious among us must look far beyond and deep within what we think we know, and this takes bravery, an open mind, and an open heart. Einstein put it straight: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

This is a conversation about science and spirit, religion and rationality, meditation and metaphor, art and aesthetics. The last few years have opened us up to new ways of seeing, and we’d like to discuss them. Please join the conversation in any way you’d like.

Absolut Quartet in Berlin

Posted by dan | June 30th, 2010 | No Comments »

How to ship a giant marimba robot

yo!

Jeff and Dan just had some fantastic time in Berlin and now Quartet is set up until September 5, 2010. Corner of Unter Den Linden and Freidrichstrasse, right near the Brandenburger Tor. It’s free and there is a ton of great work including Arthur Ganson, and many others we are big fans off. Check it out if you are in the area.

This is more info about the exhibit and a pdf with full details of artist and installations (in German).
http://www.volkswagenag.com/vwag/afb/content/de/veranstaltungen/tomorrow.html

Thanks to Jochen, Phil and Josi from ARS Electronica for helping us with lots of packing, unpacking, and heavy lifting during the installation.

Some assembly timelapse…

saturday
sunday
monday
tuesday

flickr photo set of some of the maintenance items…

One Minute Per Day instructions, b1

Posted by dan | March 3rd, 2010 | 26 Comments »

This is what happened on my laptop screen on Mar 1, 2010:

One Minute Per Day, March 1, 2010

Want to make daily movies like this from your screen? Then you came to the right place!!!

This set of instructions refers to the boranj release of the ONE MINUTE PER DAY (OMPD) project.

OMPD refers to the idea of spending one minute per day reflecting on how you spent your time during the day. Here, we’re specifically talking about how you spent your time using your computer. Maybe you’ve considered using various tracking software that will give you such stats as 5 hours on Firefox, 3 hours on Email, 2 hours on OpenOffice, etc. We tried some of those programs and while they are nice, the way the data is presented didn’t seem to help us make changes to our behavior so we ended up making this software. This hasn’t necessarily changed our behavior either but it’s more fun(TM).

INSTRUCTIONS:
Read the rest of this entry »

What Moves You?

Posted by eric | February 15th, 2010 | No Comments »

I have been informally taking note of what things make my body react and what things don’t. It is often an eclectic collection of things that a particular body reacts to. Some, like startling noises, are obvious, along with their expected reactions. Still, the range of reactions we have to these surprising stimuli is as varied as the range of reactions we have to a standup comedian. Some things make some people jump. Some don’t. Other things are hardly obvious, like songs that make some people cry and others snore.
Read the rest of this entry »

where do you apply your logic?

Posted by dan | November 25th, 2009 | No Comments »

push play on first video and wait till intro is over(about 30 seconds in).
then push play on second video.

The Internet as Playground and Factory - Saskia Sassen from Voices from The Internet as Play on Vimeo.

something about this idea of the logic of technology and/or progress in general, the investment mindset, technology vs nature, distributed networks vs consolidations, etc…

of course it’s fine to watch them separately but i figured you were probably in a rush…

Teach the Controversy

Posted by dan | July 21st, 2009 | 4 Comments »

I know this to be true. I looked it up in my gut.

So the title of this post is in reference to the Kansas State board of education debacle from a few years back which prompted the Intelligent Design community to ask that the controversy between evolution and intelligent design be taught in schools. It was rejected pretty strongly by the scientific community. But maybe it should be reconsidered in a different light?

Maybe the root of the fight is that God and evolution are actually the same guy. All knowing. All at once. But also nothing, just a way. Thanking the personal God for blessing you and thanking the random chance of evolution are the same gesture. Its a simple admission of the larger forces at work. But which larger force is the problem we are stuck on. So why not teach that controversy? Why not talk about the reason that we disagree so strongly? How do we acquire such strong beliefs? This is certainly an important part of the story of evolution and should be more useful to most kids trying to make their way in the world than memorizing when the dinosaurs roamed. In a world of 6 billion, understanding strong beliefs of different peoples should be pretty high on our list of things to study.


So there are brains inside our skulls. Inside the skull it’s dark and there is electricity. From time to time, some chemical named Dopamine is passed around (or so they say). When this happens, you believe. Jogging, eating, having sex, going to church, working out, solving problems, participating in group action, helping someone, skateboarding, taking drugs, making money, whatever. A few of these things you really love. These are the things that give you a high. Maybe one in particular is the strongest truth. You just know that it is true. It couldn’t possibly be false. Rational brain be damned. This is the evidence that scientists always claim is lacking from religion. But evidence is not lacking. The high is the evidence. It is the only evidence we have.

They say that this feeling is Dopamine being passed around inside your head. The truth is defined by that feeling, that motion of chemicals and electrons. (it’s probably a little more complicated than that but lets not get bogged down on details here.)

So why does one belief exclude the other? And why don’t we believe each other? I think it relates to some of the oldest of wisdom. No one of us is in control of much of anything. Nobody likes to see others who get too big for your britches. This is really the heart of the controversy. This is religion vs science or right vs left or climate change vs no climate change. Everybody in these debates has experienced a high. Everyone has experienced their evidence. Everybody knows that humans are fallable and frequently wrong. So the wrongness of the other side is obvious.

This is why many rely on God, the entity who can’t be wrong. Scientists also really on a God, the God that is the scientific method and the God that is the process of evolution. It’s everywhere from particles to galaxies. Evolution can’t really be wrong either, it’s just moving forward.

So what would “Teach the Controversy” entail?
There is the discovery institute policy and there are some science lover t-shirts.
But the idea would be something like moving behavioral psychology into the course on evolution. Why is it that we disagree? Not so much the validity of one or the other of the beliefs but the paths of events in an evolutionary system that would lead us to such different viewpoints and why this is advantageous in the long run for the species. All of us, one way or another, are building some set of constraints for dealing with the modern world (which is really crazy and uncomfortable to a bunch of almost monkeys). In order to reduce the number of things you have to think about, you have to make some rules. God is often one of these rules. God and religion make things simpler. Science also simplifies and reduces. (I think the science establishment has plenty of problems too. More on that later.)

Further reading and viewing:
What the surveys say we believe.
The power struggle in wikipedia entries.

And from a business point of view, maybe this means we all should follow the same basic rules of drug dealers: If you are selling a proper high, you should be able to give away the first one. If it goes well, you can be sure they will be willing to pay it for the future?

The Birds and The Bees and The Bacterium

Posted by danielle | July 7th, 2009 | 6 Comments »

This story contains another transcript of a conversation I had with my son. He was about three years old at the time. It is a “Birds-and-the-Bees” story, of sorts. Before this conversation, I had already had to explain to him what menstruation and tampons and GladRags were, so he had some background. I don’t know how my mom avoided my observance of any direct evidence of menstruation, but she is a whole lot more modest than I am. As a result of my lack of modesty, my son has seen plenty of evidence and requested plenty of explanation of the body’s more fundamental functions. Read the rest of this entry »

Who Made Us?

Posted by danielle | June 24th, 2009 | 7 Comments »

The awesomest thing about my child’s Lutheran School so far is that every day they focus on very core questions: How do we treat others? Where did we all come from? Where do we go when we die?

We were riding the bicycle back from school yesterday afternoon and Rhett asked me: “Who made you?” I said “Grandma and Grandpa.” He says, “Well, who made all of us?” OH!  At school all day, they talk about how Jesus/God made everyone and everything. He was asking about that. Read the rest of this entry »

Why would you want to make your work easier to copy?

Posted by dan | June 22nd, 2009 | 1 Comment »

Maybe you don’t. But possibly you want to bring more voices into the game? How do you help people more easily reproduce your work? How do you lower barriers to entry? If you have to put walls up around your work, does that mean you are doing something wrong?

Below are a couple videos that talk about the new landscape of peer production, easy person to person communication, and distributed rather than hierarchical organization. They tell a lot of the story of why we are spending time lately on developing kits.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on the Evolution of Dance for Me and My Species

Posted by eric | June 12th, 2009 | 6 Comments »

My relationship with dancing has gone through a series of deaths and rebirths. Always on the move. Now that I think about it, my earliest memory of dance is watching my brother dancing around to a Peter, Paul, and Mary record at a relative’s apartment. We were probably five years old. And I remember the sound of her sing-song-proper voice telling my mom, “What a wonderful dancer Michael was.” He was half joking around, but he was definitely feeling it. Read the rest of this entry »

love everyone.

Posted by jeff | June 10th, 2009 | 7 Comments »

Another guest post by Danielle Applestone.

Background: Rhett is my 4.5 year old son. We’ve just moved to a new city, and haven’t quite found the right childcare option. We aren’t religious in any organized sense, and definitely not Lutheran, but the folks at the neighborhood Lutheran school seemed to be competent and caring (and their school was very clean), so he is going there for the summer.

_mg_0755

When I drop Rhett off for school, I feel like 1 part undercover agent, 1 part curious alien, 1 part worried mother. Read the rest of this entry »