The Becoming Digital Blog



Oct '17 - Nov '17

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    Insight into Throbbers

    By meganmohney
    Nov 7, '17 10:56 PM EST

    The workshop focused on throbbers-- those spinning circles that appear when you wait for a webpage or video to load.  

    Curtis has set up a system for us to visualize the physical distance of the infrastructure that makes up the internet. He did this by setting up access to 10+ servers across the world through AWS--Amazon Web Services. These servers communicate with other servers via fiber optic tubes that run under oceans, for example. This means that communicating with a server in Seoul will be slightly behind one located in Northern California. Usually this infinitesimal delay is imperceptible to an internet user, because we aren’t able to compare.

    The assignment for the workshop was to design a throbber-- those spinny loading circles-- that had multiple parts or layers to the gif.

    This way, we can send parts of the video to Columbus, and another part to Frankfurt, and still another to Sydney. Those servers all send the video back to the computer accessing the website. So the videos are glitchy and jerky, because of the multiple sets of info they are displaying. You can access these experiments here:

    You should really go to the website because they are videos, but here are a few screen shots: 

    You might notice some of the videos look like they have been edited over with new drawings. These are interventions added by workers through another amazon service called Mechanical Turk.

    A little bit about Mechanical Turk: This is a platform--mostly for businesses-- to outsource to humans simple analytic work that computers would be especially bad at. The common tasks are transcribing receipts or flagging an image for inappropriate content. Cutis has used the platform for allowing new voices and authorship to appear in his work.

    So, we were supposed to write directions for these mechanical turk workers to add new content to our gifs!

    In the next post, I’ll explain a bit more about what my group worked on for the weekend.

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About this Blog

This blog will follow student experiences during the BECOMING DIGITAL workshops this semester at Taubman College. Organized by Ellie Abrons and Adam Fure, the program will invite 3 design practices to run a weekend-long experiment, project, or research. The invited designers are Jon May + Zeina Koreitem of MILLIONS, Curtis Roth, and Vivian Lee + James Macgillivray of LAMAS. This semester will be devoted to investigating and challenging the digital environment in which live and work.

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