Thursday, May 29, 2008

Martyan Latitudes

Do you know anyone who has a specific favorite latitude... on Mars? I do. His name is Marty Quinn. His favorite latitude is more or less where the Phoenix probe has recently landed. He has turned martian data recordings into music, which explains why he likes the arctic latitudes on Mars... Marty spent a whole day at our house today and wowed Jackie and me with his latest artistic productions: from an operatic rendition of the Tides of Venice, to mind-blowing gradient photomashups, to interactive, motion-tracking sonification of space images. We talked about all of the possible ways that we could collaborate for the anniversary: (1) Tides of Venice; (2) Multispectral Cube of Venice (PreserVenice), etc. For the occasion, I revived the Sonification Requiem wiki and updated it with the latest ideas and plans. More to come.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memoriam

On this Memorial Day 2008, I am reminded of the ephimeral nature of our lives on earth and of the importance of passion, integrity and authenticity in the longevity of our legacy... I have recently been deeply moved by the passing of my main mentor at MIT, Mark Schuster, who was relentless in his quest to inspire us all to do our best every single day. Likewise, there are other important mentors that are no longer physically on the same time/space as us, but whose inspiration and meaning still live on: Lee Becker, my Masters mentor and the first Venice Project Center director; Andrea Penso, the tireless chaperon of hundreds of public art enthusiasts like him; Mimmo Chiozzotto, who saw the value in what we did for Venice's environment. Despite these losses, we're lucky that so many of our mentors and inspirers are still alive! We must make sure that we honor all of them this year.
It's been really painful for me to have lost a dear professor and role model like Mark, without having had a chance to tell him in person how much he meant to me. As hard as it may be to open up to those who have made a difference in our lives, it's nothing compared to the pain of regret when it's too late to do it. Unexpressed gratitude is truly ungrateful...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fab 1-4

As promised, Kyle created three PreserVenice shirt designs and a mug in CafePress and I went ahead and designed a tie in Zazzle.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Venice Anniversary Committee

Today we had the first meeting of the newly-formed Venice Anniversary committee. This is an ad-hoc group of "adults" who will supervise and guide our anniversary activities. So far, members are Dave, Natalie, Rick, Chrys and Eileen. Together with some former Venice students, such as Kyle, Ilan and Hamlet, they will help shape the anniversary initiatives.
For the occasion, I created a "7-R diagram", that you can click on to get an update on what we're up to.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Fab 20

I just read "Fab" by Neil Gershenfeld of the Center for Bits and Atoms of MIT's Media Lab and got a lot of interesting ideas about hands-on, demand-driven education, with possible connections to our Santa Ve collaborations at the Santa Fe Complex (I think Owen Densmore of Redfish already knows about this). I like the book title in particular, since it's named after me...
The book also introduces the intriguing concept of the so-called Internet 0 (I0 - internet zero) protocol, which may have applications in our planned use of SunSpots for our Postmodern Postmortems and possibly our Gadgets 2.0 ideas. I missed the last workshop, so I better go visit Neil next time I'm at MIT. His two projects are called Fab and I0, so I expect that he may be interested in meeting someone with the combined name of FabI0...
For now, since we don't have our own Fab Lab (yet), I think we should simply explore the potential for creating (say) twenty Venice 2.0 designs through services like Ponoko, Zazzle, StyleShake, Spreadshirt, Cafepress and even Blurb, and begin connecting bits and atoms to produce cool, data-driven physical objects (furniture, mugs, t-shirts, ties, books?) as part of our anniversary...
Kyle is working on a t-shirt design, and I would personally like to play around with a GIS tie... so we need eighteen more to complete the Fab 20.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Newsletter 2.0

There are so many threads going on in the Venice 2.0 effort that we thought it may be useful to create a special issue of the Venice Project Center Newsletter to explain all of the various pieces of the anniversary puzzle. Volume 2 Issue 0 of the VPC Newsletter (Newsletter 2.0), will be out on June 1st. Newsletter 1.0 came out on November 28, 2007 so at this point we have a semi-annual newsletter . We will become quarterly on September 1st with Newsletter 2.1, presenting a recap of the progress over the summer. Then we will go monthly, with issue 2.2 at the end of term A (mid-October 2008), Newsletter 2.3 before Thanksgiving 2008 and 2.4 by December 15.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Mother of all centers

Today was mother's day. I called my mom, Wilma, in Venice to thank her again for having given birth to me, thus indirectly spawning the Venice Project Center, which was initially located in a one-room "magazzino" downstairs from my parents' home.
In full acknowledgment of the gratitude I feel toward my mom, I officially returned to the ranks of non-smokers on this mother's day (and thus fulfilled one of my new year propositions). Being an active non-smoker will help Jackie with her asthma and hopefully will inspire Cino and Nick to do the same the "easyway".

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The legacy of the Global Program

Today most of the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division was at my house (the castle) for a brainstorming session dedicated to long-term planning for our personal and collective legacy. It was a great day and the results are being compiled in a special wiki dedicated to our long-term goals.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Second Venice

I was listening to NPR's Science Friday and heard Ira Flatow quickly mention that one could visit Science Friday on Second Life (cool blog video). Wouldn't it be highly appropriate to have the Venice Project Center on second life for the Venice 2.0 anniversary?

Second Venice... intriguing. Let's do it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


May 1st is internationally celebrated as "Labor Day". It's a holiday throughout Europe, Italy included. "Mayday" is also a distress call used especially in aviation to indicate a major malfunction, similar to an S.O.S.. It comes fom the French phrase m'aider and it basically means "help me". Today, May 1, 2008, the day after classes ended here at WPI, I find both of these meanings quite appropriate.
I just met one last time with my valiant collaborators (and Venice alumni), Kyle Miller, Ilan Shomorony and Hamlet Nina, before they all take off for their summer break. They all have nice summer jobs in their respective fieds of study, so they will be working and making a good salary, which will help offset the costs they incurred to go to Venice. All three are great workers and the fruits of their labor as underpaid workstudies are evident in what we have produced so far in preparation for the Venice 2.0 anniversary. Being as passionate as they are about making this anniversary a success, they have all committed to continuing and finishing what they started (wikibook, fundraising, alumni contacts, venice open archive, etc.), even while on break, which speaks volumes about their integrity and committment. Whoever ends up hiring them after they graduate will get extraordinary value from their skills, intelligence and insights. One can only hope that the job they eventually get will inspire in them the same level of passion that they have demostrated to me in the past few months.
I am sure I can count on them to follow through with their committment to finish what they started, nonetheless I can't help but feel a bit distressed by their departure for a well-deserved summer break. Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!