Blog Post

HASTAC 2008: Project Demos, Poster Sessions, and Lightning Talks ran concurrently in several locations

Project Demos

Presenters provided descriptions of their projects, contained in the folder that conference participants received.


Competition Winners

Several winners of HASTAC's first Digital Media and Learning Competition,held in 2007-2008, presented their projects at the conference. This open Competition, supported by the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative was designed to support and inspire innovation and networking.


BLACK CLOUD: ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES GAMING | Antero Garcia and Greg Niemeyer Manual Arts High School; Center for New Media, University of California, Berkeley

Black Cloud is an environmental studies game that mixes the physical with the virtual to engage high school students in Los Angeles and Cairo, Egypt. Teams role-play as either real estate developers or environmentalists using actual air quality sensors hidden through the city to monitor neighborhood pollution. Their goal is to select good sites for either additional development or conservation. Combining scientific data with human experience, students collaborate, share, and analyze their findings, including working cross-culturally between cities.

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HYPERCITIES | Todd Presner
University of California, Los Angeles

Built out of and on top of real cities, "HyperCities" is a collaborative research and learning platform that augments the space and time of the physical world with the information web and renders the experience on the World Wide Web geographic and temporal. A HyperCity is a real city overlaid with is geo-temporal information, ranging from its architectural and urban history to family genealogies and the stories of the people and diverse communities who live and lived there. Our first HyperCities are Los Angeles, Berlin, Lima, and Rome. As a platform that reaches deeply into archival collections and aggregates content across the web, HyperCities not only transforms how information is produced, stored, retrieved, shared, repurposed, and experienced but also transforms how human beings interact with information and one another in space and time. By asking some of the most fundamental learning questions-Where are you from? What used to be here? What happened here in the past?-HyperCities allows users to excavate urban history, create a social network through time and space, and seamlessly interface between the past and the physical world of today.

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Institute for Multimedia Literacy, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

Critical Commons is a non-profit advocacy coalition that supports the fair use of media in educational contexts, providing resources, information and tools for scholars, students, students, and educators. We are committed to the belief that critical media scholarship and practice should no longer attempt to fly below the radar of copyright holders. Fears of litigation, which are all too common among media scholars and artists, often lead to uncertainty, self-censorship, and general impoverishment of cultural production and critical discourse. As digital media and networks continue to erode distinctions between producers and consumers of media, it is crucial to adopt a more nuanced understanding of the cultural imperatives that drive both copyright and fair use. Critical Commons seeks to establish a reasonable set of models, standards, and operating principles by which to promote rich and diverse forms of engagement with media culture in the digital age.

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More about all the winners and their projects can be found here



Other Presentations

SOPHIE | Bob Stein
School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

Sophie is software for writing and reading rich media documents in a networked environment. Sophie's goal is to open up the world of multimedia authoring to a wide range of people and institutions and in doing so redefine the notion of a book or "academic paper" to include both rich media and mechanisms for reader feedback and conversation in dynamic margins.

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Savannah College of Art and DesignDavid Spencer

OMFG my avatar needs a MySpace page!?!

There is a growing virtual live music scene within the larger scope of virtual entertainment. Experimenting with posthuman interactive narrative, my alter ego Spence Wilder, my avatar in the immersive online world of Second Life, has cultivated some celebrity status as a performer. I will be demonstrating the technology involved, as well as discussing some of the social, psychological, and economic aspects of such endeavors. A "posthuman puppet show", the project includes live music and storytelling, simulcasting into Second Life, and projecting the in-world experience back into the conference.

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UCLA Center for Research in Engineering, Media, and Performance (REMAP); Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science; UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television

Remapping LA explores the creation of Cultural Civic Computing systems for a dynamic, collective memory that is continually constructed from media gathered by its communities and then presented, performed, and navigated throughout the city. Remapping LA features a decentralized, participatory approach to technological development: In Cultural Civic Computing, communities power the processes of imagining, specifying, and designing technology infrastructure for public places. As a result, emerging technologies such as wireless mobile devices, sensing instruments, imaging tools, and databases, are re-envisioned by communities and researchers to enable public exploration of creativity, cultural identity, and our neighborhoods' diverse identities. Through experimentation in collaboration with communities and direct engagement with technology research programs, this project aims to increase participation in community investigation of Los Angeles, collective remembering, self-representation, and imagining and defining the future of the urban environment.

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VISIBLE PAST | Sorin Adam Matei
Purdue University

Visible Past proposes a learning and discovery environment that creates communities of learning based on common interest in events, narratives, and artifacts that are located in space and time. The environment, which is scalable and has been developed using open source software, can be accessed through a variety of interfaces (wiki sites, Google Earth, or WorldWind) and devices (desktop computers, mobile devices, or dedicated, full-immersion, 3D virtual reality CAVE-like spaces). Its non-proprietary code-base allows future generations of designers to improve and extend its capabilities.

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GEO-TEMPORAL ARGUMENTATION | Diane Favro and Chris Johanson3D
Experiential Technologies Center, University of California, Los Angeles

When the experience and creation of kinetic transitions are fundamental to an understanding of an argument, one must, quite simply, walk in the footsteps for the authors in order to participate in the debate, critique the result, and modify the conclusions. Through a new experiential digital publication in partnership with the Journal for the Society of Architectural Historians we marry a traditional, Web 2.0 narrative structure to a four-dimensional, Web 3.0 method of argumentation in order to use a reconstructed kinetic experience of the Roman Funeral procession as a means of reframing the debated surrounding the manipulation of symbolic capital in ancient Rome. We invite the reader/techno-traveler to explore the 4D argument in which the visual elements, the spatial layout, and the kinetic guideposts, not the textual narrative, represent the final academic publication.

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CAVIIAR, Inc.; Florida State University

This project will allow the cultural discovery of a city using real-time localized literary content and social networking. Localized adaptive digital narrative is a writing and reading form in which information is linked as a function of what the reader has read previously AND the location from where pieces are read. An adaptive literary piece reconfigures itself for the reader, leading every time to a potentially unique book; in other words,the media acts on the message. Adaptive books cannot be reproduced on paper except, perhaps, as a reading path at a given moment. Adaptivity is achieved by an artificial intelligence engine designed by CAVIIAR (Advanced Research Center in Artificial Intelligence) specifically for this purpose.

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Augmented Reality Lab, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University

"Travelling tales: a max/ar tag story" is an augmented reality travel narrative, collaboratively constructed across distance by two authors. This storytelling is enabled by a unique MAX/MSP/ar tag object developed this year by a cross-disciplinary team of students in the augmented reality lab at York University. Essentially, the power of robust, multiple, simultaneous fiducial recognition made possible by AR TAG has been made easy to work with through the addition of a unique MAS/MSP interface. The demo for HASTAC showcases both this unique authoring environment-a new kind of storymaking machine-and the hybrid fiction we've created, in which the physical and the digital are co-constitutive of meaning.

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University of California, Los Angeles

The UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology is an interactive, web-based research tool that provides accurate, up-to-date information onancient Egypt and Egyptology. By combining a traditional encyclopedia format with multi-media presentation and innovative search functions such as a time-map, the UEE allows its users to engage with, and dig into, Egyptology andarchaeology in a whole new way. The solitary reader becomes, with the time-map in hard, a virtual traveler through time and space making new, unexpected connections along the way and being more sensitive than ever before to the historical and local nature of our source materials. Changes of time and variation across regional borders are captured more effectively in a multimedia landscape than in the traditional format of a single written text. Ancient Egypt turns from a monolithic entity, taking up a well-defined, exclusive and limited space in our historical conscience and teaching programs, into a dynamic object of research that exists by virtue of interaction between time periods and regions-but also between disciplines and participants. The disciplinary borders of academia are challenged by reconfiguring the organization of source materials and incorporating new tools of inquiry, which opens the way to innovative methodologies and new, unforeseen insights.

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The Urban Simulation Team; School of the Arts and Architecture, University of California, Los Angeles

Real-time visual simulation technology has the potential to radically alter our understanding of historic urban environments. Unlike fixed computer animations, real-time technology allows interactive exploration of the modeled site, thereby creating unprecedented opportunities for experiential interpretation and innovative pedagogy. The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 is a perfect test case for the educational applications of this remarkable technology. The exposition was a milestone for American architecture and urban planning. As Director of Works, Daniel Burnham coordinated a team of the most notable architects in the country, each designing one of the fair's major buildings. As a group, these architects created a classical city that would have lasting repercussions on American design ideals and spark the American Renaissance and City Beautiful movements. Our understanding of this important complex has heretofore been based solely on static images and written descriptions. This is no longer the case. Real-time visual simulation technology allows us to reclaim the lost experience of navigating through the White City. Just as in 1893, the completed model will allow users to stroll along the virtual Court of Honor, tour the Wooded Island, and marvel and the fair's classical structures from a gondola.

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University of California, Davis

"Precision Targets" explores the links between contemporary consumer culture and militarization in the U.S. through the example of theglobal positioning system (GPS). By the end of the 1st Gulf War, when "smart bombs" and other GPS-enhanced applications were celebrated as the ultimate in precision weaponry by the U.S. military, the technology was already moving into civilian goods and services. Our piece explores the mystique of precision through six story-lines to demonstrate the implicit militarization ofconsumers as they encounter the possibilities and constraints of using GPS satellite navigation in everyday life in the U.S. The stories are read through a series of comic-style panels in a cube. By rotating the cube, the user can "travel" through and across the narratives, accessing brief commentaries attached to each panel which can be expanded to reveal more extended analyses.

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Poster Talks

Presenters provided descriptions of their projects, contained in the folder that conference participants received.


University of California, Los Angeles

Hijoo Son is a doctoral candidate in modern Korean history and culture at UCLA. Her dissertation, titled "Casting Diaspora: Cultural Production and Identity Construction" is a cultural history of diasporic art from the largest and oldest overseas Korean communities, and the study focuses specifically upon artists who particiapated in controversial exhibitions including the 2002 Kwangju Biennial's There: Sites of the Korean Diaspora. The analysis of artists, artwork, reception, exchange, and discourse from the exhibition probes tensions at a "mesolevel". That is, the examination of forced and voluntary migrations are facilitated by the mesolevels of social networks, family circuits, and cultural codes that aided migrants in adjusting to and associating with all that is new. The exhibition space also functions at a mesolevel, emphasizing the transnational contours of their movements as artists who traveled back to South Korea and other metropolitan centers in order to showcase their artwork within an international framework. Finally, the visualization of the artwork in a web interface from There also highlights a mesolevel on a virtual level. These exhibitions showcased artists who come from places such as Almaty, Sao Paolo, Yanji, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and others. That the host countries where artists reside are so far-flung is one compelling reason to produce a web interface. The rapid access to underlying assets in a digital database, coupled with the ability to navigate the heterogeneous corpus along multiple routes is a powerful tool for knowledge, discovery, and analysis.

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Duke University

Can the Internet connect people who are geographically close but separated by other forms of distance? The project, Windows on Last Miles, aims to investigate and perhaps bridge (if only momentarily) distances other than the geographical. The installation consists of two movable computer displays ("windows") that connect two nearby public spaces in real time. These two sites, selected from pairs of public spaces only a few miles apart, are separate in other ways. They become connected, visibly and aurally, via the two "windows" which relay the feeds from two adjacent webcams. The perspectives of the webcams are controlled interactively by the visitors. One example of spaces that would be connected would be Duke University's Main Library and the Durham City Library. We employ a variety of strategies to qualify and quantify the way in which the users of these installations interact, with the hope of exploring (through interactive art!) the "connectedness" of visitors.

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Technology Resource Center, Wayne State University

Digital Partnerships for Engaged Learning is a portfolio of projects managed by Wayne State University's Technology Resource Center. Partnerships foster purposeful integration of digital media in teaching and learning by mobilizing "techno-travel" across boundaries of disciplines, professions, and the community, producing new collaborative relationships and interdisciplinary spaces for humanistic inquiry. Digital Media Learning Community is developing promising technologies for teaching and learning. Recent activities focused on Second Life and other new communication technologies for citizenship and civic engagement. The WSU-HASTAC Digital Humanities Collaboratory is building common f2f and web space for dispersed innovations across campus. Digital Learning and Development Sandbox (DLDS) is building a digital workspace housing images from the Virtual Motor City and Digital Dress repositories, templates for authoring integrated learning objects, and a teaching and learning archive. Art History Luna Project uses LUNA insight software to digitize art slide collections while adding innovative approaches to searchability and metatdata.

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University of California, Los Angeles

The personal audio player has become ubiquitous, and is now attached to the hips, pockets, and hearts of hundreds of millions of users. Users exchange digital audio content with each other socially, sharing theird igital audio players in a mostly ad hoc manner. New digital audio players like the Microsoft Zune allow users to share music wirelessly with others, but have proven troublesome to connect and configure in practice. The Smart Party represents the next generation in social media sharing: it allows user devices to interact seamlessly and transparently in physical locations. At the SmartParty, users bring their media preferences and library on their portabledevice. Their devices automatically detect, and are configured for, their environment, and interact to select the media that will play in the various rooms in which the party is situated. Per-room play lists are dynamically generated based on the current user population.

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Mark Marino, The L.A. Flood ProjectTHE LA FLOOD PROJECT | Mark C. Marino
University of Southern California

A flood has hit Los Angeles. It is spilling deeper across streets, yards, roads; a disaster is unfolding across the city and voices are being heard on cell phones from the epicenter and beyond. The LA Flood Project is a Rashomon-style multi-POV locative narrative experience that unfolds across LA, spilling over our cast of characters and the participants who join the flood through their cell phones. The Flood dredges to the surface the unspoken laws and logic of the city. It reveals hidden boundaries even as it spills over them. To engage the Flood, Angelenos will call in to hear the latest developments in the flood from their locations. HASTAC attendees may experience a demo of the narrative at the project's poster display.

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R U ST&ING 2 CLOSE 2 ME? | Ana Boa-Ventura
University of Texas, Austin

Do Portuguese write 'nmjc'* when relaxing in Second Life? Do Spanish SL residents stand physically closer than North Americans? Are French SL sims different than the German ones? May those differences lie in cultural aspects other than national origin? You may have wondered whether cultural markers that we take as ‘normal' when communicating across cultures are downplayed or, rather, exacerbated inprofoundly visual environments such as SL or Croquet. Vis-à-vis an international audience, the space associated with a given nation may be an aberration-a caricature of the stereotype that nation is to ‘others'; or it may become an amorphous global space. We propose a visit to national sims to examine designed spaces, as well as non-verbal and verbal communication. We also recommend a second look at emerging tracking tools to evaluate interpersonal distance in SL, which until now have been the province of the corporate world.

*nothing much, just chilling

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University of California, Irvine

Our cities and rural geographies are described by an abundance of databases that attempt to record and characterize the nature ofhuman activity according to geographic location. These date are often construed as descriptive, but when used and crafted by organizations and institutions to carry out planning or marketing objectives, they are also regulatory of the spaces they describe. Yet most individuals have no access to or awareness of the way their neighborhood might be profiled in a consumer marketing or a homeland security database. Datascape enables a hybrid environment whereby participants use geographic data to author dynamic narratives that compose a digital world. A vehicle-mounted digital periscope engenders action between passengers and visual and sonic landscape that unfolds and emerges based on conversations between people, data, and dynamic representational entities that compose the landscape. By allowing people to view and interact with information descriptive of the location in which it is encountered, Datasape enables public awareness and engagement with the hybrid digital/physical spaces we traverse and inhabit in our daily lives.

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Lightning TalksLightning Talks in the CALIT2 Auditorium

Presenters provided descriptions of their talks, contained in the folder that conference participants received.


University of California, San Diego

The Global Middle Ages Project (G-MAP) is an ambitious initiative to teach university communities and the general public to see what an interconnected world looks like in deep time: a thousand years of culture, history, technology, ideas, and civilization, from about 500 to 1500 CE. From Europe in the West to China in the East, across Islamic civilization and Africa, Eurasia and India, we show how the world lived and functioned as a network of interwoven spaces, linked into relationship by trade and travel, social organization, global cities, borrowings of culture, and even organized conflict. MAPPAMUNDI is the name we give to the dynamic online presence of G-MAP's laboratories, multi-media events, and archive of cultural and learning resources. Because MAPPAMUNDI can be a digital classroom, laboratory, museum, archive, and meeting-place all at once, it can constitute aunique multi-dimensional learning environment, and perform as a dynamic cultural treasure-house that reaches audiences in every corner of the world.

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University of California, Santa Cruz

We are working on creating a multi-lingual, multi-media, user-generated website for the transnational, collaborative study of memories of WWII in the Pacific (the "Asia-Pacific Wars" to some). Combining functions of Wikipedia, Flickr, and community networking sites, our site will enable researchers, students, activists, and the general public to share resources and communicate within and across language boundaries. The core organizational principle will be a multi-lingual folksonomy by which users provide tags to uploaded materials in multiple languages and other users add and refine tags to create the infrastructure for interlinking between and among materials arising in different socio-linguistic contexts. Communities of interest forming around topics and materials will be linked to a variety of translation techniques,both machine and human, to enable real world conversation. QTVRs of memory sites, such as the Hiroshima Peace Park, densely annotated with multi-media information, will serve as the entry points to what we hope will become a rich, closely interlinked archive. Harnessing the computational power of the HASS grid from our grid block on UCSC, we can imagine a future development of the site in which the construction of virtual memory spaces will enhance the community's research.


Duke University

In his 1984 cyberpunk novel NeuromancerWilliam Gibson famously coined the neologism "cyberspace" to describe the emerging landscape. Despite the prescience of this spatial metaphor in capturing a world infused by ceaseless connections and synthetic worlds, it has proven a lacking representation of the topography of contemporary networks. Instead of focusing on the shortcomings of early cyberpunk literature, this talk turns to Gibosn's more recent novels-including the present-day cyber-adventure Spook Country(2007)-to explore the way the 21st century techno-fiction approaches the relationship between space and networks. My analysis focuses on Gibson's interest in the phenomena of locative art and geohacking. Shifting from the earlier representation of the oppositional hacker, the figure of the geohacker points to a technological being that is perpetually mobile, completely embodied, and based in physical space. In my reading of Gibson's metaphors, I further suggest that the geohacker enables the production for what I call spatial specters. In conclusion the paper contends that shift in Gibson's technoscientific imaginary marks a more complex thinking that abandons a static understanding of the spatial configuration of data. Instead, it initiates an exploration of the political consequences of the informational mobility, the social implications of geo-spatial technologies that interact with non-digital environments, and the effects of the network temporality that accompanies a new understanding of space. Finally, I contend that even as we experience an increased proliferation of new media forms, literary narrative continues to serve an important part in analyzing the affective wonder and cultural complexity of emerging technologies.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

My new year's poem for 2008 was a computer program, a very short Perl program that generates poems without recourse to any external dictionary, word list, or other data file. I call it ppg256: "ppg" because it's a Perl poetry generator and "256″ for the length of the program in characters. It was an attempt to drive process intensity up, keep program size down, and uncover what the essential elements of a poetry generator are. I found the process of developing this program very useful for my own thinking about computation and language. Here is the complete program that resulted:


perl -le'subw{substr("cococacamamadebapabohamolaburatamihopodito",


2*int(rand 25),2)}{$l=rand9;print "\n\nthe ".w."\n";{print w."".substr("atonof",rand 5,2)." ".w;redo if$l-->0;}redo;}'

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