Tough competition in the attention economy

There is just so much to this article Making It – pick up a spot welder and join the revolution in the New Yorker recently.  Evegny Morozov deconstructs the Maker Movement and its social politics.  It’s fascinating to reflect on how making things has become a ‘movement’, why, and whether it’s really as radical and democratising as it’s made out to be.

And it’s especially interesting to me, of course, because I’m a maker. I’ve always been a maker of things, but now I’m an aspiring Maker with a capital M as well – playing around with 3D tools, manufacturing on demand, setting up my Etsy shop…

The article makes the point that some of the movements proponents “argue that the success of the maker movement shows that the means of production can be made affordable to workers even under capitalism. Now that money can be raised on sites such as Kickstarter, even large-scale investors have become unnecessary. But both overlook one key development: in a world where everyone is an entrepreneur, it’s hard work getting others excited about funding your project. Money goes to those who know how to attract attention. … Inequality here is not just a matter of who owns and runs the means of physical production but also of who owns and runs the means of intellectual production—the so-called “attention economy”.”

So far, I’ve had 8 visits to lichenandsponge.  All of those are from me. Granted, it has only been open a few days, but still, it’s made me hyper-aware of the need for online marketing – how the * am I supposed to compete with the millions of other Etsy shops, with their billions of items, all more or less unique and cool?

I should get into growth hacking, but its just so …scary!   “A growth hacker wraps messaging into the fabric of the lives and thoughts of users.” Alternatively, it could be the occupation for the villain in my book 🙂

“Growth hacking appeared as the modern way in the age of Web 2.0 to reach a market and distribute an idea. Instead of classic marketing which typically interrupts your day, a growth hacker uses “pull”; he or she understands user behavior provides value immediately to persuade. A growth hacker wraps messaging into the fabric of the lives and thoughts of users. A growth hacker will leverage across disciplines, pulling in insights from behavioral economics and gamification, to find the right message to pull in users.

A growth hacker finds a strategy within the parameters of a scalable and repeatable method for growth, driven by product and inspired by data. Growth hacking’s goal are based in marketing but driven by product instincts. A growth hacker lives at the intersection of data, product, and marketing. A growth hacker lives within the product team and has a technical vocabulary to implement what he or she wants.”

And look at what can happen When Growth Hacking Goes Bad!  “Due to the App Store’s nearly impossible to break into Top Charts, app makers have to manufacture and force growth to attract their initial users, and kick off those “viral” effects”.

I want to join the Society for Printable Geography!

I wish this was a real Society that I could join.  The Society for Printable Geography creates jewelry using real satellite data. It’s pretty cool. Here’s their ‘North Island of New Zealand’ cufflink. I can even get a cellphone cover with the terrain of Australasia.

I found a beautiful new addition to my sea sponge collection this morning on the beach. The question is – how to convert this image into data, then into a 3D printed object.

Lately, I’ve been trying ‘displacement mapping’ on Blender.  I make a 3D bowl, then map a black and white image to it. Then ‘displacement map’ turns the darker parts of the image into depressions, and the lighter parts into hills, bumps.  So you’ve got a 3D texture, derived from your 2D black and white photo.

At the moment, I don’t understand how this works though.  I thought if I made a black and white dot 2D pattern and map it, then it would make a bowl with raised bumps all over it.  NO! Its not so easy.

If I took this sponge to Massey University Fab Lab and scanned it using their 3D scanner, I would have a 3D image of it that I could print.

I don’t know where it comes from, the desire to recreate a sponge shape in ceramics or plastic.  Its a mysterious, nonsensical thing to do.  What’s the point?  It’s not as if it had a practical application.  A sponge is such a complex shape –  think I want to understand its form.



Corinne Hansen made the ring below – I found it here on Shapeways.  She helpfully includes the software she used in making it.  Created in rhinoceros, edited in Magics, colored in Z-edit.  What I want to know is, does it print in all those different colours and textures?

I want to try i.materialise.  For the record, here are some other 3D printing sites to try out, at some articles comparing them. The sites I’ve found are i.Materialise, Kraftwurx, Ponoko, Shapeways and Sculpteo.

I never thought I would ever do computer programming in a million years – just shows you never know what’s going to happen!  I’m learning how to use the Processing language, and I just got my first two little programs up on my website

I love all the examples of code that the site gives

There are tutorials, forums and also a Learning place

These amazing tools from Nervous System were all written with processing – mindblowing.  Maybe one day I’ll be using it to generate my own jewellery with algorithms too.

My next step on Processing is to use a data source as input data to move an image on the screen.  First data visualisations here we come!

Molecular Aesthetics

My most exciting moment in Sydney was pretty geeky.  My wanderings through the city took me to the NSW State Library (thanks for the tip Shelley!), to the bookshop (via a 2 hr stop in the library to investigate “60 Innovators: shaping our creative future” where I found THIS:IMG_20131203_152728 IMG_20131203_152749

The coolest thing about this book was its contents page – an pre-compiled set of course materials for me in my most exciting subject – science mixed with art.  It actually makes me smile with joy… I can’t stop smiling!!!

These names and phrases, typed into the wonderful web of knowledge that is the internet, is taking me on a crazy journey that leads off in so many different directions that it’s intoxicating.  Here are a few:

Joanna Aizenberg and the The Aizenberg Biomineralization and Biomimetics Lab:

I loved Joanna’s lecture at Harvard on “Natural Glass Houses in the Deep.  She moves smoothly from Ernest Haekel (one of my favourite artists) to chemical structures, to sea sponges (one of my favourite items to collect, gaze at and draw), to nature, to biomimicry, to 3D printing, to 3D modelling, to the structure of bones and shells (also favourite objects!). It feels so beautiful; a drawing-together of so many of my disparate interests into a coherent whole. :

This is amazing too:

This place has an artbase of projects by artists all over the world that employ materials such as software, code, websites, moving images, games and browsers as artwork.

This is "Boolean Nature" by Hugo Arcier, which I found on the artbase

This is “Boolean Nature” by Hugo Arcier, which I found on the artbase. have a conference…Right now, I feel like I have NEVER wanted to go anywhere more in my life than I want to go to this conference:

I mean, just look at what the subject matter is!!!


The Transdisciplinary Imaging Conference at the intersections of art, science and culture seeks papers that explore the theme of the cloud and molecular aesthetics.The third international conference on transdisciplinary imaging at the intersections of art, science and culture will focus on:

~ What is the new objectification of the imaged world around?

~ What are the aesthetic and artistic – the theoretical and the practical – implications of this new topography of data?

~ What alternative idioms exist to critically consider imagery and image making?

~ What is our contemporary understanding of clouding, assembly and camouflage in a post material age?

~ How does the cloud phenomenon precipitate thinking about new ways of curating, publishing and configuring modes of engagement?

The aim of the conference is to bring together artists, theorists, scholars, scientists, historians and curators. The conference invites papers that respond to the above provocation in areas related to: Painting, Drawing, Curating, Installation, Film, Video, Photography, Computer Visualization, Real-time Imaging, Intelligent Systems and Image Science.”

Next stop, Victoria Vesna, James Gimzewski and UCLA

Here’s a link to a promo for the UCLA Art|Science Centre & Lab

Victoria Vesna and her research partner found that the live cells they were studying were vibrating.  They took a digital file of the vibration pattern and converted it into a sound file, enabling them to ‘listen’ to live cells.

(The iridescent blue in butterfly wings has no pigment – it’s made up of nano-optics: textures and patterns)

They wanted to measure the vibrations of a chrysalis turning in to a butterfly, and to listen to the vibrations.

By throwing a laser on the chrysalis they could measure the vibrations of the metamorphosis over about 2 weeks. They realised that rather than being slow and gradual, change in the chrysalis happened in sudden bursts. The experiment became a piece of art; a metaphor for the drastic disruptive change going on in the world  wow – the sound! so haunting and spooky.

Victoria and James made zero@wavefunction


The Zero@wavefunction installation and interactivity is based on the way a nanoscientist manipulates an individual molecule (billions of times smaller than common human experience) projected on a monumental scale. When a person passes by, they cast a larger than life shadow on the molecule and activate responsive buckyballs. The visualizations are of buckyballs that respond via sensors to the movement of the person’s shadow and the possibility of manipulating the molecule emerges.

THIS is how the technology behind it works (hmm this pretty visualisation make it look so easy but I bet it is a little more complex in the background, maybe good for me who is just starting with the basics though!):



“The atoms and electrons in a rock are as subtle and alive as the ocean is.”

My first 3D printed object

Meet diamond_vase, my very first 3D printed object!  The beginnings of success after a frustrating 2 year journey trying to figure out 3D printing… attending Fab Lab 8, visiting a hearing-aid manufacturer in Auckland with my box of wax ring models, wrecking Rich’s desk with my resin experiments, being practically the only girl at the 2012 Engineering and Manufacturing Technology Trade Show, discovering Maya, then Sculptris, then Ponoko, then Shapeways, then Blender, finding the Wellington Makerspace, then FINALLY, finally, I have a 3D vase in my hand.

And this is just the beginning…

I made it myself

I made it myself!: Diamond_vase – blue ceramic.  It took about 6 weeks to get here, and about $30, but it’s all worth it.  It has very fine ceramic sides.

3rd International Open Print Making Show at Wharepuke


The 3rd Art at Wharepuke Open Submission Printmaking Show opened on the 5th of December in Keri Keri.  There is some amazing work here – I feel privileged to be among it! Luckily there are selected images from the show at for people who can’t get to see it in person.

Here’s one of mine:



ProjectXPlay2 copy“There’s a reason millions of people try to solve crossword puzzles each day. Amid the well-ordered combat between a puzzler’s mind and the blank boxes waiting to be filled, there is satisfaction along with frustration. Even when you can’t find the right answer, you know it exists. Puzzles can be solved; they have answers.

But a mystery offers no such comfort. It poses a question that has no definitive answer because the answer is contingent; it depends on a future interaction of many factors, known and unknown. A mystery cannot be answered; it can only be framed, by identifying the critical factors and applying some sense of how they have interacted in the past and might interact in the future. A mystery is an attempt to define ambiguities.

Puzzle-solving is frustrated by a lack of information. By contrast, mysteries often grow out of too much information.

Puzzles may be more satisfying, but the world increasingly offers us mysteries.

No matter how much patients may seek the clarity of a puzzle, healthcare, too, is largely a mystery. The goal of medicine, like that of counterterrorism, is an absence—of illness and disease.

Research into the phenomenon of déjà vu in  patients with epilepsy showed that their feelings of déjà vu were likely linked to seizure activity in the medial temporal lobe, the part of the brain associated with sensory perception, speech production and memory association. During a seizure, neurons misfire, sending mixed-up messages to different parts of the body. For these patients, déjà vu is a result of getting their wires crossed. When some patients undergo brain surgery to stop the seizures, they wake up to a world free of the phenomenon.

Some scientists posit that similar neural misfiring—a glitch in the system—also causes healthy, seizure-free brains to experience a sense of familiarity when there’s no reason to.

A second hypothesis involves another brain error; this time, the problem is with our memory, says Anne Cleary, a cognitive psychology professor at Colorado State University. Something about a new situation or setting activates a memory of a similar past experience, but our brains fail to recall it. Cleary offers this scenario to help explain: Imagine you’re visiting Paris for the first time, and you have arrived at the Louvre. Your gaze lands on the giant glass pyramid jutting out of the museum’s main courtyard, and you get that strange feeling.

At that moment, your brain is failing to retrieve a memory that could explain it away: A few months ago, you watched The Da Vinci Code, a film that provides an up-close look at the Louvre Pyramid. “In the absence of recalling that specific experience,” Cleary says. “You’re left only with this feeling of familiarity with the current situation.”

“When retrieval does fail, our memories still have a way of alerting us to the fact that there’s something relevant in there,” she says. “There’s something there that maybe we want to keep searching for.”

A glyph /ˈɡlɪf/ is an element of writing: an individual mark on a written medium that contributes to the meaning of what is written.

“Copies have been dethroned; the economic model built on them is collapsing. In a regime of superabundant free copies, copies are no longer the basis of wealth. Now relationships, links, connections, and sharing are. Value has shifted away from a copy toward the many ways to recall, annotate, personalize, edit, authenticate, display, mark, transfer, and engage a work. Art is a conversation, not a patent office. The citation of sources belongs to the realms of journalism and scholarship, not art. Reality can’t be copyrighted.”
― David ShieldsReality Hunger: A Manifesto

Copies don’t count anymore; copies of isolated books, bound between inert covers, soon won’t mean much. Copies of their texts, however, will gain in meaning as they multiply by the millions and are flung around the world, indexed, and copied again. What counts are the ways in which these common copies of a creative work can be linked, manipulated, tagged, highlighted, bookmarked, translated, enlivened by other media, and sewn together in the universal library.

― David ShieldsReality Hunger: A Manifesto