In times such as these

live blogging AMRO

Tim from Time’s Up.

A laboraey butory for the construction of experimental and experiential situations. Artifacts help thinking. Play helps thinking. Kids learn through play and adults can too.

Narrative is how we understand things.

They have possible futures. There is not one set determined future.

They build spaces to explore ideas and possible futures. They “roomify” it to create experiences and narratives. Experiences are memorable and build understanding.

immersice spaces are social. Doing things socially, in public, changes us.

they built an imaginimaginry town 25 years in the future. Turnton. Spaces in real lifehave things for the people inthem, ideals they want to convey and things left out accidentally.

They use headphones in the bar to simulate overheard conversations.

Turnton is a mixed model.of insufficient action but with utopic elements.

an experiential future makes abstract scenarios feel present.

they like Kim StanStanley Robinson. They like cocreation to bring in many perspectives.

social dreaming is a way to get groups to think about possible futures.

Analysis Paralysis and a Bag of Bad Ideas

Live blogging AMRO.

Sophie Carolina Wagner and Rosemary Lee

A very quick overview of her her arts practice Open a glam lab.

They are here to talk about climate despair etc. How do we carry on in these times? The UN warns of total social collapse but also wants growth in an extinction economy.

Can technology help? The political parties don’t understand tech and just want to spy on us.

tech is fragile. Taking down leftpad broke thetech giants. Machines are not sentient and this is distracting for the real problems of AI.

Artists are stuck in capitalism.

There are no good manifestos. We have only bad ideas.

Now Rosemary says: she’s researching algorithmic processing in image production. Her forthcoming book is Algorithm Image Art. Machine learning is new, but the issues it raises aren’t. Value, authorship, meaning and truthfulness of photos can be exploredthrough media archeology. A deep time perspective of media allows us to apple a historical analysis.

Machine learning is responsibility absolving for corporations. Artists are asked to “perform ethics” around these systems. Artists are treated as reformers of technology. They want to make art but are stuck eemediating technology.

Personal responsibility and online image consumption will not help save the world.

They want to start an open dialogue. The personal, the political, the emotions. We are stuck in doom. Can art do anything? Should art even?

We should at least talk about this. Are we being instrumentalised? Are we equipped to deal with this? We can barely pay our rent. Funding situations do not lend themselves to good art, let alone critical engagement.

Is mutual aid part of theway forward?

Glitches can make some space for us maybe.

General Intelligence Agency of Ljubljana

live blogging AMRO

Jan Kstanjevec and Makes Valencic

they started as a reading group. Reading groups require periodic synchronous meetings. People take notes but it does not produce a product. They don’t have the strengths of a seminar. However they are a safe, collaborative space to allow the externalisation of thought.

GIA is an abstraction of reading groups. They are investigating infrastructure and tools. Intellectual work is a muktinlear pipeline. The process of thought externalisation is productive and allows collaboration. They want to be able to facilitate this.

In the humanities, modes of collaboration are not well-developed. Its not easy to create spaces for shared reading. It represents a major commitment, which is not ideal. Schools of philosophy and think tanks do undertake this.

Collective intelligence is increasingly subjected to technological intervention. They are using their reading group as a model.

Small groups can have safe environments for communication. The safe space idea is one of comfort. They want a space to share notes.

chunks are units of memory and analysis, but this is wasted if not used. Chunks get maintained when they are repeated, for example in schools, circularity, etc. This need not be an institutional production, but it usually is. They could optimise by making chucks available with less commitment.

Chunks are like capital, but harder to evaluate the value of. They want to keep chinks inthe group. Forgetting chunks issometimes good, but forgetting good ones is wasteful. There may also be too many chunks.

Memory is cultivated. This can benaided with tools. But small communities also have dangers. They can get into groupthink. They can have trolls or people who dominate conversations. There are also barriers to people participating due tonshyness or social barriers. How should they be actually open in practice.

Open science models arenot quite applicable. Neo liberalisation wants to impose market logic, which leads to closure and paywalls.

Systemisation of content could be done with some data crunching, so they tried that.

They want to do case studies to better develop tools. Locality does not garuntee a safespace. They are using next cloud. Their app is called ContentMatcher.

Their demo is a bit like PDF speed dating, which does seem useful.

Q: this is like

A: thanks

There is a workshop today at 2

It works!

After many very long days, My project Domifare is working. For me. It won’t work for you because there is a bug in TuningLib. I have raised an issue, which the package maintainer will get to shortly. The package maintainer, who is me will fix it shortly. When I get back from Austria. I need to test my fix properly.

Only a subset of specified commands have been implemented, but I can record a loop and re-order the playback of a loop based on detected onsets. Hypothetically, I can also start and stop loops. In practice, pitch detection is terrible and the language is barely usable. Annoyingly, the utility of it depends on how good my tuba playing sounds.

If I want to use this as an actual tool, the way forward is playing the key phrases in as training data to an AI thing.

While writing this project, I raised three issues with the SuperCollider project over documentation and one issue with the LinuxExternals Quark over Pipewire. That will turn into a merge request. I might update the documentation for it.

If you want to hear this thing in progress, I’ll be using it on Friday. You can turn up in person to Linz, Austria or tune into the live stream. This is part of AMRO, who have a helpful schedule.

I feel like a zombie and will say something more coherent later.


I put in a bid to play Domifare at AMRO, knowing it was in no state to perform, but also knowing that nothing motivates like a deadline. I thought it was likely to be accepted, so I planned to start working on it during the break between spring and summer terms.

But then I got covid and felt terrible for weeks, but also got brain fog which, to be honest, has not completely dissipated. I mean, it’s hard to tell. How could I possibly have a bassline on my mental state? I do know that my sense of taste is still messed up and if I exercise a lot I feel ill the next day, so let’s say I’m not at 100% mentally. It could be all in my head, but what difference would that make?

I wanted to finish my marking before dedicating all my time to this. I have not finished my marking, but now both are an emergency. Indeed, the list of things I have not done is kilometres long. My tuba needs a service. I haven’t played it for months and lips are completely unfit.

This is an overly-honest research update. The subject line is the Solresol word for “fear.”

This is the state of the language:

Domifare Notes
Domifare Performance Notes

The “language” has always been conceived of as a way of defining loops. So I have some syntax for recording loops as an audio recording or as a series of onsets, the ability to “shake” an onset loop, the ability to schedule shakes, and the ability to start and stop loops. These are all a series of short musical licks I should ideally memorise but at least be able to play without hesitation or split notes.

Meanwhile, the language currently has the ability to read and receive notes, which is necessarily flaky and a scaffold to hand the rest of the operations …. and a GUI to adjust thresholds because that’s necessary while playing… and that’s kind of it.

This coming weekend is a four day one which is actually a disaster because it means I can’t work during it.

Writing out what I actually have to do makes it sound fully achievable, but it will take longer than I think it will. The GUI took all of yesterday. If I spend part of every day programming and part of every day practising, I should get there. Hopefully.

I haven’t bought my train tickets yet, but I really don’t want to drop out.

I’ve got 2 weeks.

Domifare back under active development!

I’m very exciting to be submitting a proposal to do a performance in the tuba-entered live coding language Domifare.

I’ve been wanting to pick this back up for a while and it seems like the main thing that motivates me is a deadline, so now I’ve got a deadline for version 1.0.

The initial specification of the language is quite modest to implement and my teaching term ends next week, so I’m confident this will be playable by the time the gig arrives. It’s always going to be chaotic because tuba pitch tracking, but it will be a joyful chaos!

More here as I get to active developing.

Peer Work

There is a very handy Moodle plugin called peer work, which you can use to allow students doing group work to assess each other’s contributions and scale the group marks accordingly. In a document authored by Dr Sean Williams, he notes that benefits for students include “a greater engagement with critical thinking; greater awareness of marking criteria; more perceived fairness in assessment”. This plugin saves a lot of paperwork and spreadsheet wrangling.

The upsides of this plugin are clear, but unfortunately, the documentation for it is sometimes less clear, alas. Although, it does cover some aspects of it’s use very well. This blog post is meant to cover some gaps.


As this plugin is for group work, you’ll need to create groups on your moodle, which is well-documented.

Using Likert scales

In this plugin, students are asked to rate each other’s skill and/or participation according to a Likert scale. Dr. Williams suggests this should be 0-5. You will first need to create a scale, which has a good moodle documentation page. Open your course in moodle. In the left hand column, click grades. Under grades, click scales. Under scales, at the bottom, click “the “Add a new scale” button. You will have to provide a name for their scale and commas separated list of scale values from low to high. The values I have used are: No contribution, Minimal Contribution, Reasonable contribution, Very good contribution, Excellent Contribution. The name I chose for this scale is “Peer Assessment Scale.”

When you create a new Peer Work item on the moodle page, it should look familiar to regular moodle users. The questions for peer evaluation go in the “Assesment Criteria Settings” section of the settings. You will set several criteria, eg “How was this student’s attendance at group meetings?” Each criteria has a description and a “scoring type”. For the scoring type, pick the scale that you made.

Using my new scale with the peer assessment questions

Students should see your Likert scale for the question. You must set the scale per question. You can use the one scale you made, or if you feel it’s not a good fit for the question, you can make custom scales for each item. For this criteria, I could have a specific scale that started with: Never attended, Attended Rarely, … etc.

Calculator Settings

When you are setting up the plugin, you’ll need to set the calculator setting. This sets how much the students marks are effected by their peer evaluations. Dr Williams says, “By default this is set to 50%, meaning that 50% of the group mark is given directly, and 50% is subject to the multiplier. If this gives a spread of marks judged to be too narrow, then it can be adjusted. Normally this shouldn’t be more than 60% or less than 40%.”

There’s also a penalty for non-submission, where they get dinged if they fail to evaluate each other. The default is 20%. Dr. Williams suggests students should be told this early.

The calculator settings

How this multiplier works is explained in a PDF buried in the plugin’s source code which is a copy of this web page. The student’s peer scores are used to calculate a multiplier for the group grade. This is done so that nobody is penalised if a peer’s marks are missing, skew low or skew high.

Each student gets a percentage mark – the multiplier. If the peer weighting is 50% and you’ve given them a score of 100, they get 50 marks from the group grade (as in 50% is directly the group grade) and the other half of the mark is calculated by multiplying it by their personal percentage mark. So if the student Bob gets an 80 for his personal percentage mark, his overall mark is 50 + (50 * 0.8) = 90.

The percentage mark can exceed 100% in some cases. If Alice’s group has gotten a 90, and Alice has gotten a percentage of 115, her score would be 45 + (45 * 1.15) = 96.75.

Student marks are capped at 100.

Running an online student concert

I wanted to come up with the most straightforward possible setup, so that students would be able to copy it and run their own events with minimal fuss.

This plan uses Twitch, which has two tremendous advantages. It has a performance rights society license, so everyone is free to do covers with no copyright consequences. (Just don’t save the stream to twitch.) The other is that the platform is designed around liveness, so if there are gaps in the stream, it’s not a problem. This means that no stream switching is required.

Student skills required

The students need to be able to get their audio into a computer. This might entail using a DAW, such as Reaper, or some sort of performance tool. They need to be able to use their DAW or tool in a real-time way, so that performing with it makes sense. If they can create a piece of music or a performance with software that they are capable of recording, then they have adequate skills.

This checklist covers all the skills and tools that a Mac or Linux user will need to play their piece. It will work for many, but not all, Windows users. This is because Windows setups can vary enormously.

Once everyone is able to stream to their own Twitch channel, they have the skills required to do the concert.

Setup and Organisation

You will need a twitch account dedicated to your class or organisation. You will also need a chatroom or other text-based chat application to use as a “backstage”. Many students are familiar with Discord, which makes it an obvious choice. Matrix chat is another good possibility. If you go with discord, students will need to temporarily disable the audio features of that platform.

As the students are already able to stream to Twitch, the only thing that will change for them is the stream key. Schedule tech rehearsals the day of the concert. Arrange that the students should “show up” in your backstage chat. At those rehearsals, give out the stream key for your channel’s stream. Give the students a few minutes to do a test stream and test that their setup is working.

The students should be instructed to wait until instructed to start their streams and to announce in the chat when they stop. If they get disconnected due to any kind of crash, they should check in in the chat before restarting. Once they finish their performance, they should quit OBS so they do not accidentally restart their stream.

When it’s call time for the concert, they also need to show up in the backstage chat. They should be aware of the concert order, but this may also change as students encounter technical challenges. You or a colleague should broadcast a brief welcome, introductory message which should mention that there will be gaps between performances as the stream switches.

As you stop broadcasting, tell the first student to start and the next student to be ready (but not go yet). The first student will hopefully remember to tell you when done and stop their stream. As their stream ends, you can tell the next student to go. You should be logged into the Twitch web interface so you can post in the chat who is playing or about to play.

After the concert ends, reset the stream key. This will make sure their next twitch stream doesn’t accidentally come out of your organisation’s channel.


The downsides of this steup is that there will be gaps in the stream. If a student goes wildly over time, it’s hard to cut them off. However, the tech requirements do not need any investment from your institution and, again, they should be able to organise their own events in a similar way using the skills they learned from participating in this event.

Performance Disasters

Some of my students have stage fright and don’t want to perform. This circumstance is highly relatable. I thought it might be helpful to share some stories of stage fight and performance gone wrong.

I used to get terrible stage fright. The way I got over it was to keep going on stage, a lot, despite being absolutely terrified every time. As a youth, I got relatively used to playing in front of strangers, but one time, in a youth group, I was playing trumpet in front of my peers and got so alarmed, I couldn’t get my lips to buzz.

More recently, I wrote a piece performed with a gamepad and when I went to perform it, found my hands were shaking too much to play it!

For me, just giving it ago, despite the fear, was got me through it. But, perhaps for some, an exercise in “what’s the worst that could happen”? will help.

Let’s watch a John Cage performance. Do you think the audience’s reaction indicates success or failure?

John Cage performs Water Walk on the TV show I Have a Secret

Ok, so the audience laughed but he said he was ok with that and his performance got broadcast out on national television, so perhaps the exposure was worth the mirth. But did you notice anything wrong with the performance?

Things that I noticed going wrong included

  • The radios were being plugged in. This was due to disagreement in the unions about who’s job it was to plug them in. (The moral of that story is to keep the union on side. Solidarity. Also, if you’re doing something weird, be patient while they go through the normal setup process. They’re used to being talked down to, so don’t offer instructions or suggestions unless their normal setup doesn’t work.)
  • The blender caught fire.
  • The rubber ducky was completely inaudible.

Two of these three things were huge problems. Radios are a key part of the piece. The blender situation was also quite alarming and changed the flow of the piece, as the crushed ice used later on was not available. Cage had to be adaptable and think on his feet in a performance situation that had numerous disasters before and duing.

Most people don’t notice the problems because he kept his cool throughout. This kind of composure is the product of experience. Things go wrong, but the show must go on. For people unused to performance, it’s likely that you will seem nervous. You are nervous. But with practice and experience, you too can keep your cool. After all, what’s the worst that can go wrong?

Angie’s Persimmon Cookies (again)

Eleven years ago, I posted a treasured persimmon cookie recipe to this blog. But I held something back from you, dear readers. My mother made those cookies many times, but I’m not sure I ever did. Also, the metric conversions were from an online calculator, so potentially dodgy.

Biscuits / Cookies

Today, I have finally made these. They took just as much time as I feared. My mum had a special tool for pulping things, but I don’t, so it took 40+ minutes to shove the flesh of a less-ripe-than-ideal persimmon through my wire strainer, by mushing it with a rubber scraper.

Biscuits / Cookies

While making them, I measured all the ingredients with my American cup measure and then weighed them with a kitchen scale. Some of them differ significantly from the calculated version. In this case of the sugar, this may be explained because the Hackney City Farm is only selling an unusual type of raw sugar (date sugar?) that seems more like brown sugar.

I’ve also made steps to veganise it.

The new, metric measurements are:

  • 150 g sugar
  • 90g margarine
  • 2 tsp chickpea flour
  • 300g persimmon pulp
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt (I still use less than Angie did)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Cream the sugar and the margarine. Add all dry ingredients except for the bicarb. Strain the pulp. Mix everything together. Make sure it’s properly mixed. The margarine-sugar will tend to stay in clumps, which can make the biscuits stodgy.

Spoon the batter on to a biscuit sheet with a soup spoon and bake at 190 C (375 F, gas mark 5) for 10-15 minutes. They will raise as you bake them.

I’ve left off the nuts because somebody on my list is allergic. I used chickpea flour to replace the egg, but any emulsifier will work. I didn’t add liquid because the pulp is already pretty wet, but you could add a few teaspoons of water or soy milk or the like.

Previously, I said that Chris and Angie were an elderly couple over the road. They were Sicilian. Chris was in his late 90s and had worked on the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge before spending the rest of his working life as a gardener for the city of San Francisco. Like many Sicilians, they had summer houses in the hottest part of Cupertino. That community would typically build two buildings – one would be the house and the other would be the kitchen and a semi- outdoor eating area. My neighbours retired to that summer house and it was (one of?) the last of those still standing with that configuration.

Chris taught us a lot about gardening and looking after plants and trees. Even in his late 90s and nearly blind, he would come talk to my mum about looking after the roses and would sometimes just prune them because he loved them. (He also had ulterior motives with regards to my mum, so he wasn’t totally blind.) Angie made amazing cookies and was very generous in sharing her food and her recipes. Neither of them could drive, so my mum would take her around to the shops. Sometimes several shops, as she’d snip coupons from the papers.

A plate of cookies

Chris was sprightly for a 97 year old man, but had several health problems. Angie used to buy him exotic multivitamins that came in gigantic pills which resembled submarines. When my mum confessed Chris’s proposition to my dad, she was worried he’d be angry, but instead my dad started taking the same vitamins!

A biscuit
A biscuit