Junkshop/steampunk social-network-enabled automatic music machine:

Cybraphon consists of a number of instruments, antique machinery, and found objects from junk shops operated by over 60 robotic components, all housed in a modified wardrobe. Its emotions are shown on a 100 year old school galvanometer; a motor-driven crank drives the bellows of an Indian classical instrument modified with 13 robotic servos; a switched fan pumps air through a Farfisa organ retro-fitted with robotic keys; 12 chimes are struck by suspended solenoids; numerous percussion instruments are hit by beaters attached to motors, including a cigar box with an integral spring “reverb”; and a purpose made vinyl record is cued robotically to play through antique brass gramophone horns. In addition to these musical components, Cybraphon has several internal light sources that are controlled on four fader channels, and infra-red motion detectors to monitor people watching it.

All these elements are controlled by a hidden computer via MIDI, DMX, and Arduino boards. And wire. Lots and lots of wire.

The computer runs custom software (coded in Python and MAX/MSP) to monitor the web and update Cybraphon’s emotions according to the rate at which its popularity is changing over time. All mentions of Cybraphon online that are indexed by Google are noted, as well as activity on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, MySpace, and this very website. (

Via Grand Text Auto

Futures Thinking

UK social software consultant and writer Suw Charman-Anderson, working for the Carnegie Trust UK, has been conducting some forecasting and scenario-making research concerning the future of social technology and the Internet. Her enormous mindmap of keywords and phrases associated with where things might be heading in the next 15 years is definitely worth a look, containing as it does a bevy of bite-sized-yet-thought-provoking future-visions like “personalized manufacturing”, “crime based on openness” and “consolidation and closure of news outlets.” Also worth taking a look at is a series of interviews Suw conducted wherein she poses thoughtful questions about the future to a variety of scholars, entrepreneurs and activists, including JP Rangaswami and Ross Mayfield. These interviews are each individually quite edifying, as is the base set of questions Suw asks — indeed, these questions are an excellent starting-point for any discussion of the future, and so I post them here (see the Carnegie Trust’s “futures thinking” page for more on this methodology):

1. Predetermined driving forces
What forces appear to be predetermined?
What changes in the broader environment appear unavoidable?
What assumptions are these changes based upon?

2. Uncertain driving forces
What might happen over the next 15 years that would affect social technology?
If you could have any question answered about what will happen by 2025, what would it be?
How uncertain are they?
Which are becoming more certain?

3. Wildcard events
What type of unexpected developments could totally change the game?
What could undermine existing assumptions?

4. Connections and criticality
Are any of these driving forces connected?
Which are the most important?
Which small changes could have big consequences?
Which of these driving forces are critical?

(Strange Attractor)