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Technology

Touring the Energy Innovation Center

View from the Penn State Center

view from the soon-to-be Penn State Center offices

I had the pleasure and good fortune to be invited along today on a tour of the Energy Innovation Center led by the incredibly informative Thomas Bartnik. My invite was proffered by Deno De Ciantis, director of the Penn State Center, a partner in the project that has been transforming the former Connelly School into a new hub for all things sustainable, forward thinking and transformative in the region. The Penn State Center will be moving offices to a wholly renovated, 11,000 square foot space in what had been teaching work shops for trade students – giving them ample room for their growing menu of programming and community outreach. As you can see above, the views are pretty great, too.

Penn State Center offices

long view of the Penn State Center offices

I was joined on my tour by two instructors from Greater Allegheny’s campus and a dozen STEM program summer students as well as representatives from another local organization interested in sustainable practices. Hard hats were required, as were reflective vests and protective eyewear, so we definitely looked the part as we made our way through a very active construction site. The entire project got started just 18 months ago and, considering the Connelly School covers 180,000 square feet, is moving at a staggering clip. So fast, in fact, that the Penn State Center expects to take control of its space in just a few more weeks.

My own interest in the Penn State Center is two-fold. Many Media Commons projects across the Commonwealth see students taking on service learning-type projects with local community groups. Having a strong ally in the Center would allow for Media Commons to connect faculty assigning these projects with non-profits and other organizations in and around Pittsburgh to create great educational opportunities. Additionally, the Center itself would be a spectacular spot to bring together the campus and wider communities for training, research and traditional teaching – while, at the same time, putting our media production resources in front of a much larger audience.

And this is just from my sphere. Other spaces and amenities coming online will include a 750+ seat auditorium, shared 100+ person conference center, workshare spaces in the PGH Green Innovators offices, sustainable systems teaching opportunities (with exposed, color coded infrastructure) and flexible events spaces throughout. The potential impact of the Penn State Center in Pittsburgh on all areas of Penn State’s mission of bringing education to the Commonwealth is absolutely thrilling.

Check out the rest of the tour photos here and stay tuned for more developments:

Funded: a frame from the future

With just under a month still to go in its campaign, I’m happy to say that I’ve become one of the backers that have pushed the EO1 from Electric Objects well (read: 811% as of this morning) past its funding target.  It’s going to be a long wait until May 2015 when I can get my very own infinite-art-collection-in-a-frame.

Watch: Warhol’s lost experiments

I had the very good fortune of attending the debut of this latest episode of the Hillman Photography Initiative’s video series, The Invisible Photograph, over the weekend at the Carnegie Library/Museum of Art. The film is just 20 minutes or so long and covers the nerdtastic work of artists and retro computer boffins who extracted Andy Warhol’s mid-80s Amiga experimentations.

The event itself was both a screening of the above video and a panel discussion with Cory Arcangel, Golan Levin, Keith Bare, Michael Dille and John Ippolito – the latter being my favorite part as it was both deeply philosophical and extreme humorous. What’s more, some of the original Commodore engineers who were tasked with working alongside Warhol in preparation for the Lincoln Center Amiga reveal turned up in the crowd and shared amazing anecdotes.

Definitely check out the Hillman Photography Initiative via NowSeeThis.org.

Also turning 30 this month

I’m happy to say that I’ve only spent 20 days in a world without the Mac.  It’s really come to define my day to day life as a platform and a phenomenon and I’m not sure where I’d be professionally or creatively without it.  And that’s not just fanatic gushing – the Mac was how I taught myself to be who I am in my career today.

Check out Apple’s entire Thirty Years of Mac feature for more on what others think of the little computer that could do so much.

Watch: “Do Digital Natives Exist?”

I can’t tell you the number of times that faculty (or my mother) have told me that they just don’t understand computers in the way that I do because they didn’t have them around for their entire lives.  I certainly understand the sentiment, but it really falls apart on closer inspection.  The first computer that I used (an Apple IIe) bears very little resemblance to the iPad mini I use to browse the web for videos like this one.  Those that are considered “digital natives” are forced to adapt just as much as those born before computers existed.  And they also need training and support on tools that they are unfamiliar with, just like anyone else.  So you can imagine my moment of “right on-ness” with this latest Idea Channel transmission.  What do you think?

Let’s fast-track this one, shall we?

I was prepared to roll my eyes at another airline “innovation” but I can actually get behind Morph from seymourpowell.  Imagine being able to upgrade your seat without the stupid divisions between front and back of the plane.  Or just to have reclining functions without encroaching on or being encroached upon by – other passengers.  I’d imagine the use of no foam also cuts down on the environmental impact of manufacturing all of those seats and prevents them from wearing out as quickly, to boot.  If only the seats could also roll forward and backward…

Fully charged

Honestly, I don’t think io9 was excited enough about the supercapacitor – found by accident – profiled in this video.  Holy crud, this could change so much so quickly if it all pans out!

Slash the trash

Wired today has presented some design concepts from a Masters thesis project by newly minted creative person, Aaron Mickelson.  The goal of the project, entitled The Disappearing Package, is to reduce consumer waste from exorbitant amounts of packaging on our day to day items.  For example:

5-NIVEA-Method

There are more interesting concepts over at Wired so check them out.  While not perfect (as pointed out viciously by a few commenters) the intention is noble and the ideas are certainly novel.  It does, though, remind me at least a little of this Portlandia sketch:

Both food for thought and food for rats…