Tech for Creativity

Some of you may be aware that I have spent a good part of the last week in the air, about 27,000 miles as near as I can calculate, from Raleigh to Calgary, to New York, to Brisbane, to Christchurch, to Melbourn, to Los Angles, to…

Much of it is a dramamine induced blur, but for many enjoyable hours, I illustrated a point made by Kevin Kelly in a recent podcast that I watched. The Author of What Technology Wants, Kelly, like myself, has followed much of the emergence and evolution of personal information and communication technologies — and has had a hand in guiding its use for many people. Among his many contributions was Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World, which was required reading for the principal actors of the film, The Matrix.

I haven’t read What Technology Wants (yet), but it appears to be a cautionary tale. Kelly doesn’t tweet or participate in many of the techs de jour. However, one thing that he said that really stuck with me was that ICT’s power is in it’s providing new avenues for expressing ourselves creatively. As near as I can paraphrase, “We would never have had a Jimi Hendrix without the invention of the electric guitar.”

Rebirth by Propellerhead
Rebirth by Propellerhead
Back to my time in the sky — just before leaving I purchased a new music app for my iPad. I have pages of music apps, most of them mocks of musical instruments, and none of them have captured much of my attention. I’m not a very good musician. The exception was Propellerhead’s Rebirth (see right), which resembes no instrument I’ve ever actually played. ..and so, even that was not all that much fun. I did complete one project (Shangri La) and upload it to my Sound Cloud.

My new toy is MusicStudio, “..the only complete music production environment for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad” to quote the developers, and they’re not off the mark. It gives me access to a number of instruments (with more purchasable sounds), a virtual piano keyboard to perform and record from, audio effects devices, and a piano-roll style track system (see left) for fine tuning. This is where I spent my time, copying and pasting, dragging, and editing those little dots and dashes that represent individual musical notes.

Continuing the music work with Logic Express 8 on my office computer

I often demonstrate this process in some of my talks as an example of working numbers to accomplish goals — working the numbers embedded in digital sound. But doing music like this has always required me to break out some fairly sophisticated software, sit at a desk, with mouse, and sometimes an attached musical keyboard. Now, I can do it from a flat surface (iPad) that I can carry in a shoulder bag, sitting at the park or in an airline seat. (demo here)

Here are the results of my 50+ hours in the air! Because Brenda likes it, I am now refining the work using Logic, a more professional music editing tool. But this is the version done exclusively on the iPad.
Brenda’s Song by dwarlick

Sorry for the self-indulgence, but, you know, I’m getting old enough to not have to apologize for it.

There are Always Consequences

Mapping an appurtenance point during a GIS field trip on Auckland — photo by Cristel Veefkind (( Veefkind, Cristel. “GIS Field Trip.” Flickr. 14 Mar 2007. Web. 15 Jan 2010. <>. ))

I was just scanning the news and saw “West Virginia Expands Science, Technology, Engineering, And Mathematics Education with ESRI Software.”  I think that this is great and that West Virginia and other states should invest in ramping up their STEM programs.  But am I the only one who feels a spasm in my back as we STEM here and STEM there and continue to be feed the line that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are THE key to a prosperous future?

We are not in this state of near desperation today, struggling to fund education and other essential services, because people didn’t have enough STEM.  This happened because some educated people thought that they could game the economic system for their own selfish and greedy gain, under a “see no evil” administration, and that they could do it without consequences.

What history teaches, is that THERE ARE ALWAYS CONSEQUENCE

Interestingly, I find that the article, appearing in The American Surveyor, was actually written by ESRI, the GIS software that West Virginia is licensing for its schools, and that the focus of its use and the state offices that are promoting it are all social studies.  I guess that “West Virginia Expands Social Studies with…” doesn’t have the right punch — that it wouldn’t make us more “competitive” in the culturally diverse global market place.

Am I the only one who is afraid that the cost for STEM is Art, Music, Drama, and history, culture, geography, and economics?

Thinking and problem-solving are over-rated, if you don’t have a valid context to think and solve within.

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“information Architecture and Classical Music”

Zoö Keating is my new hero.  I just can’t leave this music alone.  I’ve been listening to this for hours and am intrigued by the multiple talents of this woman.  And Yes!  She’s another Canadian…

Zoö Keating makes entrancing, hauntingly beautiful music using a traditional French cello, a MacBook, and an arsenal of audio-crunching software and scripts.

She’s one of a growing group of musicians who use computers to record snippets of music as they play. The computer records these snippets and then plays them back in loops, allowing Keating to create complex, layered compositions. ((Tweney, Dylan F.. “Avant-garde Cellist Zoe Keating.” [Weblog Gadget Lab] 4 May 2009. Web.5 May 2009. <>. ))


“My music is the fusion of information architecture and classical music,” Keating says in this video. “The way that you problem-solve in the world of technology … really lends itself to problem-solving with the kind of music that I do.”

Added Later, Keating at the San Francisco Airport
Zoe Keating at the San Francisco Airport

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