Wordcamp Boston

Today I’m geeking out with my fellow WordPress fans here at Wordcamp Boston, host by┬áMicrosoft’s NERD Center (New England Research and Development) on the MIT campus. Now that I’ve moved my blog to WordPress and have used it for several other projects, I’m glad to have a chance to get more acquainted with this great open source community.

Here’s the view of Boston and the Charles River from our 14th floor room:

River Ice

My dad sent me these pictures he took a couple weeks ago at the edge of the Red River in Fargo. This “ice artistry” was sculpted by freezing temperatures at the waters crest and and then carefully installed in a gallery of trees as the water slowly receded. Wish I could have been there while the show was up.

Chia Piano

On our way to Cambridge on Saturday, we drove by a piano sitting in front of a large apartment building on the corner of Monmouth and Canton in Brookline. It was an older Chickering with keys missing and with a sign for “Death Wish Piano Movers” on the bench. A bed of plants had taken root on the top, prompting Cathy to suggest the title “Chia Piano” for this post. I thought it was perfect.

Classical Music Graffiti, or the Promise of Placecasting

Earlier this week I noticed that a fellow patron of the JP Licks men’s restroom felt inspired to jot “Gustav Holst 9 planets” on the baby-changing table with black marker. Perhaps it was playing on his iPod as he was taking care of business and he felt compelled to leave an inscription of this sublime listening experience on the nearest wall. Now that our listening experiences happen more often while we are out and about, perhaps this is a natural impulse–to connect our music memories to places.

In fact, a exploding number of networked geo-annotation projects offer digital outlets this impulse, and as with every other nuance of networked culture, a neologism now exists to describe it:

placecasting ‘: networked publishing of digital media (esp. audio) that is logically associated with a physical location, to be experienced by suitably equipped people in that location.

Placecasting would allow the music lover I describe to attach Holst to the JP licks bathroom (or perhaps JP Licks more generally, to be inclusive) such that anyone else with the right networked device would be able to listen to it here.

And the social networking aspects of this digital annotation would enable allow others to satisfy their need to comment on the original post, as another patron of the bathroom did the next day:

“John Williams made a career outta ripping of him off! So much for public domain”

Graffiti, Somerville/Cambridge Style

This afternoon I noticed these two pieces of street art on Summer Street in Somerville, one a spray painted portrait of Nome Chomsky and the other a picture of a mushroom cloud attached to a no parking sign a little way down the street. Someone from the neighborhood has noticed the Chomsky portrait as well, wondering if this might be a form of “intellectual graffiti ” and has commented, “I presume it was motivated by political rather than linguistic reasons, but it’s still the only instance of cognitive science graffiti I’ve come across.” I agree with her that only in Cambridge would someone think to chose Noam Chomstky as as a graffiti topic, though I did run across a mention of a similar sighting in Atlanta.

A Day on the Franconia Ridge Loop

Saturday we spent the day on the Franconia Ridge Loop, the best trail I’ve been on so far in New England. It’s got everything–peaks, waterfalls, 360 degree views, woods, river crossings, holly berries–all in a hearty 6 hour hike. We started on the old Bridal path which was a strenuous but short hike up to the top of Mount Lafayette (5,2000 feet), where we had lunch with a brilliant view of the Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range. From there we bundled up with all our layers to brave a blustery jaunt across the ridge to Mt. Lincoln and then Little Haystack. To add a bit of excitement, two jets made a close flyby over the trail. The final 3 mile leg took us down the Falling Waters trail, the first half of which we skied down as much as walked, on a few inches of soggy leftover snow. Towards the end the trail wove in and out of several streams that eventually joined into a series of waterfalls, a beautiful way to round out an already enjoyable hike.