MLOVE is a web site that is “not devoted solely to mobile technology. MLOVE is based in passion, the passion triggering the inspiration that will help us chart mobile’s future, as well as our own personal journey.”
Inspiration is all around us.
Inspiration is found in remembering the most powerful computers we have are our own brains. Inspiration is found everywhere, including a temporary desert-based community where mobile connectivity is both limited and discouraged. Inspiration is limitless when drawing from both art and technology.
Chester Santos is a U.S. Memory Champion. He is literally, in the business of remembering – and showing others how they can remember. Everyday, he trains his memory just as an athlete trains for speed and strength. In a world as connected as ours, Chester believes we are outsourcing too much of our memory to our mobile devices.
With current technology, there is still no computer as powerful as the human brain.
“Mobile devices are incredibly useful. But we need to be wary of allowing them to remember for us,” says Chester. “We need to use our memory as much as we can so we don’t lose it as we get older.”
The tricks the 2008 U.S. Memory Champion uses can help anyone improve their capacity to remember. “Exercise your visualization ability,” advises Chester. “Involve multiple senses and build connections in your visualizations so these memories are easier to retrieve latter on.”
Stimulation of the senses is what brings tens of thousands to the Burning Man Arts Festival every August. A temporary community set up on an ancient dried-up lakebed on the second flattest surface in the Northern Hemisphere. Gerlach (pop. 300), the nearest town, is 12 miles away. Burning Man is in, quite literally, the middle of nowhere.
As the organization’s Technology Dominatrix, Heather “CameraGirl” Gallagher handles connectivity logistics in a society where nothing is scared, and everything is temporary.
As the foundation to Black Rock City is laid in the 1-3 months before Burning Man, limited wireless access is provided by the organization. During the event, there are shared machines for staff use, on-playa webcasts, BMIR (Burning Man Independent Radio), and other mission-critical operations.
“When we build systems in the desert, everything has to work in a standalone world,” says CameraGirl. “If it cannot be backed up with a paperclip system or a clipboard, you have to have plans A, B, and C.”
“My job is to tell people why they DO NOT need the Internet.”
The ambitious Burners who fund and build their online capabilities on playa are known as the Wild West. Every spring, Burning Man holds a wifi summit so the Wild West knows just what they need to bring to the desert.
Until recently, OpenBTS has provided a small amount of cellular coverage to the event, similar to what is found in under-served rural areas and during deployment to disaster zones. When a third-party cellular tower went up near the area in 2010, most residents of Black Rock City were not pleased.
“Radical self-reliance and participation is about what people are doing and giving, not just observing. At Burning Man, there is a focus on the immediacy – having immediate relationships with immediate human beings.”
As a founder and Executive Director of The Gray Area Foundation For The Arts (GAFFTA), Josette Melchor sought to use lessons learned at Burning Man into the default world. When seeking to figure out ways to provide aboveground connectivity to areas posing a challenge, Josette decided to try it on the playa where harsher-than-normal conditions prevailed.
Using data visualization and emerging digital technologies, Josette and GAFFTA seek to foster exploration and further sustainable creative solutions to make the most of our space.
“Our society is experiencing a data overload. The tech world can learn from the art world.”
“GAFFTA seeks to unite the art and tech worlds for educational purposes,” says Josette. The organization’s Urban Innovation Weekends strive to improve life in cities, for example, using data visualization to show food deserts and locate where to find fresh food.
Whether furthering the new canvas with Emerging Medium of iPad Art or working with the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory to Explore Urban Futures, GAFFTA is building social consciousness through digital culture and advancing the role of creative technology in promoting both social good and artistic achievement – by looking beyond the obvious “solutions” to the issues facing both communities and artists.
When we disconnect from our devices, we discover the connective technology we so crave. And then we find it. Inspiration. We had it all along.