Droid Does… (aka the Disaster Communications App)

July 14, 2010

Access to communications technology is AWESOME, but not everyone has it. Cell phone towers are expensive and developing, remote, rural, and/or disaster ridden areas often don’t have those resources. Expose an already weak communications infrastructure to the destruction of a natural disaster, and you have our collective nightmare: Asia circa 2004, Haiti, and the site of the next international incident. When chaos strikes, the speed and proficiency of local relief effort coordination translates directly to saved lives. With those critical moments in mind, Paul Gardner-Stephen (a post-doctoral fellow at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia) founded The Serval Project. The project goal is to, literally, give voice to communities outside the grid. The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences granted the project $1,000 in May 2010 to fund the adaptation of the Android OS for disaster relief communications. Paul and his colleagues have spent the past few months writing software to create instant, decentralized, P2P phone networks. The equipment requirements are used Android handsets and Village Telco’s “Mesh Potato” (a lightweight, low-cost, and low-power unit that serves as a building block for ad hoc networks). A key feature of Gardner-Stephen’s system allows users to send and receive messages using their… read more →

Ottawa Announces Our New Project: Transplant!

July 13, 2010

“Let not the world’s deceitful cares the rising plant destroy; But let it yield a hundredfold the fruits of peace and joy.” – Rev.John Cawood, 1815 This summer, Emily Comeau (a fibre artist from Quebec) and Emily Cook (a book and paper artist from Ontario) will be collaborating to create an immense and interactive tunnel book made from local plant materials to install in a barren patch of city. The “book” will be 10 feet high and 12 feet long and contain 6 “pages” featuring a cut paper story of urbanism in archway shapes that people can walk through and interact with. The structure will be made of live willow branches and the paper pages made of flax paper infused with seeds. As the elements erode the paper, the sculpture will disintegrate and the seeded paper will sprout. This way the sculpture will have a changing life and meaning as the urban world we create with the cut paper will be eroded and changed by the living materials. Emily Comeau is a recent graduate of Concordia University, majoring in Fibre Arts and was awarded the Prix Diagonale for her artistic achievements. Her art practice is largely fibre based. She has… read more →

Hip Hop Word Count

July 12, 2010

Awesome Foundation NYC’s latest grant goes to the Hip-Hop Word Count by Tahir Hemphill. The Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 40,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day. The Hip-Hop Word Count describes the technical details of most of your favorite hip-hop songs. This data can then be used to not only figure out interesting stats about the songs themselves, but also describe the culture behind the music. How can analyzing lyrics teach us about our culture? The Hip-Hop Word Count locks in a time and geographic location for every metaphor, simile, cultural reference, phrase, rhyme style, meme and socio-political idea used in the corpus of Hip-Hop. The Hip-Hop Word Count then converts this data into explorable visualisations which help us to comprehend this vast set of cultural data. This data can be used to chart the migration of ideas and builds a geography of language. Stay tuned for details about our summer party.

San Francisco-Bay Area Awesome Seeks Same

July 8, 2010

The SF micro-trustees recently discussed what it means to be Awesome, and the types of projects we want to fund. We have received some truly AWESOME project proposals so far. We realize, however it would be helpful to articulate some guidelines to help future applicants write the best proposal possible.
It’s difficult to reach an easy opinion on what awesomeness means, and we didn’t agree on everything—which is probably a good thing. But we did come up with the following suggestions: You could be the most awesome person in the universe, and have the most awesome idea, but if you don’t tell us how $1,000 will be used or why it will make a big difference, we won’t fund you. A project that requires millions of dollars, or even several tens of thousands right now, is not a strong candidate for a $1k micro grant. Even if it’s a great project, it won’t get funded if we don’t think the grant will move your project forward in a significant way. We would much rather fund a project where $1,000 is the difference between yes and no. (That being said, we like people who think big, so if a $1,000 is an… read more →