hello thesis

so hi there, this is our first class together. according to Nancy’s e-mail, today i’m supposed to present my project highlights aka portfolio and my *brilliant* (ha-ha) thesis idea, and how everything connects to each other.

my background or a very linear career path: from international relations to design and code

i think maybe the first relevant thing that connects with my idea (and some part of the dada/punk aesthetics that I always bring in what i do) is that since high school i always liked to make collages.

the second relevant thing is that in my BA i studied both art history (minor) and international relations (major), for a history of occidental culture I class, i read the book “From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life”. and in some part of this book along the 16th/17th century, Barzun, the author, dedicates i guess a bunch of a chapter in talking about the role of the printing press in the protestant reformation.

i’m not sure why i remember it so well, but somehow it made my brain clicked and related the press revolution to the digital revolution i was living in the current moment. it was probably 2011 and we were (or at least i was) way more optimist about the path of the democratizing impacts that this could lead to. and i decided that i wanted to be part of this and if i was going to work with something, it was going to be in digital.

so for my thesis on my international relations ba i did a social media analysis of the conflict of Nov 2012 between Gaza and Israel, and that was the fist time in history where instead of holding a press conference to declare the start of the offensives, the IDF account and the Alqassambrigade used Twitter to do so. So I guess this is my first portfolio project.

as i graduated i started working in business in business in tech, in startups, big players but in a sales centered not creative position. i didn’t have a “formal” work or portfolio as a designer even though visual reference and language has always kind of been natural to me. so i decided to quit and with friends start a social media content production ‘start-up’.

and then i started to actually learn design programs, such as Adobe tools. Still I wanted to create interactive things, digital. And that was when I started to learn how to code, found ITP and applied for the program.

the ITP era or the moment that I guess I can actually call myself an experience designer or creative tech or whatever that means

when i started the program i couldn’t be more excited. i was actually going to be able to study what i felt excited about: theory and practice of human computer interaction.

below this was my pcomp midterm. A photojukebox – project created with Jenna Xu and that strangely relates a lot with the thesis idea i will show soon.

and this was mt pcomp/icm final, created with Nicolas Escarpentier.

and in the end of the semester, after having a bit of intro with AR and Unity, i got really excited about the possibilities that AR could create for new interactions and how this medium could leverage specific types of storytelling, mainly when you think about geolocation.

together with Hadar Ben Tzur, we developed a complete AR storytelling experience about 1968 in the village area, more specific in Washington square park, as a prototype to the History Channel fellowship.

from this project grew the opportunity to develop a similar experience with Pioneer Works and the Arab Art & Education Initiative (AAEI) to recreate a walking tour on what between the 1890’s and 1940’s was the main area of Arab immigrants in New York and where today is the Financial District. I am currently working on it.

last semester I researched more on interventions to question users on the interactions we have with technology in our daily lives and the lack of transparency in the platforms we use that creates this myth of the cloud, exploring more the use of voice interfaces.

meanwhile i have been doing some projects on for brands, for ITP, with a lot of UX and some bit of frontend.

the thesis project(?): AR PHOTO GALLERY

so from my experience i guess we can see that.

  • I like to play with visual design, photography and imagery.
  • I like to have final products.
  • I like to create digital interfaces.
  • I like to understand human computer interaction.
  • I like to explore how different mediums can shape our personal behavior and therefore influence society/history/future.

having that in mind, my idea is very straightforward in a sense and exploratory in another.

Straightfoward: I want to create a mobile app where we can export our Photo Gallery and experience it in AR.

Exploratory: how does our experience of interacting with a physical photograph changes when we go from touching ,smelling, feeling a photograph/photo album/framed portrait to scrolling photograph images in a 2d screen. How is this bridge between the object of a photograph and an image of it. Can AR be a middleground in this space? Is the experience of an AR gallery in someways better than a scrollable 2d screen? Once (or maybe IF?) this 3d medium becomes more popularized and available (through contact lenses, brain chips or the new google glass – who knows) how is that gonna change the way we interact with content?

Main reference: David bowie AR exhibition

Mapping the Unfindable: Notes and References

Here is where I’ll keep track of my readings, quotes and notes for the project.

This will be an ongoing post…




Half the world’s population is still offline. Here’s why that matters

This looming and unequal wealth explosion is important because it will exacerbate the current fault lines of global inequality. Internet use is overwhelmingly concentrated in advanced economies, and the biggest gaps are in the world’s poorest areas.

The map and chart below shows hot spots of internet connectivity in most developed countries and huge opportunities to increase access to the internet in developing countries.


Identity in a Digital World

Yet we are still learning what “identity in a digital world” means. We are also still evolving policies and practices on how best to collect, process or use identity-related data in ways that empower individuals without infringing on their freedoms or causing them harm. There is significant room to improve how identity data is handled online, and how much control individuals have in the process.

chapter 1


Nothing is as fundamental to human beings as identity. Our identity is, literally, who we are: a combination of personal history, innate and learnt beliefs and behaviors, and a bundle of cultural, family, national, team, gender or other identities. However we understand it, identity always matters. Our identity is important because it exists in relation to others. It exists in relation to the economic and social structures in which we live. How we are represented in economic, political and other societal systems – and our degree of choice and control as to how we are represented in these systems – sets the parameters for the opportunities and rights available to us in our daily lives.


Whether we want it or not, our identity is increasingly digital, distributed and a decider of what products, services and information we access. This identity online is not simply a matter of a website login or online avatar – it is the sum total of the growing and evolving mass of information about us, our profiles and the history of our activities online. It relates to inferences made about us, based on this mass of information, which become new data points.


Today, the average internet user has 92 online accounts, and is likely to have over 200 by 2020


The result for individuals is a decreasing understanding of or control over how they are represented online. With that digital representation determining so much of how we live our lives, these changes add up to a rewriting of the social contract, and we are barely even aware of it. Any discussion on shaping digital identities should start and end with the individual – one who is born into a fully digital world – and what these identities mean for that person’s future.

General Links for Inspiration 🙂




Invisible Infrastructures: Understanding Autonomous Systems

One of the reasons we seldom discuss the issues of this invisible infrastructure is the fact that the speed of the packets traveling through the network is so big and unnoticeable to us, in most cases we don’t feel a significant difference in whether our packets are traveling  just around the corner or to around the world and back.

There is three basic network structures:
Centralized. All the devices are connected to one center. This center has privileged accessibility and thus represents the dominant element of the network.
Decentralized. Although the center is still the point of highest accessibility, the network is structured so that sub-centers also have significant levels of accessibility.
Distributed. No center has a level of accessibility that significantly differs to the others.


Browsing Histories

It took us just a few minutes of looking into the dataset to associate the real name of the person behind this browsing history. Just by sorting his Facebook traffic, i.e., the profile pages he visits, we were able to identify the real person. Since Facebook is enforcing a “real name policy” this is a  neat way to link someone’s browsing history with their real name. For a more structured approach, there are numerous academic papers6and models on how to uniquely identify users according to their browsing patterns and behaviors. Exploring Facebook URLs reveals much more than someone’s identity. Based on the structure of the URL we were able to reconstruct a part of this person’s social graph.

We are creatures of habits, and we tend to create repetitions and patterns in our everyday behaviour. We tend to go to bed and wake up at similar times, to create our morning routines and create rituals of our social interactions. Since many segments of our lives are mediated by technology, those patterns are replicated and visible through the different digital footprints. When patterns are recognised, anomaly detection is born. As stated by Pasquinelli8, the two epistemic poles of pattern and anomaly are the two sides of the same coin of algorithmic governance. An unexpected anomaly can be detected only against the ground of a pattern regularity.


Magic Windows Final Project

For my final for Magic Windows I want to keep developing a project I have been working since the beginning of the semester as I’m a fellow at NYC Media Lab and A+E Networks to create an AR experience.

Our project focuses in 1968, as it  was an unique moment in the life of downtown Manhattan, and a year that is said to have changed the world.

By creating a site-specific cinematic AR time-travel experience, we are able to transport users back to 68′ Washington Square Park as they encounter those who waved protest signs at the same place, and often on behalf of the same values.


The idea is to tell a story of 2 characters, recreating their steps from 50 years ago, and reaching a climax once they meet in the center of the park. Each character represents a different side of the park and shows its own perspective. When the users meet, around the arch and the fountain, there is a new scene created upon this encounter.

The assets are being collected from archival footage and will be 2d still photos or animated gifs.

Main interactions consist on working with:

  1. Geolocation: the park is split in two different sides. As the user is closer to point A/B the respective experience is triggered.
  2. Proximity to specific elements: triggers secondary audio that is related to the image.
  3. Image anchor: as geolocation is not as reliable the meeting of the two characters will be triggered upon scanning an image – Washington Sq Arch.

This Project is being developed by Hadar Ben-Tzur with partnership with NYU Library Archives. The storytelling and research is a collaboration with Joana Evans.