Saturday, July 12, 2008

Media Lab Goodies :: Eric Rosenbaum :: 071108

This month’s EMAWD meeting was fantastic! Thanks, Eric for bringing some really cool stuff to the meeting -- it was inspirational.

  • Eric Rosenbaum – Research Assistant @ Lifelong Kindergarten in the MIT Media Lab
  • Brian Grossman – FableVision Technical Director
  • Brian Peltonen – In a small startup creating games for artificial life
  • Brice Norton – Producer @ Six Red Marbles
  • Bob Flynn – FableVision Lead Designer
  • Jay LaCouture – FableVision Programmer
  • Joel Rosenberg – was at Museum of Science, and Chemistery teacher in Boston Public School System, interested in Science Education
  • Jonah Elgart – FableVision Freelance Artist
  • Karen Bresnahan – FableVision Executive Producer
  • Keith Zulawnik – FableVision Artist
  • Matt Bargar – FableVision Developer
  • Matt Rubin – FableVision Intern Technical
  • Naomi Greenfield – FableVision Producer
  • Neil Robbin – Flash / Flex Freelancer
  • Ryan McNulty – FableVision Developer
  • Shannon Meneses – FableVision Producer
  • Sharon Emerson – Creative Director

Lifelong Kindergarten Overview
Trying to take the way people learn in kindergarten (exploring, making things, etc...) and trying to extend that approach across lifetime. The thought is that not enough learning happens that way.

$100 Laptop - XO
Mission Statement: “To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.”
Some Features:
  • Rubber keyboard – allows it to work in harsh conditions – can swap out for other languages
  • Display can rotate so can use in e-book mode
  • Screen can switch to high resolution B&W mode so can read in light
  • Doesn’t use a lot of power
  • Wireless Networking – all machines are set up so that the XO’s can automatically create a ‘mesh network’ (decentralized network) so that people can share an Internet connection and connect to each other w/o needing to communicate with the outside world.
Applications being created with focus on creativity, expressiveness, and play.
They have announced plans for the XO V2. Early designs show it smaller w/ 2 touch screens.

This is Eric’s implementation of a cool improvisational music app. It allows for the creation of layered music and can be used by a novice user with no musical knowledge.
It’s built in C++ using Open Frameworks ( - like Processing in C++. We played with this thing in the office after the meeting — it’s crazy fun!

Scratch 4 Second Life
  • Scratch – ( ) Visual programming language for kids where can snap together objects to create projects. Written in Squeak, a version of SmallTalk, a pure Object Oriented language.
  • Second Life – ( - 3D Virtual World
The goal of this project is to try to empower people by giving them easy ways to program and to try to find other ways to bring Scratch to people. Users can create programs in Scratch and bring them into Second Life. Currently it’s very complex to program for second life and this is one way to make it easier.

Eric had to create a scaled down ‘dialect’ of the Scratch language. You can create scratch projects and run a LindenScript code-generator which outputs code that can be copied into Second Life. This code, when run, will allow the users to see their Scratch project in Second Life.

Ideally want to get people to ‘program collaboratively and allow people to see the code used to create a SecondLife item and modify it. Eric thinks this would be a great tool to get into Club Penguin.

Lego Stuff
Eric showed us some of the cool Lego projects he has worked on in the Lifelong Kindergarten group. Lifelong Kindergarten has collaborated with Lego for many years. They have been thinking of creating stuff for little kids.
  • The first thing Eric showed us was a clear brick with an LED (actually three: RGB) that changes color based on someone’s voice.
  • Then he showed us another brick that changes based on its orientation in space using an accelerometer.
  • Then he showed us bricks that can communicate with each other, passing their color (with a slight phase shift) from on brick to another.
  • Finally, Eric showed us a Musical Squencer made with Legos. By placing the 2x1 Lego in the eight spots, it will cycle through, playing a different not based on the color (actually the resistor within it) of the Lego piece. Looky here:

Note: Eric is currently trying to come up with concept for a Master’s Thesis. He’s particularly interested in Collaborative Programming. If you share the interest, definitely let him know!

Next month we’ll have a presentation on Scratch and get a taste of Squeak from Margarita Dekoli.



ericrosenbaum said...

This was a lot of fun- thanks for having me! Here's a link for with more info and a free download of Scratch for Second Life

Silly Bus said...

Thank you for another insightful post!