Meemoo.org: the metaremixer

remixable remixer: modular, hackable, open-source framework for making web art
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Project Location

Helsinki Finland
Artists Involved

Project Description

When we make web art, why are we still using Photoshop? There are some web-based creative applications, but most are closed-source, walled gardens. You can only make what they have designed it to make, and share where they let you share.

Meemoo is totally different. It was designed for open hackability from the ground-up.

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Education

Meemoo encourages education by nudging people gently down the "rabbit hole" towards web programming:
  1. Creating and publishing images, animation, sound, video, etc.
  2. Bending: experimenting with changing values and rewiring the app.
  3. Modding: diving into the source of the modules: HTML/CSS/JS.
Other services for learning code (like Code Academy) start with "this is a var." You complete the lessons, get badges, and maybe get a fundamental concept of programming, but what can you really do with it? Meemoo starts with "this is a stop motion application." Use it as is, or look under the hood and hack it if you like. I think that this design for hackability feeds curiosity and encourages learning in a more natural way. This style of learning -- view source, tinker, repeat -- is much closer to how I and many others learned coding.

At every step in the process, people can instantly share their apps and creations for the world to see and modify. Or not, and keep it all local.

Lev Vygotsky said that learning happens in the space between what can do by ourselves and what we can do with guidance from someone with more skill. He called this the "zone of proximal development." The Internet is the ultimate manifestation of this metaphorical space. Most web coders learned with "view source," and this project seeks to extend this concept to creative web apps.

With support, I will focus on creating a community site for sharing and modifying Meemoo apps. The design of the community site will encourage playful exploration of the inner logic of creative web apps. It will bring "circuit bending" to apps.

As the community site grows, the tree of app source code modification from person to person will become an evolutionary map of the memes in the community.

Walkthrough: Live animation:


Meemoo is:
  • a web-based creative tool maker
  • rhizomatic: nodes sending messages through wires
  • a layer between polished app and source code to make it easy for people to open, hack, bend, rewire, fork, and mod creative web applications
  • an open-source framework that connects open-source modules
  • like Arduino for creative web apps
  • 100% of the web
  • focused on audio/visual interactive applications, but the potential uses are limitless

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camdoodle app
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blendloop app


In web developer language:
A Meemoo app is a graph of modules connected with wires. Modules are iframes and wires represent how the iframes communicate with window.postMessage(). In modern browsers that data can be text, numbers, audio, images, or anything. So a Meemoo "app" can be anything that can be described by a graph with a modular structure that passes data around.
Project Timeline and Budget

Now: Adventurous animators and tinkerers can play with the framework. Most of the examples have instant publishing to Imgur, so please share your images here in the comments or @forresto or anywhere!
Adventurous web developers can make a web page into a Meemoo module by including meemoo.js (hotlinking encouraged) and defining the ins and outs.

Timeline:
  • May 2012: Official beta release of Meemoo iframework.
  • June 2012: Google Summer of Code participant starts.
  • July 2012: Beta of community site for sharing.
  • January 2013: Article and online exhibition examining the kinds of emergent art in the community.
Budget:
  • $4000 to support three months of full-time coding.
  • $1000 for 1 year of hosting for the community site.
About the Artist(s) Involved

I have been experimenting with interactive web technology since 1997. My first experiments involved HTML and JavaScript. I enjoyed being able to look at the source of any page to see the code behind the design. In 2002 I discovered ActionScript and Flash, which allowed me to make more interactive experiments. Now the HTML+JavaScript combination and browsers have gotten nice enough that I'm happy programming this complex interactive application with these web standards.

I am an independent web developer, and my portfolio is http://sembiki.com/

Since August of 2010 I have been studying at Media Lab Helsinki, which is part of Aalto School of Art and Design. Meemoo is my MA thesis. There is an emphasis on design research here, which informs the development of this project.

  • Slithering and MegaCam's PaintCam (in the work samples) were shown at the Encoded Views computational photography exhibition at Pixelache Helsinki Festival of Electronic Art and Subcultures, March 2011.
  • Impulse/Control was shown in a performance at Muu Gallery Helsinki, December 2011.
Artist(s) Work Samples

Impulse/Control: Wearable electronics dance performance (Electronics, 2011)
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Slithering: Dancing with slit-scan video processing (C++, 2011)
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MegaCam: Computational photography toys with webcam (Flash, 2010)
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TagGraph: Visual representation of photo tag data in Flickr and Facebook (Flash, 2008)
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Comments (7)

  • Forrest Oliphant | Sun, Apr 15th, 2012 3:10 p.m.
    I'd be happy to discuss this proposal here in the comments.

  • kubaa785 | Thu, Apr 19th, 2012 9:33 a.m.
    It looks really good.
    Great job!

  • Forrest Oliphant | Wed, May 9th, 2012 1:43 a.m.
    Some more details on my plans:

    1. Work to do on Iframework:
    * audio processing and effects system
    * audio control, pattern, sequencer modules
    * native module types
    * localStorage + Unhosted remoteStorage saving of app graphs
    * personal module library
    * touchscreen support
    * unit testing
    2. Advanced community requirements:
    * git- or etherpad-based versioning
    * collaborative editing: working on the same graph from different devices and locations
    * inter-graph communication: sending data to different graphs on different devices (a camera on a phone to a visual on a projector)
    * live editing of code for immediate feedback
    * online html/js/css editing and saving modules to community
    3. Community building
    * I see fertile ground in the intersection between the web artists, Github JS hackers, information visualizers.
    * There is also potential to test the project in schools. I think that getting kids hacking creative web software is important.

  • Forrest Oliphant | Sun, May 20th, 2012 5:03 p.m.
    I'm thinking about the project as a cultural emergence accelerator now.

  • Forrest Oliphant | Mon, Jul 16th, 2012 1:24 p.m.
    Making some interesting discoveries now with the framework...

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