Jentian [Jenna.Gavin]

This has been a three-year blog journey into a Bachelor of Creative Technologies at AUT, NZ. And it's a place I now hang my random thoughts and creativity in progress! My masters is happening at 

Blind cooperative drawing

All week the group has been trying to use senses to explore networks and communication. Yesterday we spent some time creating a drawing together, to see how losing the sense of sight would affect our function and our communication.

The first experiment all four of us closed our eyes to draw a city together. There was no pre-planning so it came out fairly organically. We tried to connect a road completely around the edge of the paper, which was almost achieved. I liken our blind selves to a distributed network topology, each of us independent and communicating freely with each other. There was no greater plan, no leader, no restrictions.

The second experiment was to mimic a centralised network topology. One of us (me) would be able to see the paper and direct the other three where to draw. My hypothesis was that the city would turn out more organised and unified. Was I wrong? It was harder to control three independent blind nodes than I thought! They were not communicating with each other anymore, only me, so I felt overloaded and they felt under-utilised. Discussing it afterwards, we all felt that the overall result was less satisfying. The three blind people lost the relationship to their own drawings, because I had taken control of their hand positions. The map in their heads was not as successful because the control and communication had been handed over to someone else. The design of the city became “somebody else’s problem”.

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Idea: Triggering Unity

Idea: Triggering Unity

High-level Description: What catalysts / triggers cause a breakdown of an existing network into the permanent or temporary formation of a new topology? Specifically what transforms a decentralised or distributed network into a centralised network? 

We are interested in the unifying nature of centralised networks, and how these come to exist through an event or trigger. There may be many ways of triggering unity, through fear, panic, authority, fun, common goals or experiences, rewards, re-routing.

From L. Roberts and B. Wessler: A centralised network has a single hub/point which acts as a conduit to transmit messages. All nodes connect to this point and thus it provides a common connection.

(Roberts, Lawrence G.; Wessler, Barry D. (1970), “Computer network development to achieve resource sharing”, AFIPS ‘70 (Spring): Proceedings of the May 5–7, 1970, spring joint computer conference, New York, NY, USA: ACM, pp. 543–549, doi:10.1145/1476936.1477020 .)


The theme for the semester-long project we have been given is “Networks”. The requirements are flexible and in a group we have the choice to create / document / experiment with any kind of network we find interesting. The toughest thing is to try and nail down an idea that we can all agree on. It’s also hard when there are barely any constraints.

My group consists of Jenny, Jim and Marty. We formed out of a desire to work with different people than in our previous groups.

Initially I struggled to generate ideas (are networks really that relevant to what I want to explore?), but I built up some steam and some motivation. Here are the networks that sparked my interest:

  • Food distribution network
  • Around Auckland: farmers’ markets, bike tracks
  • 6 / 2 degrees of separation
  • Public transport (e.g. real-time bus location system)
  • Illegal drug networks
  • Internet memes
  • Trees and branches (plant structures, like mushrooms)
  • In-game networks (paths and relationships between resources, etc )
  • Tracking messages / concepts through person to person contact
  • Ancestry, genetic network (time dependent)
  • NZ data from govt websites (e.g.  geolocations)
  • Musicians/artists collaboration and touring networks
  • The networks of warfare
  • Ant colonies
  • The network of corporations
  • Religious structures
  • The Deaf community and sign language
  • Films with interconnected storylines
  • BCT: connecting students more personally and professionally
  • Football teams - players working as a network