Art from code - Generator.x
Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]

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With its rich content and well-implemented tagging system, provides a tantalizing data set for would-be information visualizers. Fortunately, the open API allows developers full access to the functionality of the system.

To support the recently launched Processing hacks site I have written up a quick tutorial on how to access with Processing. The hack uses David Czarnecki’s delicious-java library. I also added a simple hack for outputting PostScript vector files.

Even Westwang: From Sites to Flows

Even Westvang: From Sites to Flows

Social networks are the bomb. You get intimate details on interesting people, you digg news stories, social bookmarks are and trackbacking is the new black. Any day now, you’ll be asking yourself: Dude, where’s my web site? All I have are these feeds and flows…

That’s the question Even Westvang posed in his lecture From Sites to Flows: Designing for the Porous web at the University of Oslo: “Do I still have a website, or do I maintain a series of f!ows in an ecology of services?”

Even recently helped start a new social network in Norway called [], so he has lots of opportunity to ponder these questions, and better yet, what does it mean for designers. Graciously, Even has shared his thoughts as a downloadable PDF on his Polarfront site. Licensed with a Creative Commons license of course. It’s all very Web 2.0.

Even also spoke at the Generator.x conference about his Nomen Nominandum project.

Johnvey Hwang: direc.tor

Johnvey Hwang: Direc.tor

At the Generator.x conference, Susanne Jaschko commented on the idea of true literacy in digital media as being unobtainable for most people. After giving several lectures where I’ve presented this aim given it has struck me that it is maybe too lofty or not even desirable for most people. But a demand for smarter and more open software should be fair enough.

Johnvey Hwang’s Direc.tor is an excellent example of new ways of interaction between software and data. It is a pure Javascript frontend for the much-loved social bookmarking service. It runs entirely within your browser without downloading any external data, giving a nice GUI feel to the well-structured but intentionally old-school So what’s so revolutionary about that? Well, the kicker is that due to the open nature of, Hwang is able to extend its functionality without owning the data involved or even asking for permission to do something with it.

In the commercial software and web-world, this would be a big no-no. Imagine a similar frontend for Amazon that stripped their campaign offers, recommendations and market-friendly fluff. The creator of such a tool would be served with a cease-and-desist in no time. Amazon owns not just its own information, but its right to present it in a certain way. Now any enterprising capitalist would argue that this practice is only fair, since it’s a dog-eat-dog world. And to be honest, a frontend that allowed you to browse books on Amazon but to buy them at a cheaper site hardly seems very fair. But there are plenty of other instances where an open, user-oriented data structure like that of would make a lot of sense.

I’m not an Open Source / FLOSS hardliner, but every time I start up Internet Explorer these days I shiver at the primitivity of the application. Compared to Firefox, it’s a closed and stupid tool. In Firefox I have about ten different plugins installed, giving me plenty of new functions, none of them cosmetic. This blog runs on [WordPress-], where writing and using plugins is also delightfully easy.

Many web veterans are skeptical to the new AJAX paradigm for web applications. In a world dominated by hype and post-dotcom cynicism that shouldn’t surprise anyone. But the concept of interoperating networks of information services and user-pluggable software sure is sexy.


Added feeds of bookmarks. Bookmarks by any user that are tagged “generator.x” will turn up on this feed, so if you want to contribute links feel free to tag them in this way. The idea is taken from the tag scheme. Also added feeds for “generative”, “vj” and “”, will see what makes the most sense over time.

Magpie is used for RSS, while a simple script from Return of Design was used as a template.

Tag tracking: Cloudalicious

Tag tracking: Cloudalicious

Cloudalicious tracks the popularity of links on, as well as the groups of tags (aka “tagclouds”) assigned to them. As an example, see the statistics for Generator.x.

The parallel rise of and Flickr is due largely to one common factor: Tags. By allowing users to free associate by attaching tags to links and pictures, the two services have created a monster. Not only do tags allow you to organize your own stuff, but you can see related links from other people as well.

Tom Coates has an interesting post on his PlasticBag blog about tags. He writes about Cloudalicious and similar efforts, and points out that uses tags differently than Flickr. Where Flickr is designed to work well with as many different tags as possible, works better if users are selective and make sure to always use the same tags for the same type of link. The official strategy of using as a tag for links related to Processing is a good example.

Another good post on tagclouds is on the P.S. blog.