Soup up your deck – Domains19

Soup up my deck – Remixer Machine

A year or so ago, I was in a museum in Gothenburg, Sweden. There happened to be an live exhibition of the group projects by Computer Science masters students from the local university. One group of students had rustled together a mobile photo-booth using a Raspberry Pi with camera extension, connected to a simple push button and a tiny wall-mounted sticker printer. There were a number of colourful props available to spice up any self portrait. I still have the crazy sticker that I took somewhere, and it often made me wonder how the Remixer Machine could be wired up in such a manner as to cross that physical-digital divide, outputting stickers, hot off the remix press.

Well, look no further.

Martin Hawksey, of ALT and Google Wizardry fame, will be at Domains19 this week facilitating a fantastical feast of remix, featuring his McFlyify facial recognition GIF generator amongst other things. As well as that, he’s hooked up a mobile booth to print out remixes in mini-sticker form:

Some prototyping from Martin Hawksey

Of course, you can jump in and remix your own hoverboard/skatedeck on the new addition to the Remixer Machine, specially added to celebrate Domains19 and all who park their URLs with her.

Domains19 Remix Wall

You can check out what others have remixed already on the Remix Wall, and of course jump in and continue to remix where someone else has left off. And of course, all remixes are available to use under a CC-BY-SA licence.

Creatives and Lawyers

Yet somehow it works…

I’m just back from a few days in Lisbon where I was attending an excellent Creative Commons summit. When I explain Creative Commons (the organisation) to anyone, I usually find myself talking about two different elements of the organisation. Firstly, there’s the policy people, the legalites, the wordies. Then there’s the creatives, the just-makin-for-the-sake-of-it’s, the curious. But somehow a summit of all these folks together works very well, in fact – it’s makes for a very interesting mix indeed.

A remixed Lisbon skyline – Voronoi – by Bryan Mathers – CC-BY-SA

Postage Stamp Remixer Machine

My session at the summit focused on participatory artwork. It’s chief tool being the Fabulous Remixer Machine. I had created a Postage Stamp remix tool, and in the making of it had got quite distracted by paper textures, printing colours and the limitations of cross-browser SVG filters.

A collection of remixable stamps

Sure enough, people attending the session got into the swing of it, and together we created a patchwork of stamps – or indeed a collection – from their different perspectives.

It being the first time I’d been in Lisbon, I thoroughly enjoyed wandering it’s streets, and in particular was very taken with the cobblestone texture that adorns many of the streets in the old town.

A CC postage stamp remixed in the style of a Lisbon street
Voronoi by Bryan Mathers CC-BY-SA

And as I found out, it’s a bit of a boob-jiggler to ride an electric scooter over this sort of terrain – though a whole ton of fun!

An eclectic mix of keynotes

On the first evening of the conference, while we were all still hungry and paying attention, we switched venues to a theatre downtown. The six short keynotes were dynamite – each one very different from the last – gathering up a range of issues and insights. I thoroughly enjoyed it – and it wasn’t long before my ipad was out as my scribbling tried to keep pace with what was being shared.

A real highlight for me was the magnificent “Theft – a history of music” by James Boyle & Jennifer Jenkins – who were simply on fire on the stage with their interplay, cartoon visuals and audio clips. Their work comes in Graphic Novel form (CC licenced download don’t you know!) and is absolutely beautiful. I know my kids will be all over it too…

Even though it was great to catch up with a load of known faces, I come away from the summit with lots of new acquaintances, a bundle of thoughts still brewing in my head and due to meeting some CC folks from Tanzania and Kenya, even managed to revisit the wisdom of some Swahili proverbs. And one of these I will leave you with.

Haraka haraka haina baraka. (Hurry hurry has no blessing)

Nice to CC you

I’m heading off to the Creative Commons summit in Lisbon this week to spread the good news of the Fabulous Remixer Machine. The trip is self funded, although CC have been good enough to cover my accommodation and conference fee. I’m really looking forward to meeting some new people with a shared interest in curiosity-driven tinkering.

The Capitolio Theatre in Lisbon where the summit keynotes are due to be held.
Nice to CC you CC-BY-SA Bryan Mathers

And as you can imagine, I’ve been busy adding a new Remixer just for the conference, as well as making a few improvements. It’s a remake of one of the earlier remixable ideas – the postage stamp…

What is it about a postage stamp that makes it the perfect mini-frame to say something visual and meaningful?

When I was a boy, and the world rotated slowly, you actually had to collect postage stamps just to eyeball them up close. Twas a noble pastime indeed. These days, of course, a quick search on the interwebs will furnish you with a plentiful supply of stamps affixed to a myriad of countries, styles and eras. It’s like asking a country: what were you saying, and who were you saying it to?

With this remixer, I’ve experimented with types of paper, and sampled the colour tints of existing stamps. Stamps can be remixed in different perspectives, and using different blends, can produce some tasty effects.

A picture of me in a postage stamp.
Nice to CC you CC-BY-SA Bryan Mathers
An activist's heart - a postage stamp.
Nice to CC you CC-BY-SA Bryan Mathers
The diffusion of innovation - a postage stamp.
Nice to CC you CC-BY-SA Bryan Mathers
The Irish border in a postage stamp.
Nice to CC you CC-BY-SA Bryan Mathers

And regardless of whether you plan to be at the conference, simply by publishing your stamp on the Remixer Machine, it will automatically be added to the CCSummit Stamp Collection page, which I’m hoping to fill with everyone’s creations.

So what are you waiting for? Jump right in!

Because, when it comes to remixing, don’t be a cautious chicken – be a rambunctious rhino… 🙂

It’s Ama-Zine!

What are you saying?

And to whom are you saying it?

These are the two questions I’m usually trying to squeeze out of participants in most visual thinkery conversations. Creating a Zine is a super way of boiling that message down – an irresistible little format for the organic transfer of a story, vision or idea.


I was re-introduced to Zines at last year’s MozFest (Mozilla Festival), where Zine pro Éléonore Mayola was facilitating a maker session. My 8-year-old and I got wonderfully lost in the process of conjuring a story of 8 panels: A front cover, a back cover, and six story panels in between – all on one folded piece of paper. We endeavoured to create a story about Bob – a sideways glance at the overlap of worlds my son and I inhabit, whilst breathing in the rich Mozfest air. “The mixed stories of Bob, series 2”. You know it’s a hit when you get to start at at the second series…

Library of Things

More recently, a few community minded supers (as in The Incredibles sense) and I have been plotting how to get a local Library of Things up and running. And as “make a zine” was my answer to any question about boiling down a vision, I set about making one. Of course with digital drawing, you can create something that’s very replicable and distributable – as the party happens all on one side of a piece of paper.

Live at the OERs

When I was thinking about running an Zine making workshop at OER19, Catherine Cronin encouraged me to reach out to potential co-collaborators. I’m really glad I followed such sage wisdom. Amy Burvall is one of the most creative educators I know, and while we beavered away on our proposal, I realised that Amy brought a completely fresh perspective on what I thought I knew a little about. In fact, it wasn’t long before Amy had educated me on Zine culture and the many different approaches to making a Zine.

The trouble with a workshop of this nature is that most people are uncomfortable with a blank piece of paper. In our Zine-storming session pre-workshop, Amy had listed 29 prompts to help with this (if you’ve read her Intention book, you’ll know how brilliant Amy is with this stuff). So it seemed obvious for me to try to bring them to life by illustrating them. It’s this idea ping-pong that made our workshop about 10 times better than if I was leading it on my own.

Ama-Zine Prompts by @bryanMMathers is licenced under CC-BY-ND

Now then, it’s super easy to make a Zine – at least – it is when you know how. This thoroughly brilliant video explains all you need to know in 3 minutes, but be careful – all that talk of hotdogs and hamburgers might bring on the nibbles! I know what you’re like…

Just in case they come in handy, here are the slides from Amy and my session at OER19:

Slaying of Self

There were so many great zines shared at the conference. So finally, here’s Reclaim Hosting & DS106 legend Jim Groom talking about his Zine-ful creation…

(So what are you waiting for? Get making!)

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