Starting School Again: NYU ITP

I’m now pretty much completely moved in to an apartment in the East Village of Manhattan.  I had a pleasant goodbye from DC, what with a happy hour with many of my DC friends, a trip to Hurricane Harbor (Six Flags’ water park), and some lovely company. :)

Spotted on Multiple Posts in East Village, NYC

The reason I’m in New York is to attend two years of a Masters in Professional Studies degree for the Interactive Telecommunications Program at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts.  The program is focused on new media, design, and interaction between the digital and analog, between human and machine.  I already wrote a bit about the program earlier this year.

My initial feelings:

  • I am a DC person.  Cities are key parts of identity in the northeast.  I’m not sure how New York I will become during my two years here; on the one hand, I’ve been blown away by the diversity of skills, love of capitalism, use of small space, level of expertise in the stores and on the streets, and resiliency of the city toward allowing maximum flexibility for its inhabitants to be fruitful and creative.  On the other hand, I really hate New York sports, and the idolizing of the Yankees (except in the sense that it unifies much of the city on game night, which I enjoy for the sake of communitas).  Meanwhile, DC is a bit more spaced out and still retains rich histories, tinged with the underlying mission of its residents to better the nation and the world, but moreso these days, bettering their own city.
  • I have rarely been allowed to be creative and artistic.  Being under the aegis/heel of government and the military for a while, the rules of engagement are far different.  At 33 years old, I’m pretty damn thankful for the opportunity to learn hard skills while at the same time being allowed and pushed to be more creative in my thinking.
  • Starting over yet again.  It’s cost me relationships in the past, and it’s cost me chances to get golden handcuffs and solid salaries.  On the plus side, it’s made me more able to talk to different groups and classes of people, and to see the similarities between different worlds.  That might be the main takeaway from my Georgetown days as well.  What I’m looking forward to after ITP in a big way is that feeling that I’ve only begun to feel: that I’m done with having to start over.  That feeling that keeps you from settling down and planting roots.  It’s been a long, uncertain road.
  • The long, uncertain road is one we should expect more and more people to experience in the future.  Jobs are less certain, of less duration, and require more diverse sets of skills.  Kids are not adequately informed about how long it will take them to get their stride and swagger, and I fear that many give up far before they get there.
  • That the big cities are not seen as massive successes that should be lauded (but not necessarily replicated, as all cities are different), surprises me.  The efficiency and innovation within DC and NYC are infectious.  I know why Jack Dorsey marveled as he studied NYC’s systems.
  • My program actually encourages blogging and recording in order to document progress.  This is a far cry from my past, where blogging was ridiculed/prohibited.  I’m going to be posting documentation of my class labs here so the blog content will change significantly.
  • I’ll probably also be tweeting much more about tech/design kind of stuff, which makes me wonder about the effect on any Twitter audience I have.  Most of the active respondents to stuff I post comes from those in the security community. So this will be alienating. :)
  • I’m being seriously out-nerded so far by classmates.  This is a first.  And I love it.
So far in the Tisch School, I’ve met some of the actors and film students who are part of Tisch’s storied film/acting schools.  There’s also an exhibit showing photos from 9/11 and of the workers who were involved in the aftermath.  Seeing the scars in the WTC buildings that morning still has a powerful effect on me.  It makes me so sad for those killed and those left behind from it.  It makes me sad for all the people who worked so hard to prevent it.  It makes me sad for what it caused.  Since I joined the Army as a result of the aftermath of 9/11, seeing those photos makes me want to never relent in trying to be productive, useful, and good for humanity.
The Tisch School also has a Game Center on its lower level, which allows students to play various video and computer games, but is also part of a future program to allow students to study the mechanics, theory, and production of gaming in all its forms.  Here’s a video I shot of the floor space, though as I’m learning through experience, I didn’t pan my Flip Mino slowly enough to allow viewers to fully take in what’s happening in the video.

Some stuff from other ITP students.  I’m not sure exactly how we get from where I am now to doing some of these projects, but the prospect is tantalizing:

Hacking together an EEG:

Brain Hack from kitschpatrol on Vimeo.

A test of the WizNet ethernet module:

Yesterday I went to MoMA, chiefly to go with my flatmate but also to see the brand new Talk to Me exhibit, which is essentially a whole exhibit dedicated to things my program works on.  Here were some of my faves from the exhibit, many I’d seen in online form before:

Adi Marom, an ITP grad, made shoes that expand higher like a lift, using iPhone swipe controls:

Keiichi Matsuda’s augmented city, a very popular video at the exhibit, showing how we will interface with the space in front of and around us:

Dwarf Fortress‘s text-based world, using ASCII characters to generate maps:

Passage, a small pixel game, very sad, showing the passage of time as a couple gets older and progresses through life.


Hungry Hungry Eat Head, which had people hold QR-code-like placards that would generate random creature faces when displayed on a large TV in the public square.

The Tweenbot, from another ITP alumn, Kacie Kinzer, is a little cardboard robot that needs help from humans to get through a park:

In order to keep myself focused for the next two years, I need just a few borders.  The core values and themes I think I want to work on: emergency management, text-based gaming, augmented reality, reputation/identity.  Must keep this in mind when figuring out what to do for projects!


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