Kyle McDonald is one part coder, one part artist who uses his skills to explore ideas using interactive media. He is a regular contributor to the open source movement, helping do-it-yourselfers by creating open source code and answering questions on the openFrameworks forums.
What Kyle found fascinating beyond the work itself in open source, was the discussion and commentary that it generated from viewers. A lot of his work in the open source community is in creating code that is simple to use and empowers people to experiment. Kyle said he likes to take technologies not meant for the public and make them so easy to use, that people can decide if and how they want to use them.
One of his most notable experiments was when he went into an Apple store and captured people’s facial expressions to see how the computer saw them (video here). What he found is that almost everyone uniformly had a blank expression when using the computers. This got noticed by Apple and somehow he got a visit by the Secret Service and a bit of notoriety for good measure.
Another experiment he did explored what would happen if he made everything he did on his computer public. He installed a keylogger onto his computer and wrote a script that sent every 140 characters he typed to Twitter. This made him intimately aware of privacy issues and boundaries like how conversations are more than one person but everyone who is involved.
Similarly, he archived all the images from his browser cache over time and turned it into a collage to explore what these images say about him. He wants to take the next step and try this out with other people and if that happens I expect the incognito mode of their browsers to get very popular. To see more on his work check out his website here.
A lot of Kyle’s projects were done out of the curiosity as a coder and as an artist to use technology in unique ways. Many of them started out small like his work with 3D scanning which he would later take to the next level by working the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media or YCAM in Japan. Working with these types of labs gives you access to resources you could never get on your own and is a win for everyone.
At one point he shows a graph that showed the balance of his bank account which had huge spikes when he was paid which then slowly declined until he got more paying work. What it shows was that when he does get paid work he gets paid well, but it isn’t consistent so he lives within his means.
Kyle’s experience shows that it is possible to share everything and get away with it. If there is one thing he would want developers to take away it would be that.