[PD] Thoughts in conclusion of the 4th Pure Data Convention

Hans-Christoph Steiner hans at at.or.at
Sat Feb 11 05:57:34 CET 2012

The FLOSS manuals book is editable by anyone.  Please fix it if it has wrong info.  :)


On Feb 9, 2012, at 1:22 PM, Jonathan Wilkes wrote:

> There are still a lot of sticking points with Pd for new users-- someone recently wrote 
> the list asking where all the objects are that are listed in the FLOSS manual.  At least 
> some of those objects have to be downloaded/installed separately-- [pvoc~] is listed 
> under Pd extended but it's not included in it, nor is the relevant library listed.
> But even if pvoc~ doesn't create, how does the user know for _sure_ that there isn't 
> a pvoc~ binary living somewhere on their machine?  Pd is like those magnetic words 
> you put on a fridge to make poetry, but over time roommates come in and remove 
> some of the words, and now you need your own blank magnet and pen and write the 
> word and put it back on the fridge.  Or, you can put the word "import" with some words 
> that describe last place where you found the word-- many of those places have helpful 
> names that are the initials of the person who wrote them that you've never met.  None 
> of this is clearly documented btw, unless you ask on this listed and get a reply in the 
> time it would have taken to finish a patch if there had been clear documentation in the 
> first place.
> Well let's remove the object chain with pvoc~ in it and try a different approach.  Oops, I 
> can only "undo" pvoc~ itself because I've reached my "undo" limit.  Is this program from 
> the 1980s or what?  Maybe it is-- I can't even move this array that holds a 1-sec waveform 
> I loaded into it without Pd being sluggish.
> Well at least there aren't any presets to impede my creativity...
> I'm finishing up a search plugin that will somewhat alleviate the pvoc~ example, and pd-l2ork 
> has helped by having infinite undo and snappier graphical displacement of objects.  But 
> these kinds of problems definitely hinder new users, and if you're seeing students are seeking
> out Pd on Facebook because they have a hard time configuring a mailinglist digest, you can 
> bet they are Googling for better tools when they run into these or myriad other 
> usability/documentation problems.
> -Jonathan
> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Max <abonnements at revolwear.com>
>> To: PD list <pd-list at iem.at>
>> Cc: 
>> Sent: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 10:50 PM
>> Subject: [PD] Thoughts in conclusion of the 4th Pure Data Convention
>> Dear list and Pure Data community,
>> I'd wanted to write this down since a few months now and finally had the 
>> chance to do so.
>> To welcome you in Weimar and Berlin in August has been a great pleasure for us. 
>> The Pure Data community has proven to be a diverse, inspiring and very thankful 
>> audience. We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and professionalism and 
>> sometimes patience of performers and guests as well.
>> It was the first time for most of the team to be involved in any kind of event 
>> of this scale. We have gained a tremendous amount of experience through hosting 
>> it. Those who have been to Weimar/Berlin for the convention will agree when I 
>> conclude that it was a great success. 
>> http://www.uni-weimar.de/medien/wiki/PDCON:Testimonials
>> Never the less I'd like to take some time to critically assess the 
>> convention giving future hosts the opportunity to build up on our experience.
>> CONFERENCE: Using the openconf system proved to be a choice that helped 
>> tremendously to structure and guide through the submission and paper review 
>> process. In fact I would try to use the same system for concerts and the 
>> exhibition as well.
>> The peer review process is augmenting the quality of the papers and is giving 
>> the conference and publication a higher academic relevance. It seemed unfair to 
>> ask for finished papers to be reviewed (and possibly rejected) that's why we 
>> asked for extended abstracts for the review. It turned out to be hard for the 
>> reviewers to fully assess the relevance and quality of the paper from just 
>> reading the extended abstract. I now think that it would have been better to let 
>> the reviewer read the full papers. After all most of the papers – once written – 
>> may also be submitted to other conferences such as ICMC or Linux Audio. A 
>> bar-camp day could have complemented the more official conference part to give 
>> latest developments and impromptu idea-sharing its space. All though it was part 
>> of the plan we failed to provide a live-stream of the conference, partly because 
>> of our lack of know-how, limited resources in time and the inability of the 
>> institution to provide the necessary installations. At the forums and Q&A 
>> sessions an IRC chat or twitter hashtag projected could have improved audience 
>> participation.
>> WORKSHOPS: In my opinion it has been a wise decision to organize most workshops 
>> on an open, registration-free basis. This saved us from managing registrations 
>> and I know from experience that it is frustrating having to exclude possible 
>> participants because of a full class when in the end some of the registered ones 
>> decide not to show up. That happens especially when participation is free of 
>> charge. The cooperation with the Bauhaus Summer School wasn't trivial in its 
>> execution but made sense organisational and financial.
>> CONCERTS: It would have been impossible to endeavor in such a venture like the 
>> Pd-Convention without the support by the Studio for Electroacoustic Music. 
>> Consequently the concerts were very well organized and a real highlight of every 
>> day. It would have been much easier to organize though if the exact demands of 
>> the musicians would have been clear from the submission stage. Using a web-form 
>> or the openconf could have made that more straightforward. Making clear that the 
>> musician is responsible for everything until the specified mixer input for 
>> themselves would have made things clearer from the beginning.
>> EXHIBITION: The exhibition was certainly the least prepared part simply because 
>> the venue was unclear just until two weeks prior to the event. Unfortunate was 
>> that the venue wasn't open at all times which happened due to 
>> misunderstandings and possibly not enough controlling. 
>> FUNDING: Getting the necessary funding was certainly the issue I personally 
>> spent the most time on. We had an overall budget of around 17.000 EUR. This 
>> doesn't take the value of things and services into account the university 
>> gave us for free, that is all the equipment and the lecture halls/concert venues 
>> and neither my own regular salary as employee of the university. Roughly 10k of 
>> the Budget came from different funds at the university and the ministry for 
>> economics and were bound to specific aspects of the convention. The rest was 
>> covered by the sponsors. That budget is less than a third of what the convention 
>> in Montréal had available.
>> EXPENSES:  We spent most of the budget supporting our participants. The biggest 
>> expense there was covering for the accomodation, followed by a contribution 
>> (around 100,- €) towards the travel expenses for the participating artists 
>> (those either performing or exhibiting). The accomodation costs turned out to be 
>> about 2500 Eur more expensive than necessary since we had to pay for those 
>> participants who reserved the hostel through the online sign-up and then decided 
>> neither to cancel nor to check in. The workshops were handled separately through 
>> the Bauhaus-Summer School. Further expenses were catering, printing, renting a 
>> car for transport and so forth.
>> Frankly I've been a bit surprised that the average age wasn't a bit 
>> lower. This certainly has implications on how to accommodate the guests in the 
>> future (youth hostel, again?), but more importantly is to think about the future 
>> user-base if, and when yes: why Pd is deterring for newcomers.
>> And here I'm hoping to get into a discussion (which we should have had at 
>> the convention)
>> There are great programs out there who might make more sense to learn instead of 
>> Pd for certain kind of projects: Processing, Supercollider, OpenFrameworks. I 
>> was taught in university Programs like Freehand, QuarkXpress and Director, all 
>> more or less dead softwares today. In my role as a university educator I ask 
>> myself what makes the most sense to teach; what persists and where do the 
>> students learn concepts that will help them master other environments yet to 
>> come. The BSD License and Pd's open source community is making sure that it 
>> won't die because of a companies merger (like Freehand from the list above). 
>> Thinks like that IOhannes is practically the only overall dev for Gem aren't 
>> making it more comfortable.
>> Yet I see that Pd meets for many of the young artists exactly that level of 
>> abstraction to be easily picked up while having the maximum amount of freedom in 
>> the creativity without the presets that could hinder your expression.
>> Combine that with the real-time experience tweaking and tinkering until it works 
>> is ace. I personally find beauty in the dataflow paradigm which can be nicely 
>> put in context with cybernetic flowcharts of systems interconnected through 
>> input and output.
>> When I find artist like Lukas Buschfeld presenting his prints printed by a 
>> custom large scale dot matrix printer which is programmed in and run by Pd 
>> entirely (plus a little Arduino) I'm stunned. Look at the prints: 
>> http://lucasbuschfeld.com/index.php?cat=graphic
>> In an attempt to improve the first impression you get when checking out Pd 
>> I've been experimenting with vimeo gathering Pd based works in a group:
>> http://vimeo.com/groups/puredata/
>> When you look at a few other OSS Audio related softwares i find their websites 
>> to be very clear and well structured
>> http://musescore.org/
>> http://www.iannix.org/
>> http://ardour.org/
>> Now compare. It's a great ressource but plone can certainly look nerdy and 
>> cluttered:
>> http://puredata.info/
>> In my classes I am shocked to see that the majority of the young students have 
>> trouble setting up their mail client in a way that they efficiently can use the 
>> mailinglist - if they know what a mail client is at all. Facebook seems to 
>> replace this more and more, but I'm strongly opposed to accepting that.
>> The Pure Data group on Facebook is not what the Mailinglist is:
>> http://www.facebook.com/groups/4729684494/
>> I think that a new kind of digital divide is happening silently between the now 
>> adolescent nerdy natives and the young instant-web-app-social-connectedness 
>> generation who think that there is no internet beyond the web. The forum for now 
>> is a kind of a bridge between those worlds, it certainly would be interesting to 
>> know the demographics of the users in all four channels: mailinglist, forum, 
>> facebook and IRC.
>> I'll leave it at this hoping to spark a little discussion on the list now 
>> for example about how Pd can become more attractive in our very own interest not 
>> to loose a future user base not only for the next convention. Also I'd be 
>> interested to hear where the next convention will take place ;)
>> MN
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