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

Jonathan Wilkes jancsika at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 11 06:05:05 CET 2012

Having a static table of objects that informs the user what's included in the 

currently shifting target that is Pd-extended is the wrong approach.  My 

solution would be to delete the entire table, but maybe someone else has 

a better, less drastic idea.


----- Original Message -----
> From: Hans-Christoph Steiner <hans at at.or.at>
> To: Jonathan Wilkes <jancsika at yahoo.com>
> Cc: Max <abonnements at revolwear.com>; PD list <pd-list at iem.at>
> Sent: Friday, February 10, 2012 11:57 PM
> Subject: Re: [PD] Thoughts in conclusion of the 4th Pure Data Convention
> The FLOSS manuals book is editable by anyone.  Please fix it if it has wrong 
> info.  :)
> .hc
> 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
>>>  _______________________________________________
>>>  Pd-list at iem.at mailing list
>>>  UNSUBSCRIBE and account-management -> 
>>>  http://lists.puredata.info/listinfo/pd-list
>>  _______________________________________________
>>  Pd-list at iem.at mailing list
>>  UNSUBSCRIBE and account-management -> 
> http://lists.puredata.info/listinfo/pd-list
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