Category Archives: Projects

Peer Economy Research Proposal

[For many reasons I can’t go into my current affiliation would not be able to help me get this proposal in and fully signed off for the FuseLabs current call.

So I thought I would post it here, its still a draft as I can’t submit it but think that its an interesting problem that could do with investigation.

If you know of any links or work that should be looked at regarding this (either bits already done, or work that could relate) then please leave a comment.

I’ll try and do the work as and when I can, or when some funding for time can be found. If anyone else can do it then please let me know what you find out:]

Proposal for FuseLabs Research 2015 Peer Economy Research Awards

The language of the Peer Economy is one of sharing, sustainability and resilience. It is targetted at users who believe in a community, yet one who sees all items as a commodity.

Whereas before we would have looked at an object and when it was not in use it would remain in a number of possible states:

  1. Ornamental
  2. Functional – Potential
  3. Functional – Dormant

Many of the platforms that are now described as part of the Peer or Sharing economy try to make use of these objects so that they remain in these other states for less time.

In the process many of these platforms assign a value to these objects, so that there can be some kind of transaction in return for the use of the object.

This project aims to prepare a number of mappings of this economy, to examine the physicality of the organisations, users and objects across the globe and understand the boundaries of the communities of presence for the objects.

It also aims to map the flows within the platforms, of the data and interactions as well as the financial flows. Where does capital, the value designated within the objects end up?

Finally we look at the language used in description of the platform, particiaption (e.g. terms of service, policies and sign-up forms).

This is then presneted as an atlas of the Peer Economy, where necessary noting the potential mappings into the exitsing capitalism markets, where the perception of sharing and peer may differ from other uses.


Mapping the Cyborg

I have been thinking about the cyborg and our instrumentation of the self. The Elegant Cyborg project is encompassing of a number of strands of investigation but initially I have been thinking about activity trackers, the data that they generate and the Stacks.

To get started on this I have started scribbling a few maps. Initially, in my notebook I drew this:

Its me trying to frame what I want to examine by cyborg. There is already a lot of research and writing on this and I am fully aware of the fact that we can create a definition of cyborg that encompasses all of modern human beings, in that they enhance their physical interaction with the word through technology. This can be corrective technologies and interventions such as medical intervention through drugs, or artificial limbs or even glasses or it could be self prescribed tools to enhance ones self, a smart phone to act as a reminder / memory and location finder or something like an activity tracker to specifically tally some activity data about oneself with a specific aim in mind. This aim is probably around fitness.

With Google announcing their Fitness data system at I/O the other day and Apple already having announced their HealthKit as a part of the forthcoming iOS 8 it is appropriate to look at this last element of cyborgification in more detail.

This map has a lot from the previous map, at the moment it does miss off genetic technology, 23andMe for example. It does show the Stacks over on the right. What it does not show is the place existing Pharma and medical technology companies play in this.

What are the questions to be investigated here? I think some of the following are worth looking into:

  • How do the different activity / health apps/devices compare?
  • Is the actual data useful to an individual (and/or how to make it useful)?
  • How is the data useful to the company offering the system?
  • Are there problems with the sharing of this data?
  • Are there ways of mitigating any such potential problems with this sharing?

On the second map sits Google Glass. Around the corner from my office at Central Saint Martins is the new Glass Basecamp. I don’t think glass counts as an activity/health device yet, but it is there in the cyborg enhancements. Its the bridge to the projects on privacy. Its the poster device for a reaction against the cyborg as an extension of a corporate entity (Wear Glass be a Stack Node?) but is that justified? Are all our interactions with an entity such as Google a cyborgification of our selves and do we need new tools and language to understand what that means to us and to it and how do we (if deemed necessary) change that so that the technology is still useful to us as humans not us humans being useful to the Stack.

[[I am currently trying to find funding for this project so if anyone has any suggestions for routes for such funding please let me know.]]

Elegant Cyborg

The #elegantcyborg project is a multipart investigation into the instrumenting and augmentation of ourselves via technology delivered by the Stacks (see Stacktivism).

The first stages of the project is the development of a set of maps and visualisations to show the connection of cyborg technology, the individual and the corporate owners of the technology.

Also the creation of a questionnaire for people who use activity/health trackers (apps and devices) to try and get an idea on the landscape of usage.

Below are our first set of proposed questions:

* Why did you decide to get/use a health/activity tracker (app or device)?
** Was it a gift?
** Was it a personal decision?
** Was there any medical/professional intervention (e.g. A doctor suggested more physical activity).
*** If so, did they suggest using an app or device and if they did was it the one you use?

* What factors affected your decision as to which app or device to use?
* How long have you had it?
* Is this the first one you have had or used or have you tried other apps or devices?
** If so, would you write some more about your experience with the other apps or devices? What was it like, why do you no longer use it?

* Did you read the EULA fully, especially where pertaining to data?
* Did you understand the EULA?
* Do you understand or know about the privacy options and settings for your app or device?

(Where app or device can be any combination of the two. You may use the device in conjunction with a number of other devices, such as base stations and mobile phones.)

* Do you share your activity data online with the app device service?
* Do you make this available publicly or do you keep it private?
* Have you shared, commented or discussed anyone else’s activity / health data that you have public access too?

If you think there are any other questions that should be posed here, or any of the above reworded then please let me know in the comments.

What Does Privacy Mean?

I am starting a new project on the topic of privacy and firstly want to examine what does the term privacy mean to people.

To this end I have come up with three simple questions which I would love for people to answer:

  • What does the word privacy mean to you?
  • What does the word protection mean to you?
  • What does the word security mean to you?

A website will go live where you can submit your answers online shortly and again I have made a simple bookleteer publication which you can use to write your answers in and submit.

I would also like to record as many of you answering the questions as possible. The recordings would form the basis of an installation that I am developing around the concept of Numbers Stations.

If you would like to be recorded answering these questions or holding forth on the topic of privacy for as long as you like (the questions are just prompts, if you have some other way of framing the response then you are free to do that). Then please let me know and we will arrange a meeting to record your answers.

Email me at

I, Satellite (project proposal)

‘I, Satellite’ is an interactive experience to place the participant into earth orbit and to view the earth as if they were a satellite.

By using an Oculus Rift, the participant is presented with a view of the earth, via software that simulates the earth view like google earth. The participant can look around to change their view slightly, but they have no control over their direction and speed of travel. The view is that from an object in orbit.

The participant reclines in a hammock to simulate as much as possible the feeling of flotation.

Ideally using a pneumograph we can monitor the participants breathing which can be used to modify the sounds heard by the participant through headphones.


  • Oculus Rift dk
  • PC – running rendering software to generate the view
  • Pneumograph
  • Headphones
  • Hammock

Mark Simpkins
Iestyn Lloyd

Walking Psychogeographic Sites of Scientific Interest (Project Proposal)

Being interested in landscapes, industry and technology and photography the idea of doing some walks to/from/around sites of scientific interest seemed like a good idea.

I have a vague list of sites and areas that I would like to visit on these walks, some more realisable than others.

I want to walk around CERN, but above ground, crossing the borders that below the ground the particle accelerator loop crosses. To examine the landscape above this great machine would be really interesting.

Closer to home, the plan is to visit Jodrell Bank and return to Dungeness.

Then there are the sites that attach to the idea of the military in the landscape, around Menwith Hill and RAF Waddington, the homes of ECHALON and the UK Drone programme respectively but also sites like Offord Ness.

Recording the landscape, the culture as well as the sounds (both audile and the electromagnetic soundscape).

Academic Online Publishing – Arts & Humanities

I am doing a small project looking at getting online spaces set up for art/design/cultural/humanities academic publishing. Basically using weblogs but making citation easier and making it easier for the authors to cite other documents.

Most material on this kind of space is focused on Scientific publishing, especially Bioinformatics. So I was wondering if people know of existing examples, tools that can be used or projects and calls for this type of tool?

If you know of anything can you either tweet me (@marksimpkins) or email me


Numbers Stations (Project Proposal)

Numbers Stations are the embodiment of spy culture in electromagnetic space. Unlike the secrecy, encryption, and other elements of espionage the numbers stations broadcast in the open, on shortwave frequencies. What the messages mean, why they broadcast what they do and what is encoded within those broadcast is a mystery and one almost impossible to crack.

No one owns up to running the broadcasts and of course where they are meant for impossible to know, they are just thrown out into the electromagnetic spectrum to be plucked out of the air by whoever has a shortwave receiver.

Project Description
The project will develop a shortwave broadcast ‘station’ as an object, that is sculptural and opaque as to its definite origins. The station will ‘broadcast’ works from selected contributors in the same / similar wavelengths as many of the more famous numbers stations.

The station will be installed in various parts of the UK and photographed in-situ.


* Numbers Stations
* The Conet Project
* The Conet Project – Internet Archive

A theoretical brief for ‘how not to die’ (Project Proposal)

Note: This is a theoretical brief for students, it has not been commissioned or asked to be developed but is just a way for me to get down some questions that I would like design students to examine.

Brief: How Not To Die

The Hexayurt, designed by Vinay Gupta, is a simple shelter that can be built using available materials quickly and easily. It was designed in response to the Sustainable Settlements Charette in 2002.

Project Proposals:
Communications: How to communicate how to build a hexayurt. How to quickly build a shelter and how to maintain and evolve it as it is lived in.

Industrial Design: Evolve the hexayurt.

Systems Design: Camp processes, design a system to help manage refugee camps and support those people who have to live there.

Background Reading:

Much of the work by Vinay Gupta is about this, the hexayurt, the primary axis for the brief was invented by Gupta and released into the commons.

a proper thought for the day

It is nice to have something to mull over, some commentary by someone to think about, respond to or just think about. That is what ‘Thought For The Day’ should be. I guess it is, but it has been limit bound by the editorial team at the Radio 4 Today Programme to not include ‘thinkers’ who are athiest.

So, if we were to have a proper ‘Thought for the day’ what would it be. I was imagining a short 3 – 5 minute podcast that gets sent out each morning, together with a small space to discuss the thought, ideas etc.

Currently the thought is one that is informed by current events and our proper one should be as well, so whoever is invited to speak each day needs to do a bit of thinking and writing early in the morning. Maybe a better thought for the day is one that sums up a day, in the evening. Yes, I am assuming a GMT based timezone here.

So, given 5 minutes to ponder the day, events, and anything else who would you have speak?