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Part art project, part utopian experiment, a street artist by the name of Swoon, as well as a band of artists, DIYers, and other free-spirits, has built a collection of ramshackle yet visually striking rafts to float down rivers and canals with a loosely defined purpose. Tod Seelie, a friend of Swoon’s, has been on all the trips so far as a crew member and brought his camera to document the creativity and chaos.

“I can only really speak for me,” Seelie says, “And really it’s a combination of things, but I’d say the main point [of the trips] is inspiration. It’s the inspiration we feel and the inspiration other people feel when they come across us.”

The group have organized three different trips so far. The first two were down the Mississippi. The plan was to take the rafts from Minneapolis to New Orleans, but the farthest the group ever made it was St. Louis because the river proved to be too strong. The third trip went down the Hudson from Troy, New York to Queens. The fourth trip went from Slovenia to Venice and was meant to coincide with the Venice Biennale. All these trips took place several years ago, but there is a new one in Oregon planned for mid-August.

The rafts are the brain child of Swoon (her real name is Caledonia “Callie” Curry), who is probably most famous for her life-size wheatpastes. Most of the rafts are made from recycled materials and are essentially artfully made-up pontoon boats (their pontoons are wood with styrofoam inside instead of metal). The motors are old car engines that have been hacked to run propellers. Each trip featured a different number of boats, but sometimes there were up to five or six different vessels.

On some of the trips, the boats were designed to not only move through water and house a crew but also host live theater and music performances. On the Mississippi trip, whenever the boats would dock near a town, the crew would invite locals to the boat and teach them trades like silk screening or costume making.

“Many of us had hitchhiked before, or toured with bands. But we were all swept up by being on the boat, It was by far the most amazing thing I’d done,” says Seelie.

Seelie says the flotillas are different from other cross-country adventures because it’s not just about making it down or across some specified route. It’s also about meeting people along the way.

“We are moving as this giant group and intentionally trying to engage people,” he says. “We constantly heard people say, ‘I really wish I had done something like this when I was younger.’”

Along with photos that document the boats and the adventure, Seelie also made portraits of crew members in order to put a face on these crazy adventures.

Seelie’s first book, which is about New York City, where he lives, will be released in October, and a couple of the photos from the Hudson trip are included. For years he’s shot punk bands, artists and other people living their own lives around that city, and he sees the raft crew as directly related to these other alternative, or counter-cultured, communities.

“I think a lot of the people who I photographed for the book are trying to make the city the city they want to live in,” he says. When it comes to the flotillas, that idea “is taken to an even bigger level. There it’s about making the world that they want to live in.”

To see more of Seelie’s work, please check out his blog.

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Image: W3C

The W3C, the group that oversees web standards like HTML and CSS, recently held W3Conf, an annual conference for web developers. If, like me, you couldn’t make it this year, fear not, videos of all of the talks are now available online.

Among the highlights are Eric Meyer’s talk on Flexbox, and the future of sane layout tools — what Meyer calls “the Era of Intentional Layout.” Meyer’s talk is also notable for the reminder that, in Mosaic, styling a webpage was something users did, not page creators.

Another highly recommended talk is Lea Verou’s “Another 10 things you didn’t know about CSS.” The “Another” bit in the title refers to a talk Verou gave last year entitled “10 things you might not know about CSS 3.” Also be sure to read our recent interview with Verou for more on the W3C and web standards.

There are quite a few more videos available over on the W3Conf YouTube page, including Jacob Rossi’s talk on Pointer Events, which we linked to in yesterday’s Pointer Events coverage.

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The basic elements of responsive design — fluid grids, flexible media and CSS media queries — are key to building successful websites that work across platforms and devices, but these three components are not the end of the responsive design story. In fact, as developer Brad Frost argues in the talk embedded above, there is, or should be, much more to it than that.

While many would call the broader approach “adaptive” design, Frost wants the phrase “responsive web design” to go the way of Corn Flakes, as he puts it. That is, to become a more general term that can “encompass all the things that go into creating a great multi-device web experience.” That means things that go beyond fluid grids, flexible media and media queries — things like performance, device support, device optimization and future-friendly designs.

In Frost’s analogy responsive design is the tip of the adaptive design iceberg, where all the good stuff is under the water. “Below the waterline, that’s where the true opportunity is,” says Frost, “that is where we actually have the potential to basically reshape what the web is, what it can do, where it can go and who it can reach. And that is powerful.”

Just what’s below the waterline and how do you roll these broader ideas into an actual website? Well, be sure to watch the video — Frost walks through an example of a mobile-first responsive design, which you can also read about on his site. If you prefer a tutorial sans video, Frost’s write-up from last year is available on HTML5Rocks.

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Jiawei Li of Singapore competes against Hajung Seok of Korea during the women's team table tennis bronze medal match on Day 11 of the London Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 7, 2012.

Photo: Feng Li/Getty Images

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The athletics aren’t the only competition at the Olympics. In addition to drawing the world’s top athletes, the games pit some of the best sports photographers on the planet against each other for the chance to show audiences what they can do.

But while the work can be physically and mentally demanding, the fight for an iconic photo is invisible and thankless. To remedy that, we’ve compiled our personal favorites from the thousands of photos we saw during our London 2012 Olympics coverage. These are not the best, most historic moments or comprehensive highlights, they’re simply the photos that stood out to us as exceptional.

What were your favorites? Let us know in the comments.

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OIL FIELDS #27

Bakersfield, California, USA, 2004

Photo: Edward Burtynsky

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There’s no doubt that Edward Burtynsky’s photos from his Oil series are best viewed as enormous prints on a gallery wall. Known as one of the preeminent projects about the industrial age, the photos rely on scale to deliver their message about how oil has changed both the earth and human kind in profound and lasting ways.

That’s why we were skeptical when we heard he was releasing a new iPad version of the project’s book, which was originally published in 2009. How would these prints translate to a backlit viewing platform smaller than a sheet of office paper?

With app in hand, we were able to confirm the obvious — the iPad will never replace a print on the wall or a well-designed photo book. But that said, what we lost in scale and tactility was made up at least in part by the other features we’ve all come to love about the iPad.

Case-in-point are the short interviews with Burtynsky that accompany 24 of the photos. I enjoy a piece of art more when I know something about it and hearing Burtynsky explain things that you wouldn’t find in a normal caption — like why he composed certain photos in very particular ways — enriched the experience.

Other features on the app include three videos of Burtynsky speaking about his work and maps that show the location of the photos. There are also nine new images from the Gulf oil spill.

What tips the scales in favor of the app is the price. The Oil book sells for $128 on the publisher’s website. We can just imagine how much a Burtynsky print sells for. So at $9.99 there’s not much room to complain. If you enjoy Burtynsky’s work, it’s a drop in the bucket to experience a project that will only get more important as time goes on.

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 Brita d'Agostino

Photo illustration: Brita d'Agostino

Wired magazine’s Found page represents our best guess at what lies over the horizon, from touchscreen windshields to organ farming. Now, we’re inviting readers to help create Found pages: What do you think our world will look like in 10, 20, or 100 years?

Found
Found: Imagine the Future of Child Safety Seats
More Artifacts From the Future

Each month, we’ll propose a scenario and present some ideas and concepts. Then it’s up you: Sketch out your vision and upload your ideas (below). We’ll use the best suggestions as inspiration for a future Found page, giving kudos to contributors, and we’ll add our favorite submission to this story.

Your next challenge: imagine the future of conventions. Will the singularity happen during CES? Will Louis CK’s TED talk change the world? Will nerds get in line eleven months in advance to see Jossbot 8000 unveil Avengers XXIII?

You can send us your ideas in text form, but we’re keen on getting visual entries. Check out these links to some CC-licensed photos on Flickr to fire up your imagination:

The venue:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:E32011.jpg

Registration
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TED_2005_Registration.jpg

The attendees:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/elfidomx/5971750876/

The Demos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/phuson/15713734/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ricardodiaz/3601410171/

The Presentations:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedxsomerville/6820878308/

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:David_Bolinsky_presentation_at_TED_2007.jpg

The Ware:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:True_Blood_-_2011_International_Comic-Con.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:David_Bolinsky_presentation_at_TED_2007.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Comic-Con_2010_-_Walking_Dead_Image_booth.jpg

http://www.flickr.com/photos/juplife/4610355530/in/photostream/

Use the widget below to submit your best idea and vote for your favorite. The image must be your own— submitting it gives us permission to use it on Wired.com and in Wired magazine. Please submit relatively large images (ideal size is 800 to 1,200 pixels, or larger on the longest side). Include a description of your idea and how you made it.

We don’t host the images, so upload it somewhere else and submit a link to it. If you’re using Flickr, Picasa or another photo-sharing site to host your image, provide a link to the image, not to the photo page where it’s displayed. If your photo doesn’t show up, it’s because the URL you have entered is incorrect. Make sure it ends with the image file name (xxxxxxx.jpg).

Check back over the next few weeks to vote on new submissions, and look for an update announcing our favorite.

For information regarding use of information about you that you may supply or communicate to the Website, please see our Privacy Policy. Except as expressly provided otherwise in the Privacy Policy or in this Agreement, you agree that by posting messages, uploading text, graphics, photographs, images, video or audio files, inputting data, or engaging in any other form of communication with or through the Website, you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, enhance, transmit, distribute, publicly perform, display, or sublicense any such communication (including your identity and information about you) in any medium (now in existence or hereinafter developed) and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, and to authorize others to do so. In addition, please be aware that information you disclose in publicly accessible portions of the Website will be available to all users of the Website, so you should be mindful of personal information and other content you may wish to post.

2007 bug

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Students: Step into your summer office. Image: Lost In The RP/Flickr

Students, start your coding engines. Google’s annual Summer of Code program, which helps college students write open source software during their summer vacations, starts today.

Past participants have helped improve everything from popular web frameworks to browser add-ons and even operating systems. Summer of Code is also not a half bad way to get yourself on Google’s radar — the company looks at the results of the program to help it “identify potential recruits.”

Summer of Code has served as a launchpad for quite a few new open source software projects as well as helping to jumpstart work on existing favorites. This year’s roster includes some 1,208 students who will spend the next 12 weeks writing code for 180 different open source organizations.

With 208 proposed projects, there’s a pretty good chance that some Summer of Code improvements will be rolled into your favorite open source projects later this year. Among the things we’ll be keeping an eye on are Metalink’s various efforts to improve the download capabilities in Firefox and Chrome. Eventually Metalink wants to bring error recovery/repair for large downloads to everything from Chrome to wget.

Other promising projects include several efforts to help improve OpenStreetMap, the so-called “Wikipedia of maps,” as well as Code for America’s various projects, some new features for Git and an ambitious plan to bring Pylint into the modern world of Python 3.

For more info on this year’s Summer of Code, head over to Google’s Summer of Code website, which has details on all the various projects and participants. You can also get updates from the Summer of Code page at Google+.

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Photo

In founding Commodore International and helping create the legendary Commodore 64, Jack Tramiel set into motion events which would put more computers into the homes of average people than in any other period in history. But his legacy extended far beyond the machines themselves. Just days before news of his passing, a group of filmmakers at the Penny Arcade Expo in Boston presented their documentary on the sometimes-forgotten but undeniably important subculture which emerged from the foundations Tramiel had placed: the demoscene.

Above: "The Art of Algorithms" by Moleman

Powered by the rise of affordable and capable home computers like the Commodore 64, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, the demoscene became history's first widespread...

Continue reading…

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Inspired by Bret Victor's demo, Chris Granger's live editor helps connect you with what you're building.

Last month we pointed you to a video of Bret Victor’s talk, “Inventing on Principle.” Victor has worked on experimental UI concepts at Apple and also created the interactive data graphics for Al Gore’s book, Our Choice. In the talk Victor showed off a demo of a great real-time game editor that makes your existing coding tools look primitive at best.

Inspired by Victor’s presentation, developer Chris Granger has put together a similar live game editor in Clojurescript.

If you haven’t watched the video of Victor’s talk, you should start there, but the basic idea behind his real-time editor is to make your code more closely connected to what it creates, in this case a simple game. Granger’s take on the idea is similar — all changes you make to the code are reflected immediately in the running game. You change a line of code and the game immediately changes right with it. Here’s Granger’s video demonstrating the editor:

As Granger writes on his blog, “essentially I learned that Victor was right — there’s unquestionable value in connecting yourself with your creation.”

Granger’s demo code is available on GitHub and there’s a .jar file available for download if you’d just like to play with the demo.

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