November 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Dorkbot To Descend on New York

NEW YORK — Ten years to the week after the very first Dorkbot meet-up, people are still “doing strange things with electricity,” which is as it should be. For that is the Dorkbot way.

A brainchild of Columbia University Computer Music Center director of research Douglas Repetto, the first Dorkbot was held in New York on December 7, 2000, and its tenth anniversary event will take place on Wednesday, December 1. The Dorkbot movement has exploded into over 100 active chapters worldwide in the past decade, with thousands of inventions having found audiences with participants and spectators around the globe.

Wednesday night, Dorkbot will draw together yet more fascinating people working on fascinating things to present their creations for peer-review and kudos — sort of like a real-time, real-space, crowdsourced vertical geo-targeted social network, to use the wacky parlance of our times. In plain English, it’s a get-together with a purpose:

“Artists (sound/image/movement/whatever), designers, engineers, students, scientists, and other interested parties” are invited to present what they’ve been working on in 20-minute slots, after which the audience gets to make suggestions. Commercial software demos are strongly discouraged. Instead, participants are encouraged to present something like the following “imaginary presentation topics”:

  • a demo of the new motion tracking software you’re writing,
  • playing a video you made,
  • an explanation of how you hacked your GameBoy to get it to make cool bleeping noises,
  • trouble shooting/brainstorming your remote-controlled sandwich making robot,
  • bringing in some dancers you’re working with and having them demonstrate the interface used in your new mind-control ballet, or
  • discussing your approach to electronic sculpture.

Clearly, this will be interesting, and like a late-era Bob Dylan, it must involve electricity. If you’re in the New York area tomorrow, Wednesday, December 1, organizers invite you to stop by Location One at 7pm (directions):

what: dorkbot-nyc meeting & 10th ANNIVERSARY PARTY!!!
here: Location One (Greene between Canal & Grand)
when: Wednesday, 01 December 2010, 7-9pm
$$: $15 (suggested donation to Location One, no one turned away)

If you’re somewhere else, well, at least plans to cover the most interesting presentations. Here’s a taste of what you can expect (video from the early November New York event):

Transparency: The Echo Nest co-founder Brian Whitman, who made the first presentation at the very first Dorkbot, will be on hand with a follow-up presentation. Also, The Echo Nest (publisher of will provide free food and beer to attendees.

Image adapted from The Natural History Museum of London’s map