FlockingAI - Eastside Culture Crawl 2022 post mortem

17 minute read

ToDo: Write a proper post mortem.

Below are my rough notes recorded into my voice to text app. Spelling and miss heard words are expected.

This is a postmortem and a description of the flocking AI project at Maker Labs that I did on November 17th to November 20th 2021. Now, first start with the pitch that I told everyone as they were coming in.

This project is two robots. Talking to each other. The first robot is a chatbot that I created. The chatbot I put in cyclepedia Birds a bird, ID book, and a bunch of bird jokes into it. What that created was the most enthusiastic burd nerd you’ve ever heard. All he wants to talk about is birds birds birds all day long. Then I have a conversation with this a robot and we ask it a few questions.

We you’re creating a new field guide to birds with imaginary birds. First, we need to start with a new species name. Which we call this new bird? And the robot came up with the new species “knitted sparrow”.

I showed up a piece of paper and this piece of paper should was of Milo 61, with all the answers in the conversation, I had with the robot So we’re creating a new bird with a bird imaginary bird species.

I asked it, what does it eat? And does it have a favorite food? And the robot responded with insect seeds and berries but has a particular fondness of coffee beans.

Then I asked a bunch of other conversations. I asked a bunch of other questions of the robot that were generic. Like, what does it what’s its habitat? What does it nest look like? How many eggs does it have? Where does it live? What does have any natural predators? etc. etc…

What do you call a flock of these birds? A dark roast… Pause for laughter

Then I asked the robot to take our conversation and compile it into a small little paragraph on this bird. This block of text is completely written by a robot and not written by Me. Then I take that block of text and throw it into a text to image generator called midjourney.

Midjourney takes this text and finds the keywords inside of it. And generates a picture based on that, on the text and all the pictures, you see behind us are all generated by midjourning.

Each bird has their own unique story and bio associated with it and I produce a new bird every day that gets posted to my social medias. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

That was my main pitch. it didn’t have a ability for anyone to ask a question. And when someone asks me a question during the middle of my conversation, my pitch, I it really threw me because I was so tight on that conversation on that pitch. I had done it so many times that it was easy for me to Say it over and over again. So it’s almost memorized. So when someone asked me question the middle of it, I got I definitely stumbled and instead of having more fluid conversation with people So it was okay but it definitely needs some. It needed some work.

Next is, Um, All the wall. If you look at the second row up and stead center, the first bird was Milo which also was my example. What? That caused was all the children, that would look at the wall. They would see the first bird. They would see is Milo 61 and it would be cutesy wootsie bird. That looks like from looks like it came from Pixar. And it was just happened to be the first one they saw. So when their parents asked them, what their favorite bird was, it was almost always Milo and same with the adults when the adults came by and I had the description about it in a have affinity for coffee. They would also want the Milo bird. The problem with that is, I didn’t have enough prints of Milo to be able to go around.

So I sold out on the Thursday, of the Milo print and the buttons and the postcards So, I spent a lot of the weekend telling people that they couldn’t get the Milo print, unfortunately. Um, so other birds went quite quickly and there was some very obvious ones that were Popular. Mostly the Pixar looking ones. So the ones where it’s a cutesy utsi model, Or the anthropomorphized ones, the ones where they have something else that is not a bird such as a scarf or bandana or a hat, or a coffee cup etc. Etc. Those are the ones that definitely went sold more or more interested in them than anything else.

So basic stats about what we saw. So, I end up selling about 55 buttons. About. About 200 postcards. And I sold, 31, print car prints. I told because I wasn’t able to accept interact in visa, I told people to pay for the Prince later when they pick up the print at the end of the session I told them that see they’re gonna be Tuesday or Saturday. That turned out well for most people and it made me a lot allowed me to continue.

Some people had e-interact and they were able to pay me on the spot and they sent me anywhere from 12 to $50 in. Interacts This allowed me to still accept cash when people didn’t have cash but it was surprising. How many people will have that on my phone on their phone? I was not expecting that. Most people were really nice. A lot of young young you know, 20 year olds, they notice what it is. And then they get all impressive trying to show off to their friends that they know exactly what this is midjourning jet dally or stable diffusion. And then when I have a conversation with them about using the chatbot in front of it, They felt a little pushback from it, right? So I was like telling them that they were wrong and when I shouldn’t have been I should have been agreeing with them. Yes you are correct it. I had a few extra flavors to it but you are also correct, right? So I wish I would have changed my speech or my pitch to accommodate them a little bit better.

mostly women. Um, people who mostly bought stuff, the prints about the postcards were Youngish women, and I didn’t find many 22 to 40 year olds didn’t really Didn’t really come towards the project. They didn’t like it as much. Plus 45, people, plus 45 white males. They were all quite white excited about this project as well. There’s a few people that were young, they were interested in it but mostly they had heard of AI art before and they were more interested in the process of it, which is good.

Young women like the cutesy wetsiness of the pitchers and bought the ones that were cute. Children were interested in a little bit but they quickly wandered away to the blinky lights rather than looking at the birds themselves. At the end of the show, I ended up giving away a bunch of the postcards to The other maker lab staff and the other people working at make a lab. So everyone got to walk home with a few at least a few pictures. Which is good.

Things that I would change. So the wall design of the display was supposed to be Five calendar months to show it off but everyone thought it was a periodic table of birds and that really made a lot of sense. The because there wasn’t a much horizontal spacing between the different months. It all looked like one big block of birds which looks a lot like a periodic table. So I understand that completely I also miscalculated the amount of months in a day or weeks in a month because October had five weeks. So I actually separated all birds down. To the five-week method and worked from the bottom scaling it up.

What that meant was. The center line of your vision, 60 centimeters. 60 inches. Was the top line of the birds. That was a blessing and a person curse one. Is everyone had to let Ben down to see a lot of the a lot of the pictures. But it also let kids to see it and when they were looking up to the ones farther up the the August and the block of duplicates.

It was easier for them to see because they were not all the way down If I were to do this again, I would try to not do a calendar month or periodic table. I would do just five blocks of images. Sorted by the date. And then they would have some separation between the two and I could separate the postcards or I could separate the conversation between the two. And a little bit more sane fashion. It looked a little scattered on the wall, but just because of the The. First above, our first of October and 31st of October seem to be out of place on the pictures itself.

Thursday, Friday. I didn’t have the banner on the wall and Friday night. I was able to laser cut the banner which was flocking AI. I think it added a lot of value to it because you could actually see the whole picture and it was much more pitcher-esque of what was on the wall.

one thing I wish I would have done, was a screen was a little icon on the, right That said, pictures are allowed, everyone was asking me if I could, if they were allowed to take pictures or selfies in front of it and it was always fine with them, but if I didn’t say, we’ve always busy having the conversation with someone. It was hard for them to do that. So they end up waiting around when they could have just take pictures. And I think some people would have actually taken more pictures. Yeah, of themselves in front of the group if they would have If I would have allowed it from day one. Like if they would have figured out, it was okay from on their own.

Postcards didn’t sell as well. Prints were definitely the more popular of the group. Um, The prints are over six by six, and I wasn’t expecting many people to actually want them. I was expecting the postcards to go a lot faster. So, the first two days, Thursday Friday, everyone just bought. I didn’t sell a single postcard. I everyone bought The prints that were on the wall. On Friday ended up finding a plinth that I put next to the display and I put a all the postcards in that plinth, That helped people see them and recognize that those were for sale.

The wall had its own price tags and a few pieces of information on it, but that wasn’t enough. The plinth really did help with selling the postcards the next few days. And when people found that they’re the print that they were looking for wasn’t available anymore. The postcards was a good answer for that. I think a lot of people went away with postcards which is nice.

I put a lot of the information such as the three. I sorry I had a few pieces of paper up Princess of the wall. These were just prints a prints off from my printer. They didn’t look very nice but they added a lot of information. The first one had four QR codes on it. One, three to the different social medias Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and went to my website, That was really useful for most people because they took a picture of it and was able to go to the website and instantly go out and follow, like, and follow my website. Then I had the price list on the wall. I didn’t need that. It could have been on the Clinton note. It would have been a problem. And then I had a short one page, description of my pitch on the wall with another QR code on it. Let it to the full description on the website That really did help.

Did it have a problem? Where every because I put all three of those pieces of information. And the postcards on the right hand side of the wall, it meant that the right hand side of the wall was always well, overcrowded meant it, that it was hard for people to get into there Etc, etc. I wish I would have made two two points of entry for people to stand next to where they could have picked up the postcards etc.

The postcard stand on. On Friday morning, I went to Staples and bought a postcard stand that allowed the postcards to be like in a cascading form that helped. I’m really glad I bought that. It was 38 bucks, which is a lot of money for what it is. But I’m gonna try to return it after after the event. I don’t think I would have sold as many postcards without that. The postcards came in random order plus everyone was picking them up and putting them back in the random order.

So there was no ability for me to set pick out a postcard for specifically from anywhere on the wall and say, here’s your postcard. Um, that meant people had to walk through a lot of the postcards to find the ones that they were looking for and that actually turned out to be a good thing because They saw the postcards and they said, oh, I want this one. Oh, I want this one in another one. Another one when they found it, right? And they saw it though. All the pictures on the wall. Are a little overwhelming. So having a whole bunch of Having them go through them, one at a time made the buy more. I don’t think I sold a single.

I don’t think I sold any single postcards. Everyone bought the pack of five So if I postcards for $10 and instead of one postcard for three bucks, so that middle rate and as always, you always give three options for any sale and people always choose the middle, no matter what it is.

For the buttons. I use a big steel plate and put magnets on the bot on it. Then I stuck the man. The buttons to those magnets on the steel plate. I think that worked really well. Um the problem was I had to put the magnets somewhere and there was no where to put them. There was no other plinth to put it on to etc. So it ended up stating on the floor, it was ignored by a lot of people who were tall. The kids saw it right away and asked their parents for it, but I wish I was somewhere more presentable than where it was.

A lot of this project was I I thought of the gallery wall first, and then I didn’t think of the sales afterwards. So it was a secondary thought. Let’s, The lighting in the gallery room for Make a labs was unfortunately quite poor. They had to turn out half the lights for the people who were next to me, who were showing off lamps. What that meant was, a lot of the pictures of the wall are underdeveloped on one side and overdeveloped on the other side that have the light. That makes it so it has pretty bad lighting and pictures for it. Unfortunately. I wish I would have brought my own lights or I wish I wasn’t next to the guy who had the Had the lamps, unfortunately.

I put the Prince six by six prints on the wall and then put a piece of foam behind it with double-sided sticky tape and then to the wall itself. It added a little bit of depth to each pitcher, where I had a shadow around it. I think that added a lot of value. It was stuck right to the wall it would look cheap. This looks like it has some thought and effort which put into it.

I wish I would have put the species name on the prints instead of just the North American name. That would have added a whole bunch of more giggles and laughs from everyone else. And some more a little bit more detail inside of it. People would then maybe looked into it and said, oh, that’s why it’s a, this one, this name and so on and have some more relationships to it, ships to it.

When people just looked at it without knowing the story behind it, without knowing that this is too robots without knowing that they did Bull had bios. It definitely reduced its a A impact. I don’t think I could have put bios on the wall for every pitcher. That would have been too much effort. But maybe at the end of the year, when I make the print book of this thing, they’ll have a bunch of bios inside, then when people can open up the book and play around with it and look into it. So that’ll help out. The BIOS definitely helped and I think there’s a lot of good ones inside there that would have done better.

Sales sales was okay. I hate dealing with cash. I hate dealing with paper getting paid. I don’t like that. I gave away a lot of buttons and a lot of postcards to people just didn’t have cash or who were Enthusiastic about the project. So, I gave away more, I probably gave away about 20% of my stock, just the postcards and buttons.

In just giveaways, because I hate dealing with cash in any shame shaping form. The prints I charge for all the way through. There are a lot of prints left over. Since I only sold about what I sell, I only sold about 40 prints. That means there’s about 60 left over that haven’t been purchased They’ll probably end up in my house in somewhere on some wall.

Lighting would have been a big thing. Oh, I would have print. I would have not put a limit on the number of prints If I was to do this again. So I would have made a here’s all the walls on the prince. We’re gonna print them again onto the on Saturday and they’ll be available at, then the month, right then I could take as many numbers as I want of all the prints up there and then get them all printed later on without having to worry about. Oh, I only have one copy of x and one copy of y, right?

Putting a limit on them was a big mistake. I should have also show a sold. Smaller packs of the birds. So looking through all the postcards was a great idea because it forced them to look through them. And find the ones they’re looking for and find other ones that they didn’t notice before. But they also like But I think there would have been better if I would have made pre-made packs. Having the description, the print should have had the description on the back of their Prints. So the little bio that goes on to them, that would have helped a lot. And maybe having the robot, an example of the robotica.

Chatbot available so people can tie a type into it through which through a keyboard and see having a conversation with it would have helped out it too. Um, didn’t happen. So, the next steps are. This Tuesday I’m going to take them all down the wall from the wall and give them to the people who show up to pick them up and then Saturday will be everyone else. Um, I have one duplicate, which is 61 with Milo where I unfortunately I sold it to two people. So that means that I have to reprint those ones and get those things out to them. That’s so I have to go time contact my printer and see if they’ll print more more copies of that.

I think that’s gonna be a problem because there’s only gonna be like four prints that they have to do. So, I might pad it out with more Milo’s just to make it. Make people happy. Okay, that’s all gonna happen today. And then, I’m going to email or text everyone in the Felicity, people who bought the prints, Pass them the bio of the bird that they bought and the print itself and print all them out. So when they leave they get the bio and the bird and we figured all up. And also times to pick it up. So it’ll be 7:30 on Tuesdays or Saturday during the whole day. Well, I’m teaching that course upstairs.

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