Hi there, I’m Duncan, I’m an information designer living in Sweden, and this is Hello From Duncan - the newsletter I send every ten days talking generally about what I’ve been up to. The only reason you’re getting it in your inbox is because you signed up for it, so that one’s on you, but there’s an unsubscribe link in the footer if you need it.
I’m writing to you today from a cabin in the woods where I’ve been spending a long-overdue break from the rest of the world. I’ve been walking through the forest, taking photos of mushrooms, listening to birds, and playing synthesizers. I highly recommend it.
For a while now it has bothered me that there’s no dedicated place for sonification folks to hang out online - we tend to lurk on the outskirts of data, music and art communities instead. So I’m starting one. It’s called Decibels.
Right now, Decibels is a landing page and a Discord server. In time, I’d like to grow it to encompass online events and video-chat meet-ups, and perhaps a blog or newsletter to surface cool things happening in sonification.
For now though, if you’re someone who works with data and sound or you’re just sonification-curious, then we’d love to have you join! You can sign up at decibels.community.
Speaking of communities, the Elevate dataviz learning community that I run has been nominated for the 2022 Data Literacy Awards, in the “top community initiative” category!
The words “dome homes” basically make any article a must-read for me. So I loved this Scientific American piece about the Cape Romano dome home, built in Florida in 1982 and designed to withstand hurricane-force winds.
It wasn’t designed to withstand sea-level rise however, and was abandoned in 2007 after the local beach eroded away - leaving the house too far from the shore. The last of the domes collapsed a few weeks ago.
Hurricane Ian knocked down what remained of the 40-year-old string of six concrete-reinforced geodesic domes that were adjoining rooms in the 2,400-square-foot modular house. Its spherical walls were built to deflect 150-mph winds that would level most conventionally designed homes. Two of the original domes collapsed after Hurricane Irma. The final four remained a spooky relic until last week. Then they went underwater.
I’ve been registering a limited company here in Sweden for boring reasons, but the Swedish business authorities rejected the name I sent them for the company - Klimat Studio - complaining that it was “too general”.
So in an attempt to make it more specific, I asked an AI to help me come up with some company names. I used Transformer’s DistilGPT-2 autocomplete model, and fed it the prompt: “Duncan Geere is an information designer, working with climate and environmental non-profits. His company has an unusual name, it’s called:”, and then asked it to finish the sentence.
The results ranged from dull to hilarious. A few of the most amusing ones were:
With a bit of prompt engineering, though, I was able to get it to give me some more interesting, solarpunky ones. It came up with:
None of which, I suspect, I’ll be allowed to use by the Swedish business authorities, as they’re even less specific than my original proposal. But it was a fun exercise anyway.
Finally, it’s end-of-year roundup season, so I’ve put together a first pass at my top ten albums of 2022 list. Florist are firmly at number one, but the rest of the list is in no particular order really.
If you would rather listen to the music than read the titles and imagine what it might sound like, here’s a Spotify playlist. Gonna try to do a list of songs before the end of the year too, so look out for that in due course.
See you in December.