It's pretty typical that I'm writing my final post of 2011 in the early days of 2012 -- that's the kind of year it was - full speed frantic activity with lots of change on both professional and personal fronts and somehow, as always seems to be the case, the two realms were intertwined.
A big piece of my professional life in 2011 was my participation in the BMW-Guggenheim Laboratory in New York City. The Laboratory opened in August and my now fuzzy recollection was that I was invited on board in about June. So the second half of my year was really a frenzy of nail-biting, planning, coding, and flying back and forth between mission control and the test sites we used for the experiment. I had intended to write a series of blog posts outlining what we did for the Laboratory, but I've ended up spending so much time analyzing data (and catching up on all the stuff that got put aside when I dropped everything to take advantage of this great opportunity) that I've barely had a moment to take a breath.
So what was it all about? I still plan to give a decent accounting of myself here at some point soon, but the short version is that I had an opportunity to design and execute an experiment in urban environmental psychology using some pretty cool mobile gear for measuring people's minds and bodies as they sauntered from place to place in New York's Lower East Side. It was really one of my first forays out of the world of the virtual into the world of the real. It was tough! Collision-detection in the real world is pretty graphic and some bruising may occur. But I think we managed to put together some tantalizing early findings -- enough for us to begin planning the next round, which I'll also eventually discuss here.
On the personal front, one of the most interesting things to happen to me was that I found myself buying and moving into a new house. I've spent such a lot of time ruminating about how the house purchase decision takes place and how the homes we live in influence our psychology, that it's been fascinating to self-observe during that process. As with anything, when the distance between one's data points and one's own awareness is very small -- in this case essentially zero -- any kind of objectivity is impossible. But this doesn't mean that the process of observing is meaningless. Indeed I've learned a lot about domestic spaces through the process of adjusting to a new and very interesting living space. In future months I'll write about some of those adventures as well.
There's much more I could tell, but the year ahead promises to be just as busy as the year just past, and I've got to get going.