ICMadness Collaboration Sketch

“ICMadness” is a class-wide event held here at ITP, during which students from different Introduction to Computational Media (ICM) sections collaborate in groups of three on a randomly decided-upon project for roughly an hour and a half.

My group included Ellen Nickles and Jenna Xu, and our project’s parameters (randomly generated by an algorithm provided for us) were “climate change,” “nested for loops”, and “unusually large.”


Producing a compelling and functional sketch in so limited a span of time is challenging even before factoring in having to satisfy the parameters.

Our initial thinking, owing to the synonymity of climate change with data (i.e. temperature data, sea level data, icecap landmass data, etc.), was to work with a JSON file or an API. Half the struggle with working with data, however, is finding decent data in the first place. That is, data that is relevant, clean, and freely available (i.e. that doesn’t require clearance of some sort). For anyone in the position of programmer, the distinction between more casually conveyed data—data gleaned from articles, papers, and other media—and data meticulously (or messily) organized into CSV or JSON files becomes extremely stark. And alas, all that we could pull together in the short time working together was data of the former kind, namely, an article about glacier movement in Antarctica from the New York Times.

While Ellen worked on lifting text from the article and formatting it, and Jenna worked on capturing a GIF embedded in the NYT article depicting an enormous chunk of one of the largest glaciers breaking off, I worked on coding a gradient (see just below) with for loops that conveyed an increase in temperature.

The process of collaborating on this sketch was pretty seamless, in part owing to the really smooth division of labor that we spontaneously fell into around halfway through the allotted time.

Putting together the final sketch involved some tinkering—CSS had to be tweaked for the text to properly, and handsomely, appear on the topmost layer, while the gradient had to be modulated so it only appears sporadically (this was done by adjusting its alpha, or transparency) value at different stages in the sketch.

Here is the final result!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.