Zachary Kaiser
Sampler (2012)

Sampler is a conceptual prototype for a research tool and service—a platform to catalyze the process of selection, sampling and mixing, in the hopes of revealing previously hidden connections between pieces of information. It is based rather explicitly on the interface and experience of early digital music samplers. Sampler is a platform for rapid, improvisational exploration of connections between content and is based on the process that DJs go through in preparing and performing a set or creating a song. Sampler aims to foster an environment where limitations and improvisation can help learners find new and meaningful connections between pieces of information and help prompt curiosity and a deeper inquiry.

By leveraging the ability to mix—something that I understand to be a uniquely human faculty—the Sampler project helps me see the potential for computation and digital technologies to create meaningful learning experiences that are in and of themselves, human, and not computationally replicable. By giving me a way to physically manifest my ideas about the nature of an approach to learning, I began to see the reasons that I value such an approach. The Sampler project for me was a self-reflective praxis. In making a project that is able to be experienced and that manifests explicitly some of the foundational ideas about my thesis research, my work was reflected back at me in a new way. Sampler is a statement about a compromise between computation and human input. It is about an engagement with computation and a set of limitations that forces the user to become creative—to look at problems and ideas in new ways in order to come up with an innovative take on a set of information.