Urban Spelunking: A Beginner’s Guide

A ferris wheel with dinosaur shown for scale in Spreepark, Berlin.

Urban spelunking, urban exploration, or building hacking (whatever you prefer) is absurdly fun, intensely rewarding, and just a shade dangerous. It’s simply finding isolated, unexplored, or abandoned places, and taking a look. I don’t think the adventure is complete without taking photos to share what you’ve discovered, but it isn’t essential to the process. I’d like to take a moment to try and convince you of the incredible potential of actually stepping inside that abandoned insane asylum you pass on the highway every day going to work. I’m also going to give you a primer on how to get in to these spots, what to do once you’re there, how to keep yourself safe, and the kind of tech you’ll want to bring along if you’re intent on gathering some fantastic photos.

I got my start in urban spelunking as a kid, exploring a plot of abandoned lots that were once going to become suburban homes. I can recall making up stories about the strange stuff the gaggle of kids I rode bikes with and I found while poking around trailers and peeking into the dark houses that skirted the railroad tracks. There was a bare patch of ground in a glade that had charred and melted bits of tracksuit welded to the dirt in places. We all thought it clearly outlined the shape of a body, that of a kid our age. We spun that one up into wild tales of suburban pranks gone wrong, bottle rockets up butts, and spontaneous combustion. It was intensely fun. Continue reading

Art is Wrong: How your Brain Tells you Beautiful Lies

Speaking is intensely exciting. I love sharing, teaching, and lining up all of my thoughts into something concise and convincing. Something about ordering a swarm of swirling tenuous ideas into a coherent presentation makes them more vivid and solid.

I’ve been looking for more opportunities to speak and on my hunt for possible events to pursue I stumbled across the Extreme Futurist Festival put on by Michael Anissimov and Rachel Haywire. It seemed like an interesting gathering of tech enthusiasts, new media junkies, teachers, singularity proselytizers, and a huge varied random smattering of people I thought it would be fun to talk with.¬†Plus¬†Alex Peake was going to be there, and it was impossible to refuse an opportunity to catch up on what he’s been up to. Continue reading