me_oct2013Who are you and what do you do?I AM HENRY. I've been getting paid to make stuff with computers for about a decade, and doing it for fun since well before that.

What are you going to be talking about at Hack Circus: THIS IS REALITY? I'm going to be talking about some bots I've made that live on Twitter and impersonate people, and the things that I've learned as a result about how humans respond to software that looks like people.

What are you working on *today*? Today I've been working on an iOS app for Faber and Faber. I worked on  Malcolm Tucker: The Missing Phone a couple of years ago, so it's nice to be doing another project with them.

Give us one insight about reality based on your work... Our monkey brains are as riddled with backdoors and exploits as an unpatched copy of Windows XP. Ask a magician about this one day, or flip through a copy of Mind Hacks, which neatly illustrates a whole pile of quirks in our perception of the world.

Tell us about one great project that you've seen recently. I saw Julian Oliver present some of his work recently (this was before the kerfuffle at Transmediale), and it pushed a lot of my buttons. I really like how his stuff legitimately sits in both the critical arts world and the 2600-style hackery camp; he's talking the talk and walking the walk. The thing I enjoyed most was Newstweek, a project where he critiqued our reliance (and trust) of online news sources, then went off and proved his point by making a covert appliance which could be installed in (say) a coffee shop that would alter news as it crossed the local wifi network. And then installed it covertly on a bunch of public wifi networks. Perfect.

Over the next couple of weeks we'll be meeting some of the talented individuals speaking and performing at the next Hack Circus event, THIS IS REALITY. First up, hacker, musician and artist, Alex McLean.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Alex. I like making things with code, and then immediately deleting them again, a practice known as "live coding". I do this to make live music, which is a major preoccupation, but also do the odd bit of software and installation art, and am a research fellow in the University of Leeds.

What are you going to be presenting at Hack Circus: THIS IS REALITY?

I'll be working with choreography hacker Kate Sicchio, performing a piece called "sound choreography <> body code" and probably talking about it a bit.

What are you working on *today*?

I've been mostly been responding to complaints about the neo-classicist tone of a call for papers I recently sent out, while also running a peer review process, submitting a funding proposal for a live weaving and live coding collaboration, writing some reports, booking a venue for some live art activity in the woods, and getting my software rewritten ready for our rehearsal for Hack Circus tomorrow. So mostly sending and receiving emails and doing a bit of code.

Give us one insight about reality based on your work...

I've spent a large part of my life staring at emacs, and a large part of my research career trying to make this reality a bit richer.

Name one great project that you've seen recently.

Susanne Palzer's "Open platform" performance art project in Sheffield. It's a series of happenings which take place in small places (e.g. cupboards, atriums, passageways), exploring technology without technology. It is based on this platform which is an actual platform, and people come and do digital performances without digital technology. Last time I did some knitting on the platform, encoding Susanne's movements in knit and pearl.