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Posts Tagged ‘University

Warming up for Picnic ’07

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Picnic ’07, Amsterdam’s annual event organized by the Cross Media Week Foundation focusing on creativity in cross media content and technology, is only a month away and the list of speakers is nearly finished. Between the 25th and 29th of September, Amsterdam’s Westergastfabriek will once again host the event after the succes of last year’s edition. But with such a diverse and wide-ranging programme, where will you go? In order to get into the mood and warm up for the event, it is worthwhile to highlight some of the fascinating speakers and take a more in-depth look at what they are all about.

Reuben Steiger (Former Linden Labs Evangelist and founder/CEO Millions of Us)
scion2ndlifeAt Picnic ’06 Philip Rosedale of Linden Labs / Second Life presented his take on ‘the empowerment offered by Second Life of the average citizen to not only create but monetize their own content and design’. This year former Linden Labs Evangelist Reuben Steiger will take the stage at Picnic’s Virtual Worlds, which is all about virtual worlds becoming central to the future of marketing, technology, entertainment and brand-building. After his work at Linden Labs, Steiger founded and became CEO of Millions of Us, a company dedicated to helping businesses understand and harness the power of virtual worlds. An example is the Toyota Scion car in Second Life.

Being an evangelist and clearly someone who believes in the power of virtual worlds, Steiger fights of recent criticism of Second Life as a branding tool at influxinsights.com by saying that ‘some of the criticism is partially warranted, but a lot of it is poorly contextualized and opportunistic, in the sense that pundits love to tear down technologies that have ridden a wave of hype. IT analyst firm Gartner calls this the hype cycle – new technologies spark a wave of initial excitement, expectations inflate, the technology is found to be imperfect in some ways, and there is a backlash – but in the long term, a good technology will overcome the hype cycle and enjoy long-term adoption.’ Are virtual worlds all that Steiger says they are, or just a big bubble? Are you a skeptic or an enthusiast? Not sure? You can find out at Virtual Worlds. In the video below Steiger answers questions on his personal interest in Second Life and if virtual worlds are a response to alienation in real-life.

When? 27th September 14.00 – 17.00
Where? WesterUnie
What? Virtual Worlds at Picnic ’07

Cory Doctorow (SF novelist, blogger, technology activist)
doctorow overclocked Cory Doctorow, co-editor of popular weblog BoingBoing and contributor to the likes of New York Times and Wired, explores the benefits and consequences of online systems in his latest (fictional) book Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present (free download). This provocative collection of six previously released stories shows Doctorow extrapolating todays user experiences towards a futuristic vision and creating fascinating stories in doing so. An extensive review can be found at The Uberreview. For his writings, Doctorow has already been compaired to ‘Cyberspace’ godfather William Gibson by Entertainment Weekly. In the Authors@Google series Cory Doctorow himself presents and discusses the book, if any questions remain be sure to go see Doctorow at Fab, or the personal fabrication revolution.

When? 28th September
Where? WesterLiefde
What? FAB, or the personal fabrication revolution

Pablos/Paul Holman (Futurist, IT security expert, notorious hacker)
From an interview with Pablos “Paul” Holman at DLD ’07, shown in video below, comes the following provocative quote on creativity in companies: ‘Especially large companies tend to be poor at doing new things. They have lots of resources, lots of people and a lot of infrastructure . But all that gets in the way of when you’re trying to be creative. […] Ideally for me, I’d be able to wake up in the morning and dream up something I’ve been dreaming about. Then go build it by lunchtime, launch it in the afternoon and see if people like it. And then maybe fix some bugs by dinner.’

hackerbotpablosContrary to Doctorow, Holman does not read science fiction because he doesn’t want to be accused of plagiarism. His views however are, as the Picnic website also mentions, unique. With his design studio Komposite he ‘consults on bizarre invention and design projects that assimilate new technologies’. To give you an idea: Among his projects is the Hackerbot, a WiFi seeking robot that can find you when you’re using a wireless network – and drive up to show you your password on its screen. According to the Hackerbot website, the robot is really quite friendly and tries not to show your passwords to anyone else. Interested? Be sure to check out Holman at Picnic ’07, also if you’re interested in salsa dancing!

When? TBA
Where? TBA
What? Pablos Holman

Stefan Sagmeister (Graphic designer and typographer)
sagmeisterYou might have seen Stefan Sagmeister‘s design in your local record shop on the covers of Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Talking Heads recordings. The Picnic website mentions that just as film, art, music and literature have the power to move people, Stefan Sagmeister’s innovative work shows that graphic design, too, can cut to the emotional core. An in-depth interview with Sagmeister can found at designboom.com. The image is courtesy of Grafik-freunde Stuttgart.

In 2004 Sagmeister spoke in Monterey, California about how design can make us happy and more specifically design that made him happy on a personal level. Telling stories ranging from billboards and museum exhibitions to pictorial language, Sagmeister is able to show how design can touch a nerve. Design never felt more personal while listening to Sagmeister’s presentation and his words seem far removed from corporate thought. Anyone intested in the emotional side of creativity, and creative industries in general, should see Sagmeister at Creative Genius: Things I Have Learned So Far at Picnic ’07.

When? 27th September 16.50 – 17.20
Where? Zuivering West
What? Creative Genius: Things I Have Learned So Far – Stefan Sagmeister

Various Meetings and (Un)Common Ground
Like last year, Picnic also hosts various meetings such as Virtueel Platform’s (Un)common Ground II: An expert meeting that brings together all the top thinkers in the industry. This year the sub-title is Scale and Intimacy. At the meeting experts will take a close look at the complex issues arising when practices and models of collaboration move across different scales. Like Stefan Sagmeister in his presentation, questions such as ‘how to maintain the emotional connection that people make to the ideas that are promoted or the services or products that it delivered’, are asked. Although the meeting is ‘invitation only’, be sure to check out Virtueel Platform’s publication (Un)common ground. Creative encounters across sectors and disciplines for more information.

For information on all Picnic ’07 events (25th – 29th of September) go to the Picnic network website. Oh… and did I mention Andrew Keen (see my previous post) will also be there?

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The Cult of the Amateur: Everybody is Gutenberg in Web 2.0!

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Web 2.0 City by eBoy.comWhile browsing through the Virtueel Platform website, I came across the Anti Web 2.0 Manifesto (Adorno for Idiots) by Andrew Keen. The manifesto pinpoints in a very accurate way my sceptical, pessimistic thoughts on the whole Web 2.0 affair we’ve been living in for quite some years now (and perhaps also the up and coming semantic web). Like Andrew Keen’s book The Cult of the Amateur (a phrase he borrowed from fellow Web 2.0 criticist Nick Carr), as he admits himself, this blogpost is biased. Very much so.

If anyone can create a puddle of mud in a swamp, it is still amateuristic. You might say to me: ‘Hey, but you’re a blogger! Blogging is web 2.0!’ Sure, guilty as charged! But therefore this post is about awareness and not about creating fear. With that being said, does Web 2.0 provide us only with amateurs or do we still have time to foster real talent? One might think that Esmee Denters, a recent YouTube phenomenon from the Netherlands, might be such an example. But there are probably quite some vocalists out there who can do the same trick (although I do admit that she has a beautiful voice). Her marketing trick however is that the fans, who followed her from the beginning, share the idea that ‘they’ve know her from when she wasn’t famous’. It is no surprise that the slogan that goes with the product is ‘You Made It Happen’. To be precise, it was famous record producer and musical entrepeneur pur sang Billy Mann who made ‘It Happen’. It’s a variation of a classical egocentric quality of humans: Who didn’t brag about that guy or girl in highschool who is now a famous politician, musician, etc.? I know him/her! (…but I wish it was me)

In the Anti Web 2.0 Manifesto, Keen places himself as the opposite of Chris Anderson by stating that: ‘Digital utopian economists Chris Anderson have invented a theoretically flattened market that they have christened the “Long Tail”. It is a Hayekian cottage market of small media producers industriously trading with one another.’ Once again, one might not have to agree, one is perhaps not keen on agreeing instantly with Keen but it can’t hurt to think about it. Keen also mentions ‘a particularly unfashionable thought’ by saying that ‘big media is not bad media’ which put forth the likes of Hitchcock and Bono (I’d prefer to say U2 as a whole). They were supported and fostered by big record labels and the Hollywood studios. It is a small step to return to the example of Esmee Denters, who is fostered by major record label Interscope. Denters, a product of the Cult of the Amateur, was made into a ‘professional’ by the record industry.

Can I offer solutions here? No, because it’s an ongoing debate that will linger for a long time. Perhaps it is important to foster talent at the roots, and not let talent foster in the amateuristic puddles of mud. How long will users keep creating content for the Cult of the Amateur, will they lose their enthusiasm when they don’t get positive comments? When will they stop trying and what are the stories of users who stopped trying. The users who got tired of contributing their hard work to the Cult of the Amateur?

My thoughts are that we should foster talent. The professionals in the business are only fostering ‘talent’ at the top of the chain. A participatory culture, wherein the secrets of the industries are laid out in the open usable for the Cult of the Amateur, sounds like a utopia. But deep inside I believe, or hope, it not to be. In my personal utopia, I’d suggest we create places where people can firstly learn and secondly can contribute and are not stuck in their own puddles of mud of the great Web 2.0 swamp which encompasses a fixation on contribution. Let’s discuss new ideas, like Keen suggests in the video below. Below you can see a presentation from Andrew Keen at (what Keen proclaims to be) the ‘belly of the beast’, being Google HQ in Mountain View.

Making presentations using Google Earth

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For the Information Visualization course of the University of Amsterdam fellow student Pepijn and myself made a presentation using Google Earth instead of using the same old Powerpoint again.

In this presentation for the Information Visualization course we experiment how presentations can be given with the use of Google Earth. For every author we discuss we move to the hometown of that author. But lots more options are possible to use Google Earth for presentation purposes and also to show (spatial) examples during a presentation. This is intended as a first try and the idea is open for expansion, we challenge you!

How to open it?

  • First download Google Earth
  • Download this file: Presentation Maps and Critique ZIP
  • Unzip it
  • Choose File > Open in Google Earth and click the downloaded file
  • The presentation should appear in the My Places Tab, navigate by clicking the various ‘slides’

Talking about ‘Fans, Bloggers and Gamers’

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Jenkins Fans Bloggers GamersFor the Masters of Media blog at the University of Amsterdam fellow student Roman did a Podcast on Henry Jenkins‘ new book Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture and he called me up to talk about it. Got to love those vintage phonelines and the aesthetics of Podcasts!

You can check it out in this blogpost, or you can download the ‘Discussing Jenkins’ Podcast directly from here. And since we’re talking about bloggers here, check out what other blogs say about it here, here and here. The first link includes an interesting interview with Jenkins.

Dispatches from the City: Examples from MyCreativity

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mclogoTogether with the Masters of Media crew, I have been covering the MyCreativity convention. An initiative by Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter. I covered the last part of the convention and this featured some great examples of the upcoming Creative Industries around Europe.

The closing session of MyCreativity continued the previous session on dispatches from the city: Examples of the Creative Industry -or insert preffered term here- from around Europe. The first session covered Vienna, Dublin, Barcelona and Basel. In this second session we’re venturing into London, Helsinki, Berlin and with Rotterdam we’re bringing MyCreativity back home to the Netherlands. What follows are my observations, thoughts and questions on the presentations.

London by Anthony Davies
“The Evil Empire” of the Creative Industries as Davies introduced his country and city to the audience. He describes the process as being curiosity driven, or “knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” In his quite theoretical presentation Davies highlighted two examples from London; firstly the cooperation of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and Cap Gemini, secondly an example from the University of Arts London (UAL). The first is illustrative for the second, so I will explain the first a bit more detailed below.

The ICA is a publicly funded instution and has since the late 90s been looking into cooperations with companies and a new way of financing culture. If we take a look at what both institutions are about, we can see where the two can meet, the ICA is an arts institute and the Cap Gemini the world’s leading management consulting and computer services firm. Business seemed to need creativity at the end of the twentieth century.

creativelondonThis also resulted in certain ‘Clubs’ or networks, including for example Channel 4, Cap Gemini and the ICA. Network culture seems to have quite a lot of ties with the Creative Industries. Networking and cooperating seems to be on of the essences of the new industry, creating cultural entrepeneurs scouting the markets. And through these networks companies can also scout the best of breed and the ICA -for example- becomes a best of breed provider.

This way there is a massive boost in educational funds and literally billions of euros are spent on these contracts. And in the end Cap Gemini of course also gets rewarded for their investment, by being leader of the creative pack in their field. In this light Davies mentioned the adaptibility of the discourse around the Creative Industry.

One thing that I got out of these two examples personally, is the fact that for example medical studies are heavily subsided by companies but that art and creative studies still mostly have to be untied and publicly funded only. Remains of a 70s hippie culture, or an essence of art?

Reading
Davies, Anthony. ‘The Surge to Merge Culture with the Economy.’ Presentation from Copenhagen Free University. 2001.
Davies, Anthony. ‘Basic Instinct: trauma and retrenchment 2000-4.
Davies, Anthony and Ford, Simon. ‘Culture Clubs.’
Davies, Anthony and Ford, Simon. ‘Art Capital.’

Helsinki by Minna Tarkka
Tarkka takes us on a “walk through Helsinki”, showing us mostly images of what changed the creativity of Helsinki in the recent history. Such as the impressive fire which destroyed the Makasiinit -or the VR Warehouses in English according to the Wikipedia entry– the center of Helsinki that marked the end of an era. To get an account of the event, follow this google search link: makasiinit fire.

firehelsinki

This end of an era created the openess for new visions for the future of creativity in Helsinki. An interesting project Tarkka mentioned was Helsinki 2015. Tarkka questioned if in 2015 there would even be bigger enterprises? And she is anxious to see what will happen in the media landscape in the future of Finland, since it was very regulated and now there is new space opening up. An account of Finland looking to the future can be found at this short explanation of Finnsight 2015.

More and more Finland is looking for opportunities to brand itself on the international market. The Eurovision songfestival is seen as a great opportunity to present the new creative possibilities of Finland to Europe, although it is debatable if the previous Finnish winner Lordi is a good example for trustworthy business, but it sure was a creative act.

Reading
Tarkka, Minna. ‘Labours of location. Acting in the pervasive media space.’, Species of Spaces, ed. Giles Lane. Diffusion eBook Series. London: Proboscis. 2005.
Sivonen, Henri. ‘Makasiinit fire coverage

Berlin by Sebastian Luetgert
The critical theory comes back in the presentation from Luetgert called ‘Capital of Failures’; he wants to explain how creative initiatives did NOT work in Berlin. Armed with a whole range of great terms and thoughts he gives a very interesting presentation. What to think of ‘Easy-jettification’ for example, a term he used for the increasing cheap flights in Germany. But also an official slogan of the city of Berlin ‘Poor, but sexy.’ And what to think of ‘Islands of Excellence, Oceans of Dementia’ which refers to the deserting of the countryside in Germany.

simberlinLets take a look at the negative examples he gives of the city of Berlin. To begin with, the city of Berlin has an estimate debt of 60.000.000 euro’s, that is 20.000 per inhabitant. Luetgert compared this with playing Sim City with a constant debet (without the ability to cheat, I’d add). The destruction in the 1950s of the hardly damaged buildings from WWII is another negative, this was part of a plan to actually limit the amount of houses in Berlin to set up a better real estate market. Also the dot.com boom in Berlin started when it was already over in the world, so Berlin only experienced the downfall of it.
What is interesting is that Luetgert gives us a lot of things to think about, but not very concrete answers.

We have to fill in the dots ourselves on the question if being positively f*cked makes us creative. And if there is the capital of failures that actually helps us. Luetgert himself mentioned that the situation will be financially grimm for the next 20/30 years, but personally I really like Berlin for its broken, melancholic feel (amazingly portrayed in the film ‘Der Himmel Uber Berlin’). And the might just be the contradiction in ourselves Luetgert is talking about.

Reading
Luetgert, Sebastian. ‘An Introduction to a True History of the Internet.’
Luetgert, Sebastian. ‘Roaming Producers.’

Rotterdam by BAVO
This presentation started with its conclusion involving a Medea allegory; kill creativity to protect it (like Medea killed her children to protect them).

rdamOne example from Rotterdam I’d like to highlight here a bit, is called the ‘Poetic Freedom Project’, more information in Dutch is available from SEV.nl: De Dichterlijke Vrijheid. In this project the buyers of the houses renovate the whole block themselves together with an architect subsidised by Rotterdam itself. What is interesting about this, is the flow of money around the various networks (buyers, Rotterdam, architects) to create a new creative enviroment to work in.

More information about the work of BAVO architect-philosophers Gideon Boie and Matthias Pauwels can be found at www.bavo.biz. A site that is definitely worth checking out for its content.

Reading
BAVO. ‘Plea for an uncreative city (First draft of a yet to be finalized manuscript)‘. August 2006.
BAVO. ‘Enjoy the Right not to Enjoy!
Boie, Gideon. ‘Design Intelligence.’

Research blogging do’s and don’ts

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I’ve been thinking a bit what to publish about my research on my weblog, and went to search for other examples of research blogs to give me some guidelines.

I stumbled upon this website by Jill Walker who has written a valuable paper on blog usage and research together with Torill Mortensen. A very good read for anyone who is in doubt on what to blog and what not to. The following quote presents an interesting view:

“Blogs exist right on this border between what’s private and what’s public, and often we see that they disappear deep into the private sphere and reveal far too much information about the writer. When a blog is good, it contains a tension between the two spheres…”

The paper by Walker and Mortensen can be downloaded from the website, or directly from here: Jill Walker and Torill Mortensen, Blogging Thoughts: Personal Publication as an Online Research Tool (February 2002, PDF).

Written by newmw

October 25, 2006 at 12:10 am

About Thinspiration and Pro-Ana

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With the masterclass we temporarily used a wordpress.com account before transferring it to our own server. But this blog turns out to be a very good test for the worrying interest in the subject of Thinspiration and Pro-Ana. Just look at the blog statistics from September 26th 2006 below from mastersofmedia.wordpress.com after a blogpost about the subject.

Top Posts
Title / Views
Thinspiration / 225
We’ve moved!!! / 2
Locative Media / 1

Search Engine Terms
Search / Views
thinspiration / 61
pro ana / 40
pro-ana / 20
pro ana site / 15
t / 7
pro-ana op hart van nederland / 5
pro ana website / 4
pro anorexia / 4
pro ana superkuiken / 3
pro-ana site / 3

This is definitely worrying, because we can’t let a movement like this go by without anticipating on it. And this raises the question how to anticipate on groups that support psychological symptoms, or as others might say ‘a different normal’, and the question if they should be allowed. Because is banning it the way? Probably not, because subjects that go underground are even harder to check and anticipate on.

What could work is to let professional people integrate in these websites and provide different insights, to have a balanced view on the subject and not simply glorification. To show the downsides of the anorexia and inform them on the subject. I can only stress the importance of initiatives like Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, to make especially women feel good about themselves.

If you’re looking for more information on the subject check out fellow New Media master student Jeffrey van Schie’s blog about his research on pro-ana and thinspiration.