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Posts in category 'Creativity'

12 October 2011

Guardian Tech Weekly podcast: creating a digital public space

Jemima Kiss
Jemima Kiss examines plans for a digital public space with the British Library, the Royal Opera House and the BBC.

“How can we preserve analogue culture in a digital world? Could something allow us to view, research & remix cultural items? Jemima Kiss examines plans for a digital public space – a part of the internet that could grant worldwide access and create links between museums, archives and libraries.

Jemima talks to Richard Ranft of the British Library and Francesca Franchi of the Royal Opera House about the items and artefacts from their archives that a digital public space could open up to the public, and how the reach of both organisations can be dramatically extended to a worldwide audience.

Bill Thompson, head of partnerships at the BBC’s archive (but also of the Digital Planet and Click programmes) explains how the corporation could help build what is needed, and how it could work.

And Jill Cousins of europeana.eu discusses how similar project that is funded by the European Commission works, and how it has now developed into a full service.”

Listen to podcast

27 September 2011

Low2No Camp: entrepreneurial ideas to activate Low2No vision

Low2No
Article by Experientia® collaborator Irene Cassarino, with additional input from Jan-Christoph Zoels.

 

How do you create community services and business models for a carbon neutral building block before the buildings stand?

Thirty Finnish entrepreneurs came together last Tuesday (20 September 2011) in Helsinki to present innovative business and service models for a carbon neutral to negative building block in the Helsinki docklands Jätkäsaari.

Campers are urban enthusiasts that were challenged to develop entrepreneurial projects around sustainable living in a urban environment – with the ultimate aim of activating the Low2No vision beyond the perimeter of the 22.000 sqm of the Airut* block on Jätkäsaari.

The Low2No Camp was sponsored by Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, and supported by Demos Helsinki and Experientia.

 


The Low2No block will be ready by Summer 2013. The foundations are not yet there, but excavators are already working to make the site ready. The first buildings of the Jätkäsaari neighbourhood are already under construction.

(Click images to enlarge)


On Tuesday afternoon, the Campers presented their concept ideas to an audience of stakeholders, experts and possible investors.

Indeed, while for us (the designers) the event had the bittersweet flavour of closure, for the Campers it was just the beginning of a possible entrepreneurial path. Their adventure started in June, when – along with the Demos Helsinki crew – they sustainably travelled (boat + train) to the Maker Lab in Berlin. Refreshed and excited through the intense and multicultural brainstorming sessions, they came back to Helsinki with five preliminary ideas to be grown into concept and eventually entrepreneurial proposals.

 

The Low2No Camp final showcase event took place at the Jätkäsaari information centre, where future developments of the site are depicted through information panels and interactive screens.

(Click image to enlarge)


When we met them after their Berlin campaign, the five teams of Campers were so excited about their oversea experience that helping them to boil down their ideas into viable concepts has been at the same time amazing and challenging.

Not all propositions survived the Summer break and – as always happens when voluntary effort and self motivation are the main drivers of action – the geometry of teams also changed. They all have another job after all, as the majority of budding entrepreneurs have, and some people’s availability decreased when the new season started.

 

Demos and Experientia® contributed to support Campers' concept development from idea generation to the 10 minutes pitch.

(Click image to enlarge)


The five ventures presented at the final events were – in brief:

1. 100 ways to Eden is a social enterprise that makes urban food production as integral part of our everyday life.

The carbon footprint of an industrialised food production is enormous, not to mention other negative impacts on nature, social environment and health.

The most effective way to improve the situation is to turn urban food consumers into urban food producers. This change will be possible through intensive research, education, development and networking. There is a greener and better future for all.

The first projects that will make the “shift to Eden” start to happen within next few years include:

  • Multiple “Laaritalkoot”: service of small scale planters, greenhuts, composters, aquaponics (see below) etc.
  • Experimental “Green lighthouse” serves as community and information hub.
  • Edenet: Web services for information, discussion, networking, support from the growing urban community of gardeners.

Team members: Pinja Sipari, Kirmo Kivelä, Kaisa Nirkkonen, Tomi Oravainen, Minna Ritoluoma

Minna Ritoluoma presenting 100 ways to Eden

(Click image to enlarge)


2. Aquaponics Finland designs and commercialises hydroponic irrigation and gardening systems. Aquaponics aims at replacing traditional issues surrounding access to food by essentially bringing scalable farming into the home, into the courtyard – including a warehouse scenario that in addition to supporting local food demands, handles logistics for local aquaponics users.

The project (slide presentation) will enable a considerable decrease in carbon impact due to reduced transportation, processing of food & logistics, with the added benefit of having fresh organic food grown within the fiber of the community.

Team members: Antti Kirjalainen, Peter Kuria

 

3. Pukuhuone.fi – ”Dressing Room” is an ecological style guide which believes in style before fashion, sharing before ownership and storytelling before ignorance.

It brings together local designers and artisans, vintage shops, flea markets, tailors and shoemakers, laundries and repair services to create a platform which leads the consumer to dress up with a bit more love and care.

On a larger scale pukuhuone.fi aims to slow down fashion, speed up sharing and make old (recycled, shared, something with a story) more valuable than new (anonymous, with no personality, silent).

Pukuhuone.fi fights against faceless mass production, poor quality materials, information overload and fast fashion which creates needs people don’t really have. Style will save us but we need good storytellers to make that happen.

Team members: Hanna Linkola, Outi Ugas, Anniina Nurmi, Minna Ainoa, Laura Puromies, Outi Pyy, Arto Sivonen

 

4. School of Activism is a world-traveling series of urban activist workshops and festivals: a platform for those who shape our urban future.

Two groups of 30 selected participants – activists, producers, innovators, artists, and allround urban mavericks from all around the globe – come together in a new city each year for two weeks worth of creative sessions, lectures by urban luminaries, and unforgettable urban interventions.

The School organises workshops both from pioneering mavericks of old and trailblazing innovators of the present, followed by sessions that put that breadth of knowledge and inspiration into practice to solve urban problems.

School of activisms offers the chance to solve actual problems in some of the host city’s suburbs: with plenty of time to chat on cool new ideas, get to know each other, get a glimpse into local happenings and places, and ask the questions people were always keen on asking.

Team members: Heta Kuchka, Arto Sivonen and Olli Sirén

Heta Kuchka presenting School of Activism
(Click image to enlarge)


5. Ab Hukkatila Oy – Ab Waste Ltd does toward space what internet did toward information.

Hukkatila is an development company with an eye on urban places that are empty, underused, or shunned but do have potential because of their location, demand for certain functions in the area, their unique design, unintentional and unseen attractiveness and functions. Development strategies focus are temporary usage, mixed use or ‘life after urban death’ scenarios.

The goal is to create more enjoyable urban environment, regenerate the local communities, promote mixed use of places and develop replicable concepts of synergistic space and property sharing.

Hukkatila exploits sophisticated place-bound architecture, integrated with urban food and energy saving ecosystems, open source apps for built environment, in order to make unlikely processes and collaborations happen.

Team members: Eve Astala, Virkkala Inari, Inari Penttilä, Jaakko Lehtonen, Lari Lohikoski

 

Camper Eero Yli-Vakkuri also took the chance to present No Chair Design Challenge, the provoking challenge to worldwide designers not to design any chairs for all 2012.

Are you a designer? Then look at the tutorial (video).

During their presentations Campers collected plenty of audience feedback. Next steps include a colloquium with an experienced VC and business mentor from Sitra to advice teams business and managerial approach.

Good luck to all from Experientia!

 

* The Airut Block

The block which is the result of the Low2No project will be called Airut.

Airut signifies a “forerunner” and “messenger” in Finnish, thus it is conceptually easy to link to the idea and spirit of Low2No. The block aims to be a forerunner in sustainable building and construction, as well as to spread and promote the ideas of the Low2No model of sustainable urban living.

Airut is an old Finnish word which has Germanic roots. It has been used in spoken language for about 1000 years, and was introduced in written language for the first time in 1745.

It is not commonly used in Finnish spoken language today, thus it has a fresh sound to it. Also, it can rarely be found in brand or company names.

 

Links:
- Low2No website
- Low2No Camp
- Profiles of Campers
- Low2No campers facebook page
- Demos Finland website

7 November 2010

The enabling city

The enabling city
Italian social researcher Chiara Camponeschi has written a fascinating Creative-Commons licensed publication, The Enabling City: Place-Based Creative Problem-Solving and the Power of the Everyday (pdf), an innovative toolkit – also featured on a website – that showcases pioneering initiatives in urban sustainability and open governance.

“I am a firm believer in the power of communities to solve their own needs and contribute to larger processes of change”, says Camponeschi in an article published in The Mobile City.

“The recent graduate of York University based The Enabling City on international research she conducted as part of her Master in Environmental Studies in Toronto, Canada.

“I believe that there are vast amounts of untapped knowledge and creativity out there that we need to unleash to make our cities more open and sustainable”, she continues. The Enabling City exists to document and celebrate the power of inter-actor collaboration and of our everyday experiences in enhancing problem-solving and social innovation worldwide.

The toolkit showcases a total of forty innovative initiatives across six categories: place-making; eating and growing; resource-sharing; learning and socializing; steering and organizing; and financing. Through what she refers to as ‘place-based creative problem-solving’, Camponeschi sketches out an approach to participation that leverages the imagination and inventiveness of citizens, experts, and activists in collaborative efforts that make cities more inclusive, innovative, and interactive.

Through their involvement, creative citizens worldwide demonstrate that citizenship is so much more than duties and taxes it’s about outcome ownership, enablement, and the celebration of the myriad connections that make up the collective landscape of the place(s) we call home. The Enabling City, then, is here to invite us to unleash the power of our creative thinking and to rediscover ‘the power of the everyday.’”

Publication abstract

At its simplest, The Enabling City is a new way of thinking about communities and change.

Guided by principles such as collaboration, innovation and participation, the pioneering initiatives featured in The Enabling City attest to the power of community in stimulating the kind of innovative thinking needed to tackle complex issues ranging from participatory citizenship to urban livability.

We know that markets are no longer the only sources of innovation, and that citizens are capable of more than just voting during election time. We have entered an era where interactive technologies and a renewed idea of citizenship are enabling us to experiment with alternative notions of sustainability and to share knowledge in increasingly dynamic ways. We now see artists working alongside policy makers, policy makers collaborating with citizens, and citizens helping cities diagnose their problems more accurately.

What emerges, then, is a community where the local and global are balanced and mediated by the city at large, and where local resources and know-how are given wider legitimacy as meaningful problem-solving tools in the quest for urban and cultural sustainability.

Here, innovation is intended as a catalyst for social change — a collaborative process through which citizens can be directly involved in shaping the way a project, policy, or service is created and delivered. A shift from control to enablement turns cities into platforms for community empowerment — holistic, living spaces where people make their voices heard and draw from their everyday experiences to affect change.

So be surprised by how walks have the power to make neighbourhoods more vibrant, and how art can be used to convert dull city intersections into safe community spaces. Learn how creative interventions can unleash spaces for reflection and participation, and witness how online resources can lead to offline collaboration and resource-sharing. See how the values of Web 2.0 translate into the birth of the open government and open data movement, and what a holistic approach to financing can bring to local communities and cities alike.

This is what place-based creative problem-solving looks like in action. This is the power of the everyday.

Chiara Camponeschi works at the intersection of interdisciplinary research, social innovation and urban sustainability. She is passionate about the ‘creative citizen’ movement, and is committed to strengthening and supporting networks of grassroots social innovation. Originally from Rome, Italy Chiara has been involved with creative communities in Europe and Canada for over six years. Chiara holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science & Communications Studies, and a Master in Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto, Canada.

14 March 2010

Urban resilience

Resilience
Merging complex systems science and ecology, resilience scientists have broken new ground on understanding—and preserving—natural ecosystems. Now, as more and more people move into urban hubs, they are bringing this novel science to the city.

“Resilience theory, first introduced by Canadian ecologist C.S. “Buzz” Holling in 1973, begins with two radical premises. The first is that humans and nature are strongly coupled and co-evolving, and should therefore be conceived of as one “social-ecological” system. The second is that the long-held assumption that systems respond to change in a linear, predictable fashion is simply wrong. According to resilience thinking, systems are in constant flux; they are highly unpredictable and self-organizing, with feedbacks across time and space. In the jargon of theorists, they are complex adaptive systems, exhibiting the hallmarks of complexity.”

A key feature of complex adaptive systems is that they can settle into a number of different equilibria. [...] Historically, we’ve tended to view the transition between such states as gradual. But there is increasing evidence that systems often don’t respond to change that way. [...]

Resilience science focuses on these sorts of tipping points. [...] How much shock can a system absorb before it transforms into something fundamentally different? That, in a nutshell, is the essence of resilience.”

I really enjoyed the discussion on the importance of redundancy and social equity in resilient systems:

“Society strives for efficiency by trying to eliminate apparent redundancies, but things that seemed redundant in a stable climate turn out to be valuable when conditions change. [...]

When it comes to human populations, ecologists are hesitant to stretch metaphors too far—a biodiverse ecosystem is not the same as a diverse population. [But] it’s important that you have institutions and functions in society that also overlap. If one member of the group is lost, there will be another that can maintain the function, so the function of the system as a whole is maintained. [...]

Social equity and access to resources will also emerge as hugely important components of resilience. Though human behavior is new territory for resilience experts, numerous social scientists have documented the erosion of civic engagement, and even violence, in areas marked by high levels of social stratification.”

Read full story

More information:
- Stockholm Resilience Centre
- The Urban Network
- URBIS
- Resilience 2011

21 January 2010

Articles on Danish design research

DCDR
The Danish Centre for Design Research (DCDR) is an umbrella organisation under the Danish Ministry of Culture for the design research that takes place at the Aarhus School of Architecture, The Danish Design School, Designskolen Kolding, and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.

The centre helps establish and promote Danish design research, disseminate knowledge, and build Danish and international networks among research institutions, enterprises and the general public.

The latest DCDR Webzine (nr. 25) contains three interesting articles:

Design research – a catalyst for innovation (editorial)
In the first issue of Mind Design in 2010, Director Dorthe Mejlhede takes stock of the activities in the Danish Centre for Design Research in 2009 and of the platform that the centre has created for current and future design research. Design research can act as a catalyst for innovation and as a source of value creation for companies and for society at large. That is why it is so important to continue to expand and support the design research environment, Dorthe Mejlhede points out.

Is design philosophical?
At first glance, design and philosophy inhabit different worlds. Design is often aimed at physical and concrete action, while philosophy is abstract and reflective. However, there are certain fundamental philosophical questions to be asked about the essential nature of design and the design process, as explained by Per Galle, an associate professor of design theory at The Danish Design School, the director of CEPHAD, Centre for Philosophy and Design as well as the main organiser of CEPHAD’s conference in January at The Danish Design School.

Using creativity to enhance consumer awareness
An Industrial Ph.D. project involving the Danish savings bank Middelfart Sparekasse and Kolding School of Design aims to design tools that draw on the creativity in our thinking and reflections. Specifically, Ph.D. scholar Kirsten Bonde Sørensen seeks to develop a new service for current and prospective customers to help them uncover their unrecognised knowledge and emotions and make them more aware of their own needs and values. The project also aims to illustrate a new type of consumer communication that is not about persuasion but rather about making consumers aware of their own values and dreams.

8 January 2010

A Creative Commons inspired barter market in Turin, Italy

Senza Moneta
Two articles from today’s La Stampa newspaper (translation by Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia):

Bargains without money
Luca Indemni – Fabrizio Vespa

“Leave your wallet at home” – that could be the slogan of the Gifts Without Money (“Regali Senza Moneta”) initiative organised by the ManaMana’ association in collaboration with the local San Salvario development agency and about fifteen other local associations. It will all take place this Sunday from 10am to 6pm in Piazza Madama Cristina, Turin, Italy.

Even though there are now a huge number of ideas on how to best face the economic crisis, this initiative is of another level altogether, as the event goes beyond the narrow idea of barter and promotes the concept of a real exchange. Scheduled immediately after the Christmas holidays, the initiative provides people with an opportunity to free themselves of less wanted gifts, bringing them to the market and putting them back in circulation. “Our market is not a real market,” explains Filippo Dionisio, President of ManaMana’ – in the sense that money is banned. We want to go beyond the commercial concept of barter, which is often seen as a precursor to money, and to affirm instead the value of exchange, where such exchange can also be immaterial and cover connections and relationships between people.” That’s why the “SenzaMoneta” event should be seen first of all as a meeting between people, where goods, products and also knowledge can be exchanged without any money passing hands, thereby also limiting any possible waste.

How does it work – Those wanting to particpate in the event have to bring something that can be exchanged, which can also include a skill or a knowledge service. Stalls are available and these can be booked by sending a mail to senzamoneta(at)manamana.it. “During recent SenzaMoneta events that we organised in the city,” continues Donisie, “we have seen some really fun things: dinner invitations in exchange for objects, or a live one-hour long music performance in exchange for a one hour plumber intervention. The whole idea is to go beyond the idea of the financial value of things, but rather exchange them with whatever our free immagination can come up with.”

Objects and services – On the covered Madama Cristina market, you can also find a range of services, such as the Bicycle Office, where you can get small bike repairs done, an initiative devoted to the recycling and reuse of PC’s, a special exchange zone for children, a Creative Commons based music exchange, as well as stalls with zero-kilometre food such as polenta and hot wine. “Our objective,” concludes the event organiser, “is to provide more space to people’s time and to demonstrate that one can do many things without adhering to a logic of ‘consumption at all costs’ and without thinking about money.” More information on www.manamana.it

A show room to recycle unwanted gifts

Exchange, barter and ‘do-it-yourself’ make you save money, but not just that. “When you are in a situation where you can’t use money,” explains Daniela Calisi of the ManaMana’ association, “you have to put yourself at stake, relate to the other and create a connection with him or her.” Therefore, the exchange is both an invitation to more enlightened consumption, but also a social opportunity to create connections with other city inhabitants. That’s at least the idea behind the SenzaMoneta markets that ManaMana organises every 3-4 months in the city.

During the remainder of the year, the no-cost supporters can also find tools online for exchange and barter.

Interesting proposals and offers can be found on www.bakeca.it, in the section “varie-regali-baratto” (“various gifts and barter”), or one can become a member of the group Freecycle, a platform dedicated to all those who prefer to recycle an object, rather than throw it away. These sites cover everything, from a piano seat to an old door, as long as they are in good condition. Be aware though that all things on offer on the Freecycle site are available for free.

Other interesting solutions, mostly connected to clothing exchange, are the so-called “swapping parties”, which are not just about meeting people and having fun, but also about exchanging and bartering clothes and accessories, events that often taken place when the seasons are about to change. So if you want to completely redo your wardrobe without spending money, the only thing you have to do is organise such a party, as Anna and Genny Colombotto Rosso have been doing for some time now in Turin. You can find valuable suggestions on the greenMe site under “consumare” and “riciclo e riuso”.

The swapping parties tend to be organised by and for women, without garments for men, even though these could provide some interesing gift ideas. Often the parties come with a small buffet that – always in the same spirit – are based on people bringing some food from their homes. What is crucial is that participants bring along some cleanly washed clothing in good condition. Also important is to have a space in the party home where the clothing can be shown, possibly organised by size, so that active participation is guaranteed. Finally, to create a smooth process, it is good to have some kind of rule on who can start. Once the garment has been fitted and chosen, it is removed from the “show room”. Whatever is not exchanged at the end of the party, is donated to a used clothing outlet or a non profit organisation, such as the San Vincenzo of Via Nizza, where they can make good use of such garments and assure their longer life.

And for those who can’t wait for the next swapping party, there is always the Internet. Check swapstyle and barattopoli.

14 July 2009

Playful innovation and simplicity by Philips

Spark
In an exploration into how games can add value to the innovation process, Philips Design has created ‘Spark’, a board game that stimulates creativity and innovative thinking.

To play Spark, the players move counters representing different characters around the board, with each space along the way describing a certain situation. By considering the potential outcomes for the particular character and situation, a lot of genuinely creative and even ‘out of the box’ ideas are generated. These are used to enrich insight generation during the workshops. The game has proved so successful that there is talk of developing versions for other regions (at the moment it is targeted specifically at Europe) and also using it in other sectors within Philips.

- Read full story
- Download backgrounder (pdf)

Related info:

  • Video interview with Birgitta ten Napel, Director Market Driven Innovation at Philips Consumer Lifestyle, on how ‘Spark’ adds value to the innovation process
  • Essay by Slava Koslov, Senior Consultant Strategic Futures at Philips Design, on how serious games can generate new ideas and future scenarios

Philips Research meanwhile has created SimplicityLabs as a testing ground for upcoming technologies and applications. It is a place where users can see, evaluate and contribute to new interaction concepts. It allows the company to get user feedback early on, and to improve their applications to suit user needs, well before they hit the market.

(via uselog)

19 June 2009

UK report on how cities use innovation to tackle social challenges

Breakthrough Cities
British Council press release:

Breakthrough cities is a groundbreaking report on how cities can mobilise creativity and knowledge to tackle compelling social challenges. The report was commissioned by the British Council from the Young Foundation. Geoff Mulgan and Charles Leadbeater, established international experts in social innovation and creativity, are major contributors.

The Breakthrough cities report is a unique resource for anyone working in the field of city policy – policy makers, consultants, public employees, workers in the arts or education sectors, NGOs, or simply private individuals committed to improving city lives. It provides inspiring ideas, understanding and guidance that can help make cities better places to live in.

- Download report (1.4 mb)
- Transforming Public Spaces – some ideas from the UK (3.1 mb)

18 June 2009

Large scale user testing project as part of the Digital Britain initiative

Digital Britain
According to NewMediaAge, the UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the government body for business innovation in technology, and NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, will collaborate on digital user-centred test-bed projects, as part of the Digital Britain initiative, to develop and trial business models, network operating models and service platforms.

“The TSB has earmarked £10m funding for the digital test-beds, which aim to create new business and charging methods to enable content owners to profit from their work, and support the creation and integration of cross-platform content products and services.

It plans to study user behaviour for new advertising and charging models, including virtual currency for digital content and micropayments, new services and technologies by commercial and public businesses, and new business relationships between networks, operators and content owners.

It will also include trials of services and technologies enabled by next-generation access, content and content-aware network operation, and controlled suspension of copyright protection.”

Read full story

According to a TSB press release, the digital test-beds where we will create an environment where businesses and users can explore the effects of alternative operating and business models. In particular, studies of user behaviour will allow investigations such as:

  • Services and technologies enabled by next generation access
  • New business relationships between network owners, operators and digital content owners
  • Content and context aware network operation
  • Controlled suspension of copyright protection to investigate other commercialisation routes
  • New advertising and charging models. e.g. virtual currency for digital content and micro payments
  • Pilots or new services and new technologies by commercial and public businesses

Further background:
- Technology Strategy Board’s strategy for ‘Digital Britain’
- Technology Strategy Board’s Creative Industries Strategy – Executive Summary

5 June 2009

PICNIC ’09 announces key themes

PICNIC '09
The upcoming PICNIC ’09 conference (Amsterdam, 23-25 September) just announced is key themes:

Exploding Media: Exploding Story
This is the story of the extraordinary transformation of Media from all the creative and technological aspects… From traditional storytelling to the impact of gaming on education; from city interaction and augmented reality to the Metaverse, this narrative will feature all the latest innovations that the media industry is going through. We will also introduce creative geniuses pushing the envelope on these new developments, and their impact on personal creativity, brand marketing, learning and entertainment.

The Next Economy: Social, Sustainable, Creative
The attention economy, the experience economy, the sharing economy, the local economy… The economy is currently top of mind in every discussion. What emerging business models can we explore? Can print media be saved? How can communities create local currencies or micro-economies to create sustainable abundance? What is the future of money?

Life in Motion: Finding the Magic in Mobile
Mobile phones are the most personal devices in our lives. In certain parts of the world, mobile is the only media and mobile internet is the only internet. PICNIC ’09 will give mobile the attention it deserves. We will explore mobile lifestyles around the world, look at how creative brand managers are using mobile to establish brand loyalty and showcase the most innovative mobile applications.

29 April 2009

Book “The Plenitude” – and extra thoughts on design and ubicomp

The Plenitude
The Plenitude
Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff
Rich Gold
Foreword by John Maeda
MIT Press, September 2007

We live with a lot of stuff. The average kitchen, for example, is home to stuff galore, and every appliance, every utensil, every thing, is compound—composed of tens, hundreds, even thousands of other things. Although each piece of stuff satisfies some desire, it also creates the need for even more stuff: cereal demands a spoon; a television demands a remote. Rich Gold calls this dense, knotted ecology of human-made stuff the “Plenitude.” And in this book—at once cartoon treatise, autobiographical reflection, and practical essay in moral philosophy—he tells us how to understand and live with it.

Gold writes about the Plenitude from the seemingly contradictory (but in his view, complementary) perspectives of artist, scientist, designer, and engineer—all professions pursued by him, sometimes simultaneously, in the course of his career. “I have spent my life making more stuff for the Plenitude,” he writes, acknowledging that the Plenitude grows not only because it creates a desire for more of itself but also because it is extraordinary and pleasurable to create.

Gold illustrates these creative expressions with witty cartoons. He describes “seven patterns of innovation”—including “The Big Kahuna,” “Colonization” (which is illustrated by a drawing of “The real history of baseball,” beginning with “Play for free in the backyard” and ending with “Pay to play interactive baseball at home”), and “Stuff Desires to Be Better Stuff” (and its corollary, “Technology Desires to Be Product”). Finally, he meditates on the Plenitude itself and its moral contradictions. How can we in good conscience accept the pleasures of creating stuff that only creates the need for more stuff? He quotes a friend: “We should be careful to make the world we actually want to live in.”

Mike Kuniavsky points out that “The Plenitude Companion“, the parts left out of the MIT Press book, contains Rich Gold’s thoughts on design and ubicomp.

24 November 2008

Turin, Italy to host first UPA European Regional Conference

UPA European Regional Conference
Over 250 participants are expected to attend the first European regional conference of the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) next month.

From December 4-6, 2008, the beautiful baroque city of Turin, 2008 World Design Capital, will host the conference, themed “Usability and Design: Cultivating Diversity“, with important contributions being made by companies such as Google, IBM, Oracle and many others.

The conference will concentrate on overcoming the traditional professional divide between the concepts of usability and design, with a particular focus on uniting the diverse cultures and practices within Europe: “The UPA Europe conference provides a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of usability and user-centred design in Europe, and will underline the central role of the UPA in advocating these ideas,” says Michele Visciola, President of the UPA Italy, and conference chair.

Highlights of the conference will include four keynote speakers. Elizabeth Churchill, principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research; Anxo Cereijo-Roibás, user experience research manager at Vodafone Global; acclaimed designer Isao Hosoe; and Daria Loi, design researcher at Intel Corporation will speak on topics related to five macro-themes: industrial design and usability, cross-cultural design, designing mobile usability, usability and creativity, and managing design in organisations. Downloadable versions of the speakers’ presentations will be available online after the conference from www.upaeurope2008.org.

On the final day of the conference, open discussions on the outlook to the future will be held by special interest groups for UPA and UXnet. Inspired by the Slow Food cultural movement, which aims to protect and defend our world’s heritage of agricultural biodiversity and gastronomic traditions, European UPA members are invited to bring their own original contributions to the growth of the usability culture and practice.

The Usability Professionals’ Association supports usability specialists, people from all aspects of human-centred design, and the broad family of disciplines that create the user experience in promoting the design and development of usable products. The conference is open to both UPA and non UPA members. A detailed program of events and speakers can currently be found online at www.upaeurope2008.org.

The UPA Europe 2008 conference is sponsored by Adage, Amberlight, Apogee, dnx Group, Design for Lucy, Experientia, IUP and UID. Exhibition sponsors are Axure, SR Labs/Tobii, SMI and Noldus.

Late registration is now open: to register, contact conference program manager Cristina Lobnik, email: cristina dot lobnik at upaeurope2008.org, tel. +39 011 8129687.

17 July 2008

The slow suit experience

byBiella
A few days ago I was part of a panel at the Biella Chamber of Commerce.

Biella is a small city in the North of Italy, that became wealthy because of its textile industry, and is now coming to terms with a new global landscape that is not so favourable any more. Some companies have managed to do rather well – Ermenegildo Zegna is an example – while many others are struggling.

The town is now trying to put itself on the map – globally – as a place of exquisite textiles. Their marketing campaign is all about the “art of excellence“.

So in our panel discussion I quizzed the audience on what the concept of “slow” might mean for textiles. What could slow fashion be? How could the concept of slow thinking be applied to the textile industry, a very crucial branch of Italy’s design industry? And how can we make it into a lever for sustainability (with fashion often being exactly the opposite)?

One of the audience members, Paola Fini, wrote me about a new company she started – partly inspired by the internationally known Biella-based artist Michelangelo Pistoletto and his Cittadellarte – trying to address these questions.

byBiella is all about traditional suit making, with a special slow experience. The entire process of selecting the fabric, choosing the style and taking the measurements is done at the client’s home. The bespoke suit – Made in Italy of course with great attention to fabric quality and detailing – is then produced in four weeks.

Moreover, much like Slow Food, byBiella emphasises the culture of dressing and elegance, as a balance between the inside and the outside, with the individual at the heart of the company’s activities.

A great initiative it seems, that I can only applaud, although I would like to hear more about sustainability and see a stronger storytelling component (especially on the website which didn’t make me feel part of a vision that I would want to share, endorse and promote to others).

Now what does “slow” imply for the not so high end in the clothing industry? byBiella is an entirely valid concept, yet also a company that offers “slow” products that are probably out of reach for most people. What might slow fashion mean for more modest budgets? How to bring the excellence, the sense of quality, and the natural purity so pervasive in Biella, into textile products that are also within reach of a wider population, let’s say for children, teenagers or young adults – much like Slow Food has done with excellent quality local food products?

I don’t have the answer, but the question needs to be addressed urgently. We need many more Paola Fini’s in Biella.

17 July 2008

Podcast: Hello everybody… Clay Shirky at Demos

Clay Shirky
Demos, the UK “think tank for everyday democracy”, hosted a conversation with Clay Shirky a few days ago.

He was in conversation with Demos Associate and School of Everything CEO Paul Miller, talking around the ideas thrown up by Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, his book about the social effects of technology (see also this PPF post).

According to the organisers, “it was a fascinating talk, covering the promises of new types of group communication, community policing, international relations, through to the ‘cognitive surplus‘ opened up by a generation who may be turning away from television.”

Podcast download page

12 May 2008

May/June edition of Interactions Magazine

Interactions
The May/June issue of Interactions Magazine just came out and some of the content is available online (and more will follow soon).

The issue is all about “colliding worlds” with “interactions disciplines” becoming “more appropriately integrated into other creative disciplines (e.g. architecture and music), into business, and into the new business models that will shape the 21st and 22nd centuries,” as described by the editors Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko in their editorial.

It also features contributions by Allison Arieff (Sunset), Eli Blevis (Indiana University at Bloomington), Shunying Blevis (Indiana University at Bloomington), Benjamin H. Bratton, Valerie Casey (IDEO), Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo! Research), Dave Cronin (Cooper), Allison Druin (Human-Computer Interaction Lab), Hugh Dubberly, Shelley Evenson (Carnegie Mellon University), Jonathan Grudin (Microsoft Adaptive Systems and Interaction group), Zhiwei Guo (Adobe Systems Inc.), John Hopson (Microsoft’s Games User Research group), Steve Howard (University of Melbourne), Tuck Leong (University of Melbourne), Zhengjie Liu Dalian Marine University), Bob Moore, Donald Norman, Steve Portigal, Scott Palmer (University of Leeds), Sita Popat (University of Leeds), Kai Qian, Laura Seargeant Richardson (M3 Design Inc.), Richard Seymour (Seymourpowell), Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne), Huiling Wei, and Ning Zhang (Dalian Marine University)

Interactions Magazine is the bimonthly publication of the ACM [Association of Computing Machinery] and is distributed to all members of SIGCHI [Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction].

It recently underwent a complete makeover the inspiring and volunteer (!) leadership of Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko who turned it into a publication full of timely articles, stories and content related to the interactions between experiences, people, and technology — the must have magazine for the user experience community!

1 April 2008

Milan to host 2015 Expo

Expo 2015
It’s all over the Italian press (the winners) and the Turkish press (the losers), and on a small number of international news outlets: Milan will host the 2015 Universal Exposition (a.k.a. “Expo” or “World Fair”).

In a day and age when Universal Expositions are no longer the top international events they used to be one hundred years ago, Milan is nevertheless totally excited about the nomination.

I am not yet, but then these events tend to galvanise people and decision makers, and can push things forward quickly. Since Italians are famous for pulling their act together at the very last moment — faced with the prospect of otherwise making a “brutta figura” (a rather poor showing) — I wouldn’t underestimate the power of the 2015 Expo either.

World Fairs have over the last decades become platforms for nation branding:

“From Expo ’92 in Seville onwards, countries started to use the world expo more widely and more strongly as a platform to improve their national images through their pavilions. Finland, Japan, Canada, France and Spain are cases in point. A large study by Tjaco Walvis called “Expo 2000 Hanover in Numbers” showed that improving national image was the primary participation goal for 73% of the countries at Expo 2000. In a world where a strong national image is a key asset, pavilions became advertising campaigns, and the Expo a vehicle for ‘nation branding’. Apart from cultural and symbolic reasons, organizing countries (and the cities and regions hosting them) also utilize the world exposition to brand themselves. According to branding expert Wally Olins, Spain used Expo ’92 and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona in the same year to underline its new position as a modern and democratic country and present itself as a prominent member of the EU and the global community.

The quote above is from Wikipedia, and the current Fair at Zaragoza, Spain is a case in point. I presume the same nation branding thing will happen when Shanghai gets the honour in 2010.

The 2015 Expo will surely be an opportunity to help crystallise a discussion of the future direction of Italy (which is already starting with the Italy 150 celebration in 2011) – and this in itself is a good thing.

Here some lines from the Reuters story on the nomination:

Italy’s fashion and financial capital Milan won the race on Monday to host the 2015 Universal Exposition, a welcome victory for a country that has been buffeted by a food scandal and political feuding.

Officials for the Paris-based International Bureau of Exhibitions (BIE) said Milan defeated the western Turkish city of Izmir by 86 votes to 65, dashing Turkish hopes of hosting the world’s biggest fair for the first time.

Read full story

22 March 2008

What does your city say about you?

Cities
Newsweek’s Katie Paul interviews Richard Florida to find out how new ‘creative classes’ are changing cities around the world and what our chosen cities say about us.

Here is the introduction:

Is it just a cultural quirk that the New York women in “Sex and the City” are constantly kvetching about their love lives? Not according to “urban expert” Richard Florida, a business professor at the University of Toronto who studies how place affects lifestyle. In a new book out this week, “Who’s Your City?,” Florida says the world is far from flat, as New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has argued. In fact, it’s spiky, with money, innovation, and distinct personality types increasingly clustering in the world’s major metropolises. Using data collected from satellites and census surveys, Florida describes how a “creative class” of people is changing the economic landscape by congregating in a shrinking set of cities located farther and wider than ever before. What’s more, different types of these creative innovators are sticking with their own kind, molding each city’s distinct demographics, job markets, and mating markets (or dating scenes). So despite the gadgets that now allow us to work from anywhere, says Florida, choosing where to live is more important than ever before. And as to all the frustrations expressed in “Sex & the City”? Well, just blame the 210,820 more single women than men living in the New York metropolitan area.

Read interview

12 March 2008

Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy

Creative Britain
The UK government is aiming to make the country a global leader in the arts, media and advertising through initiatives including the creation of thousands of new apprenticeships and the launch of a Davos-style world creative business conference.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the culture secretary, Andy Burnham, unveiled the action plan, Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy, in what the government is labelling the first-ever comprehensive, state-supported plan to move the creative industries from the “margins to the mainstream of economic and policy thinking” in the UK.

The action plan [which was welcomed by the design industry] outlines 26 commitments for both government and the creative industries to nurture talent, create jobs and to drive the UK’s international competitiveness.

One of the initiatives is to develop a new annual World Creative Business Conference that will act as the “centrepiece” of an international push to make the UK the “world’s creative hub”.

Read full story [The Guardian]
- Download action plan (pdf, 1.2 mb, 81 pages)

(via Richard Florida)

12 March 2008

Art Center College opening up a global debate

Global Dialogues
The world of design and innovation has greatly changed in the last decade. The challenges are more complex, more intricate, and more systemic, and therefore require an increasingly holistic and multidisciplinary approach, especially in education.

Or in the words of Richard Koshalek, president of the Art Center College of Design:

“The educational requirements of complex fields such as design, coupled with advances in technology and communications, demand that colleges and universities deliver knowledge and experience at a global level.”

Design schools are engaged in various explorations on how to best address this new context. Some bring in new people on their faculty, others start off industry or public sector collaborations; some collaborate with other institutions, others even merge with them (as Helsinki’s art and design school is planning to do).

The renowned Art Center College of Design has done many of the above things as well, but is now going for something much more ambitious – it is breaking out of its own physical spaces (be them the Art Center itself, California or the USA in general), and are creating a series of what I would call “open innovation forums” on a global scale, all with the aim of “developing people”.

Last week Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken was invited (thank you, Rudy) to attend one of them: the Disruptive Thinking event in Barcelona.

Disclosure: Art Center paid for the trip and stay, on the condition that we would write an article. They didn’t say anything more, so we feel free to write what we think.

The Barcelona event, organised in collaboration with the prestigious ESADE business school, is the first in a series of global dialogues that Art Center is scheduling in a number of continents, as well as online. It is also the beginning of a wider initiative towards this European design city: the Art Center Barcelona Project.

The Art Center Barcelona Project is a joint platform between Art Center and ESADE for postgraduate education, research and business networking in the field of innovation and design. This time the emphasis is on content-based international collaborations, rather than conventional bricks-and mortar “branches” overseas (as Art Center tried unsuccessfully for ten years starting in 1986 in Vevey, Switzerland).

The benefits are of course obvious: a local partner has local knowledge, local networks, local staff and local facilities. The foreign partner brings in expertise and insights that will proof to be valuable to the local partner. And the investment for the Art Center is no where in the range of building a new school. Aside from that, there are also the brand implications and opportunities for recruitment and student admissions. In short, a win-win for both.

But there is more… 
 

A social engagement

Art Center has an initiative I really like: designmatters. Launched in December 2001, Designmatters at Art Center explores the social and humanitarian benefits of design and responsible business.

“We believe that design, responsibly conceived and applied, can contribute to solving such contemporary challenges as sustainable development and providing for basic needs and services, including adequate public health, safety, education, housing and transportation.”

Designmatters, which engages Art Center students, faculty and staff, focuses on four major themes: public policy, global healthcare, human sustainable development, and social entrepreneurship. In the last years Art Center has become quite active in developing countries, and thanks to its designmatters initiative, has become the first school to be designated a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It also is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) as a civil society organisation.

Designmatters is crucially part and parcel of the Barcelona Project: collaborations with educational, civic and cultural institutions particularly on social and humanitarian issues are a key focus, which is part of the reason why there was such a strong emphasis on broader social and humanitarian issues during the Disruptive Thinking event that I attended.

One of the themes the Barcelona project particularly wants to address is the role of design in cities, which “must be redefined according to wider principles of sustainability — not only in relation to the environment, but also in terms of energy production and consumption, economic prosperity, social justice and cultural development.” And that’s how it should be.
 

Trying to think disruptively

Thinking in a disruptive way is not an easy thing to do, it requires good ideas and the power to make them stick so that they can actually become disruptive, otherwise they don’t make much impact. The overall themes of the Disruptive Thinking event — climate change, geopolitics, business, science, belief, and design, have of course a history of lots of disruptive thinking.

The organisers were courageous: they sought out “‘disruptive’ thinkers and practitioners who — despite the many risks involved — bring vital energy to bear on these issues and push them in new and productive directions for society.”

The one-day event was chaired by British journalist Richard Addis, who selected primarily British or UK-based presenters (with the exception of the ESADE dean) to be in charge of each of the six sessions. These six presenters in turn selected one to three guests each, which were of course also primarily from the US (insofar they were not at SXSW) or the UK. There wasn’t much of a presence from the rest of Europe or the world (besides the one courageous Ugandan journalist), and that was frankly a serious gap. Although the guests were very insightful and by times really funny (as only Brits can be), I really wanted more diverse viewpoints than the conference in the end was able to offer.

Josh Nakaya, an Art Center product design student did a truly excellent job at blogging the conference, and later upgraded them with responses. Also the video streams are now available. So I will refer to these summaries and videos in my comments below. There is also a webpage with the full line-up of speakers.

So let me start with tackling the sessions one-by-one.
 

Climate Change [summary - response - video]

In this first session, Harry Eyers of the Financial Times conversed with Peter Head of ARUP and Sara Wheeler, an environmental writer.

Harry Eyres started by asking the panellists if rediscovering our creativity could be a key to addressing climate change, or more specifically: “Can the threat and reality of climate change be an inspiration to redesign the way we live?” And that’s what they talked about, sort of. The panellists described the current status of climate change and tried their very best on imagining strategies — such as China’s eco-cities, the importance of systemic thinking, a different culture about how we relate to nature, a better land use policy, better leadership, or a renewed attention to the spiritual dimension — that could drastically reduce the total ecological impact we have on the planet.

In the end though I didn’t hear much new nor disruptive, whereas climate change itself is such a hugely disruptive development. I was expecting more insight (why not get WWF’s climate change specialist for instance?) and more innovative ways of thinking through the problem. Sara Wheeler made one strong statement that I really liked though: “Climate change is now part of the human experience, what it is to be human. That really needs to be thought about.” It also definitely set the right tone to start off the conference with this major environmental issue.
 

Geopolitics [summary - response - video]

Richard Addis chaired the session on geopolitics. His selection of guests was unusual but highly defendable: Ron Haviv who is a war photo journalist (with a website worth checking out), and Bernard Tabaire, who is the courageous, thoughtful and highly articulate editor of the Ugandan newspaper The Monitor, and keeps on getting in trouble with the Ugandan authorities. I liked the idea of talking about geopolitics with people who are living the effects of these choices in their daily lives.

Both Ron and Bernard are in the business of creating awareness and holding people responsible for their actions. Yet we need leaders, and although Richard started off with the right statement (“politics is about leadership”), the discussion quickly degraded into rather (perhaps disruptive but definitely) unrealistic ideas for change, such as abolishing armies or abolishing politicians, underlined by sharp criticisms of government behaviour.

Reflecting back on it, I agree entirely with what Josh Nakaya wrote in his response, of which I quote the conclusion:

“Again, the core questions were not really addressed: Are there any political ideas so radically disruptive that they could redesign for the better the way the great powers run the world? Can political ideas solve anything? Or are we doomed to a permanent state of violent flux? I believe the answers to these are yes, yes, and no. Mr. Tabaire presented the seed of a radical idea that was left untouched: developed countries, on the whole, face less life-threatening situations than undeveloped ones. Development starts with education. What then, of any army whose primary strategy is preemptive action and whose primary tactic is education?”

To me, it was a dialogue full of promise that somehow never made the cut of impactful debate. 
 

Business [summary - response - video]

This dialogue was the smallest of all: Lynda Sale, a partner of Sale Owen, a marketing consultant and artist discussed disruptive thinking in business with Alfons Sauquet, dean of the ESADE business school.

Sauquet was very much the wise academic who brought structure to it all, e.g. by his distinction between incremental and transformational innovation. He was also strong at pointing out how conservative businesses really are, and why they are often antithetical to innovation and that this also can also hamper recruitment. ESADE is doing some work for a French cosmetics company that came to realise that they couldn’t attract the best and the brightest anymore because what they were offering didn’t seem to be relevant anymore to these young people. So how would business need to change to address such a challenge? And how should businesses change to address the challenges of climate change or geopolitics?

In essence, Sauquet argues, companies need to rethink themselves so that they will provide an environment that attracts the best people so that innovation can take place. 
 

Science [summary - response - video]

This was definitely the best session, and if there is one video you should watch it is this one. I very much enjoyed when theoretical physicist Fotini Markopoulou told a baffled audience, after a brief but sharp introduction, that she had come to the conclusion that “space is not really a valid concept, it doesn’t exist”. She paused to give the audience the time to digest this highly disruptive idea, and then continued with an explanation of her thinking, concluding “If you believe space exists, it leads to all kinds of problems.”

Other “experts in what we don’t understand” on this panel, chaired by science writer Robert Matthews, were astronomer David Hughes and mathematician David Orell.

Aside from some more disruptive thoughts (why shouldn’t there be a conference on disruptive thinking on a planet 400 light years away from us?), the three scientists each underlined how much less they know now than they thought they knew at the beginning of their careers. This of course implies, as astronomer David Hughes said, a deep sense of humility, which is a lesson not just for scientists.
 

Belief [summary - response - video]

Bigna Pfenninger, founding editor of The Drawbridge, invited academic scientist Charles Pasternak and the endearing egyptologist Joann Fletcher.

Three main lines of thought came through from this discursive session: spirituality cannot just be pushed aside as a delusion; it’s impossible to understand large parts of our world and our history without understanding or appreciating belief systems; and belief – whether you think it is a placebo or not – is so powerful that it can affect circumstances.

The dialogue didn’t develop much, sometimes there wasn’t even much of a dialogue. My take back of it all was Joann Fletcher’s statement at the end: “I think globally there should be more respect for the individual. People should be respected for their own individual opinions within any of these ‘fundamentalist’ groups. I have every right to say what I think regardless of the religious set-up in my country. Individual voices need to be heard”.

Looking back, while I agree with Josh Nakaya’s comments on this session, I would also like to add that belief here was quite narrowly interpreted as religious belief or spirituality. Yet, we all have beliefs, convictions, assumptions, which are not justified by facts. We construct beliefs in order to manage our world. But our world often changes more rapidly than these belief systems do, which leads to all kinds of frictions, with people fighting the battles of the past, or politicians making decisions about the future with belief systems that in essence were defined by facts and experiences that go several decennia back in time. 
 

Design [summary - response - video]

Finally, Stephen Bayley, who is a design commentator and founder of the Design Museum, had three guests: Blaise Agüera y Arcas, an architect at Microsoft Live Labs, architect of Seadragon, and the co-creator of Photosynth, Chris Lefteri, a materials expert and product designer, and Thom Mayne, architect and founder of Morphosis.

A lot of time was spent on the discussion of abstract concepts like beauty or permanence, whereas other ideas — the relevance of ecosystem thinking for design, concepts such as engagement or mystery, and how we are nowadays increasingly driven by the experience of the interaction — were touched upon but not further developed. In the words of Josh Nakaya:

“I felt like design—as the final dialogue and the core focus of the organization sponsoring the dialogues—should have been the capstone of the whole event. However, the dialogue was scattered, focusing primarily on whether or not beauty exists, and whether permanence or impermanence should be a focus of designers’ work. The coming disruptions in industrial design, architecture, and planning and how they would affect our lives were to be discussed, but this question was never even recognized, much less addressed.”

Stephen Bayley was apparently strongly guided by an aesthetic, product-oriented concept of design: beauty and permanence are concepts that are to some extent relevant within this context. But design has moved on, so — quit naturally — the participants built on these concepts to make their own points, which often diverged strongly from the question at the outset.

In short

The event as it happened was not ideal: some of the presenters were not leading their sessions very well, not everyone had valuable ideas to contribute, the match between the theme of disruptive thinking and what was actually being discussed was absent by times, and there was not always a clear sense of direction.

It was clear that the sessions were underrehearsed, if rehearsed at all. Too often people went off on their own tangent, with a presenter unable or unwilling to pull them back on a clear path.

I also wondered afterwards to what extent I actually had heard new things, or whether the things I had heard I couldn’t just as easily have picked up in a book or a good magazine.

The answer is probably yes. But books and magazines are monologues by their nature. This was in concept and execution a series of dialogues. In the beginning of this article I described how this Barcelona event fits into a wider strategy of open collaboration, open communications and social engagement. This is not just a valuable and laudable approach, but also one which is highly relevant and timely in contemporary society. We need more of these initiatives, not less. They have to be fine-tuned and improved, no doubt, but in essence we need dialogues and collaboration between disciplines, between different parts of society, between different regions in the world. The world has become too complex for each of us to figure things out by themselves.

And that is what to me these Global Dialogues are really about.

I also hope that Art Center will deliver on its commitment to continue the conversation online, to have a continuous dialogue. The event blog is now basically dead, and there have been no comments whatsoever on any of the posts that I could find. So probably this is not the right tool – a new one needs to be developed. 
 

What about the US?

The Art Center is an American school, its students are based in California. How can they participate in the global dialogues? In fact, many of the Art Center events are also taking place in California: the recent two-day summit on Systems, Cities & Sustainable Mobility (proceedings are already available – the next summit is in February 2009), and the upcoming Serious Play conference.

27 February 2008

Yrjö Sotamaa on Helsinki’s new Innovation University

Yrjö Sotamaa
I recently interviewed Prof. Yrjö Sotamaa, President of the University of Art and Design Helsinki.

Sotamaa is the man behind the initiative to start a new Innovation University in Finland, by bringing together three Finnish top universities: the University of Art and Design Helsinki (TAIK), the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK), and the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE).

The goal for the new university, due to start in August 2009, is to be one of the leading institutions in the world in terms of research and education in the field of technology, business studies and art and design.

The initiative is a much bigger and ambitious version of a general multidisciplinary approach that is currently also being implemented in some other major centres of education. Design-London at RCA-Imperial will create an ‘innovation triangle’ between design (represented by the Royal College of Art), engineering and technology (represented by Imperial College Faculty of Engineering), and the business of innovation (represented by Imperial’s Tanaka Business School). Carnegie Mellon University puts design, engineering, and business students into teams to work on projects. And the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management pairs MBAs with design students in product development classes.

Classes for the 22,000 students will be in English, in order to attract students from all over the world (many of whom might end up working again for that famous Finnish multinational, Nokia, who is one of the sponsors of the initiative).

What is interesting too, is their radical choice for a human-centred, multidisciplinary, and prototyping approach.

Read interview