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Search results for '"bruce sterling"'
5 July 2009

The future of money

Stowe Boyd
Stowe Boyd, an internationally recognised authority on social applications and their impact on business, media, and society, launched a new interview series examining the future of money.

The series is sponsored in part by Neo.org, a non-profit he is working with. Because of Neo’s efforts toward defining and implementing a new digital currency, Boyd hopes that a series on the future of money might line up well, and draw some attention to Neo’s efforts.

Each interview comes with a video and a bulleted set of highlights.

Christian Nold and The Bijlmer Euro
In this interview Christian Nold, an artist, designer and educator working to develop new participatory models for communal representation, discusses his project in the Bijlmer area in South East Amsterdam, where he aimed to develop a prototype system for an alternative local currency that could support local development and work in conjunction with the Euro.

Bruce Sterling
“When you are interested in magic, you might want to talk to a witch doctor, so when I started to think about the future of money, I thought I should talk to a science fiction author. Who better? As it so happens, I know one,” writes Boyd.
Bruce was kind enough to mention me [i.e. Mark Vanderbeeken], our company and the recent KashKlash project we did with Heather Moore and the Vodafone UE Group.

Alternative currencies: Is small the new big?
This third piece reflects on the value of alternative currencies, starting with the following two questions:
1. Does an alternative currency have to be in large scale use? Is it possible for it to be a ‘success’ at small scale?
2. Do alternative currencies have to stand for something? Do they have to represent a strong position on some issue or social cause?

Intangible Money + Cell Network Banks = Secure Money
Olga Morawczynski is a doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh, posting some of her work on mobile banking in Africa at the CGAP (Consultive Group to Assist the Poor) website. She noted that the normal flow of fund transfers in Kenya — from the cities to rural relatives — reversed during recent violence there.

Richard Smith and the Dollar ReDe$ign Project
Richard’s deep motivation was to help restart the economy, and the means? Redesigning our money, and rebranding it, to shift our thinking and to help the little bits of paper in our pockets act as a sort of social catalyst for change. He set up the project in the form of a contest, and received dozens of truly wonderful designs.

And there is more to come still…

23 June 2009

First LIFT09 France videos are online

LIFT France
The first LIFT France conference took place last way in Marseilles. Being in Seoul, South Korea, myself, I missed it entirely, but luckily the videos are now becoming available.

Welcome to Lift!
Lift founder Laurent Haug and Lift France chair Daniel Kaplan will explain the theme and organization of the conference.

Initial and necessary challenge: “Technology & Society: Know your History!”
Is technology liberating us or enslaving us? Hardly a new question, says Dominique Pestre… He will thus challenge us to raise our level of thinking and, in searching for an answer, to embrace dissensus and complexity: How can we welcome techno-skeptics in order to produce more sustainable technologies? Can we really believe that green techs will allow us to avoid drastic (and collective) choices on how we live? How can the interaction between markets, democracy, usage, science, code, become more productive?
Keynote: Dominique Pestre, historian of Science, EHESS, Paris

Changing Things (1) – The Internet of Things is not what you think it is!
If the “Internet of things” was just about adding chips, antennas and interactivity to the things we own, it would be no big deal. Discover a wholly different perspective: Open, unfinished objects which can be transformed and reprogrammed by their users; Objects that document their own components, history, lifecycle; Sensitive and noisy objects that capture, process, mix and publish information. Discover an Internet of Things which intends to transform the industrial world as deeply as the current Internet transformed the world of communication and media.
Keynote: Bruce Sterling, writer, author of Shaping Things
They do it for real: Usman Haque (haque :: design + research / Pachube) and Timo Arnall (Elastic Space)

Video: Timo Arnall: “Making Things Visible” [22:13]
A designer and researcher at Oslo School of Architecture, Timo Arnall offers here his perspective about networked objects and ubiquitous computing. His presentation, and the intriguing design examples he takes, highlights two phenomena. On the one hand, he describes how sensors and RFIDs can enable to “make things visible” as the title of his presentation expresses. On the other hand, he shows the importance of going beyond screen-based interactions.

Changing Things (2) – Fab Labs, towards decentralized design and production of material products
Existing or unheard-of things, designed, modified, exchanged and manufactured by individuals or entrepreneurs anywhere in the world; Local workshops equipped with 3D printers and digital machine-tools, able to produce (almost) anything out of its 3D model; P2P object-sharing networks… Are “Fab Labs” heralding a new age of industrial production?
Keynote: Mike Kuniavsky, designer, ThingM
They do it for real: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (Tinker.it) and Michael Shiloh (OpenMoko / MakingThings)

Changing Innovation (1)- The end of IT
Today, corporate information systems are innovation’s worst enemies. They set organizations and processes in stone. They restrict the enterprise’s horizons and its networks. They distort its view of the world. But ferments of change emerge. Meet those who breathe new air into current organizations, those who design tomorrow’s Innovation Systems.
Keynote: Marc Giget (Cnam)
They do it for real: Euan Semple (Social computing for the business world) and Martin Duval (Bluenove)

Changing Innovation (2) – Innovating with the non-innovators
Innovating used to be a job in itself. It has become a decentralized procès which includes, in no particular order, researchers, entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists, and users who reinvent the products they were supposed to consume. Why is that important? What does it really change? And where will it stop? WILL it stop somewhere?
Keynote: Catherine Fieschi, Counterpoint/British Council
They do it for real: Marcos Garcia (Madrid’s Medialab-Prado) and Douglas Repetto, artist and founder of Dorkbot

Takeaways: Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet’s thoughts from Lift
NKM“, 35, is Minister of State to the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Forward Planning and Development of the Digital Economy. Known as an activist for sustainable development, she was minister in charge of Ecology between 2007 and 2009.

Video: Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet’s takeaways (FR) [43:52]

Changing the Planet (1)- Sustainable development, the Way of Desire
What if global warming and the exhaustion of natural resources were in fact, initially, design problems? How do we move from bad, unsustainable design to a design – of goods, services, systems – that is sensitive and sustainable, durable and beautiful, sensible and profitable? Could we build sustainable growth on desire as well as reason, on creativity as well as regulation? Short answer: Yes!
Keynote: Dennis Pamlin, WWF, author of “Sustainability @ the Speed of Light”
They do it for real: John Thackara (Doors of Perception) and Elizabeth Goodman (designer, confectious.net)

Video: Dennis Pamlin: Changing the Planet [23:50]
Dennis Pamlin, who is Global Policy Advisor for the WWF, introduces the ecological challenges we face and contrast them with most of the technological progresses. His talk delineates a set of filters to understand how to judge innovation on conjunction with the long-term consequences they might have on the planet.

Video: John Thackara: Changing the Planet [23:14]
John Thackara, who is director of Doors of Perception, gives a provocative talk about the role of design in finding solutions to the ecological crisis. After inviting us to avoid terms such as “future” or “sustainable” as they maintain a certain distance to the problem we face, he shows a rich set of projects he participated in. He makes the important point that the resources to be put in place already exist and that they might not necessitates complex technological developments.

Changing the Planet (2) – Co-producing and sharing environmental consciousness
Planetary climate change is too large a challenge for each individual. It can quickly become abstract, technical, remote. How can we reconnect individual aspirations, personal and daily choices, to global challenges? How can we all become part of environmental measurement, evaluate and compare the impact of our own activities, become parts of our collective environmental consciousness?
Keynote: Gunter Pauli, ZERI (Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives)
They do it for real: Frank Kresin (Waag Society) and François Jegou (SDS-Solutioning / Sustainable Everyday)

Video: Gunter Pauli: Changing the Planet [55:14]
Gunter Pauli, who founded and directs ZERI, the “Zero Emissions Research Initiative” of the United Nations University in Tokyo, spoke about redesigning manufacturing processes into non-polluting clusters of industries.

Conditional Future
“The best way to predict the future, is to invent it”, said Alan Kay (and Buckminster Fuller). That is only true if as many of us as possible are given the opportunity to discuss, build, experiment and reflect upon their present and their future. Three speakers describe the conditions required to make that possible.
Rob van Kranenburg (Fontys Ambient Intelligence, Council) and Jean-Michel Cornu (Fing)

More videos are being posted to LIFT’s Vimeo, DailyMotion, Blip, Metacafe, Revver and Viddler accounts, so you can choose the platform you like.

13 June 2009

Bill Thompson, BBC tech art critic at the Venice Biennale

Pixels and paintbrushes
Bill Thompson, back from the Venice Biennale, reflects on digital art and its relationship with technology.

“While there was a lot of interesting art, I saw little that attempted to explore our use of or reliance on technology itself, and the only two pieces I encountered that seemed to have any connection to digital technology for its own sake were rather disappointing as neither was working when I visited.”

Read full story

(via Bruce Sterling)

7 May 2009

Daniel Kaplan’s excellent critique of the Internet of Things

Daniel Kaplan
Daniel Kaplan, CEO of the French Next-Generation Internet Foundation (FING) and one of the driving forces behind the upcoming LIFT conference in Marseilles, France, has published three long essays with an excellent critique of the Internet of Things.

If you understand French, they are highly recommended reading. Otherwise, check the links as they often lead to English-language background resources.

In the first article, L’internet des objets n’est pas celui que vous croyez ! [“The Internet of Things is not what you think”], Kaplan describes the various visions of the Internet of Things, and the role of us, human beings, within these visions. Kaplan is worried as these technologies are taking controls and power away from the individual, which is exactly the opposite of what the internet set out to do, and therefore the Internet of Things carries no transformational vision.

But Kaplan goes further. His second piece, Révolution ou déception ? [“Revolution or deception?”], positions that the “Internet of Things” is not all what its name implies. It’s not even an internet, not technically, not socially, not economically. The way “things” are currently networked is entirely within silos — in terms of applications, services and organisations — and this has nothing to do with the view on pervasive interconnectedness that the inter-net concept contains. He also elaborates on what he means with the lack of transformational vision. Where the Internet always came with visions of social and cultural transformation, the Internet of Things is just nice-nice: we don’t hear anything but service, comfort, optimisation, health, reliability, sustainability, quality and security, usually performed by others on our behalf. If there is a vision, it is one of a control society.

In the closing piece Industrialiser l’internet ou internetiser l’industrie ? [“Industrialise the Internet or internetise the industry?”], Kaplan outlines a vision for an entirely different Internet of Things, which is open, modifiable, recyclable, social and evolutionary, and claims that a real “Internet of Things” will be driven by the thinking of such people as Julian Bleecker, Usman Haque and Bruce Sterling, and by cultures such as those of open source hardware (Arduino) or the fabrication movement (“Bricolabs”).

The first article in the series got republished in the technology section of the French newspaper Le Monde, and it looks like the others will soon follow.

Hubert Guillaud of InternetActu told me that these papers will soon be translated into English for the LiftBlog and when that happens, we will let you know here too.

18 April 2009

Let them eat tweets

Tweet box
Virginia Heffernan writes in the New York Times Magazine on why Twitter is a trap.

“These worries started to surface for me last month, when Bruce Sterling, the cyberpunk writer, proposed at the South by Southwest tech conference in Austin that the clearest symbol of poverty is dependence on “connections” like the Internet, Skype and texting. “Poor folk love their cellphones!” he said. […]

“Connectivity is poverty” was how a friend of mine summarized Sterling’s bold theme. Only the poor — defined broadly as those without better options — are obsessed with their connections. Anyone with a strong soul or a fat wallet turns his ringer off for good and cultivates private gardens that keep the hectic Web far away. The man of leisure, Sterling suggested, savors solitude, or intimacy with friends, presumably surrounded by books and film and paintings and wine and vinyl — original things that stay where they are and cannot be copied and corrupted and shot around the globe with a few clicks of a keyboard.”

Read full story

11 April 2009

LIFT France and I Realize Italy

LIFT France
Last month I announced that the next LIFT conference would take place in Marseilles, France on 18-20 June this year.

Entrepreneurs, researchers, artists, designers, and activists who are inventing radically new ways to innovate, design, produce, trade, exchange and manage, will be coming to LIFT France to express their vision of a “hands-on future”, a future of do-it-yourself change:

Changing Things: Towards objects that are not just “smart” and connected, but also customizable, hackable, transformable, fully recyclable; Towards decentralized and multipurpose manufacturing, or even home fabrication.

Changing Innovation: Towards continuous and networked innovation, emerging from users as well as entrepreneurs, from researchers as well as activists.

Changing the Planet: Towards a “green design” that reconnects global environmental challenges with growth, but also with human desire, pleasure, beauty and fun.

The programme is now finished and so is a pdf with background information.

Speakers are Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (Tinker.it!), Bruce Sterling, Catherine Fieschi (Counterpoint), Daniel Kaplan (FING), Dennis Pamlin (WWF), Dominique Pestre (École des hautes études en sciences sociales), Douglas Repetto (Columbia University), Edith Ackermann (MIT), Elizabeth Goodman (UC Berkeley), Euan Semple, François Jégou (Solutioning), Frank Kresin (Waag Society), Gunter Pauli (ZERI), Jean-Michel Cornu (FING), John Thackara (Doors of Perception), Laurent Haug (LIFT conference), Marc Giget (Conservatoire National Des Arts et Métiers), Marcos García (Medialab-Prado), Martin Duval (Bluenove), Michael Shiloh (Teach Me To Make), Mike Kuniavsky (ThingM), Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (French Government), Philippe Lemoine (LaSe), Rémi Dury (Da Fact), Rob Van Kranenburg (Waag Society), Timo Arnall, and Usman Haque (haque :: design + research).

The week before the LIFT France conference, on 9 and 10 June to be precise, you can attend the first edition of I Realize – The art of disruption, a conference held in Turin, Italy, only 370 km from Marseilles.

The organisers describe the event as “Two days aimed at identifying unsolved problems, suggesting possible (technological?) solutions and stimulating the creation of new disruptive start-ups in different fields:

I Eat: eating is not only about taste and quality anymore, but concerns issues as genetically engineered organisms (GEO), slow and bio food, fare trade and sustainability… and what would happen if a global blackout switched the electricity off tomorrow?

I Move & Interact: our ability to communicate and interact both as users and producers of information is more and more «anywhere, anytime, anyway». New physical and virtual ways of moving (or not moving…) are being developed but… (how) will we move in the future?

I Grow: individual growth and development is subject to an increasing number of inputs both on the intellectual side (design/media) and the physical/psychological side (wellness) …but are we really growing?”

Also this programme is ready (although in draft) and the speakers are Andrea Branzi (architect and designer), Alberto Cottica (Kublai project), Antonio Pascale (writer), Bruce Sterling (writer), Carlo Antonelli (Rolling Stone (Italia), Davide Scabin (chef), Elio (artist), Geoff Manaugh (BLDBLOG), Gianluigi Ricuperati (Abitare magazine), Igor Sibaldi (writer), Jennifer Higgie (Frieze magazine), Leonardo Camiciotti (TOP-IX), Maurizio Cilli (architect and urban designer), Moshe Bar, Nicolas Nova (LIFT lab), Peter Saville (founder of Factory Record), and Vittorio Pasteris (Lastampa.it).

4 April 2009

A post to look at and to act upon

Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic
Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic need your help.

Despite the fact that U.S. citizen Bruce Sterling and Serbian citizen Jasmina Tesanovic have been married for nearly five years, and for all I can tell still very much in love, US Immigrations doesn’t believe so.

Read full story

19 March 2009

Good design at Metropolis

Good Design
The March issue of Metropolis is focused on products with the theme of Good Design.

Several articles are fitting quite well with the topic of this blog:

What is good design?
By Peter Hall
The 20th-century definition of “good design” was driven primarily by form. Today the stakes are too high, and the world too complex, for a superficial response.

Good Is Sustainable (“Bending the Reeds” by Julie Taraska)
Good Is Accessible (“Updating a Workhorse”, an article on the Perkins Brailler by Kristi Cameron)
Good Is Functional (“Redefining Design” by Jennifer Kabat)
Good Is Well Made (“In Praise of the Supernormal”, Paul Makovsky interviews Jasper Morrison)
Good Is Emotionally Resonant (“Selective Memories”, Donald Norman on creating an evocative user experience)
Good Is Enduring (“Mari on Mari”, a profile on Enzo Mari by Martin C. Pedersen)
Good Is Socially Beneficial (“Products For a New Age”, Ken Shulman on how to deal with the world’s most vexing problems)
Good Is Beautiful (“Empty Promise”, a profile of Muji by Mason Currey)
Good Is Ergonomic (“A Call to Arms”, Suzanne LaBarre on the design of prosthetics)
Good Is Affordable (“Banal Genius”, Paul Makovsky on Sam Hecht’s intriguing Under a Fiver collection)

The New Reality
Motor City Blues (Michael Silverberg on the Detroit three)
Graduating Class (students completing ten top industrial-design programs talk about their career plans)
Surviving the Storm (Belinda Lanks on how retailers look for new ways to attract shoppers in a hostile business climate)

Within the Product of No Product
By John Hockenberry
What are the implications for industrial designers if the strongest consumer impulse becomes not buying?

Product Panic: 2009
By Bruce Sterling
What’s an industrial designer to do in the midst of economic chaos? Our columnist offers some career advice.

Rekindling the Book
By Karrie Jacobs
Can Amazon’s new digital reader do for print what the iPod did for music?

(via Designing for Humans)

17 March 2009

Nokia’s Julian Bleecker essay on design, science, fact and fiction

Design Fiction
Julian Bleecker of Nokia calls it a “short essay”, but “Design Fiction: A Short Essay on Design, Science, Fact and Fiction” is really a 97 page book.

“Extending this idea that science fiction is implicated in the production of things like science fact, I wanted to think about how this happens, so that I could figure out the principles and pragmatics of doing design, making things that create different sorts of near future worlds. So, this is a bit of a think-piece, with examples and some insights that provide a few conclusions about why this is important as well as how it gets done. How do you entangle design, science, fact and fiction in order to create this practice called “design fiction” that, hopefully, provides different, undisciplined ways of envisioning new kinds of environments, artifacts and practices. […]

The essay is a way of describing why alternative futures that are about people and their practices are way more interesting here than profit and feature sets. It’s a way to invest some attention on what can be done rather immediately to mitigate a complete systems failure; and part an investment in creating playful, peculiar, sideways-looking things that have no truck with the up-and-to-the-right kind of futures. […]

Design Fiction is making things that tell stories. It’s like science-fiction in that the stories bring into focus certain matters-of-concern, such as how life is lived, questioning how technology is used and its implications, speculating bout the course of events; all of the unique abilities of science-fiction to incite imagination-filling conversations about alternative futures. It’s about reading P.K. Dick as a systems administrator, or Bruce Sterling as a software design manual. It’s meant to encourage truly undisciplined approaches to making and circulating culture by ignoring disciplines that have invested so much in erecting boundaries between pragmatics and imagination.

Design is about the future in a way similar to science fiction. It probes imaginatively and materializes ideas, the way science fiction materializes ideas, oftentimes through stories. What are the ways that all of these things — these canonical ways of making and remaking and imagining the world — can come together in a productive way, without hiding the details and without worrying about the nonsense of strict disciplinary boundaries?

Read Julian’s introduction
Download essay

1 March 2009

KashKlash booklet now online

KashKlash
After the project, the collaborative website, the game, now also the booklet.

KashKlash is an open forum and web project focusing on alternative economies in a post-money future. What will such a world look like? How will the concept of value be measured? What concepts will shape the formal and informal economies? Bright thinkers from around the world came together online to discuss, debate and ideate in this innovative and exciting project.

KashKlash is a collaborative project between Heather Moore of Vodafone, Experientia and a group of independent visionaries. The project started with four bright and innovative provocateurs, Nicolas Nova, Joshua Klein, Bruce Sterling, and Régine Debatty, and as the debate gathered steam, contributions, comments, flickr photos and twitter streams rolled in from more than 50 additional participants to shape and envision possible futures.

Download booklet (pdf)

1 March 2009

The KashKlash game at LIFT09

Bruce Sterling
We just came back from the LIFT conference and have lots to blog about. Our LIFT experience started off with the KashKlash game, an action-packed workshop that explored alternative methods of exchange [and I helped prepare].

The focus was on a possible future ecosystem – in a new world where today’s aging, less useful and even dangerous financial systems are replaced by (or mixed with) more disruptive innovations and exchanges. Imagine yourself deprived of all of today’s financial resources. Maybe you’re a refugee or stateless. Yet you still have your handset and laptop and Internet and a broadband cellphone connection….

This is one of the provocations posed on KashKlash, an open forum and web project focusing on alternative economies in a post-money future. What will such a world look like? How will the concept of value be measured? What concepts will shape the formal and informal economies? Bright thinkers from around the world came together online to discuss, debate and ideate in this innovative and exciting project.

KashKlash is a collaborative project between Heather Moore of Vodafone, Experientia and a group of independent visionaries. The project started with four bright and innovative provocateurs, Nicolas Nova, Joshua Klein, Bruce Sterling, and Régine Debatty, and as the debate gathered steam, contributions, comments, flickr photos and twitter streams rolled in from more than 50 additional participants to shape and envision possible futures.

Here is how Bruce Sterling, the game master par excellence, introduced the game:

“This is the KashKlash game. It is a game of development, design, construction, building. What you are trying to do is dominate the world with your group’s theory of how the world should be.

So you are going to use these devices to construct a model of your civilisation. Unfortunately you have to bid for them, and you also have to communicate among one another, to get your hands on these delightful building materials.

Now you each have different advantages and deficits.

This is the high-tech group here. They have more money than anybody else and instead of the normal chopsticks, straw, clay and cheap string, they have exciting high-tech girders.

The rather emergent slumdogs group over there repesents tomorrow’s emerging economy. There are more of them than anybody else. But they have a lesser income and lesser communication than anybody else.

This group here, the Communists, have a relatively modest income in cash, but they have an open means of communication and solidarity. They have more communication and less cash.

And this group here which represents the marketeers has modest communication skills but a booming and sometimes crashing economy.

So each turn you are going to get some money and communication tokens that you can use to bid for things and to build things. So you can buy these materials with your tokens.

Now I am the auctioneer. I am the invisible hand of the market.”

The game was won by the Pragmatic Communities, who – pragmatically – joined forces with the High-tech Progressives.

You can watch the video of the KashKlash workshop (and of many other workshops) on the Klewel website. On Flickr you can see about 75 photos of the workshop.

1 March 2009

Web 2.0: a magic Ponzi scheme from a demon haunted world

Bruce Sterling at Webstock
Bruce Sterling keynoted last week on “The Short but Glorious Life of Web 2.0 and What Comes Afterward” at Webstock in Wellington.

No video is (yet) available, but American journalist Annalee Newitz was there and she reports:

Sterling began his talk by poking fun at Web 2.0, calling it mostly a social network of investors and developers. He complained that it’s not an ideology or set of aesthetic tenants; it’s just a little network – “a little network for the network.” He talked about how Web 2.0 uses the Web as a “platform” for services, and then dismissed that as an “utter violation of common sense” based on the kind of thinking, translated into the financial realm, that caused the current global financial crisis, where mortgages are aggregated together and turned into a kind of Ponzi scheme platform.

Sterling acknowledged that of course Web 2.0 is not the same thing as the financial system, “but that frail and problematic system was what funded Web 2.0. After all, Web 2.0 is supposed to be business.”

Read full story

Other local bloggers like Ben Kepes and Daniel Nations also wrote on Sterling’s talk but seemed not to have liked what they heard.

UPDATE:
Here is the transcript of the talk.

13 February 2009

Kazys Varnelis’ new book on network culture

Kazys Varnelis
Kazys Varnelis [CV | blog], the author of Networked Publics and the Director of the Network Architecture Lab at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, is writing a new book and posting drafts online.

“My current research project—already well underway—is a book that sets out to synthesize a historical understanding of our era, coming to terms with the changed conditions in culture, subjectivity, ideology, and aesthetics that characterize our new, networked age. I explore how the network is not merely a technology with social ramifications but rather unites changes in society, economy, aesthetics, and ideology.

Just as the machine made modern industrialization possible and also acted as a model for a rationalized, compartmentalized modern society while the programmable computer served the same role for the flexible socioeconomic milieu of postmodernism, today the network not only connects the world, it reconfigures our relationship to it. In this book I will argue that many of the key tenets of culture since the Enlightenment: the subject, the novel, the public sphere, are being radically reshaped.”

Read full story

(via Bruce Sterling)

7 February 2009

UX Week 2008 videos

UX Week
Over the last months, Adaptive Path has been uploading videos of their latest UX Week that took place in August 2008.

Donald Norman conversing with Adaptive Path president and founder Peter Merholz
Author and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group

Scott Griffith about the car sharing experience at Zipcar (synopsis)
Chairman and CEO of Zipcar

Dennis Wixon about the challenge of emotional innovation (synopsis)
Manager of the user research team at Microsoft Surface

Dave Wolf about a prototype for democracy in the 21st century (synopsis)
Vice president of Synergy

Dan Saffer about designing for gesture and touch (synopsis)
Experience design director at Adaptive Path

Bruce Sterling about user experience in the Balkans
Science fiction author, design essayist, and net critic

Jennifer Bove and Ben Fullerton about what makes a memorable service experience (synopsis)
Jennifer Bove, vice president of user experience at HUGE, and Ben Fullerton, interaction designer at IDEO

Audrey Chen about The Daily Show (synopsis)
Senior Information Architect at Comedy Central

Aaron Powers about human-robot interaction (synopsis)
Human-Robot Interaction Software Engineer at iRobot

Jay Torrence and Sarah B. Nelson about the Neo-Futurists (synopsis)
Jay Torrence, artistic director of the Neo-Futurists theatre company, and Sarah B. Nelson, design strategist at Adaptive Path

Jane McGonigal about game design and the future of happiness (synopsis)
Game designer and future forecaster

Rod Naber and Dan Levine about Current TV (synopsis)

Dan Albritton about game playing on large displays, with cell phones as controllers
Co-founder, Megaphone

Aurora panel about the future of the web browser (synopsis)
Following the release of Aurora, a panel discussion about the project was hosted at UX Week by Leah Buley. The panellists included Dan Harrelson, Julia Houck-Whitaker and Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path, Alex Faaborg of Mozilla Labs, futurist Jamais Cascio.

Enjoy (and thank you, Adaptive Path).

5 February 2009

David Orban on the spime innovations and its dilemmas

David Orban
David Orban, founder & chief evangelist of WideTag, Inc. (OpenSpime) and advisor to the newly announced Singularity University, recently spoke at TechnoArk in Switzerland.

His summary:

When you set out to make into reality something that has been dreamed up by a science fiction writer, Bruce Sterling in our case, you have to carefully balance many factors. On one hand you have to freedom of interpreting the original vision almost any way you want, as there is nobody to tell you that you are wrong. On the other hand, you are not in the same business of imagining a future that might never become reality, as a writer of fiction is, you are supposed to carry a message that indeed is in touch with reality. Maybe extending it, or stretching it even towards the goals that you set, but nonetheless there have to be ways for you to show that what you are planning is doable. And then do it!

One consequence of the innovations that we introduce, and of the open, and transparent manner that we talk about them at conferences, and post about them on our blog or the OpenSpime twitter account, is that people come to us with their very welcome feedback, criticism, advice, which in turn of course influences our way of thinking, and implementing the new generations of ideas that we develop in the meantime.

Watch video

29 January 2009

Pachube: connecting environments, patching the planet

Pachube
Pachube is a web service that enables you to connect, tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices, buildings and environments around the world.

The key aim is to facilitate interaction between remote environments, both physical and virtual. Apart from enabling direct connections between any two environments, it can also be used to facilitate many-to-many connections: just like a physical “patch bay” (or telephone switchboard) Pachube enables any participating project to “plug-in” to any other participating project in real time so that, for example, buildings, interactive installations or blogs can “talk” and “respond” to each other.

Pachube is a little like YouTube, except that, rather than sharing videos, Pachube enables people to monitor and share real time environmental data from sensors that are connected to the internet. Pachube acts between environments, able both to capture input data (from remote sensors) and serve output data (to remote actuators). Connections can be made between any two environments, facilitating even spontaneous or previously unplanned connections. Apart from being used in physical environments, it also enables people to embed this data in web-pages, in effect to “blog” sensor data.

Tish Shute of Ugotrade has been conducting a lengthy interview with Pachube founder, Usman Haque, which just got published. The interview describes how Haque was influenced by Dutch architect Constant Nieuwenhuys and thinkers such as Adam Greenfield and Bruce Sterling, how Pachube was founded in response to current predicaments within the field of ubiquitous computing and how “an ethically driven business model [will] allow a diverse group of companies and individuals to transition to the internet of things”.

Sensor/actuator integrations are a part of what Pachube is about, and an interest in home automation and energy management is giving a lot of early momentum to Pachube.

But Usman makes clear Pachube is about “environments” rather than “sensors.” “An ‘environment’ has dynamic frames of reference, all of which are excluded when simply focusing on devices, objects or mere sensors”. A central part of Pachube is the development of the Extended Environments Markup Language. […]

Pachube is here to make it easier to participate in what I expect to be a vast ‘eco-system’ of conversant devices, buildings & environments.

Pachube will facilitate the development of a huge range of new products and services that will arise from extreme connectivity. It’s relatively easy for large technology companies like Nike and Apple to transition into the Internet of Things, but Pachube will be particularly helpful for that huge portion of smaller scale industry players that *want* to become part of it, but which are only now waking up to the potentials of the internet — small and medium scale designers, manufacturers and developers who are very good at developing their products but don’t have the resources to develop in-house a massive infrastructure for their newly web-enabled offerings.

Basically, having built a generalized data-brokering backend to connect physical (and virtual) entities to the web, others can now start to build the applications that make the connections really useful.

And here is the phrase I think is most important of all:

“It’s relatively easy for large technology companies like Nike and Apple to transition into the Internet of Things, but Pachube will be particularly helpful for that huge portion of smaller scale industry players that *want* to become part of it, but which are only now waking up to the potentials of the internet — small and medium scale designers, manufacturers and developers who are very good at developing their products but don’t have the resources to develop in-house a massive infrastructure for their newly web-enabled offerings.”

Read full interview

(via Bruce Sterling)

27 January 2009

Two Experientia/Vodafone workshops at the upcoming LIFT conference

LIFT 2009
Experientia, in collaboration with the Vodafone User Experience team, is running two workshops on 25 February at the upcoming LIFT conference to present the results of two recent projects and explore their impact.

KashKlash: exchanging the future

Join us for a workshop to explore alternative methods of exchange. The focus is on a possible future ecosystem – in a new world where today’s ageing, less useful and even dangerous financial systems are replaced by (or mixed with) more disruptive innovations and exchanges. Imagine yourself deprived of all of today’s financial resources. Maybe you’re a refugee or stateless. Yet you still have your handset and laptop and Internet and a broadband cellphone connection….

This is one of the provocations posed on KashKlash , an open forum and web project focusing on alternative economies in a post-money future. What will such a world look like? How will the concept of value be measured? What concepts will shape the formal and informal economies? Bright thinkers from around the world came together to discuss, debate and ideate in this innovative and exciting project.

KashKlash is a collaborative project between Heather Moore of Vodafone, Irene Cassarino, Mark Vanderbeeken and Michele Visciola of Experientia and a group of independent visionaries. The project started with four bright and innovative provocateurs, Nicolas Nova, Joshua Klein, Bruce Sterling, and Régine Debatty, and as the debate gathered steam, contributions, comments, flickr photos and twitter streams rolled in from more than 50 additional participants to shape and envision possible futures.

Intrigued? We are looking forward to exchanging ideas with you. See you at the workshop!

Lifestream – Visualizing my data
Explorations of large quantity information visualization

Current technologies allow people to capture, warehouse and retrieve vast amounts of data; more information than we can comprehend as individuals – more than we will ever need. As we move through our days, generating text messages, phone calls, photos, documents, and their inherent metadata, we are not conscious of the cloud of information that we create and carry with us.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded by more information than we can process, it is tempting to entrust this information to computers to store and organise for us. It is tempting to think that the more we store, the safer our memories and important ideas are. We let paradigms that are logical for computers govern the way our personal data is organised and accessed, at the expense of more human forms of interaction.

This workshop explores new paradigms to overcome the defects of current visualization methods. How can interfaces support traditional ways of coping with large amounts of information? How best can we facilitate such cognitive processes such as forgetting and constructing memories? Can our data be presented to us in such a way that it accrues layers of meaning, enhances nostalgia about our past, keeps us in contact with the present, while aiding us in thinking ahead? How can we design information patterns to make visible the connections, patterns and coincidences in our lives, remind us of favourite memories and moments, and allow all that is no longer relevant to fall away like dust.

The workshop by Willem Boijens, Vodafone, and Jan-Christoph Zoels, Experientia will introduce insights and examples of information visualizations, engage the participants in interactive exercises and team discussions.

I might want to add that the original concepts on both projects stem from Willem Boijens (Vodafone) as well, who was also the driving force in making sure that these projects would be presented at the LIFT conference.

A third workshop might be added still. More soon.

4 January 2009

People-centred design in times of frugality

community
What are the profound socio-cultural changes currently taking place and are people-centred designers well equipped to help companies and institutions address this new context?

The current economic recession is turning out to be very severe (The Guardian evokes the spectre of a 1930s-style depression), with rich countries being the biggest losers, and this slowly unfolding reality will drastically transform our societies and our lifestyles, our values and our choices.

In a recent article on the cultural shift currently taking place in the US, Paul Harris paints a dire picture. But he also starts defining the values that define our new world: a rejection of luxury and excess replaced by a new sense of frugalism (which doesn’t necessarily mean quality), a renewed attention on the lives of ordinary people, a greater focus on community and an end to individualism as the dominant cultural, social and economic idea.

“America,” he says, “now is more frugal, less consumerist and more community-minded. But it is also poorer, angry and afraid.”

Reflecting on this from a European perspective, where communities are traditionally stronger, as is the role of government and the public sphere, I can see the following seven clusters of values taking shape:

  • A shift in the price/value balance when buying products or services. An entirely different logic comes into play now. When people are tight with money, they want their basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) to be addressed in the cheapest possible way, whereas other higher level acquisitions are only done when the vendor can guarantee security, durability and long-term value. This applies also to corporate purchases. The throw-away culture is grinding to a halt;
     
  • A shift in needs: what seemed liked needs just half a year ago, are no longer perceived as such. There is a back to basics and a no frills culture, but it is not yet clear what that might imply on a larger scale, as things are evolving quicly and little research exists;
     
  • A renewed focus on people’s physical community: your neighbourhood, town, core friends and family – the people who are always there and can help you out if needed. You look for company when you are in trouble;
     
  • When people are spending more times in their physical communities, their demands for good infrastructure, housing, city planning, transit and energy are bound to increase, and these will need to be met by various Public Works-like public programmes;
     
  • But it’s not just the hardware that matters. There will also be an increased demand on public institutions to deliver good services. The excesses of politicians and public servants are no longer tolerated during times of scarcity. People will demand effective policy making, good public administration, and little waste of their tax money. Many politicians, too steeped in their world of political games, have not yet understood this. Friction is bound to occur. Social and service design are bound to increase (read this article by Alice Rawsthorn);
     
  • Increased demand on companies: companies will have to listen more and help people achieve their goals. Modesty and long term commitment are more important than ever (which is surprisingly similar to the discourse one can hear in emerging markets);
     
  • A fundamental questioning of the growth paradigm: the paradigm of everlasting growth in a limited ecosystem has proven to be a fallacy. Most people – who see their real incomes decline and an environment in increasing disrepair – are not hard to convince of this. What this will imply, remains to be determined and invented, but changes are bound to be dramatic. The Slow Food movement provides one possible way of looking at the future, but also they will need to become less elitist and more down-to-earth.

Understanding this new context, these new (or old) values and needs, and helping companies and institutions to create products and services that address them, is the job of people who do people-centred design.

Each of the seven clusters above provide opportunities for down to earth companies who care about the people that buy what they create, and to public institutions that have a serious commitment to their constituents.

We, people-centred designers, will need to reinvent our trade. We will have to create a sharp vision, a fresh methodology, a bare bones consultancy model, and a clear value proposition within this new context.

We often pride ourselves on understanding the needs and contexts of people and helping companies to design products and services around them. This approach is now more needed that ever, but needs and contexts have changed tremendously. Can we deliver on this new challenge?

Probably not all of us, but our basic paradigm is strong and more relevant than ever.

More predictions:
Michael Bierut
Rachel Hinman
Brandon Schauer
Lee Shupp
Bruce Sterling

13 December 2008

Transformeurs 2009

Transformeurs 2009
Over the last few years many terms have been proposed to describe the future of the internet: pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence, physical computing, to the frustration of some. In the end the Internet of Things seems to have won and I am very pleased about that, as it is a term which is immediately graspable and distinctively non-jargon.

Now that the European Commission has put its formidable shoulders under the Internet of Things, people everywhere are starting to take notice.

On 30 January the LIFT conference people are helping the Swiss applied ICT research incubator TechnoArk with its upcoming conference Transformeurs 2009 (in French) on January 30 on the topic “Internet of things, internet of the future?”.

Daniel Kaplan (CEO of the FING), David Orban (of the Open Spime project, also known as Bruce Sterling’s alter-ego Bruno Argento) and Jean-Louis Fréchin (ENSCI and NoDesign) are the keynote speakers. Laurent Haug and Nicolas Nova of LIFT will moderate the workshops.

(via Laurent Haug)

19 November 2008

How to rob a bank without money?

KashKlash
“How can you rob a bank in a world without money?” wonders science fiction writer Bruce Sterling, one of the collaborators of the new foresight project KashKlash

KashKlash is a lively platform where you can debate future scenarios for economic and cultural exchange. Beyond today’s financial turmoil, what new systems might appear? Global/local, tangible/intangible, digital/physical? On the KashKlash site, you can explore potential worlds where traditional financial transactions have disappeared, blended, or mutated into unexpected forms. Understand the near future, and help shape it!

Imagine yourself deprived of all of today’s conventional financial resources. Maybe you’re a refugee or stateless — or maybe it’s the systems themselves that have gone astray. Yet you still have your laptop, the Internet, and a broadband mobile connection. What would you do to create a new informal economy that would help you get by? What would you live on? E-barter? Rationing? Gadgets? Google juice? Cellphone minutes? Imagine a whole world approaching that condition. Which of today’s major power-players would win and lose, thrive or fail? What strange new roles would tomorrow’s technology fill?

Besides Bruce Sterling, the initial collaborators are Régine Debatty (of we-make-money-not-art), Nicolas Nova (LIFT) and Joshua Klein (author and hacker), who have been collaborating on initiating the discussion.

KashKlash is now opening up to you. You can join and follow the debate of our experts or contribute yourself by leaving a comment on the different matters or fill out our KashKlash questionnaire.

This public domain project is conceived and led by Heather Moore of Vodafone’s Global User Experience Team and run by Experientia, an international forward-looking user experience design company based in Turin, Italy.

Check the project description for more info.