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I was only able to go to the Saturday talks in the CoCities conference. By all accounts, I seriously missed out on Sunday.

I wanted to write a nice wrap up of the ideas that I thought were hottest, but the weekend is over and all of the time has been sucked into a black hole of real life.

This was a great conference. I was really impressed by the organization. Especially the splendid quantity of outlets! Most importantly, the talks were excellent and the conversation was even better.

Here are the only three things I would improve for next year:
Coffee. There was a bit of a caffein distribution bottleneck. One of the organizers, Peter Bihr, told me his tale of woe, how they had tried so valiantly to have wonderful coffee, but were thwarted at every turn. I suggest that a simple self-serve coffee system can be all right, but everyone knows I am not a coffee person. I only drink it therapeutically.

Balance in topics. One data geek would do nicely. I am a data lover myself, but I having three talks (four, depending on how you count) about data collection and use means that there were topics that didn't get the attention they deserve. Which brings me to...

Sustainability. This is a big piece that was not talked about satisfactorily. Sure, the smart office building is in this realm, but it would have been really good to hear something about how technology is used to keep cars out of cities, or how technology is used to the benefit of urban agriculture. What is the place of nature in the city?

Warren Ellis
Mostly a science fiction writer

Screen shot 2011 02 27 at 16 18 08

No slides! Hooray!

Roadside Picnic is a Russian Sci-fi novel. Science fiction exists to cast a shadow over the present. We are haunted by what has not yet happened, especially so at this conference. The film based on the novel Roadside Picnic is called Stalker. What had not yet happened was Chernobyl.

The "Zone of Alienation" is what the Chernobyl area is called.
in 2003 there was a report that there are a couple cafes inside the zone. Bread and Vodka remain as currency for Chernobyl.

The Cafe in the Chernobyl Zone

The present is influenced by the future.

Ghost hunters are very technical people. They roam around with electromagnetic field readers.
20 years ago, William Burroughs was asserting that the human soul is an electromagnetic field. Science fiction haunting the future. (I bet you could find a Greek talking about the soul as an electromagnetic field.)

Archaeoacoustics is the study of old sounds (mmmmmmmm. Lovely idea. Looking on Wikipedia, it is an even more poetic discipline than it sounds at first. It's trying to read ancient clay objects as if they were vinyl records.)

UFOs are stress imagery.

Fault lines and electromagnetic fields create ghosts of the future. (lovely idea)

The future oozes up through cracks in the ground.
Mirages in time, reflections of the future.
Every city street is an electromagnetic cauldron.

RFID tags create huge electromagnetic fields. It's surprising.
(I guess that he is insinuating that we are unwittingly creating a conscious-altering environment for ourselves. Interesting idea, probably at least partly true.)
Experience-inducing fields.

AR to visualize the spirit track.

Ghost boxes are electromagnetic devices for communicating with ghosts through radio waves. Conversations with things that are not alive. We all do that regularly, with our sensors and devices and all.

Mostly, we are giving the gift of the digital city to our ruling classes (inviting fascism, as I was thinking earlier today)
We are depending on these incompetent people without vision to design our digital infrastructures. Sometimes the authorities are so incompetent that they are benign. Governments are not good at technology, which sometimes works to our advantage.

Don't give the keys to our digital infrastructure away.
People like the ones at this conference will create these concepts and these structures, but if we give them over to government and authority, they will turn around and guillotine us with them.

Don't get carried away.
Whose streets are these?
Our streets.

(I love how this closing keynote was in many ways a through-the-looking-glass version of the opening keynote. Well done.)

Dietmar Offenhuber

In the 1990s, we thought that the future would be virtual. No more travel. The death of the cities was predicted. Previously, Frank Lloyd Wright thought that telecommunications would spell the end of cities. But exactly the opposite has happened. Cities are our future. Urbanization is continuing and accelerating.

The SENSEable City Lab
Not architecture
Not a media lab
It's in an Urban Studies dept.

Kevin Lynch theorized that there are 5 elements needed to map urban environments:


Urban studies, research, and proliferation of data:
There is an idea that data is just out there and all we have to do is visualize it. But also important is who collects the data, where and when is it collected, how does it relate to reality in general. How do we generate and use data in this context?

Connections, Venice Biennale Project, 2006
They took a real-time telecommunications data set. The data visualization is shaped by privacy concerns; the data is aggregated and corsened to protect people's privacy.

Phone data can be used to find out things about locals vs tourists, cars vs pedestrians. For example, if we know where the pedestrians are, we can send the busses to them instead of making the pedestrians chase the busses.

(Is it wrong that I get tired of how data visualizations all look similar? It's the tools dictating the visualization. More questions of representation and how our tools and our culture--and our tools as part of our culture--dictate what we see in a normative, negative way.)

The New York Talk Exchange
How does NY relate to the rest of the world?

(Erik Hogan's--not sure of name--visualizations are a bit fresher-looking. Cool that this is shown right after I said I was getting bored. It's like the good karma fairy was listening!)

How does globalization unfold on the neighborhood level? In Brooklyn, you can see how immigrant families use their cell phones. They did an ethnographic study on how immigrants use their cell phones. There are many social implications to this work.

Trash Track, 2009

This is an example where generating the data itself is very hard and expensive.

In this case, there was no data set. Global supply chains are highly automated and tracked, but at the other end of the system, for trash removal, this is not the case. Citizens know little about what happens to their trash. Even the professionals in the waste management field have spotty knowledge about how the system works. The data sets break down at the intersections when trash moves from one company to another, one process to another. This allows for abuses, like the international trade of electronic waste.

They decided to follow individual items from pick up to end. Using rfid was not possible because there is no ifrastructure to read and follow them. They used active location sensors which could transmit their location through the phone network, using cell id and gps. They recruited 500 volunteers.

Volunteers each gave 20 objects to donate in Seattle.
The tagging process was a nasty business, how to keep the sensor attached to the objects? They had to protect the sensors with insulation foam.

Volunteers then could follow the objects in real time.

They followed the items for 6 months and finished with a map of 3k objects. The electronics and hazardous waste travels most. Sometimes the trajectories are erratic. We see that some electronic waste traveled across the country and back to get to the same end spot as another piece of waste that traveled directly. This shows where there is room for improved efficiency.

There is EPA data showing landfills and recycling centers. When mapped, it mirrors population density and rural populations. They mapped the sensor data with the landfill data.

Another aspect was to observe the volunteers. They followed the items on their own. People understand very well how to read a gps trace.

Copenhagen Wheel, 2009
There are more bikes than people in Copenhagen, and the city is aiming to replace vehicle traffic with bikes.

They wanted to use bikes as sensors, but they didn't want to attach a lot of sensors to bikes or riders. They wanted something compact. So, they designed a sensor wheel that could be attached to any bike. The back wheel has a motor to support your bike efforts and also senses air quality, noise, etc.

You can't have air quality and noise sensors at knee level, so they are rethinking this thing now.

At this time there are 50 bikes in production. You can access your own data collected by smartphone application or web. You can choose to share your data or not. In return for collecting this data, you get real-time feedback about your behavior, road conditions, traffic, etc.


Models of data collecting are very important to think about.

Matt Biddulph

How does big data connect theories about cities to results and to products we can actually make?

We build our understanding about systems by making models. The problem with models is that to make them work we simplify to falsehood.

All models are wrong but some are useful.

We are at the end of theory. The science of the future will not make progress by making models. Instead of making models, we can now gather data from the real world and analyze the real world.

People are city biology. People make cities too complicated to model. When you look at the movement of bikes around London, it looks like a city breathing.

The street is platform. We can't see all the data that is in the street. We can't measure them. Mobile devices are the city sensors. Phones are packed full of sensors. Phones are no longer blind, they are networked and smart.

The flip side to having all this data is how to process it and make it useful. At some point you can't process all the data you collect with the power you have. Google is trying to tackle this problem on the web. Indexing billions of web pages and data sets.

Take some data, map it, then reduce it.
The mapping and the reducing stage can be broken up and done in parallel. Turn the problem into something piecemeal and manageable. Add more machines as you have more data, so that it scales.

(Why do we need to process all of the data. Scaling to the size of the world sounds like a fool's errand. Whatever happened to the sample? Processing more data than you need just because you can is idiotic. I'd like to understand in which situations the use of big data is really useful and productive and in which situations it is geek masturbation... Not that I am against such a thing all the time, but I do think it is important to be honest about what we are doing and why.)

Can the phone be our sole source of data? (I don't understand this question. It can be, sure. Should it be? Why should it be?) Does the information translate back into useful and desirable data? Can I get a feel for a city I have never been to because of the data we've sifted and sorted from mobile phones?

We wanted to test the data to see if we can observe patterns and structures that we can show to be true.

For example, we looked at search patterns. What did people look for and where were they when they looked for it? We discovered that people search for Ikea on their phones when they are near Ikea, and we also saw Prenzlauerberger yuppies looking for Ikea from home. Also, we saw a spike on Saturday.

(The real question then is how does this information get back to the user in a way that is beneficial to her and not just helping a corporation to learn how to target advertising.)

When you search you are revealing your goals, but in a mobile phone, we also have a lot more passive context.

The Starbucks index. By processing POI data, we can tell you meaningful things about where you are now. For example, we can tell you how Starbucksy an area is.

If we look at how many times each map tile on is loaded, we get an attention map of the world. Which parts of the city do people care about? If we look at patterns from the use of the drive navigation application, we see something else. We see where people who don't know their way around are going and when. Commuter data would be different.

You can use cities you know to check the viability of the data sets so that you can also make predictions about cities you don't know. Validating common-sense predictions.

Design with data... where is the product... how do we make it make sense?

Mike Kuniavsky "Smart Things" is a good book

What happens when the intelligence of the web is embedded in stuff in the real world? Information has a grain and different kinds of data are appropriate for different products. Data as a new raw material (love).


Question: I want a company to store my data and give it back to me so I can use it with another service. (Oh, God yes!)

Matt's response, from a personal point of view, not Nokia's. His personal philosophy is that yes, this should be the case. You should be able to get your data out.

(I didn't like it when Matt prefaced that statement by saying that he works at Nokia because his start up was acquired. That may be how he got there, but if that is why he's still there, he should get another job. Anyhow, It was an uncomfortable question and he handled it with aplomb overall.)

Anil Bawa-Cavia
Social technologist, former last fm developer

His previous work at last FM was about big data, mapping, and collaborative filters.

Living cities are mostly invisible.
We think of cities as what is visible: roads, buildings, infrastructure. But cities are also made of flows and interactions: Poeple, goods, vehicles, etc. What are the interactions between these duel entities?

The living city is unplanned and is in conflict with the planned pavement. Everything unplanned is the living city.

Desire paths of data.


Thinking about the social life of the city, they analyzed data from Foursquare (that's a pretty specific subset of citizens) When you visualize this data, you see social hubs and walkable cells. Most people are happy to walk 7 minutes.

You can use this data to compare the social lives of different cities (so far, this data is not telling me anything I didn't already know about Manhattan, London, or Paris. Srsly. Anybody living there could have drawn these maps without any data set whatsoever.)

Cities feel fragmented when you can't walk from A to B.

Paris has fewer big clusters. It is more continuous than NY or London. Parisian foursquare users don't cross the Perif' (Nobody does. Again, nothing new to anybody who lives in Paris)

They were given access to cell phone data to study. They mapped out who is calling whom most. This is an example of a way of redrawing boundaries.(Now this is interesting!) Communication boundaries rather than political boundaries. (You know I love everything that hits political boundaries with the fuzzy warmness of more meaningful boundaries.)

You can find ways of making real pictures of neighborhoods.

He showed a beautiful animated map of the London bus system. When you look at this, you see the historical center of the system affecting the flow still today.

Build a macroscope. Take a step back and see the city as a single entity.

Mapping the subway data shows how the city moves, Synchronized in the morning rush hour, less at night.
(really lovely visualization here). This comes from rfid data from people using train cards. They have 2 million public samples and they also get extra research data. 300 million trips. (Wow)

They also looked at real-time bike share data. Volumes of flows, which bike stations are full and which are empty when.

(I would like to hear more concrete examples of how this big data modeling is used to solve real concrete problems or discover real useful conclusions that surprise us or are counter-intuitive. So far, the data is only reinforcing for the most part what any regular member of the living city knows intuitively. The pictures are pretty and all, but... I do want to know what the purpose is. Also, when is processing the data worth the effort is what I am wondering. If it only tells you what you already know, how is it useful? In predicting things about places you don't know? Maybe. Anil gave a good concrete example of using the public transit data to minimize system disruptions, but his real answer was that he is a researcher so it is not his responsibility to find applications for the information. That is up to engineers, designers, and industry.)

Making the living city tangible and knowable is their goal. When we know the living city, we can make the infrastructure responsive to it.

(This is an interesting goal, and a pretty good one on its surface. I do have the feeling that there is a tendency to say, "Here's data! What can we do with it?" instead of saying, "Here is an urban failure! What kind of data could help me fix it?" I'm a pragmatic designer-person, so this rubs me the wrong way.)

Ton Zijlstra
Networked Living, open government, giving skills and tools to the people.

Spice up your city-Just Add Open Government (slideshare)

Cities are unpredictable, but recognizable at the same time. They are complex, adaptive systems. Serendipity. Creativity. Excitement.

Government, on the other hand, feels boring. Open government is not about opening up concrete silos, or mere transparency. What this is really about is the same kind of digital disruption that changed the music industry. If government doesn't open from the inside, it will be opened from the outside.

Participation and Open Data
This is not about town hall meetings followed by representational action. Participation is really about living in your community. Urban farming, for example. There were no grocery stores in inner-city Detroit which sold fresh vegetables, so people started growing vegetables in the middle of the city. That is participation.

Opening public data. This data could be used in many other ways. This is about tapping an abundant resource which nobody has access to. This is big data.

(Weird that he is using a Flickr api project to illustrate a point about open government data. Isn't there a great government data visualization example?)

EU documents are used to train google translator.

PSI-->Beurocrats for public data. It already is the law that public data should be usable, but practice does not always follow. Problem: open standards, machine-readability.

Participation is the path to data reuse. Government as a platform.

Your local environment is your natural place of action. Examples: data about health inspection reports are connected to restaurants in a usable way. Citizens report civic issues or suggestions on a map.

Data often gets used in a useless way, to tell you nothing new or to make pretty pictures with no real readable information at all. Zijlstra calls this "flat" use of data.

It gets really interesting when you COMBINE data sets. (hells ya)
Example of cholera outbreaks and water sources on a map of London to discover the contamination source (this is a pre-digital example, so maybe the machine-readable bit is not really important)

Citizen-generated noise-pollution grid example. Private citizens sharing data is interesting.

Corporations are also starting to share data about the provenance of their ingredients.

The point is, that when government opens its data, it encourages private citizens and corporations to augment and add to that data.

In Rotterdam, you can get an alert from a particular air quality sensor and set your own sensitivity. It helps you decide when it is safe for you to go out in a meaningful way.

We feed data into devices which act on the environment and then create their own data sets and feed them back into the system. (some examples would have been nice here. The one he gave was a bit slippery for me)

"What's the problem I want to address," is the first question. Finding the data and building the way to use it should follow from that. Start with your sphere of influence and your own problems. Figure out what kind of data you need and then go to the government and get it. All you need is a single civil servant who is interested in what you are doing. It's people, not government. People are easy to approach (this is the most important point!)


Question about Wikileaks
Wikileaks is what happens when government is not responsive.
Government should do its own leaking.

Question: How do you get data into government? How do you get government to use the data you create?
It can be very difficult when the citizen data doesn't tell the story that the government is interested in telling.

Pitt Moos, Smart Car marketing guy.

Mr. Moos is wearing some hott leather pants. I missed the beginning of this talk coming back late for lunch.
He's giving us the history of Smart cars, what they've learned.

There are a lot of complications with electric cars. Difficulties in crossing borders. (Not much talk about how dirty electricity really can be. Batteries, new technology, etc. Battery technology is one of the hardest and most important keys to our future. That would be a great talk for this conference.)

Cars can be charged at any 220 V household plug. The infrastructure is, in fact, already there. You can charge it overnight at home. 8 hours is long enough.

Getting in to China is difficult because they don't like to let foreign technology in.

Car to Go started in Ulm. This is Smart's own car sharing service. Pay by the minute. 80% of the rides people make are when they discover a car and then think of an errand they can do. (For the moment this works with non-electric cars. Electric cars will be less flexible.)

Paris wants an electric car sharing system by 2012. Smart lost the bid, but the system will be coming.

Smart is also working on cars and mopeds for individual mobility in cities.

The appearance of the Smart car is dictated to a great deal by its size. They do plan to make a four-seater. The 1.2 million current customers are very happy with the current look.

Georgina Voss
Homesense Project

Smarter Homes

Robot butlers, interactive coaters, etc.
Smart homes have failed. They were thought of in the 1950s, but we are still waiting. Smart homes so far have been prescriptive, the house as a technological system. The people inside have been left out. The living space is missing. The people shift around the tech instead of the tech shifting around the living.

Evolution of technology in the home.

The emerging middle classes can't afford servants and electricity becomes usable. Technology is built to replace the help.

Central heating, electricity. Devices creep in and shape the behavior of people in the home. The idea is to have more free time, but when you have increased domestic tech, you are expected to have an immaculate home all the time. It backfires. You have to do more work to keep up appearances.

Women move out to work and devices come to fill in. Toasters, kettles, etc. We see the rise of the gadget, central heating, larger systems in the house.

Computers. The workplace moves into the house. The barriers between home and work are broken.

Technology has moved into the home, but not in a bigger, networked way.

Technology will not save you. The equipment is too hard to maintain. What if you smart house system breaks down or malfunctions? It's bad enough when your smart phone doesn't work properly, what if the system that is broken is one that is feeding you and controlling the heat and air quality of your home?

Smart home technology is often based on what has been done in smart offices, but families do not function like companies. They do not have IT departments (excellent point!) Also, families evlolve. Needs change as children grow. It's not static. Family members do not agree on what the right environment is.

Another problem is that most of us are living in old, existing housing. Making an old building smart is hard. We have to work with what we've got. Also, this stuff is expensive!

People like homes. They don't really want perfection. We love creaks and personal space.

How can people make their homes smarter? Forget top-down design? They took 6 houses across Europe: apartments, houses, rented, owned, housemates, children, alone... but no cats? They put together a standard arduino kit (WANT, NEED!!!!!) Then they paired the homes with local experts who can teach how to use the kits.

They are about a month from the end of the project now.

One thing the people built was a sound detector to let you know when you are getting too loud for the neighbors. (Could be interesting to have the music turn itself down automatically at 10 pm) People designed answers to very specific problems. A coaster that reminds you to take a break from work, for example.

Bottom-up design allows for iteration. Different homes have different needs.

(At first I was very excited about this project, but when I saw the lame examples of what they are actually doing, I was really disappointed. It's not particularly visionary. Nothing that any old person with an Arduino can't do. I think the real reason that the smart home has failed is that all the technology is prorietary. You can't make your toaster talk to your alarm clock because there is no Open Source protocol. Srsly.)

Note: Chris Musgrave pointed me to WeBrick as an example of an existing open protocol for smart homes. Thanks!

Dannie Jost

Normative Aspects of Structures
Norm creating structures

Works at the World Trade Institute
Physicists, international law program
she bridges natural science and law in the perspective of international trade law

legal philosophies and natural science theories


Don't see the point of writing or speaking more clearly than I think (quote Niels Bohr)

There is no such thing as a structure, really.

I see architecture as a part of agriculture, but that's my problem.

Questions of representation

There is no space. It is all construction.
No orgasm, No cognition, all construction.

the process of cognition is egocentric not geocentric
mediates information into knowledge

So, what is there? There is information.

Folk Theories. All our theories are based on some experience and expectations, but not on reality.
They are robust for their cultural acceptance, not their truth.

We do not know where we are going.
It's an iterative process and not predictable.

Futurists and forecasts fail because of incompleteness in our knowledge.
We don't know much.
We have theory.
We have action.

Julie Cohen
attention to bounderies and permissions between networked and embodied space
changes in spatial production of power

politics is how we interact with each other.

contributors to this talk:
Mira Burri
Thomas Cottier
Maria Ana Corvaglia


Learning is experiential. You can transmit knowledge but you can't store it. Knowledge is cultural and collective.

Information has no expectations. Information does not shape our expectations. The normative aspects of structures are there all over. You create the structures and they have consequences.

Yay!! Great lady!!

Vini Tiet

Green buildings=very important
How do you do green buildings?
Lo-tech or hi-tech
lo=tech is thinking about how you build in a basic way
hi-tech is using sensors, etc

Franco-German office building in Munich
Glass Coffer
2 functions
aesthetic chessboard appearance
technical so windows can be opened even though it is near a road (acoustic)
and to have blinds for light

It is a DGNB certified building
have to think about the whole life cycle of the building
use, comfort, accessibility, air quality

The most green buildings are flexible. Something that will not have to be torn down in 50 years.
With this building, they first designed it so that you don't take up too much floor space holding up the building
Ceiling heats and cools
Batteryless, wireless motion sensors (you power the button by pushing on it.
Partitions are moveable so you don't have to throw them away.

The building generates huge amounts of data
the blinds can be changed in angle and height.
Measure light and blind angle to optimize according to the light outside
This reduces cooling costs dramatically
The blind goes down automatically when the sun is shining, but opens enough so you don't have to turn on the lights (before the need for turning on lights cancelled the saving in putting down the lights)

12k sensors in the building. 800 people in the building.
That's a lot of data to handle
Almost too much data.
Efficient programming of buildings is still in its infancy.

All protocols are closed.
All the data handling models are proprietary.
This kills innovation.

Yet, there is a big energy saving and economic incentive to let buildings be intelligent.

OPC tries to make an open interface for buildings. The closed structure makes huge cost barriers to entry.

Sami Niemelä
works with Greenfield
this guy works at "the fuzzy end of design"

Working on the now to the near future
screens in Helsinki Clearstream and the city together
They are supposed to give useful information
most screens are in pedestrian spaces, but they are not well
static maps on one side and ads on the other
the bluescreen of death is a common sight on screens like this in public spaces everywhere

design with the larger context in mind
chair in a room room is a building building in a city and so on

Also, design for the smaller context.

designing urban informatics is complex
there is never one single soilution, but several complicated solutions

paths edges districts landscapes landmarks
but also interfaces services data platforms connected objects infrastructures

And don't forget time.

Now-->daily-->never use

Maps can tell us where we are now. Can they tell us where we sill be in 10 minutes? How often I am going to be there?

How can locals get new value from their cities?

Shadow Cities--iphone game coming soon.
It's a layer on top of the city
gameplay happens on the map

How does the place I am now feel to me?

The Near Future
from the perspective of screens
the context of input
output is more variable, but input depends on the mobile device.
mobile phones are more personal
urban screens are not private.

How long you use different screens is also variable.
Street screens are not very inviting
computers suck us in
game play engages you over time when it is done well

Multiuser Proxemics
How can multiple users use the same screen simultaneously?

Where does the commercial information go? Can we mix public screens and commercial screens?
The UK Cross Rail service has been designed to make the difference between navigation, wayfinding, and commercial space clearly delimited.

Urban informatics, where to put them?
Project in a nature reservoir
Bad idea. Nobody wants that in a nature reservoir.

Polite and Curious
Design public screens that are polite.
Systems with a tone of voice
Systems with a personality
(me: systems always have personality and tone of voice, whether they are designed or not. Unfortunately when they are not explicitly designed, they often have shitty, asshole personalities)

Why does Watson have such a crap avatar?

Yahoo Talk Like a Person design template (me: I didn't know about this. My pet project at work!)

The Service Avatar

Be as smart as a puppy
The interaction shouldn't be human, but should be alive.

Party in Your Mouth

Nanotechnology is going to be a great enabler. Soon anything will potentially be a service avatar. screens will be everywhereç

When everything is connected, it might be time to do the opposite. Design systems that are only there when we need them, that are not in our way. Just enough is more.

(me: right on, brother. This is my favorite guy so far.)

Juha van't Zelfde
cultural entrepreneur

Vurb foundation, built a prototype that gives you access to public objects
potentially, access to all kinds of networked systems
example, control the lighting in a nightclub (me: a nightclub is not a public space)

Interest in abandoned and repurposed spaces, like everyone.
How to navigate through a city in an analog way, in 2000, 2001

How can you use cell phones and social networks to get people more engaged in an event, help them navigate through the urban space

Online events
All work for the Amsterdam museum. Some large and some smaller-scale projects.

How can you make audiences cross over from one type of event to another
How do you bring it to the basic interface, simplify?
This kind of thinking led to the founding of his own company called Non-Fiction

Translate informal high-tech stuff for traditional, old-style institutions (museums, concert halls, etc.)
Cultural hardware (me: love this idea)

Offline networking and collaborative efforts
140 portraits in a castle.
photocopied them and posted them on the floor. Used them as an image cloud.
Then audience members made a collaborative crowd-sourced exhibition based on this.

Me: The real virtuality of virtual reality

Amsterdam 2020 project.
Asked people to post what they would tweet in 2020.
Get 6-7 threads about the future of Amsterdam

Land art (Almere). Pull people in to interact wiht the physical landscape art, generate data by doing so, which itself generates new art.

Cerveny, Burke, and van't Zelfde founded Vurb to work on how to make public spaces interactive.

How can you get into systems that are there.
For example, bollards in the the street.
How can they be more open and accessible?
service discovery in public spaces
collaboratively mediated

current focus: real-time data transmission
urbanode wants to allow more control by people for the networked public space hardware. (lighting, audio) demo was done in a night club with lighting.

(me: Do people want to control this kind of thing with a remote control? I think people are more interested in things happening automagically. We want sensors to read our minds and control the lighting according to our deep desires while we dance. Who wants to remote control the lighting during a concert? That's what the light engineer is for...

I realize that this is not the point exactly, but I do think it is an important point. I think we need to move away from settings and more toward using the meta data)

On public objects: Connected things and civic responsibilities in the networked city
Adam Greenfield, Urbanscale
The place of public objects in...

Urbanscale, NY. Design for networked cities
Stay close to the frustrations and heartbreaks of the user in dealing with interface of everyday life

techno determinism vs social constructionism
Does tech create culture or does culture create tech?

Robert Moses
mid 20th century
modern infrastructure in NYC
pushed through by his own will (much like Paris)

some say Moses inscribed his own racism into the highway system.
Overpasses were built to be too low for busses.
If they couldn't get through, then poor people can't get into the city

Parks and stuff are built inside the ring of overpasses.

Be careful how we design our own prejudices into our technological systems.

On the other hand, technology has a way of growing around these prejudices. Technology has its own intent.
(me: What does technology want?

Now we are looking at objets that record, monitor, act on information in a way that can be very deterministic.

networked technologies Greenfield finds difficult
Traffic sensor. Flashes blue light when it senses a bicycle or pedestrian.
Not networked, not gathering persistence information.
This is the kind of thing nobody has much of a problem with.

Sensor-equipped ad in Seoul.
Red carpet in the subway. When you walk by, flash bulbs go off for the Paparazzi.
intention is to make you feel
Greenfield sees this as an unwelcome intrusion, but it's temporary, not networked, etc.
Not useful, but not horrible.
Touch vending machine, Tokyo
Does not display all products. It has a camera and analyses your age and stuff.
Greenfield finds that problematic because he doesn't want to accept that

Video billboard with a small camera in the frame. Hidden.
The analytics package tries to gauge your reaction to it. Male or female, are you paying attention to it or not, what age are you?
Even if you are not paying attention you are generating value

You generate value for someone else without your consent simply by using public space. This is problematic.

A commercial entity is deriving profit from your participation in public space.
We should all share in the profit of public space
Also, it is terribly normative.

His problem: targeting too good
My problem: targeting not good enough bc too normative

Wellington cameras installation was voted on, but to upgrade the software with facial recognition was not.
Citizens tend to focus on hardware

Proposal: New jurisprudence of public spaces.
Make data streams collected in public spaces OPEN. APIs, read/write privileges.
Nonrivalrous and nonexcludable. No way to put a paywall around them, no way to prevent another person using the same data.

Problem: More vulnerable to attack and exploitation. Greenfield assumes that the benefits will outweigh this danger

New etiquettes, protocols. Who has priority access? This is another burden.

Public space is at risk. Private and commecial interests are taking over.
People move through space in a bubble more and more.
We need spaces of solidarity and mutuality.

Democracy happens and is seen to happen in the public sphere.

We need to make sure that we end up with a smart city that we are happy living in.

Latour: We inscribe ou prejudices into uor systems
Winner: Our systems
Lessig: Code is law


Some examples of open public networked systems
Zipcar, City Car Share, Bike Sharing are examples of networking an existing class of objects.
(me: But this is not an open data source. How cool would it be if public bike sharing data was open and usable by all? Pretty cool.)
Megahouse--> They take vacant rooms and put them online for people to schedule, like a conference room. Nice. Megahouse sees this as a commercial exchange. Greenberg wants non-commercial shared use as well (me: dream on).

I think I am going to take tomorrow off of blog posting and such. I have been doing my best to be a cyborg the past three days. ALWAYS CONNECTED!!

The effects of this have been multiple.
1. I have made some blog posts I would not have made if I hadn't been writing them in the moment.
2. I have published some really unstructured notes on my blog that may not be at all interesting to anyone.
3. I've started using the audio recorder on my phone.
4. I might better remember some of the stuff I've been to. There is a bit of sensory overload and the blogging is something I can go back to. My plan is to publish notes in real time and them use the notes to write my thoughts later. Right now I am so tired of writing that I have serious doubts about doing anything of the sort. Maybe over the weeks (and weeks) to come. I've got a lot of information to process and use.
5. I haven't spoken to anyone at the festival, except for people I already know.

Tomorrow will be my talk-to-strangers day. I'm going to leave the lappy at home and only bring the ipad. Sunday I scale down to only my phone. (I can still blog from my phone, actually). The reason I will bring the ipad is to more easily access Flickr, which can be a good way to talk to strangers at the festival. I've gained a few Twitter followers today tweeting with the #Transmediale hashtag. Maybe I will make a new friend via Twitter.

I find it surprising how little Twitter action there is here. You would think that at an event like this, there would be a lot more action. Maybe I'm using the wrong hashtag. #transmediale vs #tm11. #tm11 is so much shorter. I'm an idiot.

One of my ideas for tomorrow is to do a series of photos of the people who are here. A documentation that will help me talk to strangers.

I have a headache. The noise here is intense.

Tim Etchells (UK)

Adrian Heathfield (UK)
performance workshops
professer in London

moderated by Clare Colker (Germany)

I'm really looking forward to this talk, because I expect it to mainly be about the ways that mobile networks change the meaning of presence. What is here and what does it mean to be here.

I've been here since noon today and have been writing notes on talks the past 5 hours. I am totally knackered. It's an interesting experiment to be trying to do all of this live publishing. I've never felt more like a cyborg!

I just wish I had brought a fork to eat my salad with.

Transmediale Description

The site of the actions could be an LCD-monitor or a screen, a stage, a website, a gallery, a street or a private room. There will be an encounter in each work or project. This encounter sets off the process of an event’s unfolding and its consequences, and an exploration of the dynamic relationship between the work and the viewer. The mechanisms and economics of these processes – the process of revealing and concealing, of construction and deconstruction, of appearance and disappearance – are the focus of this discussion (Track 1). Against the backdrop of an increasingly mobile culture, participants discuss physical co-presence as a common space of mutual experience.

Notes Will present art and performance pieces to each other
social space digital and mobile media
new form of co-presence
presence in absence
Informational space over physical space
Body present here, but also present digitally elsewhere
How does it affect how we perceive presence and reality?

Tim on the right, Adrian on the left.

Tim shows the first piece.
artist: Franco B, Action 398
video piece

each audience member has a 2-minute encouter in a closed room. You take a ticket and then you go into the space and have your encounter. The structure of the encounter is framed. Franco is seeing people for two minutes for a whole day or sometimes several days. He also uses his physicality (he is bleeding and naked and painted white).
1999(?) or so.

No sound
dog cone around his neck
Franco looks sad and exhausted. I would be too
If I was naked, bleading, painted white, and wearing a dog cone
The other person having the encounter is not filmed at all.

We constantly perform ourselves out
in a social context we are diversly situated
in this work, you go into an alien, disconnected space for 2 minutes
your bodily presence and sensory presence are the only tools through which to encounter the person
the performance space is a space of abstinence

"It's a simple encouter with another person." (WTF is simple about meeting another person who is painted white, bleeding, naked, and wearing a dog cone? That's absurd)

Every person who goes in experiences something different depending on what they are willing to put into the moment. Some will talk to him. Some touch him. Some stay by the wall. Different people construct the encounter in different ways.

There is a lot of negotiation with Franco's eyes. Even though you are in the same space, you have a hard time locating him and yourself in terms of what is going on and what you think about it.

Question to Adrian: What is the complexity of an encounter like this?

The piece is a kind of clearing out of the noise of the multiple interfacaes of contemporary interactions. Elemental copresence. Adrian doesn't see the piece exactly that way. It also brings us back to self and to simple from of two. the lingering question... the notiion of the one to one performance has been so big in the past 10-15 years. How does something that is a big part of so much performance practice (the institution of convening in a common space) be somehow avoided?

This piece, in contrary to other one to one performances, avoids the complex avoidance of the social because of its focus on pain and where it fits into subjective relation. You have a paradox of the experience of pain. Empathy and connection vs incomprehension and the impossibility of sharing. This paradox overshadows everything else for the spectator.

Adrian feels ambiguous about one to one performance.

next piece
Ching She
One-year performance

Started the performance bald and allowed the hair to grow back to
constraints or parameters around his actions over a year
carried out his life as an art project based on these rules for the whole year.

Conditions of presence
intermediale aesthetic gesture
punched a worker's time clock on the hour every hour for an entire year
shitty sleep schedule
couldn't move too far from the punch clock

After punching clock, took one single frame of himself on 16mm standing by the clock
6 minute film=one year

meeting place btw durational performance, the photograph, and film
the piece is a converastion btw these technologies folded into each other through the work. They are all the work.

this guy's hair grows slowly
black t shirt white t shirt no t shirt

discipline of capitalism on the body
performance of subjection
monitoring and accounting
the orders of visibility
exposing the conjunction of the orders of capital and the orders of the visible

old piece, but predictive in questions of surveillance

a kind of mugshot for the order of visibility
temporarity and atemporality
the piece doesn't belong to any particular time.

I take it back. His hair is getting really long.

A feeling of excess or waste
it seems to operate a critique of capital and visibility
the multiplicities of lived duration
flux, flow, constant differentiation that is part of the experience of time

oscillating, vibrating presence and absence constantly intertwined.

Tim asks a question:
This artist's work has a potent sense of what is missing from the document. How does the duration unfold that? The performance that lasts a year puts it in another category. Talk about that

Some of the documentary strategies were evolved late in the works. Yet in a sense they are the thing that make the works exist now.
map of his walk around NY

These guys are not very entertaining.

Adrian asks a question
what is the relation btw this kind of task based duration and your sustained spectacle and large collaborative performances.

I have to admit, it's a bit of a circle jerk.

Uses extended duration to put pressure on and break down the community of people gathered, performers and performers. Break down the control with duration.

One of his works lasts 6 hours. Improvised work where the people ask each other questions. Audience comes and goes as they please, but the performers stay. You present yourself, try to make a good account of yourself, but that evaporates over time. Stage management, posture, diction, etc, disintegrate. Your ability to answer these questions is lost in exhaustion.

Does something with your visibility and vulnerability. Same happens when the audience stays a long time.

In this case, the duration is about pressure (me: But the same with the Chinese piece. He couldn't sleep for an hour at a time because he punched the clock. But he didn't subject the audience to it. The amazing thing that is missing from the video is the visualization of the stress and exhaustion he must have suffered. You don't see it a bit.

Next piece

Tim is now showing his own work? I guess that is easier.

Neon piece of the words "GET OUT"
Have I seen this before, or is there another artist who is doing very similar work?
I don't recognize Tim's name.

Instruction-based piece.

Everyone obeyed this sign, as everyone had to eventually leave the room.

Showing a log of a performance made for mobile phone in 2000 "surrender control"
2009 "39 or so to do"
It's the Here game on your phone

Over a fixed period, you got instructional text messages.
It's an invitation to other people to do things
the people can follow or not follow
the not being sure of whether the instructions are followed is interesting
the things are very vague, nt theatrical. Slight steers or suggestions
Take your pulse
change your plans
Give something away
Be clumsy
make things symmetrical
be the fool
look up at the sky (I should set a daily calendar alarm for that. I keep forgetting lately to look up at the sky.)

It unfolds over a long period of time but doesn't demand your attention all the time
taps you on the shoulder

How do you convene a space of risk
testing of personal and social limits
how does it relate to different forms and conventions of media?

People are pouring out of the auditorium. I wonder if there is something awesome going on somewhere else or if they are just all bored stiff by the way these guys are going on.

language as a tool that invites the participant to unpack the language and make something (image, action, whatever) Language has a great capacity to make pictures and to make things happen.

Reading a collection of words is a creative activity. An unpacking, building You become complicit in the images you summon out of language deferred authorship. You can place something on the table with language and let others add themselves to turn it into something.

On hour into this talk. People leaving in droves.

Adrian's turn, showing a painting. I didn't catch the artist.
Now a video

the force of gesture
don't know what people are doing with their hands

me: "haptic," my ass. This is a film.

weird, floating, magical plane of representation somewhere btw a printing press and a book their complex relation to thie plane(s)

what does it mean to touch and be touched
what is copresence
we think of it as an absolute tangible contact
but in these pieces, touch is also about not touching
oscillation, withdrawel and contact

Panel conversation
bodily presence and film presence and mediated experience

I used to enjoy this kind of conversation a lot more. I wonder what happened to me. It's interesting how some of the people in the audience are also so fluent in academese. I was hoping that they were more going to talk about the definition of presence in real life, even if they used art as a jumping-off point.

Notes. Unfortunately, I won't be able to stay for the whole thing, because it overlaps with the second keynote.
Description from the festival website:

The increase in public attention towards the creative industries has moved creative enterprises and their codes of conduct from the periphery to center stage. With this heightened interest comes a rapid growth in communication between the “old economy” policy makers and creative entrepreneurs. Shapeshifters sees a huge potential to install new investment models and utilize resources for the common good.

But implicit beliefs can limit opportunities to build and sustain business relations in these new business systems. For it to work, there is a need to look more closely at the complex cultural DNA of creative companies. Shapeshifters has been working on a global research project since 2006 in order to develop a new mapping of Creative Tribes and Value Zones and shape more sustainable connections between creatives and investors.

  In this workshop, the following research findings will be presented to the public the first time ever:
* A new business map: Value Zones and New Social Territories in the Creative Sector
* Social Tools: A Cultural Due Diligence for the creative industries
* The meaning of market intelligence in the matchmaking between "Money" and "Meaning"


Innovations in finance, social finance
1. Banking
2. Entrepreneurship and capital raising
3. Individual investment in art and music

A lot more people in the audience are looking for investment than people who have investors.

Shapeshifters meets artists all over the world.
People operate in diff zones
capital giver vs capital user
interesting connection between these people
big diff if they talk about money or rather passions and driving forces
we are looking for like minds that can lead to investment relations
Can be anything
How do these like-minded people meet?

That is why they started to create a map.
DNA report helps investors understand what they get out of funding creative ventures

The Bankers
Hans-Paul Muller?

Helped marginalized people get bank accounts.
Andrea is into electronic banking. How a bank can adress loans in a new way.
The bank they work for is Qb? Cute bee? It is way too loud in here and they don't have any supporting graphics. Could be?
started 3 years ago. Started with microfinancing and a mobile transaction system for areas where there were no normal banks.
want to finance social businesses. This is missing in central and Eastern Europe.

Erste Bank Group, Erste Foundation started in Vienna 200 years ago. Erste Ost. Sparkasse. Provide banking services to people who could at that time access banks at all (housekeepers, farmers, etc). It was a social business. Help people save money for if something happened to them.

The social dimension remains in Erste foundation.

The bank is an institution that enables things to happen in a society.

cultural or social projects are often not about profit. How can you provide financial services to businesses that are not concerned with profit?
It is hard for a bank to do that, which is why Would be (?) was established. The financial side has to work somehow. It's not a foundation or a donations system. The money has to come back to the investors. You don't have to turn a huge profit, but you have to be able to repay your loan.

Now the problem is that banks do not understand the profitability of social entrepreneurship, and that is what these guys are working on--educating banks and bankers about the benefits of financing social entrepreneurship.

They offer support on how to approach and present to banks. They also give the entrepreneurs business advice. How to know if your idea is sustainable and how to change it if it is not so that you can repay your loans. The education process goes in both ways.

Social integration award
central and Eastern Europe
every two years

How can we connect the winners and the shortlisted non-winners? How to create a social entrepreneur's socialnetwork.

They made a map of 100 organizations. The organizations are clustered by city. (not bad)
Each point on the map has a video about the project and some contact information.
They're using open street maps for this.
The Social Integration Network
Starting with a map.

Is there any service for organizations not in Eastern Europe?
There are projects underway in Germany
Coworking space for social entrepreneurs in Vienna and all over the world
The organization is called GOOD BEE.

They're microfinancing microfinance. But of course, not only.
I gotta take a break before the second keynote... need sandwich.

What's up with the gender issues mentioned and not elaborated upon

The panel is totally male. They tried to have a woman on the panel, but failed.

DNA is passed through sperm and egg cell...


DNA is for everyone. It is not a gendered structure, but what is being made use of where ethnic identity or belonging to a particular group are concerned, they make use of a very specidfic feature, the fact that one of the major diff btw egg and sperm that come from the two sexes basically the ovum contains the mitocondrium which carries DNA and this is the exclusive female contribution, You can make use of thiat knowledge in establishing geneology bc the dna come packed in cells and you only study the dna...

Beyond the gene beneath the skin treat the whole cell as a unit, not just the dna.

Problematics of Watson's discovery of DNA Vanouse problemetizes Watson and didn't bring it up in the discussion about the discovery of DNA bc he wanted to talk about him more in the eugenics conversation

In the early 90's, gender identity as a construct was a big topic.

Jens asked female panelists to join, but none of them wanted to do it. Is there a mistrust from women of genetic or biological entology? Women don't embrace it without hesitation. They feel a danger.


Paul Vanouse is the artist of Fingerprints

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
Max Plank institute
The media blindness of science

Simon Cole
Theoretical criminology

Jens Hauser
creator of the exhibition
video maker

Moderator: marie-Luise Angerer

Notes from the talk


Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
Max Plank institute
The media blindness of science
the indexical is precarious
the indexicality of bioscience is different
the invisible is made visible
enhancement is used to make the indiscernible discernible

Research problems are defined by the instruments you can use to solve them, but this is ignored or played down.

digital or print representations are different from tissue imagery or sample preparations (babies in jars)

the representation of molecules
chromotography--using color
electroforesis?--the devices follow a principle of exploiting electrical characteristics of the molecules being observed

these technologies used in this art vs in forensics
two different kinds of visualizations

a peice of DNA is cut into pieces. A long molecule is cut into shorter ones using restriction enzymes. That results in patterns.

sequence gel
not cutting up into smaller pieces but a process of synthesis
one strand of double-helix dna
fragments of increasing length are produced by an enzym
these fragmants are then run through an electroforetic machine to create the sequence.
These are two very different techniques

the artist is not using the sequence gel technology, only the first one where the DNA is cut into pieces.

What are the procedures involved in these ways of making things visible?
What is behind these visualizations?
Two main strategies: dilatation and enhancement.

can't even see them with the electomicroscope. How do we make them visible to the naked eye? Tiny molecules are brought into a shape that can be seen by the naked eye. On the other hand, in order to make the enlarged image readable, you have to enhance it to show the important structures. That is where the colors come in with the sequence gel project.

All of this is aside from Vanouse's ideological questions.

Thes basic epistemic ways of looking at the procedures Vanouse uses in his installations are also of interest.

DNA images are indexical, as the other speakers have already said, but they belong in the order of the trace. That makes the precarity of these objects more clear. A trace depends on absence and on something remaining absent. Traces can be contaminated. These technologies can identify a person if you have two good samples of DNA. Technically it is not problem. The problem is contamination. Vanouse's work depends on contamination.

Gloves are a double symbol of contamination. You are protecting the sample from the contamination of your body and protecting your body from the contamination from the sample.

Vanouse's work depends on the fact that the techniques are the same as in a laboratory in the art installation. His use is artistic and paradoxical though it is the same technique.

One sees hidden aspects of the technique or the gadget. These qualities are magnified and enhanced. ****************

Paul Vanouse is the artist of Fingerprints
role of images in art and science

Can be seen at Sharing Stiftung on Unter den Linden. There is also something here in the Hackaway Zone.

Notes from the talk.


Simon Cole Skyped in (cool!)

seen, found, interpretated, used as evidence

Simon Cole
Global governance of
Theoretical criminology
wrote about Vanouse's installation "Fingerprints"

hidden truth is supposed to be readable by surface traces
latent print trace of the source finger
It's not only the author of the crime, but also the narrative of what happened at the crime is the forensic fantasy.
Revealing a true identity of an imposter by actively taking the imprint is another use of the tech
Revealing the character of the human (by reading faces, bumps, etc)--criminal types--is another promise of such technologies throughout history.

1990s "crime gene" conversation

art is also discussed as something that is revealing
resonances between art connoisseurship and forensic identification

It is in the small gestures that a forger reveals himself
There is a forged Pollack that has a faked fingerprint on it. But it is recognizable as fake.
Essence vs surface

essence can be surface
surface can be essence

intention can be revelation
revelation can be intention

mechanical objectivity (from scientific history)
scientists claim objectivity in imaging. Lack of intent. But this is a very shaky claim.

The technology has changed but the goals and the conversation around the essence and the traces have not. We still have eugenics, race, revelation, etc. Nothing has changed since reading head bumps.

The search for the essence of race has not been discredited. Diversity is the same as racism. Race to the finish=genetic diversity project.

Race as a race. Race as a hierarchy. Evolutionary competition.

Racial categories are still created by physiological characteristics, even with DNA

The problem is not that the technology is not good enough yet to read the body, but that the reading of the body is in itself problematic.


Paul Vanouse is the artist of Fingerprints
role of images in art and science

Can be seen at Sharing Stiftung on Unter den Linden. There is also something here in the Hackaway Zone.

Just the quick notes!


Jens Hauser
creator of the exhibition
video maker
Arte collaborator
radio guy
interested in art and tech connections
contextual aesthetics
art science philo
microbiological performativity
biology uses its indexicality to hide its representativeness
forensic fingerprinting and photography realationship

Only make scientists responded to inquiries from the artists for this research about biology and crime molecular identity
media blindness inherent in how bio systems are being thought of

history of fingerprints
code of patterns was translated into letters, just as DNA has been

Vanouse has a lot ot do with dna in crime
OJ trial where DNA evidence was not taken as admissible
racial issues on a molecular level
how does race matter
new stereotypes
race beneath the surface of the body

professor in Buffalo
Buffalo and Carnegie Mellon
emerging media
cinematic biological experiments

Counter Laboratories
Inverted Suspects
latent Signs


OJ Simpson's trial made DNA evidence familiar to the US
90 million watched Simpson be caught
real life media spectacle (dismisseed as... why do you want to dismiss a media spectacle?)

There has never been a case with more DNA evidence.
The defense team had enough science to find the flaws in the DNA evidence
The use of DNA as an exoneration tool
the defenders went on tho create a foundation to free wrongly-accused men on death row using DNA

"The crown jewel of the forensic world order"=DNA image

research helps your art make itself.

One DNA image from OJ's trial came up over and over again. It was a promotional image from the lab that did the work, not at all an image from the trial. Called to ask if the images were available (privacy violation?) But in fact, the journalists were offered the real image that was in question, but they preferred simpler stuff

"If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

Got the images
what to do with these images?

Suspect Inversion Center
particularized lab
reconstruct and thus deconstruct the OJ DNA image (document)

decisions innovations hacks and interpretations are part of creating DNA images

using techniques to make the artists DNA look like the trial DNA
copying a master's painting

all of these have very different roles in art

for him: reverence, parody

image represents audacity of subjectivity (Kafkaesque) the rendition as process

opening the black box of DNA fingerprinting

The place of race in the OJ trial
Time making OJ look blacker
This is usually the big part of the discussion about the case

The place of htis case in genomic tech
but race also has a place in genes
Davenport-American Eugenecist Race crossing in Jamaica

Relative Velocity Inscription Device (and velocity of the relatives)
first human genome title was neo eugenics, but James Watson said they needed something else
2000 the human genome project stated that there was no such thing as race, that it was

Artist suspected racism could exist even if race did not
eradication of specific individual genes could be new eugenics

dna test that measures how fast dna moves through a gel
raced skin-color connected genes from his jamaican mix family in the dna gel experiment

Watson claimed that melanin caused erections. That darker skinned people were more libidinous

Individual genes could be labeled as sexual deviants

The fact of calling it DNA fingerprinting made the technology. Before it was not used.

The DNA image is a cultural construct, depending on the lab
It tells us as much about the techniques used to segment the DNA as it does about the subject
The DNA fingerprint is not natural

Vanouse did the fingerprinting process live for audiences to explain it to his public

SIC SUspect inversion center (anagram of CSI, but really an inversion)
DNA lab work made public and accessible
intermediary images
CSI builds tech fiction SIC created demystification

DNA is a constructed image

Art forgery of OJ's DNA

simulated imprint vs real imprint.
Ressemblance by Contact Georges Didi-Huberman

Symbol-tablets bearing a contract that was broken in 2 and each had a half. Convention, association
Icon- greek image or likeness. Convey ideas of what they represent by imitating them
Index-pointer or finter. more direct than symbol or Icon.

Photos try to pass as an imprint of reality

what a genetic fingerprint intends to do
sine components

destabilizes the indexing by showing that it can be manipulated into iconic images (copywrite symbol, etc) He can use DNA as pixels.

The DNA fingerprint is a subjective portrait

Francis Galton created composite photography when he failed to established a racial theory of fingerprint reading. He used composite photography to create typical faces of various races

Cell vs gene. Not only the gene but the entire cell must be considered the source of genetic difference. This is the same problem as form vs matter.


These are just notes taken during the talk. Nothing structured. Probably an ephemeral post that I'll edit later.


Eye Beam
wikipedia illustrated
visual free culture
launching on Saturday
future everything

Getting intimate with Invisible Audiences

the privacy debate in the context of liveness
two major references
chat roulette & the bible

Today's cultural leaders define the privacy debate
the geeks
for them, it is black and white. Private vs public contradiction
Publicness=a public good. Demanding privacy is selfish
people hold forth for the freedom of information.
Information wants to be free does not translate to freedom in the case of information free markets do not lead to free societies

Need to get away from the binary thinking about private vs public
secrecy discreteness confidentiality and intimacy are all missing from the debate
Our machines cannot make something intimate, only private and public
The technological failure i good. As long as they cannot be recreated technologically they can't be manipulated

to overcome the tech failure, we are dumbing down our social life.
We give up on secrecy, discreteness, confidentiality and intimacy
communicating in mediated spaces is performance (yes, but relationships exist outside of mediated spaces as well

Hannah Arendt quote about public spaces (squares, etc) but also
Dana Boyd mediated publics-social media sites
4 properties of mediate publics
1. Persistence. It can stay forever on some database (not like the street)
2. Searchability (I wish it was more searchable... sigh)
3. Replicability (can lead to manipulation)
4. Invisible Audiences -- you don't know who is watching or what the context of the watching is in. (This is something I love about mediated publics. It's a huge thrill)

"learn to express themselves and learn" Arendt

Chat roulette
distributed ad-hoc intimacy
Is chat roulette a mediated space?
No persistence, no searchability, no replicability (can't copy paste--wellllll, you can record it easily but it's not a feature of the tool iteslf), and no invisible audience

In chat roulette it is not content, it is conversation.
Hey! He just hit my sweet spot!
I like this guy.
This is the reason I hate Facebook. It's broadcasting over conversation. Also, it's designed to prevent you from talking to strangers, which to me is one of the main purposes of social networks.

Chat roulette is closer to the street. It's a new model of a mediated public.

Chat roulette is a masterbater's paradise. The shuffled conversation lowers the empathy level. You can see but you can't be touched. The audience is protected. Also, CR you are penalized if your are skipped 3 times in the past 5 minutes.

Also a warning that they are violating US and UN law and cooperate with law enforcement, but they do not at all say that it is against CR culture.

Mediation is a violation of chat roulette culture. videoing the screen or taking a screen shot is more a violation of the CR culture than showing your penis. It turns the conversation into content. So sad.

Consider the street (Arendt)
make certain acts or expression real by having others acknowledge them
street is not what it used to be
geo-mobile devices, sensors, geolocated social networking means that everything is extended manipulated augmented hacked
our physical urban space is being turned into a mediated public. Huge historical change.
face recognition makes our photos searchable

Should we start thinking about life without privacy?
Is privacy irrlevant
privacy not relevant in most pre-technical non-democratic societies (Ian Graham) Everbody knows everyone else and private and public are fluid.

Adam and Eve hid themselves from God but God called them out. Where are you? The first thing after they bite from the fruit of knowledge is to realize that they have been exposed to an invisible audience. So they look for privacy and control of their representation.
Creepy paradise.

Am I my brother's keeper?
Cain was about to commit the first perfect crime, except that God saw him. When Cain is asked by God, he feels the invisible audience

we have institutional invisible audiences to protect us from the Cain's of the world

Security frames the privacy debate. What if Google sells its data to the CAI? What about the privacy of Chinese activists? Why do we always come to these big stories? Isn't privacy important for everyone?

I have nothing to hide. If you have something to hide, maybe you shouldn't do it in the first place (Schmidt of Google said)

Good reasons to value privacy
Ham, father of Canaan, sees his drunk father passed out and tells his two brothers outside. Noah gets God to punish Ham by cursing him. Ham took God's invisible audience role

You can't see what goes on in the tower, but you know that you might always be watched.

status of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power (Foucault)

lack of privacy causes conformity
Is that true?

What does it mean for walking to become publishing?
Really interesting question. Very pertinent to my work.

How do we continue having intimacy in our new mediated cultures?

These are just notes taken during the talk. Nothing structured. Probably an ephemeral post that I'll edit later.


Electrosmog was a conference last year

early 1980s predictions
paperless office
decentralization of Global Markets
radical reduction of physical mobility

Paperless Office
printing kept up with digital writing, so paper is still used. More paper was produced than ever before. Make sure your predictions take into account all the parallels!

online shops, local distributers.
This works in some ways, but networked technology has in fact made major distributors more efficient and stronger.

The Third Wave bu Alvin Toffler
electronic cottage-through telecom in the home, we can create a new kind of space where we can both live and work. The original cottage was live and work. The electronic cottage can work in the international stage

Toffler thought it would be adopted everywhere. Free up time for family and social relations. But people find that atll the work connections in the cottage eat up your private sphere and ties you even more into professional processes.

How to get from the global traffic jam to something better?
500 new cars a day are hitting the new big cities every day
there are about 30 of these mid-sized cities in development

in Deli, about 1k new cars appear on the roads
In Nairobi, similar story

Electromagnetic pollution. Cell towers?

Didn't want to stage an event about ecological issues and then fly everyone in, so the premise was no one should travel outside their region. To go to the festival, you have to go to a node in the network.

New Zealand to Canadian Rockies=the network.

second premise=connected conversations
every event has to take place in AT LEAST two locations
also used second life and multiple Skype connections

You would expect the technology to fail, but in fact it worked fine. The crew was experienced and had a 3 or 4 layer deep back up system. Technically it worked great, but still as a festival it had deep, deep problems.


remote connection works well in an active network.

all nodes connecting in the network have to be active throughout the process, not periodically

Gathering together passive observers did not work (like we had

The remote connection spoiled the local connections. People were in the same space, The events where more people were physically present drew more audience (noth physical and remote). The remote contributions were desperately empty. This was surprising.
Trying to replace the physical presence does not work, but supplementing does.

Why did it fail? He thinks it's because you miss out too much on body language and it doesn't feel like good communication. Physicality matters.

Personally, I also think that people are not yet used to the technology enough yet. Phone calls probably felt very difficult at first and now they feel pretty immediate.

What else was missing?
telepresence denies the libidinal drive for encounter, belonging and identification. Social, emotional, opportunities make us want to come together.

The denial of the physical encounter increases your desire for it.

Coming to a festival or conference makes you feel connected to people in a group you belong to. Telepresence doesn't give you that strongly enough.

I wonder if Vigo will feel this increase in desire. Kids are growing up with a lot more skype and whatnot

Also, it is hard to get laid at a teleconference.

The spectre of Imaginary Media
machines that mediate impossible desires
In fact, bringing people together virtually just makes them want to get on a plane and go see each other all the more. I think that is the summary.

What is the solution?
Accept hybrid and messy solutions
alternative local currencies to slow down movement, sabotage, ecological campaigning, fuel shortages, book reading, natural disasters)

These are just notes taken during the talk. Nothing structured. Probably an ephemeral post that I'll edit later.

Philip Auslander
nice baritone voice.
Georgia tech
Digital liveness on Historico-Philosophical perspective

History On the historicity of Liveness
what is considered live performance changes over time as technology changes
The concept of live did not exist before sound recording or film. The concept of live performance depends on the concept of not-live.
good thought.
also requires broadcast networks

1934--first reference to performance as "live" BBC Yearbook.

The confusion of whether something is live or not on radio
when you put on a record, you know what you are doing. It's easy to know that it isn't live.

With radio you can never be sure if you are hearing something live or recorded.

Live and recorded: dichotomy so self evident before that it didn't need to be named

discursive distinction when experiential distinction was lost

But then... live in front of you or live on the radio have no differentiation. That seems odd.

live==physical and temporal
live==temporal (live broadcast)
recorded live==neither, specific performance, vicarious audience, not studio

online liveness-social copresence from chat rooms to audiences waiting for breaking news
group liveness-mobile group of friends in continuous liveness through their phones

liveness is technologically mediated

ideology of liveness...
Margaret Mores
feedback is a machine interacting with you. It gives you a sense of the machines agency, even a persona

A website goes live. The feedback loop makes it live. Liveness doesn't need physical, temporal, or human.

The audiences affective experience. If the thing feels live to us, we value it as live. Is that true?


technological determinism--people create the liveness of technology, not the technology.

He likes to toss the papers he is reading on the ground.

diff digitlal representations make different claims on us. Claims in a philosophical sense
Gottamer (aesthetic)
analogous to the Gottamar idea

some digital representations demand that we interact with them as if they were live, but then it is up to us to accept or not

computer as social actor paradigm
words for output
response based on prior inputs
filling of roles traditionally held by humans
makes us act toward them AS IF they were social actors

contemporaneous (kirkegaard)
this particular thing that presents itself to us achieves full presence however remote it may be
contemporaneity is not a characteristic of the work or the thing, but of our experience of it.

The temporality of the aesthetic (why we still like old painitings)

the liveness does not come from the machine, but from our willingness to treat the thing as alive. But it does depend on the technology making the demand that concretizes the claim to liveness that we fullfill or don't.

I hate the way this guy writes. Oh, academia, why do you write so crappily? Why do you love the 4-syllable word?

mindlessness accounts for our tendency to interact with machines as if they were human even though we know they are not. But this is also technological determinism.

My personal opinion (me Tracy) is that we accept technology as live because we like to. Also, it's a lot easier for us. We're used to dealing with things that are alive.

Auslander's summary of his argument:
some tech object makes a claim on its audience to
concretized as a demand by some way it presents itself
if we accept the claim and take it seriously, it becomes live for us
not characteristic of the object
not characteristic of the way the object presents itself
characteristic of our acceptance of the object

Rebecca Sealfon

Back in 1997, purely by chance, I caught the National Spelling Bee on ESPN. It was one of the most intense things I had ever seen and every once in a while I think again about Rebecca Sealfon. Watching this child lurching on the edge of total psychotic break down for well over an hour was fascinating, funny, terrifying, and voyeuristically satisfying.

The best part of the spectacle was when Rebecca wins and she gets to speak to the cameras. She says that she wanted to win this year so she could say that there shouldn't be a bee.

I'm still not sure what exactly it is about this neurotic little soul that I'm so attracted to. Partly, it's the catharsis of watching her emotions. There they are! She's ecstatic. She's terrified. She's relieved. She's an open story, but alien at the same time. I almost cried re-watching the spelling of euonym and her little speech today.

The winning word:

I had a fun argument the other night with Jay Cousins, from Open Design City. He innocently said, "Everyone is an artist," and I felt compelled to contradict. (Full disclosure: I was a little bit drunk.)

Cultures define for themselves what kinds of stuff they want to call art. Individuals in the culture do the same for themselves. The definitions shift. I think what Jay was really getting at is that we should be more fluid in our perception of art, more accommodating to new ideas of what art is, and more nurturing of creativity in general. This is the mission of the ODC and they do great work.

Definitions of what is art should be elastic--or better yet, abandoned--but the idea that art can come from anywhere does not mean that every person has a dormant artist inside just waiting to blossom.

And thank heavens not.

When people say that everyone is an artist, it's usually a form of anthropological narcissism. Everyone want to be the norm. Humans have been fixated on the idea of human nature at least since culture has existed. Usually, the people who are out to define what it is are doing their damndest to prove that human nature is what they feel is natural themselves. Especially the evolutionary anthropologists.

The human condition is a paradox. On the one hand, humans need connections to other humans. We spend our lives trying to communicate with and understand each other deeply. On the other hand, we can never truly know the mind of anyone else. We can never be really sure that the person in front of us even understands the words we are using in the way we mean them. Do they see the same colors? Do they smell the same smells? Do the smells smell the same?

Our need for connection leads us to want to believe that we are somehow all the same. That there is a human nature common to us all. That there are traits you can find in everyman. I'm starting to think that this is probably not true. Other people are more different from us than we think.

The highlight of the Transmediale opening night on Tuesday was Ei Wada's performance of original music played on old television sets. I would love to see how he composes his music. It's always interesting to see alternative musical notation for unconventional instruments. Actually, it is just as interesting to see alternative musical notation for conventional instruments.

Ars Electronica describes the piece: "Japanese experimental artist Ei Wada breathes new life into old TV picture tubes. He utilizes their ectromagnetic properties to transform light into sound and back again. When he touches the screens, this triggers a fascinating audio & video performance in which his hands and his whole body serve as pseudo-antennas. The old-fashioned picture tube TVs and a video recorder become percussion instruments, light synthesizer and VJ/DJ equipment all rolled into one. Thus, devices that have lost their original function can be used in a new way."

I'm not sure why he is described as a pseudo-antenna. Isn't his body a real antenna? I don't really understand how this works. I am looking forward to getting a very detailed explanation from someone who does.

Here's a video I took from my phone of the first two songs. It's a bit long, but you can get a good idea of what is going on here if you watch the first minute or two.

Ei Wada's blog is mostly in Japanese.

Open Design City has a nice Transmediale presence. One of my favorite things they've done is the Bring Your Own Beer Bar and DIY sandwich stand. I brought them some rolls and cheese this morning and I plan to go redeem my sandwich soon. I had enough to drink at the opening last night, so I didn't bring any beer today. Maybe tomorrow.

Vigo hung out there most of the evening last night, and partook of several peanut-butter sandwiches.

bring your own beer bar ODC at Transmediale

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