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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)


  1. neb said...
    Hi and thanks for the writeup of Juha's talk! I couldn't be at CoCities, so it's great to have a view onto how some of VURB's projects and ideas were received.

    Just thought I'd respond to a couple of things: Urbanode is being built as a flexible platform for programmable spaces. The demos that we've built so far, showcasing the ability to construct applications which users can 'discover' in a location with their mobile devices and then use to affect their environment, are just the beginning. We agree that metadata-driven applications will probably be most compelling in future Urbanode instances, which is why we've concentrated on making flexible APIs available that a spatial experience designer can integrate into any data-driven application.

    The idea of making objects and services in the public environment open to realtime user control raises tons of questions like "who gets to decide what a public thing is doing?" and even "who gets to decide about who gets to decide?". We're trying to provoke debate and consideration of these issues _before_ systems are installed in actual public contexts. Thus nightclubs, restaurants, and museums/galleries are opt-in experiences where participants can help us work out how the social politics of these tools layers onto their function. We're hoping to begin rolling out instances of Urbanode experiences in public spaces [perhaps a plein in Amsterdam] in years to come [the timescale of urban planning is geological], and we hope you and this whole community will be there, building and exploring programmable civic environments.
    Unknown said...
    Thanks for the broader context and information. These are really cool things to be working on.

    It may be that the opt-in space is really where the limit should lie for these kinds of systems. I'm a bit up in the air. On one hand, I think we should be careful with public space and on the other hand, I think where's the fun in that?

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