Week 180

Last week was concerned with finalizing stuff for the first presentation of guadalajara. The current concept was more exploratory, we do not seem to have found the point of relevance yet to move forward.

A friendly neighborhood visit to the nice people at Johnny Wonder. And another chat about open data for the city of Amsterdam. Also continued writing a bunch more proposals.

Finally finished importing the videos and the race times for Wip ‘n’ Kip on the PLAY Pilots website. Glorious slow motion for you to behold.

Five things I’ve been thinking on

Others have done this, but these are my thoughts.

  • What comes after the peak meme blender of the internet
    It looks like anything done these days is being repurposed, remixed, refabbed, torn apart and inserted in LOLcats so quickly that the point of doing stuff, the notion of authorship and the requirements of originality are becoming completely blurred. One exponent of this movement are hipsters and trying to figure out what is next is pointless because whatever it is, it will become reappropriated and reblended to be part of the current meme-blob.
    So I’m thinking: there must be something possible after this all (for god’s sake, there has to be!), and one of its qualities necessarily has to be its imperviousness to remixing. What could it be?
  • Old world quaintness compared to new world innovation
    I live in the old world and despite itches to move to the old new world (and thinking about the new new world) I am still holding out in the quaint village-like entity that is Amsterdam. We have social security, insurances, education, cheap(-ish) living expenses and most of the stuff you would need to have a decent life. This cocoon has also made us so bored with everything that nobody is doing much of anything. Compare this to China where they are doing all kind of zanyness which is real, like first person shooter cams on police squads, and second story highway buses and superfast trains. At this rate, China may hit singularity and it would take 10+ years for its effects to even reach us here in our insulation.
    What is preferrable, comfort or edge? Especially in an uncertain world where prior securities are falling apart quicker than we can imagine. Obviously given the choice, being born and educated in comfort is better. We are ridiculously privileged.
  • The immorality of leisure culture
    I already touched upon this concerning hipsters and quaintness. We are so bored here that most people’s stated life goal is to have fun. Nothing else. There is a whole leisure industry of festivals, where people go to for the sole purpose of gaining new experiences and mostly to get fucked up and call in sick for work the next day. If the sun is out in Amsterdam and it’s beer o’clock (16:00), everybody is out on a boat or on a terrace enjoying themselves. Dutch activism is limited to the sort you can do while partying. No more chaining yourself to things, unless somebody can think of a way of making it enjoyable.
    I’m not saying there is anything wrong in enjoying yourself. I do it myself from time to time. But I do find it deeply immoral to have it be your sole life goal. There is so much out there to do that is meaningful, worthwhile and fulfilling/deeply pleasurable. Why not go do some of that?
  • Gaming
    It started more in earnest with Sebastian Deterding’s presentation “Just Add Points” and culminated in our design and creation of the PLAY Pilots website. Gaming is fun and in cases, worthwhile. Added to that games are the most difficult type of software —be it rules written in computers or on other media— both to think right and to execute properly. This is where it is at if you enjoy difficult stuff (and who doesn’t?).
    Also I can’t in earnest be bothered with any console games (there goes 20 hours of your life…). I’m more interested in games’ impact on sociality, urbanism and (gaming) other systems. Also: Games  Data.
  • Prosody
    (I had to throw in an ultra-vague one.) Trying to think in terms of tone (and also dramaturgy) when it comes to language, concept and act, but this is immensely difficult to do. Just from the most concrete, trying to write a sonnet and looking for aesthetic freedom in a force field of meaning, grammar and sound all the way to more complex acts of performance, presentation and rhetoric.

Glad to hear I’m not the only one thinking of Maneki Neko all the time. I have been since I first read it years back. And of course also always thinking of food and travel, of the Primer, Jason Bourne and executing a minimal material lifestyle.

How does this work? Can I tag others? Maybe some Dutch people for a change (Dutch allowed, English preferred): Kars Alfrink (thanks!), Olaf Koens, Jaap Stronks, Ernst-Jan Pfauth, Anne Helmond

Week 179

Last week was a quiet one.

Updates to Ebi and a preparation of the movies and game data from Stekkerfest.

Writing and submitting proposals to various affairs and agencies around the Netherlands (expect a bunch of new code names, soon!).

Started pushing the agenda for Open City Amsterdam.

A bunch of sketching and research for nezahualcoyotl.

Also thinking and preparing a study/business trip to Syria probably somewhere in the second half of October.


In de nacht van vrijdag op zaterdag kreeg onze Dichter des Vaderlands een blok van anderhalf uur radio in Zomernachten om te vertellen wat hij wilde. Ik had me in de dag vergist, maar het stond vannacht ook al op de website. De MP3 is hier uit de podcast te vissen: Zomernacht van Ramsey Nasr.

Het mag hier al duidelijk zijn dat ik een fan ben van Nasr. Als je die anderhalf uur luistert, word je het waarschijnlijk ook. Een prettige aanklacht tegen de huidige stand van zaken in Nederland, niet populair maar wel goed onderbouwd. Alleen ben ik bang dat hij er geen nieuw publiek mee bereikt. Zolang wij zó in de minderheid zijn kunnen we zeggen wat we willen maar denk ik niet dat we er iets mee bereiken.

Zijn prangendste aanklacht zoals ook in het manifest van Terschelling te lezen valt is dat ons nieuwe kabinet alles wat geen direct nut heeft wil afschaffen, alles wat ons onderscheidt van de dieren.

kunst is maar een bijproduct
zij is niet nodig om te kunnen
eten, neuken, ademen

Zie ook: Wat ons rest – een gedicht over lege schalen

Week 178

This week was dominated by a bunch of things. Preparations for Stekkerfest and touching up the website for that were very important. Also anticipation for the live demonstration of the first PLAY Pilots live game by Fourcelabs.

Tuesday was the night of the third Amsterdam UX Book Club organized by Dirk Geurs and myself. We read the massive tome by Kim Goodwin on designing for the digital age and we had a great turnout and a lively discussion. Thank you Hyves for hosting and everybody for showing up.

Explorations on getting an identity for Monster Swell are in full swing and we’re preparing a bunch of collaborations with friends, and partners to participate in subsidy rounds and contests. Expect more visibility on our part soon.

Wip 'N' Kip

The week culminated on Saturday with Stekkerfest and the running of the Wip ‘N’ Kip game. Suffice to say that it was every bit as awesome as everybody thought and a lot of fun was had. Massive kudos to the equippe by Fourcelabs that brought it all together.

We’ll be busy incorporating the live game results into the PLAY Pilots website, but that is stuff for a future weeknote.

Design Directie #1

‘Design Directie’ is een periodiek stukje van Alper over het raakvlak van design en technologie met de maatschappij.

Op dit moment worden we niet bestuurd en moeten we wachten op een formatie die lang duurt, niet transparant is en een resultaat gaat opleveren waar de helft van het land niet op zit te wachten. Dit proces voelt sub-optimaal en achterhaald aan.

Het besturen van een land is niks meer dan een complex ontwerp-probleem op macro-niveau. Dingen ontwerpen is iets wat we kunnen. Er is een methode voor en het is vaak na afloop ook duidelijk of een ontwerp geslaagd is of niet. Het is een rationeel wetenschappelijk/creatief proces met tastbare uitkomsten. Als het mogelijk is om een iPod of een Boeing te ontwerpen, dan kun je die methoden ook gebruiken voor een landsbestuur. Wat zou er gebeuren als we het ontwerpproces over de politiek heen legden?

Bij het maken van een ontwerp kijk je naar de doelen. Dus: waar willen we heen met dit land? Je doet onderzoek onder gebruikers (het electoraat) in het veld (tijdens de campagne) en je market de oplossingen waar je mee gaat komen (verkiezingsbeloften). Hieruit volgt een model waar je mee kunt werken. Met dat model kun je plannen maken. Je hebt dan een designdocument (een regeerakkoord) waarmee je aan de slag kunt.

Het enige waar je dus echt over moet praten zijn de doelen. Ik heb het idee dat die bij alle partijen niet eens zo ver uit elkaar liggen. Iedereen wil toch een veilig land, een goede gezondheidszorg en een competitief onderwijs en economie? Hoe je dat doet volgt uit de ontwerpmethode: onderzoek doen, ideeën verzinnen, toetsen aan het de werkelijkheid en resultaten boeken.

Hoe anders is dit in de politiek. Partijen gaan er gemakzuchtig van uit dat ze al weten wat er leeft, ook al zitten ze grotendeels in Den Haag. Campagne voeren is meer een show dan dat er oprechte interesse voor de kiezer is. De beloften zijn vaak te concreet én onrealistisch zodat die direct sneuvelen in compromissen. Mensen geloven na de uitslag al niet meer waar ze in gestemd hebben, laat staan dat je ze enthousiast kunt houden. En de resultaten… daar hoor ik nooit iemand over.

Goede ontwerpers gaan uit van de werkelijkheid en handelen in gelijke delen visie, gezond verstand en realisme. Politici zo zien we gaat het meer om zelfbehoud, het spelen op de onderbuik en het in stand houden van illusies. Ontwerpers die politiek voeren of in politieke organisaties werken, komen zelden tot goede resultaten. Politici die wat meer methoden uit de ontwerppraktijk gebruiken, daar zouden we wel weer wat vertrouwen in kunnen hebben.

Elke Design Directie wordt hier gepubliceerd en bij de eerste publicatie die hem wil overnemen (aanmeldingen).

Weeknotes 177

This week started pretty extreme with 12+ hour days on Monday and Tuesday culminating in the launch of PLAY Pilots.

Home • PLAY Pilots

Wednesday was occupied with fallout, rest and coming to terms with Stumptown Amsterdam’s closing. I drank quite some coffee there and talked lots of work. Also Martijn dropped by the office to solder something:

Thursday started the quest to find a good identity for Monster Swell. Also started the foray into the Dutch subsidy jungle.

Friday, updated the portfolio’s a bit and went to the (OMG WTF) MoMo AMS BBQ.

Saturday my Epson V500 scanner arrived which I’ll be using mostly for capturing project documentation better and scanning 120 film. On to an even more dematerialized life.


Sunday was occupied with a lot of reading in Designing for the Digital Age preparing for the UX Book Club we are hosting on Tuesday. Also more scanning (and throwing out paper) and writing the first issue of my Dutch design and technology column “Design Directie” (due out here tomorrow morning).

Weeknotes 176

This week was completely spent with work each day on project Ebi, better known as PLAY Pilots. The site is due to launch this week (it in fact launched yesterday night).

Two other noteworthy events transpired:

I got a new avatar picture taken by Daphne Horn. My current avatar picture was long overdue for a refresh and Daphne’s offer to get my picture taken by a professional photographer proved to be both very fun and resulted in a very nice photo. The picture is now live on my account. A preview was on Daphne’s tumblr.

Sunday marked the end of the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, so I used some downtime on Saturday to finish project puebla which is a small map with the origins of our 24 fallen (write-up).

The launch of PLAY Pilots is going to be interesting, and there’s a bunch of other stuff coming up: nezahualcoyotl, guadalajara and some other proposals are progressing nicely.