We spent last weekend having a veritable blast at the Cognitive Cities conference. It was a great spectacle of familiar faces, a nicely curated program and full frontal confrontations with the city of Berlin.
I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed Cognitive Cities. It was crammed with beautifully designed views onto the city and a chance to catchup with old friends from all over Europe. The Copenhagen crew were present, Rebooters came back from withdrawal and we could congratulate Your Neighbours and Third Wave with their tremendous success in organizing such a conference.
But in the abstraction a lot of the reality was lost, I’m afraid. We are all of course striving to make our ghost boxes better but design cannot be a sterile, clean handed affair. Kars writes a fuller more balanced recounting of the conference, but my feelings are the same.
Walking around in the real cognitive city of Berlin and seeing the street kids in Neukölln and the party-goers in Berghain, I feel they are not within the myopic view of our design chique clique nor we in theirs. The street is a very messy and creative affair and it must not be disconnected from our digital cognition of it. At least not if we want to have any relevance and create real meaning for a significant number of people.
Ideas how to do this in quality and at scale are forthcoming, but like everything it should of course start with awareness.