A new experiment, extended weeknotes combined with assorted reading and outtakes. I think this may be more fun for me to write and more fun for you to read.
Had a meeting for tlaquepaque to finalize the starting details of what is going to be an exciting roller coaster for Hack de Overheid. Also did some sketching on tlalnepantla.
The increased activity on Hack de Overheid also means that we will be working together more tightly and on location more often. The fact that we have a brilliant office space in the Open Coop in beautiful Amsterdam Noord does help.
Culiacan is moving forward steadily.
We had Hack de Overheid drinks near the office for people that have made an app in one of our contests before and after that was dinner with Chris Taggart.
The friendly people from DUS architects that we are sharing an office with won the most important Amsterdam art award and held a party to celebrate:
And then finally on Saturday we celebrated Apps for Noord Holland or we could better say: ‘Apps on a Fortress’. It was a great event on a superb location with a full roster of people present. Solid progress was made on hacking civic applications and we are curious to see what the final entries in the contest will be.
I made two small sketches for Monster Swell visualizing some of the released data sets and chaired the demos of the days hacks.
A visualization of vacant office spaces in and around Amsterdam:
NDW measurements files we got (this is a very obtuse goldmine):
Elsewhere on the internet:
Talking about app contests, I came upon this old piece by Andy Oram about the sustainability of app contests: “App outreach and sustainability” to which I wrote a reply “Hackathons as gateways to more and better open data” without knowing that it had already been replied to at Radar by Alex Howard: “Everybody jumped on the app contest bandwagon. Now what?”
The same issue was touched upon here in Londen as well. People are wondering what sustainable results have ever resulted from a hackday/unconference other than some incidental learning. The learning itself may already be a good thing, but the expectations that are raised are somewhat higher. There are at least movements going to merge several initiatives to try to get at least some programmers working together with designers and product manager type people to create a viable offering. On the other hand we are working with Hack de Overheid to persuade government to be more open to adopting these initiatives.
The issues of gentrification and how a city’s development can work to stifle itself was touched upon in several pieces last week. The Times article “Revelers See a Dimming in a Capital’s Night Life” tells how the nightlife of Paris is being banished by its new affluent class of complainers. A similar movement is going on in Amsterdam now again under the moniker ‘Jordaanoproer’ where people who have bought dearly into one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods expect some peace and quiet at night (to little avail). And there’s a story in Taz “Das Leben ist kein Ponyschlecken!” that counterbalances the current gentrification panic by calling the people writing those stories ‘hormone guided journalist moms and dads who want to raise their children in a Bullerby idyll.’ A large city will inevitable have some rough edges that should not be exaggerated (and Berlin is producing some nice stuff).
Adam Greenfield wrote the great: ‘Perilous asymmetries: Playing with trust in the “smart city”’ which is well worth reading:
Our wager with Farevalue is that a relatively minuscule informational intervention — amounting to a single line of copy, presented in the right voice, in the right place and time — has disproportionate power to transform our encounters with the pervasive networked infrastructure that now undergirds so much of urban life.
Ian Bogost writes an interesting reflection on the digital humanities: Beyond the Elbow-patched Playground part 1: The Humanities in Public:
Humanist intellectuals like to think of themselves as secular saviors working tirelessly in the shadows. But too often, they’re just vampires who can’t remember the warmth of daylight.
And part 2: The Digital Humanities:
The digital humanities must decide if they are potting their digital plants in order to prettify the office, or to nurture saplings for later transfer into the great outdoors. Out there, in the messy, humid world of people and machines, it’s better to cast off elbow patches for shirt-sleeves.
Bogost’s thinking is I think also highly applicable to the Dutch culture scenes and recent protests against the cutbacks. As with the humanists all too often you get a sense that they bear active disdain for their audiences or the general public and that they are far too little oriented towards the public and active participation in the world:
The humanities should orient toward the world at large, toward things of all kinds and at all scales. The subject matter for the humanities is not just the letters and arts themselves, but every other worldly practice as well. Any humanistic discipline can orient itself toward the world fruitfully, but most choose to orient inward instead, toward themselves only.
Just like Bogost says that humanists should be private educators and public spies, the arts should be critics of the human condition both in the small and in the large. To do that, they need to be a bit more relevant and inclusive than they have been thusfar. Both pieces are well worth reading and its staggering how far the analogy keeps.
The article about plastic surgery in Brazil is not to be missed: “A ‘Necessary Vanity’”:
This notion of a right points to a potential problem with rights during a period when consumers are becoming a more powerful political force. When a good life is defined through the ability to buy goods then rights may be reinterpreted to mean not equality before the law, but equality in the market.
It’s interesting to see how in the run-up to hurricane Irene the NYC government’s site buckled but the office had enough web savvy to switch to proven scalable websites such as Dropbox and Facebook to be able to continue spreading disaster information to the general public. Government should have its information services in order but being able to switch flexibly in the face of adversity is definitely a bonus.
This API to the displays on Times Square is hugely exciting from an interactive displays point of view. If you want to learn how to program for such a thing, you could do worse than start off at the courses from Codecademy.com.
De Club (we do not talk about the club) is doing a run of performances these weeks in Amsterdam. I don’t know what it is about yet, but still I think you should go if you’re into gripping theatrical experiences.