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February 28, 2003
 

Continuous Partial Presence.

On the bus from Narita to Tokyo I was surprised to hear the (automated) announcer advise to "turn your mobile phone off as it might annoy other passengers". In the following days I also saw plenty of similar messages on signs in subways and trains.
Obviously no one really cared to follow these suggestions and rules, but I still found it curious that in the land that usually epitomizes mobile connectivity, someone had taken the time to try and limit the use of voice-based artifacts, in spaces where you actually almost expect people to use them.

The disruptive social impact of mobile-enabled conversations, voice-casted in public spaces, has had me thinking for quite a while now.
The split private-public personality of these tools affects both the bearer and those around him/her in seemingly opposite ways.
There's inherent tension between a phone owner's desire for intimacy during a conversation and that of bystanders not to be forcefully involved in it.
On the other hand of the spectrum there are situations in which your phone acts as an intrusive attention vacuum, times when you'd like to be left alone and your daily obligations still find ways to reach you anywhere you are.
This is possibly one of the reasons why in a very privacy-conscious society like Japan people have gotten used to pre-calling those they want to talk to to check their availability, as highlighted in a recent study published on the Japan Media Review, "A New Set of Social Rules for a Newly Wireless Society".
(Incidentally this sounds like a great opportunity for ethnography applied to User Centered Design. Why not making the "knock-knock" a simple pre-call UI option and avoid forcing users to type in a separate message? Interaction Designers are you listening?)

All of the above is thus also profoundly connected to our increasing inability to detach ourselves from our always-on tethers and find moments of amnesty from the pervasiveness of the new breed of digital artifacts.
In this sense I've more than once found myself thinking about solutions that could have the same effects of Tolkien's elvish cloaks, which didn't really make their wearers invisible, but allowed them to blend in with the environment to the point of avoiding getting noticed.

Arguably we are at the moment enjoying the dubious luxury of at least a couple of presence layers.
One has to do with RealSpace and our movement through it, the other with DataSpace and our interaction with it.
For example you could definitely say that you saw me walking out of my house this morning, then you passed me while driving to Milano, and then you saw me again entering a building, and you talked to me over coffee on the third floor (when I asked you why you've been following me anyway...).
It is not unlikely that that same path could be traced via my bank's closed-circuit cameras, then with those placed on highway tollbooths, and finally with those installed in the lobby of my office.
Furthermore you could also access banking data to prove that I used my credit card in three different occasions today, once to get cash close to home, then twice on the highway, and you'd still have found pretty much where I am right now.
Finally (?) you could have just traced my movement trough space triangulating my GSM phone signal.

Talk about presence, intimacy, invisibility, and amnesty.

I can't restrain myself from evoking Gibsonesque visions of people casually walking the streets, invisible to others on one, some, or all of the layers I just mentioned.
Like Eric Scheid would probably say, quite a few people already live their lives somewhere in-between, in a world where their bodies are still bound by gravity but their minds are often "astral(ly) traveling to perform the conversation".
Memories of teens I saw straddling the pedestrian bridges in Shibuya, walking crowded streets, eyes fixed on their mobile's screen, lost in conversations with distant ones.
What would it take for them to become invisible also to the rest of the world?
There are at least a couple of devices who might just help make this scenario very real, very soon.

BuBL Space (via Ashley Benigno) is a little portable jammer that promises to cancel all digital signals around you in a ten feet radius (even though it seems to be illegal both in Europe and in the US):

"Do you need a break from the daily mobile soap?
Simply press your pocket-size BuBL device. Release a bubble of silence.
You'll feel pleasantly isolated inside, even in a crowded place.
Evaporate all phone signals up to three meters around.
Enjoy the silence. Create your Personal BuBL Space.
"

Now imagine a less crude versions of this tool, one that would allow selective filtering of signals, leaving you control over who could reach or see you.
Something crossing a phone's profile setting and an Instant Messenger's status, with a bit of scrambling added to it.
If you couple that that with an Invisibility Cloak (via Flemming Funch) things would soon get interesting.

Walk the streets, invisible to all tracking technologies.
Or hardly noticeable by people's eyes and cameras.
Mix 'n match, depending on your inclination.
Slide seamlessly in and out of privacy layers.
Reappear and join the rest of the world in its constant rush towards unknown destinations.

Ghosts of Connectedland.


Posted by fabio sergio | 4:23 PM | permalink

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February 27, 2003
 

The Minimal Compact.

Adam Greenfield has jumped ahead of Joi Ito's recent considerations about Emergent Democracy and written a first proposal for a constitution for the nomadic citizens of our connected world.
Go read it. Now.

"The Minimal Compact. An open source constitution for post-national entities."

Other than the feeling of brain-envy usually associated with all things Adam I must say that the idea deeply resonates with the way I've come to relate to friends and fellow think(er)ers around the globe.
It is time we move away from the idea of nationality defined by artificial, imposed-from-the-top, senseless, historical boundaries and onto one of national entities based on ideas and ideals.
Nations based on shared values and trust.
From FOAF (Friend of a Friend) to POAN (Part of a Nation).

I've often associated Designers (in the broadest sense of the term) with modern gypsies.
My loved ones are scattered around the globe, and often the only permanent place I can relate to to get in touch with some of them is their website or their e-mail address.
And still I can get together with a friend I've never physically met before and be immediately trusted with his home keys.
And still a few hours later I can find myself chatting in a restaurant, in a city I've never been to before, on the other side of the earth from where I was born, and feel my soul at ease.
At home.

"The minimal compact, proposes a post-national, virtual state: a hyperlocal polity whose constitution is conceived as codebase.
Such a constitution would specify a minimum number of articles to which all signatories subscribe, allowing an instantiation of the state to form anywhere and anywhen one or more signatories is present.
"

Valeria Ponti, Ashley Benigno, Paulo Bernini, Richard Eisermann, Richard Fox, Adam Greenfield, Susanna Guarnerio, Anne Galloway, Ben Hammersley, Davide Longaretti, Dan Hill, Ben J., Jonathan Jaynes, Matt Jones, Lutz Kucher, Jimena Martinez, Vitor Medeiros, Anders Norman, Peter Merholz, Peter J Bogaards, Howard Rheingold, Nathan Shedroff, Roberto Tagliabue, Axel Unger, David Williams, Andreas Wlasak, Nicola Zanardi.

My Minimal Compact Nation.


Posted by fabio sergio | 1:15 PM | permalink

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February 26, 2003
 

Distant Messenger.

On the (long) flight back from Tokyo I read Steven Levy's "Microsoft Gets a Clue From Its Kiddie Corps".
Microsoft is taking a stab at targeting the NetGen(eration) with a new Instant Messenger called Three Degrees.
Other than (namely) halving the proverbial six degrees of separation between any two human beings on earth, the software promises to promote group-based social activities, blending graphically-enhanced instant messaging with interactive music file sharing.

In the meantime people have been trialling the beta and, as you might have heard, the software requires to install a truckload of XP updates and seems to create quite a few serious problems, among which basically messing up your connection of choice to our beloved Network (read Yoz Grahame's hilarious report for example).
Needless to say the Microsoft brand is not usually associated with words like "open" and "free", so there are also lingering questions about the level of transparency the software will provide about what will be really happening to your information under the hood.
I tend not to be one of those who demonizes Microsoft for their way of doing business, but when privacy (and control over it) come into play the concern-o-meter should be on full throttle anyway.

Since we are at it I've been puzzled lately by two other curious twists on the IM concept (both links via Hostinato).
Meet the Christian Messenger and the Arabian Messenger.
Hmmm.
Are you thinking what I am thinking?
If we could get people (and leaders) across the world chatting and sharing music and movies maybe peace would stop being just a word printed on multi-colored flags...


Posted by fabio sergio | 12:40 PM | permalink

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February 25, 2003
 

Snowflakes.

I've always loved snow and its magical ability to turn the visible invisible and silence the world's voice to a whisper.

Thanks to my good friend Davide Longaretti's bright ideas and collaboration here's freegorifero's first special project: Snowflakes.

"Winter's end is nearing fast, but we are among those still eagerly looking at the sky, silently wishing for fat, floating snowflakes to turn once more the world anew.
Thought it would be nice to share some with you.
We don't really know how long snow will keep falling, but we hope you'll enjoy it as long as it'll last...
"

Frozen crystals to your mailbox.
Fresh, every day.
As long as it'll snow, that is. ;)


Posted by fabio sergio | 2:48 PM | permalink

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February 14, 2003
 

Planet of flows.

All seems to hint I'll be in Tokio next week...
Found out about three minutes ago.
Shees...

See you in a bit.


Posted by fabio sergio | 3:43 PM | permalink

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February 13, 2003
 

Shutting up.

So.
I think I am going to just shut up for a little while.
At least about certain themes.
And stick to what I (think) I understand.
Which is very little in any case, I am afraid.
Yes.

Among other things, "my" great idea about a track-back/RSS-based tool to track online conversations is already up and running and it's (aptly) called Topic Exchange.
You can basically set up a channel and then use it to "follow" ongoing conversations related to it as they get automatically updated using track-back pings.
Pretty much everything is also accessible via RSS and your aggregator of choice.
While you are it you might check the Topic Exchange channel that Seb Paquet created to track the conversation that followed Joi Ito's conference call on "Emergent democracy".
Yes.

A concept similar to Topic Exchange seems also to be behind Reversible (via Jason Kottke).
It claims to be a bit like a webring, a bit like a wiki, a bit like a directory and a bit like a newsgroup.
And a bit hard to figure out I'd be tempted to add.
Yes.
Shut up.
Yes.


Posted by fabio sergio | 6:03 PM | permalink


 

The revenge of Headmap's globe.

There had to be something brewing.
After a few days of silence the great guys over at Headmap are at it again.
A new, fabulous, en(tr)hanced version of their 3D Blogosphere, now loaded with useful, mind-opening features.

How about open-source code to add the globe to your own pages, to use it as a tool?
How about a fully-working Movable Type plug-in that allows to add geo-contextual info to your posts?
How about the ability to also add information about your mood, and track it as well?
How about existing databases of places (hot tubs !), linked to maps and RSS feeds?

I am blown away at what they achieved.
And in such a short time.
Now if I only could pry my hands off the thing...


Posted by fabio sergio | 3:07 PM | permalink


 

Ocean Observations.

My good friend and former head of Information Design at Razorfish Stockholm, "Nome" Anders Norman, has co-founded Ocean Observation, a Swedish user-centred design studio with first-class web and mobile expertise.

Nome has been years ahead in his thinking ever since I've met him a few years ago, and he was behind the most interesting Information Design tools I saw at Razorfish.
Just check out his first white paper "User-centred design in the experience economy era" (PDF) to see what I mean.
His signature recipe of strategic wisdom mixed with funky humor.
Can't wait to see what's coming next...


Posted by fabio sergio | 3:04 PM | permalink

............


February 12, 2003
 

Weblogcraticism and conversations.

Tom Coates picks up the linklog theme I had briefly touched upon a little while ago.
His conclusions seem to be not too far from mine really, but I think he adds very interesting considerations.

Due to the increasing popularity (and influence) of sites like Technorati, Popdex, Daypop or Blogdex, each time someone adds a link to a weblog post, and someone else actually clicks on it, he/she is actually somewhat voting about the quality of that link and, indirectly, about the quality of the choice the weblogger made in putting it up.
What Tom seems to say is that by clicking on a link you are thus also somewhat "voting" for the weblogger's Technorati/Popdex/Daypop/Blogdex ranking, and thus linklogs are very efficient investments compared to wordy posts, requiring very little effort for a very high "return".
Weblogcraticism?
Hmmm.

While we are it I guess by now you have all read Clay Shirky's "Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality", and all the interesting, never-ending discussions that followed it, right?
Thought so.
Steven Johnson has rightly pointed to what is possibly the most fascinating aspect about this whole competition/voting/power-law debate: the way it has had a real-time impact on the way the weblogging community at large thinks about itself.
Dave Sifry, of Technorati fame, read Clay's article and immediately added a new feature to his site, to help "low-traffic" weblogs, which have posted something that has had "higher-than-expected" impact, get better visibility.
Sifry's reaction can be probably explained with a desire to make the web "more equal", associated with the amazing level of two-way self-awareness typical of weblogs.
In other words, it seems like the social component on the web (us, that is) seems not at all ready to give up its professed values (equality, open-ness etc.), even when facing seemingly un-changeable (power) laws.
A unique example of a self-aware culture, changing its tools to change the culture (Anne, what do you think?).

Last-minute update: Joy Ito's taking this the next step, launching a voice-based "mini-conference" on the subject, open to everyone willing to participate...just plain cool.

One final noteworthy aspect is that in all the discussions that followed Clay's essay (as far as I can tell) everyone completely omitted to mention that at the very root of the conversations that somewhat pre-curred the article was Tom Coates' reaction to Steve Himmer's thoughts, which were based on a post on AKMA which echoed Anne Galloway's words.
Unless you actually had the time, patience, desire (and skill) to follow the conversation, you'd have completely missed the very "origin" of all that somewhat followed.
Online conversations are at the moment incredibly difficult to follow, "track-back" notwithstanding.

Say that you publish something on your weblog, then someone comments your ideas on it, so you write an email and after a couple of exchanges you take the conversation to your Instant Messenger of choice.
You might even agree to meet face to face somewhere sometimes afterwards.
Now this other person also has a weblog, so he/she also publishes bits and pieces of the conversation, or maybe just ideas originated from it.
To complicate things most of the spaces where the conversation develops are usually shared, public spaces, so now you have ever-shifting groups of people discussing and adding their own ideas, with off-shooting threads growing everywhere.
Then there's the information that remains tacit and private, files and draft messages on people's computers...
It gets confusing really fast, and time-consuming.
Multiple conversations, which happen via multiple media, across layered social networks.
How to keep track of who's saying what, and when, and where?
At the moment it's as if everyone was talking about the same topic, each one in a different room of the house. You have to keep running around, hoping not to miss what everyone's saying.
In other words: we are still missing the right tools to enable humane approaches to online conversations.

I've been thinking for quite a while about an uber-communication tool, something that could span across different technologies and media.
For the purpose of simplifying things (and maybe promoting a conversation) I'll try to trace what the key components of this software might be:
- Incoming communication module (Browser, E-mail, IM, SMS, MMS, RSS Aggregator...)
- Outgoing communication module (E-mail, IM, SMS, MMS, Weblog and RSS publisher...)
- Storing module (private: hard disk?; public: weblog?)
- Tracking module (flow, (geo)location)

In its most basic, short-term form I am envisioning the evolution of an RSS aggregator with "tracking" capabilities, that will draw from various weblogs the elements of the unfolding conversation, as it unfolds.
Some kind of RSS-powered, forum-like structure with filters to let only certain voices, or topics, or places, or media surface from the data-soup.
A scattered mesh of thoughts.
Brought together.


Posted by fabio sergio | 1:25 PM | permalink

............


February 11, 2003
 

Mobile User Interface Design essay bonanza.

Three very interesting documents (PDFs) focused on Product and Interaction Design for mobile devices.

Marc Rettig's "Design for Small Screens" (via InfoDesign) is a great primer for people facing these themes for the first time.
My favorite bit deals with the (wrong) assumption that mental models mutuated from the "desktop world" will be successful when (blindly) applied to small-screened mobile tools:

"Most of what we know is wrong.
People use small-screen devices for different activities than desktops; don’t assume you understand these activities already."


The second essay, "Interaction Relabelling and Extreme Characters:
Methods for Exploring Aesthetic Interactions
" (via Jonathan Jaynes
) explores methods designers can use to actually force themselves away from proven (stale) approaches to Interaction and UI design:

"Aesthetics and interaction are often treated as separate concepts in product design, a situation to which we strongly object.
When they are separated, aesthetics are usually applied to making products desirable in appearance, while interaction design is preoccupied with usability, and particularly "ease of use".
While usability is often a laudable goal, it isn't enough. Focusing on ease of use tends to encourage a narrow view of what "use" is with respect to technology, emphasizing efficiency and productivity over exploration or curiosity. With a correspondingly narrow range of models for usability, interaction tends to be self-similar, mundane, and ultimately boring.
We believe that aesthetics and interaction are tightly interwoven, so that the aesthetics of a product must be shaped according to its functions and roles, and its interactions must be judged by their aesthetic qualities both sensory and conceptual.
This leads to an aesthetics of interaction, in which the emphasis shifts from an aesthetically controlled appearance to an aesthetically controlled interaction, of which appearance is a part.
Aesthetics of interaction moves the focus from ease of use to enjoyment of the experience.
"

Finally "Taking the best from a company history - designing with interaction styles" (via Andrew Otwell) focuses on an old pet-peeve of mine, the dubious quality of the relationship between GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) and their physical counterparts, also known as Solid User Interfaces (SUI).

"We claim that interaction design can benefit greatly from an understanding of the concept of style.
It can provide designers with strong visions and a sense of direction in designing new interfaces.
In particular we focus on Solid User Interface design, i.e. products with small displays and a limited number of keys, because of the tight coupling between interaction and industrial design.
The authors share the concern that interaction designers in enthusiasm with new technologies fail to preserve the qualities of use from products with outdated technologies.
"

In the near future the design of distinctive, branded Interaction Styles, integrating the GUI and SUI of connected mobile devices, will become one the most sought-after (and hard to accomplish) quests for Product and Interaction Designers alike.


Posted by fabio sergio | 10:32 AM | permalink

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February 07, 2003
 

Double Whopper.

Read Paul Ford's "More and more like the machine"...

"I am close to these tools, and every day I become slightly more like the machine I use.
Part of this adaptation is unexpected: without wanting to, I dream of programming or see the landscape of my regular day in digital layers, ready to be peeled and blended.
But much of the adaptation is voluntary, because the more I can “think” like my PC, the more it and I can interact without my feeling alienated from it, the more I can make it do, and the more productive I will become.
"

...and then, right after that, this interview with Jaron Lanier, "Coding from Scratch" (via Matt Webb).

"So, now, when you learn about computer science, you learn about the file as if it were an element of nature, like a photon.
That's a dangerous mentality. Even if you really can't do anything about it, and you really can't practically write software without files right now, it's still important not to let your brain be bamboozled.
You have to remember what's a human invention and what isn't. And you have to think about files in the same way you think about grocery carts.
They are a particular invention with positive and negative elements. It's very important to keep that sense of skepticism alive.
If you do that, it will really have an influence on the quality of code that you create today.
"

Is your mind spinning like mine?


Posted by fabio sergio | 4:04 PM | permalink

............


February 06, 2003
 

Instant presence.

Via Marc Canter here's Buddy Space, a Jabber-powered Instant Messenger with geo-location capabilities, developed to explore the ways in which we relate to presence.

"The concept of presence has matured in recent years to move away from the simple notion of "online/offline/away", towards a rich blend of attributes that can be used to characterize an individual's physical and/or spatial location, work trajectory, time frame of reference, mental mood, goals, and even intentions.
Our challenge is how best to characterize presence, how to make it easy to manage and easy to visualize, and how to remain consistent with the user's own expectations, work habits, and existing patterns of Instant Messaging and other communication tool usage.
"

Take Buddy Space, hack it to run on GPS-enabled mobile devices and interesting things might start to happen...

While you are at it make sure to also check Marc Canter's ideas on Multimedia Conversations, Steve Himmer's considerations on meme tracking and Dan Hon's "Your world, interconnected".

Believe it or not, all of the above is also deeply interconnected.


Posted by fabio sergio | 6:20 PM | permalink

............


February 05, 2003
 

RSS Feeding.

After much huffin' and puffin' the ugly orange square above should make it clear that freegorifero's weblog has finally been enhanced with the de-rigueur RSS feed.
As they say, resistance is futile.
I want to believe.

While trying to understand how to best automate the production of the darn XML page I have stumbled onto a few interesting resources.
Thought I'd share them with you just in case you were considering joining the band.
Special thanks and tip o' the hat to Ben Hammersley, who has been kind enough to provide help and guidance.
For a quick intro to the whole RSS concept definitely check Webreference's (oldish) "Introduction to RSS", but the best tutorial I've stumbled upon is "RSS Workshop", from none other than the Government of the State of Utah.
The "workshop" has all you need to get up and going, and enough interesting information to keep you busy for days of reading and testing.

The funny thing is that after much think(er)ing I ended up choosing to update the RSS feed...by hand. You know, text editor, FTP client and all that.
No, really, please...er...stop laughing.
You see, I've always used Blogger to update freegorifero's weblog and can't convince myself to switch to a more sophisticated set-up.
Thing is, all the somewhat automated solutions to use Blogger's output to publish both the HTML page and the XML/RSS feed lack the "cleanliness" I'd like.
Ben had suggested using Julian Bond's RSSify, and that does seem to be the easiest way to get things done, but I honestly don't like the idea of depending on Julian's site to keep things running smoothly (can you spell "anal"?).
So, by hand it is, the old fashioned way.
To be honest I've got to add that having to "get your hands dirty" and spend time tampering with HTML/XML (or whatever other language your pages are built upon) has both the flavor of craft and the scent of an act of love.
Yes, go ahead, call me a hopeless romantic.

Anyway, in the meantime I've found out that NewzCrawler promises to couple the functionality of an Aggregator with the ability to interface directly with Blogger's APIs to publish your weblog and automatically update the RSS feed too.
It comes at a (reasonable) price, but it's free to try for a couple of weeks.
I'll be testing it and will let you know how things go.
In the meantime fire up your aggregator of choice and (hopefully) have fun.
For any problem, issue or comment, as usual, just let me know.

Uh, almost forgot.
If you scroll way way down you'll also see that freegorifero has joined the merry crowd of Creative Commons - copyrighted sites.


Posted by fabio sergio | 6:55 PM | permalink


 

Maeda @ Ivrea.

I hopped over to Ivrea's Interaction Institute last week, to meet Nathan Shedroff (with whom I enjoyed great food and a thought-provoking conversation in a nice place in the historic heart of Ivrea) and hear John Maeda speak to students and visitors.

Maeda's brief conference was supposed to be about "'To digital or not to digital. What are computers good for?", but he basically went over his life, from childhood memories of growing up working in his father's tofu shop, to his past and present experiences at the MIT Media Lab's Esthetics + Computation Group.
The speech was surprising and somewhat unsettling. Not at all what I had expected, but in a pleasant way.

One of the leading themes Maeda addressed dealt with the way we relate to computers.
He repeatedly mentioned how more powerful (and more complex, more difficult to use I would add) digital tools have not necessarily resulted in more innovative work, but have instead slowly focused the attention on the tool itself rather than on the artifacts it enables to create.
He quoted April Greiman when she said that "The computer is nothing more than a pencil." to explain his personal philosophy.
Maeda also mentioned this is one of the problems that Academia as well has to face, with teachers too busy keeping up with the latest software releases to be able to help students really learn what to do with them.

"The problem is that computer knew how to do nothing. Now they do everything!"
"Today most people never had a chance to touch a dumb computer."
"You keep doing things because it keeps asking you to do things."
"Our pixel addiction it's changing the way we draw."

Maeda held forth the idea that the way modern digital tools ease people into effortlessly achieving very complex tasks can in the end detract from the creativity stimulated by the learning process.
In short he advocated for a different approach to digital tools, starting from the idea that "The computer is not a tool, it's a material.".
This point of view was also related to what (I feel) has been one of the leading themes throughout his artistic path.
Maeda is fascinated by the ways in which digital artifacts, in all their binary perfection, can be made imperfect by the hand of the artist, or caught showing signs of weakness.
He framed this whole concept with a fabulous question:

"How does a computer learn how to be ambiguous?"

While I am afraid I am at the moment thinking that as long as they stay binary in nature, computers will never really be ambiguous, I nonetheless enjoyed the poetry in the pictures and videos that Maeda showed, capturing moments in which computers are suspended in states of non-being, caught stalling during start-up sequences, or making strange, inexplicable noises in empty airport spaces, late at night.

"Why is it all broken?"
"Finding the trees. With the computer it's hard to find the right trees."

He used this analogy related to ancient Japanese temples, which local carpenters claim to be ever-lasting because the wood they are made of has been chosen in the way nature has somewhat indicated.
Picking trees grown on the north side of the mountain for the north side of the building, and likewise for the other sides.
While new digital media of expression offer new freedoms for those who embrace their values, they also require to find new mountains and new trees to be meaningful for most human beings and their multi-faceted, complicated nature.
Maeda's quest to find the right trees seems to me to be a most fascinating way to approach his intriguing mix of digital and traditional art forms.

He finally left the audience with a few scattered thoughts.
My favorite relates to ideas:

"It's better to give than to receive.
You'll get trapped in your own ideas if you hold on to them.
If you give them to someone else, then they'll have to do it and you can be free to do something newer.
If you are really good, tomorrow you'll have more ideas anyway.
"


Posted by fabio sergio | 8:47 AM | permalink

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February 04, 2003
 

Digital DNA.

In Always-on people I briefly debated about the way digital technologies are shaping and changing the way we think and live.
I referred to always-on devices and to the effects they've already had on our habits, effectively promising to turn their bearers into always-on human beings .
Recently, while sorting out old print-outs of online explorations, I ended up reading again Felix Stalder's excellent "The space of flows: notes on emergence, characteristics and possible impacts on physical space."
halfway through the essay he writes:

"Within computer networks, distance is binary.
This means that information is either here or not accessible at all.
Everything that is available is available at equal distance.
Everything else is unreachable.
There is no approaching in cyberspace.
It's ON or OFF.
"

And that's when it struck me.
Motorola was right when talking about "Digital DNA".
The gene pool of digital devices contained from day one the very message that has led us to "always-on" artifacts.
Because the "winning" state, also by being the only positive one, happens to be ON.

The term my friend Ashley Benigno has half-jokingly used while chatting over coffee is "digital animism": our PDAs and mobile phones, like silent, ubiquitous spirits, urge us to "leave them ON".
And their whispered message is slowly pervading every object that inherits their binary genome.
The latest example?
Sony has announced its strategy for what else but Always-on TVs (as if that weren't already true in most households anyway).

Always-on people, with always-on devices, accessing always-on information.
Everything and everybody available, accessible at equal distance.
Everything and everybody else, unreachable.
A continuous state of flow, in a space of flows.
Welcome to Connectedland.


Posted by fabio sergio | 12:15 PM | permalink

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