Urban procedural rhetorics — transcript of my TWAB 2008 talk

This is a transcript of my presentation at The Web and Beyond 2008: Mobility in Amsterdam on 22 May. Since the majority of paying attendees were local I presented in Dutch. However, English appears to be the lingua franca of the internet, so here I offer a translation. I have uploaded the slides to SlideShare and hope to be able to share a video recording of the whole thing soon.

Update: I have uploaded a video of the presentation to Vimeo. Many thanks to Almar van der Krogt for recording this.

In 1966 a number of members of Provo took to the streets of Amsterdam carrying blank banners. Provo was a nonviolent anarchist movement. They primarily occupied themselves with provoking the authorities in a “ludic” manner. Nothing was written on their banners because the mayor of Amsterdam had banned the slogans “freedom of speech”, “democracy” and “right to demonstrate”. Regardless, the members were arrested by police, showing that the authorities did not respect their right to demonstrate.1

Good afternoon everyone, my name is Kars Alfrink, I’m a freelance interaction designer. Today I’d like to talk about play in public space. I believe that with the arrival of ubiquitous computing in the city new forms of play will be made possible. The technologies we shape will be used for play wether we want to or not. As William Gibson writes in Burning Chrome:

“…the street finds its own uses for things”

For example: Skateboarding as we now know it — with its emphasis on aerial acrobatics — started in empty pools like this one. That was done without permission, of course…

Only later half-pipes, ramps, verts (which by the way is derived from ‘vertical’) and skateparks arrived — areas where skateboarding is tolerated. Skateboarding would not be what it is today without those first few empty pools.2

Continue reading Urban procedural rhetorics — transcript of my TWAB 2008 talk

  1. The website of Gramschap contains a chronology of the Provo movement in Dutch. []
  2. For a vivid account of the emergence of the vertical style of skateboarding see the documentary film Dogtown and Z-Boys. []

K-141 АПЛ Курск

Sometimes you learn something strange while tagging vacation shots. At least that was the case with this photo I took in Venice:

K-141 АПЛ Курск

Looking for some proper tags I Googled “K-141” and found a Wikipedia article on the Russian submarine Kursk. I pulled out the proper Russian text to use as tags but was puzzled about the reason behind the stencil.

I decided to let my direct colleagues in on the mystery and mailed it around at the office. Soon after, Peter pointed out that the same stencil art was blogged at zombizi zero-six and Wooster Collective.

Quite entertaining, but it gets even weirder. He pointed out this link, which apparently proves the stencil spree was part of Russia’s presence at the 51st Venice Biennale…

Bart rightly pointed out that it’s strange they didn’t get caught doing it. I mean: wouldn’t it be easy for the police to hold the Russians at the Biennale responsible for this blatant act of “vandalism”?

Anyway. You learn something new every day, don’t you?

Ondergrond.org – HKU-studenten aan de folksonomy

Via commentaar op een recent artikel op open.info.nl kwam ik op de site Ondergrond – een folksonomy voor / van street art. De site is een EMMA-afstudeerproject van een aantal HKU-studenten. De site daagt bezoekers met behulp van stellingen en vragen uit om bij foto’s van graffiti en stickers tags achter te laten. Een interessante manier om het dilemma “waarom zou een bezoeker taggen” te tackelen – het principe doet me in die zin denken aan Hot or Not. Het plezier zit hem in foto na foto hersenloos te voorzien van metadata. Het risico is natuurlijk dat hiermee het ontstaan van “metacrap” alleen maar in de hand wordt gewerkt! Aan de andere kant zijn de vragen soms wel wat moeilijk, dan moet je goed nadenken, en is het effect van de laagdrempeligheid weg.

Ik weet niet of Maarten en Sjors Interaction Design hebben gestudeerd, maar op dat vlak verdient de site wel nog wat aandacht. Het is flink zoeken geblazen in het ondergrondse, de navigatie is eigenlijk bijna niet aanwezig. Misschien dat dit niet de focus heeft in hun project, maar het zou toch mooi zijn als het de tagger makkelijk wordt gemaakt zijn weg te vinden naar interessante content!