Updated: 5/26/2004; 12:35:46 AM

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ambient: surrounding, encircling
informatics: information science

Ambient Informatics develops cross-disciplinary approaches to the design and development of next-generation systems that address the complexities and of real-time, real-world information, and effective human interaction.

Friday, November 15, 2002   

Report from Doors7.

Well another day of incredible presentations. My head is full.

Bruce Sterling kicked things off with expected Sterling-esque dystopian future scenario based on the wonders of ubicomp, or pervasive computing...an example of "battlefield intelligence" and subsequent detachment by military forces...eSoldiers. Was a great start, and got the crowd loosened up...but on edge. This shit COULD be dangerous, and designers have a responsibility to make things usable...which tied into a key theme of the dicussion this week.

One other theme was "dashboards" (and one of my main reasons for attending) which fell completely flat in the show, but outlined very insightfully by John Thackera in his article "Real-time design in the 'world as spreadsheet'". He was asking great questions on the panels...looking for the big picture, to look for the interconnections between science/biology, Technology, Architecture, Design, and Human Facors (another theme). The panel on "dashboards" /was/ entertaining...but completely missed the opportunity that these dashboards do imply a positive control (as opposed to "control:power"). It is the type of control than can help comanies reduce wasteful inventories, reduce the number of empty trucks driving around...and can also more intelligently use raw materials...for example. On looking for the big picture issue...I see where he is going, but often the guest responses are decidedly intra-disciplinary (?). Everyone /says/ that there needs to be a crossing of disciplines to create new solutions...but few are really doing it, (with the exception of Axel Thallemer and a few others to add) falling back on established disciplinary descriptions of applications. Which is understandable.

Fortunately some guys from Moto(rola) are thinking up completely NEW things. Marco Susani, a strategic designer at Motoroloa is defining types of flow and creating a new ontology to describle the flow in complex networks. The old terms somtimes do not work, and this seems to be a great excecise for defining the scope of a systems design...if one can characterize and name TYPES of flow. Thats new. The presenation was passionate and very emotional/beautiful in the descriptive graphics. If anything was missed (maybe I missed it), it would be that fact that for any individual there exists many diverse and overlapping types of flow (stratification). All of the models are interwined...PLUS the fact that there are multiple connections BETWEEN the models creating a scale-free network.

Felice Frankel delivered a great presentaion based on her book Envisioning Science (link), which she also signed a copy for me, thank you. Just buy the book. No embellishment needed.

THEN came the real mindblowers. Philip Tabor, architect, delivered a beautiful concept called a 'simulation space for half formed thoughts'...a 'daydream engine'. He was looking for vagueness an fuzzy edges vs. sharp contrast in the design of Spaces, Systems, and I guess a NEW way to think about a new "epistemology of the creative process" (i just made that up).

Patricia de Martelaere, philosopher, was everything you would hope for. Being and becoming. Platos ideal static world (shadows). The non-existence of "real time". Which also means there may need to be a new term...because "real" and "time" have too much baggage. Perhaps any improvement in usefulness, utility, benefit, value that is created can be considered as a move toward "real time" even though, philosophically (and possibly scientifically) that something called "real time" does not exist.

OK. Move on.

Joshua Davis. Awesome. Just like every other rad developer dude I have ever known....has done some incredible Flash scripting. He has been able to COMMUNICATE through his book Flash to the Core . Had the crowd rolling. Incedble work, with attitude (worth another paragraph).

The OPEN DOORS contest, well lets just say there were only 3-4 contestants that were really in the ballpark....the ones with incredible concepting and execution vs. the ones that were average stuff with the word "pervasive" or "flow" slapped on them as an afterthought. (more later on how Ben Hooker and Shona Kitchen from Royal College of Art UK was, IMO, the best of the show the with their Altavistas Project).

-Robb Bush
15.11.2002 Amsterdam

Some Pics!

"Doors divas" Ine and Dagmar. The entire staff was fabulous! Congrats!

Koen Koevoets of Koen&Co in Utrecht was especially gracious and a really nice guy to have a few Heinekens with.

The American phenom of "Speed-dating" worked in the new Flow context as a way to meet a lot of people fast!

3:45:42 PM    

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