Weeknotes 140; on systems and structures

Landing here for the first time? Find the earlier editions here. This is a weekly newsletter with my personal reflections in the context of the research and design I do. IoT, AI, robotics, and the impact of technology on society mainly. 

One day to go to another Covid-Kingsday here in the Netherlands. And another day for the first phase of some lockdown releases. If the latest numbers of infections and hospitalizations are not interfering after all…

Last week I did some work on planning the future of Cities of Things activities and work on the field lab that will organize a session in Amsterdam with consortium partners end of May and in Munich hopefully end of June to officially kick-off. Also happy to be part of MAB20 conference with a panel/mini-symposium. More to follow soon on that.

Let me remind you also of the academic workshop on the subversive citizen manual for the more-than-human city we are organizing at the conference. Call for participation is open until 14 May, check the website for more information.

We had another interesting session with ThingsCon on Code of Trust, organized by Eindhoven Internet of Things and it was nice to have a different group of people and context to discuss this (even as it is online, the communities can still differ). We keep you posted. We (Lorna and I) are thinking by the way that it would great idea to have a student involved in diving into the toolkit for trust in design for IoT that could be built upon the first insights of all these sessions. If you are interested or like to advertise it with the students, let me know! And we will have a second session on Trust by Design zooming in on use cases on 6 May, more information here.

Last week I followed a bit of the conference on the New European Bauhaus. Lots of policymakers and related speakers setting the stage for this new European program. Definitely interesting framing and the invitation to share projects before summer is something to consider. There is a lot to say about a new kind of built environment that is adapting to the intelligent systems, as we are researching with Cities of Things.

Speaking of Cities of Things: the end of the month is near so I will post a reflective post on one of the bigger stories of last month via this newsletter. You can subscribe in case you like to receive it in the mailbox directly.

And there was the Apple event of course. I promised to reflect on that last week. Indeed the Airtags were finally announced. The importance of this is of course not the tags but the system it is embedded in which makes the finding really possible. I have been pitching these concepts years ago for finding specific products (think 2 wheels), and so have a lot of others; the power is in the huge base of devices that can pick up signals. I like some of the analyses made (see below) that this is the starting of a real merge of digital and physical experiences as the physical world can get even more digital nodes now. But let’s first test the Airtags, I ordered a couple so I can replace my old Tile that ran out of juice a year ago or so.

I am not buying any desktops, but the iPad Pro has one feature that might consider; the center vision for video calls. I will wait though for hearing out some test results. I do have my own follow-me-camera (Obsbot Tiny), but the killer feature would be to have eye centering for the iPad to start using that device more…

Ok, enough gadget talk and FWP… Let me give a shout-out to The Low Carbon Design Institute virtual residency that Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino initiated. You can still apply this week for participating in the super interesting program. Or follow separate sessions later in June of course.

And on to the captured news of this week, with new robots but also some interesting reflections on changing systems…: check the newsletter on Revue.

To close; if you are in the Netherlands, I hope you can find the party feeling tomorrow with an orange lockdown-safe Kingsday party. For the rest, you might have a look at the Playful Urban Futuring session this Wednesday evening. Dive into responsibility gaps, or into blockchain ecologies. Have a great week!

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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