Weeknotes 159

End of September entering the last quarter of 2021. Nice to have you all reading the weekly update. To compensate for last week’s late arrival I thought to do an earlier delivery today.

Looking back at last week, next to the usual supervising of students, writing proposals, and working on the field lab, I attended a few presentations. I forgot about NEXT in Hamburg that had a livestream too as part of the new reality of hybrid experiences. I saw a conversation with Francesca Bria on the tech development of Europe compared to US And China. She ended with a catchy statement that I tweeted too: “The dystopia is what we are living now, the preferred future is what we have to build.” There was also a lot of mentioning of the metaverse in other talks what made me add “Hope it is not an escape into the metaverse :)” Not as a joke but with a serious feeling. I believe in the impact of mixing of digital and reality for some time for sure, but the danger is that it is more a marketing term than a concept to reflect on the world.

As I did not plan to view the conference I did not have time to follow other talks with full attention which is a pity and a consequence of tapping in livestreams. From the inaugural talk of Bregje van Eekelen that was at the same day, I like to share one of here premises: “If we are not humans but ecosystems, how does that change design, human-centered design”.

There are some things to explore here.For this week I will try to follow a bit of The Next Web. It will be the first time since their 2nd edition that I will not visit the conference on-premises (not counting last year’s full online edition). There is a hybrid option and both the location as the program do not urge me to spend the registration costs tbh. Still curious enough to watch a couple of talks.

I am curious to experience the General Seminar format from Near Future Laboratory for the first time. Heard good things about it.

Continue reading Weeknotes 159

Weeknotes 158; intelligences and dogbots

Welcome to another edition of the weekly update on all things interesting around – mainly – IoT, AI, autonomous, companions in tech, tech impact in life, and cities. I am realizing this is quite a broad scope, or might sound like it, but it is generally saying what my interest is that drives the articles I share hear every week. It works as extended memory for me too and also a way to filter. I skip now for instance a lot of the new variations on a robotic gizmo that is not really adding anything, or is not even a true robot. The combining element is that it is about tech (mostly) influencing our dealing with reality. Not only seeing reality or using different tools for the same old principles.

That said, in the end, it is a personal selection that triggers me as new and impactful, and not a strongly themed filter. That is one of the reasons I did not change this newsletter to Cities of Things, how close that theme is with my personal filter. I created a separate Monthly version for that.

Enough meta introduction. As usual also a look back to last week. Working on the field lab Amsterdam-Munich is an important part. We will have an official moment on 11 October in Munich that the Letter of Intent for the prolonged creative exchange program between the cities is signed. That makes the work on establishing the field lab even more official (we did already start discussing it with the different consortium partners for some time), and ramping up, even more, to connect to more Munich partners. I will create a special page on the initiative this week so will let you know in next week’s newsletter.

In the coming semester, I will be supervising graduation students at the Delft University of Technology again. One of them (Mohamed Fayed) kicked off his project last week – designing safe routes in sensing smart cities – is done in corporation with AMS institute’s Responsible Sensing Lab. What if the security cameras can be shuttered by citizens, or even more interesting, what if the control of the cameras is delegated to passing citizens that like to create a safe route. Does that make sense, what interactions will that trigger, and what will it do with the experience of the street? Specifically, a second-order agenda is to make the current owners of the cameras more aware of switching them on and off.

Continue reading Weeknotes 158; intelligences and dogbots

Weeknotes 157;

Welcome to the new(s) update! I returned last week from my vacation with a little delay (driving an oldtimer for the road trip is a risk). Starting this week again with the weekly updates, noticeable news from last week, and interesting events. Welcome also to the new subscribers!

Getting back from vacation meant catching up with the running activities from the Cities of Things foundation and organization of the field lab as part of Amsterdam-Munich Creative Embassy cooperation. 11 October there will be an official launch in Munich and together with the launching consortium partners, we will start shaping the ideas for field lab projects around a Cities of Things Urban Food & Mobility community hub (a catchy name is on the todo-list :).

I also had different sessions with the new graduate students starting this semester. Three in total, one with PGGM on predictive knowledge specifically, one with WAAG on design with the public interest, and one with AMS-institute on safe routes in surveilled cities. To put it very shortly, will keep you updated.

ThingsCon yearly conference will have a distributed hybrid character this year and we will accelerate on the organization now. Our theme is on the website, more on the format, topics, and locations later. Save the date: 10 December.

I tried to follow some of ARS Electronica online but had some trouble finding my way in the program setup to be honest. I hope to do some on-demand talks. The Branch symposium was very nice, I only could watch a panel on solar punk. Check also this article.

The inaugural address of Alessandro Bozzon was also worth watching. I cannot find a link to the recording but might be added here later.

For this week you might be interested to check out the celebrating session of Sensemakers AMS on Wednesday. Looking for the recording of Alessandro’s lecture I find out that Amsterdam Data Science might have some interesting sessions on AI and the human in the loop this week. And I will check the Apple iPhone event of course. Curious how much metaverse there will be present (Facebook responded ahead with its Rayban Stories)… Last but not least: this is an important workshop on Embodied AI & Gender.

Ok, let’s check the news of last week.

Continue reading Weeknotes 157;

Weeknotes 155; inverted reality

Welcome (again) to my weekly update newsletter. I share interesting articles on tech mainly related to IoT, AI, robotics, and general impact. I also write a monthly reflection specifically on ‘Cities of Things’-related topics, based on one of the month’s articles before. The last edition was published last Wednesday and reflects on ‘Cities of Distributed Autonomous Organisations of Things,’ connecting the discourse of DAOs to Cities of Things and posting some questions that emerged.

Writing this on Monday 9 August, I cannot neglect the main news of the new alarming report on climate change. Last week we already got the news that the collapse of the Gulf Stream is accelerating. It is not surprising, but hopefully, it helps to stress the sense of urgency. It is a topic that is also one of the themes I follow closely, more even than I share here. It is good to stress that I am not a promoter of tech solutionism, also not for climate change. It can help make us more aware; electric mobility has been proven to help lower the overall footprint. At the same time, we must be aware not to bring all kinds of new devices and vehicles in our lives and cities to generate more climate impact. This should be part of the look into the future of our cities.

In that sense, it is interesting to listen to the podcast of Near Future Laboratory with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino. She is a long-time part of the IoT and ThingsCon community and is shifting her focus to promote design for lowering our carbon footprint. I shared in earlier editions the residency she organized this year with the Low Carbon Design Institute.

Last week was short work-wise as I went to an art exposition in the North of the Netherlands (Intonature). Check my Instagram if you want to have an impression. Some of the interesting works that might fit this newsletter are the free energy sculptures of Johannes Büttner, the animated performing landscape of Jan Robert Leegte, and the robotic mimicry of Nina Canell. The latter story is intriguing; the artist aimed to make a new ‘hydromorphic’ robotic creature that fit the specific landscape of Bargerveen. It did not ‘live’ as much as hoped, though.

In the coming week, there are no events for me in the planning. I hope to attend the Fake Me Hard exhibition at the AVL Mundo premises, which is in its final week.

Before diving into the news of last week, let me mention that from next week I will have a vacation break and pause the newsletter for 3 weeks. Be back on 6 September if all is going according to plan.

Continue reading Weeknotes 155; inverted reality

Weeknotes 154; robolympics

Thanks for reading. Hope I can share some interesting articles from last week to contribute to deal with our weak summer (for those who read in from the Netherlands of course)!

Let me first congratulate Peicheng Guo on his graduation this morning. He did a really nice job bringing the design for predictive relations with things that predict a step further. You can find his thesis and other materials here at the TU Delft repository. I will add it to the Cities of Things website soon too. Next to that, I am happy that Yeonju has had her greenlight for graduation end of August.

As mentioned last week I use the slow summer meeting schedules for diving deeper into the research of predictive relations synthesizing the results from the minor projects by bachelor industrial design students, and the work of students at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. And now I can also add the explorations of Peicheng!I will continue with that this week. Keep also an eye on the Cities of Things Monthly Reflections newsletter that I will -hopefully- finish this evening. I can already disclose that is I plan to have a closer look at DAOs in relation to organizations of autonomous things, as there were some interesting articles, and podcasts published.

Last week I watched the hyped introduction of Nothing Ear 1, a new company for well-designed products adapting transparent design as a new design language. Well-known Teenage Engineering is the designer and I think it has the potential to look great. Have to see them in person. Also curious to see if this transparency theme is getting traction in a world where opening up black boxes of tech is becoming so important.I also attended the session on design for innovation by Clearleft. It might be the format of a conversation or the topic to be too much a beaten track for me, but looking back, I did not write down anything from the session.

No events are planned for this week. If you need some inspiration, I find the podcast of Australian radio show Nightlife doing a good job to sketch state on AI with Genevieve Bell and Toby Walsh. And even more rich with references and inspiration are the two lectures by Tobias Revell that you can watch. I watched the one on Imaginary Machines.

Ok, let’s check out the news of last week. With interesting robolympics, road-legal AVs, better metaverse frameworks, and the newest dumb-smart product of IKEA.

Continue reading Weeknotes 154; robolympics

Weeknotes 153; more mundane robotics and related

Dear subscribers, another slow holiday edition.

Or maybe not so slow at all… The number of meetings is less that is for sure, so more time to process the research on design (city)things with predictive knowledge. Started coding the results of the interviews with Atlas.ti, a new tool for me (thanks Kars), and expecting some learning curves there…

I listened in to two talks at the ‘Interactive Future Exhibition’, the yearly end presentations of the students of Interactive Media Design at hDa, one of our returning partners at ThingsCon. For obvious reasons the second year, I could check it out online.

First off was Simone Rebaudengo who is one of the most interesting designers combining the Things Centered Design insights in his design practice. But he also does a great job reflecting on it. Check out his little book Everything is Someone, also the title of the talk. He shared practical survival skills for design in the near future where everything is kind of someone. In short 3 skills:

  • Stop thinking of ‘users’
  • Find a way to experience the world from something else’s point of view
  • Think of the mundanity of the future of Everything

I will keep track if the presentation is shared, an earlier version of the talk can be found here, and last week I shared in this newsletter his thoughts on centaurs.

On Friday I also watched the talk by Paul Coulton and Michael Stead on designing sustainability. On defuturing-futures (beware of the future cone, as there is more than a preferable future to explore), avoid colonizing futures, and beware to live in the future; the present is the only place you can be actionable.

They end with three rights of AI Things inspired on the famous Asimov Robot Rules:

  1. Right to sustain its own existence as long as this action does not negatively impact upon Earth’s sustainability
  2. Right to sustain the existence of fellow AI-augmented Things as long as this action doe not conflict with its First Right
  3. Right to end its existence as long as this action does not negatively impact upon Earth’s sustainability and/or the existence of fellow AI-augmented Things.

I think that there is a clear connection between the two talks. And also in the work of Cities of Things Foundation.

Continue reading Weeknotes 153; more mundane robotics and related

Weeknotes 152; context aware human-tech

Happy holidays over there!? Getting quieter as excepted for the news here; and still is covid not gone even with more people vaccinated. Hope you all hold tight.

I keep the update short. Two graduation students are in the final stage of their project, two are starting up aiming for a serious start in September. I will refocus my activities from graduation mentoring to research cooperations, I project a max of 3 students in the second half of this year (from 5), and even less next year. I believe in the value of good and focused graduation projects for exploring the topics we like to address with Cities of Things, and build on collaborations with other labs inside and outside TU Delft. It was good to have a chat with Suzanne of Seamless Personal Mobility Lab. Find more on the developments of the Cities of Things knowledge hub on the website.

Last week I was able to check in with the ProductTank AMS session with speaker Teresa Torres who was sharing her views on continuous discovery. Always interesting to keep track of this more applied form of product design. I shared a twitter thread in the newsletter two weeks ago by Sebastian Deterding where he responded on a comparison of design lead vs business lead product development. It connects very well to this. Continuous discovery fits an approach of almost agile design and continuous improvement. New questions (for the field) of bringing in ethics are good to notice. It also feels that there might be a benefit to using the thinking of Thing Centered Design to change perspectives, something Teresa liked to stress too.

This week again not too many events to visit. Another Internet(s) of Everything session tomorrow is organized by the Billion Seconds Institute in partnership with Logic magazine. And even all podcasts are on vacation break. Time to finish some of the books I’m still reading… 🙂

Ok, let’s jump into the noticeable articles of last. To start with multiple ones on human-tech relations.

Continue reading Weeknotes 152; context aware human-tech

Weeknotes 151; horseless carriage robots

Hi all, thanks for reading and being subscribed (if not, feel warmly invited!)

I will not travel for vacation till half of August, so I keep posting these weekly updates, curious to see how much news there is happening. Personally, I will take some time to write up the research on predictive relations from the last year. The student projects at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and the Delft University of Technology provide insights in shaping a design approach to predictive relations. So I hope to be able to share more end of summer.

Looking back at last week, let me first gratulate Meike Kuipers on her graduation on designing a handbook for the Seabubbles. This new autonomous sailing public transport will trigger a new form of booking and with that is in need for a different approach to the docks. Meike looked into this in the context of Drechtsteden area and did some nice simulations. Still, a lot to explore.

Also last week we had the workshop for Cities of Things AMS-MUC Creative Embassy with our German partners of Munich Urban Colab and municipalities. It was a fruitful exchange of ideas and getting to know possible German partners in the consortium. Thanks for hosting us!The last two things to mention here as an update from Cities of Things; for those interested, I updated the website to reflect more on the current activities of the foundation and the field labs. Next to that, I wrote the monthly newsletter on Cities of Things specifically. Subscribe to get in your email, or read it on the website.

As summer kicks in the number of events are quite low, almost non-existent. The ProductTank AMS is a meetup that is running for years, sometimes I attend to keep up with this community. Tonite there is one on continuous discovery strategies. So if you are into that, check it out.

Ok, let’s check out the news of last week.

Continue reading Weeknotes 151; horseless carriage robots

Weeknotes 150; subversive cities

These weeknotes are send as weekly newsletter via Revue.

Hi all. Thanks for subscribing and reading this newsletter! As every week a short update on noticeable things happened last week and looking into this week, with special attention on experiences from events I visited and calendar of possible events. And a short update on the work on Cities of Things.

To start with the latter, this has become rather a focus the last years and we found a good moment to make that initiative even stand more. We therefore established a foundation Cities of Things. Found more on our activities on the websites, and expect a lot more updates in the coming weeks; citiesofthings.nl/about.

The foundation is linked to research activities performed at TU Delft and the current students in the Delft Design Lab are one of the examples. This week Meike will graduate if all goes well, who worked on a Seabubbles-project with our partner Advier. Peicheng has set his graduation date to the 2nd of August and Yeonyu is about to plan her greenlight. Mohamed is shaping a new project with AMS.

As expected last week was occupied for a great part with MAB20, the Media Architecture Biennale that was postponed from 2020. I was part of the organizing team of a full-day workshop on Tuesday on Subversive Citizens Manual, and on Friday we organized a symposium on Cities of Things AMS-MUC field lab. I did a short introduction and Julia Christiansen introduced our partner the Munich Urban Colab. In a panel discussion with Euiyoung Kim of TU Delft, Marcel Schreuder of Springtime, and Marthijn Pool of Space&Matter we discussed the themes and approach of exploring cities of things and mobility challenges through a field lab and research through design approach.

This week we will do a workshop with a lot of Munich interested partners and hope to continue soon shaping the first projects together.

So far for this initiative. I also followed a couple of sessions at MAB20, like the keynote of Cameron Tonkinwise that focused on vision-led transition design and I really liked his framing of energy systems change by rethinking energy use to energy budgets. We need to rethink our mental models about energy. Not about kilowatts, but about use sessions per device. Interaction design for how to perceive energy; like your battery-indicator of your laptops depending on the energy available in your energy budget.

I agree with Kary Barnard on the discord chat: “Personally, what really struck me was the idea that even the smallest of interface design decisions can have a significant impact on our individual actions and have the power to change behavior for the future. Designers have a responsibility to think for the future, not just for easing the now.”

Also, the session on Public Digital Cultural Infrastructure had some great speakers and insights. On putting culture first and shaping cities starting from the streets (not the buildings), according to Dan Hill. But public space without people makes only sense in a legal sense, acc Sandi Hilal.

As always I missed more than I could see, but I hope to find time later to rewatch some sessions.

I did watch a view of the presentations of the DIS-conference on Social Robots, you can find them on Youtube, check first the program, otherwise, you drown in the playlist. And I joined an intimate session of the Billion Seconds Institute for members on energy that was on carbon impact mainly.

One thing to mention is the graduation reviews I did for AVANS in the beginning of the week. I was invited to join the team of teachers to experience the graduation work, that has a high level of installation vibes at AVANS. It was the first time I saw the graduation work so close and I liked the level for sure. Maybe I was lucky ;)

This week I do not have that much on my calendar. Primer21 Global would be interesting but does not fit my schedule, maybe yours. I will need some time though to read through these articles…

Read the articles captured from last week on robotics, and other intelligent things via the newsletter.