THUTC17 Scope as design material

Monday September 9 I visited This happened Utrecht, the 17th edition. It was a solid edition with a nice variety of talks. My short observations.

Manuel Kerssemakers told us about the making of Reus, one of the few god-games made in the Netherlands. He showed in a very This happened-manner how the game grow from idea to realisation. Interesting to see how the focus for creating a game like this means a lot in organising a company next to all the creativity and coding needed. And finding the right boundaries to make a project to complete.

Marrije Schaake did quite the opposite with her side project Onzelootjes, in size of the project. But even in small project it can learn how to balance scope and inspiration by making it fun to work on a project.

Mieke Meijer had a kind of atypical project. Although she worked on a dashboard of a car – which is all about interaction – her work was about designing and fabricating a new material (Kranthout) that did not relate at all to the dash, pure to the image of the concept car. There seems no interaction between the car design and the material whatsoever.

She took us with her into the craftsmanship of creating a new material. Interesting that she would not use it in her own work because of its impractical behavior. So the value is in the story not in the function.

Last speaker was Rick Companje on his Doodle3D app that makes drawing for a 3D printed object easy, and learns you at the same time how the printing process works, an aspect I like the most. The value of his app evaluated more to the hub he created to connect the printer directly to a tablet. It could be in that case a strong way to make 3D printing accessible. Next up he should partner with Ultimaker in making a low budget suitable printer.
Writing this down it seems that scope has a role in all projects in some kind of way. Scope in sizing a company to produce a game, in sizing a project to keep it fun, and scope in choosing the material that fits a cause. And at last scoping an process down as the feature set of a product. Scope as design material, it is an interesting thought indeed.

This happened on stakeholder design

Edition 16 already. This happened Utrecht has become an institute on its own. This edition was due to some other event in the location set back to the smaller room. Which is not bad at all; this is the intimacy that fits the format so well.

So just as always four talks, four times 10 minutes talking on what happened, and 10 minutes discussing this with the audience. This edition had an interesting mix of topics. From installation like art project Victory Boogie Woogie, to very business driven user service of Appie.

The evening started with the work of Q42 on the Hue project. They contributed for a seemingly small part to the project by making the web frontend adding the system with lamps, bridge and app. Nevertheless it is an important part in getting the project more into the open space creating a product that is – almost un-Philips-like – good. It is remarkable how the product benefits from the connection to the service If This Then That, making it possible to create nice smart relations between services.

Second talk was on a game called Slag om Dondervoort. Aiming to learn children about the life in Fortress Cities. Mixing virtual and real-life game principles; it is nice how it connects the social fabrics in a school class to the game and transform it to a experience in the virtual game, back to activities in the real city. Managing the second order effects in the game to achieve the goals seems a bit of a challenge. And so is the developing technology that makes the game now hard to play in current device setups. Hope they can get another round of funding for an update.

In the project of the algorithmic Victory Boogie Woogie it was not completely clear how Mondriaan get into the game, it was a brainwave as often happens in projects I guess. The idea is quite sweet; challenge coders with something they do quite naturally; making squares with code, and use that for remaking that intriguing painting by algorithms. With the second order effect to let non coders experience what an algorithm is in the end. Something they definitely accomplished judging the attention on national television.

The last presentation was of a different order; a bit predictable presentation on the service of Appie made by Icemobile. Working in the same field the agile approach and way to present felt very familiar. She discussed some nice aspects. Maybe not the fact that you need a central mission to inspire the project (Beating The Pen), but more in the way the user is making part of the app development, and strategies to really drive the usage. Like the easter egg gimmicks. For an outsider it seems clear that AH is building functionalities around the idea to collect as much data on the products, by stimulating the use of official product names with the scanning functions and deep integration with the recipes. That is also the stimulans for the user to use the app in an AH store. In that sense it is most logical that the service is focused on value for the end user. All to stimulate use. This was not really addressed in the talk though.

This Appie project shares however a theme of the evening in the way it tries to stimulate adoption in the organisation. Just like Hue did by putting the innovation center apart from the rest. And as the Slag om Dondervoort learned the makers that it is more on tuning associations with the client than achieving the direct goals to make the project stand out. And funny enough, even the Victory Boogie Woogie project resulted in conclusions on the adaption of the project with the stakeholders.

In that sense it was a slightly different This happened with less focus on the usual design decisions. It makes more clear than ever that service and strategic design is an crucial part of the competence field of the designer of today.

This happened AMS getting into the core

I have to be honest; I was not well prepared for this edition of This happened AMS #6 last Monday in the Brakke Grond. Also, my expectations were lower because the last couple of editions in this town had some weaker talks. This edition however turned out to one of the best I think, fitting all the elements that makes this series of talks great. A mixture of experience and new talent, all interesting projects and one that has a special level. Oh, and there was even an hidden – but well played out – theme.

To begin with that theme. I think that the talk of Ubi de Feo on his project From 0 to C. He is learning you to master code by understanding the fundamentals. And by mastering the this fundamentals emerges great results. Apart from the nice execution of his method – like a great art director would do (…) – also a key concept in the evening.

The whole principle of mastering the core of coding emerging in a kind of new nature was what made the project Deleting Borders of We Work We Play so nice. The presentation dealt for a great part on the way the commissioned work and workers in a bartering system, the graphics that resulted from the analyses on the system is as beautiful in behaviour as in visual experience.

Dries Depoorter is a still very young interactive visualizer. Works in Processing a lot and was very true in the analysis of his own work and what happened. It was very powerful in its simplicity, in also getting to the core of making an interactive experience. Both the translator as the light scan he explained with a touch for the essence. The beauty of plant scan is in the way it brings the scan alive, making it into a living thing even.

And that links to the great work Fearless Symmetry of Ruairi Glynn, who is that much more experienced that he can create the same living machine on purpose, by designing not by coincidence. He masters the process, he showed in the answers to the questions and the sidelines on the researched choices he made for his installation in the Tate Modern hos mastership. At the same time it was an iconic This happened talk that show how hard work it is to accomplish a great work, something you don’t understand by itself looking at the work or the sleek movies.

His story and his work including all the things he could not tell even, it showed how understanding the core of machines is part of making things that really have meaning. And how the route to mastering is an almost necessary part.

Check also the story in tweets.

The DIY of life in Singularity

Last Tuesday evening I attended the first open edition of the Singularity University event in the Netherlands. It was my second after the debut event in the beginning of 2012. I’m not a uncritically believer in the singularity per se, but I have a positive feeling on technology and the benefits. It is not the healer of all, it changes the context of the way we things do and gradually improves certain things, at the same time overall values will balance out in new forms. The closing talk of Bruce Sterling at SXSW is in that sense a good antidote of the hailing stories on technology abundance.

But that is not something I wanted to elaborate on now, maybe sometime in the future. For me the reason to attend the sessions is the positive vibe and inspiration you can harvest from the utopians. Adding your own context make it valuable for thinking on the future, also the near one. And that is also something that is strongly present in these events. It gives good insights in the bigger changes in our world. And one that was very heavenly part of this event was the moving to a DIY world. You can say that singularity equals self-made-manship. We are in control of our own life expectation is the bigger picture, for the now we see a strong shift to DIY services and behaviour.

Yuri van Geest kicked of which a pile of examples, and Maarten den Braber added those from the quantified self culture. DIY health is of course important as shown in the talk on SynBio. And the two startups did pinpoint this as well; the 3D Hubs to make 3D printing even more accessible. And Poikos that scan your body as the starting point for all kind of self reflection. Jack Andraka showed how DIY science can lead to stunning results.

Harald Neidhardt of MLove gave probably the broadest reflections in his talk. The iPhones 8 to 20 are always good metaphors for thinking, however those will maybe not ever exist. Interesting of the story of the disappearing phone is the way he sketched how human and tech is really morphing. Everything is software as Andreessen stated a couple years ago. He meant all stuff we use, all services. That leads to disruptive models and experiences. Imagine what happens as we humans are completely compatible to the computed world. We are not living in the cloud, we are the cloud.

You can think we have this total DIY context in a couple years, and we can manipulate and control everything ourselves. I think we will see that the model of producer and consumer and regulator will find a new balance. Just like the future will not come to us as a big bang, will technology not change all of the characteristics of human behaviour. With the DIY culture we may refer back to some models we used to have in the craftsmanship-ages. As Sterling made clear; the future is not one-dimensional.

animated future

How the traditional hotel can survive Airbnb

This Saturday I joined a tour in Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam. One of the initiators and artistic director Suzanne Oxenaar herself did the tour. A very joyful and interesting experience. Suzanne was passionate both on the hotel as the artistic collection she managed to curate in the hotel. I have been earlier on a tour and visited a few rooms of the hotel. The nice thing of the concept of the hotel is that every room is different, from 1 to 5 stars. And different artists have designed the rooms. Some of them are for special purposes as the room for a band, with one huge bed that can transform in a stage.

The tour was part of the 24HOost program, 24 hours of activities in the east of Amsterdam. The second edition of this event to let inhabitants of Amsterdam and other experience the city. Noord, West, and Zuid will follow.

The whole philosophy of the Lloyd hotel is to provide guests with experiences. Unexpected ones. And to create serendipity, by mixing the different types of rooms and providing places to discover, by taking away classes, on the outside of the rooms can not be seen if it one or five star room.

Functions of rooms can change, from meeting place to sleeping room. It demands a flexible workforce that is able to self organise. All staff gets cross training in the beginning, experience all roles in the hotel. A true example of self organising teams so it seems.

Suzanne is an open but strong character. So much is clear from the way she lead the group. The group was too big for the tour if you look objectively, but she managed to keep everyone together, and trust all people to be responsible for themselves. This worked well, and you can feel that this is the same for the hotel as a whole.

Her passion lies mainly in the artistic quality of the hotel, in the art pieces or high quality design that is ubiquitous, but also mingled with less predictable vintage. With this approach the hotel gets its very own signature and are all rooms a experience on its own. In that sense this hotel offers the same excitement as an Airbnb-apartment can have, with the personal touch.

So this experience of the tour showed a couple of things. The recipe of a strong vision combined with a very open execution can create beautiful things. Making a personal experience in a hotel is the only way to deal with the growing popularity of services like Airbnb.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 1.00.02 AM

Looking back at this years SxSW

It is now some two days ago I landed back from Austin, back from my second visit to SxSW Interactive (my maiden one was 2011). I did post daily on my experiences on labs.info.nl, but it is also good to look back with some distance and ask yourself what the main learnings were.

The conference grows bigger and bigger each year, now almost 25.000 people attending the interactive conference, with more than 1000 talks and panels to chose from. No surprise it is hard to boil it down to one overall theme. You could have a complete different experience from another by choosing your talks. In five days of conference I attended 23 talks, see the overview at the bottom.

In general I found it remarkable that there was clearly less loud promotion of new apps all over the convention area. We had Leap Motion and the talking shoes of Google, but on average I found the focus less on products than on stories. Sign of the times. Of course there were enough startups promoting stuff, and there were start up sessions, and I saw some in the talks (Trap!t, Ditto, Desti). One of the few that were heavily promoting was Levelup, a new payment system. I made an account and paid different food at the convention center.

Looking back I am thinking on a couple of themes, connected to eachother:

  • Startups becoming the artists. The role of startups seems a bit in flux. The lean startup approach is hard with the complexity in big data and artificial intelligence. Startups becoming more serious in business. On the other hand startup-culture is still valued for their disruptive thinking, but then more distinct from real world developments. More like artists doing research by doing.
  • Embodied interfaces. We see it also on the introduction of the new Samsung s4 telephone just after SxSW, we will experience a move to embodied interactions. With real products, enhanced (enchanted) with digital and sensor. With gesture interfaces like the Leap, with digital-physical connections like the Makerbot Digitizer ultimo. But also new interfaces with a digital ubiquitous layer as Glass.
  • Big data and tiny services. Good to see how my mantra is also recognizable in the talks on big data and artificial intelligence. Making services based on human values using big data is the way to go. Using bots and drones for human focused services.
  • Quantified self is ubiquitous. Not only at the conference, but also in the daily life of the American judging all devices already available in the shops. Self-tracking as mean for self-healing is not far away for the self made culture of the US.
  • eHealth is becoming big. A lot of startups in this field, a lot of talks on healthier life by better behaviour. Connected to the quantified self.
  • Behaviour design is the big resolution to cope with big data and eHealth, the combining factor of it all. You could fill a whole program with behavior design talks on this SxSW.

Looking to these overall trends, I think you can easily connect those together to a bigger theme; the way we are going to let our life be ruled by data and use the data to create a healthier life. This could be something we are ruled by, or that we rule ourself.

In this context of big and personal data is behavior design the medicine for a creating a better life. I think we will see this profession flourish even more with the growing number of personal devices.

screens 2008 2013
Source: Business Insider

Our world has changed dramatically the last years, as this photo of the announcement of the pope proves. We all have become cyberpunks now, as Bruce Sterling noted. The next level is really the way all these touch-points of (sensor) data will integrate in our life. The post digital world we have moved in – as I discussed on a lot the last year – has became fully integrated, so much is proven by this years SxSW.

An overview. All the talks I followed:

I try to make keep up with live reporting via Twitter, here you can find all tweets here.

And as I said, I made 5 day reports:
Day 1: copying the real world
Day 2: tiny habits and big dreams
Day 3: designing behaviour and serendipity
Day 4: making sense of robotics
Day 5: closing the betterama future

See you next year!

A’dam makers leveraging a movement

This afternoon I visited the first Amsterdam Makers session. The question if Amsterdam will be the Europe capital of the makers movement is not really answered, or even discussed, but the event offers a nice round up of the status of the makers movement.

It is not so important if Amsterdam is becoming the capital. Objectively more is happening in Eindhoven till now. Also is the makers culture in Amsterdam not new at all. Waag Society and Fablab are very active for quite some time. And there are happening very interesting things in Open Coop with DUS Architects, who were not represented in this event. It is good to see how the broadening trend is picked up and not only here a lot of vibe emerges. Signposts like the activities of Tim O’Reilly in the Makers Movement and the move of Chris Anderson from Wired to a new 3D company.

This afternoon it was interesting to see how Shapeways is developing. Already 5 years active in 3D printing on demand it is growing fast. The core of their offering is the management of the process more than the actual printing. Interesting to see.
Techshop, the other big player, ended the event. Techshop is not focused on 3D printing but on making DIY possible in producing goods (and DIY is a fundamental concept in makers movement as also Yuri van Geest showed). The positive use cases Mark Hatch showed did resemble the positive stories we heard in the iOS space a few years ago. Let’s see if they manage to open a branch here in Europe.

So good to have a new event to cover this trend and bringing it to a broader audience.
See further the collection of tweets below.

  1. Just in time for the kick off of #adammakers with @rhymo @ Pakhuis De Zwijger http://instagr.am/p/S0Gc08y3q3/
  2. iskandr
    Acc @chr1sa a makers capital is fueled by a steing design community. #adammakers
  3. cspr72
    Bram Geenen: Making is not a process, it is a network. #adammakers
  4. iskandr
    @vangeest @chr1sa @Rhymo also solidworks, minicad etc? Different level as design culture. Part of the skills of a good design professional
  5. ron_verweij
    Designing new structures, again its about eco-systems #adammakers
  6. iskandr
    Agree RT @vangeest: #adammakers I wonder how Lean Startup tools and principles will be applied to the Maker movement. Strong overlap IMO
  7. vangeest
    #adammakers the DIY / Maker culture is critical for 1. Dealing with mass unemployment 2. Dealing with overhead of incumbents (price /crisis)
  8. vangeest
    #adammakers 3. Dealing with Abundance – creating meaning, art & expression (Burning Man) 4. Age of Imagination
  9. vangeest
    #adammakers Lean, 3D printers are just like laser, DNA and Neuro printers. Same trends, same solutions. My talk is about this convergence.
  10. cspr72
    For maker movement to reach full potential, knowledge should be able to flow and be used freely. #copyright #patents #adammakers
  11. The difference of making 20 mln unique products @bartv of #shapeways #adammakers @ Pakhuis De Zwijger http://instagr.am/p/S0Lfswy3tt/
  12. iskandr
    The service of 3D printing (not the printing itself) has become the core of the Shapeways offering #adammakers
  13. erwblo
    Geweldig Mineways, exporteer Minecraft modellen en laat ze bij Shapeways printen. #adammakers
  14. iskandr
    Wondering if Shapeways will be more a matchmaker between designers and consumers. Mixing Etsy and Thingiverse. #adammakers
  15. iskandr
    Our baseline of innovation is very low. Chaotic Moon Studios. Invention vs innovation. Good innovation is disruptive. #adammakers
  16. erwblo
    @bartv ik vind wel dat je had moeten zeggen dat A’dam kansloos is tov Eindhoven :)
  17. iskandr
    Fear uncertainty doubt. Innovation starters. disbelieve it could work #adammakers
  18. iskandr
    Instigate, collaborate, innovation. In the makers movement people are self selective. Ideas are not worth a mln. Share. #adammakers
  19. metatrends by vangeest DIY as fundament for makers movement #adammakers @ Pakhuis De Zwijger http://instagr.am/p/S0WxDvy3ko/
  20. iskandr
    Kind of new aesthetic execution these pixelized furniture of JorisLaarman.com #adammakers
  21. vangeest
    The Digitale Lean Startups, DIY Bio, DIY Neuro and DIY Production (Makers) communities will be the R&D for Corporations #adammakers
  22. iskandr
    Techshop @markhatch telling success stories of makers like we heard stories a few years ago on iOS app builders #adammakers
  23. iskandr
    Digital piracy of 3D products? Hope that we learn from music and software: open design and use other business models #techshop #adammakers
  24. iskandr
    Probably soon we will see a reality tv format around a techshop workshop :-) #adammakers

How to change the world? Embrace the now.

This Sunday afternoon I attended a lovely conference held in the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam, organised by the Nexus Instituut. The set of people, thinkers of all kind, tried to answer the question ‘How to change the world?‘. Philosopher Alain Badiou held a keynote to kick-off the conference and two panel discussions dealt with the topics; ‘what is the state of our world’ and ‘how can we change it’.

Kars Alfrink did a nice recap in a tweet:

Nexus conf takeaway: Happiness is to be found in individual, real & local engagement with the world, while accepting its imperfections.

The opening keynote of Badiou was very well constructed and offered some great thinking. He analysed the sentence of the questioned first wondering ‘what is the world’. He stated there are five levels of worlds we are fulfilling. On the changing part he introduced 3 concepts. Event, Real and Consequences. Building up to the notion that the local and the real are the most important context for change. Where the separation following an disruptive event delivers a new constraint. What you want is an adaption of the world as it is. The result lies in the change itself.

The concepts of freedom and happiness were touched. Freedom is not what you want, the very sense of freedom is the art of discipline. Composed from differences. Happiness is not satisfaction. Satisfaction is the harmony between the own objectives and the context as it is.

So to answer the question how to change the world, Badiou stated that it is key to be happy in the change itself.

In the first panel the polemics went on. The strongest discussion emerged on the question if you need to have a fundamental yes before you can say no, or that this would block change and you rather go for an implicit yes.

In the end in this first debate the actual state of the world was less discussed than the approach to it. Or is this in the end more defining?

In the second debate the different speakers were less building on one statement and shared their own takes on the question. Like Rory Steward, who as a real politician knew how to engage the audience with his vision. We need to think less abstract and be more concrete. And Evgeny Morozov made a solid statement on Solutionism, the result of a tech driven society where we want to solve all problems. He stated that all the people want to be in the business of big ideas like the TED talks symptomizes, we need to get our hands dirty.

Margareth Atwood added our disconnection with reality in a digital age where we cannot fix anything anymore ourselves. If we kill the ocean we will not be able to breath.

The important of the local scale is repeated by Morozov and Parag Khanna: we will see devolution to local government. John Gray signalled that civilisation is a fragile state. Technology can not change the imperatives, but can change a bit of the balance.

So bottom-line you could conclude that the way to change the world lies in embracing the moment of changing the world. Not striving for perfection by finding all solutions for problems, but let the imperfections be the constant inspiration for our will to change. Fire this with events in the local context.

Here some of the tweets that were made during the conference.

  1. iskandr
    #nexus conference curious what to expect (@ Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam w/ @karsalfrink) 4sq.com/TBBsYW
  2. Alain Badiou on how to change the world. Levels of world, of change and of how. @ Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam http://instagr.am/p/Su9bR0y3u-/
  3. arthurkruisman
    Freedom is discipline of creation, not ‘doing what you want’ #nexus
  4. renegrotenhuis
    Alain Badiou at #Nexus conference: happiness is discipline and being ready to pay the price of being unsatisfied.
  5. vangeest
    Roger Scruton “The biggest scandal in the world is atheism” Deep comment IMO #Nexus
  6. arthurkruisman
    The biggest scandal is that we have the ability to do something, but we don’t – Alain Badiou #nexus
  7. venite
    Badiou: “A scandal is that millions of people have nothing, not only in their actuality, but also in possibilities.” #Nexus
  8. vangeest
    Rory Sutherland: “status is a scarce resource by definition and thus will always be part of human nature” #Nexus #NI
  9. arthurkruisman
    Dissatisfaction keeps us alive and kicking – Agnes Heller #nexus
  10. arthurkruisman
    Loneliness is a loss, but solitude is a gain – Agnes Heller #nexus
  11. arthurkruisman
    Democracy is a theater of power – Alain Badiou #nexus
  12. vangeest
    Crisis in the world: loneliness, capitalist system, atheism/values, lack of effective democracy, shorttermism & social engineering #Nexus
  13. arthurkruisman
    Before you have the possibility to say no, you have to say yes – Alain Badiou #nexus
  14. vangeest
    We have from Marxism to free markets back to Marxism but now from the bottom up not top down #Nexus #DIY #P2P #opensource #selforganization
  15. vangeest
    We have moved from collective ownership to individual back to collective / shared but opt-ined / permissioned by the individual #Nexus #P2P
  16. iskandr
    2nd debate. Aiming to find answers on how to change. Pax technologica following Pax America. #nexus
  17. arthurkruisman
    Solutionism is seeing a world that is imperfect and needs to be fixed – Evgeny Morozov #nexus
  18. iskandr
    Morozov on Solutionism. The result of tech drive society. Imperfection is not longer a feature but a bug. #nexus
  19. arthurkruisman
    I can’t fix my motor anymore because it’s digital – Margaret Atwood #nexus
  20. arthurkruisman
    Kill the ocean and we can’t breathe – Margaret Atwood #nexus
  21. Great talk by Rory Stewart on the God Delusion and downsides of top down thinking without any real substance #Nexus http://pic.twitter.com/mjvUy7f8
  22. TimSW
    Rory Stewart : “We can do much less than we pretend, but much more than we fear.” #nexus
  23. arthurkruisman
    Interesting image: Being a priest of a dead religion – Rory Steward #nexus
  24. arthurkruisman
    We need to think less abstract and be more concrete – Rory Steward #nexus
  25. arthurkruisman
    We need to relearn to think small – Evgeny Morozov #nexus
  26. iskandr
    Morozov. Everyone wants to be in the business of big ideas. No one wants to make its hands dirty. #nexus
  27. arthurkruisman
    97% of charity goes to people, guess how much is left for the planet – Margaret Atwood #nexus
  28. kaeru
    Nexus conf takeaway: Happiness is to be found in individual, real & local engagement with the world, while accepting its imperfections.

TEDxUtrecht on the seam-full in-between

I attended TEDxUtrecht on November 8. As requested by Tirso Francés in his opening, I did not tweet during the talks, and I also did not take notes. I choose to make a tweet length remark on each talk the day after. I put those at the end of this post. The videos are up now too, so you can check the complete talks yourself.

I keep it to some reflections on the talks based on the most interesting ones. Like Reint Jan Renes, who kicked off and did a good job in making clear how behaviour is hard to influence from a holistic standpoint. Having a good insight in the real motivations and the path of decision making is crucial to be able to design for behavioral change.

Stephen Anderson talks have always a high density of useful insights in designing for interaction. He always brings in the quest of meaning in the way to design things, not the meaning for a better world, but the meaning within the design solution space.
This talk did not differ, but added some meaning by making the target very personal, creating a better solution for the medicine instructions of his child. It was a wonderful way to show how important it is to think as a designer and solve these experience challenges. And shows what the craftsmanship of a designer contributes to our daily lives.

In this design for interaction the seams are interesting. The glitches that Rosa Menkman talked about are related to that. It is a very interesting philosophical topic, the way digital is become into a life form as these strange seams emerge, as those glitches are. A great tumblr-blog is dedicated to this and delivers unexpected news images. The talk of Rosa did not completely manage to bring across these glitch meanings, or was she creating a glitch in her performance to underline the movement.

Brendan Dawes focuses in his talk all on the design of the in-between. If we focus only on becoming from point A to B we miss the space in between, and this space will even disappear. He showed his Doodlebuzz tool that triggers the serendipity in news. But also the Happiness machine makes unexpected encounters possible.
Things are not black and white, he said. People have the urge to walk the desired path on the one hand, but if we want to really remember stuff in the long run we need unexpected experiences. Like the breakdance act of TEDxUtrecht initiator Arjan Haring. And as the example of the bridge with the kink in it Arup designed.

Creating this seams create real life vs computed life. Combined with designing punctuation that causes expectation, is the bases for good design. Punctuation combined with serendipity is very powerful said Dawes. Mirror of our own predicament. It brings the poetry in the data. And fills up the rectangles in a way it loses its defined frame. Begin before you are ready as a friend of him says, something Massoud Hassani did in extreme in his great mine sweeping machine project.

Dealing with seams, with complexity and unexpected life, we need to learn to improvise. Kars Alfrink had a good talk on the way we can learning for improvisation skills by games. Games need to be generative to play this role. We need no simulation games like serious games with defined outcomes, or incentivising gamification, we need a third type of games he calls New Games.

New games are generative, are humble, make the player more important than the playing. The new games are facilitators for self exploration and therefor the perfect way to learn improvisation skills. Kars shows three nice examples from his own practice where they used this approach.
Those new games can become tools for creating meaning yourself and so make us resilient for the complex world we live in.

So lots of talks refers to the way we live and design for the unexpected, for the just now. By just doing, and by leaving the things open to embrace as a mean for acting on the spot. Creating seams to trigger valuable experiences. Not focusing on the intended result but on providing the tools to reach this in a meaningful way.

 

Block 1: Think Big

Reint Jan Renes shows us that we take long and bumpy routes from intention to action. The behaviour is more important to influence than the intention.

Kars Alfrink showed us the power of new games (open and generative) for learning our improvisation skills with which we can deal with the complex world.

Christina Cassandra Murphy wonders if architects should be more humble as 90% of our experience of life in the city is not defined by urban designers but by ourselves.

Dolf Jansen emphasizes the beauty of the slow, the power of chillex.

Block 2: Creative Solutions

Andrei Herasimchuk thinks it will have big impact when our physical life is fully recorded and mirrored in digital content. Will our life become digital?

Robin Hoenkamp asks us to think on solutions of for a smarter energy future.

Massoud Hassani showed that you can create beautiful designs without sketching and just making, his mine detonating ball is great.

Stephen Anderson is doing a strong talk as ever on designing understanding, illustrated with a very personal TED-proof story.

Block 3: Embrace the World

Yuri Landman performs on his self produced instruments and has some beautiful stories on the search for new timbres.

Dimitri Goossens is talking on the philosophy of the dead. With some nasty pictures.

Rosa Menkman talks on glitches an interesting phenomenon in digital media, away from perfection and embracing open seams.

Todd Kashdan has a strong power talk and learn us not to focus on happiness but on living.

Block 4: Free your Mind

John Burger talks on the importance of making scaling possible.

Rebecca Bortman talks on the design challenges.

Ann Mehl shares her 10 rules for successful living.

Brendan Dawes entertains the crowd with a very thoughtful rant on data as poetry.

This happened UTC flies again

Last Monday another This happened Utrecht toke place in the Akademietheater. The 14th edition already, the first with a new team, as founding father Kars stopped, and Alexander is doing the Amsterdam edition now. Ianus is the constant factor doing Utrecht, now together with Evelyn and Tijmen. It was an amusing and interesting edition. A short report.

The biggest attraction up front was without any doubt the Orvillecopter, a stufffed cat made into a Drone like flying object. Bart Jansen is an artist creating installations and paintings. The cat is his own cat that died by a car. It turn out the head need to be replaced due to miscalculations in the molding interior. The weight was the biggest issue. He showed nice the different attempts he had to make to get the thing right. In the end a stronger engine did the job. The Orvillecopter crashed the evening before and one of the rotors was broken, so no live flying performance, still a great thing to see in real life.

Another public magnet was the touch lamp Fonckel of Philip Ross. You can think what you like of the form and the touches you need to make, it is definitely touchy.  I found especially the process interesting; how he used dansers to let the product become human like. Great thinking, there is a big movement in making products with real character especially in with connected products. People like Russell Davies and Toby Barnes do great presentations on that. I found it a bit disappointing how the research was translated in the product; it is rather one dimensional just a fancy on/off switch. It is a great lamp with great operations, but the character the dansers had is not met, like the part where the dancers are teasing the reader. I hope a next version will be enhanced with sensors that can react on your behavior in the light, instead of just touch controls.

A very good presentation by Diana Wildschut of the Knopjesmuseum (Tweak show). They showed the struggle to let their work present and the way guerilla tactics do the trick. The installations emerge from the performance. She did hardly show anything of the product, only of the context of creating and bringing it to the user, which is the main part of the interaction. Very This happened in that sense. I hope I will be able to experience the installations myself one time.

A big part for arty installations this time at This happened. Or a frozen installation as you the Fonckel lamp. Maybe a representation of the team, or just a good fit for the This happened-way of storytelling. We will discover when we see what the next edition will bring.