Ubiquitous Information in cities: the future of information

The future of information in cities: ubiquitous information, social networks and the emergence of new business models and opportunities, beyond traditional media.

This video was presented at the Eisenhower Fellowship Day 2013 in Italy.

The Mirror and The Source @ Penny W. Stamps Speaker Series

 

AOS in Detroit

AOS in Detroit

AOS will be in Ann Arbor (Detroit) on October 17, 2013, for the Penny W. Stamps Speaker Series at the Michigan Theater with “The Mirror and the Source“, a talk/performance exploring the transformation of human beings, and the new rituals, emotions, new intimacies and public spaces of our augmented lives in the digital era.

“The Mirror and the Source” will be an exploration of contemporary life with Art is Open Source, an international network of artists, researchers, technologists, architects, designers and activists interweaving disciplines and practices to understand the current mutation of human societies through the wide availability and accessibility of ubiquitous technologies.

A visual, sonic journey through the new rituals and emergent ways in which we have radically changed the ways in which we work, relate, consume, feel emotions, have sex and entertain ourselves.

The first Open Source Cure for Cancer, the real-time digital life of cities, the story of a baby artificial intelligence called Angel_F going to the United Nations to defend its digital rights, a very dangerous videogame, human tamagotchis and a fictional company using a very naughty business model will be among the many performances, artworks and researches which we will encounter along the journey.

Come and meet us here:

Art is Open Source and the Penny W. Stamps Speaker Series
“The Mirror and the Source”
Thursday October 17th 2013
at 5:10pm at the historic Michigan Theater
603 E. Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor,
(free of charge and open to the public)

more info:

http://art-design.umich.edu/stamps/detail/art_is_open_source

http://www.michtheater.org/shows/art-is-open-source/

The Real-time Cultural Ecosystem of the City of Rome

The Real-time Cultural Ecosystem of the City of Rome is a visualisation which captures all the interactions on social networks through which internet users discuss about the cultural life of their city. (it is the first part of the Human Ecosystems project)

Real-time Cultural Ecosystem of the City of Rome, Space

Real-time Cultural Ecosystem of the City of Rome, Space

Built with the support and collaboration of the Cultural Council of the First Municipality of Rome’s City Administration, it is the first of a series of Ecosystems which we will be publishing in the next months.

What is it?

The system captures in real time the public activity of citizens using social networks to express themselves about culture (Music, Theater, Cinema, Arts, Publishing, Traditions, History and Heritage, Sport, Tourism, Media).

The system:

  • captures the public activity of operators (publishing and communicating events and initiatives) and citizens (taking participating, storytelling and expressing along cultural themes in their daily lives);

  • understands the theme of the online discussions (for example contemporary arts, publishing…) and the emotional states which they express (for example an operator’s joy in communicating a new event; a citizen’s surprise and anxiety to participate; and his satisfaction or delusion afterwards);

represents information visually in three ways

  • space, the geography of culture, showing a real time map with the evidence of the places in which culture is discussed and made;

  • the time of culture, showing the online discussions as they emerge on social networks, across operators’ communication and citizen engagement;

  • the relations of culture, showing how operators and citizens relate by collaborating, participating, communicating and expressing opinions;

  • makes available a novel source of real-time Open Data with all the information captured and processed
  • contributes to the creation of a continuous and emergent census of culture, in real-time, including the operators creating and communicating events and initiatives, as well as the citizens and tourists which take part in them and publicly engage discussions.

Why is it Important?

It is the first time that such an action is made available to a public administration and, through Open Data, to operators and citizens, who will be able to use it to better know and understand the cultural landscape of their city, to support innovative phenomena to emerge, and to create services through the web and smartphones.

It is a replicable model, ready to be adopted by other administrations. And, most important, it is interoperable, allowing direct comparison among different territories, allowing to understand their characteristics and practices.

How is it done?

By using the possibilities offered by major social networks to harvest in real-time the public information generated by users and operators.

This information is captured as soon as it is generated in the geographical area of interest, and processed using a series of techniques and technologies (Natural Language Analysis, Emotional Analysis, Network and Relational Analysis), and are thus enriched and annotated with additional information regarding the themes and issues being discussed, the emotional states they express, and a best-effort guess of the location from which they have been generated and of which they are talking about.

All information is visualised practically in real time, and made available through a source of Open Data accessible through APIs.

When will it be available?

The official presentation will happen in the Cultur+ event, Sept. 28th 2013 in Rome‘s Casa delle Culture, via di San Crisogono 45.

An open beta version is available HERE for anyone to access. It is an early beta, and we’re asking all the community to support in making it work perfectly, helping us out to identify data and information which seems out of place and also getting the interfaces to work as expected. To have access to the Open Data source you might have to wait a few days more, but please contact us to know more and get early access.

Keep in touch for more posts right here, as we will unveil updates, additional information and knowledge we have collected about Rome’s Cultural Ecosystem.

Real Time Cairo: the real-time digital life of the city of Cairo, Egypt

Real Time Cairo: the real-time digital life of the city of Cairo, Egypt

Launch the project by clicking HERE

Real Time Cairo screenshot

Real Time Cairo screenshot

To harvest all the data generated through social networks in a city.

Each day we use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare as public spaces in which we express ourselves, our feelings and emotions, our perception of the spaces around us, our desires, wishes and expectations.

Or, such as in Cairo, Egypt, right now, to express our dissent, to enact our freedoms, and to inform of the difficult situations in which we find ourselves and with the communities we live in.

But social networks are not public spaces.

They are privately owned digital spaces whose strategies and interests have nothing to share with public space.

Through hundreds (if not thousands) of years of development of our cultures we have learned to form our expectation about what is public space, how it works and what to expect from it. We have developed shared ways by which we have collectively shaped our idea of what is a public space, and how to change its rules.

On social networks this does not apply.

A simple, unilateral, change in the terms of service of any of these networks/spaces can radically change the ownership and modalities according to which the information that we publish and share is used and leveraged, possibly giving rise to its exploitation, censorship, business usage.

But everything in these networks/spaces is designed to augment our understanding of them as public spaces and, thus, to apply or expectation of how public spaces work to them.

So,

  • on one side, we perceive a public space in which to express ourselves, expecting that it will function according to our understanding of the ways in which public spaces work;
  • on the other side we have private spaces whose objective is to mimic the ways in which public spaces work, so that people use them, increasing business
real time Cairo

real time Cairo

Just as we did with the VersuS and ConnectiCity projects, Real Time Cairo captures the life of the digital city and visualizes it on a map.

The intent is to create the availability of tools by which to re-appropriate information published on what we perceive to be our digital public spaces, and to make it available for visualization, aggregation, etc: to establish a novel source of Open Data in our cities by gathering all the conversations that take place in our digital public spaces, to allow people to use them to understand their cities and to imagine shared practices and methodologies to use this information, making it accessible and usable by everyone, not only by social network service providers.

The interface shows

  • the map, with the information popping up as soon as people in Cairo publish it using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare (information that is not geo-referenced using the networks’ tools is harvested as well, but it does not show on the map)
  • a tag cloud of the most used words in the last 80 minutes
  • some statistics showing the number of messages and users who published information in the latest 80 minutes, and in what languages they write
  • a timeline, allowing the comparison of the number of messages posted during each hour of the last few days

We are still developing elements of the project (more updates will come soon) including:

  • an API through which to download all of the dataset (or only parts of it, selected by date range, source, keywords etc)
  • a visualization to show the human geography/topography of the city

The source code will be released under GPL as soon as we are able to finish adding these first few pieces.

Stay tuned!

Real Time Cairo

Real Time Cairo

Cairo, Egypt, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Cairo, Egypt, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

 

Anthropological Innovation: observing and understanding the mutation of human life

Anthropological Innovation on il Sole 24 Ore

Anthropological Innovation on il Sole 24 Ore

Our article about an Anthropological view on Innovation appeared today on Nòva24, the inset of Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s most influential financial newspaper. Our impressions after the 7 weeks on the Eisenhower Fellowship.

Here it is, below, translated in English and with some information and links added.

Anthropological Innovation

Private spaces change and they become “privatised”. A network exploration withe the Eisenhower Fellowships. Searching for meaning. With urgency.

By Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico

Published on Nòva24, Il Sole24Ore, July 28th 2013

 

Everything has changed.

But what is the meaning of this change?

We know that it starts with the emergence of different factors:

  • the ubiquitous accessibility of digital technologies and networks;
  • the shifting of the boundaries between what we perceive as our private and public spaces;
  • the crisis of the global finance, of identity, and of the models we used before the rise of the era of information, of knowledge and of global interconnection.

But we don’t know the consequences.

With this latent question in mind, we set off for two months of travelling in the United States for our Eisenhower Fellowship.

We discovered that at the White House Office for Science & Technology Policy they are actively searching for tools and methodologies to observe and comprehend this anthropological mutation.

That at the Institute for the Future they are asking themselves what happens when an organization realizes that their objectives can be filled only by establishing a wider perspective on what it means to have a vision about the future.

That at the Aspen Institute they are starting to go beyond the idea of objective privacy, reflecting about the concept of expectation, our perceived privacy, the one that we have learned to recognize around us through society and culture.

That at the Institute for Human Centered Design, Valerie Fletcher highlights the importance and richness of the diversity and poliphonicity of the world.

We act as engaged observers, taking part in the conversations.

At the MIT MediaLab Sep Kamvar invites us for a public talk about the transformation of the concept of map: generative info-scapes (informational landscapes) created by harvesting ubiquitous digital interactions.

Organizations such as the University of Texas, the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext, Stanford, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon show deep interest when we offer to promote joint efforts to design and implement anthropological observation environments based on social networks, sensors and networks, to highlight recipes, emerging rituals, errors, opportunities and mutations.

But our search for meaning is not the mere sum of all these research approaches.

We now can benefit from the availability of many of the tools and methodologies we need to confront with the present, such as BigData, Open Data, the Cloud, social networks and infinite ways to share informations and knowledge.

Despite this, we all really have a hard time in promoting a transformation which is not about “consumption”, and which represents a real opportunity for the development and well-being of humanity.

A large part of the meaning that we were searching for can be found by observing the mutation of the ways in which perceive public and private spaces.

Hundreds of years of cultural development have taught us to establish reasonable expectations about the effects of our behaviour in public and private spaces. In the digital era everything changes: identity becomes a floating, fluid concept, expressing itself through spaces that we perceive as public or intimate, but which are really a privatized something else.

On one side is Anonymous, on the other is Facebook. And a whole lot is in between.

On one side is the possibility to use the network to be “uno, nessuno e centomila” (“one, no-one and one-hundred-thousand“). On the other side are spaces which we perceive as being public, but which are truly privatized, in which our information is sold hundreds of times each time we click, it doesn’t matter if to the NSA or to the companies trying to sell us french fries or sneakers.

Google is a good example for this. A new, super-national, entity which is able and willing to assume an active role in trying to find solutions for humanity’s most pressing problems (just think about the Google Cars project, assessing energy and transport, or Project Loon for digital divide).

But Google is also a representation of the condition which is needed to access these solutions: to completely transform the ways in which we perceive the difference that runs between the public and private domains, to adhere to a vision which is in total favour of business objectives of the service provider.

This state of continuous disruption causes cognitive dissonance: the solution to the world’s largest problems and issues – such as environment, sustainability, energy and access – at the price of a radical transformation and what is, to all effects, a jump into the void.

We are in no way able to predict the long terms effect of this jump into the void (it is a disruption, after all).

What is given is the possibility to comprehend the radicality of the transformation.

Large operators have learned to highlight and to valorize their vision about their proposed social, political, energetic and ecosystemic transformation, using it in “performative” ways to engage people in this mutation, thus making it perceptible and palpable: an object of desire for global conversations.

It is important to understand that this is a top-down process: a suggestive vision is made available to people to try and determine their active participation to a certain agenda.

Too little is being done to promote the cultures whose objective is to create the perceptive access to the possibility for joint efforts to design the present and the future, to comprehend and desire that this process takes place at civic level, to establish the practices of coexistence and participation.

For example, the practices of Open Innovation – in which challenges are published onto which wide communities gather to collaboratively find solutions and answers – don’t have a whole lot to say about the Hows and Whys that will enable those same communities to let their own challenges emerge, with the objective to improve the practices for coexistence among human beings.

The dynamic interweaving of the relations in human ecosystems goes well beyond what can be obtained by counting hashtags on Twitter.

It is about perceiving and using the anthropological complexity of communities and societies.

And it implies the possibility of conceiving radical transformations that will enable and support the opportunity for coexistence of the recombinant communities which constitute the digital era.

And this is a reflection on which the Mediterranean, with its mix of cultures and approaches can have a lot to say, share and give.

Anthropological Innovation of il Sole24Ore

Anthropological Innovation of il Sole24Ore