A model of relations in Human Ecosystems: Relational Ecosystems

We just published an article on Human Ecosystems in which we describe the ways in which we can model the relationships in the Relational Ecosystems of cities.

The article is titled:

Relations in the Human Ecosystems: Cultures, Communities, Roles and Emergence

and you can read it here: http://human-ecosystems.com/home/relations-in-the-human-ecosystems-cultures-communities-roles-and-emergence/

It is interesting to use these models to gain understandings about how people relate and interact, describing people’s roles in these interactions.

These descriptions, of course, have variations through time and contexts. People participate to different communities and cultures at the same time, with broader or tighter scopes, their roles within them changing all the time, as well as their level of engagement and the layouts and configuration of their participation.

In the article we explore the basics of how we interpret relations in the Human Ecosystems, and use the assumptions to describe various roles which people commonly represent in the Relational Ecosystem: the Expert, the Hub, the Influencer, the Amplifier and the Bridge.

All of these roles allow us to understand how information and knowledge flow across the Relational Ecosystem of cities.

the Influencer

the Influencer

 

Transmedia Design

Fake and real. Simulacra and simulation.

Go and organize a fake hold up. Be sure to check that your weapons are harmless, and take the most trustworthy hostage, so that no life is in danger (otherwise you risk committing an offence). Demand ransom, and arrange it so that the operation creates the greatest commotion possible. In brief, stay close to the “truth”, so as to test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulation. But you won’t succeed: the web of art)ficial signs will be inextricably mixed up with real elements (a police officer will really shoot on sight; a bank customer will faint and die of a heart attack; they will really turn the phoney ransom over to you). In brief, you will unwittingly find yourself immediately in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour every attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to some reality: that’s exactly how the established order is, well before institutions and justice come into play.

This quote from Baudrillard’sSimulacra and Simulation” allows us to understand very precisely simulation’s role in human society and perception.

In the media environment in which we are constantly immersed, people constantly interpret what they experience using signs, signals and clues which are real, fake, simulated, relevant, unrelated…

Going back to Baudrillard:

Thus all hold ups, hijacks and the like are now as it were simulation hold ups, in the sense that they are inscribed in advance in the decoding and orchestration rituals of the media, anticipated in their mode of presentation and possible consequences.

This observation describes what is called Hyperrealism. “More than real “. More than real because, to an extent, the “real” depends from what media show about it, from how they show it.

If I think of a holdup: although I have never really experienced one, I know how it goes, how it unfolds, how it develops. Because I have already seen it, millions of times, in movies, television, youtube videos, images. I know what to expect, what happens.

a Bank Robbery

a Bank Robbery

If I close my eyes, and think “bank robbery”, I will see images, hear sounds, imagine emotions, fears, excitement, the adrenaline rushes of all the participants involved: the bank robber, the police man, the hostage, the clerk.

I don’t need to actually be in a bank hold up because, through media of multiple types, I have been there a million times.

In our contemporary world, things become even more complex.

Invisible cities, by Christian Marc Schmidt and Liangjie Xia

Invisible cities, by Christian Marc Schmidt and Liangjie Xia

In each instant, we are constantly immersed in a multitude of flows of information and communication: the things we see, the signs and signals, the displays which we’re surrounded from, the advertisements, the things we see with the corners of our field of vision, people, their gestures, dress-codes and the ways in which we interpret them, sounds. And our smartphones.

Think about arriving in a city for the first time. You’ve never been there before. Do it.

which city is this

which city is this?

Only a few years ago, when this happened, you really did not know much about the city: maybe you had a couple of addresses (of your hotel and a restaurant which a friend advised you to visit), you could have seen a couple of postcards or pictures, you could have read a guide… not much.

Now, everything has changed.

When you arrive in a city for the first time in your life, you have already seen it: on Google Maps, or even Streetview. You have seen pictures, read reviews, gathered opinions and experiences on TripAdvisor, asked around on Facebook, and maybe even found a few friends to meet there. You might even be couch surfing in someone’s home. Maybe you already know that a certain neighbourhood in the city is dangerous, or interesting, or full of artists, or stores.

Let’s push it: maybe you went to that city because of something you read/saw online, in the first place. Something online made you change our behaviour, or take a certain decision. If you had read something different, maybe you would have gone to a different city.

Again: you could imagine that city, have feelings for it, even without having actually been there. Simulated. And, thus, real.

That city, thus, is not only made from buildings, streets, shops, squares, houses, parks and other physical objects.

It is built from a variety of different media. Some of them very physical, like concrete, wood, glass, asphalt. Some of them immaterial, like digital information, images, videos, text, emotions, experiences, data.

All these meda entangle with each other and with our perception, forming the way in which we perceive reality.

augmented city

augmented city

The landscape is now composed by trees, buildings and digital information.

We can use the “traditional” senses to perceive all of them: sight, hearing, tactility, smell, taste.

Other, new, senses add up to the “traditional” ones, or modified senses, which we learned to use in more recent times. We do not have 5 (or 6) senses, but a higher number of them.

For example the sense of proprioception, which is among the senses which has undergone massive transformation in recent times: the feeling of being in a certain place. Where are we when we are non Skype, on Facebook, or while we look at Google Earth?  We are in a different, other, place, which is not where our physical body is, not at our friend’s house, not on the screen, but in-between, suspended, Other.

It is necessary, in our contemporary world, to understand how to deal with this and similar facts, with this dimension.

This is fundamental for Design.

a chair

a chair

Let’s imagine designing a chair.

When I design a chair, I’m not designing an object. I’m creating a story.

A story which is the result of the entanglement multiple elements, including the chair’s shapes, materials, structural properties.

lots of different chairs

lots of different chairs

But also of a series of other elements. What do I mean when I say or imagine a “chair”? What does someone with a different culture or background mean by it? What do I expect from a chair? What do I like, hate, fear, desire from it? Which chairs have I experienced, seen, wanted, worked with in my life? …

It is an intricate story, built from formal elements, cultural ones, experiential ones, affective ones, emotional ones, and so on. Regarding me, and also all the other people which this chair is for, or who will see the chair in the store and recognise it as a chair, feel desire, attraction, repulsion, fear, love, seduction, and other emotions, feelings and meanings for it.

This is, as we were saying, even more complex in the era of ubiquitous information, in which search engines (like the image above, which is obtained by performing an image search for chairs), social networks, websites, augmented realities and more add multiple other layers to this, generated by people, companies, organisations and more.

This is not a new thing.

It has always been there: objects (and products, services, ideas, narratives…) have been stories which people interpret using their own cultures, contexts, cues and backgrounds since the beginning of mankind.

Let’s think of an incipit:

I was alone, at sea

I was alone, at sea

“I was alone, at sea.”

If you close your eyes, and try to visualise this incipit, what is happening in it, what do you imagine?

Different people imagine different things.

Some will think of men, women. Some will thing about homes, rafts, yachts. Some will think about sadness, or meditative states, or fear, danger, or happiness and love.

What does this mean?

It means that we create the story ourselves, in our minds.

It means that a writer (or designer, or…) never has complete control of the story, of how different people perceive it, imagine it, experience it.

It means that we build the story ourselves in our minds by harvesting a series of clues which are disseminated across a variety of media. Clues which are relevant, irrelevant, collateral, coming from what the writer wrote (or the designer designed, or developer developed, or interface designer designed…) and filtered, changed, transformed according to what we know about the world, the things we have seen and experienced. Or from what we desire, expect, envision, prefer.

Or even shaped by what we have seen online, in the streets of our city, on a billboard, or with the tail of our eye somewhere, or by something we have overheard on the bus, casually listening to what other people were saying.

All this clues, the ones we use to create the story in our heads, are disseminated across a variety of media.

Henry Jenkins defines Transmedia as:

Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.

In relation to design, we can use this definition as a starting point, to imagine Design as an act of World Building. Of creating Worlds instead of Objects.

What IF

What IF

If we do this, we would probably try to give answers to a series of “What if?” type questions.

What would be in the world if the object (product/service/application/artwork…) existed?

We know that cars exist not only for the existence of automobiles as physical objects.

We know that cars exist for a number of different reasons, possibly even more important that “cars” (as object) themselves (thing about, for example, if I don’t own a car: its other manifestations could be more important for me than the car itself in knowing about cars’ existence in the world).

Cars exist and we know it, also because we know that repair shops exist, insurance policies, parking tickets, parking lots, car advertisements, gas stations. There are people who publish pictures of their car and with their cars on social networks. There are accidents. There are people who desire certain cars. People who talk on the phone telling their friends that yesterday they ran out of gas and they had to leave the car in the middle of nowhere and walk home. There are prizes in which you win cars. There are cars lovers websites. And cars haters websites, for multiple reasons. There are car factories, and people who work in them. The same people who are on strike when the car factory in which they work shuts down because the production of cars has moved to China, or to some place else. There is the guy who invented the hydrogen car of the future. And many more manifestations of cars.

We know that cars exist because there are all of these things. And all these things exist because there are cars.

What would happen if we took away “cars” (as physical objects) and left all their other manifestations in place? With all probability, we would still think that cars exist.

In general, there are a number of transmedia manifestations of the “car” phenomenon. Which is not an “object”, but a Transmedia Narrative, a Simulacrum.

And, thus, let’s go back to the Simulacrum:

Simulacrum

Simulacrum

Designers (and artists, politicians, lawyers, and more and more professions) are transforming themselves, wether they realise it or not, into Transmedia Storytellers: professionals who are able to enact world-building processes by designing a Simulacrum through its coordinated manifestations across a variety of different media.

The objective of this type of actions, is twofold: to intervene on “reality” and to “loose control of the story, in controlled ways”.

First: to intervene on “reality”. On consensual reality, on the things and scenarios which we have learned to recognise as real, socially, culturally, psychologically, cognitively and more. To create a transmedia path in which the object (or product, service, law, concept, artwork…) becomes present in the world not only through its physical/digital presence, but also through the presence of its transmedia manifestations.

Not designing objects, but designing worlds.

This permits a powerful transition: to shift the perception of what is possible. By creating a World, instead of an object, we can provide the clues which allow people to believe in the possibility for this World (and for the object/service/artwork/law…) to exist.

And, second, to loose control of the story, in controlled ways.

This is, possibly, among the main opportunity for design in the Era of Knowledge, Information and Communication. The rise of Open Source, peer-to-peer production models, participatory and mutual economies and many more elements constitute evidence for this.

As described, we can use Transmedia Storytelling and World Building techniques to induce a state of Hyperreality. We can create Simulacra.

When this happens – when Hyperreality happens, when we design for Hyperreality – we do not create copies of reality, or their expansions or extensions. We create a new reality, a different one.

This allows us – as described by Deleuze – to establish a privileged position, which allows us to observe the phenomena of our world, and to open new spaces for their critical discussion.

By creating Hyperreality, we create languages and imaginaries, through the shift in perception of possibility: because we learn that something Other is possible, we acquire new language and new pieces of imagination.

And we can (and will) use them to express ourselves.

The Design becomes, thus, a platform for other people’s expression. It becomes a participatory performance.

This is of fundamental value, because through this modality people will not only able to express around their perception of possibility, but also and more importantly on the level of preferability, and of desirability. Expression not only on possible futures, but also of preferable, desirable ones.

From our point of view, this is an exceptional new role for Design and Designers.

 

Note: this post is the transcription of our contribution to the event on Transmedia Storytelling which was held at the MAXXI Museum in Rome.

The event is the result of the Master in Public & Exhibit Design we hold in La Sapienza University in Rome.

This year we collaborated with artist Maria Cristina Finucci on her Garbage Patch State project, by creating a complex Transmedia Narrative. Here below is the publication of the results of our work:

 

Transmedia Storytelling and the transformation of imagination, at MAXXI Museum in Rome

Join us at MAXXI B.A.S.E. (the research center of the MAXXI Museum in Rome) on April 29th 2014, at 6:00pm, in the Sala Graziella Lonardi Buontempo (via Guido Reni 4A, Rome) for a conversation on Transmedia Narratives, Design Fiction and the ways in which the idea of World Building can radically transform our perception of reality, and the effects of this practice on Design in the era of Communication, Information and Knowledge.

http://www.fondazionemaxxi.it/2014/04/14/transmedialita-e-costruzione-del-reale-comunicare-il-design-nellera-dellinformazione/

The event is organised together with the Master of Public & Exhibit Design at “La Sapienza” University in Rome, and the Department of Education of the MAXXI National Museum for the Arts of the XXI century.

Transmedia Narratives at MAXXI: download the official press release (Italian)

The conversation will be introduced by Margherita Guccione, the Director of MAXXI Architecture.

Then Cecilia Cecchini (Professor at the Faculty of Architecture of “La Sapienza” University in Rome, and Director of the Master in Exhibit & Public Design) will introduce the theme, as it has been used in the Master to construct a non-conventional communication approach to create “a Simulacrum for the Garbage Patch State”, based on Cristina Finucci‘s artwork The Grabage Patch State.

At this point the conversation will begin, with Salvatore Iaconesi (Art is Open Source, professor, artist, designer, hacker), Oriana Persico (Art is Open Source, professor, artist, communication scientist), Andrea Natella (Kook Artgency, journalist, writer and non-conventional communication expert) and Corrado Peperoni (“La Sapienza University of Rome, expert in cross-media communication), who will explore the theme, moving across Transmedia Narratives, Design Fiction, World Building, Simulacra, Language, Communication and Perception, using the videos and images from world-wide known projects to dig into the possibilities, opportunities and challenges opened up by all these practices.

Conference Invitation

Conference Invitation

 

 

Yale World Fellowship 2014

Salvatore Iaconesi has just been selected as Yale World Fellow 2014.

During the fellowship, which will last from August to December 2014, he will expand the concept of Ubiquitous Commons, in an attempt to reframe the concept of Public Space, to adapt it to the current and future scenarios of human life, in which ubiquitous digital technologies and networks have radically transformed the ways in which we relate, work, learn, communicate and collaborate.

Here are the Yale World Fellows for 2014: https://digitalworldfellows.squarespace.com/

Here is Salvatore’s profile on Yale World Fellowship website.

And here is the official press release:

YALE News Release

Contact:
Uma Ramiah, uma.ramiah@yale.edu, (203) 432-1916
Director of Communications, Yale World Fellows 
http://worldfellows.yale.edu

Sixteen Global Leaders Named 2014 Yale World Fellows

New Haven, Conn., U.S.A. – A robotics engineer, an award winning actress and director, a Syrian peace activist, a 2012 candidate for President of Iceland and 12 other multitalented, global leaders have been named 2014 Yale World Fellows. This year’s cohort brings the total number of World Fellows since the program’s inception in 2002 to 257, representing 83 countries.

“Like prior cohorts, this year’s Fellows are dynamic, high impact practitioners committed to effecting positive change,” said Yale World Fellows Director Michael Cappello, professor of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine. “Through the Fellowship, Yale will provide these global leaders the valuable opportunity to take a step back from the intensity of their work and to develop a strategic vision for elevated impact at the national and international level.”

Yale World Fellows is Yale University’s signature global leadership development. Each year, the University invites a group of exemplary mid-career professionals from a wide range of fields and countries for an intensive four-month period of academic enrichment and leadership training.

“It is a privilege to welcome these impressive leaders to campus,” said Yale President Peter Salovey. “Each year, World Fellows enrich the educational experience of Yale students through participation in classes, delivering presentations on campus, and individual mentoring. Through their experiences on the ground, they also provide valuable context and practical perspectives that inform the scholarly pursuits of Yale faculty seeking to address today’s most pressing global challenges. This innovative program continues to represent the very best of Yale’s efforts to educate and inspire future leaders.”

The Fellows:

Yale World Fellows are mid-career professionals with an exceptional record of accomplishment in the public, private, or non-profit sector. Selected from thousands of applicants, they are dynamic, creative practitioners and disruptive thinkers. Fellows work across national boundaries and disciplines: in technology, art, finance, politics, social entrepreneurship, government, media, advocacy and more. Each cohort is carefully assembled, taking into account geographical, cultural, economic, and sector diversity and a rich variety of political and social views.

The Program:
The Yale World Fellows Flagship Program recruits 16 international Fellows to Yale each year for an intense and transformative confluence of ideas, worldviews and experiences. Fellows partake in both structured and individualized learning opportunities, with access to Yale’s unparalleled academic resources and world-renowned faculty. The Program creates space and time to broaden perspectives and deepen funds of knowledge – presenting a unique opportunity in today’s fast moving world. From August to December, the 2014 World Fellows will participate in specially designed seminars in leadership, management, and global affairs taught by leading Yale faculty; audit any of the 3,000 courses offered at the University; engage in discussion and debate with a wide range of distinguished guest speakers; receive individualized professional development training; and deliver public talks on their work, their countries, and the issues about which they are passionate.

The Mission:

The mission of Yale World Fellows is to cultivate and empower a community of globally engaged leaders committed to positive change through cross-disciplinary dialogue and action. We challenge leaders to become more agile and creative in response to the pressures of accelerating change. We encourage them to think beyond their disciplines and sectors, and to question the status quo. Our work is based on the belief that effective leaders need broad knowledge, a network of trusted collaborators, and the courage to create “new normals” in all sectors of society.

See http://worldfellows.yale.edu/2014 for digital version of this release with bios.

For more information on the program, visit http://worldfellows.yale.edu

Yale World Fellows logo

Yale World Fellows logo

 

 

Augmented Reality Art: the Emotional Compass featured on a new book

The Emotional Compass featured in a chapter of the new “Augmented Reality Art” book from Springer, edited by Vladimir Geroimenko together with Mark Skwarek, Tamiko Thiel, Gregory L. Ulmer, John Craig Freeman, Conor McGarrigle, Patrick Lichty, Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, Jacob Garbe, Todd Margolis, Kim Vincs, Alison Bennett, John McCormick, Jordan Beth Vincent, Stephanie Hutchison, Ian Gwilt, Judson Wright, Nathan Shafer, Salvatore Iaconesi, Oriana Persico, Dragoş Gheorghiu and Livia Ştefan, Simona Lodi, Margaret Dolinsky, Damon Loren Baker.

view Augmented Reality Art on Springer

In the book our contribution is titled: “An Emotional Compass: Emotions on Social Networks and a new Experience of Cities

cite as:

Iaconesi, S. and Persico, O. (2014). “An Emotional Compass: Emotions on Social Networks and a new Experience of Cities” in Augmented Reality Art: From an Emerging Technology to a Novel Creative Medium, part of the Springer Series on Cultural Computing, Geroimenko, Vladimir (Ed.). New York: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-06202-0. http://www.springer.com/computer/hci/book/978-3-319-06202-0

Here is a short sample of the introduction of the chapter:

“The map is not the territory.” (Korzybski, 1933)

 

“The map is not the thing mapped.” (Bell, 1933)

 

“The tale is the map that is the territory.” (Gaiman, 2006)

 

“We say the map is different from the territory. But what is the territory? The territory never gets in at all. […] Always, the process of representation will filter it out so that the mental world is only maps of maps, ad infinitum.” (Bateson, 1972)

 

When we experience territories, we create stories. We model these stories using mental maps, referring to one person’s point of view perception of their own world, influenced by that person’s culture, background, mood and emotional state, instantaneous goals and objectives.

 

If we move along the streets of my city in a rush, trying to find a certain type of shop or building, our experience will be different than the one we would have had if we were searching for something else.

 

Focus will change. We will see certain things and not notice other ones which we would have noticed otherwise. Some things we will notice because they are familiar, common, or because associate them to our cultures, to memories and narratives. All this process continuously goes on as our feelings, emotions, objectives and daily activities change, creating the tactics according to which we traverse places and spaces, to do the things we do.

 

In the density of cities, this process happens for potentially millions of people at the same time. In his “the Image of the City” (Lynch, 1960), Lynch described cities as complex time-based media, symphonies produced by millions of people at the same time in their polyphonic way of acting, moving, interpreting, perceiving and transforming the ambient around themselves: a massive, emergent, real-time, dissonant and randomly harmonic, work of time-based art with millions of authors that change all the time.

 

In this, our mental maps – the personal representations of the city which we build in our minds to navigate them to fulfill our needs and desires – live a complex life as our perception joins into the great performance of the city.

 

Dissonance is the essence of the city itself, and represents its complexity, density and opportunities for interaction.

 

Augmented Reality Art

Augmented Reality Art