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

 

 

ELMCIP, in Edinburgh, discussing Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice

Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice (ELMCIP) is a collaborative research project funded by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) JRP for Creativity and Innovation. ELMCIP involves seven European academic research partners and one non-academic partner who are investigating how creative communities of practitioners form within a transnational and transcultural context in a globalized and distributed communication environment. Focusing on the electronic literature community in Europe as a model of networked creativity and innovation in practice, ELMCIP is intended both to study the formation and interactions of that community and to further electronic literature research and practice in Europe.

read write reality

read write reality

The partners include: University of Bergen, Norway (PL Scott Rettberg, Co-I Jill Walker Rettberg), Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland (PI Simon Biggs, Co-I Penny Travlou), Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden (PI Maria Engberg, Co-I Talan Memmott), University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (PI Yra Van Dijk), University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (PI Janez Strechovec), University of Jyväskylä, Finland (PI Raine Koskimaa), University College Falmouth at Dartington, England (PI Jerome Fletcher), and New Media Scotland.

We took part in this project as case studies in the research “Digital Manual: Authority, Authorship and Voice” by Dr Penny Travlou (PI), a cultural geographer, and Dr Smita Kheria (Co-I), a legal scholar in intellectual property law and copyright.

We will present our point of view at the ELMCIP Conference “Remediatng the social” on November 1st 2012.

Here below are the links to the e-book which is among the results of the project:

In the book you will find the article “Rhizomic ethnographies” by Penny Travlou, which gives more details about the parts of the project we have been part of.

 

updates: here below are our slides at the conference

Here below a slideshow describing the story and results of the overall project.

MASTER OF EXHIBIT DESIGN AT LA SAPIENZA UNIVERSITY, LESSON 3

the ecosystem

the ecosystem

We can consider our ecosystem as an interlinked stratification of different contexts.

While designing an experience (or a series of different experiences) we can choose to focus on different layers of our living ecosystem: we can decide to focus on one, two or all of them. Wether we choose to focalize our attention on one domain or on multiple ones, we have to make sure that we traverse these domains in ways that make sense, with a purpose, creating experiences which put to good use the possibility to operate according to multiple modalities.

Here, we choose to make a distinction according to three modalities:

  • physical space
  • information space
  • communication and interaction space

This is not the only way in which it is possible to classify the things which characterize our experience of the world, but we chose these ones as they will serve a specific purpose in the following activities.

While using these types of classifications it is important to remember that they are porous and fluid, and things often change their classification whenever you change the perspective according to which you look at them.

Physical space is where the body is. We can describe physical space according to what our senses [1] allow us.

Even here a note must be made: there are 5 classically recognized senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste). Yet there are different additional ones which the researchers who operate on neuro-sciences have identified. One, for example, is proprioception, [2] the sense of being present, of being in a certain place; or the internal senses which allow us to perceive when we are hungry, or cold, and more.

Multiple researches have discovered the ways in which all these senses work, how they allow us to experience the world, our bodies, our presence, and the places in which we stay [3] [4] ,  and how we use them to gain insights and understanding from the world  [5] [6] [7].

In short, it is possible to say that through the physical experience of the world, as mediated through our senses and our possibility to move and to enact mechanical processes, we are able to explore and gain understanding of the environment in which we are in, as well as of ourselves and our role within the world [8] [9] .

Physical space is not the only way in which we can observe the world.

Information space is where we experience information.

In its strictest definition, information is is an ordered sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message.

Information can be recorded as signs, or transmitted as signals. It is any kind of event which affects the state of a dynamic system. [10]

Information is everywhere, in fact. Each thing we see, each odor we smell, each texture we touch, everything conveys information: we live in a state of continuous interpretation of the things we experience in the environment which surrounds us. And each of these things can be interpreted in multiple ways, according to our personal approach, to our cultural background, to our personal history. And, thus, each place, object, sign, sound can bear different types of information for different people, from points of view that are emotional, cultural, symbolical.

The encounter and and possibility for interaction of multiple interpretations of the world, giving rise to different information for the same elements of the environment, is of specific importance: it is where two or more interpretations meet that intersubjective, collective experiences take place, at the border, in the interstices of our spaces where cultures meet and engage each other.

Colors, shapes, layouts, patterns, can incorporate meaning which are significative for us alone or for entire communities.

In each of these interpretations, each time that “something” comes to form meaning according to a certain perspective, information is formed.

Information, with the act of being recognized, changes the state of systems, where with the term of “system” we can allude to any simple or complex dynamic process, such as a human being walking down the road, a party, a work session, or a lesson at the university.

When an individual walks down a road and arrives at a crossroad, the traffic light visually communicates bits of information, thus causing the person to mutate behavior.

When we place our hand near a flame, the heat becomes information, causing us to quickly change the direction of our hand-movement.

When a notification arrives to a certain information system, a notification window might pop-up on our screen.

All our environments are fully coded with elements whose role is to convey different types of information, from signage, to lights, to the shapes of urban furniture, to our dress-codes, to the ways in which products are laid out in the aisles supermarkets, to the music we unconsciously listen to in airports.

During these last decades, the role of information has drastically changed in our societies. Information is produced in massive doses on ubiquitous technological systems in a variety of ways, involving a multiplicity of types of different subjects, from enormous multinationals and their gigantic information systems, to the small, continuous bits of digital information which we all generate nowadays while performing our daily activities, from purchasing products in stores, to using our mobile phones, to participating to social networks.

Digital information has become ubiquitous, causing our world to mutate: everything can now possibly be transformed into a screen [11], and the possibility to interconnect people, objects, architectures and places to each other using digital devices and networks has brought the concept of “hyperlinking” from computer monitors into our cities and into our daily lives [12].

We can, thus, augment our design processes to include digital information as an ubiquitous building material.

This, of course, has always taken place: if, for example, we focus on the concept of affordance – the concept which describes how form conveys information about the possible, suggested usages of objects, places and processes – we will see how even the most physical forms of design are deeply aware about information.

In ways which are becoming completely similar to the ones we use while designing the visual meaning of objects, signs, buildings, clothes or rooms, we can now design the ways in which digital information is linked and accessible from those same elements.

Using ubiquitous technologies and ubiquitous publishing practices, we can publish digital information on objects, bodies, places, making it accessible and interactive, using smartphones, sensors, digital devices, ubiquitous networks.

In designing for the information ecosystem, we must confront with three fundamental issues:

  • information architecture
  • information representation
  • information visualization

Information Architecture allows us to express a model or concept of information used in activities that require explicit details of complex systems. [13] [14]

Through Information Architecture we interpret information and make distinctions between signs and systems of signs.

This requires the classification of information into a coherent structure, preferably one that the intended audience can understand quickly, if not inherently, and then easily retrieve the information for which they are searching. [15]

Information Representation requires us to conceive the metaphors through which it is possible to communicate information. This activity finds its origins in the ways in which information is represented in different cultures, and requires the understanding of the targets of the information, the cultural backgrounds and the goals to which we wish to make information accessible, understandable and significant.

Multiple techniques and approaches are possible for this activity, and they all require to gain understanding of the mental models of the targets of information, as originated from culture, history, interests and personal approaches [16] [17] [18] .

Information Visualization proceeds from there, designing the ways in which information is visualized and experienced, taking into account aesthetics, accessibility, usability, complexity, and the multiple ways and purposes according to which information can be used, including the optimization of its visualization according to the device or other fruition technology through which information is experienced (from small devices, to smartphones, computers, urban screens or media facades which occupy entire architectural spaces), and its narratives, purposes, aesthetics and symbologies [19-26].

Communication and Interaction Space is the place in which all the action takes place.

We can describe any part of the world that surrounds us as a space for communication and interaction. We communicate through the ways we speak, dress, look, touch, and event through the things which we avoid doing, saying, wearing and touching. Our gestures, expressions, body positions communicate.

Communication is the activity of conveying information.

From Wikipedia:

“Communication must be between two persons, parties or sides etc. Communication has been derived from the Latin word “communis”, meaning to share. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver has understood the message of the sender. Feedback is critical to effective communication between parties.”

Communication can be seen as processes of information transmission governed by three levels of semiotic rules:

  1. Syntactic (formal properties of signs and symbols),
  2. Pragmatic (concerned with the relations between signs/expressions and their users) and
  3. Semantic (study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent).

Therefore, communication is social interaction where at least two interacting agents share a common set of signs and a common set of semiotic rules

A constructivist interpretation of this process exposes how the parties involved in communication are actually interrelated, and the ways in which they express information, thus performing the act of communicating, is to be considered as transformative of the way in which the information will be received and understood.

A few elements emerged in describing communication processes, which can be used in designing our communication spaces:

  • shared “space”
  • message
  • the syntactical context
  • the pragmatical context
  • the semantic context
  • interrelation
  • feedback
  • interaction

All these elements should be taken in consideration  when designing communication experiences:

  • the “space” in which communication takes place, in its material or immaterial connotation, which must be accessible and usable by all parties involved
  • the “message” or, more in general, the type of “object” that gets communicated,  which must be recognizable and interpretable
  • the “syntax” of communication, the grammar according to which information is expressed, which has to be constructed according to a set of rules which allow for its analysis and structural comprehension
  • the pragmatical aspects of the communication, through which we should ensure that what is communicated is relevant for the activities, goals, desires and visions of the targets of our communication
  • the semantic aspects of the communication, ensuring it expresses recognizable meaning and information for the cultures and backgrounds which we want to refer to
  • the structure our environment in ways which allow to receive the feedback coming from the actors of the communication, to be able to welcome them and to use them to generate a dynamic environment which adapts to the mutating conditions
  • directly originating from the previous point is the idea of interrelation, according to which all actors and processes involved are constantly and mutually transformed by the process of communication

The definition of Interaction is closely related to the ones described above, and it involves  interconnection, information, communication.

In fact, Interaction is a concept which is more general than the one to which we think about when we analyze “interactive systems” like websites, videogames, mobile applications. The concept of Interaction exists in multiple domains, like physics, chemistry, social sciences, and more.

Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way causal effect.

As a general rule, it is possible to define the term “interaction” in more than one way, according to scopes, areas of interest, disciplines and sciences. Yet the main idea comes out from all of them: two elements (individuals, devices, games, chemical compounds, software components…) exchange some sort of signal/stimulation (a click of a mouse, an electron, a bit of data, a signal…) and, thus, interrelate for a defined amount of time, altering their condition in some way, possibly producing some perceivable effect (information, change in interface, different molecule forms, a device activates, something appears on a screen, a sound….).

It is clear how Interaction is, in this definition, a form of communication.

And just in the way in which our spaces/processes – physical, digital, hybrid, localized or ubiquitous that they be – are filled with multiple flows of communication which, according to our perception, describe “what is going on” in that space/process, the same can be said about interaction.

Interaction Design is “the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services”, and it has a specific focus on the understanding of behavior (of people, things, processes) and on the satisfaction of the desires, expectations and conditions for well-being of the people using the products, environments, systems and services which are the object of design.

A common reference for describing Interaction Design are Bill Verplank’s drawings:

He defines Interaction Design as a question a series of “How to..” questions:

  • How do you do? What sort of ways do you affect the world: poke it, manipulate it, sit on it?
  • How do you feel? What do you sense of the world and what are the sensory qualities that shape media?
  • How do you know? What are the ways that you learn and plan (or perhapse, how we want you to think)?

This definition has been rightfully considered a foundation for the disciplines which relate to Interaction, but we can imagine how to expand it by taking into account the contemporary transformation of human beings and of the ways in which we interact with others and with systems. This article [link], for example, starts from Verplank’s drawings to include the ways in which our knowledge has become more social, the novel ways in which we desire to share our emotions and expressions with other people, the innovative ways in which we can and desire to know the effects of our actions across time and space, and the fact according to which our interactions are not isolated in space/time, but form an ecosystem in which knowledge, information and human interrelation play crucial roles.

So we go from this:

to this:

 

In THIS ARTICLE [link] some other fundamental theories are investigated, to describe the design of experiences in a bit of more detail.

The incipit is obtained by observing this image by Nathan Shedroff:

In the image, the interactions among the three main areas of Information Interaction Design – Information Design, Interaction Design and Sensorial Design –, and the ways in which all these contribute in forming Experience Design.

This form of analysis is truly helpful in understanding the methodologies according to which design processes are conducted, leading to the methodological understanding of the quality of the designed experiences, services and products. [27-33]

All the issues analyzed in this lesson form a basis according to which we will analyze Interactions and Interaction Ecosystems in the next lesson.

 

 
[1] Barlow, H. B., Mollon, J. D. (1982). The Senses. CUP Archive.

[2] Bermùdez, J. L. (1998). The Body and the self. MIT Press.

[3] Knoblich, G. (2006). Human body perception from the inside out. Oxford University Press.

[4] Eilan, N., McCarthy, R. A., Brewer, B. (1993). Spatial representation: problems in philosophy and psychology. Oxford University Press.

[5] Brewer, B. (2002). Perception and Reason. Oxford University Press.

[6] Gendler, T., Hawthorne, J. P. (2006). Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press.

[7] Dretske, F. I. (1969). Seeing and knowing. University of Chicago Press.

[8] Wagner, M. (2006). The geometries of visual space. Routledge.

[9] Bermùdez, J. L. (2000). The paradox of self-consciousness. MIT Press.

[10] Cohen, E. (1999). Information and Beyond. Informing Science.

[11]  de Kerckhove, D. (1997). The skin of culture: investigating the new electronic reality.

[12] de Kerckhove, D. (2001). The architecture of intelligence. Birkhauser.

[13] Taylor, A. G. (2004). The organization of information. Libraries unlimited.

[14] Rowley, J. E., Hartley, R. J. (2008). Organizing Knowledge. Ashgate Publishing.

[15] Tidwell, J. (2010). Designing Interfaces. O’Reilly Media.

[16] Kolko, J. (2009). Thoughts on Interaction Design. Morgan Kaufmann.

[17] Saffer, D. (2009). Designing for interaction. New Riders.

[18] Norman, D. A. (2002). The design of everyday things. Basic Books.

[19]  Tufte, E. (1990). Envisioning Information. Graphics Press.

[20] Tufte, E. (1997). Visual Explanations. Graphics Press.

[21] Tufte, E. (2006). Beautiful evidence. Graphics Press.

[22] Mijksenaar, P. (1997). Visual Function: an introduction to information design. 010 Publishers.

[23] Mijksenaar, P., Westendorp, P. (1999). Open here: the art of instructional design. Joost Elffers Books.

[24] Jacobson, R. (2000). Information design. MIT Press.

[25] Baer, K., Vacarra, J. (2010). Information Design Workbook. Rockport Publishers.

[26] Ware, C. (2004). Information Visualization: perception for design. Morgan Kaufmann.

[27] Shedroff, N. (1994). Information Interaction Design: A unified field theory of design. Retrieved November 2003 from http://www.nathan.com/thoughts/unified/

[28] Shedroff, N. (2001). Experience Design, New Riders Publishing; 1st edition. Retrieved September 2004 from http://www.experiencedesignbooks.com/examples.html

[29] Forlizzi, 2004, Towards a Framework of Interaction and Experience as It Relates to the Design of Products and Systems. Retrieved October 2004, from http://goodgestreet.com/experience/home.html

[30] Alben, L. (1996) Quality of Experience: Defining the Criteria for Effective Interaction Design, interactions 3.3 May+June 1996, p11.

[31] Dewey, J. (reprint 1963) Experience and Education, New York: Macmillian.

[32] Forlizzi, J. (1997) Design for Experience: An Approach to Human-Centered Design, Master’s Thesis, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University.

[33] Pine and Gilmore (1998) Welcome to the Experience Economy, Harvard Business Review.

Master of Exhibit Design at La Sapienza University, Lesson 2

In this lesson we analyzed a series of initiatives which used ubiquitous technologies and a structured approach to interaction on social networks to design innovative scenarios for large-scale events of international relevancy.

The cases shown during the lesson have been selected because of the effectiveness of their design, which achieved the result of both enhancing the experience of the event through novel forms of awareness and interaction, and also to leverage in specific, significative ways the opportunities offered by these technologies.

Chevy at SXSW

At SXSW 2011 Chevrolette designed a complete presence using a series of strategies which allowed them to enact a powerful brand awareness campaign by integrating physical and digital events in really natural ways.

  • a series of spaces designed as lounge areas allowed visitors to benefit from free wireless connection and to engage in fun, interesting, socially collaborative activities which also suggested they generate  online content on social networks
  • a series of activities involved Chevy cars to provide useful services to visitors, such as giving them rides across the city of Austin; visualizations were used to show in event space the paths of these city traversals, generating beautiful geographical patterns
  • all activities had direct evidence on social networks, either by showing in the event the results of the event-relevant communication taking place in real-time on social networks and by providing multiple occasions for visitors to generate online content such as photoshoots, little contests, participatory narratives in conferences to which you could participate by joining in Social Network discussions
  • a partnership with Gowalla allowed to offer advanced, fun and unexpected location based services and initiatives which were seamlessly integrated with the overall event experience; for example visitors who were already registered to Gowalla received messages as soon as arriving at Austin’s airport, giving them welcomes, instructions and small games also of the collaborative kind to which to participate
  • special events were created specifically for active social network users
  • Here is an article describing a couple of additional features of Chevy’s presence at SXSW

 

Joyce 4th anniversary

A completely different approach was used by Joyce, the exclusive fashion brand, to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

The wish to create an extraordinary experience allowed Joyce to integrate multiple technologies in the event, providing natural interaction techniques such as the following one (see Reactivision for concept on how this works) or projection mapping, turning entire architectures into spectacular screens:

 

Artvertiser

Through Artvertiser we analyzed the possibility to create augmented vision practices to transform the perception of spaces.

 

Augmented Shadow

Through the Augmented Shadow project we learned ways in which it is possible to use physical objects to naturally interact with digital processes and narratives, opening up scenarios in which it is possible to invent novel ways to interconnect people, events, places and processes.

 

Zugara Augmented Shopping

Through the Zugara augmented shopping experience we analyzed how it is possible to take existing practices, such as trying on clothes while shopping, and substantially reinvent them, using novel forms of digital interaction applied to obtain natural forms of interaction.

We then expanded the concept by analyzing the strategies behind the realization of Prada’s concept stores.

 

Daito Manabe’s Faces

We then investigated on novel uses of technologies which allow to interact directly with people’s bodies. One example was Daito Manabe‘s faces transformation software, allowing you to “wear” the faces of famous people.

 

Coca Cola Village

Coca Cola Village example was used to analyze how Near Field Communication and social networks could be used to both create exciting experiences in events and to also create powerful communication strategies that can produce and spread novel forms of communication. At the village, guests were given RFID bracelets which they could use when attending the various environments, such as pools, playgrounds and events. Each bracelet was associated with the guest’s Facebook account. By simply passing their arm near a sign depicting the famous Thumb Up of Facebook’s “I Like” action, guests would publish onto the social network that they were having fun performing that specific activity.

 

Sony Vaio Scavenger Hunt

Then a scenario about a Scavenger Hunt created by Sony for the presentation of their Vaio products was analyzed to understand the use of QRCodes and location based technologies to create participatory events in which the interactions would take place in the space of the city.

 

The Netherland Film Festival

The Netherland Film Festival used Augmented Reality to create a narrative experience that visitors could access while moving from one venue to the other. Disseminated bits of a story were accessible using augmented reality by pointing a smartphone to passer-by’s, to see callout balloons pop up over their heads, transforming them into unexpected actors of an AR movie.

 

The Tourist in Dallas and Ralf Lauren’s 4D experience

Then a series of examples of projection mapping techniques was shown to explain how to transform entire architectural surfaces into screens, to visualize both engaging sensorial experiences or to experiment in the visualization of realtime data.

 

Here below are the slides using during the lesson:

 

 

Master of Exhibit Design at La Sapienza University, Introduction and Lesson 1

AOS (Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico) have started to teach at the Master of Exhibit Design at La Sapienza University of Rome.

Our contribution will engage the possibility of designing large-scale events using methodologies which allow to create seamless experiences which join together physical and digital environments to achieve multiple objectives.

breakdancing in the street

breakdancing in the street

In the first introductory lesson, we started by analyzing the image above. It shows people watching a breakdancing show in via del Corso in Rome.

What we did was to imagine what was going on beyond the appearances. If we look at it from a specific perspective, all the people in the picture are busy generating ubiquitous digital information. Each of them probably has a mobile phone in their pocket. Some of them are taking pictures, which will possibly end up on social networks and probably be even geo-tagged to associate to them the information about where the shots were taken. Maybe some of them will publish something like “great breakin’ street show in Rome today!” on Twitter. Each of them probably has some sort of digital means of payment, such as ATM or credit card.

From such observations, we figured how multiple layers of activity are simultaneously going on in a single space, and we could imagine representing them visually or in some other form, for example using Augmented Reality, to have the perception of something which goes beyond our “natural” vision of the world we live in, beyond the landscape.

What we envisioned is that it is now possible to transform each physical space into an augmente space, in which ubiquitous technologies can be used to stratify digital information and interactive experiences onto the ordinary reality.

This produces an entire new vision for our cities and, more in general, for our physical spaces, which now are able to embed digital information creating novel scenarios for the activities  of our daily lives.

We interpreted this as a generalization of the term Screen.

screens everywhere

screens everywhere

We are used to seeing screens everywhere in one way or the other.

Each advertisement, each led display, each timetable at the train station, each menu outside a restaurant, each weather and temperature display, each microwave oven. Multiple things in our environment show information in ways which we would have no problem in defining as “screens”: surfaces of some kind showing information and/or narratives.

Some places are more explicit in being filled with screens, such as Times Square (NY), shown in the image above.

Yet it non difficult to imagine how it is possible to transform virtually any surface into a screen designed to show information and offer opportunities for interactivity.

Through Ubiquitous technologies, mobile devices, augmented reality, location based systems, near field computing, sensors, electronics, wearable devices, electronic gadgets, smartphones and multiple types of display technologies, each space, each surface and even thin air can become a screen, radically augmenting the physical environment by layering onto (and interweaving into) it multiple digital experiences.

We noted how this approach radically changes the definition of public space.

In its classical definition, public space is somewhat a description of borders, of boundaries, which we, public administrations, cultures, common practices, symbols and temporary agreements define as such.

In this new scenario, public space becomes a simultaneous compresence of multiple definitions. By adding an Augmented Reality layer to a space I can transform it into a public space for discussion, for example. In that same space I can add other opportunities for public, shared interaction, which may or may not be related to one another. Furthermore, people from diverse locations can converge into a single digital public space and, thus, into a physical space, as the information and narratives which they generate materialize in a single location regardless of where or when they have been generated.

This approach transforms space/time into a read/write framework for multiple simultaneous forms of expression.

Such possibilities drastically interact with our notion and perception of place.

In his book “The Image of the City” Kevin Lynch describes the ways in which we recognize places, the elements which we use in our perception of place to identify it: aesthetics, materials, lights, configurations of buildings and streets, signage, people’s walking patterns… In the consideration of an augmented place (Digiplace,as Zook & Graham describe it) we experience a different geography: emergent; ubiquitous; multiple; open-ended; capable of hosting at the same time multiple perspectives, layers of information, narratives.

This issue calls for new methodologies in designing space and the processes which take place in it, across time, geography and ubiquitous digital presence and interaction.

The need to positively design this new idea of space, which fluidly mixes physical and digital domains, requires modifications to our practices.

This is exactly our approach in our contribution to the Master of Exhibit Design:

  • Create a novel vocabulary, a novel language, a novel usage grammar for space, in which digital tools, ubiquitous technologies, screens and interactions form a series of new possibilities, materials, methodologies which can be used to design space and the processes which take place in it, taking into account the idea of a space which is multi-layered, interactive, emergent, in which multiple people and information can converge ubiquitously, and which can be interconnected in real-time with all the parts of the planet;
  • focus on the technologies and methodologies which we can use to enact these processes, and learn how to keep up with their rapid evolution, constantly identifying new tools and “materials” to design spaces and interactions, and integrating them into our design practice;
  • learn how design processes change, to account for these additional possibilities;
  • learn how to activate these new ideas for space, connecting them to social networks and ubiquitous experiences, using computers, mobile phones, smartphones, devices, gadgets, interactive systems, natural interactions and, most of all, creating the narratives and cognitive accessibility and effectiveness which are able to let people tune in to the novel possibilities and modalities.

During the lessons we will focus on the following approach:

lessons approach

lessons approach

There will be a horizontal and a vertical classification of the themes discussed in the lessons:

  • vertically, we will perform activities which will engage three main issues:
    • natural interaction, meaning the modalities of digital interaction which are implemented using common, natural, physical, widely known and accessible gestures and practices, such as touching/moving physical objects, wearing devices under the form of pieces of clothing, traversing spaces with interactive features in them, looking at things, speaking, showing ourselves or objects to vision devices, triggering sensors with our behaviour
    • screens, in the many ways in which we can imagine to create a screen today, using those technologies and methodologies which permit to realize portable screens, screens on smartphones, transforming objects into information displays, transforming entire architectural surfaces into screens, and understanding the concepts and methodologies according to which we are able to publish information and opportunities for interaction onto them, from the incredibly small, to the incredibly large;
    • next-step social networks, investigating the ways in which it is possible to ubiquitously interconnect people, engage them in events or processes of other kinds, create information in real time using sensors, interactions, content harvested from social networks, interconnecting person to person, person to place, person to object, object to object, visualizing this information and allowing people to naturally and accessibly interact with it.
  • horizontally we will analyze issues which cover the whole scenario of designing public space and the processes which take place in it:
    • the methodologies which allow innovation to take place, including the adoption of technologies
    • the mutation of design practices, to take into account the possibilities offered by ubiquitous technologies and natural interactions
    • the activation of this new form of space/time/process, by designing the strategies of the multi-modal, trans-media communication which becomes a fundamental element in the creation of place

We will do all of this starting from the idea of the Great Event.

A Great Event, such as the Olympics, major conventions, city-wide happenings, film festivals and things like that, are peculiar in the fact that they create important processes in the city for the length of their duration.

A city is a specific type of place, as in its territory multiple processes, of large, medium and small scales, constantly interweave, engaging society, administrations, companies, groups of citizens, and addressing major issues such as health, security, mobility, environment and pollution, energy, law, regulations, cultures, commerce.

The creation of a major event in a city requires multiple types of action, and the design of the event itself is only one of them, the others being the search for a suitable location; the establishment of relationships with local administrators, companies, citizen representatives; the request for licenses and permissions; the assessment of issues related to health and security; the dialogue with organizers, sponsors and territorial subjects. This type of overall activity describes a Great Event as an ecosystem of practices with great impact on the urban texture of the place it is organized in, from points of view which are economic, commercial, social, cultural, communicational, and requiring different types of interventions on both the territorial configuration and on the administrative, bureaucratic and civic apparatuses of the city.

In the following lessons of the course we will focus on the ways in which a Great Event can be designed to incorporate the technologies and methodologies described above into the definition of a city-wide process which is able not only to realize an harmonious and effective interrelation between physical and digital spaces, but also to promote novel practices which are able to interconnect people worldwide, across cultures, languages and approaches.

The Great Event which we will describe will take place in a physical location, but it will also interconnect in real-time people from all over the planet. In the physical space natural interactions, ubiquitous screens and networked processes will allow people to produce and experience real-time information and to relate, learn, and participate in novel ways, suggesting new scenarios for entertainment, citizenship, commerce, knowledge, culture and awareness.

Here below you can find the slides used in the first, introductory lesson.

 

 

Here Below are some of the videos used during the lesson: