Stakhanov: the BigData Oracle for a new era

From Wikipedia:

“In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to interface wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods.
The word oracle comes from the Latin verb ōrāre “to speak” and properly refers to the priest or priestess uttering the prediction. In extended use, oracle may also refer to the site of the oracle, and to the oracular utterances themselves, called khrēsmoi (χρησμοί) in Greek.
Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people.”
Stakhanov bigdata oracle

Stakhanov: our new religion?

Stakhanov is the BigData Oracle of the new era.
In the era of Data, Information and Knowledge, Stakhanov is the expression of our new global data-religion.
Stakhanov continuously harvests social networks for information and data, making connections, assumptions, correlations, using them to predict the future.
Line-by-line, it emits its verdicts about what will be and that which won’t.
Millions of people agree on the probability of a certain event? Fine, Stakhanov agrees, too, and it predicts it as a certain future.
You went running on the last three tuesdays, as documented by neat little maps published on Facebook? Well, Stakhanov predicts that you shall happily jog next tuesday, too: the gods-of-data say so.
This is the Word, coming from the Data-Above, in The Cloud.
A playful neo-religious data-invasion of privacy, false-hopes and the ingenuity in contemporary determinism.
Join us at the transmediale festival in Berlin from Jan. 28th to Feb. 1st, in Berlin, at the HKW to experience Stakhanov and a workshop on the Ubiquitous Commons, exploring the opportunities and dangers coming from the wide availability of ubiquitous data coming from our lives, relations, bodies and activities, and he ways in which we can turn this scenario to our advantage, as individuals and as a society.
Read more on the transmediale website:


NOTE: More detailed explanations about the concept, process and working details (including source code and data-sets) for Stakhanov will be published on Art is Open Source during the festival.

Micro Histories of cities and Ubiquitous Commons, at #visualize in Lecce

Join us for #visualize, more than one week of data, in Lecce (Italy) from May 8th to June 18th 2014, in the Palazzo Turrisi-Palumbo (via Marco Basseo 1), for an incredible series of workshops and lectures about visual journalism and data, in which we will create one full project of our own.

Here is the program for #visualize:

Visualize, more than a week on data

Visualize, more than a week on data

Speakers include John Grimwade, Leonardo RomeiMartin Foessleitner, Fabio Franchino.

Our talk will be on the 16th of June 2014, and it will be mostly based on the Human Ecosystems project, and on the idea of using the real-time, human-generated infoscape of the city to create a novel form of Public Space, which we call Ubiquitous Commons.

In the workshop, running from  June 16th to June 18th, we will use the Human Ecosystems to build an actual project.

You can use this link to subscribe to the workshop:

Here below is some info about our intervention at #visualize:

Micro-histories of cities e Ubiquitous Commons

Ubiquitous emergent narratives in cities as novel public spaces.


Each day, we generate thousands of information elements through electronic transactions, interactions with digital systems and social networks. Often we don’t realize it.

This mass of information constitutes the millions of micro-histories of our cities, in real-time, manifesting themselves during our everyday lives, while we shop or communicate using social networks.

Micro-histories unite to form macro-histories, the story of the city in which multitudes of people take part to an enormous data-symphony from which citizens’ changes, desires, emotions, vision and expectancies emerge, as well as the ones of organizations and administrations.

Through the Human Ecosystems project we observe in real-time citizens’ public expressions on social networks to describe the relational ecosystem of cities: the emergence of communities, of the themes which they discuss, and of their emotional expressions. This information can be interweaved with other sources of Open and Big Data, and with the flows of news and information, to enact a system in which cities – and their citizens – express themselves, and, most important of all, which can be used as a tool for participation, organization and planning, by everyone. A new common: the Digital Public Space of the city.


The millions of micro-histories of cities: Human Ecosystems e Ubiquitous Commons.

During the talk we will introduce the Human Ecosystems project, and the concept of Ubiquitous Commons. We will show how to harvest public information from social networks to describe cities’ relational ecosystem: the emergence of communities, the issues which they discuss and their emotional expressions.

We will confront with the legal, political, conceptual, theoretical, technical and technological scenarios according highlighting the opportunities raised by enacting processes of this kind.

We will introduce the current operative scenarios of the Human Ecosystems, and the ways in which we are using them in the cities of Rome, S. Paulo, Malmö, Montreal, Toronto.

We will show how this information can be published as a form of real-time Open Data, and how it can be used in conjunction with other sources of Open and Big Data to obtain results which are relevant for citizens, administrations, enterprises, artists and designers.


Strategic and narrative usage scenarios for the Relational Ecosystems of cities.

We will start from a practical issue (public transport, pollution, the job market…) to setup a working scenario for the Human Ecosystems, from the point of view of one of the possible subjects involved (citizens, enterprises, administrations…).

We will show how to interweave the data from the relational ecosystem of the city with other data sources to obtain peculiar and relevant information.

For simplicity, we will use the data that has been harvested in a specific city across a 6 month period, without getting into the implementation details needed to create a system for real-time observation and for natural language analysis. Nevertheless, these techniques will be explained and proper references will be given, together with the possibility to use the Human Ecosystems.

The harvested information will be used to obtain the two outcomes of the workshop: an info-aesthetic, complexity-oriented, visualization, and the description of a possible strategy for intervention onto the selected issue, using the Urban Acupuncture technique.

Desired skills for the workshop:

  • basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript (we will work in groups, so at least one member of each group should possess these skills )

During the workshop we will use:

Visualize, brand

Visualize, brand

Visualize partners

Visualize partners

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:

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

And here is the official press release:

YALE News Release

Uma Ramiah,, (203) 432-1916
Director of Communications, Yale World Fellows

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 for digital version of this release with bios.

For more information on the program, visit

Yale World Fellows logo

Yale World Fellows logo



Incautious Porn at SSN2014 in Barcelona

We’ll be attending SSN2014 (the 6th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference) in Barcelona to present the outcomes of our Incautious Porn project: an anthropological experiment in blackmail and the perception of private/public space online.

From the conference site:

Contemporary surveillance is characterised by ambiguities and asymmetries. Surveillance results from different desires and rationales: control, governance, security, profit, efficiency but also care, empowerment, resistance and play. Surveillance is never neutral. Surveillance is always about power and that power is increasingly asymmetric. Surveillance practices are also changing and as ‘smart’ surveillance systems proliferate utilising and generating ‘Big Data’ new forms of ambiguity and asymmetry arise.

We will be presenting the Incautious Porn project:

Incautious Porn, an anthropological experiment in blackmail and the perception of private/public space online


“We have radically changed our perception of what is public and what is private.


While using social networks, search engines and websites determining who has access to our information, our personal details, our habits and preferences is often complex or not easily accessible.


Each person‘s information is sold hundreds of times each day, while surfing websites and social media sites, with information passing from one provider to the other in ways that are subtle and non-transparent: data collected on one site may be used on other sited to sell us advertisements or to investigate on our lives.


On top of that, most people tend to interpret social media sites as new forms of public spaces, and it is fundamental for service providers‘ strategies that this perception is maintained, to promote our full disclosure, allowing them to collect even more data about ourselves.


We used the project Incautious Porn to investigate on this scenario, to explore the shifting and blurring of the boundaries of what we perceive as our privacy and as our private and public spaces.


Incautious Porn uses the operations of a fake company systematically invading our privacy (even to the point of performing simulated forms of blackmail) to collect enormous amounts of information which we have used to analyze this scenario.


In Incautious Porn art acts both as a sensor on the transformation of human societies and as a tool for analyzing its effects.


The effects of the Incautious Porn project and communication campaign have been massive, bringing it to the attention of a large, global, audience and, thus, allowing the research team to benefit from a large data set.


Furthermore, the actions of the blackmailing fake-company have been led using an ethical approach: no money was taken from people, and all their personal data has been preserved, also using the initiative as a testing lab for novel privacy and security preservation techniques, and as a campaign for awareness about the transformation of people‘s perception of contemporary private/public spaces.”

On: 25th April 2014, at SSN2014, at the CCCB, street Montalegre 5

Redesigning Urban Communication in Trieste

a workshop in trieste

a workshop in trieste

We will be in Trieste from July 27th to August 2nd for “Insegna Trieste” a workshop to imagine and design the future of urban information and communication for the city.

Organized by the City Administration of the City of Trieste and by ISIA Design Florence, and with the collaboration of the Regional Administration of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Trieste, ISIA Urbino, IUAV University and the University of Nova Gorica the workshop will gather students to explore the city of Trieste from a new point of view, and trying to answer the question: “What is the information architecture of the city, as interpreted from a variety of cultures and points of view? How is it possible to define strategies and methodologies to design a system of signs, technologies and methodologies to represent it in meaningful ways? What is the future of urban signage?”

Urban signage is the street-interface for the city’s Information Architecture.

Information Architecture is a heterogeneous combination of different processes, including organization, categorization and the creation of navigation schemes in an Information System.

In the current scenario we can imagine to extend the set of techniques, methodologies and technologies which were classically used to design urban signage, and to include a wider, holistic, set of considerations into the discourse.

Ubiquitous technologies, tagging, augmented reality, urban screens and other technologies can be used to radically transform our experience of cities, as we navigate through streets, landmarks, businesses and opportunities for socialization, entertainment, culture, information and relation.

It is possible to embrace a holistic approach by taking into consideration the passage from Data, to Information, to Knowledge, to Wisdom.

from data to wisdom

from data to wisdom

Data, in city navigation, is composed by the positions of landmarks, streets and buildings, by the opening times of venues, by the presence of toilets and services. Or, in general, by discreet elements telling us what we know about the various things which are found in the city.

We can analyze elements of data to find relations among them. By interconnecting data in network of relations we can describe information. Information is a structure of data, a set of relationships among its elements, forming a network according to a certain strategy.

But we can go further. We can observe how data relates to other data to form information according to a series of recurring patterns. This is a valuable process, as it allows us to become aware of these patterns and to have a more useful point of view on reality, being able to understand information. This process is commonly defined as knowledge.

By understanding the principles according to which these patterns occur, we gain an even deeper understanding of reality, which we common refer to as wisdom.

Usually, urban signage refers to the domain of information. A series of scenarios and use cases are envisioned and, thus, the needs, desires and wishes of different types of users are evaluated to try to understand what information is more useful, and how it can be conveniently visualized onto signs, in accessible, usable ways: “A tourist is on the street in a certain city location, searching for the next landmark to visit.” Signage is designed in order to be visible, perceivable and understandable, allowing users to visually navigate the information domains of the city (mobility, environment, tourism, services, administration, regulations etcetera).

Now, specific technologies and methodologies can be used to assess the other two, valuable, scenarios of Information Architecture: Knowledge and Wisdom.

For example, in the touristic scenario, Knowledge could be represented by patterns of information, such as “the network of best landmarks for contemporary art lovers”, or “the accessible city”, or “the city’s venues, prioritized according to how my Facebook friends rate them”.

And Wisdom could be about understanding how people having similar cultures, contexts, tastes and needs have achieved their goals (for tourism, business, entertainment, sociality) in the city, and providing this as a service.

In our navigation through cities we mostly operate through visual queries.

What we see and experience in the city – and the way we interpret it according to context, culture and personal history – defines affordances for the use of public space.

Wether we operate in a task-based mode or wether something we see/hear/smell/touch in our environment synchs with our culture or sensibility of the moment, we perceive symbols, colors, shapes, and spatial layouts which suggest what is possible/impossible, suggested or advised against, promoted or prohibited in public space.

Affordances in public space are defined at visual, cultural, administrative and political levels, allowing us to experience a very complex set of stimulations coming directly from the urban environment.

Mobile, ubiquitous, devices – such as our smartphones – radically transform our experience of space. Though these devices we constantly experience a potentially infinite number of different, augmented, layers of information which fill the environment. Wether they come under the form of a call or a text message, through a geo-located social network element, via augmented reality, via the internet of things or via other digitally active object/space/architecture present in our surroundings, spaces transform in our perception thanks to the situated availability and perceivability of these elements of digital information.

Furthermore, these layers of information can be related to complex experiences, inventing entire new usage grammars to read, experience and perform public space.

This is what we will explore in the workshop.

The possibility to integrate Ubiquitous Publishing, Urban Sensing, Social Networking, Knowledge Ecosystems with Visual Design, Urban Design, Visual Thinking – and not forgetting to assess issues such as Digital Divide and Digital Inclusionto reinvent the ways in which data, information, knowledge and wisdom are created, disseminated and shared in public space.

We will explore the city and try to understand people’s diversity and needs, and, thus, the information domains which are more relevant to them, as well as their needs for visual navigation systems at global, local and contextual levels.

We will then explore the ways in which digital technologies and networks can be used to go one step further, making richer forms of information accessible and usable, and also making Knowledge and Wisdom accessible, participatory, engaging for citizens and other forms of city dwellers.

We will turn all these insights into a proposal for a new Information Architecture for the city of Trieste, and for its interface: a novel, innovative signage system, across visual design and Ubiquitous Publishing.

Stay tuned for a report after the workshop.