Doors of Perception. Flow
By Human Beans
Flow Conference Pilot by Remon Tijssen
Doors of Perception 7: Flow took place in Amsterdam in November. Resided
over by First Perceptron John Thackara (that means he’s in charge, and no, unfortunately
he didn’t have the Gandalf-like outfit you’d expect from such a title) the conference
investigated the design challenge of pervasive computing.
John Thackara opened the conference with a series of key questions, the first,
to what question is pervasive computing an answer? To illustrate the problem
he told us of a visit to the toilet. On putting his favourite bag on the washbasin
whilst washing his hands an automatic tap misinterpreted it as a person and
promptly filled it with water. Why, he asked, do we need things to be smart?
Who has the responsibility to look after smart objects, and what will be the
social cosequences of a smart and connected world?
He challenged designers to take time to anticipate the world we want to live
in, before colonising it with pervasive and smart technologies. How, he asked,
do we redesign the design process? How should we find new ways to perceive flows?
How will we move to a continuous model of design as systems and processes never
stop changing? What new metaphors are required to describe what designers will
do? And what will we do Monday morning to do it?…….Still following?
Read John Thackara's
Great questions, and had the speakers answered them or a even just a handful
of them we would all be actively designing a better world now (and probably
with different job titles.) However design for complex systems is not, as you
would expect, straightforward, over the three days the speakers took a meandering
yet (mostly) fascinating path through the topic and questions. Below we pick
out the highlights and the best of the rest.
Janine Benyus. Image from Doors of Perception: www.doorspfperception.com
The case for Biomimicry
Biomimicry can mean more than making a phone look like a shell. Janine Benyus
puts forward a compelling case for biomimicry, mimicking nature, as a significant
tool in the designers' toolkit. Man and Nature share the same resources for
building and living and often have to solve similar problems, why doesn’t Man
learn from nature and in turn designers from biologists. Mimicking not only
natural form but process and ecosystem, nature after all is a complex system
that manges to function without any 'bad blocks'.
Book: Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Bruce Sterling, (his ibook still sporting a Core 77 sticker from his Offsite),
likes to 'look at the underside first', and presented two melancholy scenarios
for ubicomp futures (ubiquitous computing). The scenarios of Punish.net
and Military Ubicomp will be familiar to anyone who attended the Offsite
or read the write up.
The scenarios made us think of the value of dystopias in visioning the
future. Too often we see shiny things from the future that say, '…and it could
be this good!' Yeah, but show me how badly could it go wrong and I’ll understand
the potential impact and importance.
Sterling's presentation online
Best of the rest:
For more distopias see Altavistas
by Ben Hooker and Shona Kitchen, winner of the Open
Doors 'Beast' prize for ugliest project.
Loome a Livework service
Personal information Broker
As well as setting up the service design module at Interaction
Ivrea Lavrans Lovlie and Chris Downs are directors at Livework
a new (and they claim first) London based service design consultancy. They
presented Loome a concept for brokering
personal information. That is selling your bank statements, store card details
to the highest biding corporation. A provocative concept allowing individuals
to cash in on the million dollar personal information industry.
Other recommended Open Doors projects:
Body Mnemonics by Jussi Angesleva: Winner
Living Surfaces by Casey Reas: Winner of the 'Beauty' prize
Hardspace/Softspace by Pletts Haque
Amsterdam RealtimeEsther Polak, Aske Hopman,
Enzio Manzini (left) responding to a question from John Thackara
Renound Italian scholar and man of all things sustainable Enzio Manzini presented
on the final day of the conference. He asked designers to consider the ecology
of networks. We often talk about flows in networks as large and fast - however
the space between large and fast flows,he warned, is in danger of becoming desertified.
Citing examples of Italian slow food
and agri-tourism he said we should take time to renew the close and slow. Close,
small, slow networks that combine the local and global at a pace which allows
quality to develop.
Enzio Manzini's presentation
An animated Markus Antisaar of Nokia
The future of Nokia?
Though surely not giving anything away, Marko Ahtisaar of Insight and Foresight
Nokia, gave a glimpse of future directions for the company. Echoing Manzini,
Marko's work concerns the slow and close. With an overall theme of proximity
(from 1cm to room size) Nokia are considering People and Places - digital
sharing in proximity, eg across a table. My things with me - the emotional
relationships we have with our digital information, photographs, or names in
our phone book. Enhanced Spaces - digital content that is site-specific
and Safe Usage - how to replicate the implicit security of a face to
face exchange in a technology such as Bluetooth.
Read more about Marko Antisaar
Best of the rest from the phone people:
Marco Susani, Motorola -A (poetic and visually beautiful) language developed to describe the way we
communicate with mobile phones based on auras.
Doors of Perception is a '..website,
knowledge network, and cultural accelerator…which sets new agendas for design
- in particular, the design agenda for information and communication technologies.'
Flow Conference site
Moodstats by Michael Schmidt and Toke Nygaard. Image from Doors of Perception:
The rest of the rest of the best:
- organised by Jason Tester and Chris Noessel of Interaction Ivrea
Aibo hacking - from Natalie
Jeremijenko’s talk on Feral Robots
Moodstats -a daily dashboard for your emotions,
by Michael Schmidt and Toke Nygrad
The work of Joshua Davis and his 'space bar technology'