Categorymash-up

Impressions of ITP Springshow

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ITP is a program at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, and it looks simply awesome. Taken directly from their own mission statement, the ITP’s mission is “to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives. Perhaps the best way to describe us is as a Center for the Recently Possible.”

Twice a year, the students showcase their works, most recently (yesterday) it was ITP Springshow 2009. I’m very glad I could make it there. The vibe is just great, it’s creative and it oozes innovation. The folks studying there are a mix of artists, tinkerers & hardware hackers, it seems.

When I walked in, I saw Clay Shirky hugging a needy object. (Which, if you ask me, is a great start to any show. Also gives you an idea about the kind of stuff you get to see here.) Other projects I found noteworthy or just cool were The Gotham Guide, a QR code based mobile tour guide; a visualization of the rat and bedbug populations in New York City; A Simple Mug, a project to visualize the impact a re-usable coffee mug can have on our environment; an iPhone app that lets you travel back in time through maps; The Mud Tub (seen in the video below), an experimental organic interface that lets users control a computer by digging through mud; a cheap water-testing device for UNICEF & Africa; a service that broadcasts the public Twitter timeline in audio format; a gorgeous wind-sensitive LED light show; a hybrid of Andean textile Art & 8-bit aesthetics; International finance data interpreted as fish; a digital underwater creature that reacts to being watched; Flowzilla, a mobile rapping app; a Greasemonkey script to play Wikipaths like we did when I studied in Sydney; a modified Altoids box to channel women’s frustration; Root Boots that allow you to re-connect to nature; A service for phone calls from the past; A hug measuring jacket; A micro-locative game about heights in the city; a social light switch (which reminded me of the Good Night Lamp, which I also love); a jacket for those who need long-term intravenous injections; and many others.

The Mud Tub, an experimental organic interface

I had a blast. If you have a chance, go see the next show.

There’s also a complete list of projects shown.

Berlinblase summarized in one Moo card

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Berlinblase is back. But as of now, we have a Moo card that says it all:

berlinblase.de. live, raw and uncut by Flickr user dotdean Image by dotdean, licensed under Creative Commons (by-nc)

Not enough info? There’s (a bit… work in progress…) more on Berlinblase > About, as well as a brief intro to the crew.

Berlin web week at a glance

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As preparations for Web2Expo and Barcamp and all the other web-related events in Berlin are going strong, it’s getting tougher to keep an overview of what’s going on. So to keep track, we’ve compiled a fairly comprehensive list over at Berlinblase. It features:

  • a quick event overview
  • relevant Twitter accounts to follow
  • a list of hashtags
  • some general information about Berlin
  • an annotated Google map
  • some links for aggregated info
  • links to the official blogs, events and networks
  • calendar files
  • and the official media channels (for speeches etc.)

You can follow all our coverage at Berlinblase, in the RSS feed or on Twitter.

(Thanks galore, dotdean! Full disclosure: I’m part of the Berlinblase crew.)

October is web season in Berlin (come & play!)

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Just as last year, this October Berlin will be home to a whole bunch of great web events. Most notably, O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Expo will be in town, and no doubt will attract all the movers and shakers of the Web 2.0 world. Last year it was a blast. (One of the fun things: Asking Tim O’Reilly how he’d tell his mom what Web 2.0 is, a video that also was featured on the expo frontpage for quite a while. Here’s how.)

Also, BarCampBerlin goes into its third round. If you haven’t been to a BarCamp, put your name on the waiting list right away, I promise you won’t regret it. Where Web 2.0 Expo is all business, BarCamp is all about community. It’s just so much more intimate.

The awesome folks of Pl0gbar will organize another Pl0gbar (19 Oct), I already reserved the whole upper floor of Sankt Oberholz, Berlin geek crowd’s favorite coffee shop. Just follow the glow of the white Macbooks.

Of course, there’s more, like the Facebook Developer Garage, EduCamp (organized by Steffen Büffel), Girl Geek Dinner (organized by Nicole Simon) and, last but not least, a TechCrunch Meetup (from what Mike Butcher told me, Thursday the 23rd is the most likely date).

A good overview of the activities can be found on BerlinWebWeek.de. (Hey, they even have the fancy cover flow thing going on!)

my moo cardI’d love to meet up if you’re in town, make sure to say hi! Also, feel free to connect on any of these channels:

 

On a side note, a few friends and I will kick off a little side project I cannot talk too much about just yet. Just two hints: Remember (ironically-named = “Berlin Bubble”) Berlinblase, a spontaneous mashup of all things web 2.0 to cover the expo? (Links: Tumblog, video, Twitter.) Well, let’s just say we’ll try to push that a little further, plus are gathering a fun little geek team to rock SXSW as well. (Sponsor applications will be accepted soon.) Stay tuned.

Update: Got no Web 2.0 Expo Europe conference passes yet? As part of a blogger outreach program, Cordobo/Andreas has a registration code that’ll give you a 35% discount.

Next-generation content management for newspapers (is in the making)

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Image: Howard Beatty by Flickr User Ann Althouse, CC licensed (by-nc)Steve Yelvington helps newspapers get the web. Newspapers have a hard time adapting the new ways of the web, what with all this user-generated content, changing consumer habits and dropping sales. It’s a huge cultural problem – traditional vs new vs social media – too. (And it’s not that newspapers, their editors or their management are stupid. Of course they aren’t. Still, they struggling.)

Working with Morris DigitalWorks, Steve is working on a next-generation news site management system. Quite a claim to fame, but both his track record and the few details he already shares back it up. So what’s different here?

We’re integrating a lot more social-networking functionality, which we think is an important tool for addressing the “low frequency” problem that most news sites face. We’re going to be aggressive aggregators, pulling in RSS feeds from every community resource we can find, and giving our users the ability to vote the results up/down. We’ll link heavily to all the sources, including “competitors.” Ranking/rating, commenting, and RSS feeds will be ubiquitous. Users of Twitter, Pownce and Friendfeed will be able to follow topics of interest. We’re also experimenting with collaborative filtering, something I’ve been interested in since I met the developers of GroupLens in the mid-1990s. It’s how Amazon offers you books and products that interest you: People whose behavior is the most like yours have looked at/bought/recommended this other thing.

That’s music in my ears. The whole thing is based on Drupal, which has always been strong on community features. Here, it seems, the whole platform will be aimed at creating mashups, drawing in RSS feeds, pushing them around and spitting them out. In the end, you should end up with a pretty lively site full of both professionally produced and user-generated content and commentary. Of course, by providing both input and output channels for RSS feeds, the data isn’t restricted to just the website, it lives on beyond, way in the cloud.

And the best thing: Usability-wise it’ll be aimed not at techies, but at editors. No major coding necessary:

Open tools and open platforms are great for developers, but what we really want to do is place this kind of power directly in the hands of content producers. They won’t have to know a programming language, or how databases work, or even HTML to create special presentations based on database queries. Need a new XML feed? Point and click.

That’s great news, and certainly a project to watch closely. Can’t wait to see the launch. October it is.

(via Strange Attractor)

Note: So far, the CMS code hasn’t been released under a GPL, but they’ve pledged to do so. All in good time.

Image: Howard Beatty by Flickr User Ann Althouse, released under Creative Commons (by-nc)

The sun is Constantly Setting (watch it)

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Out of Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino‘s lab comes Constant Setting, a beautiful Flickr-based mashup. Constant Setting shows us photos (released under Creative Commons, tagged on Flickr with sunset and a location), from those places where the sun is setting right now. So what happens is, you get to see a never-ending flow of sunset photos from all over the world, following the sun setting around the globe. Beautiful – make sure to switch to full screen!

Constant Setting, image courtesy Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino Image: Constant Setting, courtesy Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Constant Setting was created by Alexandra D.S., D’Arcy Saum and Nick Chip. Read more on Alexandra’s blog, and don’t forget to watch the sunset.

Workshop: Social Media in Higher Education

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Next Tuesday, I’ll have the great chance to hold a workshop at UOC, Barcelona, on Social Media in Higher Education. UOC is a virtual university with students all over the world, so they’re very web-savvy to begin with. I’m very curious about their feedback on my two cents on Web 2.0 and social media. Also, I’d love to hear what you think about the presentation!

Thanks to the awesome folks at UOC who made this possible and have been giving me valuable feedback: Josep Maria Duart, Carlos Albaladejo and Ismael Peña-López , as well to Max Senges for introducing us.

Disclosure: A while ago, I’ve co-written a book on Second Life for UOC with Max Senges and Thomas Praus.

Update: Thanks also for the feedback regarding typos and slide structure to Tim Bonnemann, Jenna, Puja and meowmix. I included your suggestions and updated the files on Slideshare, even though right now it seems like Slideshare hasn’t updated the embed above. Here’s an up-to-date PDF-Version: Social Media for higher education (PDF).