Virtueel Platform at PICNIC 2010: HOT and NOT
I can call myself HOT officially since last Thursday the 23th. Attending PICNIC 2010 with 99 fellow HOT-students is a hot experience indeed. Packed in a decorated marquee, listening to Sebastian Chan who is currently the Head of Digital, Social and Emerging Technologies at the Powerhouse Museum. His teams include the museum’s web unit, audiovisual and photography, rights & permission and the photo library, the research library and Thinkspace, the Powerhouse’s digital media teaching laboratories. In his lecture Chan focused on the online methods he used to publish old photographs and photo’s of art that or normally not displayed in the physical space of the museum. Interesting enough he discovered that there was forming an online community around the photographs from the database. Some people printed them and took their own photo’s accompanied with the printed photo. As an example, Chan showed us a fairly resent photograph posted in Flickr of an city hall with someone holding the very old photo, retrieved from the museums database, of the same city hall only from decades earlier. The photo was shot from exaclty the same angle and composition so it was clear how the surroundings had changed during the years.
Chan also showed how the museum made use of the users behavior on the database website. All the regular things, like how many visits an art object generated on the website was monitored. In that way the popularity of the art objects can be analysed which might came in handy when preparing an exhibition. Also the copy/paste behavior was registered. In that way Chan was able to make ‘heatmaps’ of the information about the art objects which he could use to organize the information on a more attractive way. All these examples showed that museums can have benefit from publishing their art online in stead of being afraid to lose all their visitors in the museum.
An whole other topic was brought by Anab Jain who is designer, entrepreneur, speculator and founder of Superflux, an interdisciplinary studio based in London, UK and Ahmedabad, India. Superflux is both a consultancy and a lab, operating in the realm of emerging technologies and experiences, for business, cultural and social purposes. Jain talked about the projects and concepts her studio developed. One concept I found very interesting was about producing synthetic bees. I think nearly everyone knows that the bee colonies across the world are in immediate danger of extinction for reasons that are not clear. With a video Jain shows the process of breading these insects in a biology scientists lab. After a while we noticed this would not be the correct method to produce synthetic bees and apparently this was not the sole purpose of the initiative. Jain explained that the goal of the project was to bring together a group of professionals from different disciplines who would think about solving problems together. This way there could be a good change to design solutions for problems we have to face today. Although there were actually not yet problems resolved, I trust the initiative is an excellent startingpoint to do so. I also reminded me of an upcoming researchfield which is gaining in popularity pretty fast. Biomimicry is a researchfield that is based on the finding solutions by studying nature. Ofcourse nature had a long time to come up with solutions and it can be said some solutions were more succesful than others. But the value of nature’s solutions lies in the continues balance in which these solutions settled in the biological systems. Needless to say, this is what’s HOT today.
I want to conclude with same remarks about the organisation of the HOT100 by Virtueel Platform. Same follow student I talked with about the HOT experience had more or less the same feelings about the context of the event. Although it was very nice to attend the PICNIC2010 event, it just didn’t felt like we where all there. Although I found the lectures reasonable interresting I also found it a little bit disappointing that we could not attend other lectures. They simply wouldn’t let us leave the marquee. Whole day long the program was full of workshop sessions and lectures. The workshops were more in service of the companies than for the students. The students were put to work for companies who have profited from this creative work. After the workshops there was little time for the presentations and afterwords we where literally kicked out because the marquee was reserved for other purposes. The promised drink, besides the two vouchers, wasn’t organised at all. As a result I suddenly felt even less HOT than usual but even more hungry at the time. Ofcourse there was food but it cost you 50 euro’s per meal, not actually student friendly I suppose. As a result many students fled.
The initiative of Virtual Platform is praiseworthy but it lacks in the details described above and that’s a pitty.