Cooperation: Google, OpenSocial and social networks

On November 2nd Google presented her “new baby”: OpenSocial. OpenSocial is a open source technology based on html and javascript, which allows networks to be open for gadgets and widgets from other sites. A good example of this, as I call it, “cooperation” is Plaxo or now so called Plaxo Pulse.

So why must Google be in between? Why didn’t all these different networks start connecting with each other and come up with a standard? In order to maybe get some answers on these questions I took a look at “Campfire One” the presentation of OpenSocial, explained by all the cooperating groups.

OpenSocial is mostly for making the lives of developers easier. Nowadays it’s pretty difficult to make a widget which is compatible with different kinds of social networks because each one of them is using different programming languages and standards.


“OpenSocial: a common open set of APIs for building social applications across multiple sites” API: application programming interface, “is a source code interface that an operating system or library provides to support requests for services to be made of it by computer programs” (1) (wiki)

“It’s all about making the Web more social, not just Google”

Right….so what will be different than…?

Example of the cooperation of Ning and Flixter

Ning is a social network whereby you can create your own social network.
Flixter is a movie community for movie fans where you can do all sorts of activities which involve movies, like rating, reviews, movie pics, movie news etc.

So what will happen when those two will cooperate with each other using the OpenSocial API’s?

CEO of Flixter:

“We’ve integrated the flixter application in the middle of the profile (profile page of someone on Ning). The profile page is getting it’s information from the servers of Ning and the Flixter applicaton gets it’s information live from Flixter servers. What Flixter is doing is using the OpenSocial API to get the users identity, pull information from our database about that users movie preferences[…]And what the users can do now is click into the application. We’re still within Ning but all the information you see is coming from the servers of Flixter. So what it’s doing is, again, get the users information, through OpenSocial from Ning, profile picture, name etc and also getting there entire friendslist immediately going to our database and looking at the most recently movie reviews for that friendslist and showing that as an activity stream at the right side of the page. And then if you click into a movie, what Flixter does is basically now turn any social community on the web into a movie site.[…] and immediately see your own friends and what they said about that movie and maybe discover somebody who wants to see the movie, so you can immediately share information.”

Well, that’s quite interesting information I say. So what’s basically happening with the use of OpenSocial is that your several accounts, in other words, databases, on different network sites will be combined and most importantly those of your friends as well.

(I took just one example, there are more examples given in the video of the presentation.)

So what’s in it for Google?

I see networks combining their databases and therefore also combine all your accounts and at the same time I see Google which is tracking your search inputs, uses Google AddWords etc.

Combining all this information tells me that Google is getting more and more information in an easier way cause everything is slowly getting centralized. Sure there are benefits for businesses and consumers but what’s happening now is that Google has got access to places, social networks, of which is known that users of those sites lose their guard about, for example, their privacy. I say it’s all in the name, “Open” “Social”.

But let’s not be to sceptical and see what it will bring us in the next upcoming months.

On September the 28th and 29th Amsterdam will be transformed into a huge playground.

A wide variety of big urban games will take place in the city……You may choose to take virtual penalties with your cell phone, play Snake live in the Westerpark or guard a VIP against snipers using a water pistol….



testHow to keep up as schools in a world where even e-mail is outdated and social networking is the new big thing? Some schools say that the answer is setting up a MySpace page. Can it be that education has sunk to a new low? Or is this the new high in school/student communication? Nate Anderson wrote an article on about this.

But the question how to communicate with the younger generation is also very actual for parents, they just don’t know what can be done with a computer. Jonathan Duffy wrote an interesting article on the BBC website called IT-support for your parents.


QueneauJust a short tip about Raymond Queneau’s Hundred Thousand Billion Poems. This website lets you create poems by just selecting buttons, it sure saves some time if you don’t want to cut up your book (which is one of the suggestions of the New Media Reader). Nice stuff if you want to check out the various options.

Personalized advertisments are not enough. Google boss Eric Schmidt says, “Google is not at all done with your information problems. There are many, many examples of where it would be nice if Google had more of an ability to understand time and choices.”

So maybe we can make some recommendations before Google makes them for us. What problems would you like the company to solve?

More from the article:

The more a search engine can learn about a user’s surfing habits, the better it can predict their intent.

With more web history data, Google could offer users a “hyper-personal” experience, with results based on potentially years’ worth of pattern analysis of a user’s search history.

Speaking about the long-term aspirations for Google, Eric Schmidt, the firm’s chief executive, said one day the search engine could potentially answer questions such as “What shall I do tomorrow?” and “Which college should I go to?”.

Surely Schmidt knows it is a little disingenuous when he says, “The important principle, and I want to say this over and over again, is that this is opt-in, user choice.” What kind of choice would that be? What doors will close when I opt out of a grand scheme like that?

Anyways.. I would like Google to remedy my compulsion to watch the chipmunk video over and over. (And related to this, I could use a little help on my term papers, too.)

I’ve been thinking a bit what to publish about my research on my weblog, and went to search for other examples of research blogs to give me some guidelines.

I stumbled upon this website by Jill Walker who has written a valuable paper on blog usage and research together with Torill Mortensen. A very good read for anyone who is in doubt on what to blog and what not to. The following quote presents an interesting view:

“Blogs exist right on this border between what’s private and what’s public, and often we see that they disappear deep into the private sphere and reveal far too much information about the writer. When a blog is good, it contains a tension between the two spheres…”

The paper by Walker and Mortensen can be downloaded from the website, or directly from here: Jill Walker and Torill Mortensen, Blogging Thoughts: Personal Publication as an Online Research Tool (February 2002, PDF).

If you’re going to run a research blog or already have one up and running, what will you be posting and also what not? On the one hand you want to discuss things with your readers, on the other hand maybe you don’t want to have them run off with your ideas? Where is that balance?

(also posted on

Floris-Jan van Luyn en Edwin Verstegen, VPRO
A documentary about the contradictions and tensions of modernisation and globalisation in China. Young people leave the country side and wind up as low wage substitute World of Warcraft players for their more wealthy counterparts in Western countries who have either no time or no lust to earn rewards, ranks and levels themselves.
The documentary also shows a compelling image of the contradictions between the country side and the rapidly modernizing urban environmeent, between physical labor in agriculture and digital sweat shops, between generations, site bound traditions and global modernization.

On the 16th of November in the year of the Fire Dog, a German bloke named Julian Raul Kücklich visited an ugly building in Amsterdam called the P.C. Hoofthuis. This man, designated as one of the few worthy game theorists by Geert Lovink, spoke introductory words to us regarding the studying of games.Computer Game Player!

Mr. Kücklich started off restating the validity of game research, emphasizing their economical impact and how increasingly common it has become to regard them as media forms and cultural objects. What followed was a brief journey through game practices, genres, theoretical clashes and future approaches to game studies, all from the eyes of Kücklich’s home school, literary studies.


The last few weeks it has been in the news numerous times; in Guangzhou, South China, snow and ice storms have stranded tens of millions of people, most of them migrant workers traveling to their families to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Since the storms began on January 10 officials have tried to keep more travelers from coming to the stations by closing them off in order to prevent riots. Furthermore the government has urged migrant workers to cancel their travels for the New Year. (more…) is a blog on news and opinion about digital trends. All sorts of items come by, marketing, gadgets, wiki’s, social software etc. What I try to do in this post is give you a brief analysis of this blog.

Online communities map
(click map to enlarge)

Lately I’ve been living mostly in the Flickr/Last FM area and on the Blogipelago but I am a vivid traveler. I have day passes to and Wikipedia and I always enjoy a good swim in the Sea of Culture and the Ocean of Subculture.

Original source: xkcd

Recommended related reading by danah boyd:
Which evil nation state are you? (similes for Microsoft, Yahoo and Google)

This link is very interesting; an (almost) real time geo-locater of anonymous Wikipedia entries.
During a workshop on Recalling RFID, I got interested in where the actual story (in this case wikipedia entries) was being made on RFID. In a first attempt, a map was created that shows the sizes of countries in relation to its contribution to the RFID story.
I recently received the above link form a fellow blogger and decided to explore a little with it.

Below you can find eight minutes of recorded truth-editing compressed in two minutes. In this dance of red dots, what do we see? And what is the world editing about within these eight minutes of reality? A nice add-on would be if one could track changes per edit-topic. This could create a kind of ‘truth-status-bar’ of topics of your interest. Next step will be to record an hour and create one static image with all layers of edits. This in order to see where the weight of edits will lie (and maybe on what topics/issues).
Here you can find the movie.
In this movie we can actually see the different entries over time, chronologically. What also seemed interesting was to create again, a static map, that shows the (share of) contribution per country during a specific period of time.

Via Processing, I plotted the map of two minutes editing:
With many thanks to Erik, it worked out.
Below you can find the source code (which actually will not work, because first you will have to create a movie from the site and then separate them into single images and load them into your sketch folder within Processing…). You can actually use the movie above to subtract images from.
Here is the animation of two minutes Wikipedia.
Source code: source code

Here is a cross-post.

This session is the most concrete session of today. The focus is on practical views on online video from the perspective of speakers’ practices. How do video artist, activists, programmers and curators deal with copyright issues, publishing and distributing videos? Main issue addressed in this session relates to the most ideal alternative platforms that can be created for online video. What are the differences and similarities compared to YouTube? How do these alternatives deal with open source software and p2p processes? And how do they deal with user agreemenst and proprietary software? Why not YouTube?

Seth Keen

Moderated by Seth Keen, the speakers in this session will investigate developments in the field of open source software in creating alternatives to proprietary software like Windows Media Player. Through investigating p2p alternatives and open licenses, both users and programmers aim to create a truly distributed network, in which content can freely float around without having to use centralized servers and sign strings of user agreements. Moderator Seth Keen and Geert Lovink developed the concept of the Video Vortex conference together.

Michael Smolens

All photo’s by Anne Helmond

Michael Smolens – Cross-cultural communication through real-time translation

Last minute addition to this session and first up is Michael Smolens. His main interest lies in cultural needs around the world and how digital technology can provide new means for cross-cultural communication. A documentary like 9/11 Truth shows the impact one documentary can have on public opinion. It is not hard to imagine there are numerous movies around the world with similar impact but are not accessible due to language issues. His project aims to use open source-wikipedia like software to make every movie available in all languages, in all kinds of formats. His project dotSUB does this by making use of RSS in 24 languages. It is basically a real-time translation tool on the Web. This project shows a sensitivity for cultural significance. Language is impediment in understanding other cultures but can also be a barrier that creates misunderstandings.

Matthew Mitchem

Matthew Mitchem – Video Social: Amateur video and virtuosity in collaboratively produced media
Matthew Mitchem shows a political/activistic clip “A Cold Day in DC” that reflects on the second inauguration of the Bush administration. This documentary was his first involvement in making videos. With a background in philosophy and an interest in politics, he positions himself as a political video maker.

What are YouTube alternatives? Matthew explores this question by looking at the first answer that comes to his mind: television. In his presentation Matthew argues lines between television and online video are blurring in two ways. First of all, the boundaries between old and new media are blurring because YouTube is becoming a popular source for mainstream media to reflect upon. One consequence is that YouTube is getting more political importance. The video “Vote Different” shows a 1984ish movie based on a 90ties Apple commercial. The maker was slightly related to the Barack Obama campaign and was fired after this video got enormous airtime. During the Hurricane Katrina, CNN advised people to stay in doors, but requested viewers if they did get out anyway, to take their video camera with them. Eye reports or citizen journalism via videos were a substantial part of the CNN reports on Katrina.

For this conference Matthew decided to become a YouTube addict and got involved with commenting and replying. He shows an online video concerning Hillary Clinton and repetition. The video “Hillary Clinton: Favorite Word” shows a very narcissistic Hillary Clinton (lots of “i’s” and “me’s”). Right after the interview this video was online. Most hits for that video were on the next day. Since there were a lot of videos responding to that interview it was difficult to get many hits. If you want to be viewed tag well. The point he makes is that YouTube has become part of the political project, not separated form it.

Secondly, he argues television is not at all that distinct from YouTube because there are numerous sites that provide channels or topic specific online videos, including Godtube, Gospeltube, Ning, They are basically a ‘filter’ for online videos. In the example of Ning, you can create your own social networking site (under a license agreement) Also,, is quite big and allows for alternative use. From this television perspective we don’t need to construct more alternative to YouTube because public access television is already available through these filter-like sites. These sites are often built on top of mayor sites like YouTube.

His project is one such examples that provide means for Web users to create and share their filtered channels. is recently redesigned and now makes use of a WordPress-like cms called Joomla! Joomla! works on database management and FTP. The benefit is that you can use your own user agreements and it has the-same functionality as YouTube, with lots of open source plugins. You can basically create your own YouTube. Unfortunately he didn’t elaborate on much. Questions from the audience were mostly about which provided him with the possibility to elaborate on this project. is a also a filter-like project, like for instance Godtube and has multiple channels. Since they also make use of YouTube content and therefore also transferring copyright with the content they copy to their site, there was also a question relating to this. How do they deal with that? The answer was simply put: they don’t. They don’t have lawyers, mostly because they are not as financially attractive as YouTube. Furthermore, when they receive complains about a specific movie being copyrighted they remove it. Another interesting question was about the collaborate aspect of the project. When Matthew and his colleagues were filming “Cold Day in DC” they saw that lot of people were filming. Although they were only ones making feature documentary about second inauguration, there were a lot of citizen journalists. is also a platform to create collaborative group where these videos can be collected and shared.

Valentin Spirik

Valentin Spirik – Open source ways of producing, distributing and promoting online video
Valentin Spirik is part of He approaches alternative ways of producing, distributing and promoting online video by looking at free and open-source software like 3D modeling/animation application Blender and open-media platforms and tools. Valentin is film maker and into collecting and filtering open source video tools. In the last couple of years his focus moved to online distribution. He discusses open source software by talking about the ways he as film maker promotes, uploads and distributes own videos. Providing a kind of HowTo for finding ways into existing alternatives to YouTube. With this he hopes people to be inspired and find alternatives to YouTube. His method of working with online video is illustrated with examples such as “Indiworks Channel” which involved remixing video, 3D animation and vlogging.

His first recommendation is to have a blog. Valentin uses uses WordPress, but it can also be Blogger or another blog software platform. The downside of WordPress is that it cant embed videos because of some security issue in the code. Only YouTube and Google Video can be embedded which is not a good thing. Valentine prefers over YouTube because it supports creative commons license which YouTube does not. also support more file types next to Flash which is the only type YouTube supports. Before using he used is an important site because it is a free and big digital library. doesn’t charge for storing videos. They only make you agree that people are able to download your video. In the open-source pond his video’s can still be found such as his first (half) feature film “Vincent“. Valentin makes an interesting remark about online video distribution. The notion that everything is getting faster and smaller and easier is only half the story. The other side of the story is slow distribution via the internet. In traditional cinema movies go away can not be seen for instance lets you see movies and files over and over again, when you want to; it allows you to distribute your movie into eternity. And for free. This argument taps into the argument made by Florian Shneider that the Web is not about real-time but rather about “anytime wherever”.

Nicely complementing the previous speaker who talked about ‘filters’ for online videos, Valentin discusses a possibility for creating alternatives to YouTube by creating channels. On you can bookmark favorite videos and make playlists. After making a playlist, you can create a feed and it becomes basically a channel. In aggregators such as you can can submit your channel. Before this possibility of creating channels existed he used is very simply put a community built on top of This was actually an ‘alternative to YouTube’ before YouTube existed. These alternatives are both mainly about link copying. In linking it to your own site, you create your own video channel – a very strong and easy alternative to YouTube. This is great for independent film makers because you can create your own channel. According to Valentin there is no excuse left to not post your stuff online. On the wiki on the Audiovisual Guide page, there are all kinds of documentation on ways how to get your stuff online.

By showing trailer mash-up between terminator and E.T. “The Real Digital Revolution” Valentin shares his thoughts on copyright issues. The mash-up is a commentary of what is going on online. Concerning copyright, this trailer has some discussions around it. The power of video is that you can show it. Strange is that we are allowed to quote text, but not video. While the thing is with videos that you have to show them, not talk about them. To not be able to show videos is absurd.

The last open source solution Valentin addresses is Blender, which is a 3D application. You can even change the code if you want. While the commercial version of software like this costs between 2000 and 5000 dollars and the code cannot be changed. Blender is free and works. To demonstrate Blender Valentin ends with a preview of a Blender-made movie that is not yet finished called “Vivaldi-rock”.

Philine von Guretzky

Philine von Guretzky – Bridging the gap: Redefining the platforms for moving image
Berlin based Philine works with an organization called Online gallery is dedicated to showing video artist in different contexts. It is an alternative to YouTube specifically for video artist. The artworld is at a change this moment, also in video art. Recently video art is been made more available, blurring the line between traditional art categories. is experimental and acts as an online gallery especially for independent and new artists. Since 2003 they have been online and mayor changes are happening now. The number of viewers increase, content increases, and ways of working change.

Artists and traditional galleries initially were afraid for publishing online because it would devalue the work and make it easy to copy. is now more accepted within institutions and they curate shows a couple of times per year in collaboration with other institutions. The videos shown online are reduced to three minute-videos and in museums (such as Tate Modern), on a big screen, full videos are shown. Together with has also curated for a whole year an Urbanscreen in the south of Amsterdam. No commercials, just video art.

In what way is really different than YouTube? First of all videos are not embeddable on sites. They have the philosophy that it is more respectful to the piece and more about the piece itself when it is shown on this curatorial site. Some artist don’t want to be shown next to a funny kitten movie and provides a platform for such artists. The strength of lies with the group as such. It is a small curated amount. Copyright issues are not a problem for this alternative and dealt with rather easily; the artist signs that its not’s problem if it turns out to be a video that is copyrighted by someone else.

Ian White wanted to create a list of lists of videos. They are an online gallery that only show what is admitted. Therefore you are invited to submit to the list of lists. Best is on minidvd for submission.

Jay Dedman

Jay Dedman – Show-in-a-box, WordPress video distribution system
Presentation of videos is very important for online works and media activists. Open source and sane copyrights are also important. Jay Dedman and college Ryanne Hodson have developed Show-in-a-box, a tool that makes WordPress better suitable for WordPress. With the goal of creating the ultimate videoblogging platform by providing WordPress installs, this alternative builds on YouTube and WordPress.

In asking for a revolution in online video, he claims that it already happened. YouTube is a revolution. However, “YouTube makes my work look bad”, that is the main problem. Although this argument for an alternative to YouTube sounds similar to the argument made by Philine, Jay does not argue for presenting the pieces he makes as stand alone videos. Jay considers himself a storyteller and requires good quality for his videos. mixes your WordPress site with good video displaying. Most storytellers are not familiar with php, html etc. so they really need tools otherwise they will get left out. Voices need to be heard. What he considers problems concerning online video can be solved by adjusting WordPress. A blog works well for text, but not really for video.

Jay started to make a list with critical thinkers, film makers to see how they deal with distributing and presenting videos and the problems they come accross. was the blog he started with. The blog format looks like a diary and it is almost impossible to find old videos except on date search or clicking through the archive. As more speakers have addressed in this conference, it is important for video artists videos can be found “anytime wherever”. Because video archiving and searching does not work good, the blog does not serve this need.

As a second example he shows, a political video scraper that allows you to mix these videos. The blog does not allow video to easily work with it: too much text-based. For visual creators, a blog often does not suffice and support creativity. Also when vlogging is about raising money for visual projects, donating via paypal for instance, again a blog is not ideal. For this to work they even needed to hack WordPress.

Another project deals with getting 8mm movies online, still difficult to find a format that handles these files. The Show-in-a-box project is about volunteers that create open source plugins in order to create a good alternative YouTube that does not scramble with your quality. A first pilot is It is a blog, but offers different video formats and shares (called VPIP, video paste in place). Point to make is that video artists need to get involved in the creation of new media tools. Pledge drive features plugin for WordPress is about also financially helping each-other out (because youTube isn’t gonna!).

Tatiana De La O

Tatiana De La O – Independent media
Tatiana approaches alternatives to YouTube yet from another way. Not addressing YouTube alone, rather the Web 2.0 revolution as a whole. Tatiana is part of Indymedia, however she is not representing them. It is the first open independent open source publishing site and she wants to talk about how they are different to the 2.0 revolution. Independent media sites are looking at web 2.0 with two different attitudes. On the one side they want to learn to network the different producers better and spread good material better. On the other, narcissism and individualism of the blogosphere is seen as counter productive by most of the activist programmers.

Sites like Indymedia and are about seriousness of the information that is on display. They are often event-driven and reactive to reality. Independent media are mostly run by volunteers and reactionary. The problem is that they are sometimes anxious that the police will come and shut their servers down and they do not have that expensive professional software. This does not always makes them look as professional as commercial Web 2.0 sites. It is however not so that Indymedia is unstable and Flickr or YouTube is stable. The police can also remove your video from YouTube.

2.0 is about friends of your contact list. The advantage of 2.0 sites is that you can control the feedback, It is gentle, more stable, more fun. In many independent media sites one cannot do this. She makes a point about content politics, taking democracy to media production. Her main argument against 2.0 is that it takes down democracy. People that like kittens and fun are free on YouTube. People that are serious or political not always. Who is adjusting content? What is democracy? Something unequal. Just like 2.0? A pervert thing in Flickr is that they have sneaky ways of hiding content by not showing tags in searches. If your pictures are dirty they get tagged nipsa which means it can not be found in a search. If you admit to Flickr your picture is nipsa yourself, only that picture is removed from the search results. When Flickr find out themselves, then the whole account is removed. This is about diverting information (agency and control). Old-school politics are transferred onto media sites. Indymedia did Web 2.0ish things as well, but called it open-publishing.

Tatiana ends her talk with 2.0 lessons. Indymedia were fighting for revolution and people went to 2.0. Their first reaction was “why! have you seen the licensing!”. The first lesson is that they learned not to be jealous. People use the tools they can use and they will use it (YouTube, Flickr). Why fight it? Secondly they think more about syndicating content via YouTube. Try to talk more with users what features they like (not too much though). About marketing and means, they want to make revolution irresistible! if content is elaborated, it gets more attention. Still, it has to be quick. Lots of open source and free software is emerging. We are now preparing tools for this new revolution. We show what we are doing. They are not reactive to market (2.0 buzz), but to what people are doing.

We’ve talked about Participatory Culture in class with Richard Rogers. To get some idea of what this is, here’s some recommended reading: (more…)

While nothing is decided yet, it looks like (note: article is in Dutch) consumers will be forced to pay extra taxes on their mp3 players and TiVo-like recorders, a kind of pre-penalty for the copies they will ‘inevitably’ make. These taxes are already added to the cost of blank media (dvdr’s, etc.).

The article says the money goes to the artists hurt by (il)legal copying, but I wonder how much goes into the RIAA’s budget for fighting piracy with lawsuits and technologies that make sure we can’t copy anything anyway (I’m thinking in cool cybernetic loops again, sorry). They expect the law to work for them, and they like to police the law (DRM).

In other news (also in Dutch), conservatives are looking to kick under-25 year-olds off welfare. But surely it’s the record and movie industries who are the real ‘welfare leeches’ of our time?

‘Constructive instability’ is how Condoleeza Rice described the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in the summer of 2006. It’s a term that brings to mind tropes of globalization – maybe a synonym of precarity, or the state that produces a desire for sustainability. Thomas Elsaesser uses it to describe the kinds of experience engineered on the Web, especially through collaborative filtering. He asks how our experience of the new forms of artificial life – “or art made more life-like” – known collectively as Web 2.0, might help us think about the whereabouts of ‘the human’ in the new ‘posthuman’ landscape.

In the mode of Web flâneur, Elsaesser took his questions to YouTube. Starting with the notion of ‘collapse’, he followed a semantic trail that led from the Honda Cog advertisement to the film it references (Der Lauf der Dingen), on to a Japanese television show and, finally, world championship domino tipping. The collective efforts of users, software, statistics and sorting algorithms presented him with a path through YouTube, one that wavered consistently between the joy of epiphanies and a constant threat of entropy. But rather than understand this pathway in the new media lineage of hypertext, Elsaesser turns to the language of cinema.

Elsaesser’s talk centered around Der Lauf der Dingen – the 1987 film created by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. The famous film is a 29 minute long take that follows an elaborate cause-and-effect machine made of a range of heterogeneous materials – planks, tires, candles, and so on. The film is hard to stop watching, and gains its suspense from an engineered potential for failure – its ‘constructive instability’.

Elsaesser uses the translation ‘The life of things’ rather than the official one, ‘The way things go’, and connects the film’s tension between balance and collapse to life online. The Web flâneur finds pleasure in the added value of Web 2.0 – its own versions of adaptive evolution – but there’s always another collapse, the anxiety of oncoming entropy, “the evolutionary dead-end”. Ontologically, the path through YouTube might be likened to a digital picaresque novel. It is an episodic narrative of loosely connected elements – not random but on its way there. A constructive instability whose attraction relies on that which destroys it. Going to back to his initial question, Elsaesser says that failure is the all too human factor that underlies the new forms of so-called posthumanism.

Elsaesser’s talk was itself a series of ‘aha’ moments – for me, a real highlight of the conference – and I’d never manage to capture it all in a blog post. I tried not to mangle his ideas too much, but I’m not so sure. (If his paper is published online I’ll make sure to link to it here.)

google 2084In a series of ‘future of’ events, the Club Of Amsterdam organized a future on Google symposium on the 25th of October at the Industrieele Groote Club. Four lecturers were invited to give their views on the history, status, and possible future scenarios of Google.
Also a discussion session was held, moderated by Simon Jones.

First up was Nils Rooijmans, who is Head of r&d ilse Media.
Within the Ilse company, which is still the largest dutch search engine, Rooijmans is working on the development and strategy of search engines. He states that Google is not only a search engine (technology), but also an advertisement company (business) and a media company (culture). Concerning the latter, the impact of Google on culture and the media landscape is the point of discussion.
In current discussions on this blog, one mayor issue is the authenticity of truth ascribed to Google, (Google as truth (f)actor)) by literary everyone (wikipedia-google discussion, for instance). Rooijmans explains that this discussion is rather irrelevant due to the fact, whether you like it or not, it is simply happening. He takes another point of view by taking a look at the definition of culture:
Culture’ (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning “to cultivate,”) generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significant importance.
In other words, culture is about how knowledge is transferred in a society. By taking (a rather narrow) view on the history of this transferring, from sign to words to the printing press, it is stated that, where the printing press was about archiving of knowledge, the new search engine paradigm transforms the way in which we transfer knowledge. Search engines actually transfer knowledge itself. A critical question here (which was not addressed) is what searching than now means. Is searching for knowledge also creating (new) knowledge?
To continue on history, television and radio enabled ‘popular’ culture. Now, we can see a shift from mass media broadcasting towards interactive media like blogs. Where mass media was one way communication of knowledge, via new media tools, a discourse is emerging; a blog is interactive due to the fact that the system of commenting is adding to the ‘knowledge’ factor of the blog. The way to tap into this knowledge is via searching. The development of this search culture has lead to the filtering of knowledge to the top 10 of Google ranking (where we now know that after a 1000 results, the search becomes useless).
So, the power of knowledge lies now not only in its availability, but also in its accessibility (or, Google presence, in this case).
In giving a future scenario, Rooijmans shows the image of Google: 2084. Your brain and your ego will also become Googable.

The second speaker is Mario de Vries, a business consultant for Triple P.
In a time where Google is checking your every mail-movement, de Vries takes on a marketing view on what is happening with your data. Rather than creating new information, the focus is on the remixability/ re-use of information. The fact that your data is highly valuable and easy accessible is of course already known in the marketing world. The hot topic now is cross-media management. The example of the Eboman site as a free site, and a portal to information (see remarks on this in “is eboman 2.0 post“) shows that in a web 2.0 paradigm, everybody becomes his/her own advertisement company or brand, if you will.
A way to tap into this emerging possibilities is think of new models and views of a brand.
Synethesia (what actually comes down to experience design and ambient experience) is the phrase. Where even buttons become company brands and vice versa the iPhone is mentioned: its interface shows, for example, that a ‘ button’ is already virtual and becomes a portal a whole underlying co-brand.
Where a company is becoming its own advertiser it has to build a close community around its products and services where the value of information is only visible in context and ‘narrow casting‘.
By expanding their business from internet to television (a search engine for the multitude of content within digital television) Google will be even more present in creating and providing a platform for content. With a probable model of building profiles, paying via your Google setup box, the emphasis and business model here is ‘mass customization’, where I can access any tv content whenever I want (as long as I pay the subscription of course) and, also wherever I want:
De Vries expects a total immersion of the real and the virtual world via screens, where the content of this screens will become user-and location-dependent and the object name server will replace the domain name server.
As an example he mentions the add by Burger King with its Whoperettes. By crating your own set of ingredients online, the whole add movie is adjusted to you ‘taste’.
By connecting different platforms like television and internet via more and more ubiquitous displays, Google can guarantee a number of viewers in add-space, getting an even more firm grip on mediaspace.

In a whole different direction, Rocco van den Berg from Endemol, starts from a content-developers position.
With Endemol focusing on the increase of serious video channels, they have to think about models where there is room for user generated content. IPTV, via setup box or via broadband will be a billion dollar business by 2010. The big players now are myspace, youtube, joost and msn; all native web-developed platforms. The question for Endemol is how to get in as a production company. They are betting on interactive television and direct sales, in a combination of user generated content and subscriptions.
In creating and remixing content, Endemol is also working on re-using ‘old’ television content, by using the web 2.0 metaphor of tagging in order to find new ways of exploiting (did not like this connotation!) content.
In a joint venture called Xie, a new format is being developed to create something van den Berg called a ‘device independent service’. What he actually meant (small correction here) is of course a cross-platforms service, where internet, television and mobile phones are used to create a me-on-tv (quite narcissistic) kind of program.
Think Citizen Journalism versus Idols. If you’re wandering where the link with Google is, wander with me…
Critical question from the crowd was why users would want to pay for this service in consideration with a YouTube, MySpace etc.

For the final lecture, Arjen Kamphuis was introduced.
With the title of his presentation being “futureshock – don’t panic”, one cannot help but expect a techno-utopian story.
By starting of with a very quick technology history, from the first fist axe to traveling to the moon, Kamphuis states that instead of graduate change, we are right now undergoing an accelerated change in technological development. Where futurologists often tend to draw a straight upward graph, it is probably parabolic. Instead of creating “in the year 2020” scenarios, we should recognize that literally, future is happening now. With Google being the largest enterprise in world history, we should focus more on the dynamics now rather than postponing it to the future.
Where the printing press has left its mark on the speeding-up process of recreating and archiving knowledge, with the coming of Internet we are now really in the information age. The reason why we are still in offices and cubicles rather than working on the beach with our laptops, as sketched as the ideal office by Kamphuis, is a matter of a generation gap. Adjusting to computerized society is not fully saturated yet in all layers of this society. With computational power becoming ever more powerful, cheap and ubiquitous (warned you about the techno-utopian view…), next generation of man will look at computational power evrywere as a natural given.
He even goes as far as to say that nowadays already computers have the same computational power as a human brain, mentioning the chess-computer development and the Asimo-robot. He accidentally forgets to mention on what area/level. A personal comment here is that this ‘computational’ power is highly misunderstood by a large number of tech-utopian thinkers like Kamphuis. Even with this ‘computational power equivalent of a human brain’ we still are not quite there yet (link to article). Where computational power is here compared with knowledge, there is a significant difference; that of interpretation and adaptiveness of the surrounding world (the “outside”), this world being both functional and emotional. Without going into too much detail, the critique is that knowledge is not purely centralized and hierarchically computed, but moreover decentralized an embodied.
After this, a small link was made towards the prediction that man can actually fall in love with robots (article Levy in dutch).
I quite missed the link to Google here…

In the question what will will be the next step in all this web 2.0 hassle, peer to peer communication is marked as the future of sharing, but also of advertisements. Where the model used to be only payment per click, the next step is payment per sign-up, eventually ending up in cost-per-influence. So an abstraction of what something is worth digitally will take place; you are not going to pay for your connection or downloads, but for the amount of fun or entertainment value. Relevance is becoming more important than reach, where ‘we don’t want to choose, we want it all’.
Summarizing, (the rest of the discussion was not really going anywhere), the next Google will provide value other than advertising.

Google 2012
In a final question, all the panel members were asked to give their prognoses on what Google would look like in 2012;
One prediction is that of a Second Earth, a combination between Second Life & Google Earth. It was mentioned that this is actually already being developed. In a recent post by Pieter, more can be read on alternatives of Second Life.
Also, providing service especially for video within browsing and mobile phone technology is a direction Google is expected to take.
From a business perspective, getting in charge of minimal payments will close the last ‘gap’ in the development of Google as an advertisement and (cross)media agency.
With integrated web-service and the development of object name services, Google will definitely take up its share. If it still exists, that is.
On the prediction/ scenario that Google will go bankrupt, say, within a day (which is quite a possible scenario these days), the panel was very ambivalent. Kamphuis, for instance, said, taking a very relativistic stand, that this will be of no consequence at all. We will have many Googles in the future (with other two smart guys having an even better idea that Google). It would but give an global glitch that will be restored within the same day. The other panel members were more realistic, in pointing out the vast amounts of businesses and groups of people that are dependent on Google, both on the digital and physical infrastructure.

This part of the conference is dealing with curating online video and was moderated by Vera Tollmann. The main question was why filmmakers and artists working with moving images don’t occupy Youtube as the perfect way to archive and distribute their work and to reach larger audiences. Bands and musicians inhabit Myspace, but why don’t use artists the online databases as a perfect place for their portfolios? And if artists were going to do so, what would happen with the curator? Would there be something left to do for him?
Sarah cook picuture Anne Helmond

Welcome to Pepijn & Twan’s Presentation on Maps and their Cultural Critique, created within the boundaries of Google Earth.

In this presentation for the Information Visualization course we experiment how presentations can be given with the use of Google Earth. For every author we discuss we move to the hometown of that author. But lots more options are possible to use Google Earth for presentation purposes and also to show (spatial) examples during a presentation. This is intended as a first try and the idea is open for expansion, we challenge you!

How to open it?

  • First download Google Earth
  • Download this file: Presentation Maps and Critique ZIP
  • Unzip it
  • Choose File > Open in Google Earth and click the downloaded file
  • The presentation should appear in the My Places Tab, navigate by clicking the various ‘slides’

Traditionally governments are lagging behind when it comes to picking up on new media technologies. The recent discussions on banning violent video games (i.e. Manhunt 2) are just one of the many examples of the media illiteracy of our beloved members of parliament. That’s why a contest by the (Dutch) Ministry of Internal Affairs on the challenges of governance in a virtual world deserves some attention here.


It is no longer a matter of signing up for a social networking account, but rather choosing one from the existing social networking sites. Major social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace have secured their position in the market. But according to the online competitive intelligence service, Hitwise, two ethnic social networking sites, (ranked 4) and (ranked 19) made up the list of top 20 Social Networking sites from January to February 2007. Ethnicity forms a solid basis on which niche online communities may thrive. For this matter I want to look at three ethnic social networks,, and with the following questions in mind:

– How do ethnic social networking sites contribute to an imagined community?
– What is the value-added of these ethnic social networking sites?

The emergence of niche social networking sites may arise from our need to build a community with people we do not personally know, but who we feel affiliated with, or as Benedict Anderson articulates:

it (the nation) is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion… In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined (Anderson 1991).

Ethnic social networking sites

asianaveblackplanetmigente, and are owned by Community Connect Inc. (CCI), one of the leading niche social networking companies. CCI also owns a niche social networking sites for gays and lesbians, named sites are standardized in structure, interface, functionality, and text. The main page of each CCI site provides a short introduction and description of the community. For instance, is: is your place to meet and connect with Asians around the country. Chat or post photos and videos to share your experience. Look for other Asian Americans who are sharing theirs—even if you’re searching for news about what’s hot in Asian music, fashion, sports and events or looking for the buzz in business, politics and trends, we are the home for what is relevant to you and your community. This is the largest online community for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indians, and others—the entire Asian and Asian American family—to network, share a social lifestyle, find romance, entertainment, and even jobs.

CCI primarily emphasizes two domains which are significant to the member when engaging in the social networking site: personal relationships (love life) and business networks. This is affirmed when looking at the main functionalities of the site which are dating, professionals, and jobs. It is not entirely surprising that CCI focuses so much on profession and jobs; CCI has partnered with since 2004. Under the motto “ethnic community” CCI sites have found a way to connect advertisers to their members. Dating services and job listings have become the main revenue sources of these sites. So the value-added of these sites, or rather a strategy is to group people together to attract major advertisers, which is indeed a very clever and twofold way to service both members and advertisers simultaneously.

CCI sites are imagined communities based on the notion of ethnic identity as a shared experience. My own assumption is that these communities promote an identity based on sameness and the feeling of belonging. So if you’re Asian(or African-American, or Hispanic), you will eventually connect to other millions of Asians, because having the same ethnicity means having something in common with people you do not actually know personally. CCI sites promote this idea of shared ethnic identity, and encourage members to engage in the community to extend their social and business networks. But do you actually need to go to ethnic social networking sites for these ends? Just like any other social networking sites, CCI sites provide the same functionalities, such as video upload, groups, music etc and when compared to general social networking sites, I wonder if CCI sites provide a surplus to building online ethnic communities. (I will return to this point later on.)

Let’s now have a look at how Facebook deals with ethnic groups. Type in for instance Asian as a query and you will find countless of “Asian” groups (so many that I have lost count of). On the global level, the largest groups have more than 10.000 members. Take for instance, the group “First Biggest Asian Group Ever” (total of 14.446 members) provides an extensive and detailed account of the group, members and goals:

If you are born in any Asian countries, or in the US with parents or grandparents of Asian descent? Or maybe you simply have a deep appreciation for Asian culture, language or history? Then you’re welcome to the First Biggest Asian Group on Facebook!

A summary of the First Biggest Asian Group’s goals:

– To unite all Asians/non-Asians alike who share a common interest and appreciation in Asian cultures
– To promote greater interest in and understanding of Asian culture, history, language, politics, economics and religion;
– To strive to eliminate the racism, hatred, prejudice, fetishism, stereotyping and cultural misunderstanding
– To maintain our status as the largest Asian group on Facebook, to serve as a hub for other Asian- and Asian American-related Facebook groups.
– But most importantly, our biggest goal is to create a friendly and relaxing environment where Asian Americans from all across the country can come together to discuss our shared experiences, difficulties, and successes.
We are here to promote Asian pride!

Another Facebook group, Asian or I wish to I were discusses the stereotypical assumptions about Asians:

This group is for people who are Asian (or close enough) and proud of their heritage and ethnicity. We eat rice (though don’t HAVE to like it), some of us play DDR, most of us play piano AND/or some other musical instrument, and a lot of us work bloody hard (or are forced to by our parents).

Acing the SAT with a 1600 or 2400 was absolute child’s play, mainly because we were forced to study for them since we were a child of 5.

In terms of membership and ethnic group formation, general social networking sites have also successfully captured the attention of CCI’s target group. Moreover, general social networking sites are advantaged, since the number of membership is much higher than niche social networking sites. (Asianavenue’s hottest groups comprise of 400-900 members versus 17.000 members in a Facebook group). Facebook groups open up spaces to discuss one’s ethnicity, culture, and experience, while the main focus remains on ethnicity.

The surplus of CCI is the combination of the cultural and social, with business. If you feel like talking to people of the same ethnicity, Facebook’s ethnic groups will do. But if you want to connect with them for business or relationship purposes, CCI sites are specialized in helping members through this process. But what seems to be a surplus can play out to their disadvantage. It is very clever to build a platform where members can sign up for different purposes. But would you have someone in your network for business purposes under the nickname HotLatino178? Or would you share your vacation pictures with a potential business partner? Lastly, the focus of CCI sites as I have encountered has shifted from community building to networking. It is a perfect place to narrow down your target group, but I think they lack more creative ways to engage members in building an ethnic community as they have promoted. After all, each site looks and feels the same, so ethnic community is only reflected in the name (of the site) and less in the experience.

Through Chris Perkins’ blog I found these great videos of Chomsky and Foucault. Recorded for Dutch television in 1971, it shows the two discussing their theories, being mainly the concepts of justice and power in these fragments.

Cross-posted at Politics of Many Minds

Uses of Blogs
From the perspective of Politics of Many Minds, and doing research into the ‘natively digital’ more general, the book Uses of Blogs provided me some interesting thoughts on investigating blogging and the blogosphere. This post is therefore not so much a review, but more a personal research reflection on Uses of Blogs.

It is noteworthy that most definitions of blogs focus in a good part on technological features of blogs and constrains imposed by these features. This may be the last available option if a generic description of blogs is required, without falling into poorly defined listings of possible uses of blogs. The wikipedia definition of blogs is a good example:

A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. ‘Blog’ can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food, politics, or local news; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) or sexual topics (Adult blog), and are part of a wider network of social media.

Digital research methods rely on technological features, or ‘natively digital’ objects such as the link, the comment, and the tag. However, it is not a techno-deterministic view on the web, rather by collecting and analyzing these objects the purpose is to distill social and cultural trends from the natively digital. For my research project more specific, I want to know how politics of many minds can be distilled from investigating the natively digital.


LOL :) I don’t think we made it to the front page of any important newspaper, but I found the picture of us getting a tan in between classes on the ANP-website :)

 Have a break

“AMSTERDAM – Studenten ‘nieuwe media’ van de Universiteit van Amsterdam genieten op het Binnen gasthuisterrein van het mooie weer. De komende dagen wordt het volgens de weersverwachtingen nog warmer.”