The case for object-centered sociality

Wed, 2005-11-16 00:55.
Jyri Engeström gives well thought arguments, why some social network services work and others don't:
Good services allow people to create social objects that add value. The services that we love to play with have made those objects tangible. They afford tagging, crafting, tuning, hacking. Flickr did it to photos. did it to bookmarks. Bloggers invented a format for discussion postings that turned them into social objects.

This leads him to the question, what will be the next successful candidates? We have Amazon for books, and Myspace for music. But how about places and products as objects for objects of online sociality?

PPT-Download (4,9 MB)

Mapping community memory - the case of District Six, Cape Town

Tue, 2005-11-15 18:57.

One great example for object-centered sociality is the case of District Six. This was once a vibrant neighborhood in Cape Town and a living model of how people from different cultures can coexist, until the Apartheid regime ended their community life with its Group Areas Act. Between 1966 and 1982 more than 60.000 people have been removed to the suburban townships and the district was flattened by bulldozers.

The former citizens of District Six have lost their houses, but they haven´t lost their memories. To give these memories a new home, the new government under Nelson Mandela established a District Six museum in 1994 located near the old neighborhoods.

Visiting the museum, I was absolutely impressed, how creatively the people were keeping their memories alive by continuously enriching the documentary objects of their own history in the most vivid and unusual ways. As one example, there is a complete map of the old district drawn on the floor, where former residents can write down the names of their families on the drawings of their houses.

To quote Terence Fredericks, the Chairman of the District Six Museum Foundation:

Working with memory involves ensuring that people’s stories are kept alive, but it is more than this. We take great care in how people’s stories are told, recorded and displayed so that the process assists in healing. The museum also has a very practical focus. By documenting history it is possible for those in the present to trace family and community histories. It is also possible for claims of restitution to be made.
By using the memory and the history of families of District Six we hoped to inspire communities elsewhere in the country, and this is now occurring. By piecing together the stories of all the different communities who were dispersed, the social, economic and political history of this country will gradually become more available to us all. District Six has become a symbol all of that was wrong about forced removals, but also a symbol of the beauty of reclaiming history.


District Six - Cape Town
Interview with Terence Fredericks, the Chairman of the District Six Museum Foundation

The journey becomes part of everyday life

Sat, 2005-09-17 18:02.
Many values associated with tourism are suddenly an integral part of daily life: The search for the extraordinary, visual, aesthetically pleasing, popular, authentic and ‘magic’. The sociologist John Urry claims that the lines between holiday and everyday life are vanishing. “What now is tourism and what is more generally culture is relatively unclear.” The clear distinction between vacation and the ordinary day no longer has value, and instead one can see tourism as part of everyday life.

(Quote from a publication of the Kopenhagen based Creative Consulting Agency Kontrapunkt).
Kontrapunkt On Travelling (PDF, 132 pages, 11.1 Mb)

Why Web2.0 Matters: Preparing for Glocalization

Thu, 2005-09-15 15:40.
Danah Boyd has written a great essay on the relation between global connectivity and the need for putting this in a localized context.
Web2.0 is about glocalization, it is about making global information available to local social contexts and giving people the flexibility to find, organize, share and create information in a locally meaningful fashion that is globally accessible.

Rhode Island Govtracker Services

Thu, 2005-09-15 14:42.
Currently, government technology often quarantines its data from other agencies and its own citizens. While sensitive government data must be protected, there are many ways that citizens would be better served by making specific public content available through open services.
Web 2.0 applications lean towards making small pieces of data available to users in such a way that the data can easily be married to other small pieces of data from disparate sources. If government is to succeed in serving its citizenry and engaging civic participation, government technology decision makers must find a way to resolve the dissonance between the flexibility of Web 2.0 in the private sector and the legacy of restrictive monolithic applications in government.
It is simply unacceptable at this point in history that a citizen can use web services to track the movies he is renting, the weather around his house, and the books he's recently purchased but cannot as easily monitor data regarding the quality of his drinking water, legislation or regulations that will directly impact his work or personal life, what contracts are currently available to bid on for his state, or what crimes have recently occurred on his street.

Full article

Malta and web 2.0

Thu, 2005-09-15 12:00.

I believe Malta is currently witnessing a silent revolution through a growing number of Internet users who are coming to realize that they can have their voices heard without a controlling intermediary. This major paradigm shift is silent because those most active in it are yet to realize the true potential of digital communities and still see themselves as isolated individuals.
Although Malta is a tiny nation dominated by majority rule, embodied in the major political parties and the Roman Catholic church, a small digital community is about to embark on a path of social change which potentially has a much larger effect than any other effort the same social network could attempt without the benefit of the electronic networks of digital telecommunications.
Identity and self-image play an important part in the formation of digital communities. All identities are filtered through the personal experiences and the emotional ups and downs that flow through our interactions with and in everyday life. The Internet goes beyond all other media formats in altering a person's relationship to the so-called 'real' world of everyday life. It offers more possibilities than any other single-medium satellite communication. I don't say this hypothetically or from a position of utopian desire. I've lived on the frontline of Malta's cyberspace for over 10 years.
... Digital communities enable group action and interaction. They also engender constructive contexts and social capital. Reconfiguring the power relationships between ordinary citizens and traditional institutions, digital communities can give a voice to marginalized individuals providing peers who listen and contribute to the development of their unpopular ideas.
This is precisely what many Maltese Internet users are on the verge of discovering.

Full article

A World Made of Cities

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:41.

Vast new urban communities is the main event in the world for the present and coming decades. The villages and countrysides of the entire world are emptying out. Why? I was told by Kavita Ramdas, head of the Global Fund for Women, "In the village, all there is for a woman is to obey her husband and family elder, pound grain, and sing. If she moves to town, she can get a job, start a business, and get education for her children. Her independence goes up, and her religious fundamentalism goes down."
So much for the romanticism of villages. In reality, life in the country is dull, backbreaking, impoverished, restricted, exposed, and dangerous. Life in the city is exciting, less grueling, better paid, free, private, and safe.

Full article

Persistent Conversations And Relationships

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:34.
... Now, that being said, equally important as the ongoing conversation is that same past record of conversations. Why? Because that conversational record may be important to other members of the network. An example, from the Long Term Communications paper:
"We had a housewarming party where we sent out an invitation and gave everybody three by five cards, and they had to come back with a recommendation. Because we moved into the new neighborhood and we didn't know plumbers or dentists or doctors or anything... All the recommendations are in here. And people know we have this list now, and so they call us up to recommend an X. And so we're becoming sort of a local knowledge group because we did this at our housewarming."
So, in this case, the fact that these participants held onto the conversational record transformed the newbies in the neighborhood into the neighborhood experts for all things domestic.
What does this all mean? Once the conversation's started, keep it going (and know if you have the responsbility to do so). And as it unfolds, know where it has been, as that knowledge can easily be the basis of the next conversation.

Full article

The Relationship Revolution

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:16.
Consider a small thought-experiment: Whenever you see the word "information" -- as in the strategic importance of managing information, or the importance of timely information in solving problems, or the need to make substantial investments in information technology in order to compete in the cutthroat world of global competition -- substitute the word "relationship."
Ultimately, the issue boils down to value: How do organizations, markets and individuals create and manage value? The fact is, people -- not information -- create the value that matters, and information is merely one of many ingredients that people use. Consequently, the real future of digital technologies and networks rests with the architects of great relationships -- not just the architects for timely bits and bytes of information. People who believe in the hype of the Information Age are -- pun intended -- badly misinformed.

Full article

Jane Jacobs: what makes a vital city?

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:01.

Jane Jacobs: Cities are the chief motors of economies. You can't talk about economies without talking, at least obliquely, about cities. Any human settlement is an economic equivalent to a local ecosystem. Just as ecology is the economy of nature. I've just been looking at the same thing from the opposite point of view�”the nature of economies.

Stewart Brand: Presumably that steps you right up to the question of global economy?

Jane Jacobs: Yes. The nature of economies comes to that. But people want these prescriptions. You can't prescribe for a global economy any more than you can get a handle on prescribing for a global ecosystem. Also, if you get too abstract about these things they become meaningless. You can't put everything in one ball of wax without it becoming abstract.

Full article