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+K consulting for the elusive ‘T-factor’

In my first ever experiential consulting opportunity, in my spare time I’ll be lending a hand to Borut Separovic’s new multi-media experiential event. ‘T-factor’ is an attempt to address our private thoughts about what makes someone a terrorist.

Separovic (Croatia, 1967) is a theater director and choreographer in residence at Dasarts, the institute for advanced research in theater and dance studies in Amsterdam. His last work was an intense particpatory piece that filtered a crowd into successively smaller groups based on their answers to difficult moral questions.

Separovic excels at imperceptibly pulling hidden prejudices from within the audience. He directs them as participants, externalizing their beliefs by literaly having them vote with their feet. Except in this democracy, beliefs are instantaneously social. Private opinions become public.

Separovic invited me to act as a creative consultant and participant in the upcoming production. Using his research as the basis, we’ve begun conceptualizing the format and script of the event. It’s something entirely new for me, and beyond the normal scope of +K, so I’m honored to contribute and learn about the world of experiential design.

Stowe Boyd: “the individual is the new group”

I met Stowe Boyd at Reboot8 in Copenhagen. He embodied the spirit of that conference. Illuminating, affable, sincere. And when it comes to understanding the significant future of social tools, social networks and social software, he’s a leading voice. What’s telling is that I didn’t realize that until I started to read his thoughts, which are written with so much insight and joy.

In addition to his strategic consultancy work, and engaging speeches, he’s been a devoted contributor to key discussions on social technologies.

Stowe’s in Europe at conferences in September. So I asked him a few questions.

JK: Why are you so personally and passionately attracted to social technologies?
SB: Social tools are different in that they are focused on shaping culture, not pushing bits or tallying records in a database. It’s about people interacting and making something bigger.

JK: How do you see social software redefining our collective culture?
SB: It’s more that I see web culture — shaped by social tools — changing world culture. The spirit of the web — open to diversity, opposed to centralized authority, and inclusive — is the best hope we have for a world culture to emerge that represents what we, the edglings living at the edge, believe in, as opposed to the global corporate strip mall. (Continued)

SHiFT: Social and Human Ideas for Technology


SHiFT is a new conference in Lisbon (28-29 Sept.) about how emerging technologies can positively impact the way we live. Expect informal and open dialogue about society in five main areas:

People and Technology
Knowledge Management
Civic Participation
Rights, Liberties and Privacy for the Digital Age
New forms of Economics

The list of speakers includes some dependably inspiring people and compassionate social entrepreneurs. I’m especially looking forward to:

  • Stowe Boyd on how “we shape our tools and then they shape us.”
  • User experience specialist Mark Hurst on Bit Literacy
  • Claudio Prado, coordinator of digital policy (minstry of culture) on Brazillian digital culture
  • Thomas Madsen-Mygdal on learning from the ‘wear’ of objects in creating the social web

See you there! (Continued)

Jaiku, ‘rich presence’ on your mobile

Jaiku screenshot

Communication on mobiles is unnecessarily disruptive. It also lacks context. You can send and receive messages in voice and text, but never know about the status of the receiver. Are they up for conversation? Are they somewhere nearby?

Jaiku brings ‘rich presence’ to your phone, showing the location and availability of your contacts.

“We invented the term ‘rich presence’ to describe the many relevant things a phone knows about you. Rich presence on Jaiku includes an IM-style away line, your phone profile (ring volume, vibrate), location (country, city/region, neigborhood), Bluetooth devices around, upcoming calendar events, and the duration how long your phone has been idle.” (Continued)

Pecha Kucha in Amsterdam

Pecha Kucha is a presentation format with 20 slides, each taking 20 seconds. It means something like ‘chit chat’ in Japanese, and was first used in 2003 by Klein-Dytham architects in Tokyo to help young designers present their work and network. At its best, it’s an unhesistating compact torrent of new information.

I first encountered Pecha Kucha at reboot. Though I missed the actual presentations, I recall the participants beaming that it was the highlight of the already thrilling gathering. To give you a sample, here’s Matt Webb, reminding me of the intoxicating James Burke of ‘Connections’ glory, taking us through Sci-Fi he likes. (Thanks Frank)

According to the Dutch Pecha Kucha folks, there’s a session in Amsterdam soon. Here’s a chance to be generous with your knowledge and practice your speed listening. (Continued)

Remarkable Long Weekend (the next web, kevin kelly, cloud9, VIZTA)

“The Next Web Conference” was held in Amsterdam last week. Kevin Kelly, a prolific and sensitive person whose bio is really worth reading, gave the keynote presentation, a thorough summary of which is here. I later met with him and began our conversation by asking: “People usually ask you about what will happen in the future. What do you think will not happen? What do you think will not change?”

Thinglink and fair trade

thinglink fairtrade 1.JPG thinglink fairtrade3.JPG thinglink fairtrade2.JPG

While at reboot8, I finally learned in detail of Ulla-Maaria Mutanen’s Thinglink. It’s an object-identification system that empowers craft makers with the ability to give unique labels to their creations. Thinglink’s open database then allows people to connect based on the story of the process and purpose of their creations.

Thinglink represents an alternative to classical economic theory. Ulla calls it Crafter Econonomics. In it, relationships are the currency, and participation is the principal use-value.

To understand the significance of Thinglink, it’s helpful to imagine a creation as the voice of the maker. Alone, a creation may evoke a feeling. But if the maker is not present, then the creation is deprived of the intimate voice that brought it into existence.

All around my house, I have creations that emerged from pieces of wood, masses of stone, and piles of straw. I know someone made these, and I’d like to know who it was and how they did it. Thinglink resolves this issue of anonymous origin by being a chronicle of the creation’s life. Objects then carry their human history.

I envision thinglink as the perfect complement to the fair trade movement. I was recently in a fair-trade store in Amsterdam and was amazed at the absence of information about the products on offer. At best, the objects had country of origin labels. The only indication that the store was in fact dealing in fair trade was a banner hanging behind the check-out counter.

I observed people seeking more information about products. Considering that supporters of fair trade want to ensure humane production, I believe that rich evidence of the humanity of their purchases would encourage more fair trade and bring makers and buyers together. Thinglink can make this happen.

Twenty-four hours in Copenhagen

I just returned from Copenhagen. After this short trip, and my first experience there at reboot8, I am coming to know this fine city as a destination for intellectual refreshment.

The underlying purpose of the trip was to speak with Redassociates. They are an academically-rigorous user-centered innovation agency, whose anthropological methods and creative thinking are truly unique.

I also met with Jacob Botter, a partner of BetaHQ, a management consultancy that promotes organizing around the individual. They believe in ‘perpetual beta’, which maintains that all things alive are changing and evolving. As Jacob says: “we should stop considering things done.”

It was also a great treat to be with Alex Kjerulf, who’s writing a book about happiness and organizational effectiveness. Last week he stayed in a Danish Maximum security prison as part of a consulting project for the prison services. Reboot impresario and inspiring entrepreneur Thomas Madsen-Mygdal also joined us, and as usual, had some thrilling thoughts.

DIY | Star-Trek

The NY Times (subscription required) is reporting that several Star Trek fan clubs have been producing unsactioned spin-offs from the long-running TV series.

These worldwide amateur communities have created episodes that are of particular interest to them, and have even explored taboo and niche topics that were untouched in the official show.

Not only is this evidence of the lasting impact that Star Trek has had on multifarious groups of people, but demonstrates the intersection of two influential ideas in the world of consumer culture. First, these Star Trek fans are co-creating the legacy of the franchise. Second, as groups pursue plotlines that are of local interest, they are creating a true “mini-series” that sits comfortably in the midsection of the long-tail. (30 million downloads!) (Scottish production) (explored gay themes)

The Brother’s Quay

Brother's Quay - bookkeeper Brother's quay - train Brother's quay - cave
The Brother’s Quay are important stop motion animators. Their movies are set in finely-crafted enigmatic miniature dreamworlds. These micro-landscapes and the characters within them are insights into the brothers’ esoteric imagination.

The Holland Festival, in partnership with the Rotterdam Film Festival, is for the first time displaying the Quay’s sets. Looking into their microcosmic worlds, you see a hidden pathway from the room you’re in to one of dark fantasy. (Continued)