IN ENGLISH

Blog posts in English

Timelab – Experiments with New Organisational Models

IMG_1438-timelab-outside
When I visited Timelab in 2012, it was a organisation which was working with two distinct communities: international artists, and a mostly local community of ‘makers’.

Since then, the Timelab core crew has taken a bold step further by radically changing the way they operate. The new organisational logic has been inspired by holocracy, alternative business development models, agile software development methods and various other concepts. This change has allowed many barriers to disappear – the artists and makers form one community instead of two, and there is a great amount of transparency in all the activities.

This blog post offers some glimpses to the way Timelab operates, based in the discussions I had with Eva de Groote and Evi Swinnen.

* * *

This is the Timelab manifesto (a rough translation):

Timelab gives examples of small and big changes. These inspire and trigger dialogue, and encourage development of new models. Timelab offers time and space for reflection on a complex society in transition. More

What did I learn at Art of Hosting?

art-of-hosting-title-photoLast week I had a chance to participate in an Art of Hosting training in Otavan Opisto, Mikkeli.

The hosts did a fantastic job in making everyone feel welcome and establishing an open environment for learning. Actually, the first thing that the organisers made clear was that the participants would be the hosts, and we would be learning about hosting while doing it. The different tasks one could sign up for included Harvesting (documentation), Feng Shui (arranging & cleaning the space, organising food & coffee, etc), Check In & Check Out (tuning into learning sessions, and tuning out from them), creating the programme for the evening party and or course hosting the actual learning sessions.

I came to the event to learn some more facilitation methods (and to gain a better understanding of methods I’m already familiar with), but I actually learned something else – various frameworks for getting a better grip of the community learning process as a whole, and to understand the process of personal growth and how human-to-human communication works (or fails to work).

More

The Unlikely Success of Pixelache Helsinki

pixelache-nyc2Pixelache 2003 NYC (live av performance on the rooftop of Gershwin Hotel. Photo by Antti Ahonen.)

(PART 1 of New Culture vs Old Structures)

Pixelache Festival was my main professional commitment for 10 years, from its inception in 2002 to year 2011. In the process of trying to establish Pixelache I learned a lot about the public funding system and below I will share some insights on how the system works – or rather how it does *not* work.

Hopefully this information will help some people to avoid banging their head against the wall as much as I did. Or hopefully they will at least choose the right wall.

Disclaimer – I’m no longer involved in the Pixelache organisation so all the thought below should be considered as my own personal views, not official statements by Pixelache.

* * *

1. THE BLACKMAILING/LOBBYING APPROACH

In year 2006 I was pretty frustrated (‘vittuuntunut’ in Finnish) with the situation of Pixelache Helsinki. It was the fifth year of Pixelache, and 12th year for me to organise events in Helsinki. Pixelache was really successful internationally – we were in the process of establishing chapters in various countries and had been invited to collaborate with many prominent events (ISEA, Doors of Perception, etc).

Unfortunately, we had not been able to get any funding for the work needed to put together the main festival in Helsinki. With great effort we had managed to scrape together money from dozens of different sources to cover some of the necessary basic costs, but there was no chance to pay anything for anyone for the actual production work. In comparison, the very first edition of Mal au Pixel (the French edition of Pixelache) received 7 times more funding than what we had in Helsinki.

In this situation I sent this email to ‘everyone’ – state art organisations, Helsinki City Cultural Office, cultural foundations and key people in Finnish media art scene. The email is in Finnish but the main point is that I made it clear that unless we received more proper financial support, the main festival would need to stop in Helsinki. This email was not just a tactical move, this was the actual reality we faced. During these years I spent most of my time abroad and only occasionally came back to Helsinki for a month or so to focus on Pixelache Helsinki planning/organising work. This had worked fine in the first couple of years but had been not been manageable (or in other words, was far too fragile and stressful) for a while already.

More

New Culture vs Old Structures

k.fi.officekatastro.fi office, summer 1999 (photo by Juha Huuskonen)

After a long time of procrastination (a year or two) I’ll finally publish a few blog posts about the mismatch between new emerging culture and the established cultural institutions in Finland.

During the past 15 years (ever since katastro.fi did its first projects in Kiasma in 1998) I’ve been helping various grassroot projects to gain visibility and access to resources such as public funding. This has often been a paradoxical task, since most of the new, independent cultural projects have an uneasy relationship towards money, power and institutions. More

The City State of Origamia

IMG_0099-straight-small
Crafting utopias at a Byzantine castrum on Brioni island, Croatia

At the Summit of Practical Utopias, our group (me, Miranda Veljačić / Platforma 9,81, Emina Visnic / POGON, Nik Gaffney / FoAMŽeljko Blaće and Tim Boykett / Time’s up) developed an an utopia that would answer the question ‘How could citizens collectively make informed decisions regarding urban environment’?

We decided to call this utopia Origamia, referring to the capability of something to be transformed to many different forms. In Origamia, each citizen would at some point have to participate in decision making related to public affairs. This duty could be similar to civil service which exists in some countries, as an alternative to the compulsory military service. The decision making process would be based on some kind of version control system, perhaps similar to Github. Origamia would also give more power to young people (under 18 years old), so it would a kind of ‘pedocracy’.

More

Energy Hackathon 2013 – the results

hackers
(also posted on OKF Finland blog)

8 great concepts/prototypes were created last week at Energy Hackathon 2013!

The focus of the hackathon was on domestic electricity consumption data. One reason why this data is particularly interesting is that Finland is one of the first countries in Europe where smart meters have been installed in nearly all households. The legal framework that gives people the access to their own data will be valid from the beginning of 2014.

The hackathon had approximately 60 participants and 3 special guests from abroad: Denise Recheis (Thesaurus and Knowledge manager at Reeep), Chris Davis (Postdoc in TU Delft) and Julia Kloiber (Project Lead at Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland).

Helsingin Energia and Elenia provided several data sets and the developers of the Open Energy Data API gave access to their test data. More

Ice Rainbow Castle in Liisanpuisto

Ice Rainbow Castle in Liisanpuisto

A little winter hobby project -

Inspired by the example by a family in Edmonton we decided to build a ‘rainbow igloo’. We made a Facebook event 10 days prior to the event and several families decided to join in the effort. Each family brought 10-20 bricks (water mixed with food/water colour frozen inside juice/milk cartons) and amazingly the construction process took only a couple of hours!

We did not make a roof (to keep the construction safe) and we extended the form to a spiral, so that more people could fit in. At many times there were only small kids building the thing, parents did not have a chance to interfere ;)

‘Snowcrete’ (a mix of snow and water) turned out to be great building material, easy to handle and strong when it freezes. The temperature was around -7 celcius which was probably quite perfect. The final result has approx 300 bricks, looks great with candle light inside in the evening and not bad in sunshine either…

Here are some photos -

MAKING THE BRICKS


BUILDING THE CASTLE






More

The day when I maybe inadvertently helped the science community to discover the Higgs boson


(Photo by samuelrichards.com.au)

The moment when physicists are rejoicing the first glimpse of a Higgs boson is probably an appropriate time to share an anecdote from my days in CERN. I worked there as a trainee in 1997, when they had started to build the ATLAS detector (I wrote some pieces of realtime 3D software for the ATLAS project document management system).

Before I arrived in CERN, there had been a big crisis. The particles had stopped appearing in the detectors. After a few days the cause for this was found: a Carlsberg can that had been placed (or forgotten?) inside the detector tunnel. Every time the accelerator has to be closed for maintenance, the amount of people in the CERN cafeterias triples. Most of the people don’t look very tanned.

My workplace was the brand new ATLAS building that had a cylinder shape and the corridors inside were circular. The walls were gray, there were no posters on the wall or any other visible details that would help one to figure out one’s location. Walking around the corridors felt like being inside a never ending loop.

After the Swiss National Day celebrations, I placed a colourful, ball-shaped paper lamp to hang above my desk. A week later people were using the ball as location marker – ‘is your office left or right from the ball?’.

My plan was that on my last day in CERN, I would make a small prank and change the location of the ball. On that day I was just too busy and did not manage to do this, and this tiny failure kept bothering me for years. But today I can finally let go of this! Since maybe, if I would have done my prank, maybe some renowned physicist would not have found his/her office that day and maybe, just maybe, a piece of important research would have failed, and maybe, just maybe, we would not be celebrating the discovery of Higgs boson today!

‘We need courses that last a 100 years’ + ‘In order to learn, students need to break the law’

(A selection of radical thoughts about learning and education from Mobilityshifts event – Part 4)

WE NEED COURSES THAT LAST FOR A HUNDRED YEARS

Benjamin Bratton’s presentation was (quite appropriately) titled ‘Ambivalent Remarks on Computation, Political Geography, Pedagogy’. He referred to an interview of philosopher Bernard Stiegler and his concepts of short and long circuits in education.

“The problem of long circuits turning into short circuits is a fundamental condition which we have to grasp – that is – the time of digital technologies is too short – what we need in very very long classes, not very very short classes.”

“The condition of education… is to train the attention of next generation, to train them to have attention, to pay attention, to comprehend their own attentiveness – it is to train them to have a memory, to train them to have a conception of time that is appropriate.”

Benjamin proposes that we need courses that can be located within long arcs of time:

“I think 500 years is a reasonable span for a course to try to locate for the students, so that they can locate themselves in this arc. Courses that don’t have a 500 year arc, that aren’t teaching what it is that they are teaching in terms of a 500 year context are probably too shallow. And I think this can be just as true for very practical courses – you know, is there a way to teach a ‘how to hack a website’ workshop, or how to build an android app, with a 500 year arc of understanding what that means. How did we arrive at the possibility of asking this question and even proposing this skill.”

We also need very long courses:

“Instead of a course that goes on for 10 weeks, or even for one year, prefer courses that go on for 10 years, or perhaps a 100 years, a faculty handing off one to another, like architects of medieval churches.”

IN ORDER TO LEARN, STUDENTS NEED TO BREAK THE LAW

On the flight to the conference Benjamin happened to sit next to a Israeli cryptographer who had two arguments about education that Benjamin wanted to pass on to the conference audience:

“Students have to understand that we are currently building a legacy codebase at a planetary level which will exist and endure for generations.”

“In order to be successful in the design of this legacy codebase for the generations to come we have to be willing to assign students things that are as of today illegal – with the presumption that it is the things that exits outside the legal structures will form the base of the constitutional structures to come”