Kapow! It’s the Cataspanglish Summer Special! Pt.2/In the City

One of the most interesting things we've been involved in this year was the Do 1002 Systems/Layers Walkshop Barcelona with Adam Greenfield and Nurri Kim. As usual, I've haven't had time to post about it but I've been ruminating on it ever since. The walkshop was pretty well documented – the videos above are by one of the walkers, Marc Pous and there's a lot of stuff on the quick & dirty blog put together by Enric and myself. I've got to finish uploading photos and adding details to the map of the route and you can find my pre-gig post here.

For some time now we at Cataspanglish have been discussing the usefulness (or otherwise) of event formats. Whereas more & more things online are getting geolocated & locally contextualised, so-called knowledge sharing events continue to operate in a void, as if there were some kind of universal truths which operate everywhere. A typical example of this is the references to FixMyStreet made by many speakers over the last year without (usually) exploring the local conditions, history and culture of the UK or (in this case) Spain/Catalonia and why the public are more likely to participate in this sort of project in one place than another.

Another issue is the amount of time & effort which finding & negotiating the use of a suitable venue and infrastructure, such as wifi and power supply, requires. Again, to us this is beginning to seem redundant when public spaces are increasingly connected. Back when I was a dirty squatter,  the lack of physical space/housing & constant moving meant serious organisational problems for the squatting movement, as nearly all the time was spent in just getting a roof over your head. While the housing crisis remains, what has changed is the ability to organise things in public spaces – as has been demonstrated in a rather overkill way by the Breakout events, but exists in an everyday, workaday way in coworking in cafes etc. Also lessons have been learned (by us at least) from the concentration on the building as a space of Citilab instead of Citilab as a collection of concepts & ideas.

Kapow!

Yeah, yeah – but what does it all mean?

It means that through participating in the walkshop and all of the above, we are going to start doing events in public spaces using available infrastructure. Will we do more "Camps"? Well, we've got one up our sleeves, but we want to explore this new idea, so the the next cataspanglish "event" is going to be somewhere in downtown Barcelona and it's going to be a kind of mashup inspired by the walkshop, subtlemob and Hannah Nicklin's "The Smell of Rain Remind Me of You". The theme? The City of course…Watch this space

Here's a video about subtlemob's "As If it Were The Last Time"

Urban OS – a city operating system

Although I'm no longer working for Citilab, I'm still involved in the Urban OS project which has grown out of UrbanLabs . I've previousy written about Urban Labs here

The main aims of the Urban OS project are to:

Conceive, develop, test, implement and distribute components of a new operating system for the city, which improves the processes of communication, participation and consumption under open, efficient and sustainable parameters. It will be necessary to design and/or reutilise different type of interactions and of networks between technologies and people in the urban space, like mechanisms of visualization, distribution and improvement of each one of the components of the system. UrbanLabs OS can be composed of different autonomous projects that follow these aims, which at the same time realize the potential of the OS

Besides working locally we've also had contact with Birmingham School of Media at Birmingham City University, FutureGov, and DIYCouncil

Do 1002 Systems/Layers WalkShop Barcelona FTW!

Damn! this is going to be like getting those X-Ray Spex (no – not talking about the seminal punk band, although they rock too) from old comic books. Adam Greenfield & Nurri Kim are going to be exposing the city, explaining all of those mysterious boxes clamped on to "street furniture", where they are from, what they mean and where they are going. What are those cameras, sensors, and other connected, networked objects doing and why? How are they going to change the city and you & me,  politics and relationships and behaviour and culture. What is going to happen to society and space, public & private?

If you have any interest in cities, technology & society, urban design, the future of public space and relationships you simply DON'T want to miss this – Adam & Nurri have conceived a new format – the Walkshop in which we're going to get down & dirty and see this stuff in situ, not on a bunch of slides, and distinctly run the risk of pissing off security guards.

Check out the video above, shot during the #walkshop in Wellington, and read this blog post to see how CJ Wells rediscovered his barrio:

"Over the course of an hour, Adam pointed out curiosities previously unnoticed. This was my ‘hood. Yet, I had not seen rooftops bristling with aerials, streets covered by security cameras, and buildings shielding black boxes. It was mind blowing…"

The #walkshop is going to be unique event in which a great thinker & communicator riffs on the fabric of the city itself – Bring it on!

Full details here

Check out this talk from Adam at Urban Labs last year to see the context of the #walkshop

 

#talkingabout: P2P Foundation

Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation was in Barcelona again last week to speak at the Universidad Nomada in the Sala Conservas and I went along with Ricard Espelt & Gemma Urgell to film this interview with him for their #talkingabout series. #talkingabout is a paltform which aims to create participation around things, people & ideas worth, well, talking about through a system of videos, votes, comments etc which is open to anyone. I previously wrote about #talkingabout here and will be recording an interview with Ricard & Gemma soon.

Here’s a video which presents #talkingabout :

I also recorded an interview with Michel for the Citilab blog:

Here’s Michel’s presentation from the Universidad Nomada:

The UrbanLabs Club?

UL2

It’s been a crazy, inspiring, tiring month or so with the Citilab presentation at the CCCB, my visit to Birmingham and then UrbanLabs – and a lot of time reflecting, analysing and plotting.

Something’s been bugging me for months now & I’m beginning to understand what it is – ever since my first visit to Birmingham I’ve been trying to put my finger on the “difference”, on what is happening there, what is (or isn’t) happening here, on the role of Citilab and on the part of Cataspanglish in all this.

It all seems to have gelled in the last 48 hours – the “difference” or “solution” is twofold, sharing & community.

The Birmingham scene is the way it is now after around two years of people getting together, doing things and having as much a relationship offline as on. Dave Harte showed in his UrbanLabs presentation how this had happened and backed up my own experience when speaking with peeps from Brum. Twitter seems to be the fabric that holds their community together and the other important point is the willingness in Birmingham of the people to come together and use their skills & knowledge to to participate in, criticise and construct a wider community (not just the geeks) throughout the city and now further afield.

Oh yes, and with a sense of humour.

Citilab Presentation October 2009 - Digital Cities-1

So everything seems so deadly serious here (usually – thank you Platoniq for the construction of the Twittometer for the Grande Finale of UrbanLabs!) and often the concept of sharing seems like something from another planet. There can’t be community when people won’t share and there are clearly many in Spain (& elsewhere of course) who are using social media as just the latest tool on the block. While I was in Birmingham I spoke about social media in Spain to a group of students and lecturers from the Birmingham City University, talking about the difference between the way social media is usually used in Spain and a few inspiring projects such as Copons 2.0 (created by Ricard Espelt). A Spanish student said that he doubted anything would change as in his opinion his fellow countrymen & women are too entrenched in the status quo.

Ironically while I’ve been writing this, Ana has already posted a call to arms – and that’s what I want this to be. If we are to form communities amongst those of us who are doing or want to do, we cannot have just have these great, inspiring events once a year. So what I want to suggest is taking the spirit and PRACTICE of UrbanLabs and turn it into something more frequent. Let’s have some sort of follow up on a regular basis, a Saturday morning every couple of months and with participation through video-conference for those who can’t be there in public. Let’s get the UrbanLabs Club going and continue the narrative, the dialogue and the sharing. Let’s make the bloody community!

If you are interested in making an UrbanLabs “Club” please leave a comment.

5 reasons why we'll be at UrbanLabs!

urbanlabs Around a year ago I went to Citilab-Cornellà for the first time to participate in UrbanLabs 08 – you can see my first impressions here. A year later I'm working at Citilab and taking part in the preparations for the event, which we will also be going to as cataspanglish. So here are some of the reasons cataspanglish will be attending:

  1. UrbanLabs is a hands-on get down & dirty event which aims to have a real impact and not just be a talking shop although there are some…
  2. Great keynote speakers – Adam Greenfield, Juan Freire, Ben Ceverny & Dave Harte. These are not your boring "circuit" speakers, but people with a real passion for what they're doing & thinking, people who get involved in things such as…
  3. The Ideas Bank which Platoniq are coordinating – real ideas & projects will be presented and the participants of UrbanLabs will be voting on the "best" one to give some financial aid to from the (low) fee from the event because …
  4. the motto for Urbanlabs  (a contribution of one of its founders, Enric Senabre)  is (read this post by Ramon Sangüesa): "Technocitizenship" (geeks with civic conscience and citizens with digital abilities) and "Socioinnovation"  (let technocitizens invent their collective future) – so come &
  5. let's invent our collective future!

See you there…