Hi, Protein!

Warm congratulations to one of our favourite and most respected newsletter-website things, Ninfomania aka Protein° Feed aka Protein° Supplement. Today, Protein celebrates it’s 300th issue, having first been published in September 1997 to 14 people. It is now enjoyed by an international audience of over 9,000 select subscribers. Go there, subscribe, push them to 10k as a birthday treat!

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Doors in D.C.

I’ll be in Washington DC for the nights of 29, 30, 31 March (for IDSA/Business Week jury duty). If you’re in DC (or know Doors persons there) we could meet for a Doors brunch on Saturday morning (April 1). Interested? Then mail me: john@doorsofperception.com

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Utopia by design? Creative communities in Europe

An international seminar on design, welfare and local development takes place in Milan on 28 March. The event concludes the two year Emude project (in which Doors is a partner) that explored social innovation in 10 European countries. Emude is a Europe-wide investigation into the phenomenon of people who, in a wide range of contexts, invent new ways of carrying out daily life activities. This botom-up innovation by creative communities is found throughout Europe’s knowledge-based societies.This phenomenon of diffused creativity has the potential, we believe, to drive the major social and economic changes that will be needed during the transition to sustainability. Emude investigated these creative communities with from a design perspective. That is to say, we observed their ideas and practices with an eye to the design and deployment of enabling platforms. Enabling platforms would enable creative communities to be innovative more effectively – and to multiply. They are infrastructure systems based on products, services, communication and governance tools. These platforms, we surmise, would enable larger numbers of people to solve daily life problems in an active way. Sometimes these activities will generate shared or common goods, and a new sense of citizenship.
In summary, the key results of Emude, which will be dioscussed at the seminar, are:
a) the identification of creative communites – and descriptions of their role in a knowledge based society as key actors in the transition towards sustainability
b) definition of the notion of diffused social enterprise and discussion of its potential role in the fields of active welfare and sustainable local development
c) an initial description of the enabling platforms that could enhance the effectivenesss of the diffused social enterprise
d) proposal of an policy agenda for bottom-up initiatives – a list of actions to be taken to create a better environment for creative communities to arise, and to evolve as strong, scalable, social enterprises. (An online book about the 56 cases at the centre of Emude will be published in April).
Milan, 28 March, 09.30-13.00h. Politecnico di Milano, Campus Bovisa, Via Durando 10, Aula CT46.Carla Cipolla

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The first critic of “creative industries”

The Situationists were early critics of the creative industries. They rejected the idea that art is a specialized profession, or that its task is to produce spectacles for consumption. The only time their leaders came to London (in 1961), one of them, Guy Debord, was to speak at the Institute of Creative Arts – a place that is awash in creatives to this day. In the absence of a platform speech, an audience member stood up to ask: “What is Situationism about?”. Upon which Debord replied: “We’re not here to answer cuntish questions” – and the Situationists walked out. I love this childish story, but repeat it here by way of a public service announcement that a retrospective, in New York, of all of Debord’s six films is to take place on Sunday 5 March 5 at Chashama.

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Some enhanc-ed evening

AV Festival 06 is the UK’s newest, and largest international festival of digital arts, music, games, film & new media. With the theme of Life, it explores what happens as expectations rise that we might be able modify and improve our bodies and/or minds. More than 90 events will take place in NewcastleGateshead, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, between 2-12 March. I am moderating a symposium, on Friday 10 March in Middlesbrough, which analyses the artistic, ethical and social aspects of robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology as they aspire to modify humankind. Dr Tom Shakespeare is a keynote speaker in our session; it also includes discussion panels on the social and ethical critique of enhancement technologies, and the geopolitics of food production. For more information see the website (click through a couple of screens to find the programme) or ring the information line on +44 191 260 3875 or email info@avfest.co.uk to request a guide.

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Is sprawl good, after all?

I have always assumed that sprawl is a Bad Thing. For Jane Jacobs, in ‘Dark Age Ahead’, urban sprawl is something that “murders communities, and wastes land, time, and energy”. Sprawl is frequently blamed for environmentally-damaging transport intensity, the collapse of communities, even obesity. But James Woudhuysen, for one, thinks density has been over-sold, and that land in many countries is under- not over-used. The author of “Why is Construction So Backward” is a speaker at an intriguing seminar in London on 3 March. He appears with Ken Yeang (international architect and author “The Green Skyscraper”) and Tristram Hunt, historian, broadcaster and author of the excellent Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City. The seminar is organised by Austin Williams, Director of the Future Cities Project.

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Doors 9 discussion in New Delhi

As part of our preparations for Doors 9 in India next year (March 2007) there will be a small round table meeting of art curators and cultural producers in New Delhi in the afternoon of March 10. Representatives from funding agencies, cultural missions, art galleries, event spaces, museums, schools of art, architecture and design, prospective sponsors and others wishing to discuss possible activities with us next year are welcome to attend. Please contact divya@cks.in. On 15 March, we’re also organising a creative communities holi party as a means for creative groups and individuals to meet. (The first Doors holi party in 2005 was the concluding highlight of Doors 8 ). This year’s holi party will be produced by Centre for Knowledge Societies in collaboration with the Global Arts Village, Khoj, Studio Us, Kids at Home, AIE, and numerous creative individuals to whom we are very grateful. The party is in Chhattarpur, New Delhi, from 11 am. Admission is limited to people bearing a printed invitation. To request one of these invitation cards, send an evocative email telling us about yourself and your interest in Doors 9 to: holi@cks.in

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In search of fuzzy time

The Guardian is flogging an absurdly over-the-top watch on its website. Because the watch is radio-controlled, accuracy is guaranteed to “within one second in a million years”. The watch also boasts five daily alarms, a 1/100 second stopwatch, and world time. The Guardian promises that “you should never be late for a meeting or over-run on your parking meter ever again”. Wisely, the paper does not promise that you will stop being a sad person.

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Out of order?

Many of you probably know about Michael Darnell’s website Bad Designs – but it’s always growing, and always worth a re-visit. If there are other bad design collections out there, please let us know: we want to organise a Worst Design In The World Oscars. Meanwhile, because this blog likes to bring good news and not just whinge constantly about the iniquity of material things, my partner Kristi came across a glorious German mail-order catalogue called Manufactum whose English edition is now online. Their motto: “the good things in life still exist”.

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