Huia (Lost Species)

Huia (Lost Species)

Here’s a short looping animation, just in time for the Remembrance Day for Lost Species – I’m taking part in a pop-up exhibition tonight at Baumhaus Berlin, organised by Jenni Ottilie Keppler, together with other illustrators, poets and sculptors. ‘Huia (exquisite corpse)’ deals with cultural memory, and builds on two existing interpretations of the huia – which was one of three native New Zealand wattlebirds. The huia was driven to extinction before photography was prevalent, and before audio recordings could be made of its song. (The last confirmed sighting was in 1907.) The artist J.G Keulemans’ 1888 illustration of a huia pair appeared as a plate in Walter Buller’s A History of the Birds of New Zealand. His illustrations of native birds have become iconic representations, much reproduced in New Zealand and around the world. Keulemans was based in London and did not travel to New Zealand. Although he had done some work in the field, he mostly worked from stuffed skins – dead specimens, sent to him from around the world. The audible ‘bird calls’ are human imitations, recorded with Henare Hāmana in 1949. As a young man, Hāmana was familiar with the huia and had also been part of an unsuccessful search team in 1909. His whistles are created from 40-year-old memories. This animation that results is also a rather unreliable interpretation, hence the name ‘exquisite corpse‘ – its movement is based merely on videos of the Tieke, a surviving (though endangered) relative of the huia, which I’ve never seen in the wild. Further reading: Wikipedia’s Huia article is fascinating, particularly this section: “While we were looking...
Home = community: my open source story

Home = community: my open source story

I was invited to tell a story last night at Agora Rollberg – a budding community space in the old storage hall of Neukölln’s Kindl Brauerei. The event was bringing together practitioners of open source collaboration, and Alice & Simon, two of the organizers, suggested that I share how I got started down this road. I guess most people start out in open source with software, but my experience was a little different – so this is what I shared with the group: Around 10 or 11 years ago, in my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, I was in need of a place to live, and heard from a friend about a beautiful old house with a large garden, available to rent, not far from town. With only a little embellishment, I told the landlord that I was a responsible young professional, as I had a stable job working for for a reputable firm (at the time I was the production runner on the [ahem] critically-acclaimed TV show Power Rangers). I also told the owner that I already had the perfect group of other responsible young professionals, keen to move in with me. So they let me have the house, and suddenly I had two weeks to find at least 8 housemates to share this huge place with me. Somehow, thanks to helpful friends and the magic of MySpace, it happened, though responsible young professionals these were not. I had found 8 guys and one girl, who stretched the entire spectrum from unemployed to underemployed. We had members of three different bands, with 12 guitars and two drum kits...
The Trumpocalypse (or, what to do now?)

The Trumpocalypse (or, what to do now?)

Today has been a day of worrying about what went wrong, what everyone could have done better, how we could have stopped Trump. But we’re not going to stem this angry tide of populism simply by picking better opponents, or trying different election strategies. Our struggle for an educated, empowered democracy has to be about building something new. The breadth of change required makes this is an ominous task, achievable only through concerted effort from many people working in parallel on many different points of the system. Because democracy does not mean ‘Politics’ or ‘Elections’. Democracy does not mean a single choice between flawed candidates once every few years, it’s something that needs to be built in to every sector of society. Every system we interact with should give us information and agency, rather than isolation, coercion and inequality. We need as many people as possible to get involved in building new approaches. Working to improve our society does not always mean marching in the streets (though it’s important to support and protect those who do). You can do it in your job, amongst your friends, and through decisions of how you spend your time and money. So what are we doing now, and what can we do? Can you dedicate at least some of your time to making the field you work in more democratic, more inclusive, more transparent, more evidence-based, more sustainable, more distributed? Can it be reshaped to empower and educate people as they interact with it? Are you aware of the structural inequalities which exist in your society, and are you trying to do something...
OSCEdays talk at the Circular Economy 100

OSCEdays talk at the Circular Economy 100

I gave a presentation at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100 meeting in Berlin – it’s a relatively private event which connects representatives from the different corporations and industrial firms which participate in the network. There are no recordings or publications of talks, so I’m posting my talk here instead. Together with a talk from OSVehicle, it made up the last session of the event, called ‘Embrace Collective Intelligence through Open Source’. There had also been other presentations from OpenDesk, FabLab Berlin and Provenance, so the tech/open scene was well represented.   Feel free to use and remix the talk, source files (SVG and ODP) are in the Slides and Illustrations folder, as usual. Hi, my name is Sam, I’m a co-founder of Open It Agency – we help businesses understand and utilize open source. My particular focus is on applying the Open Source idea to new areas outside of software, and for the last few years I have been part of a team building a diverse international network around the Open Source Circular Economy Days – people all around the world who share the goal of a Circular Economy, and believe that Open Source is the best methodology we have to get there. Together we’ve been running events, exchanging knowledge, and building the foundations of an open source circular economy. I’d like to share our perspective with you. Since the industrial revolution we have been steadily accelerating our linear economy. Only recently have we realised that we have to not only slow down, but change direction entirely, and create an economy that might look something like this… It’s a...
Arts & Commons

Arts & Commons

On July 2nd I was invited to give a workshop at Supermarkt’s event ARTS & COMMONS: Art, Money and Self Organization in Digital Capitalism. Together with the participants of my workshop, I wanted to discuss the co-creation of artistic work, in the mold of open source collaboration or Yochai Benkler’s term ‘commons-based peer-production‘. The form was a hands-on collaborative collage workshop to get us on-topic, and give participants a taste of peer-production for themselves, followed by a discussion on how peer production of art is currently being attempted, and what might be necessary to improve and spread the process. An in-depth recipe for the collage workshop can be found here, but the general concept was for different teams to work sequentially on the same artworks, with the only method of collaboration and communication between the teams being some written documentation, which would accompany the work-in-progress as it moved from one team to another. We were building on existing work in the commons – Judith Carnaby and I had put together a collection of interesting Public Domain imagery (printable PDFs here), largely gathered from the Public Domain Review, New York Public Library, and the British Library’s Mechanical Curator. As we didn’t have enough time to put together a huge collection, this was bulked up with a few pages ripped out of magazines, where we very naughtily infringed the copyright… er, I mean, where we made a provocative artistic protest, striking at the corrupt heart of the copyright industry’s hegemony. Or something. Next time it will be 100% public domain, I promise :) To understand the process, I’ll take you through...
How Open Source can accelerate the Circular Economy Shift

How Open Source can accelerate the Circular Economy Shift

This post originally appeared on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ‘Circulate News‘ website. The shift to a circular economy presents a wicked, multidimensional problem: how can we redesign our operating system so that it works in the long term, and reflects the current context in terms of resources, energy and economic pressures? It’s hard to know where to start. After all, our linear economy is reaching its own end-of-life, and ‘designing’ new economies has never really worked that well for us in the past. The challenge is really about enabling an ecosystem to emerge which effectively (re)uses materials and resources, and rebuilds economic, social and natural capital. When we look at the circular economy field now, it’s dominated by large corporate players – and we do need these businesses taking on responsibility and leading with their considerable research, manufacturing and marketing clout. But redwoods and rhinos don’t make a whole ecosystem, there are many more parts to be played. To live up to the rhetoric and develop a real circular economy we need diversity of size, of focus, of motivation, and perspectives. Diversity of scale – key to a healthy economy. Reaching this goal will require a shake-up of not just our products and services, but also the way in which we develop them and interact with each other. Much like the steam engine was able to power the rapid economical, social and – for better or worse – environmental change of the industrial revolution, at this stage it seems we’re waiting to see what invention will propel us headlong into a thriving 21st century circular economy. Will it be...