Södertörn

I spent yesterday at the Media Technology Programme/Department at Södertörn University College. Apart from my lecture there was also time to discuss, absorb and get a sense of what is going on there and common interests. Their implementation of media technology (medieteknik) is quite interesting. Here is a description of the discipline in Swedish (placing it somewhere in between technology and the humanities):

I gränslandet mellan teknik och humaniora, mellan tilllämpning och reflektion, där har medietekniken sitt mandat. Inom medietekniken kombineras praktisk färdighetsträning med att sätta teknikutvecklingen i en social och historisk kontext. Vi diskuterar viktiga och komplexa frågor som förhållandet mellan teknikutvecklingen och framtida generationer, teknologiska paradigmskiften etc.

There is a fair bit of energy there and I left with a good feeling. Hopefully we will be able to do more things together in the future.

students!

HUMlab is fundamentally concerned with students. Students make a large part of our users. We interact with them all the time. We teach some classes in other programs. This semester, however, is the first time we are responsible for a full academic course ourselves. It is a five-week course on “Information technology for humanists”. Today there was a session on virtuality (taught by Therese).

 It is great to have these students in the lab. And earlier today I talked for quite a bit with a student who is both interested in this course and in the field in general. She took part in a class another department organized together with us. Tomorrow they are going to have a debate on electronic literature (partly for…against:).

We are also looking into starting a master’s program later and this work is also progressing nicely. All this does arise important questions about what HUMlab is and how we can maintain adaptability, being different, being an open lab etc. and still have serious educational committments. I think there is great potential here (not least in the students of course) and we definitely need to move in this direction. But we also need to consider these issues very carefully and move slowly – and listen to the students. 

innovation methodology

I was invited to participate in an panel on innovation methodology in Amsterdam this past week. The Innovation Day was organized by the Media Guild, a new exciting enterprise run by Andrew Bullen (HUMlab friend). Unfortunately I could not stay for more than a few hours but I really enjoyed meeting with lots of interesting people and ideas. Innovation is not an entirely clear or well-defined concept and I really feel I learnt a great deal – among other things that innovation really is a rather fuzzy concept. There was a great group of fellow panelists: Susan Kennard (Banff new Media Institute), Frank Boyd (Unexpected Media/BBC), Candace Johnson (international telecom expert and entreprenuer), Jonas Berggren (Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship), Simon Jones (Human Computer Studies lab, University of Amsterdam, and former director of MIT Media Lab Europe) and Matt Locke (Head of Innovation, BBC New Media and Technology).

Although the various labs and contexts were rather different there were several recurring themes and thoughts: the importance of diversity, think big, pre-incubation, participatory culture, IP, the importance of single moments, know yourself, rapid prototyping, and the necessity of support, committment, thoroughness and risk-taking. I hope to be able to blog soon with more details and analysis. Also I learnt about several interesting examples and products.

Here is one of the slides I used for discussing innovation methodology in relation to HUMlab and more generally.