[iDC] More on symposium

Orkan Telhan orkan at media.mit.edu
Mon Oct 23 16:56:21 EDT 2006

Hi everyone,

Following Jessica and Dave's review, I also would like to comment on  
the 'Architecture and  Situated Technologies'. I only attended the  
symposium on Thursday and Friday, but generally had a good time in  
these quite intense sessions.

A couple of things I found interesting:

Desire for the underspecified (e.g., interaction models, buildings).
Desire for transparency.
Desire for quantitative research without abandoning qualitative methods.
Metrics of evaluation (how do I know if this art project or this  
building is good?).
Ability to understand and simulate while being able to observe what  
is left behind in "universal" models.
The immanent and complex relationship among of economy, power,  
control, ideology and technology.

I think we observed many concerns raised by cross-disciplinary  
people.  It is becoming more and more clear that we are moving beyond  
the traditional debates among technophiles and cynics. The producers  
of technologies vs. their consumers. The audience and the speakers  
were broad and people were wearing multiple hats as opposed to their  
traditional labels: architect, media artist, designer, scientist,  
theorist... etc.

However, while the culture of debate was intense and improving, I am  
not sure how informed people are about each others field.  For  
example, while we all are striving for transparency in technology, I  
am wondering how many of us are ready to handle the extra burden of  
choice and information overload. And more important than that, how  
are we going to tell what kind of transparency we really want from  

If I am going to copy my 'word' file from my flash drive to my  
desktop, how much do I need to know about the code exchange between  
the drive and the computer? In a glimpse of a second these devices  
run thousands of lines of code and other than a blinking green light  
at the end of your drive, you almost see nothing about this very  
complicated process.

Perhaps this is an extreme case and yes, transparency is still good.  
But while we are proceeding to the next stages of these debates, I  
feel like we also need to learn and understand more about the  
technologies we are talking about. At least to inform each other  
about what we really want to extend the scope of these discussions.

Thanks again to Omar, Trebor and Mark for the organization. The  
symposium was quite stimulating.


Orkan Telhan

Sociable Media Group
MIT Media Lab

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