Category: Blog

[gfa] A story worth telling

gfa

When I first met Ana, she didn't tell me that both of her grandfathers had been in prison after the civil war in Spain. That's understandable, but when I first visited her parents place, there was a framed yellowing newspaper article on the wall which was unavoidable. And it spoke of her grandfather, of his time in a dungeon in Venezuela, and then the rest of the story came out. More or less. Because there are an incredible amount of contradictions in the story, but it is a story well worth telling. So after many years, and false starts, we've begun investigating, and now we have the tools to tell thae story as we go along.

Here's the introduction Ana has written on the "project" blog:

Tenemos una tendencia a mejorar nuestros recuerdos, a cambiar los hechos a nuestra conveniencia, no es mal intencionado pero cuando hablamos de un pariente explicamos nuestra versión, y no nos preocupa, demasiado, la veracidad. Si le queremos solo explicamos las cosas buenas y sino ya sabemos que hacemos…

Me gusta escuchar a mis padres explicar historias de nuestra familia, pero como los dos son hijos únicos acaban pronto. Pero hay una historia que siempre ha captado mi interés, la vida de mi abuelo paterno, un hombre que siendo muy joven emigró a América, que estuvo diez años en una mazmorra venezolana, que salió de esta porque le dieron por muerto y le tiraron a los cocodrilos, que le robaron su fortuna, que regresó a España, que lo encarcelaron durante tres años al final de la Guerra Civil , que contrajo matrimonio en artículo mortis, y que como él dijo en una entrevista: "lo que no pude desde entonces es huir de aquel recuerdo…, huir de mí…"

Mi interés por saber qué sucedió, dónde ocurrió y por qué, me ha llevado hasta aquí.

[en]

We have a tendency to improve our memories, to change the facts to our liking, it is not malicious but when we speak of a relative we explain our version, we are not  too concerned about the truth. If we liked the person we just explain the good things and if not, well, you know …

I like listening to my parents tell stories of our family, but as both are only children the stories end soon. But there is a story that has always captured my interest, the life of my grandfather, who as a very young man emigrated to America, spent ten years in a dungeon in Venezuela, who came out of this because he was thought  dead and thrown to crocodiles, who had his fortune stolen, who returned to Spain, was imprisoned for three years at the end of the Civil War, who married in articulo mortis on his deathbed, and as he said in an interview, "what I could not do from then on was escape this memory… run from myself …"

My interest in knowing what happened, where it happened and why has led me here.

Mind playing tricks I guess

Bloody hell – not a thing posted on here since last August! Why do I always have the impression that everything is being documented…well I guess it is on the myriad blogs we have for individual stuff and twitter of course. Ok – so we've been doing LOADS of stuff and there's a whole BUNCH of things we're working on, so I'll try and get them down in the next few days…

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"

Kapow! It’s the Cataspanglish Summer Special!

bno67tv2166

Back in the prehistoric period that was my childhood I used to spend my summer pocket money on these "summer special" comics (images taken from this great post on the subject by Lew Stringer). And this summer feels just like one of them, so much stuff crammed in within the covers – so I just wanted to recap a little what's happening in the world of cataspanglish…

Right now we're up to our eyeballs in PodCamp Barcelona 2010 which takes place in El Masnou, September 13-18. Instead of following the format of the last two years and making it easy on ourselves, clever cataspanglish decided to change the format, adding some workshops to give back, through our knowledge, something to the good folks of El Masnou who bankroll the event. We also decided to limit the number of "presentations" and, at the suggestion of @Moof who is working on PodCamp with us this year along with @pdavenne, make the afternoon part of the "main" day of PodCamp Barcelona an after-lunch discussion forum based on the "sobremesa" – the long, leisurely after-lunch, over coffee and liqueurs chats around the table typical of Spain.

Moof and myself had discussed this kind of event idea after attending the 1pound40 conference held by Amplified in London late last year. Much of the thinking about PodCamp Barcelona 2010 has been inspired by the concepts of Sue Thomas and Toby Moores about participation, involvement & creativity which they experiment on through Amplified projects, and conversations with Steve Lawson and Lucy Windmill who came over to PodCamp Barcelona last year. I'd say that what we bring to that (and which complicates everything intensely), is our intent to create the conditions for real time, genuine but informal communication to take place but amongst people expressing themselves in different languages simultaneously. We have the speaker on the podium simultaneous translation thing down, but how can we extend the peer sharing of knowledge and ideas in a real time multilingual context? Maybe through transliteracy?  We'll keep you posted on the results of our experiment and if you've got any thoughts, please share them in the comments.

The other big issue, and one we haven't had the resources to deal with this year, is that of inclusion of disabled and deaf people. We have added a plugin on the Spanish website which reads the posts (need to find one those for Catalan and English too), but the budget didn't stretch to having sign language and attempts to get volunteers has (so-far) failed…

Whew! this getting too damn long for a single comic strip so I'm going to have to use that great expression "to be continued…"

Blam! (update)
Can't believe I forgot to include the Tweetlation real-time tweet translation that Moof set up at PodCamp Barcelona 2009 and which he and Patrick are going to be running this year. Check out Can you tweetlate?

PodCamp Barcelona 2010

els vienesos

Well it's hot and sticky in Barcelona & while the country is closed, we're busy preparing PodCamp Barcelona 2010 – the post below is cross-posted from the PodCamp Barcelona site:

PodCamp Barcelona 2010 will take place in El Masnou from September 13 to September 18th. Yes, that's right, five days of PodCamp Barcelona  — because this year we have a new venue, a new format and a theme: community. PodCamp Barcelona has always been about community — in fact, the original idea of the event was to create a community out of the various people and projects using what could loosely be termed "web 2.0". But this year, the theme is going to be more explicit and for this reason we have decided to change the format.

So what's going to happen in El Masnou from September 13 to September 18?

From Monday, September 13 to Thursday, September 16 there will be workshops every evening. The idea of these workshops is to give back to the people of Masnou through our knowledge. If you want to run a workshop at PodCamp Barcelona, please contact us.

Friday and Saturday will be different however. Friday evening will see two sessions and a wine tasting. Saturday will have four sessions in the morning and after lunch, a sobremesa where each table will be able to discuss, provide ideas and conclusions about each of the six community sessions. The idea is to get everybody to participate whether they are presenting or not, and to crowd source ideas to further develop the six communities presented. Of course, there will be another winetasting after the sobremesa session, and possibly a concert by musicians who use social media in their work. If you wish to lead a community session please contact us.

The conclusions from the community sessions will be filmed and put on the TalkingAbout platform where the debate can continue.

There will also be a Speaker's Corner where anybody will be able to present any project they want. The presentations at Speaker's Corner will also be filmed and posted online. If you want to present in Speaker's Corner please contact us.

All of this will take place as in a brand new building in El Masnou, Els Vienesos, gracias once again to the fantastic participation of El Masnou council in PodCamp Barcelona. We hope that PodCamp Barcelona 2010 will enable more people to participate in the debate and lead to practical conclusions for ongoing community activity.

Oh yes, and one more thing: this year there are two new members in the PodCamp Barcelona team – welcome aboard @pdavenne and @moof Bring it on!

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

Kfé Innovación – Let’s Go!

Tomorrow I'm off to the freezing cold city that is Sevilla to facilitate a session in the Kfé Innovación/Innovation Cafe. I'll be riffing on new paradigms, disruptive technology, the creation of memory and the destruction of heirachies. Or something like that. Here's an inteview I did with @margaojeda which introduces the gig (in Spanish). It's going to be hotter than hell so I'm gonna need me to get me some cooool tapas 😉

 

Listen!