DataClouds, on-line participatory environments and ‘open source’

On August 13 and 14, V2_Lab moderated a workshop on open source, free software and on-line participatory environments (such as DataWolk Hoeksche Waard and DataCloud2), within the framework of the International Symposium for Emoção Art.ficial in São Paolo, Brazil. Organized by Anne Nigten, manager V2_Lab, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Day 1 – Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Dataclouds and participatory environments

The first day focused on the theoretical aspects of participatory environments and dataclouds. Participatory environments enable the audience to access the web environment on a deeper level, they can add comments and objects; in some cases there is a possibility to re-configure the software. Not only does this include some interesting options; on a political or social level it also includes different approaches for the design of such a web application. Throughout the day the expert speakers highlighted several issues: data representation in dynamic systems, feedback mechanism, design and navigation in data spaces, audience involvement and editorial decisions.

Piet Vollaard presented the concept of DataWolk Hoeksche Waard (DataCloud1), an interactive platform for exchange and discussion created by Archined and V2_ in 1998. DataWolk HoekscheWaard is an experimental Internet site about the landscape design for the Hoeksche Waard (an island) in relation to the Randstad and the Rhine-Scheldt estuary. The site is aimed at designers, policy makers, administrators, inhabitants of the Rotterdam region and other interested parties. The data within the DataWolk HoekscheWaard is represented after a mixture of a knowledge map and a mental map. The participants were able to add comments, remarks, new associations between existing objects and new objects (images, text, sound, URLs) in the environment as a contribution to the discussion about the future development of the area they were living / working in, or designing for. Right now the DataWolk HoekscheWaard is stored as an archive, as the debate has been closed down.

Daniel Garcia Andujar presented a paper on the social debate platforms and independently developed platforms for artists. In his presentation the audience participation and awareness of the medium’s options was illustrated by work he has created with Technologies To The People.
Technologies To The People is involved in social debate platforms like Technologies To The People has always developed, supported and designed platforms for artists based on a strict sense of independence. Their recent artist-oriented work, Manifesta-4, is another example of the important work carried out by the Technologies To The People Foundation in order to showcase aspects of contemporary life. Daniel Garcia Andujar showed recently developed projects like and, which is an on-line infrastructure that will provide a framework for reflection on several of the issues proposed by artists and curators and is in fact a contribution to the overall Manifesta-4 debate, providing a first hand experience of manifesta discussion, critics and debate.

Maarten Handstede presented a paper on design issues for dynamic environments. The presentation approached dynamic environments from a designer’s perspective and the challenges this brings along. This presentation emphasized the conceptual design issues as well as the unpredictable elements, e.g. what to expect when users bring in their own data objects. The second version of the DataCloud project was used as a case study. DataCloud 2.0 is an information space containing a vast collection of media-objects. Each media-object is of a specific type – image, video, text, 3D model, sound file – and has its own characteristics. These characteristics (meta-data) are used for organizing and querying the information space. Users perceive the entire information space as a ‘cloud’ through which they can ‘fly’ and which they can reorganize as desired. After an examination of their meta-data, objects in the cloud can be viewed and added to personal collections and storylines. Authorized users can add, edit and delete objects. This functionality, combined with a newsgroup facility, makes DataCloud 2.0 an effective information tool that can support a community.

The technical framework on which DataCloud 2.0 is based will eventually be published as open-source software. It can therefore be used by other organizations and for other purposes. The options and implications that open source could have on design and artistic expression(s) were highlighted in the case study of DataCloud2.

These presentations provided input for a discussion among artists, designers, engineers, interaction designers and computer scientists who are interested in the conceptual and technical issues in the area of DataClouds, on line participatory environments and open source.

The first day was concluded with a critical discussion session, introduced by Anne Nigten, where questions of the audience were answered and a dialogue between the guest speakers, the makers, and the audience was encouraged.

Day 2 – Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Technical explanation and hands-on session

The theoretical part was followed by the second part of the workshop where the use of open source was explored by the DataCloud project and E-valencia as case studies. The makers elaborated their motivation to use open source and the expectations they have about the effects for future developments.

Open source
General introduction on open source and free software principles – how does it work, how can one contribute and what are the rules of the open source communities one should take in account. This was the focus on the first theoretical part where the lectures also exposed the advantages, options and disadvantages of open source and free software in the art and technology field. An overview of the applications we’re working with and those others which we consider of importance for creative purposes. Some of the software applications will be introduced briefly. (Several of the applications were installed for the participants of the second day, where some of the open source multimedia applications were demonstrated in a hands-on session.)

DataCloud 2 (work in progress)
Some of the software applications were introduced briefly. (Several of the applications were installed for the participants of the second day, where some of the open source multimedia applications were demonstrated in a hands-on session.)

This session was followed with a run through, demonstration and instruction session of e-valencia. This session was used as an example and instruction for e- São Paulo as an optional future on line debate and exchange platform.

This workshop was produced by V2_Lab for Itaú Cultural 2002.

August 13-14, 2002
International Symposium for Emoção Art.ficial, São Paolo, Brazil

Target participants:
artists, designers, engineers, interaction designers and computer scientists


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