The expo-design workshop, the preceding of the Second Life contest

Expolab team is already working on the management of the design competition in Second Life organized in collaboration with the Tech Museum of California, and in fact, the contest began a few days ago. They have appeared the first designers to show their interest in the project and we are following the whole process to see if we can start to show you some results.

For now, we want to share with you the video of the expo-design workshop we did here in Citilab, on January the 14th. From this meeting, along with a couple of work sessions done previously, we have selected the topics and the design proposal for the design competition that is being proposed in Second Life. You can’t miss it, these are the origins of the first Expolab’s exhibitions!


The design contest in Second Life starts now!

During the last two weeks we have been working with all the material that we collected during the expo-design workshops on 12, 13 and 14th of January. Finally, we have categorized the stories that you shared with us into five blocks, to show how the Internet and digital technologies have changed our daily life. In the first exhibition will examine how the evolution of the Internet has changed the way we share memories, connect with others, we travel in time and space, work, and experience safety. We will structure your input into cubes that explain both the more social side of these changes, as well as the technology behind it. The idea is that these cubes are our proposal, we do not only want visitors to contemplate the changes, but we also want them to participate in the experience. We invite visitors of the exhibition to upload photos, experience a feeling or add their opinion. In short, we aim that the public is, again, the protagonist, and the building of this exhibition only finishes with their visit.

All the material is already available on the website of the Tech Virtual Museum, it is part of the reference material for anyone who wants to participate in the design competition organized by Citilab Cornella and the Tech Museum in San Jose, California. We invite you to upload your design proposals! You can use Second Life as a tool, but this is not required. You can also use pictures, videos, drawings, SolidWorks or any other design tool. The design competition is open now, proposals can be uploaded untill March 25th. Good luck to all!


Analysing the Expo-design workshops

We are currently analysing the collages, pictures, transscripts and observations from the three expo design workshops. This tagcloud shows a rich variety of themes, topics and examples that were revealed by the participants during the sessions. We will use the most interesting topics to define the content of the exposition, stay in touch!


The Expo-design workshop was a success

Finally the afternoon of January 14th arrived and people began to gather at the entry hall of Citilab. One by one or in little groups of two, the participants of the Expolab Design workshop were entering Citilab. Gradually, the room was filled until we reached 31 participants.

Beginnings are always a bit difficult and even more when people do not know each other. To warm things up, we invited everyone to sit at tables of 7 and 8 people and explain to each other who they were. Ramon Sanguesa, Astrid Lubsen and Irene Lapuente, the Expolab team, also introduced themselves, thanked everyone for coming and explained the goals of the Expolab project, the reason of this meeting and the whole process that will lead to Expolab’s first exhibition. 

Once people were put in context, we asked them to open the envelopes that were lying on each table. What was hiding inside? A lot of photographs on various subjects. Each participant had to set aside between 3 and 5 photographs that he or she liked and then had to attempt, somehow, to try and relate them to technology. After choosing the photographs, the participants in the Expo-Design workshop were further divided into groups of 3 or 4 people and began interviewing each other within their group. The goal was to explain to each other why they had chosen their photographs. With this information, each group prepared a collage of pictures and hung it on the wall. One by one, they presented their collage to the rest of the participants. With this post we will try our best to explain what was said and what happened there and then. We probably will leave a lot of things out. We invite participants to comment on this blog on what we have left and to contribute further ideas and details. In total there were eight collages 

The first collage talked about the evolution from analog to digital. It displayed images arranged as the images themselves were in a meeting. They did so in order to illustrate the change from face-to-face meetings to video-conference meetings. The team also commented on the change from hanging pictures on a wall to hanging them on platforms such as Flickr. An image of a football team led the group to make an analogy between a football team and the possibilities of working together that Internet gives you. They also told us the story about elderly parents who did not connected too much with the technology but instead sent mobile messages that were even more extremely abbreviated than those of their children. So, they had found a bigger barrier in the technological approach to the technological device than in approaching and mastering the new language of mobile text messaging. Finally, we started a small discussion on whether mobility and portability were as real as we would like them to be. Someone responded that the problem is not that we can not work in parks because the sun is dazzling us and making it difficult for us to read the screens of our laptops, but that the cities are not prepared to support people who want to work while waiting for the subway, for example. A few months ago Citilab organized a Breakout session on the tram that links Citilab and L’Illa shopping center. It was a success.

The second poster showed a clear division between the digital and the analog world. Their authors lamented with a bit of nostalgia that technology made them stay away from fields and orchards. Despite the advantages of technology, the analog world showed much more warm and human that the digital world. They commented that they liked to know where their food came from and that one way of achieving this was in the past to actuallytend your orchard or go to the woods to collect cherries. In this poster a world map printed with alphanumeric characters unified these two perspectives.

In the third poster three images of clocks were quite prominent. For the authors of the collage, these watches represented technology, precision, beauty, elegance, and so on. Moreover, this team started a debate on the advantages and disadvantages of e-books. Curiously enough, middle-aged participants defended the use of this new reading technology but older and younger participants did not. The ones in favor mentioned as positive side of e-books the decrease in weight, the possibility of having many books in one single device and the saving of space, in a similar vein as it has happened with music after the introduction of ipods. Other advantages were, for example, the possibility of increasing the size of letters and so to read more easily. Older and younger participants, however, proved to be too nostalgic for accepting easily the change from paper to technology. The issue of video conferencing also appeared here. They also commented on the difficulty of working with technology because it is always changing and so it is like a mountain always there to climb. They stressed that major changes had occurred in the field of communication. They ended their presentation by saying that from time to time they also had to relax and do a “reset yourself”.

The fourth group highlighted the changes that had occurred in the kitchen, the way that cooking is done and how time is spent in cooking. That is how this was in the past and how it is now. This issue also unearthed a story about a hardboiled egg that exploded and splashed all over the kitchen, because the person in charge of overseeing the cooking was completely oblivious to it since she was absorbed in her first experience with chatting with a friend abroad.

The fifth group began by analyzing how technology affects nature and how technologically excluded and disadvantaged people are not always as we imagine them to be in relation to technology. This collage contained a photograph of a lone man walking down a snowy mountain. This image would have evoked a very risky adventure a few years ago, but now, thanks to GPS, iPhones and other gadgets, this risk is reduced. They also showed a picture where technology and pets occupied similar spaces within a kitchen. This introduced the question of what we are doing with technology. The image of a homeless immigrant opened the debate over whether everyone had access to technology and the loss and isolation that this entailed. It also introduced the contrast by the unexpected uses of advanced technology among most disadvantaged people. As an example the case of “homeless” who work with the internet network and mobile cameras to capture celebrities wherever they appear. They also underlined the good and ecological role of new means of displaying information as for example in relation to old paper catalogues for art exhibitions that are often discarded as soon as you are back at home. The image of a man measuring the world inspired the phrase “Today we need to measure everything.”

Thanks to the sixth poster we embarked on an entertaining journey through the history of the automobile. The former Simca 1000 where everything was mechanical was a car that represented modernity at the moment. Then. we passed on to cars with a very high software content, and moved on to a future made of cleaner and driverless cars. One member of this group, spoke in first person from his experiences as a car mechanic. He said that today you can not work in this profession without computer skills. He himself saw the thrill of his own professional advancement in learning through digital technologies. Many participants showed their willingness to purchase hybrid cars as soon as their prices come down. This group also used the image of a woman staring into the horizon to make a metaphor with the surprises that digital technology can still give us.

The seventh group made a fishbone diagram to tell us about the changes undergone in different environments such as biotechnology, food, logistics and distribution, training, entertainment, communication and integration, but also expanded on the impacts of these changes and the load that we carry from the past and old materials. Here the current discussion on how technology in general is seen as positive but could also attract negative results reappeared. The case of what happened in the industrial age that brought us air pollution was maentioned. We discussed how technology had no other alternative now but to work for sustainability and “cleanness.”

Finally, the eighth group talked about the macro-transformation suffered by the concepts of time and space. Right now we can talk and see someone who is at present in Sydney, something that was once unthinkable. On the other hand, they also reflected on the theme of modernity, a concept now very ephemeral. As an example they showed an image of an old ad for a Simca 1200 that read: “If you built a car, it would sure be like this one” Obviously this is no longer true. They also remarked that technology would give us more leisure time. There was also a short discussion about the sense of chaos that all this created. People take sides with advocates of chaos, people who were at ease with it and find it a positive force being more vocal. In that moment the explanation of posters reached their end with the personal anecdote of one of the participants who had broken his arm and was very surprised with the digital technology used by his doctors that were able to zoom in on the area affected with a computer instead of inspecting a backlit X-ray image of his fracture, as was formerly the usual practice. He also commented that technology was “like oxygen that was everywhere and we needed it”.

Once the eight collages had been presented, the visitors enjoyed a short break to refuel energy eating biscuits, potato chips and tangerines and then went back to work. Each had to choose the story that he or she liked most among all what they had heard, share it with other members of his or her group, choose one of all the stories and build a three-dimensional representation with the help of his team. In just a few moments all groups were picking cards, colored ribbons, beads, clay and a variety of materials we had prepared for the occasion. For half an hour imagination and creativity run higher by the minute at each table. Everyone was busy cutting, pasting, drawing, modeling and the results were exceptional.

Based on the story of the broken arm, a group modeled a mechanical arm that had articulated movement possibilities. You could see all parts of bone and muscle as they could have been seen through the doctor’s digital equipment.

A second group represented the story of a team member who, thanks to the Internet, discovered he had a cousin of the same age who he had never knew of before. Three green cubes represented family members, a network linked the three members and the reunification of the family was represented by the fact that each cube could be enclosed within each other, as in a Russian doll.

A third group wanted to play with the concept of time and built a giant clock with yellow cellophane paper. Within this clock onecould find a container where you could try to drop balls inside. These balls would grant you an extra hour or ten minutes for your days… too busy thanks to technology.

The fourth proposal was very conceptual. Based on longing memories of orchards of yesteryear and of the touch of things. This team created a hybrid being that had the senses that the Internet had failed to mimic, at least up to now. Digital technology impacts us very well on our senses of sight and hearing, but smell, taste and touch are often forgotten or lost. So it was a “three sense” person.

The fifth team created a model of a modern office with video-conferencing rooms. It offered the opportunity to cook and to eat in the workplace. It also had a Jacuzzi and a shower to help relax and be clean and spotless. The shower was there to inspire you ideas while being alone under the water and the jacuzzi created opportunities for collaboration. An expandable table was there just in case the number of people in the staff increased. A roaming robot supplied wifi according to the needs of connection … And, the best of it, there was a robot that was a combined system of documentation that recorded the meetings, took photographs, collected important points and created a printer output. Thus, workers should flow, think, talk and machines would be responsible for creating the corresponding documents and deliver results. Not a bad prospect!

The sixth proposal was related to the world of telephone communication. Vintage two-piece phones were close to current mini-computers capable of processing all types of information. In addition, this group created a sort of double-sided sculpture that only was able to phone call himself and to talk to himself about himself. They called it the “technological dunce”.

Finally, the seventh team (and the winning one) created a dual piece representing on a face the brutally massive Internet interconnection between all hyper-connected nodes versus the actual connections of everyday life: small groups of two, three, and even isolated individuals. In the end, we all have our partner, family, friends with which we are really connected.

The jury was formed on the spot by all those attending the event and was a popular vote by raising hands which awarded the prize. The best two teams wereselected and they were awarded a bottle of champagne to be shared with attendees. Everyone got a Citilab T-shirt.

The day ended outside, well beyond the gates of Citilab. Everyone was very happy and we enjoyed the experience. It was a success! Successful participation, creativity, contribution, creations …Total success!

Now the Expolab team is trying to synthesize all this information. We are working nonstop to get everything as soon as possible on the Second Life island that the Tech Museum has prepared for us. Once all requirements, results and anecdotes are introduced, everyone will be invited to submit proposals in Second Life. This will opening the doors of the design contest!


Collecting inspiration at Fabra i Coats

On January 13th, Citilab organized a breakout Session at the Fabra i Coats factory. The team that coordinates Expolab attended this meeting and we explained our project. We also were very excited because of the feedback and support we received from the participants- We decided to organzed in the afternoon part of Breakout a fast prototyping session which was a warm-up for the workshop on Thursday 14 January.

People that hadn’t previously met and who met for the first time at Breakout decided to join us and sit around a table with some materials in order to design objects with their own hands in order to think about exhibitions.

We started with an informal chat and we made small drawings on which changes the interent had produced in our own lives and how they conformed a new digital society.

This led to very productive discussions and end up with the creation of objects like the a camera made with folded cardboard and a plastic drinking cup, a representation of a cultural collective day out exploring the concept of real time, a structure that showed transient energy that is latent and diffuse in all the information around as and a proposal of started but unfinished stories that linger online…

But what were the issues that we dealt with, talking and discussing for nearly two hours?

We saw the importance that several processes have acquired in recent decades. For example, we see a displacement of objects and phenomena as important or central to exhibitions. Instead, processes seemed to be the central actors. We talked about processes that happen and how things happen. The process is very important. Learning is also process-based: we learn by doing.

We also pointed to an important change in the daily exchanges of our society. Previously we mostly bought and sold tangible objects, but more and more we do so with intangible ones such as information or knowledge. How are these new products valued? How are they paid for? These are issues that remained in the air, and that are not always easy to answer. Furthermore, we are so occupied in generating information that we can run the risk of infoxication. We can get too saturated and unable to access to everything … However, do we need to access to all the information? All information we receive via the Internet is good? At this point in the discussion we saw that another paradigm has been broken, absolute truth. Perviously lived in a world of the “singular the” (the master, the power, etc.) and now we are in a society of “plural the” (tutorials, voting, etc.). We are breaking the singularity to become a pluralistic society with its advantages and disadvantages.

Andreu Robusté, ESDI advised by designer Josep Maria Marimon, raised the possibility of playing with more spatial options. And indeed, if exhibitions are spaces that gather content, visitors, materials, design and … space, you can play with any of these ingredients. In this first edition of Expolab, we decided to introduce public participation in the design and content, but we may venture to play with space and materials. In fact, Eva Sans shared a good idea: distributing blank maps of the exhibition where every visitor could suggest his or her own itinerary and share it or notwith others.

Javier Rodriguez, developer of the Datos en Crudo, project asked if the exhibition concept as it had been born had any sense or was altogether an obsolete concept. This exciting vision gave rise to a small debate full of questions and challenges: Are exhibitions just stores or ordered objects? Are simply places where objects of the past are preserved? We must preserve the past? Should we learn to get loose a little of this past that weighs on us in order to be able to create new times? Did the stone cave painters think about the future and the preservation of the past? Is is more important to have an experience thatn contemplating an object?

For a while we be discussing the importance of each one having their own experiences and to feel digital technology first hand. A very important concept in this new digital world is real time. Things can happen and now and be published and communicated to the world on the web on the same moment. If in earlier times live broadcasting was reserved for special reports sent in mission away, they are now available to everyone. How interesting it would be to organize a multigenerational day out where people less used to be able to communicate with the world instantly could become real time reporters for one day, and in doing so we aware of how this possibility is now a reality for all citizens?

Finally, someone has to define those who engage in digital technology as the explorers of new horizons, i.e, people who look for new ways of doing things, new processes, for a diversity of paths and platforms to talk to the public . We are in the information age.


Internet: confusion vs. unlimited possibilities

The 12th of January we did a first inspiration session with nine people. We were searching for personal stories and experiences from the participants, about how internet has changed their way of communicating, learning, working, and spending their time.

We prepared the participants by giving them a little exercise; every day we asked them to fill out a cultural probe containing little papers with questions about the role of internet and modern technology in their daily live. In this way, they were better able to express themselves during the workshop.

At the beginning of the session we provided a large selection of pictures with a wide variety of topics. The participants all went through the collection to look for images that triggered a memory, a feeling, or a story about a personal experience related to the changes in technology over the past decades. All participants selected a couple of pictures that helped them to explain a situation in which they were aware of the changes in their lives caused by the internet evolution.

Then the participants interviewed each other in groups of three about their memories, and finally made a collage to present their images. They surprised us with examples from interesting fields that we did not consider before, such as photography, dance, emancipation, travel, sex, automotive technology etc. While discussing the collages with the whole group many other interesting personal experiences were revealed:

Collage 1:

This poster showed us amongst others a skier, which reminded one participant of the enormous adrenaline kick that he got when he accessed the internet for the first time. He was so amazed by the possibilities that he saw ahead, and until now he has never seen anything more interesting than that. Although… The iphone is a good example of an addictive kick-ass application as well, but no, it does not give the same thrill.….

Another participant chose a more nostalgic picture of a ´vigilante´. In Spain every district used to have a ´vigilante´, a safety guard who kept an eye on the streets after dark. This man knew all the people from the neighborhood and had the keys of all the houses. Today this function does not exist any longer, but instead more and more safety cameras appear. This can be seen as a similar concept but it has a completely different impact on our feeling of safety and privacy.

A picture of an air hostess triggered a story by one of the participants on how he went to the airport as a little boy to pick up his dad, to find out upon arrival that the flight had been delayed. Today you would know in advance, because you can check the airport website, or your dad would call with his mobile.

The third person in the group said he misses products of which you can fully understand the mechanical principles. When he had his first car he could completely learn how to repair it and replace the parts. Nowadays appliances are complex systems consisting of advanced soft- and hardware, making it almost impossible to learn how it works on your own. He thinks this is typical for the generation who have experienced the pre-, intermediate- and post internet era. Children who are born today will not miss this, because they have not known the pre-internet era.

Collage 2:

One of the participants reminded the hours he spent playing with his Scalectric set. He has always kept his old set because of the good memories it still provokes. Today it appears to be worth a fortune but he would never think of selling it. He hopes to have sons one day who will be playing with it.

Internet and new media have also completely changed the world of photography. Whereas in the past you would speak of the picture of grandmothers wedding, today we speak of the (at least 800) pictures of yesterday, or this morning. Only a couple of decades ago when you were ill in bed, your mother would bring you the box with pictures and you would look through the same pictures again and again. Today we make at least 10 pictures of each situation, put the whole batch on flickr and hardly watch them anymore afterwards. One of the girls disagreed and said she actually does look back her digital photos a lot.

Globally there have been a lot of differences in the implementation of the web. One of the people from the group has worked in Senegal, where the people were equipped with computers, an email program and everything. The only missing link was the connection to the web. They had to write their mail with their email program, save it on a floppy and travel to another town to send the email from an office there.

Collage 3:

In this group we discussed the differences between generations. The oldest person uses internet mostly because she needs it for work and less for maintaining social contacts. The younger girl uses internet for everything, even to use her creativity and see the creativity of others.

They both appeared to be the only child in their family and this triggered a discussion how they used their imagination a lot when they were young, and the issue of mixing up fiction and reality. Children today do not really seem to confuse virtual and real, or maybe they do not notice a difference?

The older participants also saw traveling to other countries become easier. A trip to Greece seemed like a magical thing before, and now everybody is going there. Another participant commented that today you can stay at home and see the world from your computer.

We are now analyzing all the anecdotes and categorizing them into themes for the exposition. Let´s see what will surprise us during the coming days!! Stay tuned….



There’s only a few days left until the first participatory meeting organized by the Expolab team. Thursday January 14th at 17:00 we will gather with about thirty people who will help us to start the process of creating the first participatory exhibition organized by Citilab and la Mandarina de Newton.

The workshop will be a co-design session. We will provide activities and the participants give us their interpretation. With everybodies collaboration we will work towards the best design for the first exhibition produced by Citilab! During a three hour session we will work on issues related to changes that impacted our daily lives because of the development of the Internet and digital technology. With the help of images, memories and words, we trigger the participants to express how they have experienced the changes in their life over the recent years. The most creative, fun and charismatic group receives a bottle of champagne …

For now, we are finalizing the details and getting everything ready, so that the participants will enjoy the session a lot and good ideas will come up. Stay in tune, we will explain more later!


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