Notes from Cognitive Cities

Cognitive Cities in Berlin was a lot of fun. My visit was fleeting, and I didn’t get to enjoy the second day of demonstrations and workshops, but the talks on Saturday were great. A few notes bubble up among the bunch;

* Adam Greenfield made me think for the first time in a while about the inherent politics of objects, something we need to pay “exquisite attention to” as networked cities ramp up in gear.

* BASAAP and related themes about interaction and integration cropped up a few times, with the core theme being “do exactly enough”; Don’t be too smart, don’t over-explain, don’t overcompensate for edge cases, and beware the feedback loop of the uncanny valley; puppy-smart is enough, human-smart can be scary.

* “Futurism and forecast fail due to the incompleteness of our knowledge.” – Dannie Jost

* Cities are a serendipity hub. As much as I might find something romantic about running off to Eigg, the chances of doing that and still enjoying the kind of chance encounters I have in London are slim.

* Berlin is nice.

* I should probably read Invisible Cities.

* Lots of us are chasing ghosts. I’ll come back to this one. A world of “inaudible machine chatter” is blooming, and we are trying to find ways of tracing those conversations. Are there more important things we could be doing?

Before Warren Ellis‘ keynote I was explaining to him my frustration that a narrative didn’t seem to be emerging among the talks that framed the larger debate. Warren’s talk brought that in spades, a thump of story that actually managed to be shocking; he stopped just short of asking ‘What are you lot playing at?’

I needed that.

Anyway, huge thanks to Jens for putting me up. Definitely hoping to go back to Berlin this year; I’ll find an excuse somehow.

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