Around the globe

Photo projects carrying the viewer around the globe are my favorites – same motif repeated in different contexts is adding a new piece to this puzzle called world.

Peter Menzel in his book Hungry planet travels in 24 countries to picture 30 families with their one week groceries. An insightful way to see the differences of life style and quality of life in just a simple photo. A socio-economic study in pictures.

Gabriele Galimberti makes a step further going even more in detail.  For instance, within the same frame – food – an absolutely lovely project called Delicatessen with love is portraying grandmas around the world with their awesome dishes. Despite the different cuisine, ingredients, kitchens there is a same smile in every image. This looks like certainty now: grandmas are the same everywhere. (Btw, make sure you check the entire gallery – there are also recipes!)

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What impressed me most is the project called Toy stories picturing children and their toys. The stories depicted here are no longer only about socio-economic status, but also about their attitudes, their “properties” as well as the hopes and dreams of the ones who give them the respective toys. The different childhoods – the various us.

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But wait – how come the grandmas are everywhere the same?

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Toughts…

… from current readings:

“The moment we want to be something, we are no longer free.”

“The function of education, then, is to help you from childhood not to imitate anybody, but to be yourself all the time.”

“To find out is not to come to a conclusion […] the moment you come to a conclusion as to what intelligence is, you cease to be intelligent. That is what most of the older people have done: they have come to conclusions.”

(Jiddu Krishnamurti – Think on this things)

Makers, doers, changers

I’ve finished reading the book “Makers: The new industrial revolution” by Chris Anderson a while ago, but only now I got around to share a few notes.

The biggest take away for me is the spirit that drives the maker communities, the enthusiasm to co-create and to share knowledge and experience. The result is never “final”, but always in a stage of becoming something more, something better.

Hopefully this spirit will spread out even more.

A few notes:

– about the community

“We are all Makers. We are born Makers (just watch a child’s fascination with drawing, blocks, Lego, or crafts), and many of us retain that love in our hobbies and passions.”

“Network effects: when you connect people and ideas, they grow”.

“What makes the community work is homophily (“love of the same”), the tendency for people to associate and bond with others like themselves in a network.”

“On the product-development side, the Maker Movement tilts the balance toward the cultures with the best innovation model, not the cheapest labor. Societies that have embraced “co-creation,” or community-based development, win.”

– the new industrial revolution 

“The beauty of the Web is that it democratized the tools both of invention and of production. Anyone with an idea for a service can turn it into a product with some software code (these days it hardly even requires much programming skill, and what you need you can learn online)—no patent required. Then, with a keystroke, you can “ship it” to a global market of billions of people.”

“What started as a cultural shift—a fascination with new digital prototyping tools and a desire to extend the online phenomenon into real-world impact—is now starting to become an economic shift, too.”

“The Maker Movement is beginning to change the face of industry, as entrepreneurial instincts kick in and hobbies become small companies.”

“First, they’re using digital tools, designing onscreen, and increasingly outputting to desktop fabrication machines. Second, they’re the Web generation, so they instinctively share their creations online. By simply bringing the Web’s culture and collaboration to the process of making, they’re combining to build something on a scale we’ve never seen from DIY before.”

“If Karl Marx were here today, his jaw would be on the floor. Talk about “controlling the tools of production”: you (you!) can now set factories into motion with a mouse click. The distinction between amateur and entrepreneur has been reduced to a software option.”

“…as The Lean Startup author Eric Reis puts it, Marx got it wrong: “It’s not about ownership of the means of production, anymore. It’s about rentership of the means of production.”

“Whether they think of it this way or not, the most successful Makers are also the best marketers. They’re constantly blogging about their progress, and tweeting, too. They take pictures and videos of every milestone, and post those. Their excitement in making is infectious, and builds excitement and anticipation for the products they ultimately release.”

Kickstarter turns customers into a community. By backing a project, you’re doing more than pre-buying a product. You’re also betting on a team, and in turn they update you with progress reports and respond to suggestions in comments and discussion forums during the product’s genesis. This encourages a sense of participation in the project and turns backers into word-of-mouth evangelists, which helps projects go viral.”

“No doubt there will be some disasters ahead. Most likely are the naïve inventors with a good idea but absolutely no competence in manufacturing who discover that they have badly underpriced their product and are unable to make it for the promised cost. Teams may fall apart, personal issues may arise, and some people will just flake out. And then, inevitably, there will be fraudsters. But so far the social support and accountability that come with transparency have prevented the usual catastrophes. And the service is growing at an astounding rate.”

“The Web model really will hold sway: a fully distributed digital marketplace where good ideas can come from anywhere and take the world by storm.”

– a Thomas Friedman reference

“As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman puts it, “It used to be that only cheap foreign manual labor was easily available; now cheap foreign genius is easily available.” (in A theory of everything – sort of)

“Now we are flattening it [the world] again, but along a different dimension. Thanks to automation, labor costs are a small and shrinking fraction of the cost of making something.”

With Nichita Stănescu

Happy to remember yesterday evening when attending an event about Nichita Stănescu, that he is one of my favorite Romanian poets. Happy to share a few poems here, even though the available translations don’t allow me to post my favorite ones.

Unwords

He offered me a leaf like a hand with fingers.
I offered him a hand like a leaf with teeth.
He offered me a branch like an arm.
I offered him my arm like a branch.
He tipped his trunk towards me
like a shoulder.
I tipped my shoulder to him
like a knotted trunk.
I could hear his sap quicken, beating
like blood.
He could hear my blood slacken like rising sap.
I passed through him.
He passed through me.
I remained a solitary tree.
He
a solitary man.

Sentimental story

Then we met more often.
I stood at one side of the hour,
you at the other,
like two handles of an amphora.
Only the words flew between us,
back and forth.
You could almost see their swirling,
and suddenly,
I would lower a knee,
and touch my elbow to the ground
to look at the grass, bent
by the falling of some word,
as though by the paw of a lion in flight.
The words spun between us,
back and forth,
and the more I loved you, the more
they continued, this whirl almost seen,
the structure of matter, the beginnings of things.

A Lesson on the Cube

You take a piece of stone,
chisel it with blood,
grind it with Homer’s eye,
burnish it with beams
until the cube comes out perfect.
Next you endlessly kiss the cube
with your mouth, with others’ mouths,
and, most important, with infanta’s mouth.
Then you take a hammer
and suddenly knock a corner off.
All, indeed absolutely all will say –
what a perfect cube this would have been
if not for the broken corner!

More herehere or here.

Art encounters – part I

I have to say: I lost track with the Romanian contemporary literature & art. A short visit last Friday at Romanian Cultural Institute in Vienna to receive the Martisor-book  (great initiative, btw) and I managed to catch up a little.

Poetry

Beside the joy of (re-)reading bits of Gellu Naum‘s poetry, I discovered Ioan Es. Pop with “The livid worlds: A Gothic novel“. It’s a bilingual volume, so I can share a bits of his work.

The word is sharp and cuts deep in the reality. Pretty harsh images. Well, Gothic. Don’t read him on a bad day.

We knock on the doors for them to open, to
let us out, but those on the other side don’t hear us and
they too knock on the doors for us to open and let them out
and when they open it’s ourselves we bump into
but we don’t pay attention to ourselves and we say we want out
and they say we want in, don’t take the door away with you,
we wouldn’t have anything to open on the way out,
there would remain a blank spot in the wall,
we won’t find any way to get out.”

___

I told you to stay away from mornings,
their raw sun is not for us.
whereas the blurred and heavy sun of our world
hardly steams up the horizon. we are
at the beginning of another world and of other suns.

you’ve remained alone. it’s good. you have the whole past at hand.
you’ve seen evil with eyes wide open and you will heal.
one day you’ll understand that everything that shines
brings death closer to you.

evenings, on the other hand, will please you here:
you are in the age of livid worlds,
half shadow, half unknown.
be welcome. here the future
has almost passed.”

_______

to be continued. Tomorrow. With a few witty cartoons.

Half of a yellow sun

I’ve “met” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie through what became my favorite TEDtalk:

I just finished her novel, Half of a yellow sun and I was fascinated by its complexity, the many layers and yet, the accuracy with which creates the mosaic of scenes. The Biafran war is not an easy story to tell, therefore the voices are chosen carefully: a houseboy, a beautiful Igbo woman, a British expat. The multiple angles, single stories create a whole story.

Few notes:

“Education is a priority! How can we resist exploitation if we don’t have the tools to understand exploitation?”

“…the only authentic identity for the African is the tribe. I am Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black to be as different as possible from his white. But I was Igbo before the white man came.”

“The real tragedy of our post-colonial world is not that the majority of people had no say in whether or not they wanted this new world; rather, it is that the majority have not been given the tools to negotiate this new world”

“And it’s wrong of you to think that love leaves room for nothing else. It’s possible to love something and still condescend to it”.

For sure I need to come back to many of the passages of the book as, at some point, I was simply carried away by the story.