... in design

Apparently the dutch had video telephony well before i was even born...

15 Apr 2010 | 95 words | design history modernity technology media

Last year i spend a fair amount of energy to get the open video platform openimages.eu off the ground, but so far the videos that have been uploaded there (mainly from the polygoon collection of the institute of sound and vision have utterly failed to impress me.

Now after 4 month of operation there is finally a video that i can approve of. It has the perfect combination of techno-optimism, cuttting-edge design and sideburns:

if you do not see a video here you need a better browser

‘first test with videophone’ on openimages.eu / cc-by-sa

True artisans...

06 Jan 2006 | 281 words | argentina tourism design

Tomorrow we will be going from El Calafate to the Monte Leon national park on the Atlantic coast. This is a 6 hour drive on unpaved roads and we wanted to take along yerba mate. missing the required gear (gourd and bombilla) i set out to get us a set:

El Calaftate being a tourist town and this being Argentinia every second shop in the centre sells mate sets with either the name of the town the province, the country or good knows what other touristic symbol (penguins, wales, gauchos, Diego, Che, evita, sheep, etc…) or imagined proof of autenticity inscribed or engraved on it.

All i wanted though was a simple mate set with no added bullshit on it. I finally found a stall in the artisans passage of the high street. Someone was hand-decorating wooden gourds and he had a couple of plain ones that he used a raw material. When i asked them how much one of the plain ones was he told me that they are not for sale because he had yet to decorate them. i told him that i wanted a plain one and that i would pay the same price as for a decorated one, but he refused to sell it. I asked him ‘why?’ and he replied ‘because we are artisans’.

I have always detested hand crafted stuff exactly because of this almost missionary drive of the craftspeople to unleash amateurish decorations on the rest of humankind and i have never understood why at least half of the worlds toursits buy this kind of crap and take it home.

One more reason why i am glad to be born after the industrial revolution.

User interface fail

23 Oct 2005 | 382 words | airtravel design technology robots labor

I am on a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Sao Paulo. The 777 is equipped with KLM’s top of the line in flight entertainment system which is actually pretty good. Having access to more than 100 movies (in economy class) is rivaled only by bittorrent (note to self: try to download movies on my next connexion equipped lufthansa flight). The system also includes SMS/email capabilities (send SMS for just USD 2.50 apiece! w00t!). to compose SMS messages you have to move a cursor across an on screen keyboard with a four way controller on the remote thingy that is contained in your armrest. now this is the poorest user interface i have ever used. It took me about 10 times as long to send a SMS as it usually does (and i am ridiculously slow with my phone). The interface really sucks especially if u have to use the 4 way to move the cursor to the arrow keys on the virtual keyboard on screen in order to move the cursor in the text entry field. Extremely redundant interface layers. it becomes even more redundant (or should i say frustrating/idiotic) if one realizes that the back of the remote thingy actually is a phone complete with letters on the number keys. But of course they don’t work in the SMS section.

Of course there is nobody on the whole damn plane that you could even explain – let alone complain to about – this royal (dutch) interface fuck-up. And if you ask me this is part of a much wider problem that gets more serious as more and more transactions get automated. I have serious gripes with the interfaces of the dutch and german rail ticket vending machines that effectively keep me from using them and there is no one standing next to them to listen to my complaints. The only people you could possibly complain to are the people who are slowly getting replaced by the same machines (the agents at the counters at the railway station) and that makes it feel extremely awkward to address such issues to them (‘sorry sir i think the machine that will get you fired from your job could be made a bit more user friendly so you can loose you job a bit faster…’).

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: