design: impulsant
Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pickup club

Not all squats are the same, neither are the squatters. Undeniably however it was the lenient political climate of the eighties that launched our now two biggest (new) media labs V2 and De Waag . V2 comes from a squat in Den Bosch, de Waag originated from the Digital City, the same well from which also sprung xs4all. We don't have an MIT Dublin fiasco where 30 million pounds went down the drain. We don't have an IVREA that is forced to merge with Domus with will bring only more stuff and more eyecandy into a thing infested world. Our labs are not hosted by mummified academic departments. No we have a unique blend of a creative, lively and integrated scene. Why? Because we let young people with some sense of public domain (not where and how fast do I get the latest BMW) in peace for a while. Now we're up against the same ? situation (might be radically different, but who knows?) The Pick up Club has squatted the huge ABN AMRO building right smack down in the middle of town it looks like the perfect dream to host cultural economies of the sme size.


  • The MIT New Media lab in Dublin was no fiasco; lot's of very nice products came from it made by bright young developers, made with and without help from companies.The irsih government decided to turn down their funding because the political focus had shifted and returned on their initial promises to commit to a long term period of funding necessary to grow any Research lab. De Waag creates products that are nice at best, but without any essential market feel. It's all well and good to research for new grounds, methods and idea's, but in the end ANY invention, idea or method needs to find their place into the markespace and thus into the people's hands. All subsidized research is essentially funded by that very same market, thru the taxes that both people and companies pay.

    By Blogger Jan Karel, at 4:16 pm  

  • Hi JK, while I agree with your MIT comment I do think you should give the Waag a bit more credit for the things they have achieved.

    A couple of their projects are now coming to that very same market you think it has no feel for. For instance the Storytable:
    '.... a storytable for a residential home for the elderly, a piece of furniture with built-in screens containing a wide selection of images from the past. The computer is hidden, the interface has one button with two functionalities: forward or back. One of the biggest hits is the news archive with images of a flood that took place in 1928. The residents can record their own memories orally, and thereby add to the database of texts.'
    Research showes that the tables are great at helping the elderly to reminisence & give great impulses to them. Various companies are now interested in bringing the storytable to the international market... & other companies, through this example form the Waag, started to look at the market for elderly people as a market they might want to design for.

    I think the balance between exploration & exploitation in a lab environment ought to be different to that in a company with a market focus. We need a lot of exquisite failures too ;-)

    By Blogger ant on a mission, at 6:55 pm  

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