nqpaofu.com Notes, Quotes, Provocations And Other Fair Use My Two Cents

Notes, Quotes, Provocations And Other Fair Use VII, 1 October-30 November 1998


Amsterdam 1998

November 22-30
Doors 5 's over and done with. For more reflection on its food for thought I will open and link to nqp#8 soon. This one has been filling up already for a while but I haven't had any time to prepare a next edition.

November 21
Today is more design-inst editing time and (The Miseducation of) Lauryn Hill will help me through. I congratulated Paul on being cable connected 24/7. He replied he'd been online for 14 hours yesterday... celebration. I know the feeling.

November 20
With Aart Oxenaar (who is the new director of the Amsterdam School for Architecture) I moderated a long day of debate and public interaction on the subject of designing Dutch public space, at Larenstein, the landscape architectural school where I used to teach a postgraduate design class. Designing, landscaping, again apeared to be a field of (government) rules and regulations that limit all involved. With the fresh experience of the AVEcom EnclavExquise in mind I also realize that real space and information space remain worlds apart. The only sound but rather obvious conclusion of the symposium was to expand the designers' input to manage-from-scratch the entire process of planning, building and maintaining the public realm. Designing interactions, with the objects, guiding and inspiring the complex process of public expression.

November 19
After a meeting with Yuri 'InfoDesign' Engelhardt to prepare the migration of his mailing lists from the University of Amsterdam to the design institute, I was off to Arnhem to check my installation for AVEcom and provide the labels that intend to URLize the city's intimate sites and extra-link them to the Swiki. How little a general audience is familiar with the web's information space however. Those in the know are still so much a privileged band.

November 18
Finetuning the Swiki. Adding some bits. Bert was the first to contribute to The International Section. The rest of the day was for design-inst. And happy Doors anticipation with Michael's leaders.

November 11-17
Another week flew by... with the current Doors of Perception frenzy and final editing of the design institute's new website I have to check my PalmIII to remember what else exactly has been going on...

The best thing by far is the coming about of my EnclavExquise Swiki today (17/11)! Bert Freudenberg from Magdeburg via the PWS (Pluggable Web Server) list helped me out, in a response to my cry for help last monday. The Swiki, which he customized within 48 hours, now lives on his server at the university: http://swiki.gsug.org/enclavexquise

Or else... the 21c ArtSchool conference of Minerva I joined Saturday night (the Swiki team at the ConfCafé) and Sunday. I walked out on Peter Sellar's wrap up: too much grand sobbing for my taste, hiding rather than revealing the kind of valuable truths he is about. A crisis of the sage-on-the-stage form? Later he joined a group of Media-GN students at the dinner table and was performing much better face-to-face, informally.

November 10
Early morning I uploaded a new Moulin du Merle index.

Radius Loci
In an economy of closed loops—re:cycling—sustainability is in information and communication, not in the object. Sense of place is extended infinitely in the radius of information exchange that filter through a place, an object in physical space, coordinated space, immediate experience. So, for example the Moulin is a site, a habitable space for some, as much as a media possibility for them, and others. Radius Loci outshines Genius Loci.

November 9
Tonight I gathered all notes since November 1. Doors 5 is sold out. Last night I uploaded and re-edited its hotlist. I realized this is probably my last big job in NL. Just-in-time. Not a bad thing to leave with. Doors boosted my interest in new media and the Internet 5 years ago: Doors 1, Bionomics 1—1993 was an exciting year. So where has the excitement gone? We saw a lot of technology develop over these years, hardware, software. There's definitely a world 'out there' that only emerged over the past years. No doubt about it and this is simply amazing: it can't be underhyped. On the other hand the web turned mainstream. Publishing (the web) overtook communication (newsgroups, mailing lists): not a good idea. To step back now and re:conceptualize for me is the way to go. I'll be disconnected and connected at the same time. Now that I visited the moulin again I can't wait to leave. I'll be more and less turned to the network. The combination will work for me. Others will follow.

November 7-8
I want to work my notes, but first there's all Doors preparations and planning for the next two weeks. Monday I'm seeing John and Michiel, with the latter we had dinner actually last night. Their second house in France is at a three quarter of an hour drive from the moulin, and they know the organic goat farm couple down the road from us... I don't want to know about small worlds—I want to get away real soon.

November 6
Doors 5 Live and Metropolis M board meeting. The moulin does the trick time and again. I announced my stepping down from the board, for a reason. I think Joke Robaard should take my place.

November 2-5
French Encore
On the Thalys down to Paris (...I was disappointed by it, I'd expected it to be more like a plane, with the kind of service—only the cramped seats reminded me of air travel) I fully enjoyed the benefits of my PalmIII. Writing (with) it is like taking down a musical score, rather than doing linear writing. I use the standard memo for all categories, and Brainforest outliner for some. Great tool and graffiti is easy. It's the future of computing as far as I'm concerned: a no keyboard, flat miniature box, portable/pluggable, synchronizable, a communication device. Now I'm waiting for an HTML editor for it... (and speech recognition, and ubiquitous public upload doks, etc..., it'll come). What did I take down?

- NQP en route
981102 fast and cheap thrills: I wrote these notes on my PalmIII on my way back to Amsterdam in the Thalys. What a formidable pleasure it was to reconnect to Paris, especialy in the company of Andrea. We shared everyting for 3 days, from the appartment that Seton Smith allowed her on the Rue du Cherche Midi, to contacts, cigarettes (what would Parls be without?), the car that took us to St.Germain-des-Bois, food, drinks and a lot of fun, that added a few more classics to our repertoire: the hand, ...

This first night Andrea and I had dinner at Fabienne (who used to run the Galerie des Archives) and her partner Phil, who had just that day sold some French drugstore chain to the Dutch Kruitvat corporation...
981103 We rent an early car and drive down the A6 in the direction of Lyon.
981104 Paul Virilio's 'La bombe informatique' at 'La Hune'. Dinner at Pascale Bastide and Fernande. Surprised to find that she also moves into 'la France profonde', in her case found in the Gers... leaving the city to both tourists, and poor.


Paris I hadn't been for ages. To spot Andrea in the low light on this terrace on the Place Sulpice was lovable. We spent three marvelous days, saw the Très Grande Bibliothèque: on strike—absolut Paris, and drove down the next day to the moulin, in two hours and twenty minutes. Our trip down was dressed in gold. Upon arrival it started to pour. Up the hill above the house we met with our new neighbours. I hadn't seen our place from above and I must agree with Andrea that the site is magic and this is the right moment to move. When we returned to the car we found it soaked.

Paris was good for city life. Les grands magazins and all that. Books and more books (only bought the Virilio). Metros. On my way back to Gare du Nord I stepped by Yvette and Marc to deliver Gilberthe's bags. Their appartment was very Parisian, with that Marché aux Puces touch: 60s and 70s furniture, the French style, tapestry. I can imagine swapping our place in the country on week-ends, with either them or Fabienne and family.

November 1
Enjoyed our stay with Gilberthe's brother and family and stepped by my dad for an hour.

October 31
Minerva Reunion. Striking lack of old friends. Why don't people go to these events? Re my idea(l)s on the Next Curriculum based on 'life long' connectivity to weave learning, teaching, producing and publishing together in an intelligent framework of competences... this was far from it. Should an institution pay its former students to come back to their old schools and meet up? Actually not such a bad idea!

October 29
To Media-GN. First met with Margo and Paul to discuss the 21C discussion and Swiki. I'm as enthusiastic as Paul about this format and we were freestyling about its possibilities.

October 27
Doors 5 Live
Met with Iris van den Hoek to check the HKU Interaction Design MA students' Doors 5 Live website. They're advancing at warp speed, but I requested the removal of the star sprangled backdrop from the main navigation bar ;-)

October 26
Return to (and from!) Groningen
For a talk in the Groningen Museum, on the artist's idea of information technology's affordances (at the occasion of the Rabo bank's 100th aniversary, for an audience of their IT people, in the context of the Mischa Klein exhibition), I returned to Groningen once again, for what was to become in several ways a memorable day. It all started with the fact that due to the impossibility of finding a babysit I took R+r up and left them with Gilberthe's brother's family, to pick them up later that evening and take the train back to Amsterdam. At the museum in the audience I met Wijnand Bolle whom I hadn't seen for ages, and who turned out to be on the IT side of things. We share an old personal history, which eg. took us on tour in the Groningen club scene, with La Danza Moderna in the 80s. I did slide and Super-8 projections and design for the band. We had fun, again today. It revived old memories and connected well to the work of Klein, who's club nights are famous and to me provide a better context for his imagery than museum walls. Anyway. R+r were handed back to me for the 7.38pm train. We arrived over 4 hours later, via Zwolle, Deventer, Amersfoort, Utrecht— due to a most unlikely combination of accidents, lightning struck trains, a fake bomb alert earlier today and resulting train schedule irregularities... Rolf held out the entire trip, Roemer crashed in Utrecht at 11pm, we were reunited with Gilberthe around midnight... Never say no to a gig. My next trip up will be this Thursday to Media-GN. I'll prepare.

October 25
Quality Speed
Compare to 'quality time'. Speed's a guy thing: they're hot on the 21C Curriculum Swiki fast track throttle. Hmm. Another one bites the blurs of change... I'll give it some time.

October 24
Speed is an Urban Myth
It just doesn't add up. Let me first return to Ivan Illich at Doors 4, nearly two years ago, when his closing remarks were:

- We might be already beyond the age of speed by having moved into the age of (and I am saying the word with a certain trembling) 'real time'. The move towards real time is one way out of the world of speed. We'll move as much as we can our designs into 'real time' so that we can be 'slow', there where the traditional rail road originated concepts of speeds apply...

This is not the way in which I would like to encourage my friends to go, in spite of the 'regelmässiger Perspektive' that designers have to go that way. I would rather look for ways in which we (in friendship, in mutual severe criticism of the youth, of past and contemporary certainties) deal with each other. As people who empowered through friendship seek presence, being Here, being Now, being -- and that is the English word -- Quick. You know what the word 'quickening' meant: the first kick of a baby in the belly of a woman. 'Quickening' meant: coming alive, quick.


(more to follow)

October 23
I'm off-speed today. The weather being too lousy to dare outside we lived from our provisions.

October 22
Jorinde was here to go over avecom matters. A site is in the making, which will host my Exquisite Enclave Swiki. Andrea Blum calls from New York to pass her new email address! Finally she joins forces. We'll soon be meeting in Paris, including a trip down to the moulin, which will make her the first person outside the family to actually see the place. She deserves it, after all it was in her Broom St. appartment that Je t'embrasse was conceived, last January.

October 21
21C Swiki
Paul does Swiki testing for the 21C art_school and Curriculum conference preparing for Minerva 200. (my gut feeling is that the discussion is more on new curriculums than the conference will be). We fool around untill 2.30am hitting the same page. It's fun and cool. What's most noteworthy is the status of publishing it conveys. Unlike email or a phonecall or chest-to-chest collaboration this is public, and its form is publication. The vulnarability of its content is partly secured by this status.

October 19
Quietude
Gilberthe left for London. I cleaned up after her, or them (...they had been up to five of them girls for weeks cutting, stitching, polishing, piecing together the collection for the fair...) and took a break with the boys. Unexpected quiet. Tonight I added to my Swiki documents at Georgia Tech (which were discovered by Jorinde, who curates the @ve.com new media projects, which I'm part of). Also did some QXPress, on the labels to tag EnclavExquise sites and objects. Then surfed, looking for updates on normally active sites. Nothing much happened until the toob-list started its hick-ups (toob=Theory Out Of Bounds: a series of publications by the University of Minnesota Press. I only own the indispensable 'The Coming Community', by Giorgio Agamben). Listen to 'boyce' (boyce@alcor.concordia.ca):

- information systems are cultural so of course they are reflective of cultural values systems empistemologies phenomenologies etc. an information system is a cultural system so of course to be working with them or playing with them or operatively surrounded by them or whatever is liken to being part of a cultural environment which you can thereby feel in contact with as a culture and you can not be aware of that and you can and you can be hypnotized by that and you can be influenced by that but there are no guaranties how it will come out.

I couldn't agree more. This guy must be an artist. I'm serious.

October 18
The Program is the Message?
Let's see what Paul finds out.

Shit Happens
Paul's full report on Alamut:

- SUNDAY, 18 OCTOBER 1998

The V2 Disaster

For the event the organization invited:
  • Two young artist cum euro-marxist die-hards who see class struggle, power relations and 'big bad business' everywhere in their computers, their interfaces and their networks.
  • A cybernetics nerd who needed to prove to everyone that he was the smartest guy in the room.
  • A schizophrenic moderator who realised that everyone in room hated Kevin Kelly but decided to cite him anyway.
Het nieuwe spelen is te leren
Wrote a column on play for Vormberichten, the Dutch designers community's periodical. It's here in Dutch. I didn't go to Rotterdam after all. I had to finish Gilberthe's web documents before the Fair starts.

SweetBit Archeology
Found this in a set of files that is soon exactly 4 years old, at the time conceived to be served from Mediamatic (where I prepared Doors 2: Home), but never got published:

- Full Disclaimer: The optimistic emphasis on on-line performance in the global electronic community tends to be of pathological cheer. CyberJoy and InfoGnosis blur the vision of tens of thousands of surfers around the Net. Streetwise and Netfoolish is their claim. InfoClasm our gain.

and this was its claim:

- Full Claim: These pages and links are edited at irregular times for ongoing improvement in text, style and lay-out. Their primary (server level) contents are under full responsibility of its author and mediator Jouke Kleerebezem. Unless another source is revealed, all the content is intellectual property of the author and will only be reproduced as such. Linked third party information undergoes changes that are beyond direct control - and therefor beyond direct responsibility - of the author; it can only be scrutinized and commented upon if relevant. The current status of this Home Page was conceived and implemented 24 October, 1994. Recommended browser is Mosaic 2.0.0A8.

Being dedicated to the proces of making it will remain unfinished, like all genuine information. For any comment contact jouke@mediamatic.nl, or send your remarks and contributions to Enclav'Exquise through its Homing Pigeon.


October 17
on Alamut
surging winds of change
all directions turbulence
information peace

October 16
Is there a Doctor out there?
We're not used to connecting RL and OL, really, at least I'm not. It's a long way to an Information Habit.

- Communication media pierce our dwellings to facilitate the settling of home in information technology. The poetics and politics of home in the age of information will equally guide the architecture of built and electronic space. The memory of architecture will model electronic space to the same extent as the hot links of new media will model different buildings. Thus a new set of practices, which will be known as our information habit, will come into being.

But connectivity helps to relieve the pain, and we learn to have the best of both worlds, really. Last night I burned out into bed at 8pm, to wake up at 2.30am. Sat at my box to read and write for an hour and a half. Witnessed Paul's Great Return of October 15. A connectivity addict, just like me. Information junkies.

24/7 Irony...
Hardly any e-mail over the week-ends... it's not an economy, stupid!

October 15
Haiku Annotation
I jumped to Loes Pieper's Haiku Annotation Server (discontinued) from scripting.com! (which contrary to last year I do not visit frequenlty lately, since there's less fruit hanging from its trees, apart from his home grown Frontier and XML.. on the other hand I recently began looking at stating the obvious again) Loes got this great idea and serves it from her snelnet machine. I feel a dumb artist. Should have had something served from my snelnet connection a looong time ago, eg. a Swiki. But Paul haikued ciw.net (splash!) and I'll return the favor... Swikis later (Mark 'Sqeak' Guzdial cc.ed a mail to Paul to the pws list on setting up a Swiki; apparently it is easy :-| I should have one for the Ave festival next month, 'Exquisite Enclave').

October 14
Driver! Follow That Information!
Tonight I was shopping for containers to move our stuff, when I looked up at the sky at the outskirts of Amsterdam, from the Gamma parking lot. I saw the city halo reflected on some clouds, and realized that there are no skies over cities. I remembered Burgundy skies last July. When I drove off in the borrowed van to pick up plastic bubble wrap at Mirjam Nuver's, all of a sudden I heard a voice telling me to follow the information.

October 13
Real estate's a sellers market. So we were told repeatedly. In an effort to get a view on a realistic price setting for our place we invited two agents today. They were remarkably consistent in their estimates. We'll await their thought over offers. Apart from the level of their estimation, they connect to different networks, in which the buying agent and his clients should be found. They both said a buyer for such a place as ours should be found within a few weeks, from the first publicity it gets in buying circles—even before it is 'officialy' offered in the market. If the sale starts dragging you're sorry. As a seller you're not bound to an asking price anymore, even without the object being offered in tender, nowadays there'll always be the possibility for negotiation.

October 12
Big time cleaning up. I realize that 'reduce waste' starts with 'reduce production'. I thought I'd been good at that over the past years, yet... But then I've always produced editions. All of my work since the mid 80's came as one kind of edition or another. Today the idea of publishing stands even firmer: editions of one—and up.

Soft Liberation: the long winding road
Paul Perry will moderate V2's Wiretap next Sunday, October 18, from 2pm.: 'Soft Liberation', on artists' warez. Along the 'objects-to-rules' path we shouldn't forget that this road winds back a long time in art history, when we consider any strategy beyond the mere production of the commodity. 'Programming' in a social-cultural sense has been around at least since Dada, strongly evident in performance art in the 60's-70's, as a strategy to circumvent or sabotage consensus reception, and to guide interaction between the recipient, the work and the artist. Also, it has never been a mere 'tool', programming is a medium. Today it seems important to differentiate between software-as-art (a format, or genre), and software as a production or a reception tool. All kinds are equally important as most will serve multiple functions. The embedding of mediating functions in the process of production/presentation/reception, to allow eg. single user customization, multi-user interaction, or indeed (Swikis) multi-author conception, or artificial creativity, should be researched and evaluated. I hope to be in Rotterdam Sunday, though Gilberthe leaves for the Chelsea Crafts Fair the next day, for a week, which leaves me with the boyz, during Fall leave...

October 11
Closed nqp#6 and opened #7. This includes changing indexes in all nqp files by hand (I know Frontier). Have a lot to catch up with. Some of which's below.

October 1-10
Mining from different sources I hope to report a.o. the Muizengaatje Workshop with Q.S. Serafijn, continuing Doors games, new dictionaries, my late mother's nephew Hendrik Terpstra's funeral, more PalmLife, the 21C Curriculum, and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Early October had all these off-beat off-line off-sets...

50th Frankfurt Book Fair
The Noble Art of Publishing: paying attention to a 15 kilometer stretch of publishers' booths all premiering several titles is an immersive experience. It boosted my appetite for old media when I schlepped nearly 20kg of catalogues and brochures home. Having realized recently that my new domaine linguistique provides a market several times the size of the Dutch speak enclave, I decided to pay my first ever visit (7-8 October) to the international Frankfurt event, to check French publishing, art and design publishing, and generally map the publishing disciplines. There's challenge. There's trends and blind spots, lots of photography and fashion, style books for graphic design, less architecture, surprisingly little theory (or reflection), no best practices, lessons learned. The new media floor lacked content. 90% there was database and electronic publishing, digital printing, media migration and 'editions-of-one' kinda stuff. Also big: packaging—of course, when media shrink to ones and zeros on shiny disks, the only meat is the packaging.

Content is History
We're mining. Content is history. 'We march backwards into the future' (McLuhan). Can we only pay attention to the future via the past? There's this very retarded iconography for the future. Very cyberistic, no shadows being cast of anything that doesn't remind us of days gone by: so they probably haven't—gone by.

Style is Present, However
Seen some great hybrid style books. Graffiti meets boolean curves in FuturetroLand. Fluid typography that downloads gallons of gibberish. It is not my trip but it's a psychedelicatesse.

Just-in-time Van Dale
The dictionary helps me through times with no literature better than literature would help me through times of no dictionaries (to paraphrase the Fabulous Fury Freak Brothers' rap on dope and money). Bought the just published updated 'Groot woordenboek Frans-Nederlands'. And, awaiting its Nederlands-Frans counterpart, the 1998 'handwoordenboek' N-F. With the Prisma 'Grammatica Frans' and the Bescherelle 'De kunst van het vervoegen' my bill rose just over Dfl. 250,- for a true mer à boire that will quench my thirst for languability for years to come.

Any information can be calculated from public data (except one's roots)
Monday October 5 we burried my 'oom Henk' Terpstra (my mother's mother and his mother were Koetzier sisters) at the age of 77. He was a remarkable man. Working for KLM as a jet propulsion engineer in the 50's, at Boeing he was first accused of espionage, then offered an engineering management job. What had occured? On the basis of Boeing's own data, for KLM he had calculated specific properties of new machines. When visiting their factories for a proposed purchase of new aircraft, checking on his calculations, Boeing was convinced these could only have resulted from industrial espionage. When however they appeared to be Henk's own clever work he was invited to stay with them. They repeated their offer several times. A hearing problem (due to a neglected ear infection, in WWII) made him decide first not to work in an environment where his native language wasn't spoken, soon to make him leave the business of jet propulsion alltogether, to start his own bureau for 'technical communication', with the help of his second wife, Beatrijs. We saw them since my mother died in '83. Being her nephew and having studied with her brother Cees and her in Amsterdam in the late 40's, he was curious to meet us and talk about them and ourselves. They have no kids. My best kept remembrance of them are the Christmas cards they sent us in the 60's, on which at several occasions the pigeons which they kept (till today) in the attic of their Aerdenhout villa (designed and built by her father in the 20's) figured. I can't give them full credit, but these cards and their birds and their way of life made a huge impression on me when I was a kid, and did contribute to my later choices. The funeral was a sentimental journey among people who I really don't know, but who have names that recur in my mother's family: Yfke (my mother's name), Sietse, Wiebe. It felt like home.

Visit the QuoteScape
http://www.doorsofperception.com/doors5/play

High Density Common Ground
The Muizengaatje workshop got me reunited with Q.S. Serafijn. We had fun, and I missed my Rotterdam-Amsterdam nighttrain because of extensive boozing. They run only every hour and take 90 minutes to get home. They're no fun. During the workshop I advertized the intensive use of every sqm. the low lands consist of, which at first seemed at odds with the ruling ecological outset of the day. My options however shape the commons of information, leaving their soil untouched. It needs working out. With Q.S. I happily did so after, designing one 'publication' after the other (this also urged me to Frankfurt).

To follow:
21C Curriculum
Get a PalmLife!
Moulin Revisited
1970


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Het nieuwe spelen is te leren

`Alle Spel is allereerst bovenal een vrije handeling' (Johan Huizinga in Homo Ludens, 1938)

Spelen lijkt de modus vivendi van de late negentiger jaren te zijn. De aandacht in vormgeving (en in andere scheppende disciplines) verlegt zich van het vervaardigen van objekten en produkten naar het bedenken (en mogelijk programmeren) van nieuwe spelregels en het scheppen van onbegrensde mogelijkheden tot communicatie en interactie. Kennis vraagt vooral inzicht in de `regels' van kennis: hoe vergaren en verwerken we informatie, hoe lezen en interpreteren we de wereld om ons heen en onze eigen handelingen: hoe leren we (te leren)? Door te spelen.

Nieuwe media zouden de eigentijdse homo ludens nieuwe expressiemogelijkheden bieden. Huizinga introduceerde in 1938 het woord `ludiek' in de Nederlandse taal, dat pas dertig jaar later een unieke en sindsdien enigzins besmette betekenis kreeg. Die laatste grote opleving in cultureel spel, in Provo en Kabouter en Oranje Vrijstaatfantasieën, heeft in ons land de verbeelding niet blijvend aan de macht gebracht. De tachtiger jaren zagen integendeel een nieuwe commercialisering van die verbeelding, met name in de visuele kunsten. Er leek radikaal met het sociaal-culturele experiment afgerekend te worden. Met andere media, met de opkomst van het Internet en een explosief aanbod aan digitaal gereedschap, wordt nu de spelende mens opnieuw en hoopvol geïntroduceerd. Onder een (tot voor kort zeer) gunstig economisch gesternte kan de Westerse wereld zich weer permiteren te spelen, en zich lerend vermaken.

We mogen niet voorbijgaan aan de propagandistische kracht van dit nieuwe spel. Een belangrijke vraag luidt wat het betekent om alles als spel op te vatten: economie als spel, kennis als spel, macht als spel, politiek als spel, oorlog als spel? Hoe vaak werd bijvoorbeeld de Golfoorlog in commentaren niet als een videospel voorgesteld? Het nieuwe spelen speelt zich vooral in de massamedia af, niet op straat. Het heeft een maatschappelijke agenda. De verhaallijnen van ons nieuwe spel ontwikkelen zich binnen belanghebbende technologische en culturele kaders, waarin de consument toch in de eerste plaats consument moet blijven. Hij of zij wordt door de media in een spelende, ontspannen en leergierige, maar mogelijk minder kritische rol voorgesteld. De mogelijkheden van zijn nieuwe `leermiddelen' beperken zich tot het plezier van nieuw speelgoed: `surfen' op het Web, overal een beetje informatie grazen, een dagje wetenschap in NewMetropolis of het Omniversum, met de digitale videocamera erop uit naar een leuk themapark, de plaatjes op de home page, de kinderen een Smart Barbie (uitgerust met nieuwe lichaamsmaten en een stapeltje CD-roms) of een doos Smart Lego—de connected family onderscheidt zich in consumptief vermogen niet van vorige generaties.

Levenslang spelen?
Maar spelen wordt tegenwoordig toch als leren aangeboden, niet als consumeren? `Levenslang leren' als levenslang spelen... An offer you can't refuse! Is de vormgeving van de toys en tools voor ons spel niet te dienstbaar aan de markten, om ons in vrijheid te laten leren? Om een goed inzicht te krijgen in de werkelijk vernieuwende mogelijkheden van spelend leren, en leren spelen als `vrije handeling' (Huizinga), zullen we ons nieuwe speelgoed wellicht moeten hacken: het voor een ander doel gebruiken dan waartoe het werd ontworpen. Dat is pas spelen! Dan kan de gender war zelfstandig tussen Barbie en Lego uitgevochten worden, terwijl de meisjes en jongens zich overgeven aan verstoppertje of doktertje spelen. Spelen verlangt die onderzoekende houding. Als we ons vormgevers mogen voorstellen als door onstuitbare nieuwsgierigheid voortgedreven players, met een hoog ontwikkeld gevoel voor communicatie en interactie, dan ligt er een mooie taak in het verschiet. Het nieuwe materiaal waarmee we werken is uitnodigend genoeg. De nieuwe kanalen om onze ideeën en werken te distribueren leiden soms rechtstreeks naar de gebruiker en omzeilen de tussenhandel. (Online) communicatie geschiedt in de eerste plaats tussen mensen onderling. Die leren van elkaar. Consumentenorganisaties en user panels in een geïnstitutionaliseerde vorm kennen we al lang. Maar gebruikers vinden elkaar tegenwoordig steeds vaker rechtstreeks en wisselen vitale informatie uit, over goederen, over diensten, over interessen, over prijzen. Vormgevers kunnen in dit proces bemiddelen, maar moeten erop voorbereid zijn zich in de dynamiek en de logistiek van deze communicatie te verdiepen. Samenwerking is en blijft een van de belangrijkste mogelijkheden om opnieuw te leren spelen en om andere spelregels uit te vinden en te testen. In nieuwe media strekt die samenwerking zich uitdrukkelijk uit tot een samenwerking met de gebruiker. Informatie gedijt in uitwisseling, niet in enige vorm van dictaat.

In het tijdperk van de nieuwe media zal de meeste `inhoud' van spelen en leren door de gebruiker worden geleverd. Diens interesse en aandacht is de motor van elke informatie-uitwisseling. Om goederen en diensten werkelijk te kunnen personaliseren zal de ingewonnen informatie heel wat gedetailleerder moeten zijn dan voor de AH Bonus kaart. Vormgevers kunnen niet om deze informatie-kringloop heen, ze krijgen er materiaal uit aangeleverd. Voor het nieuwe spelen en leren is het in het belang van alle partijen (producenten van `inhoud', vormgevers, programmeurs en `gebruikers') dat een open kontakt over het spelmateriaal en de lesstof wordt gevoed, waarbij de rollen kunnen wisselen. Dan worden consumenten inderdaad producenten, vormgevers redacteuren, en uitgevers dienstverleners. Ook de media ontwikkelen zich in de richting van mengvormen. Op de 50e Frankfurter Buchmesse bestond de afdeling nieuwe media voornamelijk uit migratie-technologie: hoe pompen we de inhoud, de data rond door verschillende media, van boek naar database naar website en CD-rom, naar printing on demand—van entertainment naar leermiddel naar spel, en vice versa.

Spelend leren is een verleidelijk aanbod, en biedt belangrijke mogelijkheden aan vormgevers van en in nieuwe media. Mogelijk wordt spelen inderdaad een belangrijke culturele expressievorm in het informatietijdperk. Een onderzoek naar de regels is dan voorwaardelijk. Als we alle kennis waarover we beschikken willen informatiseren (en dat staat toch onverbloemd op de agenda van het informatietijdperk), is dat geen kwestie van opslag en meer opslag en een zee aan vrolijke interfaces. Leren spelen vraagt in de eerste plaats om medespelers en afspraken over het doel en het verloop van het spel. Moge de vrije handelingen beginnen!