The continuous workshop of future-making: reflections on the UrbanIxD summer school

By Sjors Timmer, UrbanIxD Summer School attendee, freelance interaction designer at

If the 19th century was about discovery and the 20th century about obtaining efficiency, then the 21st century will be about living with complexity. Complex adaptive systems are so big and interconnected that any interference with their workings causes unpredictable side effects. In these systems (such as a city) you are almost always dealing with situations that need to be addressed and rarely with problems that can be solved. For this new way of working, where every step forwards needs to be taken with caution, we need a new method, a new language and a new approach. The finding and fine-tuning of this way of working with the world was what for me the UrbanIxD summer school was about.

Urban interaction design? Nobody is a stranger

by Manu Fernández, UrbanIxD Advisory Board member, founder of Human Scale City and author ofCiudades a Escala Humana blog

It was shocking when Michael invited me to join the Advisory Board of UrbanIxD. My background is far from interaction design and actually I am more comfortable around books and writing my thoughts on urban issues than messing with devices, plugs, monitors... But it seemed a good way to be involved somehow in a project that perfectly matched some of my worries about the lack of common grounds to look at cities, at what happens in cities in a daily basis, from a wide range of perspectives. A project working on urban interaction, almost shaping and conceptualizing this emerging topic, brings together different fields of knowledge related to urban issues and that is much-needed. In these times that a banal understanding of what smart cities mean is wide-spreading, projects like UrbanIxD make sense and are welcome to break the silos that are preventing us to connect the dots of many different approaches to urban interaction that must explore together where we are heading to.

Films, planes and summer schools

by Michael Smyth, UrbanIxD project coordinator.

Late one evening, a couple of weeks ago, I started watching Top Gun on TV. The film was introduced as an 80s testosterone fueled classic that was perhaps one of the most often quoted films of the period. Now I will be honest with you, I have seen this film before, but I was intrigued to see if it stood the test of time. So I began to watch and was quickly drawn in to the macho pilot world of Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer and, I won’t mind admitting, that I was again seduced by Tony Scott’s heat haze panoramas of jets. So cut to the scene where the pilots first meet each other at the Navy Flying School, the eponymous Top Gun. The head of the school tells them what he expects, the fact that they are the ‘best of the best’ while all the time Tom and Val spar in an early bid to be the Alpha male of the group. At this point I hit record and went to bed, but the scene stuck with me and got me thinking about what I was hoping for from the UrbanIxD Summer School in Split.

The brain in the city

by Richard Coyne, University of Edinburgh

How does the space you are in affect the way you feel? We've concluded a study using head-mounted EEG (electroencephalography) technology worn by people walking about outdoors in Edinburgh. We think this is a first. Such studies usually take place in a laboratory, with human subjects sitting in front of a computer monitor and looking at pictures of city streets and landscapes. In our study we took the EEG technology out into the field.

Welcome to the UrbanIxD Blog

As part of the UrbanIxD project's commitment to building a community in the area of Urban Interaction Design and, critically, to provide a platform for both researchers and practitioners working in the area, we are proud to announce the start of the UrbanIxD blog. Over the coming months we shall invite researchers and practitioners to share their thoughts on all things urban.

But don't wait for us to contact you. If you have thoughts on the Smart City; have a vision of urban life of the future; have an insight into the trends and ideas that will shape the city of the future, or simply if you have seen something in your city that you would like to share and are tempted to write a blog post, then the UrbanIxD project would like to hear from you.

Get it off your chest and write a blog post for UrbanIxD, its cheaper than therapy and it just could help to start a community.

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