Monthly Archives: June 2011

Oliver Kellhammer: Botanical Interventions – Open Source Landscape and Community Repair

Oliver Kellhammer

“I take biological systems and I remix them. In the way a DJ would remix music, I remix ecosystems and plants. Same principle.”

I was disappointed that Oliver Kellhammer’s course Open Source City ended up not happening, but was delighted to attend last week’s Eco-Art Salon lecture entitled Botanical Interventions – Open Source Landscape and Community Repair.

Oliver is a fantastic speaker: witty, engaging, humane and anarchic in the very best sense. In this talk he touches on many diverse themes — environmental art, community engagement, open source architecture — and weaves them into a synthetic whole through fascinating and often funny stories about his projects.

Oliver was kind enough to let me record audio, and I have tried to annotate it on a Soundcloud posting with links to background materials and photos. The links are embedded along the bottom of the Soundcloud player timeline. I’ve also enabled downloads.

Straight-up MP3 here (43 MB).

Many more resources at Oliver’s archive and Flickr sites, and his blog is definitely worth adding to your reader.

If anyone has ideas on how best to re-present or remix these materials, I’d be keen to discuss them with you.

“recommended for viewing with a helmet”

There’s the relentless global economic meltdown, the lack of accountability, and the injustice of who is bearing the burden of financial crime and negligence.  Then there’s steady degradation of the internet, from a space of potential liberation to one which feels more controlled and corporatized by the day…

Those seem like two fairly distinct issues, but this brilliant remix by Felipe G. Gil (who wrote La Fuerza Bruta that I referenced a couple days ago) captures the interplay against the backdrop of the Spanish 15-M Movement. You can catch the drift without understanding Spanish – I recommend full-screen mode:

In his contextual notes, Felipe informs us that YouTube would not post his video, probably because it samples the boring Tron sequel (he makes that film seem much cooler and more relevant than it really is). Yet another case where copyright law, claiming to be in service of protecting cultural creators, in effect is used to stifle dissent and relentlessly commoditize the culture in which we live. I’m reminded of David Kernohan’s recent post on The bubble of openness:

Giulia Forsythe paraphrases Lessig (via Jim Groom) to say:

“I believe this is OUR culture. We have a right to review, remix, and make meaning of the media we grew up with through the tools new media provides.”



Just because the majority of the media of our formative years (music, television, film, literature…) belongs to one or other of the big publishing conglomerates does not mean that it does not also belong to us. Part of the reason such intellectual property is so valuable to publishers is because of the value we (as readers in the widest sense of everything being a text) invest in it.

As dark as my mood gets, I recall that I once got a lesson on remix from Felipe himself (recorded for entry into the Platoniq Bank of Common Knowledge), which illustrates just how fortunate I am to be tapped into such an incredible network. There’s big fun to be had as we descend into the maelstrom.


26-03-2009 060 shared CC by PedroCarrillo

For a somewhat more direct demonstration of the threat to internet freedom as it relates to the possibility of a reasonable human society, check out Lawrence Lessig’s presentation to the disturbing e-G8 Forum. To me Lessig’s key point, one that must not be lost on educators, is the importance of creators and mashers on the fringes to innovation and progessive change.

Keynote – e-G8 from lessig on Vimeo.

Thanks to Carla Melgar for turning me on to the Lessig video.

More bike-friendly open data goodness from UBC

From the same people who brought you the Vancouver cycling route planner… some nifty visualizations measuring the ‘bikeability’ of the city. Uh, what?

We created a bikeability index, based on five components identified in the Cycling in Cities opinion survey as important to cyclists, then explored in focus groups and validated by travel behaviours. These components are:

bicycle route density
bicycle route separation
connectivity of bicycle-friendly streets
topography
destination density

We used the index to create bikeability maps that identify areas more and less conducive to cycling, using Metro Vancouver as a case study (see below). The large map is based on the overall bikeability index scores, and the smaller ones are based on the scores for the five components. Together these can be used to guide local strategies to improve cycling conditions.

What’s next?

…we will develop an interactive online bikeability tool for 10 additional Canadian cities: Victoria, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, and St John’s. The tool will highlight the environmental factors important to cyclists, and can be used by municipal and transportation planners to optimally locate bicycling infrastructure in areas that are currently underserved.

We will also assess the feasibility of developing the tool to allow other municipalities in Canada (and elsewhere) to upload open-access data and convert it into a bikeability map – an online bikeability engine.

Essentially, a two-wheeled equivalent of tools that allow you to determine the walkscore of your neighbourhood. Not factoring in what the weather is like in these cities, but I suppose that is a bit much to expect.

Via an article in my morning paper.