Monday, September 29, 2008

Wiked Venipedia

This week, upon returning from the whirlwind tour, we passed the halfway point in our preparation for the term in Venice.  The work produced by this year's teams is being placed in our wikivenice a.k.a. venipedia.  Using the wiki as our ongoing repository has spared us the trouble of creating independent web pages as we did in the past several years.  The cream of what this year's teams will create will be distilled in clean and neat venipedia entries that will constitute a permanent contribution to Venice knowledge.  Our final aim is to provide an English-language crowdsourcing platform completely dedicated to Venice.   We suspect that our wikivenice may be too hyperlocal to be worthy of full integration into wikipedia itself, but Kyle's checking on this assumption...  We also intend this site to be different from the more commercial venicewiki site, which has a tourist slant to it and is currently only in Italian, even though it contains an invitation to non-Italian speakers to help with their contributions.  Kyle and I will also establish a contact with the wikivenice administrators to avoid overlaps and to clearly divide our efforts along language lines, while providing links to each other, if they are amenable to it.  Meanwhile, we will chip away at the project and invite our Venice Project Center alumni to help us populate the site before we let the public at large edit the entries after the end of the anniversary year in the summer of 2009.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Whirlwind tour

I just picked up Steve Guerin of Redfish at the airport in Providence.  He will be speaking at WPI tomorrow about "Visualizing and Interacting with Complexity through Adaptive Systems and Autonomous Agents". Following the presentation, we're holding an information session for the "bootstrap" of the proposed Santa Fe project center.  During the rest of the day, Steve will also meet with the Moving and Visiting teams as well as with the team of Computer Science students working on the LOUIS APIs.  On Tuesday, after a lunch in with Bryan Glascock and Nigel Jacobs of the City of Boston and another meeting with Jason Schrieber, former transportation planner with the City of Cambridge, we're taking off to go to London.  There, we're meeting with Metropolis Green , as well as with colleagues at CASA (UCL) and LSE on Wednesday, right after landing.  On thursday, we are giving a presentation at the 3rd Annual Renewable Energy Conference, then we're off to Venice in the evening.  The next day (Friday) we have several meetings in Venice with Venis, UNESCO and other officials to discuss ongoing Forma Urbis/Redfish projects as well as the upcoming WPI projects.  On Saturday we return to London for one more night before returning to the US on Sunday.  Monday, before taking off for Santa Fe again, Steve and I will be at MIT to give yet another presentation...  
Whew! Not bad for less than a week's work...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Venice Skyline

Check out this cool skyline that Kyle Miller painstakingly traced from real photos from his gallery. It's a composite of recognizable buildings arranged in a sequence that gives the gist of Venice's urban landscape without being exactly real... Expect this to appear on our web pages in the weeks to come. Thank you once again Kyle!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Being Venetian on 9/11

I thought it was interesting that on the 7th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I was myself the target of a personal attack in the local media in Spencer, Massachusetts, where I live, because I am not a citizen of the U.S. (although I am a resident alien), while at the same time I chair the town's Planning Board. The issue, which was eventually resolved based on the opinion of the town's legal counsel, has became the focus of vehement discussions on the online forums, where sophomoric xenophobic comments are mixed with civilized opinions about civic engagement in the affairs of the town. In that respect, Spencer represents a fairly accurate cross-section of the America that will be called to the ballot boxes in a couple of months. It will be interesting to see how the vote will turn out, locally as well as nationally. Being a foreigner, I will once again have to sit on the sidelines and watch democracy unfold. After this experience, however, I vow to be a registered voter by the next election, so that I will not only be taxed, but also represented. Otherwise, I'll have to find out where Spencer keeps its tea... so we can have a party with it. And thank God nobody caught on to the fact that I am actually a Venetian first and foremost, and only secondarily an Italian...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Postmortems mortem?

Today, Prof. Fred Bianchi and I had the first meeting with our single-student team (Brendan) at the start of what is supposed to be the last term of his work on the Postmodern Postmortem installations. This may be the last term of active progress on this front, unless the Being Young in Venice team decides to pick up the baton and carry it to Venice... After meeting with one of the more creative recent alumni of the VPC, Jonathan Bahlatzis, I am thinking that we should open up the process so that we can breathe some new energy into this very challenging and creative long-term project. The trick is: how do we keep these installations secret and yet open them up to a broader group of participants? Also, how do we really get connected with the Santa Fe Complex? We have to give this some thought, or else the postmortems may be dead in the water (of Venice's canals).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Prepping up for Venice

Today, I held my first class to prepare the 27 students who are going to Venice in October. We have made the 7 teams who will tackle the projects listed in a prior entry. The students are excited and so are Prof. Paul Davis and I, who will be the advisors on the 20th anniversary term (term B08 in WPI jargon) from October 19 until December 13, 2008. There will be accelerated progress from now on!