Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Did You Do Daddy? from John Belflower on Vimeo.

I have been looking for a brilliant video blog and now I found it. Charlie and others have put together a great blog gathering Nubs. For those who don´t know what nubs are (me an hour ago), here´s the Make Nubs description: Nubs are short videos that explain or bring an idea to life. Check the blog for more, great stuff. For instance the Obama music video from MC Yogi is brilliant.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gem in Kamppi

I love these moments. When you think you know your city to the last stoney and then you bump into something quite amazing. It kind of feels embarrassing to make this discovery only now but better late than never: I visited Amos Anderson´s Art Museum for the first time in my life today.

I went in due to the Riiko Sakkinen and Jani Leinonen exhibition. I was not expecting much but wanted to base my opinion - some people would say for a change - on real experience. Well, I was not blown away. The exhibition kind of demonstrates how difficult it is to shock with anything anymore. I felt I had seen this stuff before.

But taking the lift upstairs to the 5th floor made my day. Amos Anderson has made a deal with a set of corporate collections and in this manner able to bring into daylight wonderful works of artists like Magnus Enckell and Helene Schjerfbeck, which normally only decorate a company office or are locked in a safe. Of course most of the exhibition was kind of boring for anyone who has visited Ateneum but in the middle of it all were the subtle and delicate portraits of Helene Schjerfbeck and the strikingly colourfully radical Enckells of boys on a beach. Amos Anderson deserves recognition for making these works available for us all. If you ask me, Enckell and Schjerfbeck are some of the best art this little country has to offer.

A great invention for Amos Anderson is also reserving the red brick attic for contemporary art. Maiju Salmenkivi´s Pasila painting is such an explosion of colour that it made me return for a second glance. Tiina Heiska´s somehow photographic bedroom scene painting is simultaneously sad and sensual. Amos Anderson´s Art Museum shows that next to publicly funded art, this country needs also philantrophists with taste.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One Less Device in the World

Originally uploaded by amsterboy
I had a big interview to do today and was about to buy a new voice recorder. Kind of came to the conclusion that the old C-cassette machine was in need of pimping up. After seeing the prices of the Olympus machines, I decided to check whether Apple would have microphones to be used in iPhone or iPod. The nice guy in the store recommended that instead of buying a microphone and a recorder, I should just download the free iTalk software from App Store.

Tested it today and it works perfectly. Sound quality is good, it does not use a lot of battery and the files are easily transported to iTunes for further use. And what is most important, I did not need to buy more gadgets as Apple and its friends had solved the issue for me - free of charge.Thank you, Mr Jobs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We Need A Project

Originally uploaded by amsterboy
I saw this fridge magnet on a notice board at the University of Arts and Design today. It was apparently a response to a request to join a project. It made me think of some meetings and seminars that I have attended where a new project seems to be the goal of the work, not actually solving a problem in the organisation.

Quick translation:
"Coupling phrases ´higher education institution´ and ´design project´ causes such a bad disgust in me already that huh-huh (editorial note: Finnish expression for exhaustion). On one hand it may up to the fact that I am myself in such a shitty school but still it makes me doubt. It feels that all the time one designs the design of design but nothing concrete or useful is never achieved. But maybe I am in a shitty school and that one is a really nice project. That´s all from me. - Paavo"

However, looking at the issue from the positive side, it is a sign of healthy self-criticism that this quote is as a reminder in the coffee room.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Argumentti.com - concepts and arguments

One - not that serious - explanation to what I do for work. This time in the form of a video. More details shortly at www.argumentti.com. Thanks for the video tip, Paul.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Stranger´s Back

Fourth day in Amsterdam. If I would need to name one thing why this city if amazing, it is its Spring. The whole city is blossoming - something that we will get only in like a month in Finland. It is clear that it is still my Second City.

I just facilitated a a great two-day meeting with TheStrangers, the advisory group of StrangerFestival consisting of young video makers. Above one of them, Nerimon, talking about what we do. After this weekend I am quite convinced that the festival will be awesome this year. The deadline for entries is 15 August but this year it is wise to upload early as one video is picked every month as a monthly winner and the maker is invited to Amsterdam.

A bit more about Amsterdam. Cycling around this city, it is easy to understand why people love it so much. I do too. Amsterdam is the best city in terms of doing things in human scale. I wish more cities could give you this amazing feeling that the city is open for you, it is there for you and it is playful.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Power of Both

This is where broadcasting meets the wonders of the Internet. Without this strong programme concept and reality television, Susan Boyle would never have emerged into the public sphere. The drama building before her singing is something that TV professionals can do so superbly. That´s talent.

But without the Internet and YouTube, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore would never have become fans of this English lady or she wouldn´t have become a world-wide phenomenon. Currently at 12 million hits. I love TV, I love YouTube and there´s no contradiction there. I think writing of television as a medium is just bull crap.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Made It To The Cover

Volume Magazine issue 19
Originally uploaded by amsterboy
The Dutch magazine Volume has published an article of mine on how the logic and networks of youth cultures provide an inspiring model for European cooperation. Volume is an independent quarterly for architecture to go beyond itself and is a cooperation between:
Archis Foundation, Amsterdam
AMO, Rotterdam
C-LAB, Columbia University New York

First time I made it to a cover of a magazine. Here´s a teaser on the article:

"Several youth cultures show how difference can be a prerequisite rather than an obstacle to interaction. By giving serious attention to interaction practices in transnational youth cultures we could actually find answers to many of the diversity problems with which Europe currently struggles."

Volume can be bought from selected bookstores:
NAI Publishers

Monday, April 13, 2009

Real TV

Some people use Easter for quieting down - I did not. In the midst of Bree van de Kamp -like cooking and baking (muffins and what have you), I managed to accidentally bump into an episode of Skins on SubTV. I had forgotten how bloody brilliant this Channel4 teenage drama actually is. Thank you, Sub, for the reruns.

Skins is amazing and quite unique as its handles teenage angst and torment in full honesty and without irony. It reminds everyone what kind of an emotional rollercoaster it is being young and there is often very little the parents can do. It reminds one of the importance of handling the emotions of teenagers with care but also shows how smart they already are. Not a kid, not an adult - Skins captures well that tripping in and out of adulthood.

Here´s a clip (Channel4/YouTube apparently does not allow embedding)from this Friday´s episode where the class practices Osama - The Musical. It shows well how frank Skins is - maybe too frank for some. The writing of this programme is quite amazing. As it was pointed out to me while watching, could you think of a US series where teenagers sing:"Then came the day Osama blew us away and now I know how I feel."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Donate Here

Some advocacy organisations just get it better than others. WWF - the people who brought us Earth Hour. Via: Deceptive Cadence.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Institution First

Day 7/365
Originally uploaded by Timo Kirkkala
Today´s Helsingin Sanomat writes that the parliamentary committee reforming the national public broadcaster YLE is most likely going to suggest that YLE will be financed in the future through a separate YLE tax. Unlike the current license fee, this compulsory tax would be collected as part of the normal tax collection. It would not go into the government´s total budget but straight to YLE. Journalist Teemu Luukka writes:"It is not likely that the committee will suggest radical changes into (YLE´s) duties."

I had yesterday lunch with a Danish friend of mine. She is one of those social entrepeneurs like me, i.e. people searching for new solutions to current problems. She said that her current interest is in using standard design techniques also for the planning of public services. This would mean bringing the problem and the end user into the core of the design process. As she pointed out, the common public service design process works like the YLE case: how do we fund an existing institution in the future.

When the design process starts from the institution, we are already kill a big majority of good ideas even before they see the light of day. When we take an institution and its current structure for granted, it is hardly surprising that we do not find very good solutions.

Everyone following media discussion today would know that public service communications needs rethinking. This is not an issue of organisational reform but an issue of citizenship - what kind of information and analysis do we need in order to play our role as citizens in a better and more informed manner? Getting stuck on the word broadcasting avoids looking into a landscape of new tasks, new actors and more flexibility. Now the fix is making a poorly functioning funding system compulsory. So it´s band aid instead of recovery process.

The private media corporations (Viestinnän keskusliitto) have been calling for Finland to follow the BBC Trust´s example in having an independent body supervising YLE. When the reform is prepared by a parliamentary committee, this is very unlikely to happen.

Although I am somewhat skeptical to the total agenda of the anti-YLE campaign of the private actors, I would strongly support an independent supervisory board. I believe it would strengthen YLE´s role as a supervisor of the ones in power, which would need to get its legitimacy not from decision makers but from people directly. It would make clearer that we as citizens have rights to proper critique and information and this might someone work against those in power. That sometimes the benefit of the state and the benefit of the people are not equal.

An independent body would also widen YLE´s stakeholder basis, help its directors in creative thinking and in the end - provide better public service media for us and help us in doing our share in a democracy better.

Monday, April 06, 2009

One More For The Road

Making mine a double
Originally uploaded by Liesel's Easel
Flying domestic is not something I do often, I think actually four times in my life if I count the return flights to Kittilä last week. And as before, flying domestic with someone non-Finnish makes one take another perspective as one tries to explain the behaviour of one´s fellow citizens.

Already on the flight to Kittilä, it was pointed out to me that the Finnair flight attendant allowed a Finnish man visibly drunk to occupy the seat in front of the emergency exit. I was informed by my company (someone who knows more about flying than anyone I have met) that this actually counts as a violation of airline protocol.

On the way back it got worse on the plane. The positive side was that we got to test the new Finnair Airbus 330-300, which will be used for flying to New York. It was the first week of the plane and things looked brilliant. The revamped Finnair colour scheme makes the cabin seem much more spacious and the new seats make you keep a good posture.

But as the plane was filled with Finns ending their one-week holiday either in Ylläs or Levi, it smelled like the empty bottle room of Alko. Big portion of the customers were visibly drunk already when boarding the plane. We actually changed our seats on the last minute due to the odour created by the people behind us. I managed to catch the frightened looked on a face of a young father who was forced to sit with his one-year-old in the middle of the Boozy Family. And the 5 euro charge for alcohol on domestic flights did not stop the people from boozing up more. I mean hey, last moment of holidays.

I am not blaming the cabin crew for slacking, I am sure they do not love the drunks in the back of the plane anymore than I do. After moving back to Finland from the Netherlands I have been in quite a number of situations where I notice how differently people and institutions tolerate overuse of alcohol in public transport, at stations not to mention restaurants. The Finnair case seems to be just another example of Finns looking the other way when the drunk is making another situation uncomfortable - or even risky as in the case of the emergency exit - for the rest of us.