It's a wrap – now let's head straight on towards 2017!
According to a participant, the talks of Sarah Sharma and Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino were “beautifully paired together” by addressing the measures of care between “reconfiguring the way we understand gender and intimacy” (S.S.) and “the other side of care: the unhelpful patriarchal care of being in a maternal bubble.” (A.D-S.).
Sven Pfeiffer is teaching at the Technical University of Berlin and focused on his speech about the changing role of architects in the today’s digitalized world. He posed questions about this new role and how we can find the right tools to shape architecture in the near future. In an interview, he explains his thoughts.
The professor at the Goldsmith University of London, Mark Fisher, also talked with us about Design Communism. “The capitalist cyberspace is that the proper experience became the only way to consume things. Listening to music on phones, watch films on phones. It is not only the screen resolution, it became the standard. Why we can’t watch any more movies in cinemas. The capitalist cyberspace intends us we don’t have time anymore. That is the time crisis, the time poverty”.
In her talk on the first day of Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016, Alisa Andrasek focused on the idea of augmentation in design processes. The goal of her research is to contribute to the acceleration of design, enabling high and super performance.
On the first day of Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016, Sonia Fitzek introduced the listeners into her work on collaboration in online games. People play those games not just for the sake of playing but to help scientists get on with their projects, for exampls. See what we talked about after her talk.
If you did not get the chance to see how Vinay Gupta elaborated on how blockchains and collaboration can help enhance quality of life in developing countries, see his talk at Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 here.
Have you ever heard a guy talk as focused as him? The ideas and references flew about in the National Theater, Weimar, when Mr. Morozov took the stage to figure out the mess that capitalism is in.
Wolfgang Tiefensee, Thuringian State Minister of Economy, Science and the Digital Society, adressed the crowd at the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 during the conference day. In our short Q&A he talks about the challenges of digitization in all areas of life.
During the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016, a team made videos of all the talks on the second day in the National Theatre in Weimar. The first talk on tape – published now on our blog – is from Sarah Sharma and her talk “Do not Enter, This is not an Exit”.“She talks about how the dream of exit poses a problem for feminism and the future of a post/gender/post-work politics.”
The writer, editor and activist talked about scenarios for experimental societies. Watch the video to find out why he considers sea-going vessels as spaces for new forms of societies.
Weimar is a Thuringian beauty. Pretty much everybody who comes here falls in love with this city. Maybe not the usual teenie school class who is forced to come here by their German literature teachers. Still, writing this, the idea of a Digital Bauhaus Class of 2016, seems compelling. 150 people gathered here from June 3rd-4th to reflect upon ways how to design our new society, how to engage with new ways of production and automation, new concepts of value chains and how to tackle capitalism that is making its way into cyberspace, hi-jacking ideas that once were for the common good. One possible answer is to be found in Luxury Communism.
Architects, designers, activists and academics stuck their heads together for two days, presented ideas, projects and thoughts that point in the direction of a balanced common good that embraces technological progress without fearing a looming dystopia beyond the horizon. It got more political than other editions of the Digital Bauhaus Summit because talking about platform capitalism for example, you will find that means of “production” and labor are in quite a disbalance which might lead to real class struggles. In some cases, the struggles are on already. Commodities for some people have always meant disadvantages for others. 200 years ago as much as today.
What is Bauhaus about all this? The notion, that a group of people discusses, imagines and proposes ways of how to deal with what’s there and tries to use it for the purpose of the common good. Be it in design or architecture, the political has been inherent in the Bauhaus, it is inherent in discussions of the Digital Bauhaus Summit, we just need to translate it into common languages and actions and free our discourses from high brow attitudes, which the Bauhaus hardly ever had. Weimar is at the core of this tradition, that is why it’s home to the Summit. On the way to Bauhaus 2019, the Digital Bauhaus Class of 2016 left its mark.
Yet, we have to think bigger here, it shall not remain a class only. Actually, we are on our way to a new school of interdisciplinary thinking, bearing Bauhaus traditions in mind, finding, what we can do with it today. There is a lot more to be discovered beyond 2019.
Thuringian Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee: “My vision is that all the SME companies are organized in a cloud and collaborate together”
One of the speaker at Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 was the Minister for Economy and Digital Society in Thuringian. He addressed in his speech that the Bauhaus Summit is really important for Thuringia and give an approach what will happen with the digitalization in the near future.
After his talk, our Bauhaus Summit Blogger had an interview with the Minister about his vision and what they expect from the business (in German):
Yet, not just the resources and thus, the web, are colonized but also the way of how money is being made through web platforms. There is a class struggle going on. To us, service platforms and apps might seem very convenient. On the end of the workers who carry out their duties, we can hardly talk about convenience. Drivers who work for Uber, for example, form something one might call “Cyberproletariat”. They are exploited, have no insurances whatsoever.
In his talk, Berlin based software developer Dmytri Kleiner illustrated how communcation networks have been colonized and in how far alternative models of infrastructure could help break the cycle of monopolized data flow. In short, one option is a peer-production license, a commons-friendly license Kleiner describes as CopyFarLeft, on which he expands in his Telekommunisten Manifesto. This manifesto also proposes venture communism, a mode of worker-controlled production modeled on peer networks and the pastoral commons. This model is based on end-to-end communicatoin, cutting out the middle man.
Dmytri Kleiner coined the term venture communism in 2001 “to promote the ideal of workers’ self-organization of production as a way of addressing class conflict.”
One of the top speaker at this year Digital Bauhaus Summit was Sarah Sharma, Associate Professor and Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. With her book In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (2014) she won the National Communication Association Critical/Cultural 2014 Book of the Year Award. She is currently working on a new book that brings feminist approaches to technology to such sites as the algorithmic culture, the “sharing” economy, and the changing structures of care labour.
After her talk, we had the possibility to do an inspiring interview with Sarah Sharma about her idea of care in the 21st century, the meaning of social relationships in luxury communism and her thoughts about a post-gender society. “The only way luxury communism is possible is to rethink the gender”, says Sharma. She also talks about the identity crisis of the man because he feels more and more disposable.
The London-based interaction and product designer Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino had a provocative and also funny talk about Common Good(s) at the Bauhaus Summit 2016 in the National Theatre of Weimar. As the founder of designswarm, a consultancy for governments & corporate clients who want to plan for next generation connected products, experiences and strategies, she thought about the design at home and how it influences our daily life.
In her really direct manner, she could interact well with the audience on a very personal level because her stories touched us in our everyday life. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino did not want to present any solution, but asking questions about our behaviour and life in big cities such as London or New York. Alexandra drew a comparison between the life in big cities in the 21st century and in the 1950s, and also presented surprising results and connections between these eras.
You will find her presentation here: designswarm_digitalbauhaus_summit_final
A short conclusion of the talk you can find in the following video:
Here we go with a collection of the best pictures from the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 in the Neufert-Box and the National Theatre on the 3th and 4th of June 2016. All the pictures were taken by our great photographer Thomas Müller from Taikrixel.
Evgeny Morozov is a busy guy, he had to take off right after his talk about “The Geopolitical Unconscious of Luxury Communism”. We grabbed him, ran from the National Thater to the Elephant Hotel in Weimar, hit the “record” button and asked him a few questions. For all who weren’t (and were) there, here’s a short, uncut Q&A.
Evgeny, could you recap what your talk was about?
Sure. Basically you have a giant political, financial and economic crisis in Europe and all over the world. Capitalism can no longer use its option of saving itself (the banks and finance) like it used to. So, it is going into the technology sector to do that. That’s the salvation option for the neoliberal elites. You have a challenge here to that project which is right wing conservatives, based on restoration of national sovereignty and based on limiting the powers of banks. The left is missing from the picture but it must develop a coherent strategy which could development a lot of this infrastructure for a proper communist future.
What’s the state of the political left nowadays? Is it able to develop such strategies at all?
In some countries the social democratic left is more to be situated in the center or in the right political spectrum. They no longer defend the things that the left traditionally defended. The radical left quite often is in a pathetic state. You have new parties emerging like Podemos in Spain and also the Five Star Movement in Italy which have an agenda that somewhat resembles the left. Yet, their approach of questioning of globalisation and trade also resembles the right. For them, to properly qualify as left, they have to rethink the productive industrial economy and rethink the ways in which new forms of ownership might go beyond private ownership.
Are there examples of such models that actually work?
There is a lot of talk about the commons paradigm, the notion that the citizens actually own things, not just nation states and corporations. In Italy there are lots of institutions that use commons as their model. Yet, we need to think through what that specific commons-based model means for intangible things like data.
You mentioned that capitalism is in crisis. Is it really doing so badly?
There are many symptoms of crisis that we see: You have huge unemployment in many European countries up to 40-45% among young people; you have people who are increasingly charged for services that used to be public; you have lots of turmoil in the streets; protests against privatization of infrastructure; the state’s services like health care, education and transportation are declining. So, symptoms of the crisis are not hard to find. Further, there is this continuous agenda of shrinking even more of what is left of the welfare state.
What do you think about luxury communism?
We don’t have the luxury to think about luxury communism. That’s the shortest answer to the question.
Do those terms even go together for you?
As a normative idea of having a regime where people who have produced values that allows the system to function – for example data -are entitled to harvest the fruits of their labour, to relax and chill… I’m all behind it. The problem is, that you can’t just get there through experiments and design. You get there through clever political strategies. At this point they will involve political parties and not just design interventions.
On the second day of Bauhaus Summit, taking place in the National Theatre of Weimar, renowned thinker Vinay Gupta presented an Integrated Needs Analysis about poverty development and environmental crisis. Gupta has new trust in technologies like Blockchain. In his opinion, blockchains can enable mass collaboration and can bring transformative technologies to the villages of developing countries. It can change healthcare, education, farming and engineering in those countries and really bring an effort in the fair distribution of resources.
Gupta spoke mainly about the possibilities of Blockchain in the near future as an economy concept. “With blockchain, the fight about resources between 1 Billion rich and 5 billion “poor” people will change”, he claims. He talked about a new generation of activism: “The real activism today is going through the technologies”, Gupta said.
The first president of the Weimar Republic, Friedrich Ebert, was inaugurated at the National Theater in Weimar. One of the first big “Reichstage” of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party was held here. During the socialist era in the GDR was a prestigious place and now, today, we are at a historical crossroads again. We are entering the second day of the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 – Luxury Communism. In this notion, conference host Sebastian Olma finds a productive way of thinking about the future: “Its intention is to put communism back into design and we can see it as a different approach to technological structures today.” We are joining a cadre, we are on our way to a manifesto.
Yet, “luxury communism will not come easy even if it is a life of ease”, Bruce Sterling says in his opening address. Even Marx “never gave leisure a serious thought”. Sterling, futurist, activist and novelist gave examples of where people are/were actually pulling off some of what might be Luxury Communism. Or, at least, an early stage of it. The following is an incomplete list of what Sterling was illustrating on stage. Beware, the lines blur between quotes and the blogger’s words here:
Prospects No. 1: Rural communes; people living in geodesic domes which originate in a concept by Buckminster Fuller; amish people, who are successful rural refusniks who work really hard – the crowd in the National Theater doesn’t seem much like they’d appreciate that lifestyle.
Prospects No. 2: Squats. See Christiana in Copenhagen, for example. Bruce Sterling: “I could probably live in Christiana”. Yet, are they real dropouts?
Prospect No. 3: Retirement villages. The elderly don’t collapse from social decay but from age. Soft living for everybody – that pretty much says it all.
Prospect No. 4: Cruise ships. They are rootless.
Prospect No. 5: Armies. They live in barracks and work in social services. A popular luxury communist army could do a lot. At last, military service is pre-capitalistic.
Prospect No. 6: Monasteries and pilgrim centers. The are keen on labor. Take hindu Sadhus for example. They walk, pray and beg. They can manage by the social kindness of people: “It’s a backpacker’s life without the backpack.” It’s post-economical, post-nationalist and post-family.
Prospect No. 7: Academies. There’s plenty of room in schools. They stay busy even if they don’t have jobs. Bauhaus, Black Mountain College – they are like artistic communes, there is some semiotic pressure, maybe, but, hey, they design.
Prospect No. 8: The discipline of a police state. It would be rooted in surveillance and informants. Social media would play an important role. The human flesh search engine would massively troll you if you were out of line.
Prospect No. 9: Hospitals! The healthcare sector is growing, we have a need for more human care. There are even beauty treatments.
Prospect No. 10: Refugee camps. Gigantic, modern pop-up cities. You don’t understand capitalism if you don’t understand the mechanics of such camps. It takes 1200 dollars per month to maintain you there.
Prospect No. 11: Machine slavery? It’s something like imagining cats as lunch.
By the way, there is a Weimar in Texas, the state, where Bruce Sterling comes from. People there wanted to live in a different way. They were refugees from 1848 who were looking for a new life after the defeat of the democratic revolution.
Prospect No. 12: Honestly, the blogger drifted off here when Sterling started to talk about Goethe in Italy.
According to Sterling, Charlotte von Stein is the luxury communist of Weimar, actually: “She didn’t even have a job. She was a lady in waiting. But she was a social engineer of Weimar.” She had good manners, was polite, nobody paid her for it. Ha! She even wanted to become a great figure in literature without writing anything. And she could, since she was a muse to that Goethe guy.
You already guessed prospect No. 12? Right! It’s Charlotte herself. And what about Weimar 200 years later? Once it was a leading city, in the 17th century, had a very moved history. The awareness of the past allows us to make “better mistakes”, Sterling resumed. Ending with “Sturm und Drang”, he set the stage for the conference. On with it, comrades!
Jasmina Tesanovic’s talk was all whirlwind and heat. With a lot of energy and empathy, more or less freestyling her talk, she took the audience by storm. Jasmina likes smart things and she likes to talk about how women should get more involved in technology. You know, it’s not like just the cliché geek guy can make an object smart.
Born in Serbia, raised in Italy, she’s a political activist, feminist and author and known as the co-founder of “Casa Jasmina Project” in Torino which she founded with her husband Bruce Sterling. Her mission today was to introduce the audience to seven approaches of how women can get involved more with tech and to share some thoughts about living in “Casa Jasmina”.
Now, I was not able to grasp all approaches but one could definitely work as pars pro toto. Number six it is fiction design! According to Jasmina: “I would like a screen that is not made of fabric so it could not be broken.” So why not imagine a smoke screen? “Men think about improving the box, not about destroying the box and using something completely different”, Jasmina added.
In any case, her project, the Casa, is about connecting. Connecting with each other and creating a space where things are smart. Not like in your regular smart home where you have remote controls with 17 buttons, no. Two buttons are more than enough. Simplicity over fanciness and “always open source”. No luxury. Wait, maybe just a tiny bit of luxury communism?
Here we go with a collection of the best pictures from the first day of the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 in the Neufert-Box in the south of Weimar and in the evening in the Kesselturm in the center of the city. All the pictures were taken by our great photographer Thomas Müller from Taikrixel.
Which part of the brain enables you to master a craft? What makes a good craftsman? And what if this craft would actually be mastered by machines? Those questions came up during Sven Pfeiffers talk about the Shifting Role of the Architect in the Age of the Internet. Pfeiffer is based in Berlin, works as an architect and guest professor for digital architectural production at the Technical University of Berlin. Today he showed how, in research, architects are pushing boundaries by involving technology and computation.
While that process not only changes the “craft”, it also challenges the heroic, genius role of architects. But, movies tell more than words: have a look at some automated building constructions by drones here.
Right upstairs in the Neufert Box it was all about Platform Cooperativism and Political Campaigns in the Age of the Internet. Trebor Scholz is a scholar-activist and Associate Professor for Culture & Media at The New School in New York, Johannes Ponader has been dealing with basic income for the last 15 years and has set up the platform “Mein Grundeinkommen”.
In his talk, Trebor Scholz delivers a short critique of platform capitalism. Nowadays, Scholz sees little resemblance of the Silicon Valley’s original idea that a different future is possible. According to Scholz, Uber drivers for example are no micro-entrepreneurs as the company claims. More likely, they are working for labor companies with no labor rights at all.
Scholz poses the question “why not own the platforms we use?” and delivers some examples of Platform Cooperativism. And behold, there are some bright ideas: VTC Cab, quite similar to Uber but owned by the drivers or Fairmondo, a fair marketplace which is decentralized and owned by its users.
Johannes Ponader’s campaign “Mein Grundeinkommen” serves as an example for, as he calls it, “Meta Platform Cooperativism”. The basic income campaign is a prototype and works quite simple: People donate money via crowdfunding. 12.000 Euros are reached and then raffled out to people who signed up for it. One winner takes the money and has a basic income for one year. Here’s a short Q&A with Johannes Ponader:
What is the motivation of people who donate money to an individual that they can have that basic income?
Most people are interested in our experiment. They want to find out what happens when your basic needs are taken care of. With their donation they make the experiment happen. Also, most of them believe in the idea of basic income. Still, some critical person donate because they are interested in the outcome
Is there a success story of someone who won it?
There are many success stories among the 32 winners we have. There was one guy who worked in a call center. When he was asked what he’d do with the money, he said he wanted to become a child educator. When he won the money, he actually started studying and got a job when he finished. There are some entrepreneurs among the winners. The money gave them safety to start their business.
What do people gain beyond money
Absolutely. People who depend on welfare get more dignity. They don’t have to go through all the bureaucracy and prove all the time that they really need help. For those who were not depending on benefits, the money meant freedom.
What is the most important thing that has to be done to raise acceptance for the basic income, in Germany for example?
Some serious studies and research has to be done in economics, sociology and psychology. We need a more scientific and profound perspective on the issue.
Do you see any connection to the Bauhaus in your project?
The Bauhaus approach was to design for the people. We try to do that since our welfare system is not social at all. The basic income is the Bauhaus way of social security.
Croatia-born Alisa Andrasek talked about the increased resolution fabric of design with automated scripting. The next language will dissolve the boundaries between human creativity and code. The architecture will be influenced within design ecologies – where designers have access to algorithmic profiles and new possibilities with human and inhuman intelligence with big data.
As an architect and designer, Alisa Andrasek is the founder of Biothing. With her company, she is operating between design, material and computer science. As a founding partner of Bloom Games, co-founder of AI-Build and director of Wonderlab Research at the UCL Bartlett, where she is giving the lecture Architectural Design. She received Europe 40 under 40 Award, Metropolis Next Generation Award and FEIDAD Award.
In the following video you can see some of her work from Biothing with the Swarmologyseries:
Dr. Juliane Landmann is a project manager at the Bertelsmann Stiftung where she initiates empirical studies and reports with the aim of shaping sustainable economies. One of this studies introduced a strategic preview of the labor market 4.o. in Germany in the year 2030. For the study, the Bertelsmann Stiftung collaborated with the Ministry of Labor in Germany, Ministry of Education, universities, Microsoft and IBM, did a workshop with around 30 experts from the field and developed six scenarios for the labor market for the future.
The employees of the future can expect different starting points, which are discussed in more detail in the study. Juliane Landmann gave an abstract of these scenarios in her talk. For some scenarios in the labor market, some political decisions have to be made. For example the unconditional basic income or fiber network all over the country.
There are mainly six employments scenarios for the year 2030:
i-factory master → Scenario 1 “Engineering nation with a heart”
business model architect → Scenario 2 “Silicon countryside with social conflicts”
crowd manager → Scenario 3 “Rhineland Capitalism 4.0”
local package deliverer → Scenario 4 “Digital strongholds and disconnected hinterland”
online investigator → Scenario 5 “Digital evolution in the federal competition”
accountant 4.0 → Scenario 6 “Digital failure”
But there are also horror scenarios with a big shift of high-qualified knowledge workers and underpaid “clickworkers”. A paradise for high-potential scientists that are paid well but on the other hand a security system that is near to collapse as we can see below on the scenario “Silicon countryside with social conflicts”. Also more and more people will work as freelancers by the year 2030.
After the talk, the audience had some questions: Who were the experts in the workshop that collected the results? And why the study is so human focused and has not a scenario where the machines do more of the work that humans do today? Juliane Landmann said that the aim of this study is to give a hint to politics what shift within the digitalization will happen in the near future and what challenges have to be discussed.
If you want to know more about the topic, you will find the presentation in German here: Labor_Market_4-0 (in German)
The Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 is kicking off with a speech of Holm Friebe, one of the initiators of the annual summit for the Creative Economy. The three tracks “Cyberprobles”, “Exoskeletons” and “Teknokomrades” on the first day take place in the Neufert-Box in the south of the historical city of Weimar. The box has a modern wood design inside and was built in 1999 for the 100th anniversary of Ernst Neufert. The german architect is well-known as an assistant of Walter Gropius and his thesis about the “Bauentwurfslehre”. The Neufert-Box is also an interesting piece for architects. Contrary to the historical Neufert-building that was built in a meter grid the Neufert-box is constructed in Oktameter design.
As multifunctional space for exhibitions, seminars, concerts, presentations and festivities the Neufert box is a perfect place for the interactive talks of the summit. It brings a familiar atmosphere for the talks and the following discussion rounds. Digital Bauhaus Summit sees itself as a boutique conference with not more than 150 participants. With this approach, the participants can have a real exchange of their thoughts and conclusions.
At his opening speech, Holm Friebe is talking about some topics of this year summit: the challenges with artificial intelligence and smart machines and how these developments lead to Luxury Communism. In the tradition of Bauhaus, the participants of the summit should ask themselves about the social spillovers of this technological influences in our society. Holm Friebe gives an outlook of the impacts of the summit around blockchain, alternatives to capitalism and the change of society dealing with robots and AI in the future. With this start, we are curious about the talks and the discussions in the next two days in our cosy boutique conference format!
Fabian Ebeling and David Torcasso will keep you updated on our blog here:
Can we imagine living in a world in which profits go not only to a small elite of digital innovators but to the entire society? What if Silicon Valley’s marketing mantra to “make the world a better place” became the true political program of a leisure society based on fully automated wealth?
The Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 takes up these and similar questions. Luxury communism is the name of the thought experiment that the boutique conference, now in its third year in Weimar, will tackle. Of course there will be workshops and lectures but also an algorithmic Show Gala and our own revolutionary attempt to drown capitalism and the financial crisis with the Slime Economy. High-profile thinkers and critics of the digital era such as Evgeny Morozov, Bruce Sterling, Sarah Sharma, Vinay Gupta, Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Mark Fisher will be joining us.
A digital wish list of demands will help kick-start the event: from the nationalization of all social networks to the abolition of the second class in public transport. Over the course of the conference the 150 participants (a.k.a. Luxury Cadre) will work up this catalogue of demands into a Luxury Communist Manifesto, which will outline the contours of a world society aiming to advance the motto “Wealth without Work!” to a civil religion.
With these goals in mind, the conference hopes to forge a path into the future that overcomes the seemingly inevitable dystopia created by war, financial crises, and the global rise of populism. At the same time, our luxury communism parade is determined to march resolutely past the infantile utopias of 3D printed urban gardens. In our temporary Kulturpalast, only seriously desirable futures audition for the role of political prima ballerina. Because, as the old Luxury Communist Friedrich Nietzsche famously put it: What good is a revolution where I can’t dance?!