Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Colbert Report and Sherry Turkle

Also interesting seems to be this book by Sherry Turkle. Conservatism aside, she has a good point. As technology expands our available space for interaction in the world, it also removes us from the here and now...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sherry Turkle
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

From the marketing perspective (a bit corny :)):

Hand writing vs. typing

Interesting article at lifehacker:


Nice to see some science behind the benefits of more complex forms of bodily interaction, as opposed to just going the full digital/static mode.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lessons learned in the opposite direction of traditional ICTD projects

This is not really new for those of you who have followed ICTD debates around mobile phone usage in places like India or most African countries. There are definitely lessons to be learned from the experience of using these types of services for some years.

Friday, November 19, 2010

First Publication!

Some 7 months after returning from Vanuatu, the first related publication is coming out!

The paper that I wrote with my supervisor (Prof. Kristina Höök) got very good reviews, and is on a good path to being accepted at CHI 2011 in Vancouver, Canada!

The paper is called: Bodily Orientations around Mobiles: Lessons learned in Vanuatu, and it focuses on precisely that. Drawing mainly from phenomenology and somaesthetics, the paper discusses ways in which we extend our bodies through technologies, and the compromises and implications in doing so. The value we put on different parts of our bodies, with and without technology, the way we alter our posture and the physicality with which we are present in the world and other related issues are discussed in this paper, using as starting points for analysis different encounters occurring during our stay in Motalava and Rah (there is a post about this from end of February).

Once we get a final accept (hopefully there will be no bad surprises at this point...), I will post a link to the paper here, for those interested in taking a look. If you do take a look do not forget to post your comments here as I am very interested in getting more feedback.

At the moment three more papers are "in progress". One focusing on privacy issues, and how the way ni-Vans (again mainly in Rah) concerns regarding privacy reflected some of our own ongoing research concerns. Another one artifacts and the aging of artifacts. And finally one on playfulness and the value we place on the technologies we produce and consume.

So stay tuned as I try to resuscitate this blog!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Going rogue

Having failed my previous promise of being more active in blogging, I now return to say that I will be out of contact for at least a week.

I will be going to the Torres islands. It is relatively close to the Banks (same province, Torba), where I went previously, only slightly more remote... it took some time to make that decision, since I thought the Banks was remote enough for me, but I just couldn't help the temptation. From what I heard, in the Torres, most young people have never even seen a truck (which is a relatively common thing here).

There are no mobile communications there and land-line is unreliable. There are 2 numbers however that I leave with you, in case of emergency:

Kamisila resort (where we will be staying, most likely, at least the first night): +678 38599
Public phone in  Lunghariki village on Loh Island: +678 38565

These would be the 2 available ways to contact me, and in case you hear of tsunami, cyclone, or anything like that... please do!  But most likely they will not work, or no one will pick up... I just have to trust their dubious readings of the sky, or the very reliable "coconut news" or "coconut wireless" :)

When we first went to the Banks, all the Nivans in Port Vila would say "oohh, that's far!" or "that's the 'last place'". So we went there. When we were there, people from the Banks, when asked about Torres would say : "ooooh... that is remote!" or "Torres is the 'last place'", "they are so isolated" :D which was hilarious coming from people living in a small tiny island in the middle of nowhere. 

So, given that Vila has not been very inspiring, research wise, and given there was some time left, we organized this trip to the Torres, the "last place" ;)

Ok, I have to finish packing, and of I go again to no showers, no toilets, no news, no communication, no stores, no imported goods buuut plenty of sun, beaches, peace, quiet, friendliness and most importantly... LOBSTER!!!!!

I should be back in Vila the 18th, although rain might change the plans a little bit, since the "airports" are quite sensitive to it.

Lukium yu! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A trip to the North...

Unlike in Europe, a trip to the North here implies it's gonna get muuuch hotter. The heat and humidity here are something I was just not prepared for :D
So we hopped on the plane. And off we went. Past the island of Malakula, stopover at Santo to refuel and grab something to eat (no foods & beverage service on the plane...), and off we went again. We would stop at Gaua, Sola and finally Motalava, where we would get off. One of the ideas we had was to stop at Gaua. Daniela, an anthropologist we met in Vila and that came with us, had the dream of climbing the Gaua volcano and waterfall. It so happens that the volcano was very active and it was deemed very dangerous to undertake that project. So we jut flew past the volcano (there is a very bad picture, we have a better one on the way back, when we flew straight over). We actually landed in Gaua, but just to pick up a couple of people and then move along.
Ok, landing in Motalava, we had to wait a couple of hours at the local "restaurant" for the truck to arrive, we met some very nice people, and some Rah islanders came to receive us and bring us to their island.

Rah Island is almost fully connected to Motalava (which they refer to as "mainland"). On low tides one can walk along the reef, on high tides, one must take the "taxi" or canoe, which costs around 10 cento (Euro) or 1 SEK. You can see our transport service coming to get us and Rah island on the other side. When they took our bags on one of the canoes, I just remember thinking: "goodbay camera, books and bags...."
Truth is we were received as royalty. We got a huge reception, almost the whole island was there. There was food, flower necklaces and even an arch made of flowers that we had to walk under. You can see Daniela, Jeanette and the arch behind them.
Although I learned not to question gifts and generosity, it felt kind of too much. As if there was something we were not aware of. Chief Frank's kind speech helped to clear that out. Long story short, and to give you some background, two days before we arrived, TVL (one of the two mobile networks in Vanuatu) installed a tower in Motalava. We read about this on the newspaper, just as we were about to embark on the plane. Landing in Motalava we actually met the TVL crew, who were making their way back home.
Now back to Rah and chief Frank. There seemed to be some problem in the communication prior to our arrival. At some point in his speech, Chief Frank said something along the lines of: "Today our guests will rest, and tomorrow Pedro can give us a Digicell [the other mobile network] awareness speech and tell us about his plans for building up the new tower"! Ok, it was clear now why there was all this fuss... first instinct, I am ashamed to say was to "play along", since we felt kind of nervous about breaking the truth to them. But it took only a couple of minutes till we began feeling bad, so we started explaining to them, and subsequently disappointing them a little bit. But it was all good and we were very very warmly hosted, throughout the whole time.
They quickly prepared a bungalow for us, which was really comfortable, as you can see by the pictures.
The bungalow site, quickly became the main hangout spot for all the pikinini (children).

We ate some nice aelan kakae (island food),
drank kava, and stori (talked) a little bit by the beach in front of the bungalow.
Then we rested, after what was a pretty long day... this is the view from the bungalow on a low tide... you can walk to those rocks. On high tide it's a pretty long swim. Behind you can see the island of Vanua Lava, which we went to after one week.
More to come, either tonight, or tomorrow, since it takes ages to upload all these pictures... and my laptop likes to crash every now and then as well... just for the sake of it!

Compilation of events

I kind of gave up on blogging for a while there. First because I was away for over 2 weeks in the Banks, then because when I came back there was such an overwhelming amount of things to write about that I got discouraged... I will try to make up for that now with a couple of posts.

In short, the trip went as follows:
*Motalava Island
*Rah Island
*Vanua Lava (Lanquetak)
*Vanua Lava (Sola)
*Rah Island

And then off we came back to Port Vila. Oh wait, first we did a stopover at Santo, the biggest Island in Vanuatu. Although I only stayed one evening there...

Here it comes!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ra Island and blogging

Ok, I haven't been the most assiduous blogger. Sorry about that. The main reason being that this was supposed to be a blog documenting my research and it is actually a general blog about my stay here in Vanuatu. There are several situations leading to that, the main of all being that I don't yet have a research permission. So no research until that is taken care of.

What I want to say, is that this blog, until further notice, will be like it has been so far, that is a travel blog :) and I promise to try to think about making an effort in attempting to write more often.

...but no the next 2 weeks! We are going to Torba province, in the North. To the Banks, to be more specific, and to Ra island, to be even more specific. It is very far north, close to the Solomon islands and (even) warmer than here. It is one of the most remote areas in Vanuatu, meaning that internet, phone and even electricity will not be easy (well internet pretty much impossible). TVL, one of the networks, has coverage in a big part of the islands, so we'll try that, although some people say you have to climb on trees to get signal. And we have batteries to charge the mobiles (and every now and then someone might turn on a generator).

So... no news for a while, but when I come back I try to stick to my promise (to try to think about.....).

See you soon (hopefully),


P.S. - Ah, forgot about something! Cyclones often appear in the area around the Banks. So wish me luck!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Full volcanic experience!

My first thought when I woke up this morning was that the subway, here in Port Vila, is pretty intense. It took me maybe 20 seconds to realize that the shaking was from an earthquake! Such an absurd feeling that I was not even thinking that there is no subway (or any rail-tracks) of any kind here :).

Anyway, quite impressive stuff... people just kinda came out of their homes and waited, but no one was really scared. 10 minutes later, again... this time slightly weaker. They lasted for a long time, I never experienced anything like this. Maybe around 30-40 seconds each of them.

Seems like it was between 5.4 and 5.8, the first one, according to different reports and the other one around 4.8 (on Richter scale).

So the explanation I got was that the volcano in the island of Ambrym was messing around, but nothing serious and no need to evacuate populations. The epicenter was around 100 km from Port Vila, where we are now.

Well, I guess that is what you get when you come to a place which is basically a bunch of volcanoes :)

The sensation though, really unforgettable... everything just shaking... hard enough to wake me up, which is not really an east feat!