Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

While we justified our trip to Brazil as attending a conference, I will now openly admit that it was actually a festival. After three days of listening to all kinds of interesting projects and networking opportunities, I felt like my head was flowing over with information and new inspiration to take home again.
Experiencies exchangeTo give you readers some context: Festival Cultura Digital is an International encounter where different people, projects and groups present themselves in order to strengthen an international network of people working in the field. Three days full of experiences exchanges, workshops and keynote speakers such as Yochai Benkler, Michel Bauens, and Paolo Coelho amongst othersall treating the workings of the web, independent media, hacking and so much more. We were there, now known as ‘map:m()b’ to talk about mapping stories and community journalism.
We were scheduled only on the third day of the festival and therefore had the rest of the days to watch and learn from the other projects. Many interesting ideas passing the agenda. The festival hosted such an great amount of projects and initiatives that it was impossible for us to attend them all, however I do want to give you an impression of some projects to expect there.

Waste2No project explores how the Internet of Things (IOT) can be integrated with Urban and domestic environments in order to enhance sustainability. In this stage, the project aims to create a website that allows people to share, sell and trade.
Waste2No plays in to the community feeling, of sharing things with people in your environment. It is an app where you can point out the things you can miss by scanning them and putting them in the object cloud. Consequently, people in your close vicinity do the same and when you need something you can look up through the app if people around you might be able to lend it to you. I liked this project very much having in mind the enormous amount of waste people produce. From my own obsession with recycling, I could only cheer for this project as not only do we prevent ourselves from buying everything, it will also increase the connections within a neighbourhood.

This project aims to map ‘owners’ on the internet. Where are the control nodes of the service used by thousands of global citizens.
An Amsterdam based project that gives workshops on how the internet works. They for example teach children on how the network functions and ask critical questions such as:”Is the internet only turned off in a little circle, or in the whole country?” If there is still connectivity you can use that still to communicate. An important asset as we are ever more exposed to the Internet and more dependent of technology. Asking critical questions can’t start early enough and is done way too little!

As I mentioned earlier, there were many many more projects but I will keep the amount to be discussed here limited.

The second day was important for us as we would meet up with several people from the cartography group. As the schedule of Cultura Digital was quite chaotic despite the strict time schedules, we noticed that many of our ‘colleagues’ were as lost as we were. Eventually we decided to make our own network meetup and had a long and useful talk with Breno and Mariana, two members of a group called Mapas de Vista, an app in order to map on CMS systems such as Drupal and WordPress. After a short presentation of Leo, the more technical expert behind the system he got us convinced and in only a few mouse clicks, we destroyed our whole website. Obviously, as it was supposed to be a simple operation, it always turns out be not so simple in the end. Luckily, we were in the presence of the right people and were able to install the website the right way eventually. Even though not nearly finished yet, please feel free to have a peek at our new website:

After that, all participants were invited to have a look in IPE, at Morro da Conceiçao, a digital culture space with a political notion. After a tour in a beautiful part of Rio, we were treated with a performance by a theater group treating gender topics amongst others.


The final day then, we were scheduled for a presentation that got completely on the background of all the interesting things to do. We spend the whole morning editing but managed to complete it at the due time. Unfortunately our attempt to upload it ended up a little buggy, but we’ll try soon again. Ellen prepared a last minute Portuguese presentation informing about our project Dreammachine.
And as we haven’t been updating you much lately, this is shortly what it’s about:
Our aim is to visualize dreams of youngsters in order to make them think out of the box. Not only do we believe dreaming is great and necessary to get yourself inspired to achieve things, at the same time we want to challenge them to use new techniques such as video and photo editing. Our experiences so far, in the Netherlands are that many of the kids still remain dreaming in terms of work and that only few talk about becoming happy. As well money seemed to be an important issue for many of the kids (often from Moroccan and Turkish descent).

The gran finale of Festival Cultura Digital was the arrival of old minister of Culture Gilberto Gil. Although I often don’t feel much for ‘the famous’ I caught myself laughing sheepishly as mister Gil patted me friendly on the back. A proud feeling of our first festival as map:m()b duo.



Librepensante/Free thinker

Posted: October 10, 2011 by Fei An in Uncategorized

Touching Colombian ground again after my thesis felt like coming home again. The air, the people, the vendors, everything felt, sounded and tasted familiar. And of course, the good thing about coming back is to see old friends again. After a few days of acclimatizing I felt like I had never left.
And soon enough also I rolled into the familiar field of activists and artists again. On this Wednesday, contemporary artist and designer Hamilton Mestizo invited me to a conference in the Javeriana University. I got to know Hamilton during my thesis as a friend of a friend where he already told me about the project “Librepensante” several times, but it was only after this conference that I really understood what he was doing. Librepensante was a small collective aiming to establish a network between ‘things’: human and non-human, digital and non-digital. As we entered a little late to the meeting, Hamilton was already explaining about some of the projects they had done earlier. Although many of the projects were very technical in its execution and a little too far- fetched to understand for a non-technician , most of them had a strong conceptual idea behind it as well.
The first example was a doll that would run on solar energy. The task for kids was to take care of it and reply to the demands of the doll. Thinking about Tamagotchi a little bit, I guess you could consider this the organic, child labour free and environment friendly version.

Another project that I liked very much was related to urban gardening, the growing of plants and flowers in urban settings with a touch of technology to it. For those who are familiar with the city of Bogota, know that air pollution is very prominent in most of the busy areas of the cities. Therefore, the group Librepensante thought of a way to purify the air. Walking around with a cart of herbs and CO2 consuming plants, one of the participants of the project would walk around in town breathing in the only bit of fresh air available in its surroundings (see picture). The other aim of the project was to explore alternative uses of ordinary products and utensils. Fruit, connected to electrodes was used to generate energy and a Playstation joystick used as a bike bell.

This new way of “product hacking” made me realize something about the society we live in. Do we actually know the things we are using? Or have we just become passive and uncritical consumers? If a lemon can create the same effect as a battery, what more is my smartphone capable of that I have no idea of?

Geen bitterballen?

Posted: May 4, 2009 by Fei An in Uncategorized

Even een blog in het Nederlands hoor voor ik straks ook nog mijn moedertaal verleer…

Hoewel, hier in Costa Rica zal het allemaal wel meevallen aangezien een groot aantal inwoners hier uit de lage landen komt. Koninginnedag dus! Ik hoef natuurlijk niemand te vertellen dat het in Nederland op een groot drama was uitgelopen, maar de effecten waren zelfs hier in San Jose te merken. Allereerst moet ik zeggen dat ik, nationalist in hart en nieren, niet eens van plan was om de verjaardag van de koningin te gaan vieren. Uiteindelijk heb ik me toch laten overhalen door een oude Hollander hier in het hostel en heb ik me zelfs (!!) in een oranje outfit gehesen, iets wat ik zelfs niet doe in Nederland.

De eerste tekenen van een niet zo geslaagde avond vertoonden zich echter al tijdens de reis naar de ambassade, beter gezegd, de reizen. Wat ik nu al meerdere malen heb gemerkt is dat de buschaufeurs hier niet te vertrouwen zijn! Het is me al drie keer overkomen dat ik om een waarschuwing had gevraagd wanneer ik  mijn plaats van bestemming zou bereiken, en drie keer stond ik ongeveer 10 kilometer verderop weer op een bus terug te wachten. Van die drie keer, waren er al twee tijdens de zoektocht naar de ambassade. In totaal dus 3 bussen om plaats van bestemming te bereiken. Dit kan zeker weer op mijn lijst van rampzalige busreizen in Zuid, inmiddels midden-Amerika.

Eenmaal aangekomen op de ambassade (1,5 uur later) leek het meer op een rouwbijeenkomst dan op een verjaardag. Er waren hapjes, maar…geen bitterballen???? Nee, liet ik mij vertellen, vanwege de gebeurtenissen in Nederland had de ambassade een deel van de hapjes maar diepgevroren, inclusief bitterballen en haring. Wat ik nu ga zeggen is ronduit verschrikkelijk, ik ben mij daar van bewust, maar na 7 maanden zonder Hollandse pot was ik meer teleurgesteld door de afwezigheid van deze snack dan door de gebeurtenissen in Holland. Liefde gaat immers door de maag toch??

Uiteindelijk was deze avond toch niet helemaal een fiasco, want een gesprekje met de ambassadeur van Nederland heb je natuurlijk ook niet iedere dag! Beetje jammer alleen dat ie mij hield als de jonge Aziatische maitresse van de oude Hollander uit het hostel…

The show must go on!

Posted: February 28, 2009 by Fei An in South America, Uncategorized
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But I really wish it didn’t this time! Yes, it’s bustrouble time again! After all the trouble we’d had lately I really thought we would be lucky for once. Or actually, it has nothing to do with luck, I was more wishing we didn’t have bad luck! But apparently we must have done something really nasty in our former lives which gave us some bad karma in this one!

It went almost right: we checked out on time, didn’t forget anything and stood waiting for the bus already half an hour before departure time. But what do you do if the bus is late? Right, you ask the people from the bus station if the bus is already on its way. And what do you do when those people tell you this is not the right bus station? Right, first all the suntan disappears from your face and then you start hurrying the hell out of you to see if the bus is maybe, possibly, PLEASE still be waiting or delayed! How I wish I was in Bolivia now where busses run late standard half an hour! But que pena, que pena, the bus was gone. This asked for action again, that is, chasing the bus in a taxi and trying to reach the bus driver to stop the bloody vehicle! And after 10 minutes and 22 pesos lighter we caught it! With 3 angry bus drivers waiting for us outside and even more angry passengers inside we had the best busride in Argentina so far! Red wine and whisky included!

Ain’t no mountain high enough!

Posted: February 28, 2009 by Fei An in South America, Uncategorized
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After this sporty venture, it was time for a cool down. Destination: Bariloche, north Patagonia. An expensive, highly touristy little ski-town where the uptown Latinos come during winter. Right now it’s summer, that means temperatures between 15 and 20 degrees and a lot of sun. The city is surrounded by  mountains and lakes and offer great views after a heavy hike…
We started this very adventurous day by a hitch hike in the back of a jeep. Going with the flow, as they say, we had no idea where we were going and we didn’t really care either; we wanted excitement. They dropped us at a little village in the valley surrounded by high mountains.

We thought that getting to the top of the mountains by an elevator full of happy families and elderly people didn’t really fit our adventure image. So Ellen was suggesting to climb the mountain by ourselves. For that suggestion, she received two angry faces: Fei and Rian weren’t really into that since the road to the top seemed endless, but they did like the idea of hike. After all, we found out that there was a hike to the very top of the mountain, that would only take one hour and a half! Sweet, peace of cake we thought!

Full of energy we started walking, walking, taking some photos, and a bit more walking. Following the route of our map, it didn’t take very long before we arrived at point 2 of 14. We never got to point 3…

This is how the story goes: at point 2 we could chose two directions. We of course decided to continue being adventurous and chose the wrong direction. This all with protest of Rian, who turned out to be right soon enough, but two donkeys against one human always win… After 20 minutes climbing we found out that we couldn’t get any further and we had to go all the way back to point 2.

And as donkeys never bump their head twice, we thought it would be better to follow our map if we really wanted to arrive at our destination without having to spend the night in a bear’s belly.  Although they say that the Dutch found out the map and usually are very good at reading them, we made it to lose track again without noticing. When we still hadn’t arrived at point 3 after about an hour, we discovered that we were probably lost…again…

But we made it! Through bushes and sandy hills Charly’s Angels (as our hitch truck driver called us) got to the top and planted their flag. And even though the whole 4 hour walk went with a lot of whinying, it was all forgotten when we achieved our goal! The way back went a lot smoother in a cabin – after paying 35 Pesos and joined by those earlier mentioned happy families – and we slept like three little angels that night.

Bikesandwine in Mendoza

Posted: February 28, 2009 by Fei An in South America, Uncategorized
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Mendoza, famous for its wine. An alternative way to discover the huge bodegas that fill the city’s beautiful landscape is by bike. Like real Dutchies we didn’t have to think twice! The weather was extremely good. Hot. 40 degrees. Great weather for biking and wineing. Compared to Santa Cruz and Sao Paulo the sun attack of Mendoza seemed a joke, but coming from cold and icy Holland, Rian had a much harder time fighting the heat. So the only thing she got to taste during the trip was water and dried figs (so her sugarlevel would go up) while Fei and Ellen instead were enjoying the wonderful rosado the area had to offer and in the meanwhile also ate half of Rians fig portion (we swear, she didn’t like it anyway!). It was a truly cool experience to see the source of some Dutch supermarket wines but also painful to see how much we usually pay for it…