Disclaimer: I work in Google's Policy Team, developing multistakeholder cooperations for internet governance & policy themes, hence I want to point out that all the opinions and ruminations on this blog are mine, not Google's.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Virtual Xmas Mail

Hello friends & colleagues

It is slowly becoming a tradition that i send out an xmas/new year mail sharing some of what i consider exquisite brainfood i consumed during the last year. It is also become a tradition that this xmas mail comes substantially delayed, but i trust you are always prepared to receive gifts. I hope you find some bits of your taste. This year the menu contains:

1) Philosophy
2) Futurology
3) Techie (some applications i enjoy using)
4) Fabulous Flicks (movie recommendations)

Before the you unwrap the treats, allow me to give you a short update of the state of my life's venture:
In 2007 I finally managed to travel through Latin America. I backpacked Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina. It was a bit of a rushed and schizophrenic trip, as i had only about 10 days per country and shifted between chilled backpacker and proper professional, because i realized about 20 job interviews along the way. Overall the trip was very successful; I know that, regarding professional opportunities, I like Ecuador best; I found plenty of good friends & professional contacts, and I verified that there are some wonderful mountains to be conquered e.g. the Alpa Mayo (5985m), which was the most amazing climb i have ever done in my life - just check out this picture of the 900m icewall before the peak :-) http://foros.construaprende.com/files/alpamayo_.jpg

Even more relevant to my paths progress, I got my PhD, published a small book on virtual worlds, and taught my first class in Philosophy of Technology. Everyone who is not put off by the bulky title: "Knowledge Entrepreneurship in Universities: Practice and Strategy in the Case of Internet based Innovation Appropriation" can quench his/her curiosity by watching the 42min. video of my defense @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB3nXTNRgPM&feature=user, or listen to the mp3/podcast download my intellectual offspring @ http://entrepreneur.jot.com (the new branded website is still under development @ www.knowledgeentrepreneur.com).
The book i wrote in collaboration with Thomas Stylewalker and Pit Bihr is dealing with virtual worlds and SecondLife in particular. It is available for purchase in spanish @ http://tinyurl.com/2d8h2k but you can access the english version as Open Educational Resource for free @ http://www.thewavingcat.com/virtual-worlds-book/ (there is also a free audio-book version of some parts).
Also in early 2007 I supported my friend David Casacuberta, who is professor at the Universitat Autonoma, in the design and conduct of an introductory course on Applied Philosophy / Philosophy of Technology with particular focus on ethical and meta-physical questions arising in Cyberspace. I found out I really like teaching. I made the typical mistake of believing the students found the matter as mindblowingly interesting as myself and are hence highly motivated to prepare the texts, contribute to forum discussions, collabowrite in a wiki. Well, I hope it only took me one class to remember what my strategy was for most of my early student life... Nevertheless it was good fun and in the long run I'd like to teach.

Last but not least i'd like to share the little i know about my future: I have accepted an invitation to go to Stanford University as a visiting scholar until end of July 2008. I have never been to California, but takin into account that i will have access to the lectures, library and scholars of one of the best univerrsities, that silicon valley with all its entrepreneurial energy is just around the corner, and that this area has some of the best climbs and backcountry skiing, i am optimistic i will not wither.

So without further delay, here is the best-of-max's-brainfood 2007:

JUSTICE vs. POWER: This is the most interesting youtube i have ever seen. When a friend of mine told me about a 12 min clip from the sixties where Noam Chomsky and Michelle Focault disputed the nature of justice versus power, i knew this would be fun, and indeed the SuperNerd and the SuperHomo say very interesting things in a funky way.


BEING ONLINE: One constant theme in my meta-physical reflections treats the condition of Being online and the general question of what the Virtual is. A particularly well done 4.30 min multi-media clip has been produced at the university of kansas in a department that deals with digital etnography. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE


When i traveled through Colombia i met with the director of the Latin American Office of www.crisisgroup.org. It turns out Crisis Group is a very well regarded group of political analysts (they have many ex-foreign ministers on their board), who write in depth and high quality countries reports. If you are traveling to a potentialy unstable country/region or if you just want to read a professional political analysis I highly recommend their reviews. E.g. for Venezuela the report gives you the history of how Chavez came to power and how the situation in the country develop since then.

I believe i recommended these before, but as I come across them as a source of super interesting material again and again...
The RAND corporation is a think tank that published quite famous future forecasts in the 60 where men live on the moon and under bubbles on in ground of the sea. Since then they have learned to be more cautious, but they still publish very insightful reports on a wide range of subjects, from child policy to military technology: www.rand.org/pubs/online/

One of the finds of 2008 is Ray Kurzweil. I posted a short piece on my blog when i read about his extremely optimistic view of the future ( http://maximiliansenges.blogspot.com/2007/06/bright-side-of-future.html) but the chap is really a jack of all trades, has about 12 PhDs and it is really fun and inspiring to browse his website www.kurzweilai.net/brain/

Another outstanding futurologist is Matthias Horx (http://www.horx.com/English/Home.aspx) he has a lot of very interesting analysis and prognosis to share, and - at least for me highly controversial - he is the contrary of an alarmist, basically saying we made a big fuzz about Waldsterben and that climate change will be, or at least can be tackled. On the one hand i agree that it is bad to loose hope&optimism and it's no use crying wolf all the time, but on the other i do see serious reasons to act more responsibly.

http://www.yousendit.com/ - Send 100MB "attachments"
Wanna send your holliday fotos to you friends but your email account only allows 10MB attachments? This site allows you to send (upload) files up to 100MB and then sends a mail containing a download link to your friends.

This little tutorial shows you how to feel what this web 2.0 thing is all about - you can learn how to produce professional radio interviews within half an hour. Let's see whether I get my first podcasts/interviews done in 2008 :-)

This is actually a tool recommended in the tutorial above, there are several tools that allow you to test your internet connection and find out what your download and upload seep really is.

Persepolis - an outstanding comic about a girl growing up the 80ies in a liberal family in iran (i really think this is a very suitable way to communicate modern values especially to muslim women, but no worries this comes implicit, in the forefront it is a very funny, intelligent and subliminally rebel movie) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808417/

Matchpoint - The best Woody Allan i have ever seen - not too funny but rather breathtaking - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416320/

Munich (München) - starts with shokin pictures from the real 1972 Palestinian Olymic Terror Act and then develops into a realistic and very exiting spy story - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0408306/

Stranger than fiction - this is truly really and honestly very funny - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420223/

Against the Wall (Gegen die Wand) - a very good german road-movie style rough romance between german turks http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0347048/

Last King of Scotland - young adventurous medic goes to uganda and become the personal physician of the charismatic maniac who is the president of the country - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0455590/

The Serpent's Egg by Ingmar Bergman - I always sort of avoided Ingmar Bergman movies, because i figured they must be hyper-intellectual and mindful but boring - Well I was very wrong i saw a couple now and found them all entertaining and exciting. The serpents egg is the most thriller-like and definitely good psychological entertainment - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076686/

24 (second series) - it was the first series i watched in ages, and i got hooked with the first episode. it is a truly innovative format (you see 24 hours in 24 episodes, so the plot unfolds in real time) and they always manage the timing so that you end up longing for the next shot (i know its an old method, but i have never seen it so well done) - www.imdb.com/title/tt0285331


Thats it for this year. I hope you found something you like, and that makes you get in touch with me so we dont loose sight! (Which is rather easy given that i am every-&no-where)

All the best & good vibes to you and your loved ones

"I am a wanderer and mountain-climber, said he to his heart. I love not the
plains, and it seemeth I cannot long sit still.

And whatever may still overtake me as fate and experience- a wandering will
be therein, and a mountain-climbing: in the end one experienceth only oneself."

(Friedrich Nietzsche, Also spoke Zarathustra)

Dr. Max Senges
UOC Researcher & Freelance Consultant


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