From the monthly archives:

June 2010

A (Student) Traveler’s Guide to Europe

by jbomeara on 29 June 2010

Okay, so you’re about to head over to Europe. I know the little buzz of excitement you feel–the tinglings that creep through your neck and hands when someone says, “I wish I were going to Europe;” the melting sensation when you realize you’ll have the best pastries you’ve ever laid taste buds on; the ideations and titillations that will occur in the (*ahem) coffee shops. I’ve felt all this before. I know where you are right now.

If you have been to Europe as a college student before, or if you are confident that you’ll fare just fine without this little message, no worries. But if this is your first time over to Europe, I implore you to take a few minutes to digest my advice. 

First of all, it’s of paramount importance to make the distinction between traveling to Europe as a college student and traveling here at any other time. If you came over here earlier in life (say, with your folks or with a high school group), then you probably didn’t really do Europe right. In fact, I would argue that you are coming over to Europe at precisely the right time for four reasons: 1) you’re young, energetic, open-minded, and eager to experience another culture; 2) you’re not fettered by your parents or your age; 3) Amsterdam is one of the coolest cities in Europe, if not the world; and, finally, 4) Europe is less expensive right now (and still getting cheaper) than at any point in the past decade. Good work. The ball is already rolling advantageously.

It should be noted that these pieces of advice are reflections of my personality and experiences. I’m waging an internal war against looking like a Raging Tourist while I’m over here, and so far I’m in a stalemate. I recommend that you also make an effort to break out of the Raging Tourist paradigm. Europeans put up with more tourists than you or I can fathom, and they appreciate seeing foreigners make an effort to live in their city instead of treating it like a playground. Try to walk a mile in their clogs. 

So, without further ado, here are some flash points to keep in mind for the upcoming Euro adventure.

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Getting ready to come to Europe

Exchanging money is always a headache. To make the process as pain-free as possible, I strongly recommend that you exchange money at your local bank for some euro bills (about $400 USD should be plenty) to keep in a wallet or purse. Traveler’s checks are safer than cash, but harder to acquire. I had to go down to San Francisco to get traveler’s checks from American Express for this summer. It’s a godforsaken system. Anyways, keep this cash securely on you until you get settled in the apartment/dorm in Amsterdam. This will serve as a rainyday fund, in case you cannot find a bank or someone steals your credit card(s). Once we’re in Amsterdam, find a reliable/cheap bank’s ATMs to use. Exchanging a load of money at your bank in the U.S. will probably come with a 3.75% service charge, which is about the same as what you will be charged in Amsterdam. Once you have your initial euro bills, don’t sweat the money. Just use ATMs.

(Important note: the biggest bank in Paris, BNP Paribas, has set up an agreement with Bank of America where clients of either bank can take money without any flat fee for the service. I’m not sure if there is a similar agreement in Amsterdam. When you call your bank to register your cards for going abroad, ask them if they have a set-up with a bank in the Netherlands. It would certainly be worth the phone call.)

If you trust craigslist.org or are a prudent e-consumer and can find a good deal, I recommend that you start looking for a bike before you get to Amsterdam. Don’t pay in advance, of course, but get to know the seller/renter. Everyone I’ve met who has spent a decent amount of time in Amsterdam couldn’t overstate the benefit of having a good bike as opposed to a piece of shit with square wheels. And while we’re on the subject of the internet, give Amsterdam a few Google searches to see what sort of activities are going on. The World Cup will be done by the time we arrive, but I’m keeping fingers crossed that the Dutch win the tournament so that everyone is in a happy mood. I’ve also found out that a huge classical concert series will be going full-bore while we’re there. I don’t know if that is your cup of tea but I couldn’t be happier. Blunts-and-Brahms sounds peachy. 

Packing is always a trepidation for some of the style-minded folks in the group. (Here’s looking at you, gals.) Even though living in my own apartment in Paris has brought out my inner nudist, I still believe I can weigh-in on this subject with a fair degree of expertise. That being so, I cannot stress this enough: Do not pack too much. Sure, find the biggest suitcase you have and start tossing in your favorite shirts and hot pants, but do not go overboard. You will quickly regret bringing that third pair of leather boots or that 18th black t-shirt when you’re lugging all your stuff through the crowded metro by your lonesome. Err on the side of packing too light, i.e. only bring one or two of your larger items, skimp on the t-shirts and undies. You can easily buy a pack of t-shirts or a bundle of socks after arriving.

Moreover, do not sweat the small stuff on fashion over here. If you have a burning desire to wear designer clothing everyday, go for it. But I’d warn against that. It’s the summer, it will be hot and sticky every day and most nights, and we probably won’t have top-rate washing machines and dryers at our disposal. White t-shirts are the way to go; Armani be damned. I’ve been in way-too-trendy Paris this summer and eurotrash-at-its-worst Berlin last summer, and I’ve never been treated differently because I’m wearing humdrum clothes. If anything my plainness turns heads in a good way. American items are considered chic over here, so you’ll look like a million bucks even if you’re wearing your “hungover in a four-hour Tuesday morning lecture” outfit. Trust me.

To sum up the pre-departure bit, here’s a quick list of things NOT to bring:

  • big towels
  • more than one jacket
  • non-essential toiletries, e.g. shaving cream, toilet paper, shampoo and conditioner, etc. — my mom stuffed a bottle of shampoo in my bag without me knowing last summer and it exploded mid-flight. I love that woman.
  • shoes you’ll wear fewer than once a week
  • pictures of loved ones (Only kidding.)

Anything that you did not pack with you, you can buy in the Netherlands. We’re not exactly going to Timbuktu, here. In the first day or so, get together with your roommate(s) and figure out what the apartment needs in terms of groceries, cleaning supplies, panache doodads, and the like. The more communal we all live, the cheaper it is for everyone. Viva socialism!

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Once you’re in Amsterdam

For the past two summers, I’ve made the monumental mistake of paying way too much to start off my trip. The common faux pas is to go on  a spending binge once you land. People think, “Well, shit, I’m in Europe! Of course I’ll buy that 8 euro beer and a 15 euro salad!” Don’t do this. Be remarkably frugal once you get over here, at least until you have a better idea of how much things cost and where to find your deals. We’re students, after all, not a Hilton sister.

The easiest way to keep your finances in check is to keep mental notes of how much you’re spending a day. Then extend that out to a week, and in turn the month. Never let your weekly expenses go beyond your month’s budget–we’re all braniacs here, find the derivatives. If you go out on the town and spend way too much money on a cute blonde with kind eyes one night, penalize yourself by eating-in for a couple days. Since I’ve been in Paris, I have kept to a regimen of making myself two meals a day and eating out for the third. On days where I make all my meals at home, I might rev the engine a little bit harder at the bars that night. A few kids in my Berlin group last summer went hogwild in the first week and a half of the trip and had no dough left for the most fun festivities at the end. They were running on fumes and mooching handouts for the last week. Don’t do that. Just don’t.

Once you’re settled in a little bit, I strongly recommend getting to know your neighborhood (or another area in the city) as well as you can. It is very rewarding to dig your teeth into a part of town, especially in a vibrant city like Amsterdam. My spot in Paris is famous for its gourmet pastries (God is real, and he is flaky.) and its homeless guys. That being so, I’ve made sure to bump into most of the bakers and patissières in the area and  have a couple humorous run-ins with the hobo crowd. Don’t leave Amsterdam without being able to say that you lived it the right way.

All that being said, allow me to get back to the anti-Raging Tourist campaign. Money aside, we student travelers are often guilty of some big mistakes. It’s important to keep your head and not lose track of your trip’s goals. We’re young and foolhardy, but not so much as to warrant looking like an asshole or angering the locals. Actually, fuck the bombastic paragraph… I like making lists.

  • DO NOT think of Amsterdam as a stoner’s paradise, or at least not in public. The city’s population doesn’t really like to smoke that much. Tommy Chong isn’t running for mayor or anything. It is similar to how winemakers only drink milk and beer at the dinner table. They’re sick of the plant and the stupid kids in Dispatch t-shirts who overindulge. Keep it classy. 
  • DO check out the Heineken plant. I hear it’s pretty sweet.
  • DO NOT go to any parties with a bunch of ambulances around it. They had those in Berlin and half the crowd belonged in a Rob Zombie music video while the other half looked like sleazy Courtney Love doppelgängers.
  • DO NOT be too loud in a public area. A lot of people, especially the young ones, speak English and don’t care if you think “that puppy is so fuggin’ cute!”
  • DO at least a couple things a week that you can only do while in Europe/Amsterdam.
  • DO NOT walk alone at night, especially if you’ve been partying.
  • DO make an effort to call your parents and friends. At the very least, they are probably trying to live vicariously through your Amsterdam stories.
  • DO NOT make those calls after figuring out what the hoopla with absinthe is all about. (Sorry, grandma.)
  • DO brush up on your Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson.
  • DO NOT mention Bob Marley’s name. He’s always accompanied with the aforementioned “stupid stoner” label.
  • DO NOT waste your time mindlessly hanging out in the apartment/dorm. As Ms. Frizzle put it, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” (<– that would make the world’s best tramp stamp, by the way)
  • DO feel free to make me some dinners. I’ll be grateful, pinky swear.

That’s all I have to offer for now. Feel free to hit me with questions/concerns/sweet nothings.

Shameless plug alert…

And if you want to peek at my completely non-academic blog for my Paris travels: http://theoldmonkeysnest.blogspot.com


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Update

by racmccaf on 19 June 2010

I’ve developed a more neutral research question since the meeting: what implications does Amsterdam’s sustainable transport system have for the city’s livability?

How did Amsterdam’s current transport system evolve?

What makes a transport system sustainable? Amsterdam specifically?

Why are cities’ levels of sustainability globally significant?

How is transport a key component of an urban place and how can it be leveraged to make cities more sustainable?

Does the transport system in Amsterdam contribute or detract from the city’s overall quality of life?

How does Amsterdam’s transport system cater to the people’s needs?

Does it enhance or hinder their ability to move about the city?

How accessible are various activities, destinations, and services?

How do residents and people moving about Amsterdam feel about the transport system?

To what degree do planning initiatives take into account livability factors?

How does Amsterdam’s degree of livability relate to the image of the city?

How do the city’s narratives promote or prevent sustainability (question for Jenny instead potentially…?)

Terms:

  • Sustainability: “any economic or social development that improves, not harms, the environment” (Newman)
  • Multimodal: “exploitation of various kinds of transport modes” (Bertolini)
  • Mobility: “the movement of people and goods” (Litman)
  • Accessibility: “the ability to reach spatial opportunities within a certain amount of time in a diverse way” (Bertolini)
  • Livability: a city’s quality of life including aspects of health, employment, income, education, housing, leisure activities, accessibility, urban design quality, and community (Newman)

The first half of the sub-questions are in regards to background/preparation research and the second half are in regards to questions to be answered in Amsterdam.

notes to come……..

General Outline, background

I. Sustainable cities as a global imperative

II. The role the transport sector plays in cities

III. Sustainable transport systems: mobility & accessibility

IV. Amsterdam: its transport system and overall sustainability

V. Characteristics and significance of livable cities

VI. Measuring mobility, accessibility, and livability


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X-Mind Map of Our Research Thoughts

by Jenn RJ on 17 June 2010

If you’ve never used X-mind before it is a lot of fun!  It’s a free download you can get here: http://www.xmind.net/

I’ve been playing with an X-Mind tool to get down some of our brainstorming thoughts and thought I might share it, so let’s see if this works:  Social Housing in Amsterdam Brainstorm v2.  I’ll update this as we make progress!


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Final Spring Assignment (The Last Push)

by jbomeara on 15 June 2010

Introduction:

Integration of Muslim immigrants into Dutch society has been a key issue for the Dutch government ever since the 1960’s and 1970’s, when a need for labor in the Netherlands caused an influx of about 22,000 Moroccan immigrants.[1] (Turkish immigrants were in small numbers at this time, but now constitute about 38% of the Muslim population)[2] However in the past ten years there has been an increase in tension among the Native Dutch and Muslim immigrants due in large part to attacks carried out by Islamic extremists. The attacks of September 11th in 2001, and the murder of a Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in 2004 being some of the more notable incidents.

A poll taken by Motivaction / GPD
in 2006 revealed that 756 out of the 1200 Dutch adults surveyed (63%) believed Islam to be incompatible with modern European life. [3] This view is further supported by the leftist Labor Party, which is calling for an end to the “failed model of Dutch tolerance.” They contend that past tensions between immigrants and the native Dutch have arisen from the unwillingness of immigrants to shed the customs of their native country and adopt a more Dutch lifestyle. Lilianne Ploumen, the Labor’s chairperson, says, “Integration calls on the greatest effort from the new Dutch. Let go of where you come from; choose the Netherlands unconditionally.” The position of the Labor Party is stern; a callous tone justified by necessity. The party, as a reflection of popular demand, outwardly professes a strong message to its newest countrymen: Immigrants must “take responsibility for this country” and “the grip of the homeland has to disappear” in order for tensions to be resolved.[4]

Our group is interested in the lifestyles, social connections and barriers between Dutch nationals (defined as those citizens who have Dutch heritage or, in the case of 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants, have assimilated into the Dutch culture, economy, customs and traditions, and national fabric) and recent Muslim immigrants. Though our overarching research question intends to investigate the borders between the Dutch and Muslim immigrants, the connections that do exist should not be overlooked. We will need to examine cultural areas which do not have borders (e.g. the national soccer team at this summer’s World Cup) to get a more holistic view of the issue. The crux of our inquiry, it must be stressed, will be the disparities and barriers between groups. As per example, the anti-parallel trends of the Netherlands becoming less Christian and more Muslim will be an extremely important notion to observe and analyze. Religion is one of the few things that touches every aspect of society, and so the associations between Muslims and the Dutch (historically Christian) will factor heavily in the scope of our analysis.

In summation, we are excited to have the opportunity to propose and carry out a social science investigation into the condition of Muslim immigrants’ relations to the more conventional, accustomed Dutch population. Our research will depend on finding patterns and paradigms amongst the individuals and groups that we observe. Like other major international cities, Amsterdam has a large immigrant population–as it has for centuries–so it is incorrect to assume that blonde and pasty designates a Dutch person, and brown and bearded means an immigrant. The Netherlands’ exploratory and global trading history has made Amsterdam a melting pot–this being so, we must explore and scrutinize with a carefully honed cultural acumen. Our research will require challenging questions, open-mindedness, and movement through the city, from mosques to YMCAs to schools to bars. If all goes as expected, we might even have to walk some miles in immigrants’ shoes. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Research Questions:

Group Research Question:
What are the covert and overt borders that currently exist between Muslim immigrants and the native Dutch people, and how do these borders affect their integration into Dutch society?

Derek’s Research Question:
“Unemployment among Moroccan and Turkish communities in the Netherlands is higher than the national average: Compared to a 9% unemployment rate of native Dutch, 27% of Moroccans and 21% of Turks are unemployed (SCP, 2006)” [6]

Why are unemployment rates significantly higher for Muslim immigrants than for native Dutch peoples? How does this affect their ability to integrate into Dutch society?

John’s Research Question:
Why are the living conditions for Muslim immigrants substantially different (meaning: worse) than other minority groups in Amsterdam, especially considering the country’s history of assimilating immigrants and the city’s notoriety for tolerance? And what are political and cultural leaders doing to affect prejudices and theological stigmas on both sides of the cultural wall?

Sabra’s Research Question:
According to an annual integration report taken in 2005 The education level among Turkish and Moroccan immigrants (making up the highest percentage of Muslims in the Netherlands) were lower than those among the Native Dutch students.In the final years of primary education for the level of linguistic capabilities the Turkish students were 2.5 years behind and Moroccan students were 2 years behind. In Mathematics both groups were ½ year behind. [5]

Why are the education rates of Muslim immigrants lower than that of the native Dutch? How does this affect their ability to integrate into Dutch society?

Methods Strategy:

In constructing an accurate social representation that answers our research question, we plan to use the strategies described by Ragin, and conduct a dialogue between our ideas and collected evidence. We hope to collect much of our evidence through qualitative field research in Amsterdam, and in the upcoming weeks we will work to clarify our ideas through internet research in order to provide our field research with further context and direction. Once we have collected our evidence, we will work to analyze and synthesize this evidence in order to construct a coherent image that is representative of our observations. Finally, we hope to use our ideas and synthesized evidence to construct an accurate representation of Muslim immigrant life within Dutch society in regards to our research question.

In collecting evidence, we plan to use a combination of interviews and social observation.
We plan to interview both Muslim immigrants and native Dutch people, in order to capture an in-depth look at their relevant thoughts and opinions. As this could be a sensitive issue for our interviewees, we will make sure that we approach them with openness and academic professionalism. We will also interview persons who work at establishments that provide services for Muslim immigrants and establishments that concern relations between Muslim immigrants and the native Dutch population. Through an analysis of our interviewee evidence, we hope to attain a greater understanding of the borders that exist between these two groups. Beyond interviews, we will make general social observations of these two peoples, so that we can obtain evidence that is not tainted by our own interactions with the subjects (we are foreigners after all).

Field Research Schedule:

Our current plan is to spend the first two weeks interviewing and observing and the remaining time constructing our answers to our research questions.

We’ll spend most of our time in Overtoomse Veld when in Amsterdam, as it is the neighborhood with the highest Moroccan and Turk population, with a few of the days spent observing surrounding neighborhoods. This is to get a good feel of how the immigrant neighborhood varies, if at all, form Amsterdam’s other neighborhoods. For the first few days, we want to make surface observations about living conditions, the state of public or private housing, neighborhood interactions, what communal spaces are available and how are they used, ect. Once we’ve completed this first step we’ll start to engage some of the people living in both the Overtoomse Veld, and again surrounding neighborhoods in discussion about the current state of immigrants in the Netherlands.

In the second week we would like to start discussion with some local officials that deal directly with the separate areas of our interests. We’ll be working over the next few weeks to try and set up appointments to possibly talk to someone on the education council about immigrant education, and members of the the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission about possible discrimination against immigrant workers, and students. We will also attempt to set up an appointment with the Contact Body for Muslims and Government (CMO), an organization that represents 80% of the Muslims in the Netherlands.

The final weeks as stated above will be dedicated to pulling our research together, working on our final presentations, and answering our research questions.

[1] Jurgens, Fleur (2007-03-28) (in Dutch), De vier mythen van de Marokkaanse onderklasse, de Volkskrant

[2] van Herten, Marieke (2007-10-25), More than 850 thousand Muslims in the Netherlands, Statistics Netherlands

[3] “Islam Incompatible with Europe, Say Dutch” Angus Ried Global Monitor, http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/12143 (accessed Jun 5, 2010).

[4] Vinocur, John “From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance” New York Times,http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/29/world/europe/29iht-politicus.3.18978881.html (accessed Jun 5, 2010).

[5] SCP (2005) Jaarrapport Integratie (Integration Annual Report). The Hague: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

[6] Staff Writer, . “Islam in Netherlands.” Euro-Islam: News and Analysis on Islam in Europe and the Uniter States. Euro-Islam.info, 2010. Web. 8 Jun 2010.


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Research Outline

by gregbigelow on 15 June 2010

Digital, Visual Urbanism: A Proposed Investigation of Dynamic Screens in Amsterdam

by Max Forbes and Greg Bigelow

Introduction

We propose to study the current and potential impact of public, urban screens in Amsterdam. Long predating the use of urban screens, the presentation of static visual material onto city surfaces has an extensive history in ancient Rome and elsewhere (Huhtamo 16). Indeed, by the “end of the nineteenth century the billboard had become a prominent part of the urban environment” (21). However, taking our cue from Professor of Media History and Theory Erkki Huhtamo and other scholars engaged in the study of urban screens, we would not class billboards, or other relatively static visual materials, as urban screens. Even though they might be able to “suggest a narrative,” they are nevertheless not “a medium for sequential presentations” (21). Without pretending to banish ambiguity entirely, we will place as a minimum requirement that an urban screen be dynamic, possess visual content, and be technologically implemented in some form. To see why these definitional boundaries make sense, it helps to point to an immediate forerunner of modern urban screens, the projection of slides onto “screens, blank walls and even public monuments,” a practice in the United States and Europe dating back to the late nineteenth century and paralleling the rise of widely available electricity and incandescent bulbs (22-24). These projections differ from billboards and other static displays because of their technologically enabled dynamism.

Moving our focus back to the modern day, “information displayed on large projection screens is becoming more and more ubiquitous in urban spaces” (Schieck 241). However, Huhtamo argues that despite this “growing prominence, public screens remain peripheral” in media scholarship (15). In fact, architect and researcher Ava Fatah gen. Schieck says that the presence of urban screens in public space so much alters the built environment that our current analytic tools “are ill-equipped to deal with an analyze” their effects (248). As such, there is ample opportunity to expand social science research on urban screens. Moreover, given the relative novelty of widespread urban screens and their study, we feel that there will be ample room for experimentation in our investigative procedures, making this topic particularly well-suited for the “laboratory” that is Amsterdam.

In order to more closely focus on the social aspects of urban screens, we have chosen to limit our investigation to the impact that urban screens have on a person’s understanding of space in Amsterdam’s built environment. In our understanding of space, we are drawing in part from the work of academic Scott McQuire, who points out that one of the most important effects of digital displays is how they might offer the public the ability to enact “a collective choreography,” and in so doing, alter the ambiance of the public space they co-inhabit (59). Thus, we are examining space not just as it exists in physical extension, but in terms of how it is organized and actively structured through human beings’ “interactions with a combination of physical and media infrastructure, and each other” (57). This is not a controversial move. In fact, it is almost a tautology to argue that the “built environment… acts to structure space” (Schieck 243). The interesting opportunity afforded by this perspective, however, is that it allows us to focus on the ways in which the built environment generates “patterns of movement and co-presence between people, providing a platform for rich and diverse social interactions” (243).

Importantly, urban screens can have a variety of potential effects on the use and structure of the surrounding space, for while some displays might serve “as both an interface with, and the generator of, diverse social interactions” the majority of urban screens “serve mainly commercial purposes, showing objects in different scale and proportions with no direct relation to the surrounding environment” (243). Artist Lozano-Hemmer argues that in some of his own urban screen displays, several of which have been deployed in the Netherlands, a key difference between an interactive media display and “a pre-programmed commercial monologue” is that being able to draw on “participants’ input and feedback” allows “new media technologies” to not only “reproduce and reinforce existing space, social structures or chance encounters, but also hold out a prospect for promoting new social forms” (249). As such, it will be interesting to examine how different types of urban screens (interactive, commercial, recreational, etc.) create, or fail to create, novel and different impacts on the spaces in which they are situated.

Research Question

Given our intended focus, we ask, “How might urban screens alter how people use and perceive space in Amsterdam’s public areas?” In order to better engage in the kind of comparative analysis suggested above, we are not selecting any particular kind of urban screen (projection, LED, commercial, etc.), as the sole target of study. The term “people” is similarly inclusive, grouping together Amsterdam locals and visitors (ourselves included!). Public space is considered space freely available to public movement. Finally, we ask “how might” rather than “how do” in order to leave space for the deployment and study of our own urban screen. In fact, this suggests a possible division of both research question and methods, where we might first study the effects of urban screens currently in use within Amsterdam and then use that knowledge to refine an urban screen system capable of reproducing or modifying those effects or bringing about entirely novel patterns of behavior and spatial organization.

Methods

Our first data-gathering task upon arriving in Amsterdam will be to record and investigate our own interactions with the city’s urban screens. This will include visiting pre-selected locations (such as the “mood-wall,” the CASZ in the Zuidas, or the augmented billboard we showed during our midterm presentation) as well as roaming Amsterdam’s public spaces on journeys of discovery. We will record the locations visited using Google Maps and match each marker with a written description of our impressions of the various areas along with photos and video. This will also include a kind of “derive” through Amsterdam, in which we allow ourselves to be guided both by personal whim and the urban screens we encounter.

Our second data-gathering task will be to conduct observations of “the public’s” interaction with the urban screens throughout Amsterdam. Our goal here will be to gather qualitative data on how people respond to the screens, with a prominent focus on how it alters their movement through space and interactions with others and the screens themselves. We will use photos, video, and handwritten or typed notes to record our findings. Though there is a lessened expectation of privacy in public, if any person directly objects to being photographed or filmed, we will delete our recording of them.

Undergoing this preliminary, wide-lens observation will serve many important functions. First, it will help us gain insight on the general tendencies people in Amsterdam display towards urban screens and allow us to gather information on how different types of urban screens produce different sets of behaviors and cognitive effects. In this sense, our initial observation will serve as a kind of control case. Second, it will allow us to further focus our research by prompting specific questions regarding why we observed the effects we did and potentially how those effects varied across different populations, times of day, and other variables. Finally, this exposure will help us get a feel for the viable types of further data collection that we might pursue. Through getting a general feel for the friendliness or talkativeness of passersby, testing them with a short series of questions concerning their interactions with urban screens, we might gauge the potential of questionnaires or short interviews as viable methods of collecting future data.

With this newly gathered information in hand, we will then deploy our own “urban screen” creation. In designing and using our urban screen (most likely some form of interactive digital projection) we will draw on the work of previous artists and scholars. Schieck, for example, has done an investigation into the social effects of urban screens by deploying a prototype “dance-floor” on the streets of Bath, England, in which she video-taped and tracked people’s movement on the floor and then selected a number of participants for “a structured discussion and a questionnaire” (252). We are currently planning to use a similar methodology.

Timeline

Prior to leaving for Amsterdam we will plan, design and program (perhaps in the “Processing” language designed for projects like ours) the majority of our urban screen display and locate where we can borrow a projector to use while in Amsterdam. We will also continue to explore scholarly literature and email relevant groups in Amsterdam and ask for the opportunity to communicate with them further. This includes organizations such as the Waag Society, the Media Lab at the University of Amsterdam, and the Institute of Interactive Media at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. During our first and second weeks in Amsterdam, we will engage in the personal and public observation detailed above and attempt to meet and interview people associated with the study and deployment of urban screens. In the third week, we will conduct the bulk of our focused observation in public and deploy our own urban screen in pre-scouted locations selected on the basis of their ability to encourage public participation. In the final week, we will wrap up observations about the effects of our own screen and compile all of our data together to analyze and produce a comprehensive report. We will sift through the observations we have to find a few interesting comparisons to make, and explore those details in depth, drawing on both existing projects and our own urban screen experiment.

Works Cited:

Huhtamo, Erkki. “Messages on the Wall: An Archaeology of Public Media Displays.” Urban Screens Reader. Ed. Scott McQuire, Meredith Martin, and Sabine Neiderer. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2009. 15-29.

McQuire, Scott. “Mobility, Cosmopolitanism and Public Space in the Media City.” Urban Screens Reader. Ed. Scott McQuire, Meredith Martin, and Sabine Neiderer. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2009. 45-65.

Schieck, Ava Fatah. “Towards an Integrated Architectural Media Space: The Urban Screen as a Socializing Platform.” Urban Screens Reader. Ed. Scott McQuire, Meredith Martin, and Sabine Neiderer. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2009. 243-261.


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Research Proposal: Transport Systems in Amsterdam

June 14, 2010

In the eyes of both natives and visitors, navigating Amsterdam is a defining experience. When compared to other cities, Amsterdam’s transportation system – predominantly a mixture of bikes, boats, trams, and busses – is unique. While in Amsterdam, we will … Continue reading

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Research Proposal

June 14, 2010

In the eyes of both natives and visitors, navigating Amsterdam is a defining experience. When compared to other cities, Amsterdam’s transportation system – predominantly a mixture of bikes, boats, trams, and busses – is unique. While in Amsterdam, we will research how this system gives the city its distinctive flavor. Jenny will concentrate on how [...]

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Final Paper

June 12, 2010

Final Assignment Introduction: Integration of Muslim immigrants into Dutch society has been a key issue for the Dutch government ever since the 1960’s and 1970’s, when a need for labor in the Netherlands caused an influx of about 22,000 Moroccan immigrants.[1] (Turkish immigrants were in small numbers at this time, but now constitute about 38% […]

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How to ride a bike successfully in Amsterdam

June 11, 2010

Top Ten Tips for Bike Safety in Amsterdam Link
Before merging your bike onto traffic in Amsterdam, it may be helpful to read this first.

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Bicycling and Public Health in Amsterdam

June 10, 2010

Introduction A tourist visiting Amsterdam will notice right away the numerous bicycles filling the avenues and streets. Bikes can be seen at every block, intersection, building, and home; and passengers range from mothers with children to a young man in a suit and tie. The bicycling culture of Amsterdam is unique to their society and […]

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Bicycling and Public Health In Amsterdam

June 10, 2010

Introduction A tourist visiting Amsterdam will notice right away the numerous bicycles filling the avenues and streets. Bikes can be seen at every block, intersection, building, and home; and passengers range from mothers with children to a young man in a suit and tie. The bicycling culture of Amsterdam is unique to their society and […]

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brilliant orange

June 10, 2010

The Netherlands shifts to the right-
The right-wing liberal VVD and populist PVV were the big winners of Wednesday’s parliamentary election in the Netherlands. Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende was ousted after eight years in power. (more here: nrc handelsblad)

The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB)
Netherlands Striker Robin Van Persie Is Better Than Cristiano Ronaldo — (according [...]

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Refined Research Question 2

June 10, 2010

How does the bicycling culture in Amsterdam affect the physical, mental, and social health of an individual in Amsterdam?

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Response to Rachel and Jenny

June 10, 2010

I think you guys already have pretty good handle on what needs to get done for you to achieve your goals with this project and you have a realistic view of your limitations. I think you’re right that you will have to limit your interviews to English-speaking tourists (unless you can somehow find someone willing … Read more

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Response to Jenny and Rachel

June 9, 2010

Your presentation was clear and your topic was well defined. I’m not to sure as to what advice to give you since you have a strong foundation for your research project. Make sure that your research question is well focused and can be accomplished during our stay in Amsterdam. Your topic, “the direction of the [...]

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Peer Response for Greg and Max

June 9, 2010

Hey guys! I greatly enjoyed your presentation, and I regret not finding the time to post my peer response at an earlier date. That being said, after reading your various blog posts relating to your research question, I don’t think … Continu…

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Lunch?

June 8, 2010

What with Rachel and Clifford attending our meeting IN PERSON this Thursday, who’s down for a group meal after our presentations? Rachel and I are going to Aqua Verde, and all the rest of you are encouraged to join!

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Background Research

June 8, 2010

The Association of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Social Class in Outdoor Recreation Experiences
Donald A. Rodriguez, Nina S. Roberts
http://www.nature.nps.gov.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/socialscience/pdf/Rodriguez_Roberts_Rep.pdf
Understanding concepts…

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Refined Research Question

June 7, 2010

I’ve refined my research question to: How do tourists navigate Amsterdam? (Where do they go and how do they get there?) This is the question I plan to investigate while we’re in Amsterdam. Beforehand, I will research the history of the city’s transport system and tourism industry, in the hopes that the data I gather [...]

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Academic literature

June 6, 2010

As I have been narrowing my research question for Jenny’s and my topic on the cultural roles of transportation, I’ve found some really great materials. I thought I’d do something similar to Avery’s blog on research findings and summarize a few of the things I have found thus far and how they will be fruitful [...]

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