Category: culture

In Rome: i’m back!

Hello everyone! Finally I’m trying to get back to blogging as I’ve been lazy blogger in the last three weeks, with a good excuse: I am in Rome, Italy for now the fourth week running around, working, settling, apartment searching, adjusting, non-learning Italian yet, trying to keep up with emails. Thanks to all of you for congratulating me, writing me emails, asking how I am – I appreciate you being a part of my micro-community.

First about the work, as many of you asked: I work in the great surrounding, knowledge – sharing – science information – technology – open office with internationals in UN, FAO, networked with the lot of people internally in Roman high institutions as well as externally with EU organizations in a collaborative project that you’ll hear when it’s time to be heard. I’m very honored to be in charge from UN side for this project and thankful to my colleagues and especially my supervisor who gave me full trust and confidence that i can do it. This is great challenge in my career and I am so happy about the work that is developing because it has great future and even greater purpose in technology, science and semantic web, web 3.0. w00t! Every beginning is a bit odd as you try to keep up with everything what’s being done so far, to learn, study a lot, get familiar with new things – and sometimes I feel like a small ant amongst super-smart giants, but on the other side there are lot of colleagues on and off UN who are really owing me with their kindness, their efforts to help me and also learning things from me. One of the surprises from digital life was that half of them read this site/blog or any other written word on Internet. The other half is on Twitter interacting or following me. Those who are not familiar with UN structure would think it’s uptight, too formal institution and I agree – but I am so damn lucky to be in creative, innovative, cooperative part of this institution that is easy-going, relaxed, but hard-working at the same time. So, I am very grateful for being a part of it, participating and creating something new. In the upcoming posts you’ll read more about technology, life and web 2.0 and web 3.0 for sure.

Rome, and Romans: you all know that Rome is the city of architecture per se, no words here to describe how blessed I am to live in this ancient, eternal city (some of the photos). Every corner has it’s own story, many social and cultural characteristics remind me on Belgrade (well, it’s only 1.5 hrs by plane), many differences I’m trying to accept as they are: from the everyday functioning to people’s modus vivendi (referring to Roman people). Everything is assuming and there are no rules. Italians rarely speak English, or not at all. It can be difficult for everyday life – off work, but hopefully if you have some basics in old Latin or French, you can easily catch up with the conversation and understand what it is about.

Oh, I have so many stories to tell so far, but first settling and getting my base here. What I really like in my new Roman life here is that I have enough free time (oh weekends, I love you!) to do whatever I want, not to think about my PhD dissertation (for now), not to think about zillions of freelance projects I’ve been doing lately, exhausting late nights working for 14 hours and more, thinking about the existence or global economy crisis.

I’m trying to establish network of contacts and friends here, and if you happen to read this and you are in Rome, or planning to come – say hello and email me. There are many of my friends coming here and I’ve been meeting few since I’m here, please follow my Dopplr or LiveStream for more accurate information, and I’d be more than happy to meet you for aperitivo, walk, chat, hanging out in Rome.

More writings to come soon…

I am joining the UN in March!

I have been keeping this great news for about two weeks to myself and was trying not to burst it out in the online public, but now officially: from March 1st I am joining the UN (KCEW department at FAO) and moving to Rome, Italy! w00000t!!!!!

I am so ecstatic as everything happened all of the sudden (well, there were some indications around New years Eve and during my conference in US).

I’ll be working for UN as consultant on metadata standards, semantic web, web applications, new projects within the house and with other major world wide organizations,  in a word: I will be participating in creating the future of the Web! w00t!

Going to UN is a natural continuation and the new start of the good things to come. I’m so happy and excited as all the years of my studies, practice, information technology visions, projects, permanent learning, writing, talking, communication, networking with others, activism, will be placed on the right spot, a place that is super stimulative and (for me) futuristic. Remember the connecting dots from Steve Job’s Commencement speech at Stanford? Well, this is exactly happening to me. Everything I’ve been working on since the age of six (6) and upwards have oh so meaning.

And about serendipities, real life serendipities: I remember in 2002 I was in Rome at Semantic Web conference where I was for the first time professionally and deeply introduced to semantics on Web, and later I’ve tried through talks, presentations, writings to spread it to my country but seems then and now noone was really interested in this. I never thought that I will go back to my long forgotten passion. Also, a colleague who was on that SW conference reminded me the other day that I was throwing the coins (oh well, I remember valuable 2euro coins and eating gelato whilst sitting on the edge of the fountain) in Fountain di Trevi assuring me that I’ll come back to Rome, as I never thought about this possibility afterwards. Looks like that the future of the web has reached me and I am so overwhelmed, everything is new for me and challenging.

In the next few days I am getting introduced to a new system, programs, new colleagues, projects, but before that I am finishing what I need to finish in Belgrade and beyond, packing (boxes, luggage’s and mess around me), and looking for a new apartment in Rome. I will reside in Rome (w00t!) which is wonderful as I will be working and collaborating with International team and speak and use English, but after work I will learn (or re-establish my forgotten Latin) Italian, and soak myself into Italian culture (super ecstatic as I’ve always inclined to Mediterranean lifestyle). I started to read Repubblica’s technology and science section with a little help of Google translator, but you’ll see me talking fluent Italian very soon. Those who live in Rome, say Halo or Ciao to me when you see me!

Did I tell you that I am super excited that I will work for the great cause and create the dots for the futuristic Web, participating in great world wide projects?  I can’t wait to begin with my new job, programs, and feel so blessed to be a part of an invigorating web of science, IT environment.

useful resources about Belgrade for foreign visitors – FVC

Despite the fact that ‘Belgrade and Beyond’ blog exists in other form {digital serendipities}, I am still writing  about interesting events and electronic resources on Belgrade, Serbia. For those of you who are not familiar and you happen to reside in Belgrade for some reason, this information may be valuable to you.

Belgrade Foreign Vistors Club (FVC) presents the online community for foreigners in Belgrade, created by  Jonathan Davis. Beside Belgrade FVC there is Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club Wiki, an online information resource for foreign residents and visitors to the city of Belgrade, where you can find high quality community edited information resources and guided directories with useful links.  Also, check out Belgrade FVC forum where you can interact with other members, Twitter feed, and there is Facebook group informing users with current events, reviews, recommendations. I hope you’ll find this information and links useful especially if you are planning a trip to Belgrade or maybe to move here.

my Waag photo in Schmap Amsterdam Fifth Edition

I got email this morning from managing editor of Schmap Guides that one of my Flickr photos – Waag Newmarkt [from Amsterdam set] that I was asked to submit few weeks ago, has been selected for inclusion in the newly released fifth edition of  Schmap Amsterdam Guide. w00t! This is the photo of Waag square, that I took from Waag house last autumn, from the top of the apartment that Waag Institute usually hosts their guests.  It doesn’t pay the bill, but is nice to know that if you use an iPhone or iPod touch, then this same link will take you directly to  the iPhone version of the guide, and looks like this.

Share and enjoy!

my response to survey “don’t have Facebook profile – you’re not “in” “

Recently, I’ve read in media  the results of the survey by “xy” marketing agency (don’t want to advertise them here) who did research of the usage of Facebook in Serbia. This is my response and strong argument against  superficial output without research corpus statements of the author, agency, and unverified data published. I loathe these strong unverified allegations that appear officially. What it was about?

All Serbian media published the ‘results’ of commercial marketing agency’s survey about the popularity of the “sites for youth” in Serbia and they came to conclusion that the most popular are Facebook and My Space.  Beyond this general data, there are other things here I want to share with you, those they have ‘found out’. According to them, their target group was youth, age 18-25:  30%  of the examined population use everyday Internet and 61% of them have Facebook profile, and 37% have profile on My Space.

“They [youth] see Facebook as serious web site which enables them to communicate with people who live far away, to find soul-mates, and to have fun there. They are also emphasizing that those who don’t have Facebook profile – are ‘out’ ” (translated from Serbian, they are not cool, my remark).

Furthermore, the author of this research says that young people are noticing lot of fake profiles and (re)presentations, and Facebook is the reason they communicate less face to face, and therefore conclusion: they have negative Facebook opinion, privacy issues,  and connotation including the Facebook addiction. These three sentences on Facebook was everything we got from ‘research of marketing agency. Yuck!

Now I have to say something and respond to this kind lump of smattering, no survey corpus, non reliable conclusions.

First, this kind of surveys are ‘ordered’ from marketers or agency for certain [non – academic] purposes not to mention that companies of this kind try to demand and fence their users in certain boxes and or pre-ordered groups. Why? There is huge list of e-market interests in Serbia for future (re)shaping their users and making fertile e-ground for new ‘projects’ and investments.

Second, on this survey’s ‘results’ published in all Serbian media:  this unverified data should be kept under huge question mark and reserve from several reasons. There is no corpus of the research – no numbers of people included in this survey: what Serbian networks? Is it University network? High School network (there are no high school networks created on Facebook in Serbia, in general, dear agency)? No-network search of the users? All Serbia network? Methodology? Data? Charts?

For your information, including today: there are 143,891 people in Serbia network, and further – there are 1,619 people in the University of Belgrade network. Does this mean that the author and the agency did survey on  10,000 people? Or maybe 1000? We will never find out that. Did they send their questionnaires to classmates from high school, university, colleagues, ex housemates, lost friends so they have qualitative kind of output? There is nothing in this survey  that would show or notify us about indications regarding research (where is summarized corpus with quantitative and qualitative data?).

As above mentioned privacy issues: they are talking about privacy issues but they didn’t mention the most important fact that those teens and youth are exposing their FB profiles to the public along with their photos from parties, open for public. I got feedback data (youngsters) in Serbia network, as i was noticing and reporting to some of them that their profiles can be seen to everyone (along with photos).  From my direct talk with them, they didn’t know that their profile is exposed (not literate enough to find and adjust privacy settings) and this is the most often case with the group of undergrads who simply was not familiar with privacy mechanisms.  They were in shock (“oh my god!” reactions, and “I thought it was ‘friend only”) “,  which indicated that this small sample of youth in Serbia are self-aware that Facebook is network !read Network! for gathering with friends with whom they know from real life and re-establish connections (already existing) with, primarily, high school mates, university colleagues, etc.  They don’t care about strangers  or unknown people pending on ‘friend requests’ list. Of course there will be ‘collectors’ of strangers and friends for such purposes (we have them in everyday life), but finding soul-mates? I’m afraid , dear agency, that Serbian youth are gathered around Facebook for different reasons but finding soul-mates. They are soul-mating on other places.

“Conclusion there is negative Facebook connotation including the Facebook addiction” is hideous and contradictory if we have in mind above numbers (61% have Facebook profile and is the most popular site). If Facebook is such a bad and negative social network site, then why would many thousands of Serbian population get connected, socializing  with their friends, colleagues, classmates and communicate with them on daily basis? They are on Facebook to hang out with their friends and classmates in pre-existed relationships from real life, or re-connecting with those they’ve lost contact with, or connecting with their allies they never met face to face. There is huge University of Belgrade community on Facebook who talk about upcoming exams on the boards, exchange information, how-where-to find that book for exam, info on conferences, projects, etc.

Few years back, when I was doing research for my Master thesis – the existing surveys of Telecom (national telecommunication company) or CePIT(center for the research in Information-communication technologies) , have got not only explained methodology and all important basic data from their research, but also they’ve created user-friendly charts as you’d read at any e-journal, magazine out there. Open accessed and published to all media.

Said that, I am strongly arguing against this kind of public superficial announcements in media with suspicious outputs as millions of people in Serbia are reading them and (probably) taking them for granted, without having in mind the facts (Serbia network on Facebook as well as the other networks -university, work, region), social-technological context, survey corpus, criteria, purpose.  Question everything, question me!

On socio-ethno-anthro context of “you are  noone if you are not on Facebook” in Serbia,  I will write in the upcoming texts.

virtual me. ID/Entity

This is the name of the presentation on Saturday, October 4, 2008, in O3one Gallery in Belgrade as the part of regular program of  B-LINK festival of New Communications. It was created two years ago as a rare example of an initiative to show and adequately promote creative and innovative tendencies within web environment, primarily in domains of experimental art, web design and now researching new technologies and the impact they have on society.

Social Me section brings ID/Entity where I’ll be presenting with my co-author, visual artist and lecturer Aleksandar Macasev, educational content on Identities (personal, social, national, virtual) using different forms:  video, micro-video forms, blog, live casting.  Co-authored blog – “Me Virtual You” – will be opened for the public after the talk and presentation. We will not be physically present: Aleksandar will tune in from New York (where he works and lives) and I will be at the other geo-spot on BlogOpen meeting giving a talk. This is great opportunity to test communication performances in virtual space with attendeees and partcipants in physical space (gallery) while we are on different geo-places. You are welcomed to come and see what’s in there.

why Palin is the most searched word?

Three weeks ago, when I was about to move my blog from old address to this – new one I’ve noticed that people in blogosphere have gone crazy about the post I’ve written two years ago about Michael Palin’s visit to Belgrade.  In the meantime I figured out that peeps across the pond got a bit excited not only by upcoming elections, but because of controversial and hideous appearance of Sarah Palin character. It hard to explain to decent European what’s going on there, especially if one is not into world news services.

Recently, I found out that one of my readers jokingly grabbed Palins photo and gave lol-cat treatment regarding the above political story. To be clear here, I deeply respect and love Michael Palin’s work since I was a kid and watched every episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Then, the title of this photo [The Vagina Vote], got me today into wonderful serendipity and to laugh-out-loud article “Drill, drill, drill” written by Eve Ensler {playwrightfeminist and activist, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues}, starting that she is having S.Palin’s nightmares… I wonder how world would be more peaceful and friendly place if Michael Palin was a candidate.