Uncommon Ground

VP international expert meeting during Crossmedia week

27 Sep 2006
28 Sep 2006

In recent years there have been many attempts to make the knowledge (not only products but also the ideas and techniques) developed in universities and media labs more readily available to the professional sector and the wider community, and vice versa. The English term for this is ‘knowledge transfer’ and across Europe the most developed economies have developed a raft of projects, incentives and policies aimed at connecting universities in more vivid and effective ways to business and the wider community. www.picnicnetwork.org


WGF - de westergas fabriek

However anyone actually involved knows the difficulties in making productive dialogue between the academy and the professional sector work in practice. University research can seem to exist in a different world, with different routines, formats and most importantly, a different pace. Many academics will argue that their distinctive value will only remain if these differences are protected. However there are many working in universities who would actually like more contact with the industrial sector but are hampered by insufficient knowledge of how things are actually done in business. For those working in industry who wish to have more access to university research, academic knowledge is difficult to access. Moreover, reading academic papers is not the same as reading professional magazines, and academic conferences are very different from business seminars. Academic knowledge is often not readily applicable in business situations. Translation is called for, but this is not easy to provide.

There is no shortage of productive and imaginative initiatives that make it their business to support the different communities in a search of ‘common ground’. But is it really ‘common ground' that is required? In this meeting we will test the very opposite proposition - that the most productive outcomes occur when these very different communities risk using one another’s territory to occupy uncommon ground. It is the fresh perspectives emerging from this conceptual shake up which lead to innovation.

Case Study Driven
The concept of uncommon ground is a starting point, nothing more. Our meeting will be case study driven. Yes we are looking for new ideas useful formulations but they must emerge from the case studies. Theories are welcome but they are also disposable.
By unpacking a small number of significant case studies, our goal is to go beyond a parade of 'success stories' ??? to a sharp and productive examination of what constitutes a successful outcome. We will not focus on what it was about, but rather will try to understand what actually happens.

This meeting is the result of a series of valuable (but informal) discussions between Virtueel Platform and the Utrecht School of the Arts (Faculty of Art Media &Technology - KMT). The two institutions are both asking similar questions from distinct but complementary perspectives. Virtueel Platform is a foundation tasked with nurturing innovation within the cultural sector in the field of new media, whilst the KMT has a long history of linking art and technology to create a faculty with a strong industrial emphasis, at the same time delivering the young professionals to form future creative communities. Developing this meeting is the beginning of what we hope will be medium-term program of meetings operating under a general rubric of the 'reality checks' in the Creative Communities.

An important aspect of this meeting will be the opportunity to capitalize on the results of our discussion by means of a detailed and extensive follow up. The event will be recorded and edited proceedings published. The goal in this publication will be to supplement the proceedings with a number of additional monographs aimed at synthesis, which will include conclusions and recommendations.

Host organisations:
Virtueel Platform
Utrecht School of the Arts (Faculty of Art Media &Technology) site

Case Study Presenters (provisional list)

1. Creative Communities
John Thackara, Design of The Times www.dott07.com and Doors of Perception www.doorsofperception.com

2. Mobile Bristol
Erik Geelhoed and Claire Reddington, Hewlett Packard Labs, Bristol, UK

Simon Robertshaw, ICDC, UK www.icdc.org.uk

4. Media Guild
Andrew Bullen, Mediagilde Amsterdam www.mediagilde.nl

5. Entertable (Philips and HKU)

6. Royal College of Art/Helen Hamlyn Research Centre
Bas Raijmakers, RCA

Tim Putnam, School of Art, Design and Media, University of Portsmouth, UK
David Garcia, Utrecht School of the Arts, NL

Location and other events
Uncommon Ground will be held at the Westergasfabriek culture park, a unique industrial heritage location in the city of Amsterdam. The meeting takes place on the eve of an international conference on the theme of crossmedia called Picnic 2006.