From Geokult – Istanbul and ISEA2011 – physical and virtual access

18 09 2011
Lost at the Spice Bazzar or 'Leeches at the Pet Market'

Lost at the Spice Bazzar or 'Leeches at the Pet Market'

One of the biggest challenges we have experienced in Istanbul is actually working out where we are on the map. It is relatively easy to identity significant sites like the Hagia Sofia, The Blue Mosque and Taksim Square, but to try and find small galleries, restaurants and hotels off the main streets is somewhat difficult. We have four different tourist maps of the Sultanahmet and Taksim areas of the city and none of them are the same. That said, we have now been here nearly a week and have worked out how to get to most places that we want to go to.

We have also experienced other issues with access, primarily around accessing the Internet. At our hotel the WiFi connection changes with the wind, despite a wireless transmitter being on every floor. At the moment we are sitting on the rooftop terrace and the wind seems to be holding thankfully. Besides, there could be a lot worse places to sit and wait to the WiFi to blow in.

Navigating the ISEA2011 festival is also somewhat challenging, both physically and virtually as there is so much happening at many locations around the city.

Nicholas Knouf made these incisive comments about accessing the main ISEA2011 venue on the -empyre- list:

This requires being checked off of a list and then traveling through a metal detector with your belongings x-rayed. You find yourself in front of two gleaming towers of uncountable numbers of floors that reflect the blue sky. You realize that this is not the university, but rather the headquarters for Sabanci Holding (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Sabanci_Group), which appears to be the largest industrial and financial conglomerate in Turkey, while also the organization behind the founding of Sabanci University. Once you make your way through men and women in perfectly tailored business suits and executives being escorted into Mercedes to be driven to power lunches, you find yourself in front of another metal detector and x-ray machine which may or may not be used (I didn’t have to go through it when I entered). Inside is bland corporate decor not unlike anything else in the globalized world. Hacker or DIY space this certainly is not, and the internet seems to block anything that doesn’t travel on ports 80 or 443 (meaning any local e-mail clients on computers or smartphones won’t work; Blackberries won’t work; and seemingly only web traffic will go through).

Language is also proving a challenge at times. Many people do not understand English and when we have attempted to speak Turkish quite often we just get shrugged shoulders. What we have found effective however, especially in cafes and on the tram is to use French. This is quite hilarious as our French is very rudimentary, though expressions like ‘Pardon?’ and ‘Bon chance’ seem to be working well.

As we finish writing this blog, we now are at the Karakoy campus of the Sabanci University, because there is no WiFi access at our hotel. Apparently (according to the hotel manager), the entire area of Sultanahmet is without Wifi. Hmmm, I don’t think so.

Despite the challenges in access and language, we are still enjoying Istanbul and ISEA2011. We have seen some wonderful exhibitions as part of ISEA2011 and the Istanbul Biennial, which we will report on later.

This post has also been published in Geokult.

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@Trib’s Challenge

5 11 2010

After I posted a blog about my TEDxCanberra experience one of the organisers, Stephen Collins (better known in the twitterverse as @trib), set forth a challenge in the form of a comment posted on mediakult.

It read:

I’m so glad you found TEDxCanberra inspiring. Now, while we all still have that TED-ache, it’s time to get out there and do something, anything, that makes a little bit of difference.

Now I have been thinking a lot about his comment and how I might make a difference. Most of my ideas are linked to my interest in human rights, the environment, sustainability and social inclusion as well my passion for accessible, flexible and usable online environments. In particular, as I have been doing some research into the uptake of 3G mobile technology in remote Indigenous communities, I have been thinking about how I could make a difference to the access that young people have to the Internet via mobile devices. I am especially interested in how this form of communications could have a beneficial effect on literacy and education.

Another event I recently attended also further triggered my interest in collaborating with young people in remote communities. Earlier this week, I was very lucky to have attended the Iconic Songs book launch where Neil Murray and Shane Howard also performed. The Warumpi Band and Goanna both made a big impression on me as a teenager, as I had spent many formative years in Darwin. Through my love of the natural environment I learnt a lot about the connectedness of everything in Indigenous cultures. To understand that family, community, land, spirit, ancestors and ceremony were all linked as aspects of identity was a tranformative and awakening experience for me as a young person trying to understand the world from a bigger perspective.

Well, I guess my ideas at this point are a bit vague, but today I am making my first baby step – by registering to be an Indigenous Community Volunteer.

Anyway – I will keep you informed of my progress in this area -so watch this space 🙂





Transmission Lines 1955 – 1974

20 07 2008

Transmission Lines 1955 – 1974 is a project by Linda Carroli. It documents her father’s working life as a rigger and linesman with the Electric Power Transmission and its Italian parent company. He kept a photographic record of his working life and the photographs featured in this map are his personal photographs from various transmission line projects around Australia and Italy in the period 1955 to 1974. However, he commenced work in Italy in 1954 and remained working with EPT until 1975.