When people ask me how the symposium went, I can't help smiling and saying: it was quite a success. My perfectionist mind has to admit the fact that all speakers were generous in what they shared, their presentations were well thought-out, the visuals were dynamic (with the usual technical disclaimers), and the audience was alert and engaged all day. The Gerritzen-Krier duo (our first) proved fruitful, because Mieke [Gerritzen] can package content like no other - she zips it, labels it and condenses it, so that it remains readable and digestable to all, where I tend to differentiate more and more, at the risk of losing sight of the original stakes of the day. The day got a fresh reset with every Lucky TV interlude, which were selected to fit the day's rhythm.
What were we looking for, originally? We wanted to know how to become 'media savvy' (something both Henk Oosterling and Geert Lovink talk about in the accompanying journal). We also wanted to know if the online world can teach us new modes of critical (read: selective) thinking. Along the way, I hoped that we would be able to identify what a "qualitative online experience" would look and feel like. This question came up while preparing the day's debate (which, due to time issues, had to be greatly shortened, unfortunately) with Henk and Koert [van Mensvoort]. We reasoned over a glass of wine, that if you know how to identify quality online, and you can describe that experience, then you are probably looking at new criteria of quality in of the online-offline visual era. And if you have identified those you also know what kind of (non)infrastructure you need to nurture and foster that kind of quality. But of course it's not that easy.
So did we find what we were looking for? Not quite, as always. Three bloggers plus special reporter Robbert van Strien did track the day's numerous insights here, here, here, here and here. I think that the gathered energy of the day (over 250 people braving a Saturday snow storm, our keynote speaker included, is worth taking note of) has put our question on the cultural agenda (see the Volkskrant article published on the Monday after) - and I think the day simply asks for a second edition next year. My starting point would be "a possible semantics of the visual", a quest which Rick Poynor referred to in his talk, combined with "oxymoron aesthetics" - inspired by Bruce Sterling's invigorating, forward-looking plea entitled Revisions of the Digital.
To be continued...