Category Archives: life

From software to art: a personal journey

Abstract for Keynote at O Simpósio Brasileiro de Fatores Humanos em Sistemas Computacionais (Human Factors in Computing Systems) 5-9 November 2012

Is it ok? I need feedback please!

Computer based art has existed since the 60’s with artists like Michael Noll and Frieder Nake. The first computer art exhibition was held in 1965 in New York. The CEP, standing for “Pisan Electronic Computer” had been inaugurated in 1961 and was the first computer designed in Italy. I was born in Pisa in 1965 and I started to study computer science in early 80’s when software still was a phenomenon for computer specialists.

During the 90’s, when I was a PhD student at Politecnico di Torino, studying problems of software engineering process support, the world experienced the advent and the evolution of the personal computer, the web, software tools like Adobe Photoshop, and electronics tools such as cameras and mobile telephones. Software governing multimedia, the web, search engines, mobile computing, games, and social media, was penetrating the life of citizens and was changing the way people work, experience culture, communicate with each other, and learn.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the world was assisting to an explosion of both production and sharing of digital content, by engineers, artists and also common people. I became professor in software engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in early 2000 and I established an interdisciplinary project course and a research project about art and software.

As a software engineering scholar, the concrete goal is that of producing new knowledge about software engineering technology that support artistic projects for which software plays an important role. How can we characterize the development process of software dependent artwork and projects in terms of software development, maintenance, upgrade and usability of the artwork? How can we gain an increased understanding about software by borrowing concepts from the arts? These are the main questions that guide our research. These queries are dealt with systematic literature reviews and case studies.

As a teacher and project facilitator, I am motivated by the inner joy of creation with software and I am fascinated by the idea of open source art as the new frontier of artistic creation. In my talk, I will provide examples of participation to art projects with focus on Open Source Software, documented by pictures and videos.

As a disseminator of software issues to the broad audience, my agenda for participating in software intensive art projects, is to increase interest in software by exposing it to a broad audience, to make software visible in the public space and raise public engagement about software and its potential to be used in creative activities.

The main contributions of this piece of work are the conceptualization of themes at the intersection of software and art and identification of the issues that contribute to the success or failure of a software dependent art project. Moreover, we make proposals on how the software discipline can be improved by borrowing concepts from art. Increased knowledge about the intersection of software and art benefits cultural industries, which produce media for publishing enterprises, museums, and entertainment with better technology platforms for cultural and entertainment industries and better conceptual models for decision makers.

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people

I was helping my son with Religion and Ethics home work yesterday and I read this sentence in his book.
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. quote

I suddenly remember that I read it when I was a teen ager and I read about Martin Luther King at school. I remember how many times I have spoken to defend what I believe is good and go against what is bad. Unfortunately, with the years, I have started to talk less. Talking less is good for your career and networking but it can be bad for your heart.

about the use of English, Norwegian Bokmål

Here my comment and a more general discussion about the use of English, Norwegian Bokmål, and nynorsk at NTNU. I hope the opinion of Marianne Eriksen whom I do not know and I thank for debating with me is not shared by several NTNU persons. Otherwise, there is little hope for NTNU to succeed in International competition and for Norwegian people to integrate in the International world.

How do you say “spread” in Italian? In Italian we say “spread” (lo spredde)

Italian newspapers and TV always mention the “spread” (read “lo spredde” since Italian words starting with “sp” need the article “lo” and not “il”.). I understand that “spread” measures a relation between the Italian BTP and the German Bund. Since I heard the word spread for the first time some months ago, this value has been in a range between 300 and 500, for example this article of the 12th August reports a spread of 431.  Can it be that the German Bund is 400 times more valuable than the Italian BTP? I do not understand properly but I understand that I do not understand exactly what the spread is as I tried to explain to a Spanish friend yesterday and I did not manage. She said she has not heard this concept in Spain.

Now I have not been living in Italy for at least 15 years. I have no formal education in economy. So it may be my fault. But why do Italian media have to use words and concepts I do not understand? How many Italian persons do understand “(lo spredde)” and the economic situation of the country?

about the Italian education system

On a Sunday morning I read Corriere della sera and my attention – surprise surprise – goes to this article about the Italian University system.  It takes on average a lot of years to an Italian student to finish his studies. And little is done to control and solve this problem.

In these days I observe another phenomenon that worries me a lot. Daughters and sons of my friends in Italy of age 14 are choosing latin School (Liceo classico), the same school I started in late ’70 and finished in 1983. Without knowing the detailed changes that may have been implemented in the recent years, I can report of my studies which included 5 hours per week of Latin, 4 hours of Greek for five years; two hours of math for five years; two hours of German for two years, no English. We studied philosophy which may be useful if you are intelligent and mature enough to map Plato concepts into your life challenges – I was not at least at the age of 15.

So, even if I cannot complaint about my life and job, I can say that it has been extremely difficult to study computer science on English books without Math and English knowledge. But even more difficult, to learn how to behave in meetings and in the working world in general without any formal education about social skills and alike. “cartago delenda est” “Repetita iuvant” “errare humanum est” “Hic sunt leones”. Sometimes Latin phrases come to my mind and even help me at least to take my attention away from negative phenomenons, that is true 🙂

To conclude, Italy must invest and revise its education systems. Parents and youth have to look forward and abandon snobbish and romantic ideas about Latin schools and alike. Teachers and administrators have to be constructive and look at what is done outside the country in year 2012.

professor Einar Aas died on Friday 6th July

It is a big shock this morning to read in facebook that Einar is dead. I cannot stop crying. I have met Einar first time in 1991 when I attended his CAD course here in Trondheim. I was not so strong in Norwegian nor in CAD but I soon admired the professor and the man. I met Einar in Grenoble at the University. I kept sporadic contact with him all these years but it was in the last couple of years that by facebook and by our connections to tto we started meet regularly and we developed the project Our Toys together.

Thanks Einar for being a good professor and a fantastic role model for all us.

Spagna – Italia 4-0

I liked to hear the National song. I liked to see my former colleague Prof. Profumo, now Italian minister of Research, standing near to Monti, singing and crying. I cried a bit too. But then Italy started to loose. My son Roberto cried on the floor and he was inconsolable. I had invited my Spanish friend Maria and the two of us left the living room after 2-0 and had a nice chat in the kitchen. Some of the many Italian at NTNU had hang the Italian flag to one of the University building. A lot of emotions, but in the end, it is a game, or a least it should be. We should not stop to be proud to be Italian, Norwegian, friends, colleagues, human beings.