'The Intel - Cyprus Merger' showed how the world's first merger of a country and a corporation might be possible, and advantageous for both parties. Moreover through the execution of due diligence, stakeholder engagement and communication, how such a merger could be enacted responsibly, and in the best interests of both, or how at least it might appear so.

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At first sight, Zoe Papadopoulou''s new project is challenging and absurd, but dig deeper and you'll see how thought provoking it is. This is especially true, in the light of impending economic bailout measures being forced upon Greece, and how the Greek government has indeed found itself looking to corporations to buy assets from the State.

Merger was born in February 2008, in response to a brief at the Royal College of Art on 'The Future of Money' sponsored by Intel's People and Practices Research Group. Zoe reappraised the project for the ongoing Paris Design Week.

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View of the exhibition setting in Paris

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View of the exhibition setting in Paris

Merger, is told through a video in which a fictional character, Anna Rodgers, the director of overseas acquisitions at Mackenzie M&A, presents an overview of how and why the Merger came to be to other interested parties. She also describes how the merged corporation and country have generated economic and democratic benefits to both parties and turned around the fortunes of a nation. The project allows the viewer to ask why Intel might see an opportunity in Cyprus - a small island-state, with strong historic links to Greece, but with a separate economy.

Cyprus decided to take advantage of the EU precedent created by UK's Olympic and Paralympic Act in 2006, which made the words "London 2012" and "2012" protected trademarks, along with the name of the official LOCOG website, and "various derivatives". The Olympics were created in Greece, so Cyprus starts to protect the revenue made from products and services borne out of the inventions of the ancient Greeks.

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That's where Intel, which built their revenue in no small part through protecting the Intellectual Property of their developments, intervenes. In this scenario, Intel would bring their expertise and lawyers, and look at every single aspect of modern life (from architecture to urban planning, from language to technological inventions) that borrow from Greek inventions, and claim a bounty from each. In so doing they create a sustained income stream that sees the Cypriots be the exemplar of economic growth, at odds with the fortunes of the rest of Europe.

By highlighting the ease with which the UK Government and the International Olympic Association use their power to protect something that originated in Greece, this project asks, with Intel's might, if the Island of Cyprus could challenge and regain their past glory and wealth.

Not content with protecting revenue, Merger also aims to revisit and update one of the Greek's most widely-adopted inventions - democracy.

Merger highlights the current lack of trust in politicians and in Governments too slow to tackle adequately the significant challenges that countries and their populations face. Surely this lack of responsiveness would not be tolerated in the corporate world. The lady in the video explains that Cypriots didn't want a Prime Minister or a President. They wanted a CEO, a businessman that would run the country like a successful company. I bet the Italians who now have a 'successful businessman' as their head of State would beg Cyprus to be very cautious about their choice.

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Merger proposes a Real Time Democracy model that allows Cypriots to track how their Government is doing 24/7 - on a collection of metrics including the share price of Intel - which they now all, each, own a share in. One man, one vote becomes 'one man, one share.'

In the three years since Merger, this project proposed that the Cypriots and Intel have built the world's biggest monument to commemorate their union. The Antikytheran Monument, in the centre of the capital city Nicosia, recognises another Greek invention - the Antikythera Mechanism; the world's first computer designed between 150 and 100 BC to calculate astronomical positions.

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The Antikythera mechanism (main fragment)

This also reveals why Intel has gone to all the effort of merging with a country, that they could buy piece by piece if they had chosen to. In this brave new world, Intel owns the rights to all computers - their entire supply chain and competitors.

With this project, Zoe Papadopoulou questioned, via the power Intel and Cyprus yield as a result, what might be the implications of a "merger" of a corporation and a state. She also invites the public to question if this one day might be possible, or if by stealth it was an inevitable part of our futures.

Finally, the future of this project will be to curate an exhibition based on the evolution of this new national entity that further explores the changes it is likely to undertake in the next 20, 30 or 50 years. This will not only be considered from a design perspective but also a philosophical one with the help of Greek Cultural theorist and essayist Elia Ntaousani.

Disclaimer:
'Merger' is a fictional project, and it purports to be applicable to any potential corporation-state merger, not necessarily to Intel and the Republic of Cyprus. As such, the views and ideas expressed herein are those of the artist alone and in no manner represent the views, strategies or political positions of Intel or Cyprus.

The work is part of the exhibition Glitch Fiction which remains open at the Cité de la Mode et du Design, Paris until September 18, 2011.
All images courtesy of Zoe Papadopoulou.

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0colinbuly.jpgFinally back home so service will resume as normal and i'll finally get to write down my notes from various events i've attended here and there. Starting with Colin Bulthaup's talk at NEXT2006 conference, in Copenhagen on December 1.

Bulthaup is co-founder of the high-tech enterprise Squid Labs, a multibranched company that develops breakthrough technologies and find solutions to unique engineering problems.

Squid Labs is an innovation foundry that aims to go beyond what the future could bring, they just build it. It started with some MIT students who loved the playful attitude they found at MIT, enjoyed the possibility to explore crazy ideas but were missing the output from the "real world". MIT was too academic. So when they launched Squid Lab, their aim was to keep the fun and the openness but be more driven by the real world.

Their "office" itself seeks to create an environment that fosters innovation. The space itself is a warhouse large enough to allow people to play around and feel welcome (they even have beds and a kitchen). They build a community with smart people coming and visiting. The way they function is very different from the corporate world, which is too secretive. People who work at Squid Labs enjoy some flexibility: they dedicate 33% of their time there on a particular project, 33% participating to other SL's projects and the rest of the time they can do whatever they want.

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Squid Labs facility (image Wired)

SQUID Labs' projects:

The most talked-about one is the Smart Rope: a high-tech rope with integral sensing capability that monitors its own load and signals any weakness, sending the information to a handheld device well before it frays and gives way.

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But there's also Magic Window, an augmented reality system that allows you to move a laptop around and overlay data on the real world; Solar Driveaway, a custom solar power system offering such extreme ruggedness that it can be used for driveways and sidewalks; and a swarm of tiny unmanned aerial vehicles that avoid one another.

Squid Lab has "split" into a handful of companies which keep using SL as a resource but are autonomous and driven to make one particular idea a success:

0instructables.jpg1 - Howtoons: educational cartoons to get children excited about technology and inspire them to build their own things. Book out in January-February. A website allows people from around the world (in particular developing countries) to access the information. They are working on translations in different languages.

2 - Instructables: a step-by-step guide to share the making of OS physical Objects. People can share with others what they've done, it can then be changed and improved. Every aspect of the production chain is open.

3 - Low Cost Eyeglasses: Because 500 M to 1 Bn people need but can't afford eyeglasses, SL designed and built patented lens molding technology that can produce any prescription lens in 5-10 minutes from a single mold surface. The idea is to give the technology to local entrepreneurs in order to make the idea more sustainable.

4 - POTENCO focuses on lack of power and infrastructure in developing countries. Billions of people don't have access to electrical power. In Africa, cell phone use is exploding but only a fraction of the population has access to electrical power so some people have to walk many miles to get to the center of a city and charge their device.
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So SL looked at other forms of generating energy. Kerosene lighting? Can be very expensive, it provides poor lighting for reading and makes fumes.

Potenco is a portable, robust and ergonomic power generator: just pull a cord for a minute and it generates electric power for up to several hours. It can be used to power mobile phones, PDAs, lighting products, digital cameras, etc.

Compared to a crank, Potenco generates 5 times more power, it can be pulled 5 times longer before the user senses fatigue; it's quieter, lighter and more robust.

One minute of pulling gives 1 hour of light, 25 minutes of talk time on the phone, 230 minutes of iPod shuffle use, 45 minutes on the Nintendo DS. Millions of units will be distributed in the next few years.

Potenco has been selected as the power provider for the $100 Laptop (One Laptop per Child).

Curious? The MAKE team visited Squid Labs in Emeryville, CA.

Shigureden is a newly-opened museum in Arashiyama, Kyoto, which showcases the game and the estetics of Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (Ogura Anthology of 100 Poems by 100 Poets - wikipedia). This museum is heavily influenced by Nintendo, in terms of funding, technology and ideas. Nintendo's advisor Hiroshi Yamauchi personally funded the construction of the museum, visotors use Nintendo DS-based location aware devices (called ShigureNavi), and the museum's interactive digital installations are supervised by Shigeru Miyamoto, who is also known as "the father of Mario Bros."

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ShigureNavi is a kind of Nintendo DS without buttons - you can only change the sound volume. Instead, it is equipped with two sensor devices that receive signals from ceiling-mounted transmitters, thereby delivering location-relevant contents to visitors. The device can also be used to control objects shown in a huge high-res screen: an array of seventy 45-inch LCD monitors embedded in the museum floor. The monitor array shows an animated areal photo of Kyoto, giving visitors a feeling of "walking in the sky" - then the ShigureNavi device can be used as a sky-walk navigation system. For example, if you specify Nintendo headquarter using the ShigureNavi device, a big bird appears under your feet and guides your sky walk there. Visitors can also play sporty card games using the device and the floor-embedded monitor array.

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There's also an installation that looks like an enlarged human-size Nintendo DS, which allows visitors to play card games with ancient historical characters (from perhaps the 13th century). In front of you are a horizontal touch-screen display for your interactive control and a vertical screen showing your opponent. Based on what I read and saw on MyCom PC Web, the museum seems very nicely designed and is attracting many elderly people as well.

via MyCom PC Web

The Connect to Art initiative by Nokia launches with a mobile exhibition featuring three Finnish artists, Stefan Lindfors, Osmo Rauhala and Kati Aberg. Each artist has created audiovisual works of art that use new media and mobile phones as an alternative channel for distributing art and as a unique environment for experiencing it.

According to Kati berg, "Mobile phones literally bring art into the palm of your hand, making the experience personal and entertaining. The works of art are close to you, genuinely within reach, right in your breast pocket next to your heart, and you alone can view them and own them."

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Connect to Art will first be introduced in Finland. Starting with visual artists, the concept will later expand also into music. Connect to Art will later make its debut outside of Finland where artists from other countries will be joining in.

The works of art and associated mobile entertainment (wallpapers etc.) can be downloaded on your mobile (that's if your device is compatible) free of charge.

From Textually.
Press Release.

NEC will release this month laptops that use biodegradable plastic.

The plastic is made from materials derived from plants such as corn and is broken down into water and carbon dioxide by microbes. NEC says it aims by 2010 to make more than 10% of the plastic it uses in PCs biodegradable.

"The Chemical Home", a campaign by Greenpeace tested everyday products that frequently contain harmful chemicals. The organization had tested (and incriminated) a series of products among which a TV, shower curtains, toys, lipstcks, mobile phone... And toxic computers.

From Nikkei, via The Raw Feed.
Related entry: Samsung mobile phones are going green.
Magic bioplastic (by NEC too.)

Nokia has launched a push-to-talk consultancy service for the enterprise market.

In its service trial, PoC Enterprise Market Consultancy will allow both operators and businesses to test the services and workshops.

More in RCR wireless news.


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