Learn here more about projects and web links, collected from sites that cover a wide range of online communities around the globe.
Athens Video */Art Festival is the biggest international digital arts and new media festival in Greece. Since 2005, it has been held every year, in spring, initially in Athens and then touring around various cities all over the country thus assuming an educational role and familiarizing Greek society with the new trends in digital arts. The AVAF is collaborating with international institutions, academic organizations and similar festivals organized all over the world while it is also Greece’s official video art festival. Even though it mostly focuses on video art, it also promotes works from other fields such as animation, digital image, web art, installation art και performance art as well as various other performances (music concerts, academic features etc.) In the seven years it has been operating, it has received support from 7,000 artists and has received more than 75,000 visitors.
In the festival’s web site, visitors can find an analytical profile of the event, the categories of the works featured with descriptions for each, the institutions and foundations it has been collaborating internationally and locally and a comprehensive archive structured by genre and year offering an abundance of pictorial and audio visual material.
Sputnik Observatory is an educational, nonprofit organization focusing on studies of contemporary culture; its aim is to record, archive and promote ideas that formulate contemporary thought. Its creator is Jonathan Harris one of the most successful web designers who has won three Webbys, probably the Internet’s most prestigious awards and the ideas examined come from a broad range of subjects such as quantum physics, neuroscience, biology, economics, architecture, digital art, music etc. while the discussions hosted on the web site include some of the most important thinkers of our age; thinkers such as Freeman Dyson, Will Wright, Lynn Margulis or Vint Cerf .
Hosted on the Sputnik Observatory are more than 500 discussions freely available as videos; visitors can browse them using criteria such as their subject. After the visitors create their profile they can comment on the videos and store their favorites –although the site boasts an impressive volume of content, audience participation is scarce something which might be attributed to the small length of the videos.
Although we tend to avoid including blogs in the web sites we suggest, Overcoming bias certainly bears an exception since it is one of the best examples of critical thought and fertile dialogue. Although the concept of blogging is undoubtedly related to the idea of commenting on others, it is very rare to see these comments actually contributing to a creative discourse; this is the reason it is worth promoting the few times this actually happens! The founders of the blog are Robin Hanson and Eliezer Yudkowsky, the latter being also founder of lesswrong we have also presented elsewhere which was created to cover the need for discussions dealing with logical issues.
The web site’s functionality is quite simple: for every article the founder posts there is commentary by the community which can also vote for the articles it considers more interesting. Most comments are brief while once a month open discourses are organized with no specific agendas and with the members being able to express their opinions in a lengthier manner. Overcoming bias’s range of subjects is quite broad covering almost everything from religion to politics to future studies and economics and also available is an excellent archive with articles classified by year, votes or subject.
When one lives in a country where public discourse is next to inexistent while at the same time society uses this term to describe various clowns shouting at each other in front of a television camera, it is important to occasionally see how this model has been implemented in truly developed societies. IQ2 is an organization staging public discussions based on the Oxford-Style Debates. The initiative was first tried in London in 2002 and since then it has spread in various cities, among which and much to our surprise was Athens, with some of our era’s top thinkers from various disciplines (sciences, politics, arts, journalism etc.) participating.
In the web site, visitors can find an archive with all discourses having been organized in the past; for each one there are videos with the participant’s positions (these videos are usually hosted on YouTube). In the American version of this initiative, more material for each discourse is available, material including resumes of the participants, articles and studies for every subject, photographs from the events as well as the public voting results; by voting, the viewers issue their final verdict for each debate.
How will life on planet Earth be after 100 years? Or after 1000 years –or more? How will the universe develop after 1,000,000 years? What will the technological advancements be in the next decades or the next centuries? How about their social repercussions? Future Timeline attempts to provide visitors with answers to these questions; as its name suggests it aims to predict future developments based on scientific data and analyses that have been offered by the scientific community but also on suggestions by various institutions that deal with future planning of different areas such as building infrastructures, transportation, healthcare etc.
A difference between Future Timeline and other future studies web sites is that its content is not only categorized according to subject but also according to chronology; for the 21st century predictions until 2039 are yearly and after that on a decade basis while for the centuries to follow they are on a fifty-year basis. For many predictions visitors can find links to articles presenting detailed accounts for each, while also available is an exceptionally good forum with thousands of publications and discussions pertaining to the web site’s topics.
According to laws of reason, could an omniscient and omnipotent god really exist? Why is it ethically right to eat beef or pork but not our pets? Why slavery existed? Is computer science really a science in the classical sense? If there is a god why does he allow for people with mental disabilities to be born? What does it mean that God transcends time? The community of AskPhilosophers attempts to provide answers to these questions, as well as to similar others; according to the web site’s manifesto, in our age exists a paradox about philosophy: although people come across philosophical dilemmas every day, very few of them actually study philosophy in depth.
The visitor does not need to become a member of AskPhilosophers to submit a question; there is a form where they can describe their question as well as a list with guidelines about how to better express themselves and after that, the questions get answered by a team of special panelists (for each panelist there is a brief resume as well as a tag cloud with the questions for which they have provided answers).
ArtWEEN is a social network about art for both private users and institutions that started operating in 2008. Every member is able to create personal networks with other members or groups and have discussions with them; when creating a profile members state which genre of art they are mostly interested in (modern art, renaissance, contemporary art, photography etc.)
Besides artists, on the web site there are also profiles of galleries that include exhibitions they hold or have held in the past, of other cultural institutions such as museums, of art students and of individuals who are just interested in art. Although the site’s design appears amateurish, the community behind it is considerably large containing more than 10,000 members and more than 70,000 works of art with new members and artworks been added on a daily basis; besides the above, a section with classified ads for artwork sales or collaboration requests is also available.
Topofart is a web site selling reproductions of works by famous artists; it is unique in that besides the usual methods of reproduction of art works (i.e. various types of printing) visitors have also the opportunity to purchase copies created by hand by artists who collaborate with the company. Naturally, the price of a handmade copy is almost ten times up the price of a print but this is only to be expected.
The web site offers reproductions of works by hundreds of artists classified according to name and period; for every art work there is information available regarding which museum the original is placed in as well as the dimensions available for the copies. Handmade copies are created on demand; that is after the interested party purchases them and their reproduction can take from three to ten weeks which is indicative of the quality of the work done. Topofart also has a YouTube channel where visitors can see video from the re-creation of the art works.
Phila Place is a project created by the Historical Society of Philadelphia that attempts to connect stories to places across time in Philadelphia’s various areas. Its aim is to intertwine stories of ordinary people of all backgrounds with historical records and present an full picture of the history, culture, and architecture of the city’s neighborhoods; this it does through various formats including text, pictures, audio and video clips, and podcasts so visitors can map their own stories in place and time. Aside from the web site, PhilaPlace includes ongoing community programs and publications, from workshops for teachers, to trolley tours, and exhibits.
The central navigational tool for the web site is a map on which visitors can see spots for which content is available; by pressing those spots, a small panel appears which contains the historical element for which some information, visual material or links to other related web sites are available. (The locations on the map can be filtered by area or interest) Also, visitors can find a photographic archive with every picture being related to some of the stories available on the web site as well as a blog with articles about the organization’s operation.
New Contemporaries is an organization working to support up-and-coming artists in the beginning of their careers offering them the opportunity to present their work to the broader public through a variety of platforms among which is an annual exhibition. Artists, who can still be students or recently graduated, have the opportunity to obtain professional experience besides their academic one. The organization was founded in 1949 with the name “Young Contemporaries” and the first twenty years of its operation the art works exhibited in the annual event were chosen by renowned artists and art specialists whereas from 1969 afterwards the participants themselves would be the ones to choose.
In the web site, visitors can see an archive with the participating entries for each year although this archive goes up until 1989; the years from 1989 to 2005 are lacking in information. For every year from 2006 onwards a profile for each artist is available, complete with information regarding the locations they have exposed their work. Also, the web site contains a section with the organization’s publications i.e. the annual catalogues containing information about participating works and the artists who have created them.