Linz 2009: Ars Electronica is taking us around the world
September 30th, 2008

True to its purpose of identifying tools and technologies for communication, cooperation, and social and scientific development, Ars Electronica comes with a new initiative for the year 2009: 80+1 – A Journey Around the World. Inspired by the wager of a journey around the world in 80 days depicted by Jules Verne more than a 100 years ago, a journey thought to be impossible by the human mind in the 19th century, Ars Electronica proposes another wager: a real trip around the world by virtual and telematic means.

In fact, the emphasis is not placed on the journey itself, but what comes out of it. If Jules Verne was preoccupied only with the technical means for making such a trip possible, with the main character, Phileas Fogg, not carrying for the people he met along the way, Ars Electronica circles the world to find ideas that are forging our future as we speak, in the good and bad ways altogether. A sort of Earth diagnosis with the goal of foreseeing and influencing the future in its statu nascendi.

As for the goal of making these ideas known to everybody the organizers envisioned what they call “live bits:” information as complex as it can be, that will be sent during the event via the communication networks to Linz, the cultural center of Europe, where it will be available to be experienced by the public through new and innovative technologies.

In the search for places and people with ideas in key areas of human (or earthling) existence, a number of themes will be accounted for: aging, food, climate change, cultural diversity, markets, happiness, exploration, energy, traffic, education, progress, revolution & growth, cultural heritage, migration, resources & recycling, democracy & civil society, water, neighborhood & vicinity, bio-diversity, bio-technology, ecology, privacy & community. I mentioned them all because I believe each of them is worth mentioning.

So, it’s gonna be in 2009, in Linz, with the sponsorship of voestalpine, as partner. Walking, in a way, on the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, this event will last for 80 days, plus a special extra day with a conference that will coincide with the Ars Electronica annual festival. There is, of course, a call for proposals. The main requirement for all proposals is “live bits:” real-time digital information via any network of any viable quantity and in any modality. There are also financial rewards for bright applications.

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