Hello from the next lucky Aalto student studying in Stanford this summer!
Yes, it’s me: I’m Suse Miessner. I study my Masters in New Media at Media Lab, School of Art, Design and Architecture. I’m originally German with a background in architecture/urban studies. I applied to go to Stanford to take courses not offered in Aalto. So consequently, that’s what I’m doing:
- Social Psychology of Large Scale Media Interventions – is offered in Stanford’s communication department. The class is about how to use media interventions to change people’s behavior for the better. If you want to put it in bad words: It’s a class about effective manipulation.
- Smart Cities and Communities – is offered in one of the Engineering Departments. To be honest at the moment I’m a bit disappointed with the class: The lecturer Peter Williams, who works for IBM, stated in the first lecture that he wanted to raise questions rather than give answers and encouraged us to think critically. He did a great job in his first session, where he gave different even quite philosophical definitions of what a Smart City might be. Unfortunately in the next two lectures he bombed us with technical details of technologies and sensors without going into enough detail to really understanding what they might enable in a Smart City context. However, I still have high expectations and hopes that he comes back to his first statement during the upcoming sessions and I’m anyways looking forward to write my own essay about “What is a Smart City?” Let me be American for a moment: It’s gonna be awesome!
- Last but not least I’m taking the Tennis Beginner class with Mikko, which is a lot of fun.
What else to tell about Stanford? Mikko is right: There is always a lot going on on campus. I guess if you would know about everything it would be a huge information overload. My classes leave me enough time to also do other things: I’ve been to the main library last week and was REALLY impressed by the book collection. For sure I could spend years just reading in the basement! So that’s where I will spend my free time if I’m not longboarding (which I do every day – California is the country of skating!) or going to the gym (has almost become a daily routine).
Today was also one pretty cool event: Jeremy Bailenson was giving a talk during a faculty dinner, just for people from the SSIHP. Who is that? Well, among the HCI people he is pretty well known for his Stanford Virtual Reality Lab, which is one of the best VR Labs in the world (I also visited it today). He is an awesome speaker and can easily attract an audience’s attention for an hour. He talked about a lot of the research design and projects done in his VR lab. It was funny for me, that he always called it “my VR lab”, doesn’t it sound like he paid for it personally? Man I’m sure he didn’t. When I visited the VR Lab itself this afternoon I was also pretty impressed by the setup: it has a lot of nice pieces of technology put together (even a shaking floor). The applications/worlds as such were not that impressive. It’s a research lab, not a consumer company!
I think that’s it for now. I’m also posting more details and photos on my own website/blog. Feel free to have a look around.
And lastly 2 quick notes:
- Last week I saw a guy in a suit skateboarding. This must be California, the land of skating! I’m very happy to be here!
- If you thought it’s only Aalto using way too many different IT systems (Oodi, Noppa, Onni, Inside, Moodle, just to name a few) you are wrong Stanford is just as bad.
PS: Doug Engelbart died last week (R.I.P. Doug). I heard that from some Finnish friend. I felt that’s weird: He worked for pretty long in Stanford, he dies, I’m here, but a Finnish friend has to tell me. And when I looked for it: Not even a notice on the Stanford Website (they’ve got one now, but it was pretty late). I felt that was weird.