Public lecture Kenneth Gergen, June 12, Rotterdam

My research group is organizing a two-day visit (June 12 – 13 2007) to the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, by sociologist and psychologist Kenneth Gergen. Gergen is most widely known for his book “Saturated Self: dilemmas of identity in contemporary life” (originally published in 1991, second edition 2000). He is also known for his idea of “absent presence”.

The first day of his visit, Tuesday June 12, he will give a public lecture called:

Playland – Transformations in Technology, Identity and Culture

Kenneth Gergen will speak about the influence of modern communication technologies on human identities. He will specifically focus on the rise of play elements in digital culture en the transition in thinking about identity as monolithic entities

After the lecture there will be time for questions from the audience.

The lecture is in English.

Date: June 12 juni 2007

Time: 15:15 – 17:00.

Location: Room B2, Campus Woudestein, Erasmus University Rotterdam


More information about Kenneth Gergen:

Entrance is free.

Nokia ad: “be yourself and do it in style”

Another outdoors advertisement, shot already a few months ago in Amsterdam. The ad says “Who do I want to be today?”. Options are: kroegtijger (don’t know how to translate this, binge drinker or bar fly is a bit too negative), fashionista, paparazza, night butterfly, supermodel. All very much consumer identities. All identities that are mediatized. All ‘global’ identities, that is, recognizable in many different cultural contexts. And all identities in which the mobile phone can be an aid in the pretense to be one of these, to play a role, as if… The ad plays upon the idea of wearable identities: identity as a jacket that you put on or off.

Nokia ad “be yourself”

(click to enlarge)

Also, Nokia can be added to the long list of corporations who think we should “be yourself, and do it in style”. The imperative to be yourself paradoxically is a pressure nowadays from which there is no escape…



“Free like once before”

A week or two ago (just before the migration of this blog the a new server) I walked past an outdoors advertisement in Amsterdam, near where I live. It is an ad for the Dutch Open Air Museum in Arnhem. It says “Vrij als vroeger – Even terug naar de jaren ’60″ (something like “Free as once before – briefly back to the ’60s“).

(click to enlarge)

A brief look at their website tells me it’s an exhibition about leisure time in the 60s. What made me take a snapshot of this was that the picture shows a mobile phone being crushed by what appears a miller’s stone, or a giant tractor tire, I don’t know. So this advertisement basically says that freedom is to be without the mobile phone. It plays upon popular opinion that the mobile phone, handy is it may be, is also a burden and a restraint on freedom. Crush your phone and you’ll be free again :).

What strikes me now as I am writing is the addition of the word “Even..” (briefly, or just a little moment) in the subtitle. It suggests the possibility of temporarily escaping modern day pressures (the obligations imposed by the mobile phone) when visiting this open air museum. Why would we want/need to do so? Why go to a museum for this? And what is good about a temporary solution? I mean, nobody is really going to crush his mobile? I think the ad tries to appeal to the possibility of imagining and actually visiting a time and place when things where not so complicated. The museum then creates a temporary playground for our imagination. We can actually undergo the experience of living an ideal simple life, albeit temporarily.

Openluchtmuseum Arnhem:

And here’s another advertisement I found on their website, burning a remote control:
Openluchtmuseum Anrhem - Vrij als vroeger (2)