I have been to Ethiopia with the Bauhaus-University’s group “Facing Transcontinental Interfaces“. This project tries to establish a cooperation between the Addis Ababa University and the Bauhaus-University in Weimar for an eLearning project. You can read more about it on the Project Description Website.
On Monday, March 28th 2011 I gave a talk about “The Bauhaus Foundation Courses and Objectifiable Design” at the EIABC University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and on Saturday, 2nd April I had a small talk about eLearning at the Bauhaus-Universität and compared our Metacoon eLearning software to the grassroots Medien-Wiki.
Below are some impressions from our visit with the Bauhaus-University’s group “Facing Transcontinental Interfaces“. We felt very welcome and it was quite interesting getting to know the students and their student life at the EiABC in Addis. We have seen a lot of projects and spent some time talking about our collaborative project and discussing the current proceedings. We will continue the collaboration at least for the next semester and will work on a counter visit from Ethiopia.
On Monday, March 28th 2011 I gave a talk about “The Bauhaus Foundation Courses and Objectifiable Design” at the EiABC University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We had an intense discussion afterwards, especially about if there are cultural differences in the effects of basic principles, like directions, basic forms and colors. I was quite surprised though, that Ethiopia is apparently not that colorful as I imagined most parts of Africa would be. I learned that most students preferred to wear less-saturated colors regarding their garments. So I guess, I wasn’t only sticking out due to my white skin, but also due to my bright colored shirts. My, my…
The poster to my talk was also the first real-life test for my iPad: though many people claim it would be a device only useful to consume, I managed to do this poster (vector!) in 30 minutes on the iPad alone. Nevertheless, I have to mention that it’s jailbroken and I would have been lost without the ability to access a USB-Stick (via iFile, the Camera Connection Kit and a USB Stick without LED). And of course it happened that I got the wrong month, so that was proof to my preachings in class: Read it five times, esp. the headlines! Yay!
On Saturday, 2nd April, we attended the Second Social Media Day at ICE-Addis: Digital Identities Ethiopia Forum. I had a small talk about eLearning at the Bauhaus-Universität and compared our extremely complicated, user-unfriendly and (in terms of development costs) extremely expensive Metacoon eLearning software to the grassrootsMedien-Wiki. It was also interesting to hear the current situation regarding eLearning solutions at EiABC from Seble Lemma.
There were also talks about using mobile phones to improve epidemiological data collections using cell phones. There was also a meeting of the Ethiopian Google User Group. Surprisingly, Google has a good stand in Ethiopia, as they are providing a lot of infos in Amharic and their software solutions support the local Ge’ez writing system (ኢትዮጵያ), originated around the 5th century BC, consisting of over 270 phonetic symbols: 26 basic consonants that can be combined with seven vowels. Actually, there is a real problem (worldwide) if soft- and hardware does not support non-latin characters.
But of course, we also couldn’t miss the chance to get to know the countryside of Ethiopia. We also had to escape the Smog of the capital Addis Ababa (sometimes you’ll get nosebleed from all the bad exhaust gases, no kidding). Addis is one of the hightest capitals by the way, elevated around 2,300 m over the sea level.
So, one day we were making a short trip to the south and visited the Abijatta-Shalla National Park, which was sometimes very scary (using an old Minibus on a road that usually should only be accessed by a proper Jeep or passing by a chinese factory that blowed some real scary looking things in the air), sometimes really beautiful (esp. the view from the mountain), but mostly quite hot, even if it’s also as high as Addis. We stayed overnight at the Langano Lake.
And we spent a couple of days visiting Lalibela (in the North of Ethiopia), which was extremely interesting. Lalibela is probably one of the most famous spots in Ethiopia, as they have dozens of monolithic churches, graved in the rocks, constructed in the 12th century and filled with religious people since then. Lalibela is quite high as well, there are 4,000 m mountains around. And even more churches…
On a final note, I have to point to my favorite picture: an example of the hanging of images shown in the National Museum in Addis. I think every artist and every curator has to see this at least once. I like the hanging (^_^).
· Facing Transcontinental Interfaces