A tale of three unis

The last couple of weeks have been very interesting: partly for reasons that I’ll go into in my next post, but also because I’ve had (or am having) the opportunity to visit three universities in Switzerland.

My first visit, on Thursday of last week, was back to ZHdK – Zurich University of the Arts – to have lunch with Max Rheiner (who you may remember from my post about Birdly, some months ago) and discuss the possibility of collaborating on some research into the use of VR for CAD. It was a great discussion, and I’m very much hoping it turns into something concrete. Watch this space. 🙂

My second visit, on Tuesday of this week, was to ETH Zurich, to their Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD). A member of that department – and erstwhile reader of this blog, it turns out – invited me across to interview me for an upcoming lecture I’ll deliver there on how Autodesk sees the CAD industry evolving. Not my typical presentation subject, but certainly one I’m having a lot of fun researching!

My third visit will take place this afternoon, when I’ll head across to the University of Bern to hear Dr. Richard Stallman talk about threats to our digital society. Here’s a summary of the talk:

There are many threats to freedom in the digital society. They include massive surveillance, censorship, digital handcuffs, non-free software that controls users, and the War on Sharing. Other threats come from use of web services. Finally, we have no positive right to do anything in the Internet; every activity is precarious, and can continue only as long as companies are willing to cooperate with it.

It sounds fascinating… especially the mention of web services. I don’t necessarily agree with all Dr. Stallman’s views – it would be hard to, working for a company that commercializes proprietary software – but there’s no denying his pioneering role in the free software movement and I’m certainly looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

I’m really happy about spending more time at Swiss educational institutions… they’re the engine that powers the local innovation ecosystem and are one of the big reasons Switzerland continues to be placed first in the global innovation index.

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