2013 Global Forum in Trieste

The Global Forum is an annual, high-level event for the world’s leading thinkers and doers to shake up their ideas. I’ve been a regular there since 2006 and have a good relationship with the organisers who are very supportive of me and my work. We are currently attempting to bring the Forum to Ibiza in 2015 and to see if I can present the Social Computer there in 2014 or 2015.

More information about the forum


2011 Sandbox teaser video

This video is a promotional material to give an idea of the Sandbox project. I made the interviews, edited the video, produced the effects and post processing (but not the animations). The music is from an anonymous friend (used with permission)..


2009 Presentation of Civil Sandbox for Random Collision

I was asked by Random Collision (a performance collective based in Groningen, NL) to present the Civil Sandbox concept at one of their workshop/presentation evenings. In addition to presenting at their event, I made this video including the animation of their logo. My presentation starts at 4:10.

“Pras was born in India and grew up in England. He moved to Holland in late 2000 to engage in cultural projects. He is a multimedia and computer specialist/artist who likes to concept community projects and new technologies. The Civil Sandbox is a culmination of 15 years of research into the creation of new services for 21st century citizens. His presentation will focus on the overall concept and its ability to empower us to create change.”

2008 Civil Sandbox Blog about the Social Computer and Sandbox

Here is the first item of the blog

I started in 2000 with a process of understanding, developing and discussing a complex conceptual framework I called “The Social Computer”.

This could be seen as a thought experiment along the lines of – What can a society achieve if it was more “reprogrammable”, and what could a building achieve if designed with all the “new programs” in one place. So dream of a better future, but follow up by designing and testing that potentially better future.


It covers all kinds of things from art/science/technology/inclusion etc.

There is a buzzword-list a mile long. But hey, that’s what will populate the events/locations once they are there. Suffice to say that whatever the different threads in a city/country/society/group are wanting to achieve are brought together in this space.

Okay, so the early years, a lot of time was spent on the magic of the theoretical framework. An amazing experience and one that showed me that manifesting a “light conduit” on earth is possible. No less, it is a receiver/tranceiver of hopes and dreams, but with the responsibility of having to follow through and construct the outcomes – and test them.


In this process, as the designer, I invented a wide array of solutions for society – such as alternative democratic, marketing, technological, groupware, virtual, education forms (etc). The lines between the “different” subjects tends to blur but I think this is where so-called “Genius” can sprout.

The group contains genius, and as a whole there is a lot of power in the larger group. We haven’t yet developed ways to harness and fulfil this potential, but I believe this project is one of the significant steps in that process. It’s a modern form of something that has existed before in fragmented disempowered ways and it’s my job to manifest this as a transparent city upgrade – ie any city can build one and they connect to each other.

This City Upgrade is the central focus to the outcome of all this research.

A new building-type that a city can allocate as a service to it’s citizens. I used to call it a Social Computer but this was confusing and not very accessible as a title. Last year I came up with the title “The Civil Sandbox” which is a new type of building a city can create.



Here are some one-liners you can use to describe/understand the Civil Sandbox city upgrade:

  • A collective city project built and owned by the citizens.
  • A Civil-Power station.
  • A representation of the virtual in physical form.
  • A tranceiver of hope and capacity in a positive future.
  • A cross-border development capacitor. (i hope you like metaphors hehe)
  • An open-source city improvement (there are many others of course, but I’ll stop on that one).


The concept of a Social Computer

I would often begin by getting people to visualise a city or a building as a computer. You have hardware (pipes, roads, wires etc) and you have software (the rules of operation, traffic rules, organisational structure etc).

This is an example of a Social computer. The city computes, the building computes. The organisation is a Social Processor which has inputs and outputs and achieves it’s operation through sets of rules.

This is not a unique idea in itself, but I found that out 12months after I came up with it. Someone had written a few years before in his book “A company could be seen as a Social Computer”.

In practical use, society is a hugely complex set of processes. Imagine that you could create a mini-version of this process that is designed to be re-programmable by anyone and work in parallel to the bigger systems.

It’s something akin to the micro computer concept when that first came out, but it’s more Linux thinking than MS-Dos (open source). Society is running on a legacy software infrastructure, like DOS is today. It’s inaccessible and hard to reprogram.

My work is about updating that software in a big way, but in an enclosed way so it doesn’t break the existing system and has more freedom to be exploratory.


Last year, a group of IEEE scientists wrote about the idea of Social Computing as an informational science.

This is great for me as it gives some scientific backup for the whole project. It’s hard to explain something like this – the best example I can give people is – Try explaining a computer to someone in 1940, where would you start?! So it’s exciting for me to see their approach to explaining it as it is much more based in Academic thinking than what I have been saying all these years.

My work, is more focussed on the variety of ways people perceive such a concept and how they would like to see the city upgrade implemented. 

This involved a huge variety of ages, status, income, job-roles and level etc etc. I’ve spoken at length with people from all over the world from all kinds of backgrounds and activities. Each requires a different approach and a different explaination of the benefits and angles of entry to such a concept. This, however, is it’s greatest strength (and mine). Understanding how to implement something that works for everybody is a very different job to implementing such a project which is my next big challenge.

There were several offshoot projects that could be a commercial base to go ahead with. For example, a massively multiplayer “ship’s computer”. Imagine the potential of a massively multiplayer gaming engine, but without the 3d, monsters or other crap and apply it to a building, to support real world activities. This is one of the potential outcomes I’m following up, but not the big one.


The main project that has finally crystallised is called “The Civil Sandbox”.

This is easier to understand since the title is not a thought experiment.


  1. Of, relating to, or befitting a citizen or citizens: civil duties
  2. Of or relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state: civil society; the civil branches of government
  3. Of ordinary citizens or ordinary community life as distinguished from the military or the ecclesiastical: civil authorities
  4. Of or in accordance with organized society; civilized
  5. Sufficiently observing or befitting accepted social usages; not rude: a civil reply. See Synonyms at polite
  6. Being in accordance with or denoting legally recognized divisions of time: a civil year
  7. Law Relating to the rights of private individuals and legal proceedings concerning these rights as distinguished from criminal, military, or international regulations or proceedings


  1. A protected, limited environment where applications (e.g. Java programs downloaded from the Internet) are allowed to “play” without risking damage to the rest of the system
  2. A term for the R&D department at many software and computer companies (where hackers in commercial environments are likely to be found). The term is half-derisive, but reflects the truth that research is a form of creative play


The current roadmap I aim to follow is summarised like this: 

1a: Research process – I need a backer (not a beurocracy) to get the best in a room and formulate a framework for the entire scope of the project (5yrs, 10yrs, 15yrs).

1b: Presence in other events to generate better understanding/team/workflow/research.

2: “Sandbox Festival” events in different cities (prototyping the building concept).

3: Design and implement 3-4 trial locations.

4: Finalise the design and complete the project – which is then ready to be implemented in any city.

The project is a culmination of hundreds of solutions, so the best way to get them across is to answer questions.

Please help me enrich this blog with Q&A as this is more interesting than any document I might have written.

I’ll post news and archive items here over the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading 


2004 Noisia interview from a Freestyle Junkies TV pilot

This was a pilot of a cultural TV program we were pitching to Local Television in Groningen in the north of the Netherlands. It never came to be but it was fun to make too. Although it’s in dutch, this mini item of Noisia comes from when they were just becoming known in the music scene. Also interesting, perhaps, is that there is an unreleased tune of Noisia under the name Troublesome  (track is called The losing game).

2002 Social Computer at the European Commission IST research conference

The Information Society Technologies conference of November 2002 was the annual research event of DGInfSo in Copenhagen. a 4000 attendance conference where EC-related research activities are brought together. The event was held in the Bella Centre in Copehagen, Denmark.


I was lucky enough to be accepted for a slot within the networking sessions and had a space in the section “Societal Challenges”. We made it our project to treat the whole event as a networking session, but having an official slot made that a lot easier.


The session we gave was a brainstorm with the question “What is the Social Computer”. Afterwards we arranged to do some video interviews with members of DG InfSo and researchers and organisations who found the project interesting.

This is Mathew Lowry, who was the communication strategist for DG-InfSo (organisers of this event) at that time. He talks about his experience coming into contact with us and the concept, sharing some insights of his own.

This is me introducing the event a little and it’s connection to the inbred:TV 2001 project. After a short introduction the video moves to the interview of Pete Kercher.

Aladdin Ayesh speaks about robotic intelligence and the relevance to a Social Computer building that has it’s own perception and understanding of human behaviour.

Here are some short excerpts from the documentation for our presentation.

“The Social Computer is an open-source “protocol” to stimulate more holistic approaches between governments, education, research & development, arts, virtual communities and business opportunities. Designed to be a conceptual artistic and philosophical platform, these projects attempt to bring about thought and communication over the societal issues which are currently affecting the way we live and work.

This programme is designed to demonstrate the way in which a Social Computer could attempt a collaboration of arts, media, business, educational and governmental organisations. It is this strategic alliance of a variety of people with local, national, European and global interests that makes the Social Computer so feasible and furthermore so exciting.

This concept is now being proposed as a new area of study. Since a large array of different organisations is separately discussing and researching projects that pertain to the concept, it makes sense to create a platform for codevelopment. These case studies are attempts to create new knowledge through the meeting of many different minds from around the world.

This thematic research subject combines the elements of media, exciting new arts/music, new technology infrastructures and societal issues around information and ideas sharing. Its information distribution plan is innovative and is open-source in nature. The aim is to encourage previously unconnected projects under a common theme or goal.”

Here is our audiovisual presentation (real-time OpenGL demo)

Finally here are two documents, firstly the presentation PDF and secondly the results of our short survey (to see who is interested). Please take note of who is “Definitely” interested as a reference to the type of people were convinced to participate after our 45 minute presentation/discussion.

Social Computer 2002 presentation PDF

Social Computer 2002 results PDF


2002 inbred:TV Blueprint 2002 – Case study for PeerToPeer learning workshops


This is a project that follows on from the previous inbred:TV event. It’s more focused on the peer-to-peer learning aspects of the research I was doing and turned out as a very successful and rewarding event for everyone involved.

My roles where

Creative Direction, Technical support, Contributing Artist, Flyer design (one of 4 different designers who each made one side of 2 separate flyers).

As an artist I contributed the animated inbred:TV logos, a musical performance (with collaborations), video production for the event and the editing of the outcoming presentation video.