The Origins of Aerial Photography - The New Yorker
Our interest in aerial photography dates back to more than a hundred and fifty years ago. In 1858, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, who used the pseudonym Nadar, captured the first aerial photographs, photographing Paris from a tethered balloon at an altitude of sixteen hundred feet. Two years later, aerial photography came to the United States by way of James Wallace Black, who took photographs from a hot-air balloon above Boston, in 1860.

As photographic technology advanced—with roll film, lighter cameras, and long shutter releases—it became possible to affix cameras to unmanned flying objects. Between 1887 and 1889, Arthur Batut took aerial shots of the South of France using just a kite, a camera, and a fuse.

In 1908, Julius Neubronner, who had used carrier pigeons in his work as an apothecary, filed a patent for a miniature camera that could be worn by a pigeon and would be activated by a timing mechanism. Pigeons were also used by the French to capture the position of the German army in the First World War, most notably at the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of Somme. Following the Second World War, the C.I.A. developed its own pigeon camera; according to the agency’s website, the details of the camera remain classified.
photography  aerial_photography 
19 hours ago
How Andrew Carnegie Built the Architecture of American Literacy - CityLab
It wasn't obvious to every community that they should take Carnegie's money. Some communities rankled over his requirements that the town demonstrate a plan for permanently funding library operations. Others simply refused on principle. Louisville, Kentucky, shot down a grant offer from Carnegie, on grounds that will sound familiar from present-day arguments over infrastructure spending.

Many more communities took Carnegie up on his offer of free money. Across America, he is remembered today for the classical buildings that still grace downtown. Yet architecture was never Carnegie's priority. Up until the Carnegie library system came into being, architects and librarians battled over what libraries should look like; Carnegie sided with the librarians.

"Architecture was to be avoided. Architecture was what was going to make the library expensive," Van Slyck says. "It was what was going to squander the Carnegie money. It would be much better just to get a building, a good one that was efficient that would allow people to access books really readily."

Carnegie and his partner in the library endeavor, his secretary James Bertram, fielded questions from communities about how they should practically go about building a library. Between 1903 and 1911, Bertram reviewed architectural plans for Carnegie libraries, according to Van Slyck, largely with the goal of scaling back overreach. Many towns contracted with a handful of architects who had experience executing Carnegie and Bertram's directives. But in 1911, Bertram developed a pamphlet, one informed by years of consultation with top librarians, that he and Carnegie would send to the communities they gave grants.

"Notes on the Erection of Library Buildings" would continue to guide library construction in the U.S. well after after the last Carnegie library was funded. (That last library, in American Fork, Utah, has since been demolished.) The final version of Bertram's "Notes" detailed six layout templates, with recommendations based on the size of the building and plot—but no instructions for designing them. "The walls don’t even have depth shown," Van Slyck says.

...Above all, stairs and accessibility have proved to be some of the most difficult obstacles to reusing Carnegie libraries. Staircase entrances were common to most if not all of the buildings. "When you entered, you climbed up. In many of the early [Carnegie libraries], there would be a dome overhead with a skylight," Van Slyck says. "You showed your worthiness by climbing to enlightenment."

Many innovations augured by the Carnegie libraries are still commonplace features of library design today. Merging collections with reading rooms, for example. Putting books in readers' hands by taking tall shelves with ladders out of the equation. Building shared reading rooms for men and women. Indeed, women cast some of their first votes in community decisions about pursuing a Carnegie library grant, years ahead of the 19th Amendment.

"One of the big changes it brought about is that children were welcomed into the library. You see the community—the local government—taking a larger role in providing services for children," Van Slyck says. "Carnegie libraries provided civic meeting rooms, for the most part in their basements, and it’s clear that those were very actively used. This was a moment when women’s clubs were really thriving, this was a moment in which Americans were banding together in voluntary organizations, and the library provided the space to let them do that."
libraries  carnegie 
19 hours ago
Why Comics Are More Important Than Ever | Bill Kartalopoulos
We get the narrative -- the "story part" -- of this comic strip by reading the panels in linear sequence, the way we read lines of type in a newspaper or a book. But if we knew nothing at all about the comic strip's story, what might the overall structure of this page tell us about its message? ...the aesthetic experience of simultaneously experiencing a comic's form and content so harmoniously that the contours of the comic's theme can be read in its architectural blueprint....

Artful comics induce a kind of double vision in the reader: we fully experience the work by understanding the relationship between the parts and the whole; between linear sequence and the simultaneous perception of related fragments. This is the medium-specific quality that make comics something more than simple storyboards, and this is the element of comics that brings us back to the internet and our endangered "deep reading" brains.... Great comics produce their essential meaning from the relationship between these two modes: both ways of looking and reading are needed to fully appreciate the work.
comics  textual_form  reading 
19 hours ago
Thinking Critically About and Researching Algorithms by Rob Kitchin :: SSRN
The era of ubiquitous computing and big data is now firmly established, with more and more aspects of our everyday lives being mediated, augmented, produced and regulated by digital devices and networked systems powered by software. Software is fundamentally composed of algorithms -- sets of defined steps structured to process instructions/data to produce an output. And yet, to date, there has been little critical reflection on algorithms, nor empirical research into their nature and work. This paper synthesises and extends initial critical thinking about algorithms and considers how best to research them in practice. It makes a case for thinking about algorithms in ways that extend far beyond a technical understanding and approach. It then details four key challenges in conducting research on the specificities of algorithms -- they are often: ‘black boxed’; heterogeneous, contingent on hundreds of other algorithms, and are embedded in complex socio-technical assemblages; ontogenetic and performative; and ‘out of control’ in their work. Finally, it considers six approaches to empirically research algorithms: examining source code (both deconstructing code and producing genealogies of production); reflexively producing code; reverse engineering; interviewing designers and conducting ethnographies of coding teams; unpacking the wider socio-technical assemblages framing algorithms; and examining how algorithms do work in the world.
algorithms  methodology 
yesterday
Christian Boltanski, No Man’s Land : Program & Events : Park Avenue Armory
Filling the vast Wade Thompson Drill Hall, No Man’s Land is Christian Boltanski’s most ambitious project in the United States to date. This monumental work explores the signature motifs of the artist’s forty-year career - individuality, anonymity, life and death - in an immersive landscape that is both powerful and infernal. Incorporating 30 tons of discarded clothing, a 60-foot crane and the sound of human heartbeats, the installation offers an unforgettable and deeply moving experience by one of today’s most important artists. Curated by Tom Eccles.

As part of the installation at the Armory, visitors will be invited to record their own heartbeat and offer it to the artist as he continues to expand his ARCHIVES DU COEUR, a collection of human heartbeats from around the world.
archives  archive_art  embodiment 
2 days ago
From ‘Surface’ to ‘Substrate’: The Archaeology, Art History, and Science of Material Transfers
The movement of materials beyond their source areas is an elementary feature of human social life. The history of complex material transfers can be traced as a continuous thread from today’s global commodity flows back to the prehistoric origins of our species, when exotic substances such as ochre and shell were transported over great distances to be deployed in rituals for the dead. In recent decades the empirical base from which the history of material transfers is written has undergone a significant but rarely examined transformation. To reconstruct the changing scope and velocity of material flows, researchers in the humanities and social sciences once relied primarily on written sources, images, and distributions of finished objects. Today, however, they are routinely asked to incorporate types of data that derive from highly specialized disciplines well outside their normal range of expertise.
The refinement of techniques such as DNA analysis, isotope analysis, optical and electron microscopy, and chemical study of both organic and inorganic remains now allows past movements of materials—as well as of living beings—to be traced with greater accuracy than ever before. Bolstered by increasingly sophisticated methods of environmental reconstruction, satellite remote sensing, and chronometric modeling, these methods are now becoming central to the field of archaeological and historical enquiry in a way that is arguably unprecedented. The high currency of archaeological research, in particular, is shifting from physical objects and landscapes to things invisible to the naked eye: isotopic signatures of ancient metalwork or bone collagen; soil micro--‐morphology; thin section petrography; traces of past routes and landscapes that can be seen only from outer space.
Comparable developments can be observed in the history of art and architecture, where analysis is no longer confined to matters of form and surface appearance. Increasingly, 'technical art history' also takes into account methods for studying underlying materials, structures, and substances, which may or may not follow the same processes of selection and paths of transmission as images. Historical assumptions, on which concepts of ‘style’, ‘emulation’, and ‘provenance’ are based – assumptions about the contiguity of technological, visual, and social domains – are laid open to question in new and exciting ways. Findings produced by these new scientific techniques are often startling. But as yet there has been little critical reflection on how they are to be integrated with more established modes of spatial and historical representation, or what impact they have upon received concepts such as ‘migration’, ‘trade’, ‘value’?
From the perspective of visual culture, we might ask for example how an analytical move from surface to substrate affects the epistemological status of regional styles, or how it might oblige us to revise received criteria for ‘imitation’ and ‘authenticity’? How might such a move allow us to engage with the life histories of objects and built structures – including phases of production, conservation, and commoditization – previously hidden to the naked eye? In approaching these questions, what might natural scientists, archaeologists, and art historians learn from one another?
surface  materiality  forensics  chemistry  archaeology  material_culture 
2 days ago
A Map of Raymond Chandler’s Fictional LA in Real-Life LA
Raymond Chandler fans, rejoice! Kim Cooper, a writer/historian and one of LA’s brightest torchbearers, has collaborated with Herb Lester Associates in the UK to create a comprehensive map of rare points of interest from Raymond Chandler’s work in present-day LA. From Malibu to Pasadena, iconic spots dot the landscape, and while Cooper has been leading literature, architecture, and history tours like “Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles” and “The Birth of Noir” for her company Esotouric, this map is the culmination of that information and much more.
media_literature  film  los_angeles  mapping 
2 days ago
Tobias Frere-Jones
the idea of a typeface name has received less attention.... For centuries, punchcutters would develop their style within a narrow group of genres. There would be only one style of roman or italic, even if that style had been refined and focused over a span of years. The name only needed to pin down the remaining variable, the size....

Some of these new genre names found longevity in a stable definition. Latin came to mean something with spiky triangular serifs. Italian or French became a kind of adverb, indicating an inverted distribution of weight. Some accords could never be reached, so Antique means “slab serif” in the United States or Britain, but “sans serif” in France. In Germany, Antiqua would take on another meaning, of modern or oldstyle serif.

Conflicts aside, new terms like Egyptian, Grecian, Tuscan, Ionic, Latin and Grotesque took root. Always striving for curiosity and surprise, founders broke out of genres as soon as they were established. Ever narrower terms appeared, with little endurance in the marketplace: Bretonnes, Athenian, Runic, Arabesque, etc. Some foundries had inventories too large for evocative names, particularly for their decorated designs. Where no modifier could be coined or accepted, founders simply assigned a number and called it done.
typography  naming  design_history 
3 days ago
Frieze Magazine | Archive | What’s Not to Like? - Darren Bader
A prototypical solo show by Bader comprises myriad unrelated readymade objects, some of them artworks or reproductions of artworks, arranged on the floor and walls, plus some text, perhaps an enigmatic but recognizable looped sample from a song or video, and maybe a performative gambit that frames it all. Bader is a master selector and arranger, subjecting his Conceptualism to everything from numerals to condoms and exercising great wit along the way. ... The co-curator of ‘Images’, Peter Eleey, wrote: ‘With Bader, the sewing machine and the umbrella meet again on a dissecting table, now joined by some guacamole, a French horn, pizza and a dishwasher.’1 Indeed, Surrealism makes a cosy fit for his work, particularly in the guise of neo-Surrealism – a designation that’s recently arisen in response to the bafflement elicited by much Post-Internet art made along principles of collage. His output, with its reliance on colliding pairs or groups of clashing images and objects, and with its occasional distortions of scale (see: The Gardeners in Paradise, a lawnmower in a giant teacup for Art Basel Parcours, 2014) and sexual drumbeat (breast with/and camera and the strangely suggestive rattlesnake and printer paper were included in his 2013 show at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles), definitely employs tactics pioneered by the Surrealists. But ‘neo-Surrealism’ has to be wrong in the end. It’s just too boring; in 2014, neo- isn’t remotely new enough.

For one thing, the Surreal is firmly oriented toward an art object. What Bader does is not. His attitude toward objects is highly informed by Conceptualism (which helps explain the central role of language). In person, his works offer very little in the way of physical presence, emphasized by their precisely desultory installation....

Bader’s fundamental organizing principle is the array; the curious pairings achieved their full power only in proliferation – the visual and verbal rhymes and puns, the play among different categories of signifiers and media – and in the context of the types of relations between signifiers he uses. The corporeal gross-out (foods that decidedly don’t go together); the quiddity of difference (you can shave the space between two integers infinitely); the existential difference (perfume, a material intangible, versus trapezoid, an Platonic ideal represented in two-dimensional form); and so on. What Bader is going after is logic and/or grammar, the rules of thought and/or language. The implication of Bader’s of-the-momentness is that these rules are under stress.
archive_art  collection 
4 days ago
Württ. Kunstverein Stuttgart: Public Library
With: Aaaaarg.org, Vuk Cosic, Kenneth Goldsmith, Library Genesis, Herman Wallace’s Library, Monoskop, Postcapital Archive, Praxis, Cornelia Sollfrank, UbuWeb,
und andere

CONFERENCE
October 30 – November 2, 2014
Württembergischer Kunstverein and Akademie Schloss Solitude

With: Daniel García Andújar, Dusan Barok, Vuk Cosic, Hans D. Christ, Sean Dockray, Iris Dressler, Jan Gerber, Herbordt / Mohren, Henrik Hillenbrand / Oliver Kraft / Björn Kühn / Anna Romanenko, Olia Lialina, Sebastian Lütgert, Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak, Irit Rogoff, Simon Sheikh, Femke Snelting, Cornelia Sollfrank, Felix Stalder, Jean-Baptiste Joly, Sophie-Charlotte Thieroff and others

A conference about today’s conditions of knowledge production: from the neoliberal politics of education and the monopolization of “intellectual property” to alternative critical and anarchistic ways of sharing and “borrowing” knowledge.
libraries  conference 
5 days ago
Urban Omnibus » Actionable Cartographies
I think the artist’s desire to find connections between dissimilar things and to make interesting and unexpected juxtapositions has helped to inform my sensibilities as a librarian. And cartography taught me that disparate bits of information can be layered and aligned spatially. So many different things have a spatial footprint, and there is tremendous power in making spatial relationships manifest visually....

The geospatial librarian component of my job requires thinking about information spatially throughout the institution, both within and outside the map collection. We are becoming increasingly aware of the extent to which information of all kinds — texts, images, or meta-data that don’t have an obvious longitude and latitude — is implicitly spatial. I work to expose those connections, to make that implicit spatial information explicit.

For example, the library has a huge collection of city directories, which we’re angling to digitize in the near future. We’ve scanned a few of them already and developed some pilot projects to parse out the information contained within these directories. In 1854, we have addresses for upwards of 40,000 people doing business in Manhattan. Massaging that information into actionable spatial data means that researchers would be able to analyze different industries in the 19th century and their transformations over time. Before, that kind of investigation would have taken an infinite amount of time and a large budget....

One set of materials that are starting to gel as a broad category is related to traveling. We have a great collection of 17th and 18th century maritime pilot books, highly practical guides to navigate from one place to another. They are wonderful amalgams of different types of information. They have overhead maps of harbors with depth soundings, coastline delineations, rocks and other hazards, as well as landmarks like church steeples and promontories. And alongside those are text descriptions of each reference point. And then a third component are coastal profiles that describe visually which section of the coastline you’re looking at.
mapping  cartography  collage  spatial_humanities 
7 days ago
Big Data, Little Narration
The Artbase was started 1999 and is (I wrote it down here) “a collection of born digital artifacts in a user generated archive,” and I recognize there some traits of “archival futurism” (Sven Spieker). Everybody could become an artist by uploading their artworks to the Artbase, there was only one, very low entry barrier: it had to be new media art. This is real digital culture: very fluid, the roles can change any time, and you don’t need a history to participate.... The Artbase is now a heavily curated place—with introductions, categories—as if all of it happened in the past, which it did. But I wonder how this happened, how the “base” became an “archive,” grew stale and became something “historic.” I don’t want to say this is bad, I’m just wondering; after all, it shares this trajectory with many others....

This globe is making use of another cool thing that computers can do, on a higher level than the bits: creating arbitrary relations.... I don’t want to bash Google or anything, but it just seems that these decisions come so naturally: putting things on a globe, on “the world.”...

My perspective on digital art is really that this instability and variability is not a problem, it is just a thing that we have to deal with. We do not need to pin down artifacts into one single form, instead we need to conserve exactly these variable qualities.

On the other hand, things need to be in some kind of form, they need to exist on some banal level, in some “place,” and need to be referenceable. And then there is the sheer amount, the fact that every collection of digital culture is by definition too large for the institution that tries to handle it, because—it is digital culture. It would be injust to concentrate conservation efforts on a small selection of artifacts (like a museum), as this would fail to represent the fluidity of roles I mentioned earlier. And it is also not right to fall back to normalization and mass processing only (like a library), as this would fail to represent the wide, heterogeneous materials and processes. A position in between is needed.
digital_archives  net_art  data_visualization  epistemology 
7 days ago
Botanical gardens
The historical academic Botanical Gardens in Padua are a world heritage site protected by UNESCO. They are embracing new instruments of research and discovery, with a contemporary twist in the languages, the contents and how they are used....

Costruisci il tuo orto planetario (Build your own planetary garden): the technological layout is the same as the one used in the first installation, however the information provided and the interactive dynamics of the interface are different. The visitors are then given the opportunity to create their own personal garden. The installation combines the various parameters selected by the public – climate, grain crops and vegetable plants – and finalizes the journey based on interaction and discover. When on standby, the system is activated in a random manner, and presents the multiple combinations on the screen.
gardens  landscape  index  indexical_landscape 
8 days ago
Urban Layers. Explore the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric. | MORPHOCODE
Urban Layers is an interactive map created by Morphocode that explores the structure of Manhattan's urban fabric.

The map lets you navigate through historical fragments of the borough that have been preserved and are currently embedded in its densely built environment. The rigid archipelago of building blocks has been mapped as a succession of structural episodes starting from 1765.

THE GROWTH OF MANHATTAN

The 1811 New York City Commissioners’ Plan for Manhattan fixed an orthogonal matrix of 2,028 blocks — The Manhattan Grid. The Plan provided room for a sevenfold expansion of Manhattan's built-up area at the time and that expansion did occur between 1810 and 1900.

By the end of the 19th century most of Manhattan was already built up, while its population grew almost twentyfold. What remains of that period in terms of built environment is one of the principal sources of the island’s sense of human scale.

GRAPH

Use the sliders to identify some of Manhattan's oldest buildings; to discover how the beginning of the 20th century marked the island's urban environment or to explore the distribution of building activity over the last decades. Learn more.

DATA

Urban Layers is based on two data sets: PLUTO and the NYC building footprints. PLUTO contains various information about each building located in NYC: year built, height, borough, etc. It was released to the public in 2013 and is considered a huge win for the open data community. Learn more.
maps  architecture  urban_history  real_estate  construction  mapping  palimpsest 
8 days ago
Escape from Microsoft Word | NYRB
The original design of Microsoft Word, in the early 1980s, was a work of clarifying genius, but it had nothing to do with the way writing gets done. The programmers did not think about writing as a sequence of words set down on a page, but instead dreamed up a new idea about what they called a “document.” This was effectively a Platonic idea: the “form” of a document existed as an intangible ideal, and each tangible book, essay, love letter, or laundry list was a partial, imperfect representation of that intangible idea....

On a typewriter, when you wanted to increase the left margin on the page, you moved a metal lever, then moved it back to decrease the margin again. To type a superscript (as in mc2) you rotated the carriage slightly, typed the superscripted letter, then rotated the carriage back again. In effect, you progressed in sequence from one set of conditions to another. Things changed as you typed.

In Microsoft Word (as in all other word processors built on the same model, including Apple’s Pages), the underlying model is static, like a Platonic idea. In effect, you “paint” a whole section with its own margin settings, and you “paint” a character with the superscript attribute.
media_literature  writing  writing_tools  format_studies 
8 days ago
Coffee House Press: In the Stacks Presents Valeria Luiselli
Right now, they have writer and essayist Valeria Luiselli in residency at The Reed Foundation Poetry Library at Poets House. Coffee House Press: In the Stacks features Polaroids taken by Luiselli, and an interview with Shannon Mattern of the School of Media Studies at The New School about the Poets House collection (an interview with Poets House Librarian Gina Scalise is there as well!). Luiselli and Mattern will be giving a public presentation tonight at 7:00 PM. In the meantime, Mattern had a lot of interesting things to say about libraries and varying artistry engaged therein
poetry  media_architecture  archive_art  my_work 
8 days ago
The Aspen Institute - PEOPLE, PLACE AND PLATFORM
The role of the 21st-century library in the digital era is built on its three key assets: people, place and platform.

In an increasingly virtual world, physical library places are community assets. They:
ESTABLISH PERSONAL CONNECTIONS that help define community needs and interests
PROVIDE AN ANCHOR for economic development and neighborhood revitalization
STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY IDENTITY in ways that yield significant return on investment, including drawing people together for diverse purposes
PROVIDE A SAFE AND TRUSTED LOCATION for community services such as health clinics, emergency response centers, small business incubators, workforce development centers and immigrant resource centers
CREATE CONNECTING PLACES in new locations that draw people together—shopping malls, big box stores, airports and mobile buses....

THE LIBRARY AS PLATFORM
The transformations of the digital age enable individuals and communities to create their own learning and knowledge. To that end, libraries become platforms—bases on which individuals and communities create services, data and tools that benefit the community.[27] They allow for innovation that the platform creators cannot anticipate. Users may “customize” the platform and adapt its resources to their individual needs, whatever those needs may be. The library as community learning platform is the innovative proposition of the public library in the digital age.
According to David Weinberger of Harvard University, the library platform can be thought of “as an infrastructure that is as ubiquitous and persistent as the streets and sidewalks of a town, or the classrooms and yards of a university. Think of the library as coextensive with the geographic area that it serves, like a canopy, or as we say these days, like a cloud.”[28]...

One distinguishing feature of the library as platform is that it is trusted to be objective and operate in the interests of its users. This is in contrast to commercial platforms that blur the line between user and commercial interests. In addition, the library is uncompromisingly free of charge. It differentiates itself from other “free” services by selling no ads and honoring the privacy of its users. Users may “opt in” to features that involve data sharing with third parties, possibly receiving extra benefits when they enter that bargain.
At the same time, as a platform, the library exploits its assets—content, human capital and expertise. It draws on those assets for community engagement and allows people to contribute their knowledge and experiences to those assets. The library as platform creates community dialogue that makes way for new expertise and creates social knowledge....
The library as platform radically reshapes the library’s daily activities, shifting away from the old model of organizing and “lending” the world’s knowledge toward a new vision of the library as a central hub for learning and community connections.....

The library’s new activities include:
Bringing analytical understanding to disorganized and abundant streams of information
Connecting people seeking information to the resources, people or organizations that can provide it
Synthesizing, analyzing, storing and curating information for those who want to consult material in the future
Facilitating discovery and serendipitous encounters with information
Helping people solve local problems
Recruiting volunteers and specialists to participate in platform activities, especially by helping meet the needs of those querying the system
Performing information concierge services and access to government services that are not at times delivered well by existing government agencies...

To be successful, the library platform will require:
A DIFFERENT KIND OF ACCESS INFRASTRUCTURE, including a more robust identification system that protects individual privacy
A NEW DISTRIBUTION INFRASTRUCTURE than currently used by most libraries in order to get physical and digital material to users
MORE SOPHISTICATED ANALYTICS that will enable the library itself to become a “learning organization”
INTEROPERABILITY to enable scaling of the platform and facilitate innovation and competition
libraries  platforms  infrastructure 
9 days ago
The Aspen Institute - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The process of re-envisioning public libraries to maximize their impact reflects:
Principles that have always been at the center of the public library’s mission—equity, access, opportunity, openness and participation
The library’s capacity to drive opportunity and success in today’s knowledge-based society
An emerging model of networked libraries that promotes economies of scale and broadens the library’s resource reach while preserving its local presence
The library’s fundamental people, place and platform assets...

PEOPLE, PLACE AND PLATFORM
The emerging value proposition of the public library is built around three key assets— people, place and platform:
PEOPLE. The public library is a hub of civic engagement, fostering new relationships and strengthening the human capital of the community. Librarians are actively engaged in the community. They connect individuals to a vast array of local and national resources and serve as neutral conveners to foster civic health. They facilitate learning and creation for children and adults alike.
PLACE. The public library is a welcoming space for a wide range of purposes—reading, communicating, learning, playing, meeting and getting business done. Its design recognizes that people are not merely consumers of content but creators and citizens as well. Its physical presence provides an anchor for economic development and neighborhood revitalization, and helps to strengthen social bonds and community identity. The library is also a virtual space where individuals can gain access to information, resources and all the rich experiences the library offers. In the creative design of its physical and virtual spaces the public library defines what makes a great public space.
PLATFORM. The public library is user-centered. It provides opportunities for individuals and the community to gain access to a variety of tools and resources with which to discover and create new knowledge. The platform enables the curation and sharing of the community’s knowledge and innovation. A great library platform is a “third place” —an interactive entity that can facilitate many people operating individually and in groups—and supports the learning and civic needs of the community....

1. ALIGNING LIBRARY SERVICES IN SUPPORT OF COMMUNITY GOALS
Public libraries that align their people, place and platform assets and create services that prioritize and support local community goals will find the greatest opportunities for success in the years ahead. Managers of local governments report that it is often difficult to prioritize libraries over other community services such as museums or parks and recreation departments that also serve a distinctly public mission. What libraries need is to be more intentional in the ways that they deploy resources in the community, and more deeply embedded in addressing the critical challenges facing the community....

2. PROVIDING ACCESS TO CONTENT IN ALL FORMATS
As the public library shifts from a repository for materials to a platform for learning and participation, its ability to provide access to vast amounts of content in all formats is vital...
libraries 
9 days ago
The Aspen Institute - A NEW WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE
Approaches to managing the opportunities and risks of this new era can differ widely from community to community, but there are approaches that are emerging as indicators of success. One of these is re-envisioning the role of the public library as a vital learning institution and engine for individual, community and civil society development.
The library, the most democratic of public institutions, is the essential civil society space where this new America will make its democratic character. The library is a core civil society institution, democracy’s “maker space.” In a healthy democracy, civil society is the piece that makes the rest of the democratic machinery possible and workable. Most simply, civil society consists of everything that falls under the rubric of voluntary association, from churches to neighborhood associations, softball leagues to garden clubs.
Civil society performs a number of critical functions: It provides a buffer between the individual and the power of the state and the market, it creates social capital, and it develops democratic values and habits.[11] Civil society is where citizens become citizens. By design and tradition, the public library is the essential civil society institution. Through the provision of space, information and inspiration, it enables all the others.
The institution of the public library is uniquely positioned to provide access, skills, context and trusted platforms for adapting
in this new society.
libraries  civil_society 
9 days ago
The Aspen Institute - A RENEWED VISION OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY
While remaining committed to their essential mission of providing access to knowledge and promoting literacy, 21st-century library roles extend far beyond book lending. For example, when Hurricane Sandy ravaged Queens, New York, in October 2012, the Queens Public Library joined the response effort by providing emergency supplies, comfort and referrals, and served as a steady and visible resource to a community in need....

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) further identified five trends as particularly important developments that communities and their libraries will have to watch and to which they will have to respond:
NEW TECHNOLOGIES will both expand and limit who has access to information.
ONLINE EDUCATION will democratize and disrupt global learning, but going global and mobile does not mean you have to lose tactile and local.
THE BOUNDARIES OF PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION will be redefined.
HYPERCONNECTED SOCIETIES will listen to and empower new voices and groups.
THE GLOBAL INFORMATION ECONOMY will be transformed by new technologies....

These are issues that library leaders, policymakers and the public will need to address as public library models and services evolve in the digital age. The Dialogue’s discussions and conclusions raised these same issues and concluded that a willingness to engage in new thinking around issues such as privacy and data protection, and to develop new approaches to preserving these in the digital age, are needed. Libraries will have to contend with these issues if they hope to be at the center of this transformation, helping individuals, communities and leaders navigate the big shift to a digital society.
libraries  platforms  data  privacy 
9 days ago
BOMB Magazine — Valeria Luiselli by Jennifer Kabat
...in Mexico it's more about negligence. There isn't really a story to those holes that can be easily traced. In European cities, holes and absences are usually vestiges of wars, and many things that are missing in reality can be found in the archive. What happens in Mexico is different. The history of, say, downtown Mexico City may be well documented, but as you go outward, there are no records of what has gone on in the past decades. It's like a huge part of the city, on the page, is an absence, a relingo...

Mexico City conserves the layers, though not everywhere, not always. In the Centro Histórico, for example, they're doing a good job with the "museumification" of the past. There are still "accidental" spaces, but the center of town is a well-displayed showcase of the city's many lives. You probably know the story: the original Aztec city, Tenochtitlán, was built on a small island surrounded by a great lake. That island was where the colonial Cathedral and Zócalo are now. The Aztec constructions were razed by the Spaniards, who used the pyramids' rocks to build the cathedral and the main government buildings. In the twentieth century, when the government and private developers started excavating plots to erect new buildings, they started finding pyramids and shrines underneath the ground. Much of that is still there, since they'd have to leave things as they found them when excavating—and now many of these excavating grounds remain open....

For me, inhabiting new spaces is simultaneous with the process of inhabiting a new language. Attaching language to space is a way to make that space more habitable....

You know that Walter Benjamin fragment—I think it's in One-Way Street—where he speaks about how children play with toys because they're a small-scale representation of the world? We first learn to play things out, to simulate them, and only later can we start doing them. It was a similar thing for me with writing these toy-books...

the cyclist's gaze is like the foreigner's, because you're not committed to every inch of space in the way you are when you inhabit a space as a local. There is a perfect distance...

So Faces in the Crowd is very much about how a family's language games work. But also about mapping out a new space. The narrator says over and over again that writing is not about furnishing, or about filling up a space with things and voices and stories, but about moving around an empty space and allowing that space to have enough holes for one's imagination to unfold....

I often write in English and then self-translate into Spanish, and vice-versa too. It's a messy process, but that messiness creates a space for more clear, lucid things to emerge. Not always, though. Often I just dwell for long periods in this completely confusing space, not knowing which language I should write in. I go back and forth and it's very unproductive, until one day something happens and I'm able to write, at least so far. That's what happened to me with Sidewalks and Faces in the Crowd.

Also, when my writing is getting translated, I rewrite a lot, and work on it with the translator. I often bring those modifications back into the original. So the ghost of translation always haunts the original....

Saudade and other untranslatable words somehow correspond to the idea of a relingo—they're gaps in the ideas that you're trying to form. They are generative because you have to circle around them, and in doing so, you find much more....

The vertical and horizontal metaphors come from all those discussions during the 1920s about how cities should be viewed. Writers became obsessed with how the new cities should be envisaged and represented on the page. So, for example, there are Paul Morand's essays on New York, where he says that New York has to be seen from above, from the top of the Woolworth Tower. Gilberto Owen's take on the city is that New York has to be viewed from its intestines, from the subway. For him, it is that horizontal movement under the city that allows you to imagine it as a vertical construction. I like that view of New York, and tried to bring it back into the novel, as a sort of architectural model for it....

I don't want a GPS. It would be like traveling with two husbands, one of which is always right—unless he's hacked or broken, which would be like traveling with a corpse or a lunatic. So we don't have a GPS. It's a terrible thing for children not to get bored and for adults not to get lost anymore.
language  media_literature  geography  home  palimpsest  erasure  translation  maps 
10 days ago
The Endangered Bookstores of New York - The New Yorker
Recently, I was browsing for books at Powerhouse Arena, in Dumbo, and noticed a sign asking people not to snap photos of the books on display. What a thing to have to ask! Here was a bookstore providing shelter, a bit of calm in the city, and tables with chosen, colorful, physical copies of books. And yet people were willing to bypass the ambiance and the expertise with an iPhone snap and an online purchase to be made later. To be in a bookstore is to feel the presence of artistic lives, a devotion to word and image. Bob Eckstein has previously drawn the bookstores of the city, and he returns here with a new set of drawings and stories. Some of these stores are thriving, some are shuttering, and some are just happy memories. — Michael Agger
media_space  bookstores 
10 days ago
Vilém Flusser and the Abysmal Privilege of Our Platforms |
Like the unlit, deep-sea abyss of Vampyroteuthis infernalis, computers, software, and platforms have long been cloaked in the rhetoric of darkness, most commonly today through the phrase “blackbox,” which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as, “a device which performs intricate functions but whose internal mechanism may not readily be inspected or understood.” But in order to confront the opaque, we must first, as Flusser wrote, “penetrate behind appearances in order to free things from the veil of light.” For, amidst the mesmerization of our screens and interfaces, we often further veil, making it increasingly impossible to ever reveal the privilege of our platforms—both the embedded and the evoked. As Lori Emerson writes in her book Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound, “what concerns me is that ‘user-friendly’ now takes the shape of keeping users steadfastly unaware and uninformed about how their computers, their reading/writing interfaces, work let alone how they shape and determine their access to knowledge and their ability to produce knowledge.” There are quite explicit examples of these deceptive processes in action, what Harry Brignull calls “dark patterns,” by which he means the “type of user interface that appears to have been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things.” And while we associate these dark patterns most regularly with the nefariousness of spam, we’re too often less-inclined to look toward the so-called light, the platforms we most use to represent ourselves, such as the popular commercial platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and others. When we refuse to or cannot look into the light, behind the illuminated surface reflecting ourselves, we further elide, push deeper into the darkness, what powers the privilege of our platforms, across a continuum of technical mechanisms and, increasingly, cultural and political assumptions and ideologies. As Flusser sees in his devil squid from hell, so too does Wendy Chun, in her book Programmed Visions: Software and Memory, see something abysmal in our platforms. Chuns says that historically our interfaces “render the central process for computation—processes not under the direct control of the user—daemonic.” When we combine Emerson’s concern for access and use with Chun’s notion of “the history of interactive operating systems as supplementing—that is, supplanting—human intelligence,” we can begin to see the contours of the abyss—a space filled with values both human and machinic—and the changing nature of our Dasein in the so-called digital age...

Along with the rise of computing and its inherent privileging of the binary, in addition to networking and social media, we’ve seen the effects of binary values on culture and communication, most clearly in the ideological regimes of openness—from the open society to open source, open government and open access. Within this paradigm, the binary is open or closed, and our platforms have predominantly implemented these binary values, with a clear preference—based on funding models that rely on free labor and access to our data and content—for the open. Take for instance Twitter, whose user accounts default to open, but for whom the only other option for those interested in negotiating access remains the visibly marked “locked” account. And even when developers of these platforms—themselves deeply invested in computational conceptions of the world—do allow more robust settings, these are so ever-shifting and inaccessible so as to dizzy us until we, exhausted, only feel situated having chosen the open or closed setting.

While these simple examples may seem harmless, the implications of binary values and the privileging of openness are, as Flusser prophetically showed through his conception of post-historical humanity, quite profound. As Nathaniel Tkacz has argued, “the logic of openness actually gives rise to, and is perfectly compatible with, new forms of closure … [and] … there is something about openness, about the mobilisation of the open and its conceptual allies, that actively works against making these closures visible.” These closures—enabled by openness, centrally controlled, and algorithmically patrolled—enact something like a Vampyroteuthic Dasein, in which no longer are we actively thinking ethically and negotiating and performing the various and complicated facets of our humanity; but, like Flusser’s vampire squid from hell, are unthinkingly processing what’s thrust upon us, our environments these dark, blackboxed spaces in which our objects of culture are “free”-floating entities in a current of wi-fi that we happen to tumble upon. This, then, might ultimately be the abyss of our platforms, but need it be?
platform_studies  platforms  intelligibility  epistemology  open_access  openness 
10 days ago
Porous to the World Around Me: The Writing of Valeria Luiselli | The Los Angeles Review of Books
The idea of horizontal and vertical seems so laden with potential significance. Yet Luiselli’s explanation over tea was, she admitted, a boring one: “I think and write spatially. But when I type in Word, it’s a vertical novel. You just scroll up and down. So I print out all the pages and spread them out on any flat surface I have, and then I can make it feel right.” By paring down the idea to its core and deploying it strategically — and organically — throughout her book, Luiselli gives this unstable dichotomy a metaphorical weight. Throughout her writing, this is her narrative strategy: “A metaphor says that A is B. A novel consists of linking A and B even more deeply than that, so that you can’t help but see the connection.” ...

And in Sidewalks, every thing and mode is echoed, and is itself an echo. An essay about flying discusses the limits of analogies and comparisons; it is immediately followed by an essay about bicycling, which concerns itself with what biking is, is not, and is like. Unsurprisingly, words and their echoes appear as well:

Saudade isn’t homesickness, lack, or longing [...] The German Sehnsucht and the Icelandic söknudur seem to suck out the meaning of the word; the Polish tesknota sounds bureaucratic; the Czech stesk shrinks, cringes, cowers; and the Estonion igatsus would come closer if spoken backwards. Maybe saudade isn’t saudade....

“You’ve got to build a life in other rooms,” Luiselli tells herself toward the essay’s end. And when I mention the beauty of that idea to her later, she answers, “you’ve detected a relationship or analogy I had never seen before: sleeping in other’s rooms is a bit like moving from language to language.” And indeed, without realizing it, she has been using metaphors of location and place as we discuss her life as a polyglot. “I don’t feel entirely at home in any one language.” That phrase comes up again, casually, several more times: “at home.” She could not say that unless she knew what “home,” a word so all-encompassing that it cannot be properly and completely translated into French or Spanish, means.
media_space  language  media_literature  metaphors  writing 
11 days ago
The Miraculous, a Book About Art That Is a Work of Art Itself - artnet News
The book is published by Paper Monument, a journal/literary venture that specializes in finding quirky new niches in art writing (previous tomes include I Like Your Work, a book of art etiquette tips). The conceit of The Miraculous is simple and can be summed up in two sentences: Rubinstein, a poet and critic and former editor Art in America, presents capsule biographies of 50 artists of the recent past, sketching in a few compact lines their biography, their mode of operation, inspiration, and achievement (most are one page; none go over three). He just tells their stories without mentioning their actual names....

All the figures described are the heirs of a certain lyrical strain of post-1960s, post-conceptual thinking about art. Writing at the beginning of that period of the increasingly disorienting intercalation of art and life, Arthur Danto explained, “To see something as art requires something the eye cannot descry—an atmosphere of artistic theory, a knowledge of the history of art: an artworld.” Within a certain delimited sphere, each individual artist could define the rules of the game for him or herself. Hence the importance of names, as shorthand for the universe of discourse each has produced. If you don’t “get” what you are seeing, you look down at the wall label to see who made it.

The Miraculous makes me realize how, in my head, I have come to hold Danto’s idea of an “artworld” up as the cancellation of “lifeworld,” by which I mean the larger universe of human interests. Precisely because anything can be art, whatever inscrutable artifact or quirky outrage I am presented with, I always preemptively assume that its ultimate motivation was mainly to be art, an ascription that tends to reduce whatever non-art energies are in it to simulations of themselves. The contemporary art world is, in many ways, an eccentricity-generating machine; and thus, all that appears under its sign bears the stigma of the publicity stunt, of the artist’s professional quest to build a brand.
art  biography 
11 days ago
The Confidence Gap in Academic Writing | Vitae
1. Search for red flags in your writing. When you read your drafts, look for words that hedge your argument: maybe, possibly, perhaps, suggest, could, might, may, appears, seems, seemingly. Circle them to see if you’re overusing them. If you are using them to couch your argument, get rid of them. You don’t need to signal that you’re not sure about what you’re arguing. If your argument is unsound, you’ll get comments back from reviewers that say so.

2. Don’t hide behind other authors or texts, no matter how amazing they are. There’s a fine line between using Judith Butler’s arguments to bolster your own and simply restating what she has said while adroitly avoiding making your own claim. I’ve seen a lot of essays with so many citations and paraphrases that the reader has a hard time figuring out where the author’s own voice begins and the famous theorist’s ends.... Revise your chapters and articles so that your own argument takes center stage; everyone else is in a supporting role.

3. When you receive comments on a draft, read them and then put them away for at least a day. I recommend a full week. In that time, remind yourself that criticism of your arguments, your structure, or your evidence is not criticism of you as a person. Your work is completely separate from your self-worth.
writing  advising  UMS 
13 days ago
Getting There: Ed Ruscha
For the second in our series Getting There, Ruscha drove his black 2000 Lexus down roads and past buildings that he has tirelessly documented during his storied career. From his paintings of gas stations and the film Miracle to the books that capture the ever-evolving landscape of Los Angeles, much of Ruscha’s work is deeply rooted in the culture of the automobile and the vernacular of Southern California, the state he adopted as his home after driving there from Oklahoma City in 1956 to attend art school.
los_angeles  soundscape  landscape  driving 
13 days ago
Smell Turns Up in Unexpected Places - NYTimes.com
The presence of scent receptors outside the nose may seem odd at first, but as Dr. Hatt and others have observed, odor receptors are among the most evolutionarily ancient chemical sensors in the body, capable of detecting a multitude of compounds, not solely those drifting through the air.

“If you think of olfactory receptors as specialized chemical detectors, instead of as receptors in your nose that detect smell, then it makes a lot of sense for them to be in other places,” said Jennifer Pluznick, an assistant professor of physiology at Johns Hopkins University who in 2009 found that olfactory receptors help control metabolic function and regulate blood pressure in the kidneys of mice.

Think of olfactory receptors as a lock-and-key system, with an odor molecule the key to the receptor’s lock. Only certain molecules fit with certain receptors. When the right molecule comes along and alights on the matching receptor, it sets in motion an elaborate choreography of biochemical reactions. Inside the nose, this culminates in a nerve signal being sent to brain, which we perceive as odor. But the same apparatus can fulfill other biological functions as well.
sensation  smell  communication  biology 
15 days ago
Big Doubts About Big Data - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
The rhetoric here is that Big Data will improve our welfare and health-care systems, produce better "smart cities" with automated, more-efficient energy, transport, water, and waste systems, and finally allow us to track students in our schools and colleges to ensure that no one slips through key milestones. It will supposedly help us deal with crime and terrorism. Big Data brings new hope to big social problems and social policy, and is likely to be cheaper to use than organizing large-scale official surveys.

But using Big Data to maximize sales and profits is one thing. Using it for social policy and planning is another. Of course the ethical and privacy issues about who owns data need to be negotiated carefully. But there are far greater problems: How are data analyzed, and by whom? And who is making decisions about how to interpret the data? These questions need urgent attention....

he Big Data frenzy seems to have unleashed a bizarre digitized version of the Enlightenment. Although different in their digital guise, at their most optimistic the hopes for Big Data are much the same as those of the Enlightenment back in the 17th and 18th centuries: to foreground rationality and, in the name of "science," to control nature—except that quest now is explicitly to control people by making them behave in particular ways. Whereas the Enlightenment’s goal was truth, Big Data’s is to help us "know" things better. The Enlightenment’s power lay in reason. Big Data’s lies not in data per se, but rather in the methodological capacity to work the swathes of them better than ever before. So increasingly statistics, clustering, networks, data mining, machine learning and genetic algorithms, simulation, pattern detection, and high-resolution visualization are part of Big Data’s tool kit....

That is why, no matter how much data we have, our models and narratives of the future always include the "known unknown." At some point, in some way, unexpected change will demand a shift in our behavior, which may be momentous or momentary, but will have momentum; we will be dragged into action, whether we like or anticipate it or not, which may mean new approaches are needed to understand what is happening. The global financial crisis and 9/11 are testimony to that.

The importance of context, memory, biography, history, and the multiplicity of our temporal experiences cannot be overestimated. We are profoundly meaning-making beings, and any attempt to model the social sphere needs to account for the feedback loops that are necessarily and always involved.
big_data  epistemology 
17 days ago
Past Strangers
The series Past Strangers continues to investigates Andrea Geyer’s interest in the construction of time through culture. Photographing in the Museum of Modern Art’s Painting and Sculpture Conservation Lab over the course of one year Geyer observes artworks from the museum’s impressive collections. The work while under careful consideration of contemporary notions of conservation unravel time. Historic time, material time, institutional time. The time of the artwork, the artist, the histories written and constructed around them. Geyer’s gaze opens this space to us like a landscape, created momentarily through the constellation of works, easels and tools used in the lab. Following often daylight light, we encounter the art works, liberated for a moment from the chronology of the gallery, their given place in art history, the archive and even the architecture of the museum. They lean, lay and drape like bodies, allowing us to feel their presence in an unexpected clarity. In this work Geyer points us to her understanding of artworks as documents, that in their entirety, in their material presence offer a careful observer a potential of temporalities that reaches beyond preconceived notion of history. Instead they favor a complexity of time that intricately connects the singularity of artwork and its maker(s) and the moment of its making to the collective and continually renewed experience of the same artwork within an expansive and complex social, cultural and political meaning.
conservation  preservation  archives  temporality  decay  materiality 
18 days ago
A Generic College Paper | McSweeney's
Since the beginning of time, bullshit, flowery overgeneralization with at least one thesaurus’d vocabulary word. In addition, irrelevant and misleading personal anecdote. However, oversimplification of first Googled author (citation: p. 37). Thesis statement which doesn’t follow whatsoever from the previous.
writing  advising  UMS 
19 days ago
the evolution of the desk by the harvard innovation lab on Vimeo
a team at the harvard innovation lab has encapsulated this history of technology, as it relates to the office, in a video, 'the evolution of the desk', demonstrating the steep shift from cork boards and fax machines to pinterest and PDFs.
desk  furniture  technology 
20 days ago
Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta is designing impressive modern libraries worldwide » MobyLives
The city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada has announced plans for a new Central Public Library designed by both, Snøhetta and Dialog, and architecture firm based in Calgary... One of Snøhetta’s first projects was a library in Alexandria, Egypt.... Fast Company is calling the Calgary design a sign of what a library of the future can be, referring to it as “the Apple store of libraries.” Snøhetta has also designed libraries in Raleigh, North Carolina (the James B. Hunt Jr. Library), Far Rockaway in Queens (expected completion is scheduled for 2016), and developed a very interesting proposal for a library in Norway (“The proposal portrays the library as a public, interior space, generated by the complex relationship of singular and plural needs of the users rather than the specificity of its exterior shape.”)
libraries  Snohetta 
20 days ago
View From Nowhere – The New Inquiry
Since every theory destabilizes as much as it solidifies in our view of the world, the collective frenzy to generate knowledge creates at the same time a mounting sense of futility, a tension looking for catharsis — a moment in which we could feel, if only for an instant, that we know something for sure. In contemporary culture, Big Data promises this relief....

As with the similarly inferential sciences like evolutionary psychology and pop-neuroscience, Big Data can be used to give any chosen hypothesis a veneer of science and the unearned authority of numbers. The data is big enough to entertain any story. Big Data has thus spawned an entire industry (“predictive analytics”) as well as reams of academic, corporate, and governmental research; it has also sparked the rise of “data journalism” like that of FiveThirtyEight, Vox, and the other multiplying explainer sites. It has shifted the center of gravity in these fields not merely because of its grand epistemological claims but also because it’s well-financed....

The rationalist fantasy that enough data can be collected with the “right” methodology to provide an objective and disinterested picture of reality is an old and familiar one: positivism. This is the understanding that the social world can be known and explained from a value-neutral, transcendent view from nowhere in particular. The term comes from Positive Philosophy (1830-1842), by August Comte, who also coined the term sociology in this image. As Western sociology began to congeal as a discipline (departments, paid jobs, journals, conferences), Emile Durkheim, another of the field’s founders, believed it could function as a “social physics” capable of outlining “social facts” akin to the measurable facts that could be recorded about the physical properties of objects....

But what’s most fundamental to Rudder’s belief in his data’s truth-telling capability — and his justification for ignoring established research-ethics norms — is his view that data sets built through passive data collection eliminate researcher bias...

Rather than accept partiality, its apologists try a new trick to salvage the myth of universal objectivity. To evade questions of standpoint, they lionize the data at the expense of the researcher. Big Data’s proponents downplay both the role of the measurer in measurement and the researcher’s expertise — Rudder makes constant note of his mediocre statistical skills — to subtly shift the source of authority. The ability to tell the truth becomes no longer a matter of analytical approach and instead one of sheer access to data.

The positivist fiction has always relied on unequal access: science could sell itself as morally and politically disinterested for so long because the requisite skills were so unevenly distributed. As scientific practice is increasingly conducted from different cultural standpoints, the inherited political biases of previous science become more obvious. As access to education and advanced research methodologies became more widespread, they could no longer support the positivist myth.
ethics  big_data  methodology  positivism  epistemology 
20 days ago
Rhizome | Unbound: The Politics of Scanning
The romanticized image of the scanner is based on the assumption that by scanning and uploading we make information available, and that that is somehow an invariably democratic act. Scanning has become synonymous with transparency and access. But does the document dump generate meaningful analysis, or make it seem insignificant? Does the internet enable widespread distribution, or does it more commonly facilitate centralized access? And does the scanner make things transparent, or does it transform them? The contemporary political imaginary links the scanner with democracy, and so we should explore further the political possibilities, values, and limitations associated with the process of scanning documents to be uploaded to the internet.

What are the political possibilities of making information available? A thing that is scanned was already downloaded, in a sense. It circulated on paper, as widely as newspapers or as little as classified documents. And interfering with its further circulation is a time-honored method of keeping a population in check. Documents are kept private; printing presses shut down. Scanning printed material for internet circulation has the potential to circumvent some of these issues. Scanning means turning the document into an image, one that is marked by glitches and bearing the traces of editorial choices on the part of the scanner. Although certain services remain centralized and vulnerable to political manipulation, such as the DNS addressing system, and government monitoring of online behavior is commonplace, there is still political possibility in the aggregate, geographically dispersed nature of the internet. If the same document is scanned, uploaded, and then shared across a number of different hosts, it becomes much more difficult to suppress. And it gains traction by circulation...

The leaks group provide the first step in analyzing the time and impact of Yanukovych's rule by making the raw information available. But can that be called reportage? When we use terms like "democratizing," we should also bring up the question of responsibility, in this case meaning not only for making something available, but for generating analysis and public discourse around it....

HathiTrust was taken to court for violating copyright law, which resulted in June in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York State deciding that the full-text search offered by HathiTrust is "transformative," thus falling under fair use. From the court documents: "a transformative work is one that serves a new and different function from the original work and is not a substitute for it." The US court decision is fascinating in the way it considers how technology alters our use of text, because the content of HathiTrust is (theoretically) the same as the original text; merely transforming this text into data allowed it to serve a "new and different function."
scanning  data  journalism  databases  access  libraries  fair_use  search 
20 days ago
It's Nice That : Snøhetta's designs for Norway's new banknotes are a pixellated haven
Norway’s Norges Bank have just announced new designs that will make their way into circulation in 2017 and boy are they beautiful. Two designers have been selected for each side of the notes with The Metric System’s design providing a starting point for the front and Oslo-based Snøhetta for the reverse.

It’s the reverse designs that have got us really excited, not just because they look fab but because of the concept behind them. Titled Beauty of Boundaries, Snøhetta’s notes use images from Norway’s costal landscape and translates them into pixellated, colour-blocked snapshots.

The varying pixellations are not random though with the studio using the Beaufort wind force scale as an influence. On the 50 kroner note for example, the ‘wind’ is weak, so the image is created using short, square shapes, while for the 1,000 kroner note the wind is much stronger interpreted by longer, stretched-out bricks of colour. It’s a lovely idea and is executed in a fresh and exciting way that will hopefully pave the way for more distinctive banknotes in the future.
money  finance  data_visualization  nationalism 
21 days ago
The Death of the Theorist and the Emergence of Data in Digital Social Science
The ideal database should according to most practitioners be theory-neutral, but should serve as a common basis for a number of scientific disciplines to progress. … In this new and expanded process of scientific archiving, data must be reusable by scientists. It is not possible simply to enshrine one’s results in a paper; the scientist must lodge her data in a database that can be easily manipulated by other scientists.
The apparently theory-neutral techniques of sorting, ordering, classification and calculation associated with computer databases have become a key part of the infrastructures underpinning contemporary big science. The coding and databasing of the world does not, though, end with big science. It is becoming a major preoccupation in the social sciences and humanities too...

Chris Anderson: "This is a world where massive amounts of data and applied mathematics replace every other tool that might be brought to bear. Out with every theory of human behavior, from linguistics to sociology. Forget taxonomy, ontology, and psychology. Who knows why people do what they do? The point is they do it, and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity. With enough data, the numbers speak for themselves."...

Social science appears to be escaping the academy. Instead of social scientists, the new experts of the social media environment, argue Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, are the “algorithmists” and big data analysts of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and of software and data analysis firms. Algorithmists are experts in the areas of computer science, mathematics, and statistics, as well as aspects of policy, law, economics and social research, who can undertake big data analyses and evaluations....

Underlying “social media science” is a belief that the behaviour of citizens can be analysed and understood as a kind of data to inform new policy ideas. The emergence of “policy labs” that work across the social scientific, technological and policy fields—such as the Public Services Innovations Lab at Nesta, New York’s Governance Lab, and Denmark’s MindLab—is further evidence of how social science expertise is diversifying...

As David Beer reports, the kind of software that can crawl, mine, capture and scrape the web for data has the potential to be powerful in academic research. Social media aggregators, algorithmic database analytics and other forms of what might be termed “sociological software” have the capacity to see social patterns in huge quantities of data and to augment how we “see” and “know” ourselves and our societies. Sociological software offers us much greater empirical, analytical and argumentative potential...

To put it more bluntly, academics are becoming data, as mediated through complex coded infrastructures and devices. Geoffrey Bowker has written that “if you are not data, you don’t exist”; the same is true for academics in Higher Education. The unfolding effects of data and algorithms on HE ought to be the subject of serious social scientific inquiry.

Whether we are confronting the “end of theory” and the “death of the theorist” as computer coded software devices and sophisticated algorithms increasingly mediate, augment, and even automate academic practice and knowledge production remains an open question for further research. Is academic work really being homogenized and manipulated by the media machines of Google and Facebook, and is disciplinary expertise and knowledge production being displaced to the “algorithmists” of private R&D labs and commercial technology firms?
big_data  methodology  epistemology  academia  policy 
23 days ago
WRITING THE CITY Carnegie’s Gift: The Progressive Era Roots of Today’s Branch Library
In 1889, Addams founded Hull House in the West Side of Chicago, modeled after Toynbee Hall in the East End of London. It quickly became the prototype for settlement houses in America. The settlement movement, consisting mainly of educated, middle-class women, understood that the classes were increasingly economically interdependent and aimed to “settle” affluent volunteers in poorer parts of the city. These volunteers would endeavor not only to entrench themselves socially in the community, but also to provide social services that the community sorely needed, such as daycare, healthcare, and education. Hundreds of settlement houses proliferated across the US and sowed the seeds for the professionalization of social work and innovations in public policy....

But while some public policy addressed issues of poverty, reformers understood they had to make use of the era’s new immense private wealth to achieve their vision. They pursued collaborations with the rich and powerful, even if they often perceived the wealthy as responsible for the problems they sought to eradicate: the new industries and concentrations of wealth helped to create the execrable conditions in which many of the poor lived...

During this time, free education, growth in book publishing, and the popularization of knowledge led to the rise of “social libraries,” especially in New England. In 1848, Massachusetts passed the first state act authorizing a city (Boston) to levy tax for the establishment of a public library. The new ethos of the era — that “all men [were] endowed with unlimited rational capacity and possessed natural right to knowledge and the potential to achieve it” — was evident in the development of major libraries in Chicago and New York. In 1895, the Astor, Lenox, and Tilden libraries, each created through private philanthropy, joined to create the New York Public Library, one of the world’s leading reference libraries. And in Baltimore, Enoch Pratt’s gift of just over one million dollars for a free central library and four branches, may have provided the most direct inspiration for Carnegie’s larger vision....

In 1867, when Carnegie established residency in New York, he believed the city too wealthy to need his help. However, in 1901, after the creation of the New York Public Library, he saw the city’s need for a branch system. Several free lending libraries existed by this time, including the Long Island Free Library in Brooklyn and the Pratt Institute Library, but neighborhood branches were still rare. In the same year, one day after he publicly announced the sale of his company to JP Morgan, Carnegie made his famous $5.2 million donation to the three library systems in the city: the New York Public Library (consisting of Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx), the Queens Public Library, and the Brooklyn Public Library.

Carnegie’s vision for the branch library’s ability to thrive as a public asset required a commitment by the community equaling or even exceeding his own. In New York, in return for his gift for building 65 branch libraries, the City had to agree to provide the sites, maintain and repair the buildings, and stipulate to spending at least 10% of the grant each year to do so. The City also had to agree to make the libraries free and accessible and open from 9am to 9pm every day except for Sunday, more hours of operation than New York’s library systems can afford today...

Site selection and acquisition proved to be the most contentious parts of the process. Every community wanted a library, understandably. However, a site had to meet certain criteria: it had to be centrally located, stand out clearly as a library, and be in close proximity to other civic and social centers, like schools and YMCAs. The City had hoped that the sites would be donated, but that rarely occurred, and ultimately had to buy almost all of the lots on which the Carnegie libraries now sit.

While initially considering a design competition, Carnegie wanted to ensure a unified and efficient design of the highest quality for the collection of New York Carnegies. To achieve this, he worked with a handpicked committee of the city’s top architects, such as Charles McKim, John Carrere, and Walter Cook, many of whom had already built major public monuments in New York and elsewhere...

For the libraries’ interiors, prominent librarians met with the architects prior to planning and then reviewed the plans after they were drafted. As Mary B. Dierickx writes in The Architecture of Literacy, The Carnegie Libraries of New York City, this unique collaboration “was in accordance with [Carnegie’s] strong belief in the trained, professional librarian and in economical and efficient library buildings and plans … Librarians were dissatisfied with 19th century libraries, which they considered inefficient and uncomfortable … The Carnegie plans … incorporated the progressive library thinking of the period, where stacks were easily accessible to librarians, and light, airy, reading rooms were provided.”[10]
libraries  carnegie  branch_libraries 
23 days ago
Dashboards and Data Signals by Nathaniel Tkacz
air-traffic control, Bloomberg terminal, David Cameron's "bespoke" dashboard

DBs offer insight into changing nature of indicators. experience of data-driven life, emerging forms of rationality
smart_cities  dashboards  interaction_design  interfaces  big_data 
23 days ago
Parsons CuratorialDesignResearch Lab
The mission of the CuratorialDesignResearch Lab at Parsons is to create new opportunities for The New School community to engage in research towards designing innovative curatorial platforms that generate trans-disciplinary learning opportunities, provoke critical and cross-cultural public dialogues about the function of visual and material culture in contemporary daily life, and ultimately inspire “hands-on” participatory design projects that aim to effect change within local and global communities.
art  curating  curation  multimodal_scholarship 
4 weeks ago
Why Academics Suck at Writing | The Chronicle Review
Metadiscourse. Metadiscourse. The preceding discussion introduced the problem of academese, summarized the principle theories, and suggested a new analysis based on a theory of Turner and Thomas. The rest of this article is organized as follows. The first section consists of a review of the major shortcomings of academic prose. …

Professional Narcissism. researchers are apt to lose sight of whom they are writing for, and narcissistically describe the obsessions of their federation rather than what the audience wants to know....

Apologizing. Self-conscious writers are also apt to kvetch about how what they’re about to do is so terribly difficult and complicated and controversial...

Shudder Quotes: Academics often use quotation marks to distance themselves from a common idiom...

Hedging. Academics mindlessly cushion their prose with wads of fluff that imply they are not willing to stand behind what they say. Those include almost, apparently, comparatively, fairly, in part, nearly, partially, predominantly, presumably, rather, relatively, seemingly, so to speak, somewhat, sort of, to a certain degree, to some extent, and the ubiquitous I would argue. (Does that mean you would argue for your position if things were different, but are not willing to argue for it now?)... Writers use hedges in the vain hope that it will get them off the hook, or at least allow them to plead guilty to a lesser charge, should a critic ever try to prove them wrong. A classic writer, in contrast, counts on the common sense and ordinary charity of his readers, just as in everyday conversation we know when a speaker means in general or all else being equal...

Metaconcepts and nominalizations. ...Those vacuous terms refer to meta­concepts: concepts about concepts, such as approach, assumption, concept, condition, context, framework, issue, level, model, perspective, process, prospect, role, strategy, subject, tendency, and variable. It’s easy to see why metaconcepts tumble so easily from the fingers of academics. Professors really do think about "issues" (they can list them on a page), "levels of analysis" (they can argue about which is most appropriate), and "contexts" (they can use them to figure out why something works in one place but not in another). But after a while those abstractions become containers in which they store and handle all their ideas, and before they know it they can no longer call anything by its name. "Reducing prejudice" becomes a "prejudice-­reduction model"....

A process called nominalization takes a perfectly spry verb and embalms it into a lifeless noun by adding a suffix like –ance, –ment, or –ation. Instead of affirming an idea, you effect its affirmation; rather than postponing something, you implement a postponement. Helen Sword calls them "zombie nouns" because they lumber across the scene without a conscious agent directing their motion....

...most scientists believe that there are objective truths about the world, and that they can be discovered by a disinterested observer.... this guiding image of classic prose could not be farther from the worldview of relativist academic ideologies such as postmodernism, poststructuralism, and literary Marxism, which took over many humanities departments in the 1970s....

A failure to realize that my chunks may not be the same as your chunks can explain why we baffle our readers with so much shorthand, jargon, and alphabet soup. But it’s not the only way we baffle them. Sometimes wording is maddeningly opaque without being composed of technical terminology from a private clique.
writing  academia  editing  UMS 
4 weeks ago
The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is a new museum that does exhibitions, expeditions, educational workshops and public programming, but includes the social and political forces that shape nature, yet are left out of traditional natural history museums. The Natural History Museum borrows from the legitimating aesthetics, pedagogical models, and presentation forms of natural history museums in order to support a perspective on nature as a commons. From this perspective, it lifts up the work of socially engaged artists and climate activists so that their interconnections appear.

The museum is a new ongoing project initiated by arts collective Not An Alternative. Members of the collective perform as anthropologists in the museum and as museum anthropologists, interrogating the influences that affect both the atmospheric climate on Earth and the political climate within natural history museums.

Like many of the collective’s previous projects, this one will employ the strategy of mimicry originally a scientific process among animal species, now powerfully deployed by activists to exert pressure on predatorial actors. In this case, they will mimic traditional natural history museums with an aim to politicize the aesthetics of the re-presentation of nature
museums  institutional_critique  exhibition  climate_change 
4 weeks ago
Let the Future Go - The Digital Shift
The best way to enable the world’s innovators to inculcate library knowledge in every niche of the ecosystem is to provide them with access to everything that libraries know (short of violating privacy rules or norms, of course). To do so, we must make it easy for developers to write applications that put library knowledge to use and easy for sites to integrate library knowledge into their own offerings.
In short, we need to make libraries interoperable with the web. There are at least three ways of heading in this direction.

APIs First, we can build platforms that make library knowledge openly available to computer applications that want to do something interesting with it.

Linked Data Second, Linked Data can help us open up the future of libraries. By making clouds of linked data available, people can pull together data from across domains, a task that in the Age of Information would have required extensive engineering of schemas, etc.

The Library Graph Third, there’s an ambitious project libraries could choose to undertake as a group that would jump-start the web presence of what libraries know: a library graph. A graph, such as Facebook’s Social Graph and Google’s Knowledge Graph, associates entities (“nodes”) with other entities; the relationships are called “edges”: two things that touch share an edge. In Google’s Knowledge Graph, Igor Stravinsky shares an edge with “The Ebony Concerto” as its composer, and Benny Goodman and Woody Herman share edges with the concerto as its performers. Thus, the Google Knowledge Graph can begin to suspect that Stravinsky, Goodman, and Herman might share some musical tastes and influences.
libraries  linked_data  semantic_web 
5 weeks ago
The History and Evolution of Data Dashboards - Bryan University
Dashboards were initially proposed as a tool in the business world in the 1980s, around the time that disseminated desktop computing entered the market. They were promoted as a way to reduce the need for reports. They promised senior level executives non-technical ways to monitor the performance of a company using graphical interfaces. The metaphor was a NASA control room, as well as the more prosaic airplane cockpit and the automobile.
interface  dashboards  data_visualization  management  finance 
5 weeks ago
Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries | Center for an Urban Future
At a time when far too many New Yorkers lack the basic language and technological skills needed to access decent-paying jobs, branch libraries have become a critical part of New York City’s human capital system, the go-to place for upgrading one’s skills and a key platform for economic empowerment. Libraries also have stepped in as critical resources as record numbers of freelancers are looking for a place to do their work, students from pre-k through 12th grade need to supplement their studies with enrichment programs, and neighborhood residents want a “third place” to meet with neighbors and keep up with events. As Superstorm Sandy revealed in 2012, libraries are even an important part of building and maintaining strong social networks necessary for community recovery efforts.

Yet, despite expanding needs and growing circulation and program attendance numbers, New York isn’t coming close to fulfilling the promise of its community libraries. The average branch library in New York City is 61 years old, and a significant share of the branches suffer from major physical defects such as a lack of light and ventilation, water leaks and over-heating due to malfunctioning cooling systems. In addition, the vast majority of branches—including “newer” ones built in the past 40 years—are poorly configured for how New Yorkers are using libraries today, with little space for classes, group work and individuals working on laptop computers. Meanwhile, the libraries have just started to scratch the surface when it comes to taking advantage of new technologies, and they have only begun to design branches in ways that improve how they serve specific populations, such as seniors and teens.

More than half of the city’s 207 library buildings are over 50 years old and a quarter were built at least a century ago. With such an aging building stock, it’s not surprising that the city’s libraries are on the verge of a maintenance crisis. The city’s three library systems have at least $1.1 billion in capital needs, and that’s mainly just to bring the branches into a state of good repair. Bringing them into the 21st century would require an even greater investment.
libraries  branch_libraries  media_architecture 
5 weeks ago
Internet Archive – a short film about accessing knowledge – Aeon
The Internet Archive is a Library of Alexandria for the digital age, the world’s largest digital archive of books, video, websites and music. Based in a former Christian Science church in San Francisco, its towering servers sit in what was once the church organist’s room, emitting enough heat to keep the whole building warm in winter.

Overseeing the entire operation is Brewster Kahle, founder of the archive, whose goal since 1996 has been to put knowledge within everyone’s reach, no matter their location or financial circumstances. ‘The best way to preserve things is to make them accessible,’ he says, going on to note that the big experiment of giving everything away is proving effective.

In Internet Archive, Kahle and his colleagues Robert Miller, director of books, and Alexis Rossi, director of content, explain the ethos of the organisation, the challenges it faces, and the technical innovations that keep the archive running
archives  digital_archives  Internet_archive  preservation  access 
6 weeks ago
Len Lye - Trade Tattoo (1937) [RE-SYNCHED VERSION] - YouTube
Commissioned by the GPO to make a film about the need to 'post early', Len Lye conceived of the British working day as having an overall rhythmic pattern like a tattoo (a mass display with music). He was influenced by Walther Ruttmann's 1927 film Berlin which presented a day in the life of that city as a 'symphony'. Lye, who shared the working-class sympathies felt by many of his GPO colleagues, described Trade Tattoo as an attempt to convey "a romanticism about the work of the everyday, in all walk/sit works of life".

His special feeling for movement was shown by the film's pulsing visual rhythms, its kinetic presentation of words on screen, and its rapid, syncopated editing. The soundtrack drew upon five pieces of dance music by the Lecuona Cuban Band. Lye did not undertake any location filming but worked with leftover footage from GPO documentaries (such as Night Mail). In the richness of its colours and textures, the film was a further development of the colour separation methods he had used for Rainbow Dance. In Trade Tattoo he transformed the Technicolor process (his choice of film stock on this occasion) into a kind of Cubist machine which could swallow naturalistic, black-and-white images - scenes of mail-sorting, cargo loading, steel milling and other types of work - and convert them into multi-coloured fragments.
film  postal_service  labor 
6 weeks ago
Library of Muyinga
For the library of Muyinga BC architects was asked to scale the “Open structures” model to an architectural level.
A construction process involving end-users and second-hand economies was conceived, connected to product life cycles, water resource cycles and energy cycles. This OpenStructures architectural model was called “Case Study (CS) 1: Katanga, Congo”. It was theoretical, and fully research-based. Five years later, the library of Muyinga in Burundi is completed.
A thorough study of vernacular architectural practices in Burundi was the basis of the design of the building. Two months of fieldwork in the region and surrounding provinces gave the architects insight in the local materials, techniques and building typologies. These findings were applied, updated, reinterpreted and framed within the local know-how and traditions of Muyinga.
libraries  Africa 
6 weeks ago
Welcome to Graduate School - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Many students arrive at graduate school with an eye toward the conferences, the journal publications, or being a great teaching assistant. I am constantly helping them understand the difference between professionalization and hyperprofessionalization...

So what is the "actual work"? Develop your personal research skills. When you read a book, read it intelligently. Dissect its bibliography into sources you need immediately, those you might need later, and those you do not need. Take notes by hand, and take them constantly, in class and when reading. Write down the theories you want to explore. Write constantly as you think through ideas about your project. Determine the differences between your methods and theories; and determine why they shape each other in particular ways...

We write letters of recommendation for you for jobs, grants, fellowships, and research positions. We write those letters often to people we know and respect. We do not want to persuade a professional to work with you on false pretenses. So, more often than not, we are honest in our letters, yet careful. We have become quite good at writing and reading between the lines. When we write in your recommendation letter that we enjoyed working with you because you made homemade cherry scones, the readers know we are not talking about your theoretical rigor. We will only say you earned the "A" in our class when you actually did.
UMS  advising 
6 weeks ago
Philadelphia Library System Receives $25 Million Grant | News | PND
The William Penn Foundation has announced a $25 million gift to the Free Library of Philadelphia in support of renovations and upgrades to the library’s historic Central Branch building and five other branches.

The largest gift ever awarded by the foundation aims to transform the library system into a vibrant twenty-first-century institution focused on the needs of the individual communities it serves. The largest portion of the gift, some $18 million, will fund the renovation of five neighborhood libraries, with the aim of making the facilities easier to access, physically as well as psychologically. The remaining $7 million will support the ongoing renovation of the interior of the Parkway Central Library, including the addition of forty thousand square feet, most of which will be used for a new small business and entrepreneurial center.
libraries  Philadelphia 
6 weeks ago
New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual
This site is dedicated to serve as an archival record of a first edition NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual designed
by Massimo Vignelli of Unimark International. The manual was found in
a locker beneath old gym clothes. Roll over the images to magnify. Enjoy.
subways  transportation  infrastructure  branding  wayfinding  graphic_design 
6 weeks ago
Dublin Dashboard Launch, 10:30-1.00pm, Friday 19th September | The Programmable City
The Dublin Dashboard provides citizens, public sector workers and companies with real-time information, time-series indicator data, and interactive maps about all aspects of the city.  It enables users to gain detailed, up to date intelligence about the city that aids everyday decision making and fosters evidence-informed analysis.

The Dublin Dashboard pulls together data from major data sources — including Dublin City Council, Dublinked, Central Statistics Office, Eurostat, and government departments, and links to a variety of existing applications — to provide thousands of interactive data visualisations. The underlying data is freely available so others can undertake their own analysis and build their own applications and visualisations.
smart_cities  data  dashboards 
7 weeks ago
5 Best Home Office Desks- Sept. 2014 - BestReviews
"Evolution of the Desk" is an initiative borne out of the Harvard Innovation Lab. The goal is to illustrate the impact that technology has had on our lives over the last 35 years. A cluttered desk, complete with a rolodex, a file cabinet, and a fax machine, transforms into a much cleaner, simpler surface consisting of only a laptop and a mobile phone. Of course, some things in life - like the sun - are everlasting, so the shades persist throughout the years.
desks  intellectual_furnishings  furniture  desktops  interaction_design 
7 weeks ago
Weave: Journal of Library User Experience
Weave is a peer-reviewed, open access, web-based publication featuring articles on user experience design for librarians and professionals in related fields. Our editorial board consists of recognized experts in the field of library UX, and our editorial philosophy is to strive for a balance between theoretical and practical topics.
user_testing  user_experience  interfaces  libraries 
7 weeks ago
What the Digital Humanities Can't Do | Chronicle Review
The computer doesn’t make meaning. We do. And most of us in the humanities are not sophisticated computer engineers; we require assistance to understand and use the algorithms required to get the next "level of description," to use the language of complex-systems analysis. When we pass the buck to programmers, the algorithms, and, in turn, to the models they generate, we cede a major part of the meaning-making process. If we wade into the digital humanities, we need to understand, and continue to question, the digital part as well as the humanities part. We can’t allow interpretation to be hidden in a mathematical black box. We need to remember that these digital methods are based, at least initially, on human inputs.

The risk I see to the humanities is not in using algorithms or, indeed, in any individual digital-humanities projects. The risk is, to quote Lanier, in "digital reification," in "lock-in," which "removes ideas that do not fit into the winning digital representation scheme." If it doesn’t fit, we ignore it, or change the definitions (of texts, of musical notes, of the humanities, of consciousness) to fit the scheme. We dumb down the object of representation in order to make our design look better; and, in turn, the object of representation changes to match the design....

We should perhaps ask ourselves the humanities questions that are being raised by neuroscientists: What happens to our consciousness when we let ourselves be raised by robots and screens, however benign? How do those mirror neurons fire when presented with animated emojis instead of human faces? Are we increasing human diversity, or are we constraining it?

As Lanier quips, "People degrade themselves in order to make machines seem smart all the time." We become "restricted in practice," he says, "to what can be represented in a computer." Our complex, ambiguous selves are at risk from this digital pressure toward conformity....

The answer isn’t simply for humanities scholars to learn how to program or to work with programmers. The answer is also for programmers to heed the humanities in thinking through the implications of their decisions, to make those decisions visible, and for all of us to recognize that digital technologies are only some of the tools at our disposal. We needn’t be limited to them—or by them. The humanities aren’t "extra," nor can they be subsumed into a more scientific or technological worldview. The"soft" perspective of the humanities, just like the human itself, cannot be adequately represented or processed by the digital....

As we look to the future, then, humanities scholars need to think about how best to make use of our technologies without trying to emulate them. Digital technologies have excellent applications but aren’t a good fit for all projects, nor are the projects that do fit necessarily better than the ones that don’t. We must resist the temptation to jam our square pegs into round holes and to treat the products of digital-humanities scholarship as more valuable simply because they are digital.
digital_humanities  methodology  epistemology 
7 weeks ago
Interface @ Powerhouse Museum
Featuring iconic products designed and manufactured by the world’s famous brands, including Olivetti, Braun and Apple, “Interface” explores how a handful of companies, designers and industrial visionaries transformed clunky machines of a century ago and created the ubercool, must-have items that we can’t live without today....

“Interface” plays homage to designers past and present and explores their philosophies and inspirations. The exhibition also reveals how many design methods from 50 years ago have stood the test of time and remain influential in object design today....

Design visionaries whose work is explored in the exhibition include: Dieter Rams, the German industrial designer who was Braun’s design visionary; Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founders of Apple; Doug Engelbart a seminal figure of computer interface design; Olivetti designers Marcello Nizzoli, Ettore Sottsass and Mario Bellini; the early Apple designs from Hartmut Esslinger who helped shape Apple’s transformation into a global brand and current designer Jonathan Ive.
exhibition  interfaces  interaction_design  buttons 
7 weeks ago
A Dublin-Based Startup Hopes to Make Tracking Changes in Your Neighborhood a Whole Lot Easier - CityLab
In far too many cities, if you want to know about construction plans and other real estate development data, you'll need to prepare for a dusty slog through paper documents or a battle with arcane city-records tech.

It would be easier for everyone to remove such boundaries and opt for a streamlined online mapping interface, says Ciaran Gilsenan, a civil engineer and founder of the Dublin-based startup BuildingEye, which provides residents with easy, online access to visualized local government information....

Simplicity is the key to BuildingEye, which gathers planning data from various city authorities and visualizes the data on maps, which link directly to the relevant planning information and documents.

BuildingEye started in Ireland, using a collection of local authorities as a test bed. The startup now has an office in San Francisco—where it plans to test its programming for the first time in a major U.S. city. The move was partly in response to San Francisco’s entrepreneur-in-residence program, which put a call out to startups that wanted to get involved in government and tackle issues like city planning, transportation, and earthquake safety.
apps  urban_informatics  interfaces  dashboards  construction  urban_media 
7 weeks ago
apexart :: Decolonized Skies :: Yael Messer and Gilad Reich
Since the invention of aerial photography during the last decades of the 19th century, the sky above our heads has become a territory subjected to militarized conflicts over mastery and command. Following this evolution, the view from above has become associated with state control and corporate power. This reality is even more apparent in recent years with the excessive worldwide use of drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for purposes of surveillance and destruction. Parallel to this disturbing rising trend, and in many respects as a response to it, an increasing number of artists, activists, scientists, and designers from different regions seek ways to use today’s technology to re- appropriate the sky and reclaim the view from above.

These efforts and experiments stand at the center of Decolonized Skies, an exhibition that brings together artists and groups of practitioners from a variety of disciplines. They attempt to decolonize the aerial point of view and the visuality it produces by manipulating satellite images, operating hand-made UAVs, and creating new mapping systems in a search for civilian-oriented visual and political imagery. The exhibition explores the new visual strategies generated by the democratization of the view from above for the production and distribution of civilian knowledge. It underscores the empowering potential of civilian action while questioning the very notion of “democratization.” The assemblage of videos, maps, computer programs, sound bites, and images offers alternative strategies for engaging with and obtaining information about local socio-political hotspots.
photography  aerial_photography  surveillance  exhibition 
8 weeks ago
Paris Review – At the Drive-In, Dan Piepenbring
For her new series, “Vanishing Drive-ins,” the photographer Stefanie Klavens scoured the nation for extant drive-in theaters—there are fewer than four hundred now, she says, down from more than four thousand in the fifties—and photographed them with plenty of saturation and long exposure times. The result is a jarring (albeit beautiful) exercise in anachronism: late-model cars are swathed in the cheery neon of the fifties and sixties, suggesting a concept of Americana at once indelible and fleeting. Klavens explains the demise of the drive-in:

Over time, changing real estate values began to have an effect on the drive-in. Land became too valuable for a summer-only business. Widespread adoption of daylight saving time in the mid 1960’s subtracted an hour from outdoor evening screening time. The decline was further hastened by the advent of VCRs and home video rentals.
media_space  film  exhibition  media_archaeology 
8 weeks ago
Lux in Arcana - official video - YouTube
A preview of the official video for the exhibition-event Lux in Arcana -- The Vatican Secret Archives reveals itself http://www.luxinarcana.org. Filmed inside the Vatican Secret Archives, it shows rooms and bunkers in the Archive of the Popes, together with some of the 100 original documents that will leave the Vatican City for the first time in history. 12 centuries of history, 400 years of life, 85 kilometres of shelving: the world's most famous Archive reveals itself in the extraordinary halls of Rome's Capitoline Museums. Conclaves, heresies, popes and emperors. Crusades, excommunications, ciphered letters. Manuscripts, codices, ancient parchments. An exceptional and once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn History through its sources. February-September 2012.
archives  video  religion 
8 weeks ago
A 19th Century Telephone Network Covered Stockholm in Thousands of Phone Lines | Colossal
In the late 19th century, shortly after the patent of the telephone, the race was on to connect everyone to the phone grid. However, due to technical limitations of the earliest phone lines, every telephone required its own physical line strung between a house or business to a phone exchange where the call was manually connected by a live operator. The somewhat quixotic result of so many individual lines was the construction of elaborate and unsightly towers that carried hundreds to thousands of phone lines through the air.
infrastructure  wires  telephone  media_city 
8 weeks ago
What archaeologists do | Savage Minds
archaeologists effectively never feature in this stream of enquiry. Rarely do archaeologists or heritage specialists attempt to overtly insert themselves into the media archaeological discourse (Pogacar 2014 is arguably one exception), and neither do media archaeologists typically reach out to archaeology for intellectual or methodological contributions (but see Mattern 2012, 2013; Nesselroth-Woyzbun 2013). Indeed, the media archaeological literature has explicitly distanced itself from archaeology,
archaeology  media_archaeology  my_work 
8 weeks ago
Miranda July's Quirky Film Presents Somebody, the New App That Connects Strangers in the Real World | Open Culture
Filmmaker Miranda July’s just released Somebody is, I suspect, something of a niche app.

If you cringe at the idea of flash mobs, Improv Everywhere, and audience interactive theater, it is most definitely not for you. 

It’s absolutely perfect for me (or will be once I get up to speed on my touchscreen.)

Basically, you take a selfie, create a profile, and wait for a stranger to select you to deliver a live message as his or her proxy. In addition to trawling the area for the designated recipient, you may be called upon to weep, hug, or get on your knees to get that message across.
cell_phones  social_interaction  miranda_july  participation 
8 weeks ago
Public Books — Street Corner Society
Between March and November 2006, Howe photographed virtually every street corner on the island of Manhattan, resulting in an astonishing 11,485 urban portraits (and the number has since crept up slightly). Cumulatively the photographs produce a visual census of the city’s buildings, sidewalks, and the life of its citizens in public. As your eye strolls through these photographs—all of which are available online, at larger size than available here—the viewer is forced to look closely at otherwise unremarked-upon aspects of New York life. The vividness of the physical and cultural texture found here is a towering achievement....

The result is a vast photographic survey of everyday life at street level. It took several years of postproduction to catalogue and prepare it to be made available online. He explained: “Part of what I wanted in the images themselves—and why I wanted this extreme depth of field—is I wanted there to be so much in the picture that you could just keep on looking at it and keep finding new things to look at. And when you found them that would change the relationships among all the other things and you’d have to back up and look at them again too.”...

Howe’s pictures hold the social action of city life still for us to look at closely. Viewing them can also be addictive—you just want to see the next and the next, and hours can pass by unnoticed. In the frozen frame the choreography of the sidewalk and its structure suddenly come into view....

What is encoded wordlessly here is the taken-for-granted order of human traffic on the sidewalk. As Goffman commented: “City streets, even in times that defame them, provide a setting where mutual trust is routinely displayed between strangers.”2 We can see these transactions on Broadway and Canal Street, even though the people there are so inside this structure that they are almost certainly blind to it.
Howe’s photographs provide more than a resource for understanding the structure of social interactions on the corner. They also offer a window onto New York’s social structure, if we as users have the imagination to recognize it. One productive way to approach this is to compare corners from different parts of the city.
street_life  photography  media_city  everyday_life 
8 weeks ago
Olafur Eliasson Launches Online Artwork Doubling as Archive
Olafur Eliasson has relaunched his homepage, along with an innovative new web-based artwork entitled Your uncertain archive. A WebGL-based dive into Eliasson’s  immense body of work, inspirations, and interests, the piece is evocative of the Internet itself in its sprawling format. The experimental archive has been under construction for over four years, which is evident from both both its intricacy and impeccable, easy design.

Users can browse freely in “Drift” mode, following an ever-growing pool of connections and associations, or pick a specific interest category to explore—choices include topics like “doughnut,” “fivefold symmetry,” and “Ai Weiwei.” Selecting, for example, the doughnut category, reveals all of Eliasson’s sculptures that resemble doughnuts, of which there are seven. The result of this seemingly endless web is an illuminating artwork made of artworks that would take weeks to fully explore.
archives  art  classification  navigation 
8 weeks ago
It's Nice That : Watch Portuguese designers the Royal Studio turn graphic design on its head
Their website is a combination of fluorescent colours, textures, media and effects so hectic that you can’t help but surrender yourself to it, but it’d be foolish to assume that The Royal Studio’s design work is as chaotic as it appears. Behind the madness is a method which elevates their vibrant, contemporary design beyond the realms of trendy and into something actually very interesting, whether it’s an Honest Manifesto which claims that “everyone loves titles and captions” but they “don’t give a fuck about content” (repeated to fill) or a very well-executed poster advertising the studio’s 15 day long tour around cities including Zagreb, Ljubljana, Dijon and Porto.
graphic_design  presentation_images  manifestos 
9 weeks ago
ESC (Extrastatecraft): About
Extrastatecraft: a project sponsored the Design Department of Jan van Eyck Academie and initiated by Keller Easterling.

ESC researches global infrastructure as a medium of polity. Some of the most radical changes to the globalising world are being written, not in the language of law and diplomacy, but rather in the language of infrastructure. Even building enclosures, typically considered to be geometrical formal objects, have become infrastructural—mobile, monetized technologies moving around the world as repeatable phenomena. Infrastructure is then not the urban substructure, but the urban structure itself—the very parameters of global urbanism.

Extrastatecraft—a portmanteau that means both outside of and in addition to statecraft—recognizes that infrastructure generates emergent new constellations of national, international, intergovernmental and transnational administration and generates undeclared forms of polity faster than any even quasi-official forms of governance can legislate it. Yet far from overwhelming state power, these lumpy and braided administrative layers, with their multiple trap doors and proxies, often serve to strengthen and camouflage the state. Massive global infrastructure systems, administered by mixtures of public and private cohorts and driven by profound irrationalities, form a wilder mongrel than any storied Leviathan for which there is studied political response.
governance  politics  infrastructure  urban_form 
9 weeks ago
BLDGBLOG: The Fall
Maisel's photos offered a kind of aerial portraiture of the city, including its labyrinthine knots of rooftops. But the core of the project consists of disorientingly off-kilter, almost axonometric shots of the city's historic architecture....

While he was in the country, however, Maisel took advantage of some extra time and access to a helicopter to explore the landscape between Toledo and Madrid, a short stretch of infrastructural connections, agricultural hinterlands, abandoned suburban developments, and arid hills.

The result was a new series of photos called The Fall.

As Maisel writes, The Fall suggests a genre in which "the worlds of painting and photography have merged together," creating an ironically abstract form of landscape documentation.

This is most evident in the photos from an area called Vicalvaro on the outskirts of Madrid. As Maisel explains, this is "where construction was halted after the economic collapse of 2008. The abandoned zones appear like the surreal aftermath of a bombed out city or an alien landing field."
photography  urban_form  infrastructure  aerial_photography  geology  extraction 
10 weeks ago
David Maisel
In his ongoing, multi-chaptered series Black Maps, David Maisel’s aerial photographs of environmentally impacted sites explore the aesthetics and politics of radically human-altered environments, framing the issues of contemporary landscape with equal measures of documentation and metaphor. Curator Robert Sobieszek states, “Maisel has succeeded in mapping the fictive terrains of the unconscious, of nightmares and hallucinations. He has also used the camera’s objectifying optics to form cartographies of the irrational and the perverse, the preconscious and the primordial, the apocalyptic.”

 

In projects such as Library of Dust and History’s Shadow, Maisel investigates institutional archives, and shows the power of objects to convey meaning over time. Library of Dust depicts one hundred copper canisters, each containing the cremated remains of a psychiatric patient unclaimed after their death. The canisters are reacting with their ashen remains, causing mineral encrustations to bloom on their metallic surfaces. In History’s Shadow, Maisel uses x-rays depicting sculpture, painting, and artifacts from antiquity as source material in the creation of new photographic artwork. Through the x-ray process and the subsequent re-photography of these scientific records, the objects from antiquity go through a process of transmutation, becoming reanimated and renewed.  
photography  aerial_photography  forensics  landscapes  archaeology 
10 weeks ago
Cyprien Gaillard. The Recovery of Discovery – Program - KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Preserving a monument goes hand in hand with destroying it. In order to preserve architecture, cultural monuments and relics, they are often re-located, thus abolishing the original context. The dislocation of a monument does not only alter the history of its original location, but also leads to a radical re-interpretation of the monument itself. So, the history of the Pergamon Altar's reception in Germany ranges from monarchistic to monarchic-colonialist, fascist, communist and even into nationalist movements.

The spectrum of appropriations reflects the respective attitudes towards archaeology and the notion of discovery typical for different historical contexts and political systems. A discovery always goes along with its patronization; something, which the discovered never seems to be able to recover itself from again. Architectural elements of cultural monuments are often removed and dispersed separately all over the world. Hence, we currently find the ruins of the temples of Ephesus in the British Museum in London, in the Art Historical Museum in Vienna and in the Archaeological Museums of Selçuk, Izmir and Istanbul, as well as in Efes (Latin: Ephesus) itself.

In his work, Cyprien Gaillard repeatedly explores the absurd aspects of dystopic architectures and their remaining ruins through such strategies as dilapidation, destruction, demolition, preservation, conservation and reconstruction of architecture. In doing so he always departs from the process itself. For his exhibition at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin Cyprien Gaillard has created a new, large-scale piece, which – whilst departing from a prototype of the monument – completes itself in the process. Similarly to the relocation of the Pergamon Altar, 72,000 bottles of beer of the brand "Efes" have been transported from Turkey to Germany. The cardboard boxes filled with bottles form the even steps of the pyramid. By using the monument – by climbing the sculpture and drinking the beer – its destruction is already initiated.
archaeology  ruins  preservation  archive_art  gaillard 
10 weeks ago
Making Better Digital Maps in an Era of Standardization
For while the open door of online mapmaking has produced a lot of maps, it's also brought about a standardization of aesthetics. “To make it easy for people to make a map,” says Daniel Huffman, a cartographer at the University of Wisconsin, “you need to simplify the process down and make things very uniform.” Riffs on Google Maps look for the most part like Google Maps, with its top-down view, muted color scheme, choice of line weights, and approach to terrain. Even original maps created on Mapbox or other, more powerful geographic information system-based software can lead, at the very least, to design that is “sterile,” according to cartographer Kenneth Field. Certainly, the style is ubiquitous....

Huffman is a freelance map-maker, “cartographic philosopher,” and instructor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Above all, his work seeks to restore a human touch to mapmaking. Among many of his undertakings, Project Linework may be the most innovative. It’s a “library of free, public-domain sets of vector lifework”—lines that indicate borders, roads, or simple data points—that are all distinct....

Dr. Jenny is an assistant professor in cartography and geovisualization in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. Some of his research is in colored-terrain shading (which uses color to show dimension) and terrain modulation (which helps resize cartographic features depending on the needs of the map). Terrain Bender, his modulating software, is available for free online.... “With Terrain Bender, the idea is to emulate a technique that was used by manual panorama map painters, where certain elements get resized to show importance....

Tom Patterson is one of the founders of Natural Earth, a public-domain data set that helps cartographers find “suitable data for making small-scale maps.” He's also a relief-shading enthusiast. Patterson largely strives to make maps that have natural-looking terrain—a task he believes was better achieved in the pre-digital era. That’s why he also maintains ShadedReliefArchive.com, a compendium of “scanned manual-shaded relief maps for use by digital mapmakers,” most of which are geo-referenced and can be easily overlaid into mapmaking software.
mapping  cartography  standards  aesthetics  graphic_design 
10 weeks ago
Digital Ethereal | Design Observer
Luis Hernan, an Architecture and Interaction Design student at Newcastle University, has captured the invisible landscape of wireless networks by using long exposure photography. He's created a device that translates the energy of wireless fields into different color LEDs based on their signal strength. The results are striking photographs of beams of light sweeping and swirling around a suggested figure, which the designer calls “spectres” as they remind him of ghosts and because they're invisible to the human eye. Hernan also developed an Android app allowing anyone to photograph the invisible world surrounding these amazing signals
wireless  infrastructure  visualization  invisibility  wifi  photography 
10 weeks ago
The Way of the Shovel: On the Archeological Imaginary in Art | e-flux
In the present moment, however, it appears that a number of artists seek to define art first and foremost in the thickness of its relationship to history. More and more frequently, art finds itself looking back, both at its own past (a very popular approach right now, as well as big business), and at “the” past in general. A steadily growing number of contemporary art practices engage not only in storytelling, but more specifically in history-telling. The retrospective, historiographic mode—a methodological complex that includes the historical account, the archive, the document, the act of excavating and unearthing, the memorial, the art of reconstruction and reenactment, the testimony—has become both the mandate (“content”) and the tone (“form”) favored by a growing number of artists (as well as critics and curators) of varying ages and backgrounds.2 They either make artworks that want to remember, or at least to turn back the tide of forgetfulness, or they make art about remembering and forgetting: we can call this the “meta-historical mode,” an important aspect of much artwork that assumes a curatorial character. With the quasi-romantic idea of history’s presumed remoteness (or its darkness) invariably quite crucial to the investigative undertaking at hand, these artists delve into archives and historical collections of all stripes (this is where the magical formula of “artistic research” makes its appearance) and plunge into the abysmal darkness of history’s most remote corners. They reenact—yet another mode of historicizing and storytelling much favored by artists growing up in a culture of accelerated oblivion—reconstruct, and recover. ....

True, there is plenty of historiography out there, but it is of a very problematic, myopic kind that seems to add to the cultural pathology of forgetting rather than fight against it. It is a type of writing that prefers to hone in on objects (the smaller, the more mundane, and the less significant, the better) rather than people, the grand societal structures that harness them, or the events that befall them and/or help bring those structures into being. Virtually every little “thing” has become the subject of its own (strictly “cultural”) history of late, from the pencil to the zipper, the cod, the porcelain toilet bowl, the stiletto, the potato, or the bowler hat. It does not require too great an imaginative effort to discern the miserable political implications of this obsession with detail, novelty, and the quaint exoticism of the everyday (best summed up by the dubious dictum “small is beautiful”). Indeed, it seems sufficiently clear that the relative success story of this myopic micro-historiography, with its programmatic suspicion of all forms of grand historicization, is related both to today’s general state of post-ideological fatigue as well as to the political evacuation (or de-politicization) of academia, of which the “crisis of history” is precisely such an alarming, potent symptom.....

One geopolitical region whose recent (and rewardingly traumatic) history has become especially prominent with art’s turn towards history-telling and historicizing (its turn away from both the present and the future), is post-communist Central and Eastern Europe—the preferred archeological digging site (if only metaphorically) of many well-read artists whose work has come of age in the broader context of the globalized art market of the last decade and a half....

In their cultivation of the retrospective and/or historiographic mode, many contemporary art practices inevitably also seek to secure the blessing (in disguise) of History proper: in an art world that seems wholly dominated by the inflationary valuations of the market and its corollary, the fashion industry (“here today, gone tomorrow,” or, “that’s so 2008”), time, literally rendered as the subject of the art in question, easily proves to be a much more trustworthy arbiter of quality than mere taste or success. Hence the pervasive interest of so many younger artists and curators in the very notion of anachronism or obsolescence and related “technologies of time”: think of Super 8 mm and 16 mm film, think of the Kodak slide carousel, think of antiquated, museum-of-natural-history-style vitrines meant to convey a sense of the naturalization of history, or of time proper....

One of the ways in which this historiographic “turn” has manifested itself lately is through a literalized amateur archeology of the recent past: digging. Archeology’s way of the shovel has long been a powerful metaphor for the various endeavors that both spring from the human mind and seek to map the depths of, among other things, itself. Perhaps the most famous example of this would be psychoanalysis (or “depth psychology”), in which the object of its archaeological scrutiny is the human mind. Throughout a history that stretches far beyond the work of, say, Robert Smithson, Haim Steinbach, or Mark Dion, psychoanalysis has long been a source of fascination and inspiration for the arts. Certainly, one could conceive of an exhibition consisting solely of artistic images of excavation sites, of “art about archeology.” The truth claims of art often quote rather literally and liberally from the lingua franca of archeology: artists often refer to their work as a labor of meticulous “excavation,” unearthing buried treasures and revealing the ravages of time in the process; works of art are construed as shards, fragments (the Benjaminian ciphers of a revelatory truth), traces preserved in sediments of fossilized meaning...

art and archeology also share a profound understanding—and one might say that they are on account of this almost “naturally” inclined to a Marxist epistemology—of the primacy of the material in all culture, the overwhelming importance of mere “matter” and “stuff” in any attempt to grasp and truly read the cluttered fabric of the world.
art  history  historiography  archives  archaeology  excavation  things  materialism  materiality 
10 weeks ago
Shelf Space + Reading Room: A Spatial History of the New York Public Library | Bridge
The New York Public Library’s Central Building, constructed just over a century ago, is in the midst of a major renovation. The Library’s trustees have asked the architects at Foster + Partners to imagine the space currently occupied by the research collections’ closed book stacks as a new, publicly accessible, circulating library. The administration’s public relations strategy glosses over the meaning of this architectural reinterpretation, selling the renovation plan with only carefully selected historical facts and opinions that show support for the project. However, this narrative is deceiving; it oversimplifies the issues at stake. Both the broader New York Public Library system and Central Library in particular have an incredibly complex history. The influences that shaped the decision to build the 42nd Street building, its design and construction, and subsequent adaptations over the past century demonstrate an important relationship between the objectives of the institution and the Central Library’s architectural form. Therefore, beneath the rhetoric of the renovation, beyond the positive inclusion of a main circulating branch in the central building, lies the decision to remove a large portion of the circulating collection from the center of the stronghold built to house it. This decision undermines the unique structure of the New York Public Library as one of the world’s premier research institutions, removing the heart of the building.
bookshelves  libraries  nypl 
10 weeks ago
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