Palantir Knows Everything About You
Founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel and some fellow PayPal alumni, Palantir cut its teeth working for the Pentagon and the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company’s engineers and products don’t do any spying themselves; they’re more like a spy’s brain, collecting and analyzing information that’s fed in from the hands, eyes, nose, and ears. The software combs through disparate data sources—financial documents, airline reservations, cellphone records, social media postings—and searches for connections that human analysts might miss. It then presents the linkages in colorful, easy-to-interpret graphics that look like spider webs. U.S. spies and special forces loved it immediately; they deployed Palantir to synthesize and sort the blizzard of battlefield intelligence. It helped planners avoid roadside bombs, track insurgents for assassination, even hunt down Osama bin Laden. The military success led to federal contracts on the civilian side....

People and objects pop up on the Palantir screen inside boxes connected to other boxes by radiating lines labeled with the relationship: “Colleague of,” “Lives with,” “Operator of [cell number],” “Owner of [vehicle],” “Sibling of,” even “Lover of.” If the authorities have a picture, the rest is easy. Tapping databases of driver’s license and ID photos, law enforcement agencies can now identify more than half the population of U.S. adults.
big_data  network_mapping  palantir 
14 hours ago
BBC Sound Effects - Research & Education Space
These 16,016 BBC Sound Effects are made available by the BBC in WAV format to download for use under the terms of the RemArc Licence. The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license.
sounds  sound_archive  archives  sound_effects 
2 days ago
How Bad Is the Government’s Science? - WSJ
Half the results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are probably wrong. John Ioannidis, now a professor of medicine at Stanford, made headlines with that claim in 2005. Since then, researchers have confirmed his skepticism by trying—and often failing—to reproduce many influential journal articles. Slowly, scientists are internalizing the lessons of this irreproducibility crisis. But what about government, which has been making policy for generations without confirming that the science behind it is valid?

The biggest newsmakers in the crisis have involved psychology. Consider three findings: Striking a “power pose” can improve a person’s hormone balance and increase tolerance for risk. Invoking a negative stereotype, such as by telling black test-takers that an exam measures intelligence, can measurably degrade performance. Playing a sorting game that involves quickly pairing faces (black or white) with bad and good words (“happy” or “death”) can reveal “implicit bias” and predict discrimination....

The chief cause of irreproducibility may be that scientists, whether wittingly or not, are fishing fake statistical significance out of noisy data. If a researcher looks long enough, he can turn any fluke correlation into a seemingly positive result. But other factors compound the problem: Scientists can make arbitrary decisions about research techniques, even changing procedures partway through an experiment. They are susceptible to groupthink and aren’t as skeptical of results that fit their biases. Negative results typically go into the file drawer. Exciting new findings are a route to tenure and fame, and there’s little reward for replication studies...

American science has begun to face up to these problems. The National Institutes of Health has strengthened its reproducibility standards. Scientific journals have reduced the incentives and opportunities to publish bad research. Private philanthropies have put serious money behind groups like the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford, led in part by Dr. Ioannidis, and the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Va.

There’s more to be done, and the National Association of Scholars has made some recommendations. Before conducting a study, scientists should “preregister” their research protocols by posting the intended methodology online, which eliminates opportunities for changing the rules in the middle of the experiment. High schools, colleges and graduate schools need to improve science education, particularly in statistics. Universities and journals should create incentives for researchers to publish negative results. Scientific associations should seek to disrupt disciplinary groupthink by putting their favored ideas up for review by experts in other sciences.

A deeper issue is that the irreproducibility crisis has remained largely invisible to the general public and policy makers. ...

All government agencies should review the scientific justifications for their policies and regulations to ensure they meet strict reproducibility standards.
methodology  replicability 
2 days ago
How to negotiate a job offer effectively (opinion)
The problem with simply accepting an offer is that you’re signaling you’re not someone who stands up for themselves, and that is not the type of image you’d like to create when starting a new job. What’s more, your starting salary will determine your career earnings trajectory, and salary increases are usually just a few percentage points, no matter how great an employee you are. Even if you change roles within the company, your current salary is often the base for the new one.

By negotiating, you’ll create an image of someone who can manage themselves well and who knows what they want and how to get it -- the image you want when you embark on your professional journey....

To get the best results, you should examine the whole job package and list in order the issues that are most important to you to negotiate. If you fear appearing greedy, be honest with yourself and differentiate your needs from wants. Just always be careful not to sell yourself short....

You can negotiate many things besides salary, including: a signing bonus, an annual bonus, benefits, relocation costs, a starting date, vacation time, professional development opportunities and so on. After you reviewed the whole offer and have an understanding of what’s acceptable to you (and you know your BATNA, reservation price and the order of importance of the issues), you can start the negotiation.
job_search  negotiation  academia 
3 days ago
Center for Experimental Ethnography | Department of Anthropology
EXPERIMENTAL ETHNOGRAPHY @ PENN is a group of faculty across disciplines and schools who are committed to ethical, engaged, electric, ecstatic and, most of all, experimental multi-modal work that is generated ethnographically.

We seek to generate and amplify discussions regarding the emerging forms scholarly research is taking in the humanities and social sciences and the varied institutional responses to nontraditional genres of research practice and dissemination. 

We endeavor to coordinate scholarship, research, and public partnerships related to multi-modal work practices; to consolidate those activities in which we (and our undergraduate and graduate students) are already engaged; and to grow these generative connections in order to become a nationally- and internationally- known hub for these types of inquiry and practice.


We especially strive to build on already-existing connections with visual, performative arts and documentary institutions in West Philadelphia and beyond, increasing exchange among the University’s centers, its academic classrooms, and the city.
methodology  anthropology  ethnography 
3 days ago
Mattering Press - Home
Mattering Press publishes high quality, peer reviewed open access books within relational research on science, technology and society. We work with a production model that is based on cooperation and shared scholarship while ensuring the high quality of the resulting work through systematic peer-review.

As an open access publisher, we are dedicated to make empirically grounded monographs and edited collections widely and freely available, At the same time, we are committed to producing books that can travel as physical entities. All Mattering books will therefore be available freely as ebooks and as printed books to purchase. We also support books using formats that are experimental or difficult to publish using conventional publishing models.
STS  anthropology  publishing  academia 
6 days ago
On Editing | Anthropology-News
One of the most undervalued, but arduous forms of academic work is editing: organizing knowledge, judging quality, finding emergent themes, and forging connections. Editing is a form of synthesis that works at a thematic level beyond the scope of individual research, and it requires a collaborative and sometimes unhappy interaction with authors; it moves beyond the fetishized role of individual authorship or the long lists of co-authors, making editing into a form of meta-authorship that can move a discipline in a direction with a power that very few individual authors can achieve. But for many reasons, good editing is an endangered practice.

Given the importance of editorial labor, it is odd how little it counts in the official accounting of academic merit. Editing a book—particularly one with multi-lingual authors, can be more work than actually writing one, and it certainly requires a lot more correspondence and inter-personal skill. Good editing requires different talents from writing—mostly in identifying emergent themes and bringing out the best in the work of others. There is always something selfless to the process, to the point where truly excellent editing is almost invisible. And it is indeed invisible to most tenure and promotion committees, who interpret editing as “service” rather than research. But, imagine what the process of research and publication would be like without editing—an avalanche of garbage with a few hidden gems.
academia  editing  labor 
6 days ago
1. The Book-CASE: Introduction | The Ethnographic Case
We launch this book with a question: What is an ethnographic case? As ethnography is a process and practice of authorship, this question produces another: What can it be made to be? 

¶ 3Leave a comment on paragraph 34 The pieces in this text explore what cases can generate, and our reasons for resisting or embracing them as modes of analysis. There is a rich and variable history to “thinking in cases” (Forrester 1996). The expository medical case, attentive to the unusual and particular, has long been used as a tool for both diagnosis and instruction. The psychoanalytic case is built from fragments of remembered details with therapeutic objectives. The legal case establishes a precedent, while the criminal case comes to the detective as a mystery to be solved. The ethnographic case may be all of these things at once: instructing, dis/proving, establishing, evoking. It may achieve different ends altogether.
anthropology  fieldwork  ethnography 
6 days ago
Germany’s Refugee Detectives - The Atlantic
To get a sense of these interviews, imagine the following game. You meet someone who claims to be from your hometown, and you have to decide whether he’s telling the truth. You can ask him anything you like: Which high school did you attend? What color is city hall? Do people get around on buses or trains? Is there a McDonald’s? If so, where? The other player may prepare however he wishes, memorizing facts, maps, events. If he convinces you, he gets a million dollars. If he doesn’t convince you, he dies. You have 10 minutes to decide....

bamf investigators have played a version of this game roughly 1 million times in the past three years. Does the applicant come from where he claims to? Would he really fear for his life if he returns? The interview is conducted by a government employee who usually has no direct experience of the country the applicant claims to have fled. I exaggerate the game’s stakes only slightly: The prize is legal status in a society safe and wealthy beyond the imagination of an average Syrian or Afghan. The penalty, in the worst case, is a one-way ticket to a country that may or may not torture him to death.

bamf has developed techniques to play the game—training government employees as human lie detectors, then fanning them out across the country. In December, I visited bamf operations in Nuremberg and Berlin, meeting executives and staff and sitting in on interviews with asylum-seekers. bamf’s leaders are cautious about letting members of the media observe their agency’s techniques, and after several days I understood why: Some methods are secret and, if revealed, potentially useless. (I was the first journalist granted broad access, and then only under the condition that I obscure certain details, in part to protect the privacy of applicants.) But it was also clear that virtually everything the interviewers did or said could infuriate one political extreme or the other, and that it might be easier to work in the shadows....

bamf adopted work-arounds. “There are some identifiers that we just carry with us,” Strübing said. The first is our face. bamf’s facial-recognition software, and the mammoth database from which it draws, is by now “godlike,” one staffer said with reverence. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it make an error.” Think of all the times the government snaps your photo: at the airport or the DMV, when you apply for a visa or get thrown in jail. If a man who shows up at the Austrian border has the same face, but not the same name, as a man who applied for a visa in Cairo five years ago, bamf knows something is amiss. Already the system has detected numerous asylum-seekers who tried to apply more than once, telling different stories of flight and persecution. bamf officials declined to give a full list of the government departments against whose databases they compare photos, but it likely includes spy agencies and law enforcement. If you claim to be Eritrean but are found to have been denied a visa when you applied as a Kenyan 10 years ago, your story is probably beyond salvage.

Other bamf tools yield less-decisive evidence. “What we are looking for is a Hinweis,” Strübing said—a hint, a clue—to alert bamf caseworkers to a dubious claim. “Almost no single thing we discover will tell us for sure whether a person is lying. But we can gather these Hinweise, and they begin to tell us where to look.”

Most refugees carry a phone, and like the rest of us, they seldom go anywhere without it. When I visited bamf’s refugee centers, most of the people waiting to be interviewed were playing on their phone. Hanging on the wall of the think tank’s lab was a black nylon bag stuffed with a whole RadioShack’s worth of cords. “Here we have cables for every phone you have ever seen,” Detzel said, fishing out a few bizarre-looking ones he said were for phones available mostly in China. Every bamf reception center for refugees now has a duplicate set. In cases where the claimant has no passport or other identity papers, bamf can have her phone confiscated and download metadata—but not messages—to check her story. If she claims to have been in Turkey for the month of September, but the phone shows calls made from Yemen, the bamf case officer will ask her to explain.

The highest-grade cunning, though, involves tests that an applicant could fail without knowing he had failed. Occasionally, for instance, bamf officers meet applicants who claim ignorance of languages that would give them away—a supposed Somali, say, whom they suspect of being Kenyan. The average German employed by bamf would have no hope of tricking the applicant into admitting he knows a Kenyan language not spoken in Somalia.

But here, too, technology has delivered. If a case officer suspects that a claimant is lying about his native language, she’ll call a number on the office phone and ask the claimant to speak for two minutes. To demonstrate, Strübing handed me a drawing of a domestic scene—a typical kitchen from about 100 years ago, where a family was preparing for dinner—with instructions to speak into a handset and describe what I saw. (I wondered what a Congolese herder would make of an antique German kitchen.) The computer, which had been told nothing about me, returned this verdict:
migration  surveillance  forensics  telephone  language  shibboleth  identity  bureaucracy  refugees  methodology 
6 days ago
Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos | Quanta Magazine
In a series of results reported in the journals Physical Review Letters and Chaos, scientists have used machine learning — the same computational technique behind recent successes in artificial intelligence — to predict the future evolution of chaotic systems out to stunningly distant horizons. The approach is being lauded by outside experts as groundbreaking and likely to find wide application.

“I find it really amazing how far into the future they predict” a system’s chaotic evolution, said Herbert Jaeger, a professor of computational science at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany.

The findings come from veteran chaos theorist Edward Ott and four collaborators at the University of Maryland. They employed a machine-learning algorithm called reservoir computing to “learn” the dynamics of an archetypal chaotic system called the Kuramoto-Sivashinsky equation. The evolving solution to this equation behaves like a flame front, flickering as it advances through a combustible medium. The equation also describes drift waves in plasmas and other phenomena, and serves as “a test bed for studying turbulence and spatiotemporal chaos,” said Jaideep Pathak, Ott’s graduate student and the lead author of the new papers....

The algorithm knows nothing about the Kuramoto-Sivashinsky equation itself; it only sees data recorded about the evolving solution to the equation. This makes the machine-learning approach powerful; in many cases, the equations describing a chaotic system aren’t known, crippling dynamicists’ efforts to model and predict them. Ott and company’s results suggest you don’t need the equations — only data....

“This paper suggests that one day we might be able perhaps to predict weather by machine-learning algorithms and not by sophisticated models of the atmosphere,” Kantz said.

Besides weather forecasting, experts say the machine-learning technique could help with monitoring cardiac arrhythmias for signs of impending heart attacks and monitoring neuronal firing patterns in the brain for signs of neuron spikes. More speculatively, it might also help with predicting rogue waves, which endanger ships, and possibly even earthquakes.

Ott particularly hopes the new tools will prove useful for giving advance warning of solar storms
machine_learning  complexity  chaos  prediction 
6 days ago
Issues & Commentary: Face Off - Art in America
Deepfakes have rightly inspired fear and handwringing, but they may also force a broad public engagement with questions about the nature of images. Not long after Paik expressed a vision for infinitely malleable video, Chris Burden staged his famous performance Shoot (1971), for which he was shot in the arm. The video documentation that exists of the event is precisely that: documentation. The grainy, artless images are compelling because they seem to capture the reality of what happened with no aesthetic trickery getting in the way of the truth. We can imagine that one reaction to deepfakes will be a yearning for images that can make such claims to truth. At least in the short term, live streams might be one confirmation of authenticity, as deepfakes currently require hours of processing time.
artificial_intelligence  automation  deep_fake  epistemology 
7 days ago
Impact of Social Sciences – PhD students supervised collectively rather than individually are quicker to complete their theses
If your department allows you to choose individual rather than collective supervision in your first year, you are likely to be acting against your own interests. Our recent research suggests that individual supervision, at least in the first year, will lead you to lose time to undertake new research or otherwise advance your career. Moreover, by committing to your individual supervision your department may use more time and resources than if you were to be supervised as part of a collective....

The research literature suggests that collective supervision may enhance peer learning, broaden the academic learning context and the pool of knowledge, facilitate acquisition of the values and behaviours of a research practice community, reduce the risk of linking doctoral students with a single supervisor before topic selection has been finalised, and resolve disagreements among senior staff responsible for providing supervision. Such factors would seem to shorten, not prolong, the time to completion.
PhD  advising  academia 
7 days ago
GreenInfo Network | Information and Mapping in the Public Interest
GreenInfo Network is a non-profit organization that assists others in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and related information technologies. We work as a consultant to the many groups and agencies who engage us.

GreenInfo works for 80-100 public interest clients annually, in California and the United States generally. Since our founding in 1996, GreenInfo Network has assisted over 1,000 public interest groups and agencies with mapping, data, analysis and other information technology projects. In addition to direct support of these groups, we also connect them into a network of relationships, fostering collaboration and sharing whenever possible. As a consulting organization, we work mostly on a fee for service basis - our outstanding staff is highly responsive and dedicated to meeting your needs.
mapping  cartography  GIS 
8 days ago
Architecture of Storage – daz — Deutsches Architektur Zentrum
Freeports, data centres, self-storage facilities, museum archives – all part of an ever growing landscape that tends to remain at the edge of our daily attention. Usually unspectacular, its functionalist architecture is inseparable from its content and requirements: security, accessibility, and flexibility. The motives for storage are manifold: from downsizing in response to worsening housing crisis to stowing away private high-value assets secure and tax-free. The storage of information in the form of bytes – be it the warehousing of our knowledge or the marketing of our digital identities – and with it, the notion of dematerialisation increasingly shapes the general understanding of what storage is.
13 days ago
Silicon Valley’s Sixty-Year Love Affair with the Word “Tool” | The New Yorker
The exaltation of tools has a long history in the Bay Area, going back to the late nineteen-sixties, when hippie counterculture intersected with early experiments in personal computing. In particular, the word got its cachet from the “Whole Earth Catalog,” a compendium of product reviews for commune dwellers that appeared several times a year, starting in 1968, and then sporadically after 1972. Its slogan: “Access to tools.” ... Tool talk encodes an entire attitude to politics—namely, a rejection of politics in favor of tinkering. In the sixties, Brand and the “Whole Earth Catalog” presented tools as an alternative to activism.
tools  silicon_valley  ideology 
13 days ago
Reverb: The Evolution of Architectural Acoustics - 99% Invisible
There are two primary ways to control the sound of a space: active acoustics and passive acoustics. Passive acoustics are the materials in a space, like the padding in our studio or wooden floors or plaster walls. Materials like carpeting and drapery soak up sound, while materials like glass and porcelain make a room more echoey. Active acoustics are sound systems that use technology like speakers and microphones to boost or minimize certain sounds in a space…and the sonic control they offer can be dynamic and variable and quite dramatic.
sound_space  acoustics 
14 days ago
CTS - conserve the sound
»Conserve the sound« is an online museum for vanishing and endangered sounds. The sound of a dial telephone, a walkman, a analog typewriter, a pay phone, a 56k modem, a nuclear power plant or even a cell phone keypad are partially already gone or are about to disappear from our daily life.

Accompanying the archive people are interviewed and give an insight in to the world of disappearing sounds.
sound  sonic_archaeology  sound_history  things  gadgets  typewriter 
16 days ago
Antonio Damasio, Feeling, and the Evolution of Consciousness: Siri Hustvedt on “The Strange Order of Things” - Los Angeles Review of Books
I have discovered that most people, including any number of scientists, remain cloudy on the issues involved in struggles over consciousness. Another analytical philosopher, John Searle, has referred to the consciousness “scandal.” The “scandal” is that no one agrees either on a definition of consciousness or how it comes about. “Mess” might be a more fitting word than “scandal,” a mess largely due to conflicting assumptions about what the mind is, whether it belongs only to human beings, and whether its functions can be described as a system the brain implements, which might be realized equally well in artificial materials — silicone, wiring, batteries, et cetera. Damasio has long insisted that what is missing from these arguments is the embodied role of feeling. Human-like feeling has been notoriously difficult to import into machines....

The mind/body problem has been with us since the Greeks. Is the mind part of the body or is it something separate? Are we purely physical beings or is there some other substance or spirit in us that explains our minds or souls? Is the mind the seat of reason and the body of unruly passions? These questions were the subject of intense inquiry in the 17th century and heated up again in the 20th when scientists and philosophers were busy looking for a working model of the human mind. For first-generation cognitive science, the mind was literally a computer, a rational, symbolic information-processing machine that could largely be understood without reference to biology. The brain was the hardware for the mind’s software.

This model long dominated artificial intelligence research, although many working in the field have now abandoned it. It has remained potent however in theories advocated by the likes of Ray Kurzweil, who believes we will soon be able to download ourselves into immortality, a fantasy Damasio treats in the book with measured skepticism. “It reveals,” he writes, “a limited notion of what life really is and also betrays a lack of understanding of the conditions under which real humans construct mental experiences.” If, as he contends, minds arise from the interactions between brains and bodies, how, he asks, does the body get downloaded? ...

What has now come to be called “second-generation cognitive science” has insisted that consciousness is embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended, and that what we call “the mind” cannot be cut off from our corporeal existence in the world and our interactions with it. ...

“This is a sobering reminder of how modest and tentative our efforts are and of how open we need to be as we confront what we do not know.”
consciousness  intelligence  artificial_intelligence  affect  cognitive_science 
18 days ago
Is Intersection part of Google? • Adrian Short
If Intersection really is in any meaningful sense independent of Sidewalk Labs, aren’t its other investors entitled to ask whether this represents a major conflict of interest, given that they operate in identical markets? But of course they’re not concerned, being happy nonetheless that Doctoroff can provide “overall leadership” to Intersection while running Sidewalk Labs day-to-day.

While it’s certainly no secret, it might come as a surprise to anyone reading InLink’s planning documents above, stressing the “third party” relationship between InLink (a partnership in which Intersection is the lead partner) and Sidewalk Labs, that Intersection and Sidewalk Labs share the same headquarters. Both Sidewalk Labs and Intersection like to stress the “urban” focus of their businesses above the “technology” part. So what would they make of the relationship between one company and another, where the smaller one literally lives in the pocket of the larger one?
sidewalk_labs  google  alphabet 
18 days ago
Crisis and Contingency at the Dashboard - Journal #90 April 2018 - #90 April 2018 - Journal - e-flux
This urban dashboard heralds what Shannon Mattern calls “the age of Dashboard Governance.”2 Originating in the multiscreen Bloomberg terminals tracking real-time market activity against current events and historical trends, the urban dashboard is the state appropriation of the techno-political form produced at the intersection of the datafication of capital and the capitalization of data. The key image here is a centralized, seemingly all-seeing platform with the power to aggregate, analyze, and visualize the data gathered from across the city’s network of sensors, and from which “weak signals” pointing towards an emerging crisis or opportunity can be identified and acted upon....

As crisis frames the Smart Nation’s urban dashboard, the latter turns the former into a material-semiotic operation, pegging motion to vision as it drives down the road and clears the dirt, reinscribing the geo-body of the nation as it does. While in most parts of the world, the infrastructure of the city renders it a political exception to the rest of the country, in Singapore the Smart Nation recuperates the nation through an infrastructure of crisis.
smart_cities  singapore  big_data  urban_planning  dashboards  my_work  surveillance  crisis 
20 days ago
On how to grow an idea – The Creative Independent
Typically we associate invention and progress with the addition or development of new technology. So what happens when moving forward actually means taking something away, or moving in a direction that appears (to us) to be backward? Fukuoka wrote: “This method completely contradicts modern agricultural techniques. It throws scientific knowledge and traditional farming know-how right out the window.”...

I’ve known for my entire adult that going for a walk is how I can think most easily. Walking is not simply moving your thinking mind (some imagined insular thing) outside. The process of walking is thinking. In fact, in his book Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, David Abram proposes that it is not we who are thinking, but rather the environment that is thinking through us. Intelligence and thought are things to be found both in and around the self. “Each place is a unique state of mind,” Abram writes. “And the many owners that constitute and dwell within that locale—the spiders and the tree frogs no less than the human—all participate in, and partake of, the particular mind of the place.”

This is not as hand-wavy as it sounds. Studies in cognitive science have suggested that we do not encounter the environment as a static thing, nor are we static ourselves. As Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch put it in The Embodied Mind (a study of cognitive science alongside Buddhist principles): “Cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind… “ (emphasis mine). ...

Ideas are not products, as much as corporations would like them to be. Ideas are intersections between ourselves and something else, whether that’s a book, a conversation with a friend, or the subtle suggestion of a tree. Ideas can literally arise out of clouds (if we are looking at them). That is to say: ideas, like consciousness itself, are emergent properties, and thinking might be more participation than it is production. If we can accept this view of the mind with humility and awe, we might be amazed at what will grow there.
intelligence  methodology  advising 
21 days ago ✶✶ TCI: How do you use the internet mindfully? – The Creative Independent
Welcome to the Library of Practical and Conceptual Resources, a new collaboration between The Creative Independent and exploring the question, How can we use the internet more mindfully?

More than ever, creative people find their attention pulled in many directions by many different apps and digital tools. Staying up-to-date on social media and responsive to so many forms of online communications often feels mandatory in order to keep working. But, it can be both exhausting and dispiriting to build a creative practice while “extremely online.”

The Library of Practical and Conceptual Resources is intended to create space for healthy reflection on our online habits, as well as to spur creative thought and action. The Library will be composed of a series of digital collections, each one gathering ideas, links, references, and other useful internet-based ephemera compiled by participating artists around a theme of their choice. Each collection will take the form of an channel, with an introductory essay written by the channel’s creator and published here, on The Creative Independent.
collections  libraries  classification 
21 days ago
Graham Foundation > Grantees > Stefan Gruber
From the management of collective kitchens to that of global resources, from urban squatters to digital sharing platforms, the commons has entered the political discourse equally challenging patriarchal domestic spaces and capitalist market logics. The exhibition and publication An Atlas of Commoning explores the possible role and agency of architecture within such spaces of communing through a vast international selection of artworks, films, architectural projects, historical and contemporary case studies. Curated and produced in collaboration with ARCH+, Germany's leading journal for architectural theory, and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, the exhibition opens in Berlin before travelling to Pittsburgh and beyond. Questions posed include, what emancipatory potential does the concept of commoning offer in the face of global finance capitalism? Can we produce truly inclusive commons that expand beyond the limits of community? How can we re-think ownership, production and citizenship to imagine new ideas of collective governance? These and other fundamental questions take visitors across different worlds of sharing into a speculative Atlas of Commoning.
commons  public_space 
22 days ago
Museums in the Digital Age – IS289 | UCLA INFORMATION STUDIES
Most people associate museums with objects, whether they be works of art, fossilized bones, or PEZ dispensers. But objects (or images of objects) now proliferate widely in digital form. Now that we don’t have to check our coats or pay a fee to see images of rare artifacts, do the objects themselves still matter? Have museums lost some of their cultural authority? What have they, or we, gained? What is a museum’s purpose in the digital age?

We’ll investigate these questions in a distinctly hands-on series of encounters. This class takes a pragmatic look at various aspects of the museum profession today, while also giving us a chance to pause together to talk about what all this means for museums and their communities.
museums  decolonization  digital_archives  digital_collections  exhibition_design 
23 days ago
4 Ideas for Avoiding Faculty Burnout - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Of course, if teaching is the main source of faculty burnout, doesn’t it follow that our teaching — and our students’ learning — will suffer the more stressed and exhausted we become?...

Remember that your job is a job — even if you love it. As academics we are both blessed and cursed with a profession that aligns with our personal intellectual ambitions. Most of us were drawn to our field because we earnestly wanted to find answers to questions that fascinated us, and most of us have probably caught ourselves telling others how lucky we feel to be able to do what we do.

Yet, as many scholars have warned, that devotion to our work makes us prime candidates for exploitation. As Sarah Brouillette has written, "our faith that our work offers nonmaterial rewards, and is more integral to our identity than a ‘regular’ job would be, makes us ideal employees when the goal of management is to extract our labor’s maximum value at minimum cost." Remember: That 2014 study of non-tenure-track faculty members found that the more you identify yourself with your institution, the more stressful your job will be. Do your best to cultivate perspective — and outside interests. Just because you love your work doesn’t mean it’s the be-all and end-all of your existence. You are more than your job....

Find ways to say no. The "do what you love" mantra also leads many of us to take on more work than is probably wise. It may be collegial to sit on multiple committees, but there are only so many hours in a week, and you’ve already got that mountain of papers to grade. Recent research has demonstrated that so-called "extra-role behavior" at work can significantly contribute to workplace stress, and that academic workplaces, in particular, depend on that kind of behavior. Take a hard look at your work commitments, both formal and informal, and ask yourself if you absolutely have to do all of them.

Choose sleep over extra class-prep time. Most of us aren’t getting enough sleep. And sleep deprivation (which usually kicks in when people get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night) can lead to high levels of anxiety, poor decision-making, lack of energy, and lack of concentration. What is going to be more valuable to your students — that you went over the readings one more time, or that you are rested enough to be fully present and responsive in the classroom? All of your capabilities are needed to be a good teacher, and your fully functioning brain is worth far more than your completely worked-out lesson plans.
academia  labor  time_management 
23 days ago
Aesthetics — Cultural Anthropology
The anthropology of art as a subfield, with its focus on the traditions of non-Western cultures, cleaved to a colonial order of things until ethnographic attention to aesthetics as social practice began to deconstruct universalized histories of sensation or perception. Marilyn Strathern’s (1990) analysis of aesthetics in Melanesian sociality describes a shared appreciation of appropriate form. In gift exchange, it is the quantity and quality of wealth together with how it is accumulated and revealed that make aesthetic sense. An anthropology of aesthetics attends to creative work “in the double sense of purposive, relational activity and its object in some kind of sensory intervention in the way people respond to the world” (Strathern 2014, 261). Ethnographic aesthetics, then, involves epistemological reflection on hierarchies of form and function; ethnography as social process and representational object; and the relational aesthetics of those implicated in the ethnographic endeavor.

My ethnographic work with Chinese contemporary artists, at a moment when the social role of art turned from revolutionary nationalism to culture industry formation, traces the layered aesthetics shaping semicolonial, communist, and postsocialist worldings (Welland 2018). The cultural encounters involved reorient global art through Mao Zedong’s exhortation to culture workers to enter the life of the common people and expose their enemies, and to create art that would be the result of “the revolutionary’s mind reflecting and processing popular life” (McDougall 1980, 68–69). Artworks, in this formulation, are anything but disinterested. They reorder the world; they shift consciousness; they overturn colonial and class relations.
aesthetics  art  anthropology 
23 days ago
The theories presented here are related to communication. Students can use these theories as a rich source for a better understanding of the theoretical fieldwork of communication. Choosing a theory for an assignment or report is made easier, since you are able to ‘browse’ through the different theories. All theories which are selected are used in the courses of Communication Studies. Stay critical when you use a theory, because theories are subjectively measured. A lot of theories are mentioned below, make your own judgment about which theories are most helpful and think why they are helpful.
media_theory  media_effects  teaching 
23 days ago
Critical Technical Practice / Critical "Making & Doing" / Inventive Methods Resources
I'm interested in putting together a collaborative book project on critical, hands-on pedagogy for scholars, designers, artists, makers, technologists, activists and students from disciplines including media, communication, design, art, architecture, HCI, information and science and technology studies. The idea is to translate theory from critical social science disciplines into hands-on assignments, exercises and activities for undergraduate and graduate-level courses and workshops. The original idea was hatched in a working group at the Critical Alternatives conference in Aarhus in 2015 as part of a workshop on "Shifting Borderlands of Technoscience: Tracing Trajectories of Critical Practice." I'm thinking of this as a "recipe book" or "print swap" in which we all put in sample exercises/activities that we use in class, and then create a book that would be an incredibly valuable resource for faculty, educators, activists and others.
making  syllabi  pedagogy  kits  handbooks 
25 days ago
Introduction to literature reviews - Research & Learning Online
What is meant by the term literature?
Literature refers to a collection of published information/materials on a particular area of research or topic, such as books and journal articles of academic value. However, your literature review does not need to be inclusive of every article and book that has been written on your topic because that will be too broad. Rather, it should include the key sources related to the main debates, trends and gaps in your research area.

What is meant by the term review?
To review the literature means to be able to identify:

what has been established, discredited and accepted in your field*
areas of controversy or conflict among different schools of thought
problems or issues that remain unsolved
emerging trends and new approaches
how your research extends, builds upon, and departs from previous research.
A review of literature presents much more than a summary of relevant sources. The act of reviewing involves evaluating individual sources as well as synthesising these sources in order to gain a broad view of the field. At this ‘field level’, a literature review discusses common and emerging approaches, notable patterns and trends, areas of conflict and controversies, and gaps within the relevant literature. When you can clearly observe these things, you will be able to situate your own research and contribute to ongoing debates within the field.

In other words, when reviewing the literature, “not only do you need to engage with a body of literature, you also need to be able to compare, contrast, synthesize, and make arguments with that literature in ways that indicate a readiness to contribute to the literature itself” (O’Leary, 2010, p.81).
advising  UMS  literature_review  writing  methodology 
25 days ago
Sara Hendren on Twitter: "This seems to resonate, so I’ll write it up as a proper short post. I’m on Team Lament about the ascendance of the thread over blogging, but I’m also susceptible to its ease and informality. More to come."
yeah, you can’t ask people a bunch of questions in survey mode, and then turn the magical crank of the design process to *automatically* make something good, something the world is asking for.
design_research  design_process  methodology 
25 days ago
On Training Anthropologists Rather than Professors — Cultural Anthropology
Perhaps this is a question of rethinking not the number of PhDs produced, but the ways in which we train anthropologists. What would it take to train students for careers beyond the single option of professor? And how do we train our students to be professors in the first place? If we are honest, that training is highly partial. We train doctoral students in disciplinary knowledge, the conduct of original research, theoretical argumentation, and so on. For the most part, we do not provide substantive training in teaching, writing, or management, all skills involved in working as a faculty member. While many departments have recently made efforts toward what we tend to call “professionalization,” these attempts are too often inconsistent within as well as across programs. We train our students rigorously and consistently in only one component of what it means to be a professor: the life of the mind. Acknowledging this is a key step toward rethinking how we might train our students. The next step is identifying programmatic changes needed to prepare students for a range of anthropological careers both inside and outside of the academy. It is not enough to count on ethnography remaining trendy in the tech industry or design worlds in order to address the shortage of academic jobs for anthropologists. Ethnography alone will not save anthropology PhDs.

What would it mean to train doctoral students as anthropologists in a broad sense, rather than just as future anthropology professors? What skills would they—and we, as faculty members—need? One thing to consider is how we train undergraduates to think broadly as anthropologists. We train them not only to know anthropology in terms of theory, method, and history, but also to think anthropologically in general. ... I think of their anthropological training as something that they can take with them in their future careers and lives. This includes a commitment to possibility and plurality, an insistence that any given way of being in or ordering the world is but one of many ways to do so, and a valuing of life as actually lived by real people. ...

Given the wide range of possible careers in which cultural anthropologists might find themselves—from writing and publishing to user interface design to development work to politics to organizational research, to teaching—what skills might apply across these domains and be considered particular to anthropology in a way recognized outside of academia? The outdated and inaccurate image of our discipline does not help. Our task therefore is multiple: to share with the world the unique perspective of anthropology so as to help employers see anthropologists as valuable to their work; to determine how we might train anthropologists for intellectually rich careers other than that of professor; and to implement those findings in our graduate programs. Key here is acknowledging the possibility of a fulfilling intellectual life outside of the academy, as well as admitting the deficiencies in our current models of training
anthropology  advising  liberal_arts 
26 days ago
The Avery Review | The Circle: Geographies of Network vs. Geometries of Disjunction
It might seem contrarian that in the era of global connection, which promises new horizons of democracy and freedom, the symbol of Apple is that of an exclusive and self-referential figure: the circle. The circle, which alludes to security, protection, and eventually, autonomy, is operative across Apple products, processor or building. When the spinning wheel is closed, the download is complete and the software is ready to be applied. The logo of an Apple device’s settings is a toothed gear; in order to gain access to the screen, one must press the central button, a circle. The circle is also the image of the plan for the Apple campus in Cupertino, California—both the older campus, known as “Infinite Loop,” which was designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum in 1993, as well as the new campus, Apple Park, which was designed by Foster + Partners.

Evidently, the metaphor of the arena recalls the unrestricted global arena, which represents the exchange of information through digital infrastructures. Yet this figure also has certain political and economic implications. In fact, the Apple corporation embodies the idea of a new pragmatism, based on organizational efficiency in the struggle against competitors, control of information circulating on the Internet, and trading of this data through communication infrastructures. Therefore, if the geometry of the circle represents a universalistic idea of global connection, it also represents enclosure and self-sufficient centralization.
media_architecture  apple 
28 days ago
Colloquium: Machine Therapy: Subtle Machines and Data Visceralization | Department of Music | Brown University

Kelly Dobson is an artist and engineer who pioneered a novel area of research examining how people relate to and through machines via their side-aspects and overlooked affordances. Dr. Dobson’s highly interdisciplinary background spans art, technology, medicine, and culture. She earned three advanced degrees from MIT where she trained in Art, Media Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Anthropology. She worked within the Computing Culture Group, the Affective Computing Group, the Sociable Media Group, and the Physics and Media Group at the MIT Media Lab and the Interrogative Design Group in the Center for Advanced Visual Studies. She has led the Digital + Media department for four years at RISD and is currently Associate Professor and founder/director of the Data Visceralization Research Group. She received the VIDA Art and Artificial Life Award and the Rockefeller New Media Fellowship among other awards and distinctions. Her work has been exhibited at Eyebeam, The Kitchen, and Exit Art in New York, Witte de With in Rotterdam, and the Millennium Museum in Beijing among other venues.  Her work has been included in Design Meets Disability, See Yourself Sensing, Adversarial Design, FAB,Makers, and The Art of Critical Making and featured in Wired, Make, Grey Room, Res, Gourmet, and more. Dobson pays deep and careful attention to the ways that we, and the things we make, help us engage with one another and is profoundly driving transformations in the fields of Contemporary Art, Technology Design, and Medical Device Design.

Part of the Graduate Program Colloquium Series.

To request special services, accommodations or assistance for this event, please contact Ashley Lundh [401.863.3234 -] as far in advance of the event as possible.

Event Photos
Event Photos: 

data  data_visualization  data_visceralization  embodiment  sensation 
28 days ago
Nick Seaver on Dissecting the Algorithmic Organism - MethodSpace
Seaver talked to technologists, engineers, marketers, sociologists, and more. He asked coders at technology companies about their relationship to the word “algorithm” and discovered that even they feel alienated by the projects they work on, in part because they often tackle small pieces of bigger, non-personal projects—tentacles of an algorithmic organism if you will—and end up missing any closeness to the whole....

If we think that algorithms are whatever people say they are, and many people are saying that they’re many different things, then we have an apparent problem: someone’s got to be wrong, right? Not necessarily. In practice, people have different ideas about the systems they’re working with all the time—those definitions and assumptions inform the actions they take, and what you get in the end is a big mess. That mess, where the algorithm simultaneously seems to be many things to many people, is what I mean by it being “multiple.”... So, we have a set of loosely connected ideas about what “the algorithm” is, practices that are informed by those ideas, and nowhere concrete to point at and say “there, that right there is the real algorithm—the thing with the social consequences.”... The philosopher Annemarie Mol, who came up with the “multiple” concept, would say that these various people “enact” different versions of the algorithm. Although these enactments are loosely coordinated with each other—people try to get on the same page, to adjust what they’re doing to fit with what other people are doing—they are not all working on the same underlying object. ...[T]he enforcement of definitions is really more about maintaining social boundaries than talking precisely or accurately... That is why, in a broad sense, I argue for defining algorithms *as* culture, as collections of human practices. Because, in a very concrete empirical sense, they are: the current state of the Facebook newsfeed algorithm is the result of a great pile of human decisions, and when that algorithm works differently next week, it will be because of human choices to change it. ...

...these problems are not new or unique to algorithms: there is a large body of anthropological and ethnographic methods literature on dealing with access concerns, distributed cultural phenomena, and secretive practice. (A couple of my favorite recent ethnographies deal with Freemasons and stage magicians, neither of which seem particularly high-tech, but which offer useful models for thinking about how to study knowledge practices that are intentionally hidden.) So, in broad strokes, the methods are nothing new: lots of interviews with people working in different positions relative to the practices you’re interested in, as much participation as you can manage, and if you can’t get much, find socially adjacent sites (hackathons and conferences are particularly good for this topic) where conversations and practices leach out from behind those corporate walls. There is a lot to study if we don’t define our object of study so narrowly as “that thing we can’t get access to.”...

Fieldwork in “tech” is often superficially boring: I sat in a lot of meetings, watched presentations at conferences, and killed time at a desk in an office. Contrasted with friends of mine who conducted their fieldwork in the Andes or on Indonesian coffee plantations, my research was not that interesting. But one of the nice things about anthropological fieldwork is how it reorients your ideas about what is interesting: if you spend enough time bored out of your mind at a conference where you can’t understand half the technical content because you don’t have the right kind of graduate training (don’t feel bad: half the audience doesn’t understand it any better than you do, because their degrees are in slightly different specialties), you start to find interesting things to focus on....

And one of my favorite tactics was to ask interviewees to explain basic recommendation techniques to me, even when I already had a good sense of how they worked: when people try to teach something, they tend to draw in lots of comparisons to other domains as they try to make sense to you. Those comparisons are very informative, because they tell you something about how the person making them thinks about their work—not in the precise, technical way that they might talk if they were trying to impress people, but in the ordinary, analogical way people think when they’re just going about their day. That’s the kind of thinking that I find under-studied and incredibly important to how these systems work: if an algorithm is the sum of many, many ordinary human decisions, then we need to know something about the frames of reference those decisions are made in if we want to understand why the algorithm has come to work the way it does.

...opening up those worlds means bringing in previously ignored voices, like minority groups affected by carelessly designed software, and it also means looking at the empirical reality of how these systems get made and understood by the people who make them.
ethnography  semantics  algorithms  methodology  fieldwork 
4 weeks ago
Commoditisation of AI, digital forgery and the end of trust: how we can fix it · giorgio patrini
The production of high quality fake photos fake evidence can lead to a reversal of a fundamental tenet of our judicial system, that people are innocent until proven guilty. The subject of any controversial photo is called upon to justify themselves (perhaps provide an alibi) every time; the “superficial legitimacy” of the photographic evidence leading to an assumption of guilty until proven innocent. This becomes an unending task for the accused when generating fake controversial photos is free, which could end up as a kind of DDoS attack on a person, as well as on the judicial personnel examining those cases.
media_literacy  deepfakes  forgery  deception  trust  epistemology 
4 weeks ago
How Should Furniture Respond to the World Around It? - The New York Times
What had separated the artist and the craftsman, and relegated the designer to the category of the “lesser arts”? For Morris, the answer was capitalism. It divided labor into infinitesimally smaller functions and thrived on creating inequality between forms of art. Even within the practice of decorative arts, it made access to fine goods a luxury. If art is “ever to be strong enough to help mankind once more,” Morris wrote in 1880, “she must gather strength in simple places.” Accordingly, one of Morris & Co.’s most successful objects was the most functional of all: the Sussex rush-seated armchair, designed in the 1860s by Philip Speakman Webb. With the nostalgia embodied in its fine wood-turning, it was both profoundly simple and rustically handcrafted, syncretically calling to mind rural chair-making of ages past.
furniture  craft 
4 weeks ago
Zeitschrift GAIA im oekom verlag
Theresia Bauer: Research on Real-World Laboratories in Baden-Württemberg –
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Felix Wagner, Eric Miller: The Background and History of Real-World Laboratory Funding in Baden-Württemberg –
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Interview: 12 QUESTIONS TO … Helga Nowotny –
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Niko Schäpke, Matthias Bergmann, Franziska Stelzer, Daniel J. Lang (Guest Editors): Labs in the Real World: Advancing Transdisciplinary Research and Sustainability Transformation – Mapping the Field and Emerging Lines of Inquiry
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Uwe Schneidewind, Karoline Augenstein, Franziska Stelzer, Matthias Wanner: Structure Matters: Real-World Laboratories as a New Type of Large-Scale Research Infrastructure – A Framework Inspired by Giddens’ Structuration Theory
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Sebastian Rogga, Jana Zscheischler, Nadin Gaasch: How Much of the Real-World Laboratory Is Hidden in Current Transdisciplinary Research? –
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Mandy Singer-Brodowski, Richard Beecroft, Oliver Parodi: Learning in Real-World Laboratories – A Systematic Impulse for Discussion
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laboratories  labs  smart_cities  urban_design  participation 
4 weeks ago
Arena on Vimeo
Film by Páraic McGloughlin
A brief look at the earth from above, based on the shapes we make, the game of life, our playing ground - Arena.

Created using Google Earth imagery.
maps  cartography  aerial_photography 
4 weeks ago
How AI and Data Analytics Are Transforming Healthcare Right Now | Fortune
The quest to retrieve, analyze, and leverage that data has become the new gold rush. And a vanguard of tech titans—not to mention a bevy of hot startups—are on the hunt for it.

Alphabet (GOOGL, +0.79%) life sciences arm Verily is aiming to create a “baseline” of human health by tracking all kinds of biometric information from 10,000 volunteers (and is rumored to have an interest in the health insurance business). Apple (AAPL, +0.25%) just released an iPhone feature offering users in several big health systems instant access to their own medical record—an effort that joins its ongoing heart study with Stanford, testing if wearables can detect serious cardiac conditions.

Tapping this reservoir, say many, will ultimately improve patient health and decrease medical costs, which are projected to rise 5.3% in 2018 alone, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That’s a noble aspiration, certainly. But not lost on anyone is that it’s sure to make for a potentially blockbuster business too.... Which is why so many old-guard health care companies, from hospitals and insurers to benefits managers and drug and device makers—which together account for one-fifth of the economy—are hastily recombining and reinventing themselves. ...

This is but one way in which smartphones and connected devices are changing the relationship between patients and their health data—and enabling them to improve their health in the process.

Digital diabetes prevention and treatment platforms such as Virta and Omada Health connect users with support communities and health coaches—who can remotely monitor things like weight, blood sugar, diet, and medicine intake. Then there’s Proteus Digital Health’s ingestible sensor, which—with a technology worthy of an episode of Black Mirror—helps patients (and, if they want, their doctors and family members) keep tabs on whether or not they’re taking their meds. ..

Wearable health trackers like the popular Apple Watch or Android-based devices are now alerting their owners to everything from sleep apnea to hypertension to even serious cardiac arrhythmias. And increasingly, that self-awareness is drilling into our own genomes, helping people—if for now, imperfectly (and controversially)—gauge their risk of developing certain diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Consumers are turning to ever-cheaper, spit-and-send genetic test kits offered by companies like Color Genomics and 23andMe, to forewarn them of specific genetic susceptibilities—an awareness that, boosters say, can sometimes enable individuals to take preventive action that may mitigate those risks....

if companies can demonstrate how consumers can benefit from that cooperation. “We have all these rules about protecting data,” says Bertolini. “But if you turn it around and say to the customer, ‘If we have this information about you, we can make this a lot more convenient for you,’ he or she will give you the data. That’s why social media works the way it does.”

With that personalized data, then, the company can build a health plan in concert with those patients, says Bertolini: “We want to say to them, if we build a plan together, there are no copays and there are no authorizations because we built it together.”
big_data  health  privacy  medicine 
4 weeks ago
Obama library in Chicago, in effort to be a new kind of presidential center, proves contentious - Curbed
“Instead of building a conventional library, we wanted to build a center,” he told the crowd. “We wanted it to be meaningful and we wanted it to be fun, so then the question was, ‘So where are we going to put it?’ And Michelle and I talked and that part was easy, because, on the South Side of Chicago”—here he is interrupted by cheers and clapping—“on the South Side of Chicago, I first arrived in this great city and I got my first job in public service and community organizing…

I am one of you, he was saying. Trust me. I am not here to destroy your Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park with my library (as some park and preservation advocates fear). I am not here to raise the rent on your homes or create a center that won’t have economic benefits for the neighborhood (as some local community organizations fear)...

But Obama can never again be just a community organizer and father of two from the South Side. He is a president. His center has the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the University of Chicago—entities that have a far more checkered record on the South Side. He has million-dollar donations from Shonda Rhimes, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, and mega-foundations like Ford, Gates, George Lucas, and Goldman Sachs.

The architectural direction reflects this identity problem. Designs for the Obama Presidential Center by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates show a project trapped between what have traditionally been two different kinds of buildings: one, that of the Acropolis-like presidential library, and two, that of the street-facing urban institution....

Both Barack and Michelle Obama have made it clear that the center will be unlike any previous presidential library: a living place, not a research center or memorial, where the emphasis will be on programming, not hagiography. Obama’s presidential papers will be housed elsewhere, in a federal facility that adheres to strict National Archives and Records Agency standards. That means the center can be much smaller, and the Obama Foundation can be an independent nonprofit.

So far, the architecture and landscape design of the Obama Center has been presented gingerly, in site model and renderings by DBOX that appear purposefully blurry. In one, of a path through the landscape toward the new tower and the existing Museum of Science and Industry, a neoclassical hand-me-down from the 1893 World’s Fair, the autumn leaves eclipse the pale buildings.

We know that a render can achieve photographic perfection: Offering the public these out-of-focus pictures is a strategy intended to indicate that they are placeholders for an architecture whose details are yet to be determined. ...

The buildings cover a diverse program: the Forum, a two-story event space for gatherings, like the Obama Summit, held last fall, with a winter garden and a restaurant; the Library, which, sans archives, may house a branch of the Chicago Public Library; the Athletic Center, a public gym with classes; and the Museum, which will house exhibitions about the Obamas in the context of civil rights, African-American, local, and national history.

Outside, these three buildings—clad in buff-colored stone—are grouped around a paved plaza large enough for performances, and surrounded on their park sides by a playground, a bowl-shaped lawn and sledding hill, Van Valkenburgh’s signature winding paths, and a garden.

It is clear, mostly from the model, that this is not an urban design. You could put this ensemble on a green field anywhere in America. (The same is true of the other urban presidential library, JFK’s in Boston, alone on its promontory and reachable by bus.) It doesn’t meet the sidewalk. It has no neighbors. It makes a gesture to the skyline, in the form of the tower, but does nothing for the street....

Obama is the one who told his equally sedate architects to pump it up, producing the unconvincing and out-of-place Museum tower, a sandwich where museum galleries are the filling and public space the bread. There seems no purpose, beyond fear of a lack of grandeur or in being architecturally unpresidential, in making it tall. Are people coming to Jackson Park for the view?

Meanwhile, the other buildings are pressed as much as possible into the earth, disguised with berms and gardens. If you approach through the park, so the renderings say, you won’t even notice that they are there. I’ve written in the past about the lie of such wedge buildings: They suggest they are disturbing nothing, while disturbing everything. (I’m thankful local opponents saw through the ruse, and stopped the first grass-covered parking structure from being built across the street in the Midway Plaisance.) Why so shy?...

Obama says he wants a set of new public facilities, situated in the neighborhood, that will spur additional investment and raise the standard of living for residents. A public library, a theater, a gym, and a museum could all be situated on a commercial strip, created through a combination of adaptive reuse and new buildings....

The current dean of neighborhood development, historic preservation, and dispersed cultural programming spoke at the first Obama Foundation Summit last year: artist and South Side champion Theaster Gates. His Stony Island Arts Bank, part of an urban village of buildings he and the Rebuild Foundation renovated and restored within a few blocks of each other, are approximately a 20-minute walk away.

Not presidential enough? Perhaps. But several of the firms on the project’s shortlist have an excellent track record with small monuments, embedded in the urban fabric....

The leading example of this strategy is the Menil Foundation campus in Houston, with a museum and gallery by Renzo Piano, art chapels by Philip Johnson and Francois de Menil, and existing bungalows, purchased by John and Dominique de Menil and painted a uniform gray, matching the museum. It is low-rise, but it is in town. Renzo Piano Building Workshop, also the architects of a recent addition to the Art Institute of Chicago, were on the list. The Menil campus is motley and cohesive, monumental and casual, and allows for each building to be fit to purpose. It would be some kind of wonderful to walk through a restored Chicago storefront and find yourself in the Oval Office replica no presidential museum can do without.... can’t help thinking that the catalytic potential would be much greater in the neighborhood. Is there a historic theater that could be transformed into the forum? A bank that could become the public library branch? Some combination of Gates, the Menil, and the Poetry Foundation?...

In a 2013 essay in the Nation, Michael Sorkin argued forcefully for the urbanization of the future center:

First, it must become the first presidential center to be truly urban. Predecessors have been part of campuses, isolated in parklike settings or otherwise not woven into the fabric of town. … The Obama library has the opportunity to become a genuinely local player and to contribute to the improvement of everyday life for the neighborhoods that surround it. This will require a physical and social architecture that is supportive, not aggressive or standoffish.
libraries  urban_design  presidential_libraries  obama 
4 weeks ago
The Artist Turning Interior Decor into ‘Reparation Hardware’ - VICE
It feels warm in the gallery hosting Reparation Hardware, a solo show from multidisciplinary artist Ilana Harris-Babou, but it has nothing to do with the temperature. Inside Larrie, NYC, a relatively new spot started by Becky Elmquist and co-run by friends in the biz’, the walls are painted a sagey-beige known as “Plantation Tan.” The color gives off a luxury cabin-in-the-woods vibe when Harris-Babou flicks the switch on the tungsten bulbs overhead. The space at once feels more like a high-end interior decor storefront, which would not be out of place in the Lower East Side neighborhood where it resides.

“Depending on what light you look at it in, it’ll look brown or green,” Harris-Babou told me of the exhibition-specific paint job. “The kind of thing where it’s a showroom that’s a fake living room; something that’s supposed to be homey or unobtrusive.” It’s perfect for Reparation Hardware, a subtle evisceration of the upscale design philosophy that gilds the homewares company from which the show takes its name. “I started looking at Restoration Hardware and what it is about that impulse to take, say, wood from an old barn and bring it into your house tastefully, and maybe in so doing, naming the past as a success, not a failure,” the artist explained. “I was doing a play on words and started thinking about restoration, reparations. Reparations maybe as being so terrifying because they’re an admission of failure, right? Maybe specifically saying this American Dream didn’t succeed in its goal.”

Her investigations take the form of mixed-media sculptures. They're hefty amalgamations of lumpy but glossy ceramics and polished furnishings. She's also made two videos: Red Sourcebook and Reparation Hardware. Red Sourcebook juxtaposes the racist ethos of “redlining” practices against crisp HD footage of a Restoration Hardware design guide getting marked up in red Sharpie. And Reparation Hardware is mock ad for the exhibition that stars an abandoned New England barn, a field of urinating cows, and a wry Harris-Babou herself as the Reparation Hardware spokesperson. The show conjures a feeling more than a thesis. It's about being outside of time and looking in, with free reign to mix and match objects new and old for the express purpose of curating a nondescript yet distinctively “cultured” sensibility.
media_architecture  renovation  conservation  preservation  reparations  blackness  race  magazines  advertising 
4 weeks ago
… My heart’s in Accra | Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003
Gobo is a social media aggregator with filters you control. You can use Gobo to control what’s edited out of your feed, or configure it to include news and points of view from outside your usual orbit. Gobo aims to be completely transparent, showing you why each post was included in your feed and inviting you to explore what was filtered out by your current filter settings.
5 weeks ago
12 Brilliant Women in AI and Ethics to Follow in 2018 - TiEinflect 2018
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’ve highlighted 12 brilliant women leading this much-needed discussion on AI & ethics and development of responsible AI solutions that will benefit everyone. Let me know of any others we should highlight in the comments below or tweet @MiaD #TiEInflect.
5 weeks ago
No, YouTube is not a library – and why it matters – Sarah T. Roberts | The Illusion of Volition
One thing libraries have done very successfully is to develop principles intended to keep patron privacy… well, private. Laws that govern patron privacy of records vary from state to state, with California having some of the nation’s strongest, and Kentucky and Hawaii being the only two not addressing this issue in state law. In California, “Government Code sections 6250 through 6270 ensure ‘the right of individuals to privacy . . .’ This section is considered the ‘California Public Records Act.’ Sections 6254 (j) and 6267 (a), (b), and (c) refer specifically to registration and circulation records. Registration records are the patron library card records and circulation records are the items checked out on patron library cards. But best practices within libraries themselves may go further. One example is that of the San Francisco Public Library, which has as its principles:

Gather only the data necessary to perform the specific service
Keep the data only as long as needed to provide the service or to meet the City’s record retention rules
Limit access to the data to those who must use it in the performance of their duties
Keep the data in a secure place
Protect the privacy of individuals and the collection, use, retention of personal information; disclosure of reasons for collecting, uses.
Further, the American Library Association, the primary governing and accreditation body of American (and other, e.g., Canadian) libraries and library education programs, has its own principles regarding patron privacy, and even a toolkit designed to help its libraries get on board with being good stewards of patron data and its ethical protection and use.
5 weeks ago
Whose Knowledge |
We are a global campaign to center the knowledge of marginalized communities (the majority of the world) on the internet.

3/4 of the online population of the world today comes from the global South – from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America. And nearly half those online are women. Yet most public knowledge online has so far been written by white men from Europe and North America.

To address this, we work particularly with women, people of color, LGBTQI communities, indigenous peoples and others from the global South to build and represent more of all of our own knowledge online.
indigenous  archives  epistemology 
5 weeks ago
The Improbable Origins of PowerPoint - IEEE Spectrum
PowerPoint is so ingrained in modern life that the notion of it having a history at all may seem odd. But it does have a very definite lifetime as a commercial product that came onto the scene 30 years ago, in 1987. Remarkably, the founders of the Silicon Valley firm that created PowerPoint did not set out to make presentation software, let alone build a tool that would transform group communication throughout the world. Rather, PowerPoint was a recovery from dashed hopes that pulled a struggling startup back from the brink of failure—and succeeded beyond anything its creators could have imagined.

PowerPoint was not the first software for creating presentations on personal computers. Starting in 1982, roughly a half-dozen other programs [PDF] came on the market before PowerPoint’s 1987 debut. Its eventual domination was not the result of first-mover advantage. What’s more, some of its most familiar features—the central motif of a slide containing text and graphics; bulleted lists; the slideshow; the slide sorter; and even the animated transitions between slides—did not originate with PowerPoint. And yet it’s become the Kleenex or Scotch Tape of presentation software, as a “PowerPoint” has come to mean any presentation created with software....

Apple lavished resources—people and cash alike—to embrace the PARC paradigm with the Lisa and the Macintosh, but not everyone at Apple was happy about that. In particular, those working to maintain the existing Apple II and III lines felt that their efforts were being shortchanged. By 1982, the product marketing manager for the Apple III, Taylor Pohlman, and the software marketing manager for the Apple II and III, Rob Campbell, had had enough. They quit and went into business together, founding the company that would create PowerPoint....

Gaskins and Austin worked closely to conceptualize, design, and specify Forethought’s new product. Gaskins spotted an opportunity in presentation software and believed they could apply the PARC idiom to this application. He envisioned the user creating slides of text and graphics in a graphical, WYSIWYG environment, then outputting them to 35-mm slides, overhead transparencies, or video displays and projectors, and also sharing them electronically through networks and electronic mail. The presentation would spring directly from the mind of the business user, without having to first transit through the corporate art department.... In April 1987, Forethought introduced its new presentation program to the market very much as it had been conceived, but with a different name. Presenter was now PowerPoint 1.0—there are conflicting accounts of the name change—and it was a proverbial overnight success with Macintosh users. ...

While PowerPoint was a success from the start, it nevertheless faced stiff competition, and for several years, Lotus Freelance and Software Publishing’s Harvard Graphics commanded larger market shares. The tipping point for PowerPoint came in 1990, when Microsoft unleashed its bundling strategy and began selling Microsoft Office—which combined Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—as a $1,000 set. Previously, each part had been sold separately for about $500 apiece.
textual_form  presentation  powerpoint  software 
5 weeks ago
Cambridge Analytica and the long history of computer science and psychology.
integration of digital media devices and psychological techniques is one of the most underappreciated developments in the history of computing. For more than 50 years, this has been the domain of computer scientists who have approached the brain as a “human processor,” just another a machine to be tinkered with. The work has taken place almost entirely in the domain of computer science, with little input from clinical psychologists, ethicists, or other academic fields interested in the messy details of human social life. ...

Psychological models shaped the development of computers from the very beginning. Kurt Lewin, one of the founders of social psychology, was a participant in the 1946 Macy Conference, a now-legendary gathering of computer scientists and scholars interested in human behavior that helped birth both cybernetics and systems theory. This combination of psychology, systems analysis, and computer science became a hallmark of other Cold-War era research institutes like the RAND Corp. and the Stanford Research Institute. ...

Also in the 1960s, computer scientist Hilary Putnam developed the idea of the “computational theory of mind,” which understood the brain as a computing machine and helped shape the field of cognitive psychology around thinking of brains as “information processors.”...

It was this development—metaphorically understanding brains as computers—that really began to knit psychology and computer science together in the field of human-computer interaction. A critical moment came with the 1983 publication of The Psychology of Human Computer Interaction by three scientists working for the Xerox Corp.’s Palo Alto Research Center—Stuart K. Card, Thomas P. Moran, and Allen Newell. Together, they made up the Applied Information-Processing Psychology Project at PARC, which had an outsized impact on a wide range of developments in personal computing between the 1970s and 1990s. ...

The kind of communication with machines envisioned by the PARC authors was based on understanding the human being as a functional analogue to the computer. The goal of the authors was to “integrate all the units of the human processor to do useful tasks.” These tasks could be processed through the collection of human data: about physiological response rates, movement dynamics, and other processes amenable to the digital languages of computing....

Card and his co-authors had great ambitions for human-computer interaction as a new way to shape our behavior. They called it “an applied psychology” grounded in understanding a human and computer as one single unit through numerical tracking, task analysis, and calculability.... Branches of psychology already dealing with evaluations by number, like psychometricians, found human-computer interaction research especially amenable to their experiments....

Happily, human-computer interaction has changed over the past decade to include a more diverse set of methods and disciplines, including insights from designers, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists. Unfortunately, social media platforms were already up and running under the auspices of computer science as “psychological civil engineering,” via digital means without much input from the social sciences. The humble online quiz... And with Facebook and Twitter performing nearly constant behavioral experiments to test ways their users could be nudged into spending more time on their sites, the amounts of behavioral and psychological data collected by our digital devices is only getting bigger. .... The behavioral, demographic, and personal information Facebook and other social media platforms now collect through what I call algorithmic psychometrics has the sensitivity of medical data, and should be treated as such by regulators around the world.
cognitive_science  brain  processing  computing  methodology 
5 weeks ago
2018 | Mimi Zeiger
Dimensions of Citizenship challenges architects and designers to envision what it means to be a citizen today. As transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, and geopolitical transformations expand, conventional notions of citizenship are undermined. How might architecture, then, express today’s rhizomatic and paradoxical conditions of citizenship?

The US Pavilion explores seven spatial scales: Citizen, Civitas, Region, Nation, Globe, Network, and Cosmos.These scales, telescoping from body to city to heavens, broadly position citizenship as a critical global topic.
exhibition  scale 
5 weeks ago
Strategic Plan 2018 | Brooklyn Public Library
Part One—Now—identifies the Library’s five core principles. At a time of great change for libraries and information services in general, it is important to explicitly identify the high-level goals that define our work, make us who we are, and motivate us to continually improve. BPL’s five core principles are:

To foster literacy and the love of learning
To supply trusted, up-to-date information resources, and guide patrons to the ones they need
To connect residents to educational and economic opportunities
To strengthen relations between residents and promote civic engagement
To provide inclusive and inspirational places
Brooklyn_Public_Library  libraries  literacies 
5 weeks ago
Treehugger Chapter 01: WAWONA Teaser on Vimeo
The first chapter of Treehugger: Wawona is centred on nature's cathedral, the giant Sequoia from the famous Sequoia National Park (California, USA). Wawona is the (local Native American) Miwok’s word for ‘hoot of an owl’, imitating the sound of the Northern Spotted Owl - believed to be the tree’s spiritual guardian.

Participants are invited to don a VR headset, place their heads into the tree’s knot and be transported into the Sequoia’s secret inner world. The longer you hug the tree, the deeper you drift into ‘treetime’: a hidden dimension that lies just beyond the limit of our senses. Audiences embark on a journey of abstract visualisation, following a single drop of water as it traverses from root to canopy in these enormous living structures.
virtual_reality  non_human 
6 weeks ago
Consentful Tech Workshop at MozFest 2017 – And Also Too
At the end of October, I had the exciting opportunity to co-facilitate a workshop on Consentful Tech at the 2017 Mozilla Festival in London. Dann Toliver and I wanted to share the content of our recently released zine, “Building Consentful Tech”, while also inviting feedback on the framework we put forward in it and start working on strategies to create a more consentful internet....

“I want to be able to remove my data from social networks.”

Joint copyright
Notice when content or data is related to more than a person to be able to delete?
Customers hold keys to decrypt their data, so if they want to “remove” it, they would destroy the keys and render the data unusable
Designer can confirm/verify that data is deleted by verifying a crypto key
“I need to access social services but my data will be shared across government agencies.”

I’m a city employee, so I can coordinate agencies around better information sharing processes.
I’m a designer so I can encourage transparency & plain language early in the dev. process
“I want to message my friends but the apps want to access all my contacts.”

Delete or memorize all of my contacts
Only hold on to the info for a set period then delete
digital_privacy  ethics 
6 weeks ago
Ignored By Big Telecom, Detroit's Marginalized Communities Are Building Their Own Internet - Motherboard
Being stuck without access to the internet is often thought of as a problem only for rural America. But even in some of America’s biggest cities, a significant portion of the population can’t get online.

Take Detroit, where 40 percent of the population has no access to the internet—of any kind, not only high speed—at home, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Seventy percent of school-aged children in the city are among those who have no internet access at home. Detroit has one of the most severe digital divides in the country, the FCC says.
infrastructure  wifi  internet  digital_equity  video 
6 weeks ago
Alison J Clarke - How Things Don’t Work: Victor Papanek and the Humanist Design Agenda on Vimeo
Alison J Clarke
How Things Don’t Work: Victor Papanek and the Humanist Design Agenda
From the ManifestFest, the anniversary of the publication of Ken Garland’s First Things First manifesto, 22-23 November 2014, Warsaw, Poland

Victor Papanek, author of the bestselling book Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change (1971) generated a popular polemic and powerful critique so as to inspire a generation of designers to turn their backs on conventional product design. Instead, 1970s design students embraced a political, humanist agenda that placed toys for disadvantaged children, hospital apparatus, and ‘indigenous’ technology for ‘developing countries’ above the mere styling of desirable consumer items. Attacking the corporate ‘Aspen Crowd’ accused of peddling design as an empty utopian practice, Papanek’s clarion call heralded a long overdue manifesto for industrial design: For he sought to expose how things don’t work both in the literal and metaphoric sense. This talk explores the origins of Papanek’s rhetoric and questions just how radical his ideas for change really were, and why they came to hold such an intractable allure.
design  interdisciplinarity  anthropology  ethnography  curriculum 
6 weeks ago
Designer for the Real World? A Public Lecture by Alison J Clarke on Vimeo
Victor J. Papanek’s book Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change is widely understood as the seminal text of 20th century design activism. This lecture traces the origins of Papanek’s design activism and highlights the urgent need for a broader historical and theoretical analysis of the historiography of social design.

Dr. Alison J. Clarke is Professor of Design History and Theory, at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and Director of the Papanek Foundation. She holds a Masters in Design History from the Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum, and a doctorate in social anthropology from University College London. She is the author of Design Anthropology: Object Culture in the 21st Century and appears as a design expert for the BBC television series Home and The Genius of Design. She is currently completing a monograph for MIT Press on Victor Papanek and design activism.

Brought to you by MICA's MA in Social Design Visiting Scholar Program, Supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation
design  anthropology  ethnography  everyday_life 
6 weeks ago
Military Industrial Powerpoint Complex : Free Texts : Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
Military Industrial Powerpoint Complex
United States Military
This collection was a special project originally done as part of the Internet Archive's 20th Anniversary celebration on October 26, 2016 highlighting IA's web archive. The collection consists of all the Powerpoint files (57,489) from the .mil web domain
powerpoint  graphic_design  presentation_images  military_industrial 
6 weeks ago
Oh No We Are Number One: On Being Ranked 1st In The World
first, regarding the proliferation of all kinds of metrics, rankings, and other performance audits dominating the way institutions of higher learning work today, as it results in an accountability paradox: the more all kinds of ranking systems are used to make universities accountable to the public and the state, the less accountability will actually occur. Second, we have to consider problematic issues regarding the history, organization and methodology of rankings such as the one provided by QS. Of particular concern here is the improbability that any of the 99% of universities around the world will ever make it into the list of ‘top’ ranked institutions. Third, one has to consider the consequences of being ranked — and especially of ending up high in the rankings. Specifically, we should be concerned about the institutional inclination toward reactivity — the idea that people change their behavior in reaction to being evaluated, observed, or measured — and the effect this has on academic freedom....

Although most would agree that some kind of assessment and performance monitoring is useful, overall this system of management facilitated an on-going deprofessionalisation of those who do the teaching and research at the university.

Instead of faculty and students determining the mission and course of the university, control subtly shifts to an ever-expanding body of middle- and senior management, support staff, database and IT specialists, and other bureaucrats. Although these people work generally hard with the best of intentions, they are forced to prop up the bureaucratic system rather than serve the core activities of the university: teaching and research. ... every one can find a ranking somewhere that is somehow meaningful to whatever public relations purpose is bench-marked as important at that particular institution. ...

a gradual loss of academic freedom in favor of ‘playing by the numbers’ and performing to the test: organizing the work and performance of a Department, School, or even an entire university so that it will do better according to whatever performance or accountability metric is thrown at it. For students, increasingly almost everything they do at the university becomes a gradable event, stifling the freedom to just learn, study, research, and explore based on curiosity, serendipity, or inspiration.
academia  higher_education  ranking  quantification  accountability 
6 weeks ago
You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? – Data & Society: Points
For the last year, I’ve been struggling with media literacy. I have a deep level of respect for the primary goal. As Renee Hobbs has written, media literacy is the “active inquiry and critical thinking about the messages we receive and create.” The field talks about the development of competencies or skills to help people analyze, evaluate, and even create media. Media literacy is imagined to be empowering, enabling individuals to have agency and giving them the tools to help create a democratic society. But fundamentally, it is a form of critical thinking that asks people to doubt what they see. And that makes me nervous.

Most media literacy proponents tell me that media literacy doesn’t exist in schools. And it’s true that the ideal version that they’re aiming for definitely doesn’t. But I spent a decade in and out of all sorts of schools in the US, where I quickly learned that a perverted version of media literacy does already exist. Students are asked to distinguish between CNN and Fox. Or to identify bias in a news story. When tech is involved, it often comes in the form of “don’t trust Wikipedia; use Google.” ...

In 2017, sociologist Francesca Tripodi was trying to understand how conservative communities made sense of the seemingly contradictory words coming out of the mouth of the US President. Along her path, she encountered people talking about making sense of The Word when referencing his speeches. She began accompanying people in her study to their bible study groups. Then it clicked. Trained on critically interrogating biblical texts, evangelical conservative communities were not taking Trump’s messages as literal text. They were interpreting their meanings using the same epistemological framework as they approached the bible. Metaphors and constructs matter more than the precision of words....

We’re not living through a crisis about what is true, we’re living through a crisis about how we know whether something is true. We’re not disagreeing about facts, we’re disagreeing about epistemology. The “establishment” version of epistemology is, “We use evidence to arrive at the truth, vetted by independent verification (but trust us when we tell you that it’s all been independently verified by people who were properly skeptical and not the bosom buddies of the people they were supposed to be fact-checking).”
The “alternative facts” epistemological method goes like this: “The ‘independent’ experts who were supposed to be verifying the ‘evidence-based’ truth were actually in bed with the people they were supposed to be fact-checking. In the end, it’s all a matter of faith, then: you either have faith that ‘their’ experts are being truthful, or you have faith that we are. Ask your gut, what version feels more truthful?”...

Let’s be honest — most of us educators are deeply committed to a way of knowing that is rooted in evidence, reason, and fact. But who gets to decide what constitutes a fact? In philosophy circles, social constructivists challenge basic tenets like fact, truth, reason, and evidence. ...

In many Native communities, experience trumps Western science as the key to knowledge. These communities have a different way of understanding topics like weather or climate or medicine. Experience is also used in activist circles as a way of seeking truth and challenging the status quo. Experience-based epistemologies also rely on evidence, but not the kind of evidence that would be recognized or accepted by those in Western scientific communities....

Right now, the conversation around fact-checking has already devolved to suggest that there’s only one truth. And we have to recognize that there are plenty of students who are taught that there’s only one legitimate way of knowing, one accepted worldview. This is particularly dicey at the collegiate level, where us professors have been taught nothing about how to teach across epistemologies....

Many progressive activists ask whether or not the US government commits terrorism in other countries. The ads all came down because they were too political, but RT got what they wanted: an effective ad campaign. They didn’t come across as conservative or liberal, but rather a media entity that was “censored” for asking questions. Furthermore, by covering the fact that they were banned, major news media legitimized their frame under the rubric of “free speech.” Under the assumption that everyone should have the right to know and to decide for themselves....

In their book, “The Ambivalent Internet,”media studies scholars Whitney Phillips and Ryan Milner highlight how a segment of society has become so well-versed at digital communications — memes, GIFs, videos, etc. — that they can use these tools of expression to fundamentally destabilize others’ communication structures and worldviews. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s fiction, what’s cruel and what’s a joke. But that’s the point. That is how irony and ambiguity can be weaponized. And for some, the goal is simple: dismantle the very foundations of elite epistemological structures that are so deeply rooted in fact and evidence....

Perhaps you want to encourage people to think critically about how information is constructed, who is paying for it, and what is being left out. Yet, among those whose prior is to not trust a news media institution, among those who see CNN and The New York Times as “fake news,” they’re already there. They’re looking for flaws. It’s not hard to find them. After all, the news industry is made of people in institutions in a society. So when youth are encouraged to be critical of the news media, they come away thinking that the media is lying. Depending on someone’s prior, they may even take what they learn to be proof that the media is in on the conspiracy. That’s where things get very dicey.

Many of my digital media and learning colleagues encourage people to make media to help understand how information is produced. Realistically, many young people have learned these skills outside the classroom as they seek to represent themselves on Instagram, get their friends excited about a meme, or gain followers on YouTube. Many are quite skilled at using media, but to what end? Every day, I watch teenagers produce anti-Semitic and misogynistic content using the same tools that activists use to combat prejudice....

One of the main goals for those who are trying to manipulate media is to pervert the public’s thinking. It’s called gaslighting. Do you trust what is real? One of the best ways to gaslight the public is to troll the media. By getting the news media to be forced into negating frames, they can rely on the fact that people who distrust the media often respond by self-investigating. This is the power of the boomerang effect. And it has a history. After all, the CDC realized that the more news media negated the connection between autism and vaccination, the more the public believed there was something real there....

when you start to empathize with worldviews that are toxic, it’s very hard to stay grounded. It requires deep cognitive strength. Scholars who spend a lot of time trying to understand dangerous worldviews work hard to keep their emotional distance. One very basic tactic is to separate the different signals. Just read the text rather than consume the multimedia presentation of that. Narrow the scope. Actively taking things out of context can be helpful for analysis precisely because it creates a cognitive disconnect. This is the opposite of how most people encourage everyday analysis of media, where the goal is to appreciate the context first. Of course, the trick here is wanting to keep that emotional distance. Most people aren’t looking for that.

I also believe that it’s important to help students truly appreciate epistemological differences. In other words, why do people from different worldviews interpret the same piece of content differently?... What’s common about the different approaches I’m suggesting is that they are designed to be cognitive strengthening exercises, to help students recognize their own fault lines, not the fault lines of the media landscape around them. I can imagine that this too could be called media literacy and if you want to bend your definition that way, I’ll accept it. But the key is to realize the humanity in ourselves and in others. We cannot and should not assert authority over epistemology, but we can encourage our students to be more aware of how interpretation is socially constructed. And to understand how that can be manipulated.
media_literacy  epistemology  pedagogy  propaganda 
6 weeks ago
Why the PDF Is Secretly the World's Most Important File Format - Motherboard
The Portable Document Format, or PDF, is everywhere. But it's still a format that causes headaches for the average person.

Just take former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who may not be the average person, but who runs into issues with the PDF just like the best of us.

Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s most recent indictment of Manafort noted how the lobbyist and his colleague, Richard Gates, collaborated on modifying a PDF document by converting the document into Word format, changing an amount in the document, then changing it back to a PDF.

This created something called a paper trail, bolstering Mueller’s case against Manafort....

“What industries badly need is a universal way to communicate documents across a wide variety of machine configurations, operating systems and communication networks. These documents should be viewable on any display and should be printable on any modern printers. If this problem can be solved, then the fundamental way people work will change.”
— John E. Warnock, the cofounder of Adobe, discussing his thought process around the need for a simple document format in an essay revealing the existence of The Camelot Project (which is, of course, in PDF format). Warnock, who was also responsible for helping to develop Adobe’s bedrock PostScript document scripting language, noted that PostScript and its sister language Display PostScript was too heavy for most computers being made at the time he wrote his essay, around 1990. ...

Around the time that Warnock and his colleagues at Adobe were trying to figure out the difficult problems of creating a simple file format that could be used to read documents on regular people’s computers, the Internal Revenue Service was dealing with an annual headache that it faced in working with the US Postal Service.

Basically, every year just before tax season, the IRS would mail out tax forms to hundreds of millions of people around the United States. This annual mailing was, during non-Census years, the largest annual mailing that the postal service had to deal with—around 110 million individual mailings annually... “When Acrobat was announced, the world didn’t get it. They didn’t understand how important sending documents around electronically was going to be,” Warnock said in a 2010 interview with Knowledge@Wharton.

But the fact of the matter was, Adobe had the perfect use case already out there in the form of the IRS, not to mention the rest of corporate America....

According to NetworkWorld, the IRS was already distributing tax forms in PDF format in early 1994, a move that helped build broad momentum behind the format.

But one element was missing, and that element was the web, which made the concept of accessing tax documents relatively easy. And by the 1996 tax season, that element was ready to go, as the Internal Revenue Service booted up its web servers—complete with more than 600 documents ready for download in PDF format....

The PDF simplified the hard work of going to Kinko’s, because the file format was able to easily embed assets like fonts and images, streamlining one of the hardest parts of getting a file printed. (Of course, you generally couldn’t make changes in PDF form.) Eventually, the PDF became searchable and even editable.

And most importantly, in the case of the IRS, “fillable.” The IRS quickly created versions of its tax forms that allowed end users to put in their own numbers, and, eventually, even their own signatures.
media_history  documents  pdf  format_studies 
6 weeks ago
The Quest for a Universal Translator for Old, Obsolete Computer Files - Atlas Obscura
NOT SO VERY LONG AGO, web designers’ ambitions outstripped the infrastructure of the internet, so they had to resort to physical media to help carry their ideas. Dial-up modems were pokey, and the sluggish speed couldn’t handle large images or streaming video. “People did all sorts of projects that were too heavy for the live web,” says Tim Walsh, a digital archivist at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA).

One workaround to make these projects possible was to separate a website from the web. “A simple solution was to simply burn all the the HTML, JavaScript, and other large files to a CD-ROM,” Walsh says....

Some are orphaned because they were made with software that’s now extinct. Others might have been left incompatible by years of updates. Still more may have been created using expensive, specialized, niche software—such as the programs used by special effects studios or video game designers—that’s simply not widely available. In these instances, the databases that the Centre consults might not even be able to identify the file format or the software it came from. ...

For years, many architects and other designers have used a 3-D modeling software called form·Z. The software, Walsh explains, was especially popular for rendering cutting-edge projects in the 1990s and 2000s. Each new release tends to only support files created within the last two versions, meaning that form·Z 8.5 Pro, the current version installed on CCA’s CAD workstations, can’t wrangle decades worth of files created in older versions. ...

To access these complicated files, or to launch some of the sites that lived on CD-ROMs (which may need a certain operating system, browser, or other requirements to open), a user might rig up an emulation environment. An emulator is a proxy: It recreates older hardware and software on a modern-day machine. On occasion, Walsh has made some himself.

When one CCA visitor wanted to take a look at a CD-ROM-based “multimedia website” produced in conjunction with a 1996 exhibition of work by the architect Benjamin Nicholson, Walsh needed to wind back the clock. He tracked down an old license for Windows NT and installed Netscape Navigator and an old version of Adobe Reader. This all enabled decades-old functionality on a two-year-old HP tower.

This strategy works, but it has drawbacks. “These environments are time-intensive to create, will only run on a local computer, and they typically require a lot of technical know-how to set up and use,” Walsh says. Ad hoc emulation is not for the novice or the busy....

RESEARCHERS AT YALE ARE WORKING to solve this problem by creating a kind of digital Rosetta Stone, a universal translator, through an emulation infrastructure that will live online. “A few clicks in your web browser will allow users to open files containing data that would otherwise be lost or corrupted,” said Cochrane, who is now the library’s digital preservation manager. “You’re removing the physical element of it,” says Seth Anderson, the library’s software preservation manager. “It’s a virtual computer running on a server, so it’s not tethered to a desktop.”

Instead of treating each case as a one-off, like digital triage, this team wants to create a virtual, historical computer lab that’s comprehensive and ready for anything. Do you have a CD-ROM that was once stuffed in a sleeve on the cover of a textbook? A snappy virtual machine running Windows 98 might be able to help you out. “We could create any environment that we needed,” Anderson says. The goal is to build an emulation library big enough that there’s a good fit for any potential case—with definitive, clear results. ...

To recreate environments, the team needs hard copies to work from. It’s a bit like an archaeological expedition, an excavation that produces a specimen collection that can be sorted and stored. Over the last few years, the library has been acquiring a collection of “legacy computers.” Researchers scour eBay for desktop PCs from the 1990s, neon-shelled iMacs, and other machines that have long since vanished from the market. They clean up the hard drives, leaving nothing but the original operating system. The next step is to create a disk image of hard drive, copying everything—its data, its processing systems, its quirks—to a virtual replica. “Once that’s set up, you can launch it in an emulated environment,” Anderson says....

The team interviewed 40 people—primarily folks working in archives, libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions—for a preliminary report released last month. In those conversations, licenses emerged as “a big source of heartburn,” Butler says.
digital_preservation  archives  preservation  emulation  software 
6 weeks ago
Museum Of Obsolete Media
The home for current and obsolete physical media formats, including audio, video, film and data storage. The Museum preserves the memory of those objects that held our memories, and every format listed in the Museum is represented by at least one example in the collection.

The Museum now covers over 480 formats, to assist with their identification and preservation.
media_archaeology  media_history  dead_media 
6 weeks ago
Dr Jane Birkin (Special Collections Division, University of Southampton) — APPARITION: The (im)materiality of modern surface
In this talk I will discuss an exceptionally decomposed archive object as complex material surface, considered in parallel with its 3D digital counterpart. Disintegration of surface is commonly associated with the archive object, yet it is alien to archival emphasis on the preservation of information. Digital capture through photography is often seen as a way of halting the decay of the material surface, preserving the information it is carrying, whilst protecting it from the hazards of handling.

But what if the purpose of digital capture is not to facilitate reading but to preserve decay through creation of a surrogate surface? I will present the case of the 3D scanning and printing of a tightly folded paper ‘bundle’ from the Wellington papers, in the University of Southampton’s Special Collections. Shipwreck and mould damage left several bundles of historically important letters fragmented and crumbling, and the level of decomposition means that there can be no reading, no handling. For now they are maintained in this state through modern archival storage techniques. They are in archives-speak, ‘closed’ objects (unavailable for researchers)—and they are literally closed, as decay has penetrated through the multiple surfaces and fused them together. As Cornelia Vismann (2008) argues in the case of Alselm Kiefer’s lead books, ‘They are files at a standstill [...] what is one to do with these unreadable tomes other than venerate them as icons of writing and literacy?’ The official ‘what to do’ is to eventually make these letters readable, as has already been done with others: the bundle is teased apart, and each letter is given a new surface as missing areas are filled with paper made from pulp similar to the original, and then strengthened by a layer of size.

The 3D printing process preserves the outer form of the bundle, and the scanning produces a digital fragmentation of its own, paralleling the material disintegration at the edges of the bundle. Multiple surfaces are encountered and discussed through these conservation and scanning processes: the original surface of the bundle; the discrete surface of each letter; the digital file that can be rotated and examined on the surface of a computer screen; and the 3D print. The print itself, although providing a relatively robust material record of a fragile object, is an empty copy of the original. It is pure surface, hollow and bent, a skin with no body inside.
archives  conservation  3D_scanning  ruins  access  objects 
6 weeks ago
LIBRARYSTACK∎ | Art & Culture Digital Lending Library
Library Stack is an archival repository and bibliographic index of independent ebooks, audio files, videos and digital documents being published within the fields of contemporary art, design, media studies, cinema, architecture and philosophy. We collect serial publications from established platforms and primary source material from artists, authors, designers and cultural thinkers, often including overlooked media such as typefaces, podcasts, 3D models, field recordings and software. Many such independently produced digital art publications are not being archived and are at risk of being lost from the historical record. Library Stack preserves and indexes all works according to Open Archives standards, and exposes them to the global library system through the WorldCat database.
archives  art_books  artists_books  independent_publications  little_magazines 
6 weeks ago
Want to Change Academic Publishing? Just Say No - The Chronicle of Higher Education
When I became a professor, 20 years ago, I received a request from a woman who lived close to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I taught: Could she come and talk to me about a set of interests she was developing, in the area of my own specialty in anthropology, and get my advice on applying to graduate school? We spoke for about 45 minutes in my office, at the end of which she asked, "How much do I owe you?"

This woman was a therapist who billed by the hour, and she assumed that when you got the benefit of someone's professional expertise for 45 minutes, you paid for it. Although I would expect to pay a lawyer or a therapist for a professional consultation, the idea of paying for a conversation with me seemed bizarre. I explained that professors, especially in the humanities and social sciences, get paid an annual salary and, in return, see it as part of our job to share our knowledge and to mentor others. We had a vocation, not a trade. The life of the mind is not billable.

Today I have less confidence in that answer. When I look at the work I do as an academic social scientist and the remuneration I receive, I see a pattern that makes little sense. This is especially the case with regard to publishing. If I review a book for a newspaper or evaluate a book for a university press, I get paid, but if I referee an article for a journal, I do not. If I publish a book, I get royalties. If I publish an opinion piece in the newspaper, I get a couple of hundred dollars. Once a magazine paid me $5,000 for an article.

But I get paid nothing directly for the most difficult, time-consuming writing I do: peer-reviewed academic articles. In fact a journal that owned the copyright to one of my articles made me pay $400 for permission to reprint my own writing in a book of my essays....

When I became an academic, those inconsistencies made a sort of sense: Academic journals, especially in the social sciences, were published by struggling, nonprofit university presses that could ill afford to pay for content, refereeing, or editing. It was expected that, in the vast consortium that our university system constitutes, our own university would pay our salary, and we would donate our writing and critical-reading skills to the system in return.

The system involved a huge exchange of gifted labor that produced little in the way of profit for publishers and a lot in the way of professional solidarity and interdependence for the participants. The fact that academic journals did not compensate the way commercial magazines and newspapers did only made academic publishing seem less vulgar and more valuable.

But in recent years the academic journals have largely been taken over by for-profit publishing behemoths such as Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley-Blackwell. And quite a profit they make, too: In 2010 Elsevier reported profits of 36 percent on revenues of $3.2-billion. Last year its chief executive, Erik Engstrom, earned $4.6-million....

The open-access debate has focused mainly on the exorbitant fees for-profit publishers charge libraries for bundles of journal subscriptions, but I am struck by what they charge ordinary citizens to read my individual articles....

Another reason the commercial behemoths are so profitable is that their high prices are paired with the free labor of thousands of academic referees like me. Publishers can assure the quality of their products only if highly trained experts examine the articles on the academic production line and pick out the 10 percent to 20 percent that meet the highest standards for excellence. Without this free labor, the publishing companies' entire enterprise would collapse....

So why not try this: If academic work is to be commodified and turned into a source of profit for shareholders and for the 1 percent of the publishing world, then we should give up our archaic notions of unpaid craft labor and insist on professional compensation for our expertise, just as doctors, lawyers, and accountants do.
academia  publishing  labor  open_access  peer_review 
7 weeks ago
cameron tonkinwise on Twitter: "if you are running a tech-ethics course without any sessions on design (the force of affordances, devices as delegated morality, human-thing-hybridity/prosethetics, social practices, the taste politics of style) you remain
if you are running a tech-ethics course without any sessions on design (the force of affordances, devices as delegated morality, human-thing-hybridity/prosethetics, social practices, the taste politics of style) you remain part of the problem
big_data  data_ethics  design  affordances 
7 weeks ago
Launching the Data Culture Project – Rahul Bhargava – Medium
The Data Culture Project is a hands-on learning program to kickstart a data culture within your organization. We provide facilitation videos to help you run creative introductions to get people across your organization talking to each other — from IT to marketing to programs to evaluation. These are not boring spreadsheet trainings! Try running our fun activities — one per month works as a brown bag lunch to focus people on a common learning goal. For example, “Sketching a Story” brings people together around basic concepts of quantitative text analysis and visual storytelling. “Asking Good Questions” introduces principles of exploratory data analysis in a fun environment. What’s more, you can use the sample data that we provide, or you can integrate your organization’s data as the topic of conversation and learning.
data  pedagogy 
7 weeks ago
5G Cell Service Is Coming. Who Decides Where It Goes? - The New York Times
But who gets to decide when, where and how it gets delivered is still a heated fight.

The new technology, known as 5G, delivers wireless internet at far faster speeds than existing cellular connections. But it also requires different hardware to deliver the signals.

Instead of relying on large towers placed far apart, the new signals will come from smaller equipment placed an average of 500 feet apart in neighborhoods and business districts. Much of the equipment will be on streetlights or utility poles, often accompanied by containers the size of refrigerators on the ground. More than 300,000 cell stations now provide wireless connections, and 5G will bring hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — more.

The prospect of their installation has many communities and their officials, from Woodbury, N.Y., to Olympia, Wash., insisting that local governments control the placement and look of the new equipment. They say that the cell stations could clutter neighborhoods with eyesores and cost the communities a lot of potential revenue.
cell_phones  telecommunications  infrastructure  nimbyism  urban_planning 
7 weeks ago
Ghost Advising - The Chronicle of Higher Education
It has taken me two and a half decades to recognize that my experience of having a senior male nominal adviser and a female (usually more junior) actual adviser is common throughout academe.

In fact, I myself have served in the intervening years as a "ghost adviser" to several graduate students of more senior male professors without recognizing that I was part of that pattern. When I recently asked an online group of female historians whether they had ever served as a ghost adviser for the students of a male colleague, I received more than 100 responses in a matter of hours.

Many offered versions of the same experience: A well-known senior male professor in the department attracts graduate students to work with him because of his scholarly reputation. Students are well aware that being a student of Professor Reputation will help them compete in an extraordinarily challenging academic job market.

But Professor Reputation, it turns out, doesn’t always respond to emails or is too busy to meet regularly with his students. When they send him their written work, they receive cursory comments or none at all.

Desperate for assistance, students turn for help to another faculty member, often a woman. This professor is torn: She wants to help the abandoned student but she knows that, by doing so, she is enabling a system that allows Professor Reputation to continue to burnish his, well, reputation as a producer of fine Ph.D. students while Professor Ghost Adviser will get little if any recognition for the hours she spends improving the work of his student. Professor Ghost Adviser knows that if she refuses to help, the one who gets hurt is the student — not Professor Reputation, who will very likely lay the blame for a weak dissertation on the student.

No matter how limited Professor Reputation’s advising actually is, his graduate students are unlikely to officially switch advisers. They are well aware that their nominal adviser’s stature is perhaps the most valuable currency they have in academe’s guild-like structure. Moreover, switching advisers risks alienating an influential person in the field....

Without a doubt, then, ghost advising is built into a system that grants inordinate status to academic "stars" of all sexes and too often rewards those who prioritize their scholarly productivity to the neglect of their other professional responsibilities. But to claim that ghost advising is entirely a byproduct of structural issues in academe obscures the gendered character of the practice itself.
academia  labor  advising  gender 
7 weeks ago
Making Art from Global Trade Routes
Known for his cyanotype prints on canvas, Scott-Douglas has spent the majority of his career negotiating the different levels of control an artist can have over his chosen materials. In his previous work, he used a computer algorithm to design patterned motifs to be printed on film and exposed to the sun for fifteen minutes. The idea was to see how an environment could influence art-making practices. Essentially, how far can the artist remove himself from the manufacturing process?...

In ฿o₫៛€$, Scott-Douglas takes a different approach. The gallery space is divided into three sections, with sculptures and paintings overlapping in the first room. The paintings, each part of a larger series entitled Trade Winds (2017), map out global maritime trade routes, weather patterns, and oceanic currents. “I was thinking very much about the way that capitalism, surplus, and accumulation look to quantify and, through the quantification, bring an abstraction to nature, as a way of enforcing class control,” he explained in our walkthrough.

Considering capitalism as the driving force of all trade makes us consider the function of those who monitor the routes of trade ships from remote terminals. In relaying information from one carrier to the next, this monitor effectively controls the ebb and flow of global trade, protocol, and the dispersal of information. Scott-Douglas uses FLEETMON, an industry software that allows boat owners to monitor their flow and progress while they’re working, to extract images of various oceanic phenomena. “I became really interested in using this tool as a way of looking at the ocean and thinking about the way that industry is looking at the ocean,” he states. “I’m not sure that what is on the screen is any less interesting than looking at the ocean. There’s a sort of monotony to both.”...

Whereas Scott-Douglas let the environment shape the artwork in his cyanotype prints, he now reclaims control of his media, using his artwork to influence the viewer’s perception of the environment. Observing the ways in which the ocean is standardized by professionals, the artist screen-grabs the different layers of symbols for wind, waves, and current, prints each image, scans it, and manipulates its colors. “Each color is allocated its own layer,” he says. “Each layer is printed and articulated as a separate print. These have sometimes 16, 20, 30 passes through the printer.” The resulting work has both three-dimensionality and palimpsestic depth. In superimposing layers, he slows down the speed at which this program is to be interacted with and undermines its utilitarian function.
machine_vision  infrastructure  logistics  supply_chain 
7 weeks ago
Flipping to open access for survival: A librarian’s critical role in transforming a journal | Drabinski | College & Research Libraries News
I will never forget the strangeness of that first meeting, of listening to the befuddlement of very smart people who did not understand what was happening to them. They thought the work of making a journal was simply about collecting interesting ideas and making them available to other interested people. They did not understand the material conditions of journal production, or that a political economy of scholarly publishing governed much of their individual experiences. For scholars outside the library, there is little reason to know this. In their eyes, scholarship is simply the work of reading, researching, and writing. Subscriptions were dropping because people didn’t know about our journal and how great it was, and persuasion would be enough to get librarians to renew subscriptions and keep Radical Teacher afloat. Unfortunately, it had not occurred to any of them that what they were experiencing was in fact not personal but political and economic, the result of structural changes in the knowledge economy producing a set of dynamics that was quickly determining the fate of all journals, including this small socialist one.....

Managing an explicitly radical journal like Radical Teacher, the editors might have been expected to understand scholarship as a material practice. For Marxists, life is produced and reproduced through material conditions. Under capitalism, factors such as surplus labor and the demand for profit constrain these conditions—factors that also play into scholarly publishing as librarians experience it. When the board members didn’t see their labor as such, I felt I should intervene, in order to articulate some of these practices. As a librarian, I understood and was able to explain to the other board members why people weren’t buying our journal.

Ultimately, the decision to move from closed to open access was a response to economic pressures, not political or moral ones. The problem of struggling to pay our production bills brought Radical Teacher to a decision point: we had to find another way. This crisis was an opportunity to lay bare the material conditions of our own production—that paper and ink and server space all cost money, that the market for our product was shrinking, that university presses were paying for their own reproduction through fees they were charging us.

It was also an opportunity to help the board make a decision that would align with their politics....

When I presented to the board as a financial solution the option of the journal going open access with a library publisher, I also argued that it was fundamentally about a social good: increased access to scholarly communication. However, those values presented a barrier to our decision for many board members. Some editors worried that if we were freely and openly available, “anyone could read us,” expressing concerns about the problem of right-wing readers and the potential for cyberbullying. For them, being widely and freely available to everyone was initially a bug, not a feature. Editors believed that paywalls were meant to secure audiences and police the political boundaries of our community of writers and readers. Librarians who negotiate, teach, and build workarounds to paywalls understand them as something else: the infrastructure of securing profit of various kinds for corporations under capitalism....

Taking Radical Teacher open access meant working with scholars until they understood that scholarship requires work beyond the realm of ideas. Even though the Marxist materialists on the board understood on some level that people made the journal with their hands, it was harder for them to see that we were part of a bigger economic structure. This point became clear only when we had to make decisions about the means of our own production. The presence of a librarian was an important part of understanding those decisions as decisions that prevented us from going under altogether and from going with a commercial publisher. Instead, we flipped the journal to an open access model that benefits all of our readers and writers.

One of the most powerful results of our decision to publish as open access was the conversion of a dozen board members, who understood in a new way that their discursive work was embedded in a political economy just as subject to critique as other forms of the neoliberal, capitalist classroom—which the board had been contesting since 1975.
academia  publishing  open_access 
7 weeks ago
China’s Authoritarian State Has an Edge in Artificial Intelligence Development - WSJ
Can a repressive state, led by a central government specializing in five-year plans and surveillance of its own people, make such a leap? The odds against success look steep. Economic history includes few examples of authoritarian states becoming innovative business leaders. But China aims to make that jump in artificial intelligence—or high-level machine learning—with an unusual approach that can’t be dismissed.

Beijing is bankrolling a big effort in AI, in part, to keep better track of homegrown individuals it considers criminals and dissidents, and to intimidate would-be opponents. That work involves fundamental research in image recognition, data collection and sorting that could have commercial spinoffs in the software used to run complex systems. A city with millions of self-driving cars, for instance, would need data analysis and the ability to recognize, say, that a ball bouncing across the street might be followed by a child chasing it.

“What gives China an edge is there is more of a sense of urgency,” says Paul Triolo, a technology research manager at Eurasia Group.

Last summer, China’s central government published a comprehensive plan for artificial intelligence development that aims to make the nation “the world’s primary AI innovation center” by 2030.

In China such plans aren’t simply blueprints, but indications of central government priorities, which work down to localities, state-owned firms and entrepreneurs. ....

Among the most innovative—and threatening—of the Chinese research involves surveillance. The Wall Street Journal has detailed how Beijing has turned its western Xinjiang region into a warren of facial scanners to track millions of Uighur minorities. Police there use hand-held devices to search smartphones for encrypted chat apps. A new twist: mobile facial-recognition units mounted on eyeglasses that police use to search crowds for fugitives, among other uses.
surveillance  artificial_intelligence  china 
7 weeks ago
Valuing the Syllabus as Scholarship: A Workshop – HuMetricsHSS
that there are many objects–such as the syllabus–that are critical representations of a scholar’s intellectual labor, and we should better articulate nuanced understandings of what those objects are, what they reveal, and what role they play in the scholarly communication landscape; and second, that the syllabus can serve as an indicator of scholarly impact, such as a vehicle revealing citation networks in the humanities and social sciences, and that perhaps it could more rapidly reflect scholarly impact than other forms of citation analysis and even reveal new indicators of value-based scholarly excellence.

The workshop next week focuses on these two aligned but distinct components.  Participants will first explore the syllabus as an object of scholarship in its own right by examining its formal components and the values embedded or hidden in its construction.  The goal is to develop mechanisms for the instructor to tell a better story about the values and goals they infuse in their syllabus, so as to better articulate a broader understanding of their own scholarly practice. By starting with an articulation of values, we argue, we establish a better baseline for the evaluation of impact based on actual goals rather than proxy indicators.

The second component of the workshop focuses on the syllabus as an indicator of scholarship, revealing more about the authors of works featured in a syllabus, their impact and their influence. As we have argued previously,

“We wondered how the syllabus might enhance citation indicators in the humanities and how such indicators might help us rethink and influence notions of impact that currently favor an article-based intellectual economy. Does the syllabus reveal the circulation of ideas in humanities and social science subjects in more effective ways than traditional citation networks using only articles? Is the syllabus a site of more rapid or even potentially up-to-date scholarship, rather than that reflected in the slow burn of a book three years in the making?”
syllabus  faculty_review  academia  citation 
7 weeks ago
Driverless cars: mapping the trouble ahead
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The first step in realising this potential, however, is the development of effective digital mapping technologies for self-driving cars. The cumbersome storage of data is just one of the technical issues that are occupying many of the brightest engineering minds in Silicon Valley. Without better 3D maps, the much-hyped self-driving car revolution will be much slower to materialise.
automation  self_driving  mapping  cartography  data  storage 
7 weeks ago
From territorial to functional sovereignty: the case of Amazon | openDemocracy
When state authority contracts, private parties fill the gap. That power can feel just as oppressive, and have effects just as pervasive, as garden variety administrative agency enforcement of civil law. As Robert Lee Hale stated, “There is government whenever one person or group can tell others what they must do and when those others have to obey or suffer a penalty.”

We are familiar with that power in employer-employee relationships, or when a massive firm extracts concessions from suppliers. But what about when a firm presumes to exercise juridical power, not as a party to a conflict, but the authority deciding it? I worry that such scenarios will become all the more common as massive digital platforms exercise more power over our commercial lives....

Human rights and the internet
oD 50.50
Shine A Light

From territorial to functional sovereignty: the case of Amazon
FRANK PASQUALE 5 January 2018
As digital firms move to displace more government roles over time, from room-letting to transportation to commerce, citizens will be increasingly subject to corporate, rather than democratic, control.

Economists tend to characterize the scope of regulation as a simple matter of expanding or contracting state power. But a political economy perspective emphasizes that social relations abhor a power vacuum. When state authority contracts, private parties fill the gap. That power can feel just as oppressive, and have effects just as pervasive, as garden variety administrative agency enforcement of civil law. As Robert Lee Hale stated, “There is government whenever one person or group can tell others what they must do and when those others have to obey or suffer a penalty.”

We are familiar with that power in employer-employee relationships, or when a massive firm extracts concessions from suppliers. But what about when a firm presumes to exercise juridical power, not as a party to a conflict, but the authority deciding it? I worry that such scenarios will become all the more common as massive digital platforms exercise more power over our commercial lives.

A few weeks ago, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (a think tank affiliated with the Social Democratic Party in Germany) invited me to speak at their Conference on Digital Capitalism. As European authorities develop long-term plans to address the rise of powerful platforms, they want to know: What is new, or particularly challenging, in digital capitalism?

My answer focused on the identity and aspirations of major digital firms. They are no longer market participants. Rather, in their fields, they are market makers, able to exert regulatory control over the terms on which others can sell goods and services. Moreover, they aspire to displace more government roles over time, replacing the logic of territorial sovereignty with functional sovereignty. In functional arenas from room-letting to transportation to commerce, persons will be increasingly subject to corporate, rather than democratic, control.

For example: Who needs city housing regulators when AirBnB can use data-driven methods to effectively regulate room-letting, then house-letting, and eventually urban planning generally? Why not let Amazon have its own jurisdiction or charter city, or establish special judicial procedures for Foxconn? Some vanguardists of functional sovereignty believe online rating systems could replace state occupational licensure—so rather than having government boards credential workers, a platform like LinkedIn could collect star ratings on them....

Amazon’s rise is instructive. As Lina Khan explains, “the company has positioned itself at the center of e-commerce and now serves as essential infrastructure for a host of other businesses that depend upon it.” The “everything store” may seem like just another service in the economy—a virtual mall. But when a firm combines tens of millions of customers with a “marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house…a hardware manufacturer, and a leading host of cloud server space,” as Khan observes, it’s not just another shopping option....

Note that these maneuvers–what Tracey Kaye calls “corporate seduction” via tax and other incentives–are not new. But as they accelerate, they mark a faster transfer of power from state to corporate actors. The mayors are in a weakened position because their tax revenues are not high enough to support high quality municipal services, and now they’re succoring a corporate actor with a long history of fighting to push taxation even lower. Similarly, the more online buyers and sellers are relying on Amazon to do their bidding or settle their disputes, the less power they have relative to Amazon itself.
smart_cities  corporatization  smartcityfables 
8 weeks ago
Palantir has secretly been using New Orleans to test its predictive policing technology - The Verge
As part of the discovery process in Lewis’ trial, the government turned over more than 60,000 pages of documents detailing evidence gathered against him from confidential informants, ballistics, and other sources — but they made no mention of the NOPD’s partnership with Palantir, according to a source familiar with the 39ers trial.

The program began in 2012 as a partnership between New Orleans Police and Palantir Technologies, a data-mining firm founded with seed money from the CIA’s venture capital firm. According to interviews and documents obtained by The Verge, the initiative was essentially a predictive policing program, similar to the “heat list” in Chicago that purports to predict which people are likely drivers or victims of violence.

The partnership has been extended three times, with the third extension scheduled to expire on February 21st, 2018. The city of New Orleans and Palantir have not responded to questions about the program’s current status.

Predictive policing technology has proven highly controversial wherever it is implemented, but in New Orleans, the program escaped public notice, partly because Palantir established it as a philanthropic relationship with the city through Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s signature NOLA For Life program. Thanks to its philanthropic status, as well as New Orleans’ “strong mayor” model of government, the agreement never passed through a public procurement process....

In fact, key city council members and attorneys contacted by The Verge had no idea that the city had any sort of relationship with Palantir, nor were they aware that Palantir used its program in New Orleans to market its services to another law enforcement agency for a multimillion-dollar contract....

Six years ago, one of the world’s most secretive and powerful tech firms developed a contentious intelligence product in a city that has served as a neoliberal laboratory for everything from charter schools to radical housing reform since Hurricane Katrina. Because the program was never public, important questions about its basic functioning, risk for bias, and overall propriety were never answered....

Prediction is not new territory for Palantir. Since at least 2009, Palantir was used by the Pentagon to predict the location of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq — a wartime risk-assessment program absent the civil liberties concerns that come with individualized predictive policing. Its commercial software platform, Metropolis, also reportedly uses predictive analytics to help businesses develop consumer markets and streamline investments. But before 2012 with the New Orleans program, there is no publicly available record that Palantir had ventured into predictive policing....

Interest and investment in predictive policing technology accelerated after 2009 when the National Institute of Justice began issuing grants for pilot projects in crime forecasting. Those grants underpin some of the best-known — and most scrutinized — predictive policing efforts in Chicago and Los Angeles. Programs vary, and the algorithms are often proprietary, but they all aim to ingest vast stores of data — geography, criminal records, the weather, social media histories — and make predictions about individuals or places likely to be involved in a crime. In the following years, many startup firms have struggled to monetize the crime-fighting method — most notably PredPol, a California startup whose contract awards have foundered after an initial blitz of publicity in the early 2010s....

“We’re kind of a prototype,” said Matalin. “Unless you’re the cousin of some drug dealer that went bad, you’re going to be okay.”...

The Palantir partnership would have likely received more scrutiny from the city council had it been itemized in a budget, but the council’s approval isn’t required for such a program. The structure of city government in New Orleans is predicated on a “strong mayor” model where the council does not have approval authority over contracts or policies for the city police department.

Cities around the country have recently begun to grapple with the question of if and how municipalities should regulate data sharing and privacy. Some cities like Seattle and Oakland have passed legislation establishing committees to craft guidelines and conduct oversight, while others like New York are discussing what role city councils should play regarding privacy in the digital age....

Palantir’s prediction model in New Orleans used an intelligence technique called social network analysis (or SNA) to draw connections between people, places, cars, weapons, addresses, social media posts, and other indicia in previously siloed databases. Think of the analysis as a practical version of a Mark Lombardi painting that highlights connections between people, places, and events. After entering a query term — like a partial license plate, nickname, address, phone number, or social media handle or post — NOPD’s analyst would review the information scraped by Palantir’s software and determine which individuals are at the greatest risk of either committing violence or becoming a victim, based on their connection to known victims or assailants.

The data on individuals came from information scraped from social media as well as NOPD criminal databases for ballistics, gangs, probation and parole information, jailhouse phone calls, calls for service, the central case management system (i.e., every case NOPD had on record), and the department’s repository of field interview cards. The latter database represents every documented encounter NOPD has with citizens, even those that don’t result in arrests. In 2010, The Times-Picayune revealed that Chief Serpas had mandated that the collection of field interview cards be used as a measure of officer and district performance, resulting in over 70,000 field interview cards filled out in 2011 and 2012. The practice resembled NYPD’s “stop and frisk” program and was instituted with the express purpose of gathering as much intelligence on New Orleanians as possible, regardless of whether or not they committed a crime....If someone had been shot, Serpas explained, Asher would use Palantir’s software to find people associated with them through field interviews or social media data. “This data analysis brings up names and connections between people on FIs [field interview cards], on traffic stops, on victims of reports, reporting victims of crimes together, whatever the case may be...

According to Palantir’s own documentation, Asher and his colleagues ran social network analyses of every victim of a fatal or non-fatal shooting in New Orleans from 2011 through 2013. Through this technique, which Asher dubbed “The NOLA Model,” the city devised a list of roughly 3,900 people who were at the highest risk of being involved in gun violence because of their connection to a previous shooter or victim. “We can identify 30-40% of shooting victims,” Asher claimed at Palantir’s 2014 internal conference. Asher declined repeated requests for an interview.

Theoretically, Asher’s approach is substantially influenced by the research of Andrew Papachristos, a Yale professor who tracked violence as if it were a communicable disease spreading through networks of association. However, since his work was cited as the academic underpinning for crime-forecasting models employed by PredPol and the Chicago Police Department, Papachristos has sought to distance his research from those methods.

Once NOPD generated its list of likely shooters and victims, the police department and social service providers — for the “carrot” side of NOLA For Life — would select people who were either incarcerated or on court supervision for a “call-in meeting.”...

Regardless of the sustainability of New Orleans’ murder reduction, Palantir used its work with the NOPD to solicit large contracts with other American cities. Later, the company won lucrative contracts for predictive programs with foreign governments....

Last year, the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel’s security services used analytics systems that scraped social media and other data to predict potential “lone-wolf” attackers from Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and that Palantir was one of only two technology companies to provide predictive intelligence systems to Israeli security organizations. The New Orleans project is the first reported instance of Palantir using social media data as a part of the company’s social network analysis....

If Palantir’s partnership with New Orleans had been public, the issues of legality, transparency, and propriety could have been hashed out in a public forum during an informed discussion with legislators, law enforcement, the company, and the public. For six years, that never happened.
smart_cities  palantir  prediction  policing  social_network_analysis  methodology 
8 weeks ago
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