Joho the Blog » Report from Denmark: Designing the new public library at Aarhus, and the People’s Lab
Three and a half years ago, the Danes wrote a report on public libraries in the knowledge society, and went looking for partnerships, which is unusual for the Danes, says Knud. The new model of the library intersects four spaces: inspiration, learning, performative, and meeting spaces. But the question is what people are going to do in those spaces. Recognition/experience, empowerment, learning, innovation. Knud shows pictures of those activities currently going on in the library.
Two hundred of Denmark’s 500 public libraries are “open libraries” — open 24 hours a day, with staffing only about 12 hours a week. If you have a library card, you can open the door. You can check media in and out, use the Internet, use a PC, read newspapers, study, arrange study circles. “The point is to let users take control.”
A law in 2007 said there had to be one-stop shopping for govt services. Most libraries offer these services. You go to the library for a passport, drivers license, health insurance, etc. Every citizen needs to have a personal account for communication with banks, from the state (e.g., about taxes). Libraries have helped educate the citizenry about this.
Often libraries are community centers that involve public and private sectors and a wide range of services. Sometimes the other services overwhelm the library services. “People ask me, ‘Where is the public library in this?’, and I say, ‘Think about the library as the glue.’”
There have to be innovation spaces in the local libraries.
libraries  denmark 
2 days ago
Internal exile — I think that’s well-put, and that the similarity...
hipsterism is an especially salient iteration of neoliberal subjectivity, one that gains currency by being slippery and inarticulable. These concepts become normalized by becoming boring and frustrating to talk about. The apparent vagueness in the terms seems to make them unalterable. The struggle to define them reflects the stakes of keeping them amorphous, capable of absorbing more and more behavior, making the way of thinking they describe feel inescapable, natural.

In a post called “We Are All Neoliberals” (just as no one is a hipster/neoliberal; everyone is), Jason Read argues that the inconsistent usage of the term neoliberalism has blunted its critical usefulness, turned it into a euphemism rather than an analytical tool...

When one looks at economic inequality or injustice or other forms of immiseration, one can drop in a “because neoliberalism” and bring the discussion to a futile close. The discussion can then dissolve into arguments about what that is supposed to mean.

If we use such terms as neoliberal and hipster affectively, as ill-defined pejoratives, we inadvertently strengthen the ideology behind them. This is not only because vague terms help naturalize the phenomena they are in the process of organizing. (Read notes that “this paradox defines much reactionary, or conservative thought, which always declares some hierarchy or principle natural while actively working to produce it.”) It is also because they make identification and description of the problem seem sufficient. That is to say, hipster (or neoliberal) describes an ideology (or a rationality) more than it does a person, and applying it to people can just make them scapegoats. ...

Neoliberalism is largely about fostering competition among atomized individuals and suppressing any sense of collectivity within society. Its tool for doing this, by and large, is quantification: surveillance to yield measurements. By combining an expanded Taylorism with entrepreneurial conceptions of the self as an enterprise, these measurements can be used to make efficiency a requirement of more and more of one’s life, effectively turning it all into work. When measured and circulated, all forms of behavior can become “productive” — can be recast as a kind of value that capitalism can capture. By making the self an enterprise, “growth” becomes the only means to make the self continue to seem real.

...the ideal of competitiveness is used to inculcate subjects with an “infinite demand for performance”: always be striving, always be trying. Contentment is turned into weakness, lack of imagination, cowardice, failure, the hallmark of an anti-entrepreneurial loser.... Neoliberalist subjectivity, then, is about bringing a mentality of “winning” to every aspect of life — every little thing is a performance, a contest — while being forever discontented with the fruits of such success. The winning and losing is mediated by metrics, which induce one to assent to more invasive surveillance...

Talking about “hipsterism” is one way of evoking that kind of competitive self-production. Complaining about it is a muted way of complaining about neoliberal demands on identity to be productive for capital. Bemoaning “inauthenticity” seems a veiled way of talking about how the value of that self-production feeds the expanding capitalist system rather than the transcendent ego of the individual agent.
neoliberalism  hipsters  politics  theory  economics  ideology  surveillance  quantification 
2 days ago
Words by Tony Judt | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
there are not many instructors left with the self-confidence (or the training) to pounce on infelicitous expression and explain clearly just why it inhibits intelligent reflection. The revolution of my generation played an important role in this unraveling: the priority accorded the autonomous individual in every sphere of life should not be underestimated—”doing your own thing” took protean form.

Today “natural” expression—in language as in art—is preferred to artifice. We unreflectively suppose that truth no less than beauty is conveyed more effectively thereby. Alexander Pope knew better. (“True Wit is Nature to Advantage drest, / What oft was Thought, but ne’er so well Exprest.” —Essay on Criticism, 1711) For many centuries in the Western tradition, how well you expressed a position corresponded closely to the credibility of your argument. Rhetorical styles might vary from the spartan to the baroque, but style itself was never a matter of indifference. And “style” was not just a well-turned sentence: poor expression belied poor thought. Confused words suggested confused ideas at best, dissimulation at worst.

The “professionalization” of academic writing—and the self-conscious grasping of humanists for the security of “theory” and “methodology”—favors obscurantism. This has encouraged the rise of a counterfeit currency of glib “popular” articulacy: in the discipline of history this is exemplified by the ascent of the “television don,” whose appeal lies precisely in his claim to attract a mass audience in an age when fellow scholars have lost interest in communication. But whereas an earlier generation of popular scholarship distilled authorial authority into plain text, today’s “accessible” writers protrude uncomfortably into the audience’s consciousness. It is the performer, rather than the subject, to whom the audience’s attention is drawn....

Cultural insecurity begets its linguistic doppelgänger. The same is true of technical advance. In a world of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter (not to mention texting), pithy allusion substitutes for exposition. Where once the Internet seemed an opportunity for unrestricted communication, the increasingly commercial bias of the medium—”I am what I buy”—brings impoverishment of its own. My children observe of their own generation that the communicative shorthand of their hardware has begun to seep into communication itself: “people talk like texts.”

This ought to worry us. When words lose their integrity so do the ideas they express. If we privilege personal expression over formal convention, then we are privatizing language no less than we have privatized so much else. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” Alice was right: the outcome is anarchy.

In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell castigated contemporaries for using language to mystify rather than inform. His critique was directed at bad faith: people wrote poorly because they were trying to say something unclear or else deliberately prevaricating. Our problem, it seems to me, is different. Shoddy prose today bespeaks intellectual insecurity: we speak and write badly because we don’t feel confident in what we think and are reluctant to assert it unambiguously (“It’s only my opinion…”). Rather than suffering from the onset of “newspeak,” we risk the rise of “nospeak.”
UMS  writing  discourse  rhetoric  words 
4 days ago
ARCADE: Literature, the Humanities, and the World
Despite the wane of theory, we are still told that literary study must be made "rigorous" through the "application" of various kinds of theory. Unfortunately, each theory or theoretical tradition is taught to us only in partial or fragmentary form, either in "Introduction to Theory" courses or as secondary reading in traditionally (historically, formally) denominated courses. E.g., Let's read a helping of queer theory with our early modern drama! This gives birth to a theoretical "mash-up" culture, in which radically incompatible theories populate our arguments....

Part of our scholarly training involves reading huge amounts of secondary material larded with jargon. We learn that to be a serious scholar or critic is to speak in a certain idiom. Canny aspiring professionals, we write in the style of what we are asked to read...

Often, despite our disciplinary self-definition, there is an attendant sense that simply writing about literature or cultural phenomena is not sufficient. If we want the grant or the fellowship that will get us through the next year, we need to concoct elaborate answers to the "so-what" question. We therefore have an incentive to aggrandize the importance of our work: we're being political, challenging norms, overturning conventional modes of thought, etc.
UMS  writing 
4 days ago
Prune That Prose - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Do you ever read your prose aloud, either quietly to yourself or at a public reading of your work? Too many academics would answer no to that question. We have a kind of reverse aestheticism—if our writing is dense and unwieldy, filled with technical terms and convoluted sentences, we wear its lack of accessibility as a badge of honor....

Academics are not embarrassed by writing that's impenetrable. We're taught to feel like doctors castigated for poor penmanship. Producing turgid prose is part of how we define ourselves as professionals.

But why is that? Why don't we want to be like M, a person with deep theoretical and technical expertise, who designs her roof gardens to be both pleasing and useful? Why do academics so often have contempt for writing that appeals to a broader public?
writing  publishing  editing  UMS 
4 days ago
Software, It's a Thing - Matt Kirschenbaum
Matthew Fuller, editor of Software Studies: A Lexicon puts it this way in his introduction to a 2008 MIT Press volume on the subject: “While applied computer science and related disciplines … have now accreted half a century of work on this domain, software is often a blind spot in the wider, broadly cultural theorization and study of computational and networked digital media…. Software is seen as a tool, something you do something with. It is neutral, grey, or optimistically blue.” Software studies, as a sub-field of digital media studies, thus offers a framework for historicizing software and dislodging it from its purely instrumental sphere.... demonstrating the range of ways one might seek to circumscribe it as an object of preservation.

Software as asset. The legal perspective. In 1969, the US Justice Department opened an anti-trust suit against IBM, the result of which was that IBM “unbundled” the practice of providing programs—software—to its clients for free as part of its hardware operations. Instead, IBM introduced the distinction between System Control Programs and Program Products; the latter became a salable commodity. IBM’s unbundling decision is routinely cited as a catalyst for the emergence of software as a distinct area of activity within computer science and engineering at large. The point I would make here is that the object we call “software” is a legal and commercial construct as much as it is a technological one.

Software as package. The engineer’s perspective. Computer historian Thomas Haigh has argued that the key moment for conceptualizing software came when its originators began to think about “packaging” their code so as to share it with others. Haigh makes the analogy to envelopes for letters and shipping containers. In practice, “packaging” the software meant conceiving of the software object not just in terms of code, but also systems requirements, documentation, support, and even the tacit knowledge required to run it. “What turned programs into software,” Haigh concludes, “was the work of packaging needed to transport them effectively from one group to another.” Software becomes software, in other words, when it is portable.

Software as shrinkwrap... But the appeal is clearly that it is easy to visualize shrinkwrapped software as an artifact, and thus integrate it into collecting practices already in place for artifacts of other sorts.

Software as a kind of notation, or score. Here we are talking about actual source code, and the musical analogy is more than casual....

Software as object. Here I deliberately use the word “object” in multiple valances, both to connote the binary executable as well as its resonance with object-oriented programming (itself a paradigm about modularity and reuse) and perhaps even the emerging philosophical discourse around so-called object oriented ontologies...

Software as craft. The artisan’s perspective. Here I have in mind accounts of software development which deliberately position themselves in opposition to enterprise-level software engineering. Not Microsoft Word, but Scrivener (or for that matter, Medium)....

Software as epigraphy.... tombstones and Easter eggs...

Software as clickwrap. This is perhaps the dominant model today, combining the familiar online storefront with advanced DRM and cloud-based content distribution.

Software as hardware. -- eg. Media Archaeology Lab, MITH...

Software as social media -- eg. GitHub...

Software as background. Software as background. New media artist Jeff Thompson has collected some 11,000 screenshots documenting every computer appearing (usually in the background) of every episode of the TV series Law and Order. We can learn much from incidental popular representations of software....

Software as paper trail. specs, requirements, design documents, memos and correspondence, marketing research, advertising and promotional materials, press clippings, swag, memorabilia, and ephemera...

Software as service.

Software as big data.

But underlying all of these different approaches, or “frameworks” as I have called them, is the more fundamental one of what it means to think of software as a human artifact, a made thing, tangible and present for all of its supposed virtual ineffability.... Software may be stuff unlike any other, it may be even intangible, but it is still a thing, indisputably there as a logical, spatial, and imaginative artifact, subject to craft and technique, to error and human foible. Writing software is not an abstract logical exercise; it is art and design, intuition and discipline, tradition and individual talent, and over time the program takes shape as a wrought object, a made thing that represents one single realization of concepts and ideas that could have been expressed and instantiated in any number of other renderings. Software is thus best understood as a dynamic artifact: not some abstract ephemeral essence, not even just as lines of written instructions or code, but as something that builds up layers of tangible history through the years, something that contains stories and sub-plots and dramatis personae.
software  preservation  objects  craft  code  things  archives  documentation  materiality 
4 days ago
Vernacular Criticism | The New Inquiry
many Yelp reviews confront the engineered homogeneity of the museum experience, the standardized conditions that Brian O’Doherty, an artist and critic, wrote about in Inside the White Cube. In these essays, written in the 1970s, O’Doherty describes the origins of ubiquitous gallery architecture and offers a critique of the white cube’s transformation of the viewer into a phantom, a spectral organ of cognition designed for the bodiless appreciation of art....

Yelp does a lot of things, including a number things that make people hate it. But one thing it does is provide a platform for vernacular art criticism, a different kind of writing about art and the public spaces where it is seen. Vernacular criticism can reject the guidelines set by cultivated artistic tastes, or it can guilelessly speak in ignorance of them, or in its naive fascination with them can inadvertently expose their falseness. Vernacular criticism is an expression of taste that has not been fully calibrated to the tastes cultivated in and by museums. Vernacular criticism inscribes bodies in public spaces that would otherwise erase them....

I’ve never studied art history, which from a distance looks like a bleakly stuffy field, concerned with questions of influence and provenance that stake out an autonomous purity for art and its mediums, that disengages them from social or cultural history. Criticism, as opposed to history, appeals to me as a practice of inscribing art in life....

The art critic doesn’t change the art world’s systems of power; he simply gives them publicity by reminding readers that they exist. So it is with the yelper who accumulates language around a storefront or a brand....

Their opinion would probably be endorsed by Pierre Bourdieu, who in Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste uses sociological data to argue that the theory of aesthetic judgment proposed by Kant in the 18th century as a description of a universal human condition is, in fact, particular to the class interests of the bourgeoisie. Like my fellow members of the Yelp Elite, Bourdieu chose not to grant art special status, to recognize its distinction from other pursuits. “The dispositions which govern ­choices between the goods of legitimate culture cannot be fully understood … unless ‘culture,’ in the restricted, normative sense of ordinary usage, is reinserted into ‘culture’ in the broad, anthropological sense, and the elaborated taste for the most refined objects is brought back into relation with the elementary taste for the flavors of food.” Taste is an embodied, sensory experience—one that originates in the gut and touches the world with the tongue. But it is also subject to a number of social abstractions that manage it, rationalize it, and build what Bourdieu calls a “magical barrier,” distinguishing “legitimate culture” through the skilled labor of identification and decoding, distinctions reproduced in education and cultivated over time.

The museum lives behind such a magical barrier. The power structures of Yelp—the hierarchy of service provider and users, algorithms of usefulness, advertising—have nothing to do with the museum’s power, and so Yelp can smash its magical barrier. Yelp puts museums into pages labeled with their names and addresses where anything can be said about them, the same as any other business....

There has been a lot of speculation about whether or not social media can measure artistic merit—or any merit—through likes, favorites, reblogs, retweets and so on. But the conversation tends to be limited to the potential of these metrics to measure quality, without acknowledging that such a process of measuring constitutes an attempt to merely “democratize” the meritocracy. This totally misses the potential of social media to account for the plurality of tastes found in the world. And so the counting of social-media attention is always ­unsatisfying—these metrics give a unified count of everything whose sums mean nothing.

Yelp—as well as Amazon and other review sites—shoehorn taste into metered ratings, but they also demand a first-person expression of taste. They ask the user to be a critic without demanding the past labor of cultivation or the other social abstractions imposed by the public sphere....

Yelp is not the answer to criticism’s problems. On its own it can’t transform criticism, or museums, for the better. The reviews of museums there may eschew the academic jargon of art writing and bourgeois biases of taste, but they tend to replace them with the clichés of marketing and advertising—the register of a commercialized public sphere—found in Yelp reviews of restaurants, strip clubs, or salons.

And yet Yelp could help reset the terms of art criticism, as an environment where the judgment of one among others not obligated by any judgment except their own is newly fresh, and where this judgment is honestly subjective and contingent, as tasted by unobligated bodies.
artists_books  public_sphere  vernacular  taste 
4 days ago
Turf Wars (The Lawn) | The New Yorker
Mowing turfgrass quite literally cuts off the option of sexual reproduction. From the gardener’s perspective, the result is a denser, thicker mat of green. From the grasses’ point of view, the result is a perpetual state of vegetable adolescence. With every successive trim, the plants are forcibly rejuvenated. In his anti-lawn essay “Why Mow?,” Michael Pollan puts it this way: “Lawns are nature purged of sex and death. No wonder Americans like them so much.”...

In the early days of lawns—British aristocrats started planting them sometime around the start of the eighteenth century—there were two ways to mow. A landowner could use grazing animals, like sheep, which meant also employing sheepkeepers, or he could send out bands of scythe-wielding servants. Then, in 1830, Edwin Beard Budding, an engineer from Gloucestershire, came up with a third alternative—“a machine for mowing lawns, etc.”...

A lawn may be pleasing to look at, or provide the children with a place to play, or offer the dog room to relieve himself, but it has no productive value. The only work it does is cultural. In Downing’s day, the servant-mowed lawn stood, eloquently, for the power structure that made it possible: who but the very rich could afford such a pointless luxury? As mechanical mowers enabled middle-class suburbanites to cut their own grass, this meaning was lost and a different one took hold. A lawn came to signal its owner’s commitment to a communitarian project: the upkeep of the greensward that linked one yard to the next....

Lawns as unnatural - none of the grasses commonly used are native to the US - It was observed that repeated applications of synthetic fertilizer could counteract turfgrasses’ seasonal cycle by, in effect, tricking the plants into putting out new growth. Sensing a potential bonanza, lawn-care companies began marketing the idea of an ever-green green....

Between them, Carson and Otto introduced all the main anti-lawn arguments: toxicity, habitat destruction, resource depletion, enforced conformity.... Recently, a NASA-funded study, which used satellite data collected by the Department of Defense, determined that, including golf courses, lawns in the United States cover nearly fifty thousand square miles—an area roughly the size of New York State. The same study concluded that most of this New York State-size lawn was growing in places where turfgrass should never have been planted. In order to keep all the lawns in the country well irrigated, the author of the study calculated, it would take an astonishing two hundred gallons of water per person, per day....

Downing was passionate about landscape gardening, and even more so about its edifying possibilities. He urged his readers to improve their yards not just for the sake of their own uplift and enjoyment but in the interest of the greater good; through the “principle of imitation,” they would become models for their neighbors, and in this way a single example of refinement could transform a “graceless village.” We now have lawns smoother and more velvety than Downing could have imagined. And yet our relationship to the Beautiful remains vexed. As the anti-lawnists correctly observe, the American lawn now represents a serious civic problem. That the space devoted to it continues to grow—and that more and more water and chemicals and fertilizer are devoted to its upkeep—doesn’t prove that we care so much as that we are careless.
landscape  nature  water  sustainability  lawns  home 
4 days ago
Creative Types From Manolo Blahnik to Milton Glaser on Their Favorite Writing and Drawing Instruments
Is the pencil over? It’s no secret we’ve turned to keyboards and touch screens to convey our thoughts, complete our work in the office and design everything from bespoke stationery to custom footwear. For most, it’s hard to recall the last time an octagonal wooden shaft rested between our fingers. But for a select set of highly creative individuals, writing instruments are still in high demand. Here, authors, designers and artists ranging from Manolo Blahnik to Milton Glaser share brief odes to the pencils, pens and brushes to which they are devoted, and illustrations to go along with them.
pencil  pen  tools  writing  presentation_images 
5 days ago
It's Nice That : Milton Glaser and friends sing the praise of the humble pencil, pen and paintbrush
We adore this article from NYT’s T Magazine today, in which a heap of creatives sing hallelujah for old school artistic tools, with brilliant illustrations to boot.
pencil  pen  writing  tools 
5 days ago
DEVONthink — Second Impression and some Tips | ORGANIZING CREATIVITY
I have put all my material that I still work with, PDF documents of articles, images, videos, etc. pp. into one database. Archived content of finished projects is in a Wiki. The reason for one database is that I think that different topics stimulate each other and if they are grouped (“put into folders”), there should be no conflicts. It also saves space, as some images, videos, documents, etc. are relevant for private projects and work projects. Disadvantage is that it gets large very quickly, but see above, it should work and for me (now) the advantages are greater than the disadvantages. If it gets too large it’s possible to split the database, although only some versions of DEVONthink support multiple databases.
UMS  notes  devonthink  workflow 
5 days ago
The Design of Workspaces, Past, Present, Future | WNPR
From the nineteenth century “counting house” to the modern-day cubicle, the layout of our workspaces has undergone some pretty radical changes over the years.

This hour, we look at the history of our beloved desks and cubicles with author Nikil Saval. We also talk to some workplace architects about what goes into office design.

And later, Connecticut artist Joe Fig tells us how he’s been using his craft to recreate the workspaces of some of today’s leading artists.


Nikil Saval - Editor of n+1 and author of Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace
Tony Amenta - Principal at Amenta|Emma Architects, P.C.
Tom Eich - Chief Technology Officer and Partner at IDEO
Joe Fig - Connecticut-based artist and author of Inside the Painter’s Studio
workplace  labor  design  cubicles  coworking  studio  podcast 
5 days ago
Theodor Adorno's Philosophy of Punctuation
History has left its residue in punctuation marks, and it is history, far more than meaning or grammatical function, that looks out at us, rigidified and trembling slightly, from every mark of punctuation...

“punctuation marks,” Adorno writes, “are marks of oral delivery.” As such, they function like musical notation. “The comma and the period correspond to the half-cadence and the authentic cadence.” Exclamation points are “like silent cymbal clashes, question marks like musical upbeats.” Colons are like “dominant seventh chords.”...

Adorno reserves a special pride of place for the semicolon. He claims that “only a person who can perceive the different weights of strong and weak phrasings in musical form” can understand the difference between semicolon and comma. He differentiates between the Greek and German semicolon. And he expresses alarm “that the semicolon is dying out.” This, he claims, is due to a fear of “page-long paragraphs”—the kind he often writes. It is “a fear created by the marketplace—by the consumer who does not want to tax himself.” ...

Quotation marks, he writes, should only be used for direct quotes, “and if need be when the text wants to distance itself from a word it is referring to.” This can include writing words as words (the word “word” is a word…). Adorno rejects quotation marks as an “ironic device.” This usage presents “a predetermined judgment on the subject”; it offers a “blind verdict.”...

First, we have “the serious dash,” in which “thought becomes aware of its fragmentary character.” Dashes may signal “mute lines into the past, wrinkles on the brow” of the text, ”uneasy silence.” Dashes need not connect thoughts. The “desire to connect everything,” Adorno writes, is the mark of “literary dilettantes.”... Parenthetical phrases (like this) create “enclaves” and admit the “superfluousness” of their contents, which is why many stylebooks frown upon them. Their use in this way “capitulate[s] to pedantic philistinism.” The “cautious writer”—writes punctiliously cautious Adorno—will place parentheticals between dashes, “which block off parenthetical material from the flow of the sentence without shutting it up in a prison.”...

“The writer,” he admits, “is in a permanent predicament when it comes to punctuation marks: if one were fully aware while writing, one would sense the impossibility of ever using a mark of punctuation correctly and would give up writing altogether.”
writing  punctuation  UMS 
5 days ago
Smoke signals replace wires in interactive art installation | The Verge
Binairy Talk is a charming interactive installation that blends smoke signals with computer language. Created by a pair of German design students, the project takes text input and transforms it into binary code as part of an attempt to illustrate how data surrounds us constantly. The results are then represented by puffs of water vapor which are subsequently blasted across the room by what looks like a modified loudspeaker. After crossing through a laser sensor, the signals are processed and translated into comprehensible writing once more.
media_archaeology  smoke_signals  materiality  translation  language  transmission 
6 days ago
Breakthrough in Virtualization of Museum Collections - artnet News
Could the museum of the future be little more than a 3D screen? Researchers moved one step closer to fully digitalizing the world’s art collections on Tuesday, deploying the CultLab3D scanner at Frankfurt’s Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung to scan Renaissance sculptor Antico a.k.a. Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi’s Apollo Belvedere (1497-1498)....

The CultLab3D takes cues from the assembly line in its scanning process, using a conveyor belt to completely automate the process. The sculpture first passes through a series of so-called scanning arcs, the results of which are processed by the system. It then uses a secondary system of robotic arms to fill in missed areas or portions where greater detail is required. Each scan takes mere minutes, meaning that whole museum sculpture collections could be brought into the digital realm in less time than the Smithsonian’s first 20 artifacts took to process.

Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung director Max Hollein called the CultLab3D, “an ideal application of high technology in the museum,” which could provide, “ultimate global digital access to art-historical contents and research results.”

But, wider public access isn’t the device’s only major implication, the museum’s head of antiquities Vinzenz Brinkmann suggests. “In cases of damage, an object can be reconstructed down to the smallest detail, or virtually reproduced,” he explains.
museums  scanning  preservation  reproduction 
6 days ago
Welcome to Ad/Lib, a website that showcases graphic and communication design work by/for the library community.
libraries  marketing  advertising 
6 days ago
Sketches for an Earth Computer - we make money not art
Sketches for an Earth Computer is an ongoing series of living "laboratory" studies that explore the links between the earth, code and the human psyche of the viewer.

Over the past few years, Martin Howse has been investigating the possibility to build a computational device that would not only be constructed solely from the earth but would also be embedded within the earth as a critical monument to human technology.

The computer enters a feedback loop with the environment itself as geophysical, biological and electro-chemical elements can both encode and be modified by the computational structures.
geology  computing  media_archaeology 
6 days ago
Book Smell Is Back
Now, you’ll be surprised to discover a growing list of home and beauty products, which focus on one clear task: to recreate the book smell in its finest glory.

The magic of the addictive smell of books was very well described by the team of researchers, who concluded that it’s “a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.”
books  material_texts  smell  multisensory 
8 days ago
Google Interview Questions
Design the SQL database tables for a car rental database.
Write a regular expression which matches a email address.
Write a function f(a, b) which takes two character string arguments and returns a string containing only the characters found in both strings in the order of a. Write a version which is order N-squared and one which is order N.
You are given a the source to a application which is crashing when run. After running it 10 times in a debugger, you find it never crashes in the same place. The application is single threaded, and uses only the C standard library. What programming errors could be causing this crash? How would you test each one?
Explain how congestion control works in the TCP protocol.
In Java, what is the difference between final, finally, and finalize?
What is multithreaded programming? What is a deadlock?
Write a function (with helper functions if needed) called to Excel that takes an excel column value (A,B,C,D…AA,AB,AC,… AAA..) and returns a corresponding integer value (A=1,B=2,… AA=26..).
interviews  google  job_search 
12 days ago
How We End Up Marrying the Wrong People
The very idea that we might not be too difficult as people should set off alarm bells in any prospective partner. The question is just where the problems will lie: perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us, or we can only relax when we are working, or we’re a bit tricky around intimacy after sex, or we’ve never been so good at explaining what’s going on when we’re worried. It’s these sort of issues that – over decades – create catastrophes and that we therefore need to know about way ahead of time, in order to look out for people who are optimally designed to withstand them. A standard question on any early dinner date should be quite simply: ‘And how are you mad?’...

We need to know the intimate functioning of the psyche of the person we’re planning to marry. We need to know their attitudes to, or stance on, authority, humiliation, introspection, sexual intimacy, projection, money, children, aging, fidelity and a hundred things besides. This knowledge won’t be available via a standard chat.

In the absence of all this, we are led – in large part – by what they look like. There seems to be so much information to be gleaned from their eyes, nose, shape of forehead, distribution of freckles, smiles… But this is about as wise as thinking that a photograph of the outside of a power station can tell us everything we need to know about nuclear fission.
marriage  love 
12 days ago
digital humanities in the anthropocene « Bethany Nowviskie
Long Now and Dark Mountain. They’re not exactly deep time vs. the ephemeral and experiential—nor are they exactly about careful manufacture and how the machine stops. They’re not neatly about hope vs. despair, either. But when, in an edited collection on post-environmentalism and the Anthropocene, Latour urges us to “love our monsters,” that is, to take a page from Frankenstein (here on the shores of Lake Léman), and invest in more systematic management of the technologies we have created—when he tells us that hope lies in putting as much care into the stewardship of our disquieting tech as we put into its creation—it’s a call for long-term thinking and a constructive, continuing Long Now. “The environment,” Latour writes, “should be even more managed, taken up, cared for, stewarded; in brief, integrated and internalized in the very fabric of the polity.” On the other hand, when technology governance expert Steven J. Jackson submits, in a recent essay called “Rethinking Repair,” that we require “broken world thinking,” he’s on the slopes of Dark Mountain. Jackson holds that individual acts of maintenance, disassembly, and repair are ever-present in our interaction with technology, as quietly hopeful and generative deeds, but that they are occluded by a privileged cultural rhetoric of “innovation, development, and design.” He calls for more thoughtful engagement with the notion not so much of making things, but of fixing them, repurposing them in their diminishment and dismantlement—not of making new, but of making do, and of thereby engaging what he calls “an ethics of mutual care”—with each other, the world around us, and with the (quite literal) objects of our affection. This is a source [he says] of “hope and resilience” and it’s a way of being in space and time that—I observe—has deep feminist roots....

Perhaps we have become cautious enough of the unintended results of our technological solutions to look concernedly on a DeExtinction project—on the careless creation, one might fear, of too many monsters to love. Simply “dwelling with extinction,” though, in the Dark Mountain sense, seems profoundly bleak—and potentially without end. What are we left with?...

First, the digital recovery of texts, objects, and traces of human experience thought long since lost to time. Here (from the outside, at least), DH accomplishments look magical: from the Great Parchment Book of 1639, a brittle wad since the Guildhall fire over two centuries ago, and now unfolded virtually and legible again—to the Herculaneum papyri, last unfurled on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and flash-fried into charcoal briquettes in AD 79—slowly opening themselves up through x-ray micro-CT and multispectral scanning. Projects in prosopography give us a stronger sense of common lives from the Byzantine world to the 19th century, while computer-assisted approaches to paleography become ever more deeply humanistic and hermeneutic in character. We simulate and model (calculating, say, the way that light fell into a long-gone Roman villa on a winter’s day, or seeking lost cities by reading Homer’s Illiad through GIS). And we explore our recent past with media archaeology and forensics done on born-digital resources—activities which themselves inform steady advances in the field of digital preservation. Resurrection can be grisly work. I think we come to understand extinction better in our struggles.

Next, big data and the longue durée. If it’s true, as Rebecca Solnit writes, that people are bad at “looking at the biggest things” in this, our “age of inhuman scale”—a concept Timothy Morton theorizes through “hyperobjects”—ineffable, natural and computational entities (like global warming) “massively distributed in time and space” (37-9)—then DH has a public and transformative role to play. For Morton, grappling with hyperobjects can lead to a new “time of sincerity, that is, a time in which it is impossible to achieve a final distance toward the world” (44). Jo Guldi gets at this when she narrates “how information won’t (and will) save the climate”—describing her meetings with a dozen grassroots mapping efforts in India, and calling for “an information architecture stamped with participation” and informed by history. “Mapping, code, and data collection [she writes] must be allied to a sense of memory.” It’s a powerful reminder to those of us positioned to pit data design and visualization against what Guldi calls “information overload, the corruption of privilege, and the inefficacy of expertise.” ...

But picturing histories anew will require us to go beyond big-data algorithmic analysis and visualization. If we seek a rich and humanistic DH capable of meeting more than the technical challenges of our massive geo-temporal datasets, we must develop design approaches that address recent theoretical mergings of background and foreground, space and time. The Neatline project at the Scholars’ Lab is one such attempt, though only half-complete. Key here will be embedding, in our tools, concepts like Johanna Drucker’s “graphesis,” to enable knowledge-production through iterative visualization—and affordances that support Nick Mirzoeff’s call for a “counter-visuality” to the dominant imagery of the Anthropocene. Mirzoeff locates the seeds of that resistance in the global South....

We need systems of reward that don’t just value the new, but find nobility in activities like metadata enhancement, project maintenance, and forward migration—and therefore prompt us to attend to the working conditions of our colleagues in cultural heritage institutions and those who steward DH software and systems.... We need greater attention to matters of accessibility and minimal computing, and cognizance that the so-called global revolution in humanities technology is not equally distributed. We need to acknowledge the imperatives of graceful degradation, so we run fewer geriatric teen-aged projects that have blithely denied their own mortality and failed to plan for altered or diminished futures. But alongside that, and particularly in libraries, we require more a robust discourse around ephemerality—in part, to license the experimental works we absolutely want and need, which never mean to live long, get serious, or grow up. We must attend to the environmental and human costs of DH—from our complicity with device manufacturers and social media manipulators, to the carbon footprint and price tag of conferences like this—and ask ourselves seriously what we might change, or grow to be.
deep_time  digital_humanities  ecology  preservation  decay  dead_media  data_visualization  timelines 
13 days ago
Google is Designing the Font of the Future
For starters, the whole Roboto font family has been “rounded out,” as designer Christian Robertson told me, with differences visible in letters including uppercase B, C, and D. The rectangular dots above the lowercase i and j have been turned into circles — an attempt, Robertson says, to make them look “friendlier.” The spacing of certain letter combinations has been tweaked. And some of the more unorthodox details — the curved leg of the uppercase R, for example – have been replaced with straighter, less ornate versions. The overall effect is that the new Roboto looks a bit more casual and less angular than the old one, more like a friend's handwriting than a professional designer's efforts....

Right now, there are more than a billion regular Android users, and each of their devices looks slightly different. With its material design push, Google wants to create a visual lingua franca, to make sure that every time you tap, swipe, or open an element on an Android phone, it behaves the same way. It's an attempt to impose a small amount of order on a fragmented mishmash of devices, most of which Google has no immediate control over.
typography  google  usability 
13 days ago / critics' picks
James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939) is not so much a book to be read as it is to be experienced. This is a key thought to hold on to when viewing Spanish artist Dora Garcia’s The Joycean Society, 2013, one of three large-scale video projections with accompanying sculptural elements gathered by curator Chantal Pontbriand for the exhibition “Of Crimes and Dreams.” Shot in a documentary style, the film hovers around members of a reading group in Zurich as they decode a single page in Joyce’s masterpiece As the complex, ciphered text is unpacked word by word, spontaneous tangents emerge across literary cues and personal anecdotes. It’s a durational performance of sorts (keeping in mind that it takes the group eleven years to work through the entire book), and the longer one watches the more it becomes clear that, for Garcia, the essential value of language, no matter how irrational or obscure, is the parallel social dynamic that it reveals.
reading  mapping  deep_time  text_art  chalkboards 
14 days ago
The Function of Forms: Matthew Palladino’s Object Lessons
He introduced casts into his work after coming across “naughty” ice-cube trays in a costume shop and realized that they were molds he didn’t have to make himself (his attempts to do so were expensive and often unsuccessful). He then discovered inexpensive candy molds (the tiny lobsters, clusters of grapes, and sports equipment that appear in these works, for instance) that, though varied, are available in a finite number of shapes. This constriction — that he must select from a limited number of forms to create his compositions — appeals to Palladino: he’s able to employ found imagery without having to locate new objects to use each time he begins a work; he simply pulls from a set catalogue of preexisting forms...

Of his earlier, two-dimensional paintings, Palladino has said that he began to weary of the “illusion of painting”: “I wanted to see the objects I painted in person, not just their representations.” “Still Life with Fruit” literalizes that impulse: to see the objects on the canvas before painting them. It is as though Palladino has taken the objects on which a still life is modeled and placed them onto the canvas in order to manipulate the composition before sitting down to paint the scene. Though Palladino doesn’t think of his other works as still lifes, they all hew to this idea at their most basic level.
Pop Art, to which Palladino’s work is closely allied, likewise recasts still-life traditions by experimenting with media and formal techniques. Jim Dine asserted, in 1963, that “the object is used to make art, just like paint is used to make art.” In “Color Chart” (1961), Dine juxtaposed a strict grid of watercolor swatches and a loose palette of variously colored brushstrokes. The painting is concerned with Dine’s experience as a painter and with the process of painting; color is both medium and form. Palladino’s 2010 painting “Test Print (John Henry),” which reproduces the precise pattern created during a printer’s ink-flow test, treats color similarly, as both subject and object and reflects the same experience but from a more technologically advanced perspective (Dine’s watercolors versus Palladino’s color printer). In both paintings, art’s materiality is the subject.
art  painting  templates  pattern 
14 days ago
The Architecture of Education | Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)
From 1966 to 1968, Shadrach Woods and Cedric Price, two architects and educators in Paris and London, found themselves caught up in a vortex of change in education. Like architecture, the field was searching for new models; thinkers sought to reformulate the basic problems of education, rather than simply seeking new solutions to old questions.

In the last years of his life, from 1962 to 1973, Woods was preoccupied with what he called “The Architecture of Education,” through which he sought to reformulate ideas of how universities should function and how they should be designed. His unpublished case of the Non-École de Villefranche was a radical experiment conceived in 1966 by Woods and Robert Filliou, a French-American Fluxus artist. It situated the Berlin Free University, Woods’ best-known work, in the discourse of the Non-School and the broader cultural and intellectual projects associated with Fluxus and Team X.

Cedric Price’s Potteries Thinkbelt project, conceived from 1963 to 1966, represents another significant challenge to traditional educational practice. In 1968 Price was among the guest faculty of the Anti-University, based in 49 Rivington street, London. In this seminar 2014 Visiting Scholar Federica Doglio and visiting lecturer at the school of architecture of the Politecnico di Torino, seeks to critically compare these two authors’ radical visions with the aim of enriching the discourse on contemporary education theory and offering starting points for further discussion and study.
alternative_school  education  cedric_price 
14 days ago
Mark Dion’s Penchant for the Past
There’s only one example I can think of where a museum went through a radical renovation and came out a better place than it started, which is the [Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature] in Paris. I’m very tied to this melancholy sense of loss, because once you lose these places, you can never really get them back. And what museums really are, are windows into another time and another way of thinking. For me it’s the closest thing you can ever do to time travel. You visit these museums and you understand how a particular group of  people understood nature in a distinct period of time....

We don’t see ourselves as part of a continuity. It’s very hard to think in that way. That’s what a lot of archeological projects are about — trying to present archeology as a continuum that we’re part of and that will continue after us....

I’m always interested in figuring out how it is that we crafted a society that has such a suicidal relationship to the natural world. That the decisions we make are actually so irrational that they endanger us all. For me, I’m a person with sculptural sensibility. I learn through things. I see knowledge embodied in things. I’m using those things to try to figure out how we got here, and also to tie people to this idea that we’re part of a continuity. Things came before us. Things will come after us. But when we act as if nothing’s coming after us, we create problems with people down the road. We’re a society that has created the most material culture ever, and with that comes garbage and residue, and that’s a legacy that we’re leaving....

I try to be historic rather than nostalgic. For me, nostalgia is always tied to the notion of the “Golden Age” of things — this idea that the past was much better. I don’t think that’s true for many things I care about. For women, people of color, gay people, working people, it’s absolutely better now. So I really try to steer clear of golden age thinking and use things to provoke a sense of time and perhaps a sense of loss, but never a sense that somehow our values are worse than the values in the past. I don’t think that’s true. If there’s any reason for optimism, it is that there has slowly been more access to power for more people.
ecology  museums  display  object_oriented_philosophy  objects  nostalgia  history  mark_dion 
14 days ago
Hito Steyerl Is (Not) Completely Invisible
Based on the title of Steyerl’s new show at Andrew Kreps Gallery, “How Not to Be Seen: a Fucking Didactic Educational Installation,” you might think that Steyerl wants to share those skills with everyone. But as you spend time with the show, you realize that title is something of a red herring: this is a show that is less about how not to be seen than about the ever-increasing hopelessness of achieving that goal.

...Fed-up with the barrage of digital images which saturate her daily life, she takes the only possible path of resistance and attacks the television screen. That resistance might be useless–what good is smashing a screen when thousands more will be made every day to replace it?–but this isn’t about results, it’s about an expression of total frustration....

Steyerl’s video revolves around the resolution target, a black-and-white patterned chart that measures the resolution of cameras. “Resolution determines visibility,” the narrator’s droll voice remarks, and the target becomes the film’s central motif. These charts are constantly flitting in-and-out of screen, and the setting for the video itself is a massive, abandoned resolution target in the Californian desert, once used for calibrating airborne cameras. The narrator tells us that this target “measures the resolution of the world as a picture.” The entire globe, we’re made to understand, can be viewed through the metric of resolution: to be in resolution is to be seen, while to make yourself low-resolution is to become invisible...

Though “How Not to Be Seen” might seek to offer us ways to escape this culture of surveillance, you leave it feeling more aware than ever of just how seen you really are.
hito_steyerl  images  surveillance  resolution  photography  machine_vision 
14 days ago
Form, Function and Beauty Span Eons in Met Acquisitions -
n January, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles announced that it had acquired the archives from the Kitchen, the New York performance and exhibition space devoted to art, dance, music and video, which was also a headquarters for experimental performances and early Minimalism, with figures like John Cage and Steve Reich. The research institute had also has been promised a gift from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation of tens of thousands of photographs and hundreds of thousands of negatives taken by the photographers Harry Shunk and Janos Kender that captured the avant-garde art worlds of New York and Paris in the 1960s and ’70s.

Now the institute has acquired Robert R. McElroy’s archives, as well. McElroy, a photographer who died in 2012, documented hundreds of Happenings in the early 1960s and captured images of artists like Jim Dine, Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Whitman as they worked. Included in the archive are about 700 vintage prints.
archives  performance  photography  video  happenings 
14 days ago
Camille Henrot | e-flux
Unfolding like a frieze across two galleries, a polymorphous aluminium shelf provides a structure wherein the four points of the compass are aligned with stages in an individual life cycle, the evolution of technology, philosophical principles of Leibniz, the sun’s trajectory and the four Classical elements: fire, water, earth and air. This highly personalised aggregation of distinct systems of thought is presented through an intense accumulation of objects and images encountered within a highly constructed, meditative environment. Henrot’s own drawings, photographs and sculptures are exhibited alongside digital slide shows and objects purchased online via eBay. These are further supplemented by a selection of rare objects from the National Museum of Denmark. Like a subtle network of symbols and mythological references the objects on display combine to suggest a progressive, possibly circular narrative about the beginning, evolution, and end of all things...

Exploring varying scales and chronologies, from the history of the universe to the universe of the artist’s studio, the exhibition becomes a model for information storage and retrieval—rolled and stacked images become objects, and objects from museum collections are substituted with eBay purchases and scrolling slideshows on digital picture frames. Henrot relates the construction of knowledge to haptic and sensual experience, reflecting our common desire, evidenced in spheres from the artistic to the domestic, to create model worlds of fantasy and symbolism as a means of inhabiting reality.
henrot  archive_art  epistemology  classification  preservation  cataloguing 
15 days ago
Archive of the Everything, Forever: Camille Henrot at the New Museum / artcritical
Henrot masquerades as anthropologist, scientist, librarian, sociologist and artist. She explores how the material world and culture is formulated, acknowledged, recorded, organized and standardized, but more prominently, it demonstrates all the chaos and energy these processes exhale.

A large section of the exhibition is filled with sculptures inspired by various works of literature, guided by Ikebana, the Japanese practice of flower arrangement. In these engrossing displays, Henrot attempts to visualize literature through slightly absurd compositions of flowers, grocery vegetables, other seemingly arbitrary ingredients, such as USB cables, Japanese newspapers, sheet moss — all exposing their physical and socio-economic connotations, their roles as food, decoration or mechanical devices, the stories of their discovery or their taxonomy. Each work is labeled with a quote from a work of literature, as well as detailed, hilariously scientific lists of its components — this interest in cataloguing and factual archiving is noticeable throughout her exhibition...

Grosse Fatigue was made at Henrot’s 2013 Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian, during which she collected footage of animal and plant specimens, obscure digital archives, blank hallways and anonymous office workers. She paired that imagery with the unending reach of the digital realm, which, in many ways, is an archive and simulation of the immense universe beyond the monitor, but also feels oddly tangible as it is fully manmade and portable (one shot features an iPhone with a green croaking frog parked on top, held by a hand). This strategy allows her narrative to swell with felt urgency and inscrutable complexity, and also the leisurely nimbleness of aimless web surfing. Queues of browser windows at times pile up like flashing torrents of spam advertisements, but they can be readily clicked shut like full drawers of ghastly, vibrantly preserved tropical bird specimen. In the beginning and end there were both uncluttered Mac desktops. - See more at:
archive_art  henrot  classification  cataloguing  language 
15 days ago
Hito Steyerl | Politics of Post-Representation «DIS Magazine
A representational mode of thinking photography is: there is something out there and it will be represented by means of optical technology ideally via indexical link. But the technology for the phone camera is quite different. As the lenses are tiny and basically crap, about half of the data captured by the sensor are noise. The trick is to create the algorithm to clean the picture from the noise, or rather to define the picture from within noise. But how does the camera know this? Very simple. It scans all other pictures stored on the phone or on your social media networks and sifts through your contacts. It looks through the pictures you already made, or those that are networked to you and tries to match faces and shapes. In short: it creates the picture based on earlier pictures, on your/its memory. It does not only know what you saw but also what you might like to see based on your previous choices. In other words, it speculates on your preferences and offers an interpretation of data based on affinities to other data. The link to the thing in front of the lens is still there, but there are also links to past pictures that help create the picture. You don’t really photograph the present, as the past is woven into it....

The result might be a picture that never existed in reality, but that the phone thinks you might like to see. It is a bet, a gamble, some combination between repeating those things you have already seen and coming up with new versions of these, a mixture of conservatism and fabulation. The paradigm of representation stands to the present condition as traditional lens-based photography does to an algorithmic, networked photography that works with probabilities and bets on inertia. Consequently, it makes seeing unforeseen things more difficult. The noise will increase and random interpretation too. We might think that the phone sees what we want, but actually we will see what the phone thinks it knows about us....

I haven’t even mentioned external interference into what your phone is recording. All sorts of applications are able to remotely shut your camera on or off: companies, governments, the military. It could be disabled for whole regions. One could, for example, disable recording functions close to military installations, or conversely, live broadcast whatever you are up to. Similarly, the phone might be programmed to auto-pixellate secret or sexual content. It might be fitted with a so-called dick algorithm to screen out NSFW content or auto-modify pubic hair, stretch or omit bodies, exchange or collage context or insert AR advertisement and pop up windows or live feeds. Now lets apply this shift to the question of representative politics or democracy....

identity goes far beyond a relationship with images: it entails a set of private keys, passwords, etc., that can be expropriated and detourned. More generally, identity is the name of the battlefield over your code — be it genetic, informational, pictorial. It is also an option that might provide protection if you fall beyond any sort of modernist infrastructure. It might offer sustenance, food banks, medical service, where common services either fail or don’t exist. If the Hezbollah paradigm is so successful it is because it provides an infrastructure to go with the Twitter handle, and as long as there is no alternative many people need this kind of container for material survival. Huge religious and quasi-religious structures have sprung up in recent decades to take up the tasks abandoned by states, providing protection and survival in a reversal of the move described in Leviathan. Identity happens when the Leviathan falls apart and nothing is left of the commons but a set of policed relational metadata, Emoji and hijacked hashtags.
photography  algorithms  machine_vision  censorship  identity  participation  participatory_media  digital_labor 
17 days ago
Mark Dion's Library for the Birds of [ ]
... consisted of a large cage and tree from which books and other reading materials hung. It was filled with African finches that flew about the branches and the books... Visitors stood outside the cage watching the birds and the books, but in an interesting twist, they also watched visitors who had entered the cage wander about amid the birds perusing the books, and they, in turn, looked out at the visitors looking at them in the cage. Conflating three spaces traditionally kept apart (a library, a diorama, a zoo cage), the installation was part of a larger exhibit, Becoming Animal...
classification  library_art  display  museums  mark_dion  epistemology 
17 days ago
Ptolemy: Mark Dion's "The Library for the Birds of New York"
In the case of the “Library,” Dion undertook to organize the collective knowledge, opinions, sentiments and mythology of the Western civilizations concerning birds. In short the work is an artist’s replication of what Michel Foucault might have called the episteme of the Western World about birds. Most of this is embodied in the books about birds, all meticulously chosen to mark the development and present state of the episteme. The work is organized according to categories, for example, the philosophy of nature shelf (on a separate limb of the three) at the top, because our culture privileges philosophy, which includes Foucault’s seminal work, “The Order of Things,” and other shelves devoted to history, mythology and ornithology. Other shelves are devoted to Rachel Carson, the first popular environmentalist, while others include works by authors such as Paul Ehrlich, an early alarmist about the growth of world population.

The work includes the physical accouterments of the bird culture, such as the bird cages, the English naturalist’s collection bag, for which Mark searched London shops for three years until he could find the “right” one, the shotgun shells, pictures depicting Audubon (who had a terrible reputation as a destroyer of many birds in the course of collecting specimens) and Alfred Hitchcock of the popular culture. The tree displays a snake and rat that have been tarred and feathered, an old punishment from the American frontier that preceded banishment. The snake and the rat are being punished for their destruction of birds, but the irony is that while human beings rarely harm birds directly we are responsible for moving rats and snakes into positions where they can harm birds – an aspect of unintended consequences. For example, there were no rats in the Western Hemisphere until they were brought over by European ships. The net bag of vegetable are there to remind us that there is nothing more environmentally destructive than vegetarianism because of the chemicals required to grow vegetables.....

As in the ending of “The Order of Things,” where Foucault looks forward to the death of “man,” Dion’s tree follows the Heideggerian principle that man’s Cartesian reckoning of himself as an “I” separate from nature outside is not only wrong but ultimately responsible for an unjustifiable exploitation, and often destruction, of nature. The bird episteme depicted in the tree is predicted by Dion ultimately to collapse and fail when man becomes sufficiently enlightened to see himself as one with nature and not separate. Just as the tree once lived but is now dead, so is the culture depicted on the tree destined to collapse. This is shown by the pile of secondary and simple books about nature and birds, all culled from college and high school libraries, scattered meaninglessly at the bottom of the tree.
library_art  classification  epistemology  mark_dion 
17 days ago
Artist Creates Maple Tree Library for Studious Birds - My Modern Met
He created "Library for the Birds of Massachusetts" a thought-provoking installation for MASS MoCA back in 2005. He surrounded one maple tree with a smattering of books on subjects like science, biology, ornithology in addition to hunting paraphernalia, pictures, bird feeders, and hanging nets.

The most shocking of all is that he also made this home to 12 real-life Zebra finches who were calmly flying about. Visitors could actually walk inside the cylindrical steel aviary, becoming a part of the installation itself.

Whimsical as it may seem, Dion's work has a serious undertone. The American fine artist work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. In essence, this installation is meant for us to question our own foundation of knowledge or how we collect and assemble pieces of information in our own heads.
mark_dion  library_art  classification  epistemology 
17 days ago
The Library of the Future
The purpose of our development projects and innovation processes at the Main Library in Aarhus has for many years been to gain experiences for our new Mediaspace.

We have to develop and shape the organisation to be ready to move into the new building and use the potential that Mediaspace gives us.

Therefore we do projects to develop the organisation, the staff, partners, collaboration, new ways of working and how to use new media and technology. All of this to ensure that we can realize the librayr of the future in Mediaspace. 
libraries  innovation  makerspaces 
17 days ago
Aarhus Kommunes Biblioteker | Alt hvad du kan tænke dig
Aarhus Public Libraries have a number of innovation projects to develop the organisation, the staff, partner collaboration, new ways of working and how to use new technology. The aim is to meet the citizens’ needs with services adapted to the general development and to develop and test new forms of services. To support the innovation work we have an innovation strategy: Children's Interactive Library, People's Labs, Digiform, Gaming, Transformation Lab, Open Data Aarhus
17 days ago
The Model Programme aims, among other things, to offer inspiration for new solutions and new design measures based on the libraries' own practice and context. Therefore, the Model Programme will present a number of cases featuring libraries in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands, which each offers exciting new interpretations of the public library's spaces and functions.
libraries  media_architecture 
17 days ago
DUMBO ARTS CENTER: (The Missing Library)
Dumbo Arts Center’s current exhibition is (The Missing Library). This summer, artist Annie Shaw has invited five artists (Jen Kennedy & Liz Linden, Marie Lorenz, Michelle Rosenberg and Angie Waller), an architect (Lori Brown) and two librarians (A.G. Graham and web-specialist Nate Hill) to turn DAC into a civic, non-commercial public space in the form of the Dumbo neighborhood’s first library. The project encourages contemplation on how libraries’ function, physical space, and role within communities is changing as the content libraries have traditionally housed migrates to a digital form.
(The Missing Library), staying true to the intellectual artifacts housed and espoused by any traditional library, offers more to the audience than a static display of art. The pieces, many conceptual in nature, ask for the viewer’s participation, appreciation and consideration of the various materials (be they literature, maps, films or scavenger hunt clues) included in the exhibit.
libraries  library_art  exhibition 
17 days ago
550 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free | Open Culture
Download hundreds of free audio books, mostly classics, to your MP3 player or computer. Below, you’ll find great works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, by such authors as Twain, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Orwell, Vonnegut, Nietzsche, Austen, Shakespeare, Asimov, HG Wells & more. Also please see our related collection: 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.
17 days ago
The Wall Street Journal’s First Edition -
In celebration of our 125th anniversary, we’re pleased to reprint the front page of the first edition of The Wall Street Journal, from July 8, 1889.
newspapers  typography  textual_form  printing 
20 days ago
ART REVIEW: "Memory Theatre" | Art | Rochester City Newspaper
Near the entrance of the exhibit are two massive photographs from David Maisel's "Library of Dust" series, which are enlarged images the artist shot of the cremated remains of Oregon State Hospital patients not claimed by their next of kin. Maisel photographed 100 of the 5,121 copper canisters that hold the remains, which had been stored for decades underground in a chamber prone to flooding.

The images are arrestingly beautiful. Chemical changes in the canisters brought out richly hued patinas, and blooms of what might be mold create the effect of sand paintings shaken up by that obstinate child, Time. Maisel's works are sweet tributes to unnamed and forgotten strangers, and portraits of life inevitably arising, phoenix-like, from the ashes.

Nearby, another collection of strangers floats like suspended snowdrops just overhead. Judith G. Levy's "Memory Cloud" is a collection of 35mm photographic slides in hundreds of small, frosted white viewers, hanging at different heights by delicate ball chain. These bitty portals to the past tell us something of the specific decades through the faded tones of the images and the styles of clothing and hair. A woman forever pulls a turkey from the oven; a jubilant horseback-rider will never dismount an indifferent, grass-munching equine; and three small blond boys, presumably brothers, lean close together, squinting in the eternal sun. A crowd forms at what seems to be a funeral as people in dark garments exit a cluster of black cars in an oppressively damp and gray atmosphere. Two women in the foreground look out at the viewer, a moment of weary grief distilled.
memory  archives  archive_art  exhibitions 
20 days ago
The CIA and the Power of Words
Like any proper organization that produces large quantities of writing, the CIA, it turns out, has a style manual. The legal nonprofit National Security Counselors obtained a copy of the 2011 version a little over a year ago, via a Freedom of Information Act request, and posted it online. (Quartz blogged about it yesterday.) It is an absurdly thorough, mundane yet fascinating look at the politics of language.
language  writing  bureaucracy 
20 days ago
Permanent Error - we make money not art
Hugo's latest work, Permanent Error, portrays the people, animals and landscape of a dumping ground for computers and electronic waste from Europe and the US. The area, on the outskirts of a slum known as Agbogbloshie, in Ghana, is a shocking contrast to the better faster shinier life promised by the unrelenting advances of technology.
storage  photography  e-waste 
20 days ago
Police dogs are being trained to sniff out hard drives | The Verge
As reported by the Providence Journal of Rhode Island over the weekend, state police now have a dog named Thoreau capable of smelling concealed hard drives, thumb drives, memory cards, and other electronic storage media. The dog is supposed to help officers hunt for child pornography. Thoreau, a Golden Labrador, already helped arrest one suspect in June, locating a thumb drive containing child porn hidden in a tin box inside another metal cabinet. "If it has a memory card, he’ll sniff it out," Detective Adam Houston, Thoreau’s handler, told the Journal.
infrastructure  storage  smell  sensation  surveillance 
21 days ago
Media Architecture Biennale 2014 - Media Architecture Biennale 2014
As I’ve suggested before, I think it’s important for cultural heritage organizations to start letting go of the requirement to provide the definitive interface. Instead, cultural heritage organizations can focus more on selection and working to ensure long term preservation and integrity of data. The Planetary case pushes that idea even further. The Planetary acquisition includes a set of materials that document the experience of the application. They include things like screenshots and descriptions of how it functioned. While these assets offer a sense of what the experience of using the app was, the source code provides a rich set of materials for future users to use to understand how it worked and potentially reenact it.

Instead of wading into the complex issues of attempting to keep the software functional in perpetuity, they have acquired a copy of its source code, made a commitment to ensure long-term access to the data, and made it available under the most liberal license they could. The curatorial function of selection, identifying digital objects that matter and should be preserved, persists without the need to be the only entity that “owns” the object.
media_architecture  urban_screens  locative_media  sentient_city  conference 
21 days ago
Tag and Release: Acquiring & Making Available Infinitely Reproducible Digital Objects | The Signal: Digital Preservation
Consideration of Cooper Hewitt’s acquisition of the source code of an iPad application offers an opportunity to rethink some of what acquisition can mean for digital materials, and in the process rethink part of what the functions of cultural heritage organizations are and can be in this area. What follows are reflections largely inspired by thinking through Sebastian Chan and Aaron Straup Cope’s recent essay Collecting the present: digital code and collections and Doug Reside’s recent essay File Not Found: Rarity in the Age of Digital Plenty (pdf). Together, I think these two essays suggest a potential shift for thinking about digital artifacts. Potentially, a shift away from a mindset of Acquire and Make Available to a mindset of Tag and Release. It may be that the best thing cultural heritage organizations can do with rare and unique born-digital materials is to make it so that they are no longer rare and unique at all. To make it easy for anyone to interact with and validate copies of these materials....

Anyone can download the entirety of the Planetary acquisition. You can save it to your computer and you too will have, in a sense, acquired the application as well. That is, the copy of the “real” object on the shelf, or on Cooper-Hewitt’s servers, is no more or less authentic than any other copy of it. The digital objects that make up the acquisition are themselves infinitely, perfectly reproducible. Much like the geocities special collection, anyone is welcome to do what they like with it, exhibit it, revise it, etc. So, what role does the museum as repository play in this case? Using GitHub to provide access to the source code and its history, Cooper Hewitt has put a stake in the ground to offer resources to steward the code, but it opens up a broader question about what it means to acquire something when anyone can have a perfect copy, undifferentiatable from the original....

As I’ve suggested before, I think it’s important for cultural heritage organizations to start letting go of the requirement to provide the definitive interface. Instead, cultural heritage organizations can focus more on selection and working to ensure long term preservation and integrity of data. The Planetary case pushes that idea even further. The Planetary acquisition includes a set of materials that document the experience of the application. They include things like screenshots and descriptions of how it functioned. While these assets offer a sense of what the experience of using the app was, the source code provides a rich set of materials for future users to use to understand how it worked and potentially reenact it.

Instead of wading into the complex issues of attempting to keep the software functional in perpetuity, they have acquired a copy of its source code, made a commitment to ensure long-term access to the data, and made it available under the most liberal license they could. The curatorial function of selection, identifying digital objects that matter and should be preserved, persists without the need to be the only entity that “owns” the object.
archives  digital_archives  digital_preservation  preservation 
21 days ago
What Happened in Vegas | ALA 2014
At the opening session, outgoing ALA present Barbara Stripling cited the Declaration for the Right to Libraries, which has approximately 100,000 signatures so far, and introduced ALA’s new Center for the Future of Libraries. The demand is obviously high: Saturday morning’s session on the Future of Libraries was packed to capacity with a standing-room-only crowd.
There, Chattanooga Public Library Director (and LJ Librarian of the Year) Corinne Hill struck a note that may be remarkable among the groundswell of calls for data-driven decision-making. “We used to be able to make every decision based on data, but now we need a more humanistic attitude; trust your instincts,” she urged. “Data is still important, but too much focus on collecting data and business plans gets people stuck.” Hill also called on libraries to stop picking up dropped balls from other community agencies if offering those services doesn’t advance the library’s own mission, to build adjacencies to traditional library functions such as delivering access to technology, and to “pick a physical space to fail fast and cheap.” In Chattanooga, that’s the Fourth Floor, which offers access to high and low tech from looms to drones.
Carolyn Foote, a School Library Journal columnist from a one-to-one high school in Austin, spoke to the future of librarianship from a K-12 point of view, calling on school librarians to bridge the gaps between types of libraries; to become trend-trackers for their whole district, not just the library; and to resist the library-as-warehouse mentality....

Miguel Figueroa, director of the new Center for the Future of Libraries, explained its mission: to bring together interested professionals and stakeholders with experts from outside librarianship; to identify methods and tactics to increase innovation, and to provide a mechanism for libraries to share out the results of their innovations more broadly.
At the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Update panel on Sunday morning, director Susan Hildreth laid out the agency’s granting priorities for 2014 and 2015, with STEM projects including Maker spaces taking a front seat for IMLS funding. Hildreth said that at least $1 million in IMLS funds would be earmarked for STEM-related grants during the 2014 fiscal year. Early learning, which took precedence in granting in 2012-13 will still have a place, though, especially as the IMLS begins a partnership with Build Initiative to more closely integrate libraries and museums into statewide early learning programs.  Hildreth, whose term as IMLS director comes to a close in January, was attending her final ALA Annual Conference in the role and left to a standing ovation from attendees at her final panel.
libraries  innovation 
21 days ago
The Art of the Opening Sentence | The Millions
I probably fetishize opening lines because, well, I’m a reader and a writer. As a reader, a really wonderful opening line makes me giddy with excitement. I nestle myself as deeply into my couch as I can go, and I accept the deal the novel has offered me. Yes, I will read the rest of you. You’ve earned it. As a writer, the opening line is the purest, most unadulterated part of a work. Before it, the blank page. After it, the whole of a story, a novel, a book. It is the division between nothing and something, the bridge between emptiness and fullness, between something in your head and something on the page. The opening sentence is the first utterance of life, the initial gasp of air that birth forces out.
writing  style 
21 days ago
At Sea in a Deluge of Data - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Another Project Information Literacy study, involving more than 8,300 undergraduates at 25 American colleges, found that most make do with a very small compass. They rely on tried and true resources such as course readings, library databases, Google, and Wikipedia.

Only 20 percent of the students said they ever sought help from librarians, the mavens of searching and finding in the digital age, especially when it comes to learning how to "ping pong" effectively and strategically among offline sources, experts, and online information, blending the full range of knowledge sources in all their forms....

Knowledge in action means being able to sort through that growing thicket of information. This is a lifelong learning skill, crucial to health, wealth, social equality, and well-being. In an era of partisan fog and the polarization of many subjects, it is a skill vital for effective citizenship.

This goes well beyond search techniques. Engaging knowledge at the speed of the web takes three additional things, which tend to be separate in our curricula rather than integrated: a basic understanding of statistics and inference; a sense of the major research institutions—a basic understanding of what it means when you see results attached to URL’s such as "," "" or "" and how those institutions produce knowledge; and a sense of how the scientific method works and what it means to test a hypothesis with data.

Further, because our web experience will increasingly be personalized through algorithms that key off of everything from geolocation to our prior digital traces, students must learn to recognize the limits of their online environment and to seek information creatively outside of channels that serve up results skewed by Internet companies and other paternalistic, biased, or profit-driven gatekeepers.
methodology  research  UMS  search 
22 days ago
Dreamland of Humanists by Emily J. Levine, Reviewed by Ingrid Rowland | New Republic
Aby Warburg’s library narrowly missed destruction, but through the joint efforts of Panofsky, Max Warburg, Fritz Saxl, and another Cassirer student, Edgar Wind, the books were moved to London in 1933, along with Saxl himself and Gertrud Bing. In 1944, the Warburg Library became the nucleus for a new academic center, the Warburg Institute of the University of London, under whose auspices the holdings have grown to 350,000 books, ten times the size of Aby’s original collection. Transplantation inevitably changed the library’s character. Saxl’s fascination with astrology encouraged research into other areas of Renaissance culture that diverged from modern science: topics such as magic, mysticism, what Edgar Wind called, in an important book, Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance. Thus Aby Warburg’s efforts to find a scientific basis for aesthetic responses turned, in subsequent generations, into a more specialized search for the legacy of classical antiquity in the European Renaissance. Aby’s huge, unfocused collection of photographs, Mnemosyne, was difficult to use, and it exists now as a historical document; in its stead, in 1948, the young scholars Phyllis Pray Bober and Ruth Rubinstein created what would become the Census of Antique Works of Art Known in the Renaissance. Today, in many ways, Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study probably comes closer to Aby Warburg’s vision for his library than the Warburg Institute itself.

The Warburg Library may have presented Ernst Cassirer with the map of his own mind, but for many student users, as Levine notes, it was a forbidding and incomprehensible place, the refuge of a select few. Like the marvelous library of Werner Oechslin in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, and David Wilson’s Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, California, it was probably most vibrantly alive in the presence of its inventor. (Happily, these latter-day tutelary geniuses are still very much in evidence in their creations.) A century after Aby’s heyday, it is not immediately apparent that a Warburgian arrangement of books, that is, a choice collection arranged alphabetically, will stimulate a more productive train of thought than, say, the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress; both these classification systems were also the product of brilliant and wide-ranging minds, and there, too, the physical rubbing together of book and book can ignite the spark of new ideas. The Vatican Library’s arrangement of books, for a variety of historical reasons, is simply weird—it has absorbed entire collections, each with its own cataloguing system based on such various principles as size, subject, and date of acquisition; but it is hard to imagine a more inspiring place to read, and think, and build castles in the air. Emily Levine shows how crucially time, place, and people can affect what we finally study and ponder; but in the end, if we are lucky, we all make our own Dreamland of Humanists with the materials at hand.
libraries  classification  warburg  art_history 
22 days ago
What Makes The Wall Street Journal Look Like The Wall Street Journal - Adrienne LaFrance - The Atlantic
the process of turning pencil-edited stories in the afternoon into newspapers that landed on subscriber's doorsteps the next morning was, by today's standards, almost unbelievably complex. The newsroom would fax its stories to composing rooms in places like Chicopee, Massachusetts and Naperville, Illinois, where the stories would be typed into a computer.... From there, at 19 printing plants across the country, the Journal would be printed. And so, with each step that got the paper closer to being complete—to the point when it was transmitted to one of those 19 plants—the look of the thing warped. The contours of ink letters swelled along the way, which meant every decision about how the paper ought to look was tethered to this multistep process. It's why the Journal used a proprietary typeface called Dow Text, because for Dow Text to appear on the page the way the paper's leaders wanted it to, it had to bleed just enough but not too much.

"It's almost like taking a picture of a picture of a picture," Pensiero told me. "You imaged the words on this piece of paper. You put the piece of paper down on the board. You took a photograph of the piece of paper, You made a negative. You transmitted it. You reimaged it. You made a plate... Each time you did that, it kind of bled a little. Dow Text was meant to bleed through all of those reimagings and then, when you actually printed it, it looked fine."
newspapers  typography  printing  paper_prototyping 
22 days ago
William Kentridge's Latest Musical Project Premieres
South African artist William Kentridge‘s multimedia collaboration with German singer Matthias Goerne, Winterreise, premiered to glowing reviews at this year’s Aix-en-Provence festival. According to a report in the New York Times, the project was one of the most anticipated of the festival and “opened to stormy applause,” there Friday.

The new project involves 24 stop-motion films made up of animated ink drawings and collages that “offer a visually mesmerizing and thought-provoking commentary on Schubert’s song cycle,” alongside a performance by Goerne, who was accompanied by Austrian pianist Markus Hinterhäuser. Even the paper that Kentridge draws on is noteworthy, and includes old maps, newspapers in Afrikaans and English, and the ledger of a mining company.
kentridge  stop_motion  animation  music  gesamtkunstwerk 
22 days ago
Connected Streets
Future Cities Catapult is interested in how our cities will feel and perform when objects, spaces, buildings, infrastructure and people are connected. As part of an ongoing design research project about the connected street, the Catapult collaborated with Berg, a UK-based technology company, to explore the possibilities of connected displays. Berg pursued the idea through making a prototype called Pixel Track. The Catapult pursued the idea through a series of interviews with those who commission, curate and manage signage.
smart_cities  sentient_city  urban_media  signs  interfaces 
22 days ago
Bringing Back a Lost Museum
In 1945, workers at Brown University’s biology department were clearing out storage space when they stumbled on a giant trove of natural and ethnographic specimens and artifacts. The collection had belonged to the Jenks Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, founded at the school in 1871 and dismantled in 1915 to make way for new classrooms. Inexplicably, the workers drove 92 truckloads worth of the carefully curated objects to the banks of the Seekonk River, where they unloaded them into a common dump....

Now, the collection has been resurrected from that mire by “The Jenks Society for Lost Museums” — a group of students and professors from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design — with the help of artist Mark Dion. Like previous attempts to reimagine destroyed museums, their three collaborative installations, on view at Rhode Island Hall, recreates parts of the museum while challenging assumptions about permanence in museum work.
archive_art  museums  display  mark_dion 
22 days ago
BLDGBLOG: Buffer Space
People identified only in the abstract as "researchers" apparently noticed that recently plowed agricultural fields near Amsterdam's airport had an unintended side-effect: they dampened the constant, very aggressive sounds of airplane engines that had been coming out of Schiphol. Taking these "grooved landscapes" to their logical conclusion, Paul de Kort simply exaggerated that topography using what Wired describes as "GPS-guided robot excavators" to produce an abstract terrain that would precisely cancel-out the sounds of airplanes.

Their height and location thus corresponds not to some overlooked aesthetic tradition of Dutch landscape architecture, but to wavelengths of airplane noise.

Acting as the spatial equivalent of a giant mute button, these ridges and furrows thus help to silence local aircraft, erasing their otherwise deafening and thunderous engine noise for the sake of nearby suburban homes. Those same planes would normally drone and roar over the vast flatlands around the runways, where, as Wired writes, "noise can travel unobstructed for miles."

As it happens, I've written before about one of my favorite landscapes in England, a small forest planted entirely for acoustic reasons outside of Heathrow Airport, southeast of London. This grove—a visually nondescript bank of trees that I've passed at least half a dozen times on my way to the airport—exists not for visual or aesthetic reasons but for its sonic effect on the space around it. The trees absorb echoes and reverb, roars and booms, and would never have been planted in the first place were it not for their function as an acoustic intermediary between domestic suburbia and international air travel.
sound_space  acoustics  noise 
22 days ago
The Atlas of Affect | The New Inquiry
Kelberman’s images are related to each other by a more transparent and less obviously intellectualized logic. By contrast, the deadpan affect of Richter’s Atlas Micromega is still freighted with a modernist melancholia. Kelberman’s images are all found images, discovered by trawling through Google and YouTube, mostly by use of keyword searches, and her selection process excludes images with an intentional artistic intent. In a sense, she has arrived at a goal Richter stated in his Notes 1964-65: “I like everything that has no style: dictionaries, photographs, nature, myself and my paintings.” But Richter has plenty of style; it is Kelberman whose hand-chosen images, with their impeccable timing and straight-faced absurdity, come close to being styleless...

Indeed, viewers have sometimes assumed that I’m Google is simply the result of a very clever computer program, a bot set free on Google Image Search and directed to Tumblr, rather than the selective record of countless hours of looking and sifting. As Kelberman said in an interview, “The blog came out of my natural tendency to spend long hours obsessing over Google Image searches, collecting photos I found beautiful and sorting them by theme.” Anyone could do this. The deeper value here is in Kelberman’s notion of the beautiful: “the images that interest me are of industrial or municipal materials or everyday photo snapshots.” A more automated process—for instance, the one seen in Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz’s conceptually interesting Google-based Image Atlas (2012)—feels more limited and less suggestive, and more susceptible to distracting mistakes, in part because of the absence of the cunning curatorial hand. It is worth pointing out that Kelberman’s work exploits a strain in internet art that challenges the viewer to assume it was made by a bot, not an artist: a kind of reverse Turing test.
archive_art  atlas  warburg  data_aesthetics  ontology  taxonomy  search  automation 
22 days ago
New York Public Library Looks at Innovative Models for Renovation - WSJ
The New York Public Library is looking south for inspiration as it goes back to the drawing board for a planned renovation of its landmark Fifth Avenue building and the branch across the street.

Library officials say they are considering two innovative libraries in Tennessee and North Carolina as models for creating high-tech, collaborative spaces.

Chattanooga Public Library's "4th Floor" is a so-called maker space stocked with 3-D printers and even a loom. North Carolina State University's James B. Hunt Jr. Library in Raleigh features writable surfaces on walls and tables, and massive video screens for displaying data.

As libraries rethink their physical spaces, many are reorienting themselves toward users...

In Chattanooga, library officials transformed a floor that had been used for storage into a raw, open space, dubbed the 4th Floor, where creative types could have free rein. The 14,000-square-foot space, on the fourth floor of the library's main building, opened a little more than a year ago.

Its tools include two tabletop 3-D printers, a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter, and, most recently, a $300 loom the library bought on Craigslist, at the request of patrons. So far, the library has invested $20,000 in equipment.

"We're not the experts anymore," said Corinne Hill, the library's executive director. "We're letting the public really drive this."

She added: "When you really do start to let go of that control, amazing things happen."

Because of Chattanooga's 1 gigabit-per-second Internet speed, the city is a magnet for tech startups. The 4th Floor has become a popular workspace for freelance workers. Users can move furniture around as they like...

North Carolina State University's $115 million Hunt library, designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, opened in 2013.

Its collaborative workspaces include group study rooms with videoconferencing, media-production rooms with tools for creating video and editing sound, and a visualization lab with a 270-degree display.

"They can look at their research data in ways that can help people understand it better," said Susan Nutter, vice provost and director of libraries.
libraries  media_architecture  makerspaces 
26 days ago
The End of the Internet? - Gordon M. Goldstein - The Atlantic
Yet all of this growth and increasing connectedness, which can seem both effortless and unstoppable, is now creating enormous friction, as yet largely invisible to the average surfer. It might not remain that way for much longer. Fierce and rising geopolitical conflict over control of the global network threatens to create a balkanized system—what some technorati, including Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, have called “the splinternet.”...

Merkel’s exploration of a closed, pan-European cloud-computing network is simply the latest example of what the analyst Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calls “data nationalism,” a phenomenon gathering momentum whereby countries require that certain types of information be stored on servers within a state’s physical borders. The nations that have already implemented a patchwork of data-localization requirements range from Australia, France, South Korea, and India to Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, according to Anupam Chander and Uyen P. Le, two legal scholars at the University of California at Davis.
internet  media_space  geography  infrastructure  security  data 
26 days ago
Narrative of Fragments | The New Inquiry
The lyric essay is all-telling, all the time. A snippet of image here, a stray bit of dialog there, nested in the telling: the logic of the traditional story reversed. It purposefully avoids a steady progression towards meaning, a predictable arc of exposition, climax, revelation, and denouement, preferring instead allusive, anecdotal, and abstract swipes at an opaque theme. In their introduction to the Fall 1997 issue of The Seneca Review, Deborah Tall and John D’Agata christened and defined the lyric essay. It “forsake[s] narrative line, discursive logic, and the art of persuasion in favor of idiosyncratic meditation…It might move by association, leaping from one path of thought to another by way of imagery or connotation, advancing by juxtaposition or sidewinding poetic logic. Generally it is short, concise and punchy like a prose poem. But it may meander, making use of other genres when they serve its purpose: recombinant, it samples the techniques of fiction, drama, journalism, song, and film.” It is, in other words, a mash-up: borrowing from all, beholden to none. It likes to betray the genres from which it borrows, making wily little jabs at their most dearly held conventions. It mocks creative nonfiction in its manipulation of facts: sometimes reinventing them for the sake of “art,” sometimes subverting their claim to objective truth by repeating or removing them from context. It mocks fiction in using these untruths, these distorted or altered facts, not as story but as dry, lyrically stylized information...

In Fourth Genre, Wendy Rawlings writes, “In a graduate nonfiction workshop I taught last year, all of the students chose to write more than one lyric essay, and most shied away entirely from all forms of literary journalism. Students strongly preferred writing in forms that favored the fragment and the lyric utterance over the kind of storytelling that creates a strong narrative arc. I agree with Shields about the right voice and the inner life and the historical moment. Sometimes, though, when I’m reading a certain kind of lyric essay, I fear the author has forgotten that the writing isn’t just about rendering the inner life. It’s also about the historical moment that connects the reader’s inner life with some agreed-upon or at least recognizable representation of an outer life.” How dreamy for the beginning writer: a string of magically connected – or magically unconnected, because story is so passé! – “lyric utterances” that flutter like ribbons from the ever-central “I.”
writing  style  UMS 
27 days ago
The Mapmaker's Conundrum | The New Yorker
A few years back, when Google’s various cartographic apps became ubiquitous, discussion groups were flooded with accounts of strange anomalies. Buildings, streets or, on occasion, entire cities disappeared; coastlines and mountain ranges warped; highways kinked and buckled; giant lacunae sprung up, sinkholes yawning from innocuous fields and deserts. The cause, of course, was glitch-ridden software and faulty collating techniques. But to dismiss this as a uniquely twenty-first-century phenomenon, a digital quirk, would be to overlook an essential feature of all maps: namely, that they don’t work, and never have. Pick up any textbook on cartography, and the very first paragraph will invariably remind you that the Earth is spherical but paper is flat; and, as J. A. Steers points out in his 1927 Introduction to the Study of Map Projections, just ‘as it is impossible to make a sheet of paper rest smoothly on a sphere, so it is impossible to make a correct map on a sheet of paper’. Maps are not copies; they are projections, ‘means’ (Steers again) ‘of representing the lines of latitude and longitude of the globe on a flat sheet of paper’.

Now, this is where the problems start. Projections are not neutral, natural or ‘given’: they are constructed, configured, underpinned by various — and quite arbitrary — conventions. When drawing up a map, a cartographer must choose between zenithal, gnomonic, stereographic, orthographic, globular, conical, cylindrical or sinusoidal modes of projection — each of which brings with it as many disadvantages as benefits. In world maps drawn using Mercator’s projection, the one that served as the standard in atlases for centuries, the equatorial areas pan out fine, but the map starts to distend enormously as it nears the polar regions, stretching Greenland out until it looks bigger than Africa. The poles themselves cannot be represented at all: to depict these you must rotate the image round through ninety degrees — the Transverse Mercator projection does this — but then another pair of points (on the equator) undergo infinite distortion and become invisible. Another option is to replace Mercator’s projection with a polar gnomonic one — but this merely makes the rest of the world distend and drop off the horizon...., far from fixing a reality, becomes a wild proliferation of alternative ones, of possible worlds each one as faulty and fantastic as the next .... And yet, explicitly or not, all maps carry with them a certain claim: that this one is somehow truer than the others with which it competes; that it depicts a territory in a more subtle, penetrative, intimate or nuanced way.
mapping  map_art  projection  epistemology  geography 
27 days ago
The Things They Don't Teach You: Image Rights | Matthew Lincoln
It is this kind of institutional knowledge that UMD’s Graduate Art History Association (essentially, our department’s grad student organization) seeks to preserve for future cohorts of students. We host lunches on various graduate milestones (the comprehensive exams, the dissertation proposal, the first big conference paper, etc.) and archive reports on our on-line repository.

Organizing these events has itself been an educational and (usually) rewarding experience. Yet I think the more that faculty manage to weave this training directly into their graduate courses, the better. Had even one of my graduate seminars asked me to, say, draft a humanities grant proposal, rather than write up yet another research paper, I would have been much better equipped when I dove into my very first attempt at a grant last summer. (Alan Liu’s prospectus assignment for his graduate course Digital Humanities: Introduction to the Field is just one of many examples of this kind of assignment.)

What would a graduate-level assignment look like that asked students to organize a conference round table, edit a volume of contributed essays, or seek out obscure image rights or archival reproductions? I hope more graduate faculty begin to ask these questions. Far from reducing humanities graduate education to a professional degree, I think this approach would help students scope out the full range of forms humanistic scholarship can take, while better equipping them for their first wholly independent projects.
my_work  copyright  publication  teaching  UMS 
29 days ago
BLDGBLOG: Urban Giants
The wife & husband team of director Davina Pardo and journalist Andrew Blum—the latter of whom you might also know as the author of Tubes and a prolific writer on architecture and design—have released a short documentary about the literal architecture of the internet: the huge buildings looming amongst us here in New York City, inside of which sit much of the telecommunications equipment that switches, routes, and relays global internet traffic.
infrastructure  telecommunications  internet  documentary 
4 weeks ago
How to Read a Finding Aid - Primary Sources in Archives & Special Collections - LibGuides at Purdue University Libraries
A Finding Aid is a document that provides a description of an archival collection to guide people in using the collection for research.

The finding aid includes a narrative overview of the collection, with a listing of materials by box, folder, or item.  It is expected to assist the researcher in determining whether or not the collection meets his or her research needs.  Researchers of archival materials will encounter findings aids when looking for unpublished papers and archival collections.

Below are the common elements of a finding aid.  Not all finding aids will incorporate these elements, but this sample should reflect a range of options researchers might encounter in finding aid formats.  The links will take you to an actual page of the finding aid for the Stanislav Grof papers with the various elements pointed out to you. 
archives  special_collections  methodology  research  finding_aids 
4 weeks ago
Study: To preserve digital resources, institutions should play to their strengths @insidehighered
The discussion about how and when digital projects end has prompted the same kind of existential questions that have long surrounded the digital humanities. The topic was raised in a cluster of essays published in an issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly five years ago, but it resurfaced as recently as in last month’s volume of the Humanist discussion group listserv.
Alex Gil, digital scholarship coordinator at the Columbia University Libraries, said the ongoing debate shows that scholars still disagree on what preservation means.
“What is to preserve?” Gil said in an interview. “Is it to keep it alive or just put it to rest?”
Columbia is considering making the researchers answer that question at an early phase of their projects -- perhaps by making them agree to a memorandum of understanding “that says, ‘Here’s what happens when the money runs out,’ ” Gil said. In other words, if the researchers skirt their duty to include a mechanism to keep the project running or a plan to archive it, they can’t expect the university to swoop in and save their work.
digital_humanities  archives  preservation 
4 weeks ago
See how borders change on Google Maps depending on where you view them - Quartz
There are 32 countries that Google Maps won’t draw borders around. While the so-called geo-highlighting feature—which Google uses to show a searched area’s borders—is unaffected by the locale of the person looking at them, the borders drawn on Google’s base map will look different depending on where in the world you are.
maps  google  borders 
5 weeks ago
Interiors is a critically acclaimed film and architecture journal in which films are analyzed and diagrammed in terms of space. Interiors presents a discussion about films in terms of architectural space, focusing on the use of space in cinema.
media_architecture  film  blueprints 
5 weeks ago
Paul Shaw Letter Design » The Nomenclature of Letter Forms: A Brief Review of the Literature
Our contemporary thirst for more detailed type terminology is due to the internet. More people today learn about things outside of classrooms. Lacking direct interaction with a teacher who can explain and, like Kate Wolff, illustrate things in detail—and serve as a filter to sort out the rubbish—they often accept whatever they find online. Thus, tittle has become pervasive as the term for the humble dot on i and j, even though it was never used (as far as I have determined) by printers and typographers prior to the 21st century. I suspect it is because it sounds titillating (suggestive of women’s breasts). (At the same time, the use of crotch has declined, which implies some sort of sexist double-standard at work.)

I started this post with the intent of explaining why all existing attempts at letterform terminology—including the best ones from Gaskell, Benguiat and Young—fall short. There has been a bias toward seriffed roman type which is understandable given that it was and still is the dominant category in use. The common decision to use a single typeface—whether Bembo, Goudy Oldstyle, Times Roman, Clarendon or Scala—to illustrate the parts of letters has lead inevitably to omissions since some terms (e.g. ball terminals) are only found in a particular group of typefaces. More importantly, there is little information about blackletter, italic, scripts, display types and decorative types. Without an accepted terminology for these other categories of type we will be unable to discuss their features clearly and  intelligently.
typography  lettering  anatomy 
5 weeks ago
Art or Sound | Domus
“The question of the interaction between art and sound – continues Celant – is interwoven with the entire history of art from the 17th century up to the present day as an aspiration to investigate a sensory space or territory that did not fit into the Western tradition and its schematic coordinates. It marks the whole course of modernity and the development of synesthetic relationships between different expressive languages of communication, with the aim of finding another, unconventional order”. This was the motivation for the historic approach to the exhibition that sets it apart from numerous others dedicated to these themes in recent years....

The exhibition is a packed one, encyclopaedic overall. As explained in the guide, “the first piano nobile shows paintings of musical subjects from the Renaissance era, 17th century instruments made from precious materials and with unusual forms, along with intricate 18th century creations such as automata, clocks and cages for singing birds, as well as examples of musical boxes and automised devices from the 19th century. “Art or Sound” also presents synesthetic investigations that give visual form to music through light and colour, as with experiments carried out by the avant-garde over the course of history, from Futurism to Pop Art. Instruments and scores by musicians from the 1950s are on show, along with conceptual and kinetic works from the 1960s and 70s as well as works, instruments and sound installations that incorporate recording equipment, radio or television that interact with the visitor. On the second piano nobile, a display of investigations from the 1980s and 90s by artists who explored the confines between art and sound and more recent productions by visual artists, sound artists, performers and composers who make sculptures that can be played, digital devices, unusual and ambiguous synesthetic creations....

The “coloured opto-visual concert” consisted of a series of moving images projected onto a screen to the rhythm of music played from records. On that occasion, the creator announced the transformation of music into a visual art. In 1944 Baranov-Rossiné died in a concentration camp and the instrument was destroyed (the copy now on show was made in 1971 and plays a recording of Peer Gynt by Grieg). It was just one of numerous ventures linked to the possibility of converting images into sounds or sounds into images. Another was that of Luigi Russolo with the Intonarumori: the Futurist machine patented in 1914 that played the sounds of the city and “modern” life. The Intonarumori is also on show, as are the functioning assemblages by Tinguely put together with pieces of radios with the tuning knob mounted on a scooter continually changing channel, creating incomprehensible sounds produced randomly. In addition we have the composition of industrial parts by Rauschenberg; the fantastic and disturbing piece, The Carnivore by Kienholz and the series of electric components by Alberto Tadiello as well as many other machines of varying degrees of complexity, each of which deserves a deeper look.
sound_art  exhibitions  sound  sensory_history  instruments  multisensory_art 
5 weeks ago
Restructure the Humanities PhD | The Chronicle
In fact, the form of the dissertation and how it might best express the ideas for which it advocates should be as much a matter of academic concern to doctoral students and their committees as the content of the dissertation itself.

Making that kind of scholarship more central to doctoral education in the humanities would also allow students to engage more deeply with technology, expand their exposure to a more diverse set of professionally marketable skills, and more easily explain their research in the humanities to those outside the academy, including potential employers. The MLA report emphasizes each of those aspects as an area of opportunity through which we might develop a revitalized vision of the humanities Ph.D.

But besides those practical benefits, the selection of genre has a long history in the humanities, dating at least to Plato’s decision to write dialogues, if not to Parmenides and his attempts to put philosophy into dactylic hexameter. It mattered then, and it should matter now.

Expanding career opportunities for humanities Ph.D.’s is a central recommendation of the MLA report, but it is important to find ways to do that without shifting the emphasis of the humanities doctoral degree from excellent scholarship and research to vocational training. Building questions of genre and specifically of public scholarly communication into the institutional and pedagogical structure of the Ph.D. is one important way to do that.
PhD  graduate_education  pedagogy  advising 
5 weeks ago
Watch 20syl's strangely hypnotic new music video | The Verge
Directed by Mathieu le Dude and French producer 20syl, the hypnotic music video for "Kodama" is all hands. Much of the three-minute clip consists of anonymous appendages migrating from one instrument to another, sometimes pausing to casually snap their fingers. There are also some stranger moments interspaced in between, including a speed sketching of an intricate zebra head and an inexplicable bout of knitting.
music_videos  tools  instruments  knolling  hands  disembodiment 
5 weeks ago
Frieze Magazine | Archive | Blurred Visions
Of course, drones are not only weapons. Many UAVs are not armed at all, and can be used to carry out non-military missions. Drone technology provides us with a new way of seeing, and a vast new typology of imagery – one in which the line between voyeurism, surveillance and weaponized vision is dependent on who operates the technology, and for what purposes. The imagery provided by autonomous machines is, as Harun Farocki described it in his 2000 film Auge/Maschine I (Eye/Machine I), ‘operational’. Farocki’s work examined what was then a proto-drone vision: the new camera-equipped warheads deployed during the Gulf War in 1990–91. The footage from these missiles, which was broadcast live on primetime US television, showed the weapons zeroing-in on their targets, then turning to static upon impact. ‘These images lacked plasticity,’ Farocki observed. ‘The human scale was missing.’ Indeed, his words seem to presage the characteristics of today’s drone vision, which also appears to lack ‘plasticity’. What we know of the technology indicates that it is objective and panoptic. As Farocki suggested, ‘These images are devoid of social intent. They are not for edification. Not for reflection.’...

In October 2012, Bridle launched Dronestagram: an ongoing feed on Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter that provides satellite images from Google Earth of the approximate sites of CIA drone strikes shortly after they occur. Along with the BIJ’s database, Bridle’s project is one of the most comprehensive attempts to map these events. Each satellite view on Dronestagram is accompanied by a caption about the circumstances and number of casualties, which Bridle draws from records provided by the BIJ, Wikipedia and other sources. Perhaps the most radical element of the project is the counter-intuitive platform Bridle has chosen for it – Instagram, a medium that is defined visually by its unique ‘filter’, and is more closely associated with nostalgia-tinged images of dogs and beach holidays.
machine_vision  drones 
5 weeks ago
Listen to the Appliances of the Future
Last week, in collaboration with Disquiet, we turned our ears to the future of the domestic environment, tuning into the speculative sounds of the appliances of the future. The results, here on our last day of the Home of the Future, are worth a listen as you tour the home either virtually or in person.
sound_design  sound_space  house  interfaces 
5 weeks ago
Special collections, welcoming spaces, scenic views at Van Pelt | Penn Current
The floor’s design was reconfigured to create the new Special Collections Center, which is now an inviting space with expanded seating and technological upgrades, including a digital media lab. New, tall windows offer magnificent views of campus and downtown Philadelphia.

The Center is home to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Furness Memorial Shakespeare Library, the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection, and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies.

The Special Collections Center was designed to meet the needs of patrons, as libraries across the nation are evolving into cultural and social centers.

“We made more spaces for people, with tables and chairs, to improve the look, feel, and the ambiance of the library, which makes it a much more enjoyable experience to come here,” says H. Carton Rogers, vice provost and director of Penn Libraries.
libraries  learning_space  special_collections 
5 weeks ago
The Campaign for Penn's Libraries
The learning experiences these materials provide are almost incalculably rich, as unique as the objects themselves. Recognizing this, we've re-imagined how our rare books and manuscripts should be housed. Our goal is to create a new space where scholars can intermingle, both with each other and with objects of study. By freeing up and reconfiguring physical space, new forms of learning will take place.

In the $15 million expansion, the collection, study, and curatorial facilities on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, will metamorphose into a new Special Collections Center, joining portions of the fifth and sixth floors.
libraries  learning_space  special_collections 
5 weeks ago
About — mixed media
MIXED MEDIA is a behind-the-scenes look at the artist’s archive. We explore the work of archivists, artists, curators, librarians and the many other dedicated souls who maintain and exhibit these unique treasure troves. From found art to performance art, we span across all disciplines to uncover the skills and tools necessary to preserve the glorious, historic mess that is an artist’s archive.
archives  archive_art 
5 weeks ago
Off-Site Storage: Preview an Upcoming Interactive Documentary About The Harvard Depository (Video) | LJ INFOdocket
Out at the Harvard Depository in Southborough, Massachusetts there are many stories to tell. How do the books come to and from campus nearly an hour away? What is the best way to store a library collection whose offsite holdings alone are mounting to ten million? What does it take to keep books at cold preserving temperatures and film reels at even colder ones?
Our upcoming documentary, Cold Storage, uncovers an ecosystem of laser scanners, UV fly zappers, cherry pickers and a mezzanine of machinery. It shows a place where books are sorted not by the methods of Dewey or those of the Library of Congress but by size.
In this trailer, take a peek inside the expansive interiors where our story begins and stay tuned for the debut of our film, which this summer will be incorporate the work of metaLAB alongside the projects of students from this past Spring’s Humanities Studio 1.
Coming soon is an experimental and interactive documentary to explore the HD as an offsite lens by which to examine the cultural and technical dimensions of libraries.
storage  books  bookstacks  libraries  robots  automation 
5 weeks ago
MoMA | Hito Steyerl’s HOW NOT TO BE SEEN: A F**king Didactic Educational .MOV File
On the face of it, Steyerl’s HOW NOT TO BE SEEN: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File (2013), which MoMA acquired earlier this year, is what its title purports it to be: a sly parody of an instructional video (the first part of the title borrowed from a Monty Python sketch). Each of the work’s four sections outlines some tongue-in-cheek strategies to avoid being seen—from hiding in plain sight, to shrinking down to a unit smaller than a pixel, to living in a gated community, to being female and over 50 years old. A seemingly automated male voice reads out the instructions in a droll English accent, and Steyerl herself, along with several faceless figures (the kind you’d see in a simulated architectural model), demonstrate the proposed methods. Many of them, like to shrink, to swipe, and to take a picture, are accompanied by gestures familiar from the iPhone—pointing to the fact that the bodies in question here exist in (and take their choreographic cues from) a world that’s at once virtual and material...

These troubling dimensions are compounded by virtue of the video’s setting: Steyerl filmed on a desert site covered in photo calibration targets—giant patterns of lines and dashes—which were intended to test the focus of airplane cameras. In part, this photographic precision led to the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (also known as drones), enabling them to successfully hit their targets. Soldiers sitting behind a computer screen control the actions of the plane and its weaponry, rendering the act of killing global, mediated, and arguably euphemistic. Here the question of How Not To Be Seen takes on a more harrowing tenor. Since the answer becomes simply not to be materially present, situating oneself behind a glowing monitor in an altogether different country. Steyerl drives home the surreality of these circumstances by superimposing a computer desktop onto the desert landscape, with faceless figures in green bodysuits dancing hypnotically in front. At one point in the sequence, the voice-over explains that while “resolution measures the world as an image,” the “most important things want to remain invisible. Love is invisible. War is invisible. Capital is invisible.”
machine_vision  surveillance  glitch  anonymity  gesture  invisibility  drones 
5 weeks ago
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