Sonorous Museum / ADEPT | ArchDaily
In the listed ’Radio House’ of Copenhagen, by renowned Danish Architect Vilhelm Lauritzen, the Danish National Museum has recently re-opened its vast collection of historical musical instruments. The elegant modernistic building from the 1950’ies have gone through an extensive refurbishment, respectfully carried out to emphasize the unique character of the listed building’s materiality and detailing.

In a close collaboration with Creo Architects and engineers Niras, ADEPT is behind concept and realization of the museum design that includes four delicately detailed sound spaces as part of the collection’s educational program...

’The Sonorous Museum’ is comprised of four sound regulated studios, acoustically adapted to a specific instrumental group: strings, brass, percussion and mixed instruments. The four spaces are designed as interactive classrooms in order to provide visiting school classes with a hands-on experience of the classical music instruments and their sound spectre.
sound_space  media_architecture  acoustics  music  exhibition 
1 hour ago
Collecting and Preserving Digital Art: Interview with Richard Rinehart and Jon Ippolito | The Signal: Digital Preservation
We also discuss other non-traditional art forms–performance art, installation art–that are not as new as “new media” but are also not that old in the history of museum collecting. It is important to put digital art preservation in an historical context, but also some of the preservation challenges presented by these works are shared with and provide precedents for digital art. These precedents allow us to tap into previous solutions or at least a history of discussion around them that could inform or aid in preserving digital art. And, vice versa, solutions for preserving digital art may aid in preserving these other forms (not least of which is shifting museum practices). Lastly, we bring non-digital (but still non-traditional) art forms into the discussion because some of the preservation issues are technological and media-based (in which case digital is distinct) but some issues are also artistic and theoretical, and these issues are not necessarily limited to digital works...

From technology, the biggest threat is how the feverish marketing of our techno-utopia masks the industry’s planned obsolescence. We can combat this by assigning every file on our hard drives and gadget on our shelves a presumptive lifespan, and leaving room in our budgets to replace them once their expiration date has expired.

From institutions, the biggest threat is that their fear of losing authenticity gets in the way of harnessing less controllable forms of cultural perseverance such as proliferative preservation. Instead of concentrating on the end products of culture, they should be nurturing the communities where it is birthed and finds meaning.

From the law, the threat is DRM, the DMCA, and other mechanisms that cut access to copyrighted works–for unlike analog artifacts, bits must be accessed frequently and openly to survive. Lawyers and rights holders should be looking beyond the simplistic dichotomy of copyright lockdown versus “information wants to be free” and toward models in which information requires care, as is the case for sacred knowledge in many indigenous cultures....

I’d like to be as open-minded as Richard. But I can’t, because I pull my hair out every time I hear another minion of cultural heritage fixated on fixity. Sure, it’s nifty that each digital file has a unique cryptographic signature we can confirm after each migration. The best thing about checksums is that they are straightforward, and many preservation tools (and even some operating systems) already incorporate such checks by default. But this seems to me a tiny sliver of a far bigger digital preservation problem, and to blow it out of proportion is to perpetuate the myth that mathematical replication is cultural preservation.

Two files with different passages of 1s and 0s automatically have different checksums but may still offer the same experience; for example, two copies of a digitized film may differ by a few frames but look identical to the human eye. The point of digitizing a Stanley Kubrick film isn’t to create a new mathematical artifact with its own unchanging properties, but to capture for future generations the experience us old timers had of watching his cinematic genius in celluloid. As a custodian of culture, my job isn’t to ensure my DVD of A Clockwork Orange is faithful to some technician’s choices when digitizing the film; it’s to ensure it’s faithful to Kubrick’s choices as a filmmaker.
preservation  digital_preservation  copyright  archives 
yesterday
Utah Considers Cutting Off Water to the NSA’s Monster Data Center
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would shut off the water spigot to the massive data center operated by the National Security Agency in Bluffdale, Utah.

The legislation, proposed by Utah lawmaker Marc Roberts, is due to go to the floor of the Utah House of Representatives early next year, but it was debated in a Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee meeting on Wednesday. The bill, H.B. 161, directs municipalities like Bluffdale to “refuse support to any federal agency which collects electronic data within this state.”

The NSA brought its Bluffdale data center online about a year ago, taking advantage Utah’s cheap power and a cut-rate deal for millions of gallons of local water, used to cool the 1-million-square-foot building’s servers. Roberts’ bill, however, would prohibit the NSA from negotiating new water deals when its current Bluffdale agreement runs out in 2021.
infrastructure  water  data_centers 
4 days ago
The Best Soundtrack for a Tech Video Ever
Having just gone through the exercise of finding the right music to accompany a product video for Wildcard, I’m terribly jealous of Big Spaceship’s production for this video for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It features the amazing Reggie Watts, and it’s like no other.
sound  sound_design 
4 days ago
Urban Omnibus » Reading Room: A Catalog of New York City’s Branch Libraries
Between 2008 and 2013, I photographed the branch libraries of New York City’s three public library systems: 212 branches in all[1], spread across the five boroughs. Through arrangements with each of the library systems, I worked mornings before the branches opened to the public....

I began by browsing; in the end, if I have come away with an agenda or a wish, it is that the branch buildings of New York City’s public libraries be understood and maintained as a collection — a rare and living architectural legacy, all the more extraordinary for its mutations, planned and unplanned, over the course of the last century. It is a collection that is part and parcel of the evolution of modern public life as we know it; places that reflect and shape our best and changing aspirations as a society and as individuals within it.
libraries  branch_libraries  photography 
8 days ago
A Brief History of Failure - NYTimes.com
What follows is — depending on how you want to think about it — either a gallery of technologies we lost or an invitation to consider alternate futures. Some of what might have been is fantastical: a subway powered by air, an engine run off the heat of your palm. Some of what we lost, on the other hand, is more subtle, like a better way to bowl or type. As new standards emerge, variety fades, and a single technology becomes entrenched. (That’s why the inefficient Qwerty keyboard has proved so difficult to unseat.)

We can take heart, however, in the fact that good ideas never disappear forever; the Stirling engine didn’t pan out in the Industrial Revolution, for example, but it can keep the lights on for a small village. As you look through the images, then, please consider not only what might have been but what could still be again
failure  media_archaeology  media_history 
8 days ago
Letterpress Printers Are Running Out Of @ Symbols And Hashtags | Co.Design | business + design
Before the Internet, the @ and # symbols were relatively obscure. Unless you were an accountant or a bookkeeper, you simply never used them. On the typewriter, they were largely ignored, and in a typesetter's tray, the @ and # symbols were usually among the most virgin and pristine slugs.

Then email and social media came along, reviving the @ and # symbols on the keyboard and turning them into the hottest metal slugs in letterpress. In fact, the @ and # symbols are so in demand that some letterpress artisans are starting to find the slugs a little hard to come by.
letterpress  media_literature 
8 days ago
The Habits of Highly Productive Writers - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Productive writers don’t reach for excuses when the going gets hard. They treat writing like the job it is. They show up, punch the clock, and punch out.

They don’t overtalk their projects. Some writers like to talk about writing more than they actually like to write. Others dine out for years on their topics—giving conference papers, writing journal articles, applying for grants—until they’ve all but lost interest in what they are supposed to be writing....

They know that a lot of important stuff happens when they’re not "working." I love this passage from Graham Greene’s novel The End of the Affair: "I was trying to write a book that simply would not come. I did my daily five hundred words, but the characters never began to live. So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income tax returns and chance conversations, but the stream of the unconscious continues to flow, undisturbed, solving problems, planning ahead: one sits down sterile and dispirited at the desk, and suddenly the words come as though from the air: the situations that seemed blocked in a hopeless impasse move forward: the work has been done while one slept or shopped or talked with friends."...

They read a lot, and widely. I’m always amazed when professors say they don’t have time to read for fun. How else can you attempt to write something good? If you don’t think that your work should be a pleasure to read, most of us won’t want to read it. Productive writers (should) pay attention to craft and read to steal tricks and moves from authors they admire....

They work on more than one thing at once. Of course, when you hit that wall, it’s tempting to give up and start on something new and exciting (see above, re: beginnings are easy). While that can lead to a sheaf of unfinished drafts, it can also be useful. Some pieces need time to smolder. Leaving them to turn to something short and manageable makes it easier to go back to the big thing. Fallowing and crop rotation lead to a greater harvest.
writing  academia  professional_practice 
9 days ago
Read Free Digital Art Catalogues from 9 World-Class Museums, Thanks to the Pioneering Getty Foundation | Open Culture
We’ve previously featured the various pioneering efforts of the J. Paul Getty Museum — from freeing 4,600 high-resolution art images (and then 77,000 more) into the public domain, to digitally releasing over 250 art books. Now they’ve put their minds to those rare, beautiful, and highly edifying specimens known as art catalogues. “Based on meticulous research, these catalogues make available detailed information about the individual works in a museum’s collection, ensuring the contents a place in art history,” announces their site. “Yet printed volumes are costly to produce and difficult to update regularly; their potential content often exceeds allotted space. One could say they are like thoroughbred horses confined to stock pens.” But now the Getty has offered a solution in the form of the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OCSI), creating an online platform for free catalogues — and not just the Getty’s, but those of any art institution.
open_access  art_catalogues  art 
10 days ago
What is the Professional Archivist’s Role in the Evolving Archival Space? (A talk given in Christchurch, NZ) | ArchivesNext
The first role for the professional archivist is to make our collections more usable / The second role the professional archivist needs to take on within the context of the archival space is to make our archival institutions more valuable. And, once again, I suggest three ways to make that happen. / The third and final role for professional archivists, and perhaps the one that may prove most challenging for many, is to promote our own value by sharing knowledge. /
archives  professional_practice 
11 days ago
It's Nice That : This tremendous site shows us where art actually happens
From Your Desks is a website set up by Kate Donnelly that invites people in the art world to submit photographs of their workspace, which she then accompanies with a short but sweet interview about what they do. Personally, seeing the detritus surrounding someone’s desk gives me the same building curiosity as seeing inside their bedroom – it’s such an important, personal space and can be surprisingly revealing.
labor  desks  furniture 
15 days ago
Archive Futures: Operations, Time Objects, Collectives — IKKM Weimar
yet an astonishing percentage of already-digitized collections has already begun to disappear, victims of the often-fatal consequences of hard- and software platform anachronization. Archives today are threatened both if they fail to engage with the digital and – ironically – if they embrace it wholeheartedly without thinking through the material, institutional and economic consequences of digital longevity. “Future-proofing” a digital archive requires extensive financial and technical resources in ways entirely different from previous epistemes of library science. The problem of digitization thus reveals that the archive is not – indeed has never been – defined merely as a collection or a storage room, but is rather a set of procedures, practices, or operations, of rules and protocols...

Long dominated by a largely exclusive focus on paper, the conceptualization of archival work and function must today countenance a vast array of heterodox object types ranging from solid and durable things, samples, and other physical phenomena such as the archival function of architecture, to much more fleeting time-based media such as audio recordings, film and television. From a media studies perspective, different materialities demand different practices and operations and foster completely different regimes of time, place, and power distribution through archival functions....

In a series of intensive seminars, workshops, and lectures the Summer School will take up and push further the by-now classical theorization of the archive undertaken by Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Giorgio Agamben (in their readings of Nietzsche, Bergson and others), not only as an institution or collection, but as a conceptual model for the formation of all discourses, practices and knowledges which regulate and delimitate what is sayable, thinkable, and conceivable at a certain point in history. Given the importance of new operations and materialities connected to the archive today, these concepts must be rethought and re-actualized.
archives  foucault  storage  digitization 
15 days ago
AirBnB and the Domestic Photograph
Oscillating between the two, the website Airbnb proves to be a powerful case study in showing how particular modes of representation are forced upon its users as instrumental assets to global capital and its consumption-based economy. One need only to consider how its Photography Department came about to gauge the importance the medium has had in making the American company's experience-based enterprise financially productive....

hat "something" is what Pablo Larios describes as "the doxa of digital circulation and image saturation" in contemporary image culture—i.e. "recognizability, translatability, clarity." In a nutshell, the company had to equip its users with a fairly uniform set of aesthetic references to make their homes an appetible commodity for its international service buyers...

The response to this exigency was the 2008 founding of Airbnb Photography—a free service provided by the company which users can apply for gaining "more visibility" (like), "verified watermarks" (like), and "high quality" imagery (multiple likes) to better monetize their spaces. Ensuring higher rankings in search results and guaranteeing that an Airbnb representative has visited the property, a few years ago the company stated that hosts with professional photography would be "booked 2.5 times more frequently than those without," rendering it a vital component in Airbnb's business model...
n aligning to these doxas, the redundancy of Airbnb photography is characteristic of a series of conditions which are increasingly epitomic not only of how home-ness is represented in order to be commodified but even more of how our homes themselves are being affected by this imagery: most evidently, it highlights (and in so doing also fosters) the current homogenization of middle class households all around the world—something which is rendered in a similarly problematic way across the CGI renderings found in IKEA catalogues and other providers where particular room configurations and combinations of furnitures are applied unchanged to distinct hosting spaces. Of course there are exceptions to this norm which can be found in Airbnb listings such as the American trailer, the sailing boat, the tree house and other exotic venues, but if we limit our analysis to the general substratum (i.e. homes of middle class city dwellers on a relatively tight budget) the uniformity is very apparent. But Airbnb sees such uniformity as an anomaly to correct, as a temporary impasse until every home on the website becomes highly individualized and "special," as acknowledged by Airbnb employees at the panel we organized at Swiss Institute. Given the aesthetic standards stringently imposed by the company, it is a highly circumscribed kind of individualism, one which "must be as special as possible, while remaining understandable as an image to an international audience of potential guests," as we wrote in a text for Fulcrum.
media_architecture  photography  vernacular 
15 days ago
Art + the Re-Presentation of the Past 3
While artists in general, and environmental artists in particular, have distanced themselves, either by design or default, from archaeology, there has been no attempt to date by archaeologists to use the production of art in the landscape as part of the process of interpreting the past. Going beyond this, while many prehistoric artefacts and monuments are widely acknowledged to be aesthetically beautiful, this is usually by artists rather than archaeologists. The aesthetic qualities of things are sometimes acknowledged in the archaeological literature. They are never discussed. Might an emphasis on aesthetic qualities also be an important element in the interpretation of the past?
art  archaeology  land_art  environment  landscape 
16 days ago
The Berlage Archive: Julius Shulman (2000) | ArchDaily
In this 2000 Berlage Institute lecture, titled “Neutra’s Architecture and Modernism in California,” American architectural photographer Julius Shulman outlines a twofold mission: to introduce his two new books, Modernism Rediscovered, and Neutra: Complete Works, and to speak to architectural students and educators who are responsible for the future of the field. Highly jovial and personable, Shulman starts off on a playful tone, inviting audience members to sit on the floor next to him and insisting on the informality of his lecture; he begins by describing how he met Richard Neutra, purely by chance, and made history with the iconic photograph of the Kaufman House, solely through a rebellious desire to pursue a beautiful sunset.
media_architecture  photography  julius_shulman 
16 days ago
Unveiled> Calgary Library - The Architect's Newspaper
Two years ago, The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation selected Snøhetta and Canadian firm DIALOG to design a New Central Library. Since then, Snøhetta—which will lead the architecture and landscape design—and DIALOG—which is serving as the executive architect and landscape architect—have worked with the community to refine the scheme, receiving feedback from over 16,000 Calgarians. The final plan, unveiled publicly in September, reveals an unusual approach: the library straddles an existing light rail, connecting the East Village to downtown. “We wanted to keep that open so people could move freely from the cultural district and downtown Calgary,” said Snøhetta principal Craig Dykers at the September public open house.
libraries  Snohetta 
16 days ago
Recreating Adam, From Hundreds of Fragments, After the Fall - NYTimes.com
It happened at 6 on a Sunday night. Adam — a strapping, 6-foot-3-inch marble sculpture by the Venetian Renaissance master Tullio Lombardo — fell to the ground on a patio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, smashing into hundreds of pieces. “Nobody knew what had happened — it could have been foul play,” said Jack Soultanian, a conservator who was called to the museum that night in 2002.

An investigation revealed that Adam’s plywood pedestal had buckled. “The head had come off,” Mr. Soultanian said. “There were 28 recognizable pieces and hundreds of smaller fragments,” he added, and skid marks on the torso where it slid across the patio floor. Philippe de Montebello, then the Met’s director, called it “about the worst thing that could happen” to a museum.

What followed was more than a decade of painstaking restoration that was unprecedented in the Met’s history. The project took so long there were rumors that the statue was beyond repair. But it was not, as the Met will make clear on Tuesday when the museum not only puts Adam on display again but also releases videos of how Mr. Soultanian and his colleague Carolyn Riccardelli — with dozens of scientists and engineers — put the 500-year-old sculpture back together, relying on a radical approach to the conservation. Along the way, it made a visit to the hospital for CT scans. (Adam needed a nose job, as well as head, hand, knee and foot operations.)

The restoration project serves as a watershed of sorts for the Met, reflecting a new attitude adopted by museums around the world to share such innovative work not just professionally but with the public. It is a dramatic reversal from decades past when museum conservators treated such efforts like state secrets, or subscribed to the belief that revealing a work’s history of damage would make it less beautiful to viewers. (Michele Marincola, a professor of conservation at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, recalled that the legendary conservator George L. Stout once compared discussing such restoration work to inquiring “about the digestive system of an opera singer.” )

But today, “restoration is the cutting edge of art history,” said Emilie Gordenker, director of the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, whose museum is also planning a major exhibition centering on an in-depth restoration of a single painting, “Saul and David,” which she described as riveting as a “crime scene investigation.” Using the latest technology, the museum will chronicle the discoveries of its creation and history — every unexpected detail that lurks beneath the canvas, initially considered to be one of Rembrandt’s finest but later de-attributed. “We live in a time when the public wants to look behind the scenes and museums are finally becoming more open about it,” Ms. Gordenker said.

Italy’s Uffizi Gallery in Florence, for example, had conservators working in a glassed-in lab so visitors could watch the action. Right now, in Belgium, Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,” better known as the Ghent Altarpiece of 1432 — one of the world’s most famous panel paintings — is undergoing a seven-year restoration. Financing from the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles has helped pay for it, including an interactive website showing the work in minute detail. (The public can also visit the three sites in Ghent where it is being restored.)
museums  conservation  restoration  forensics  decay 
17 days ago
Points of View, Points of Origin
Matteo Pericoli’s drawings recall us, in the homeliest, most literal way, to the writer’s true business, and the reader’s. Each window represents a point of view and a point of origin. Here’s what the writer sees when he or she looks up from the computer; here’s the native landscape of the writing. If you want an image that will link the creation to its source, Pericoli suggests, this is the image you should reach for. Not the face, but the vision—or as close as we can come. To look out another person’s window, from his or her workspace, may tell us nothing about the work, and yet the space—in its particularity, its foreignness, its intimacy—is an irresistible metaphor for the creative mind; the view, a metaphor for the eye.
window  writing  labor 
17 days ago
Cabinet of Wonder
The “this” in question is Mmuseumm, a single-story space converted from an old elevator shaft on the edge of Chinatown, about four paces wide and four paces deep. Each of its three walls has four rows of floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with a red, velvety material and brightly lit: at night, the whole place shines, an island of light in the alley’s murk...

Now two years old and well into its third season, Mmuseumm contains an array of found and made objects, all of recent origin, taken from private collections. In Mmuseumm’s own language, they’re among the evidence that we exist—the stuff of a “modern natural history” or a “contemporary archaeology” museum. Those phrases are both deployed in Mmuseumm’s publicity materials; they’re equally applicable and insufficient....

Lee’s stones testify to the existence of a strange and lovely human; they’re also a vision of a kind of soft, impersonal apocalypse in which the natural world becomes an aggregate of artificial flotsam. Each of Mmuseumm’s artifacts and collections is like this: they blossom into stories with just the slightest interpretative pressure. The more you look, the more networks of analogy, of uncanny connection, emerge...

Mmuseumm belongs to a long lineage of cabinets de curiosité and wunderkammern, collections without the institutional imprimatur of a learned society, a university, or some other cadre of experts. Wunderkammern flourished in the West in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but they’d begun to disappear by the eighteenth and nineteenth, when the West’s great collections were democratized into national institutions....

But is this really the aesthetic that best suits our trashed world of information, power, capital, commodity? We can say that cabinets of wonder are now on trend, as are taxidermy, scale modeling, diorama, curation. Kalman admitted immediately that a person who is good at making Mmuseumms would also likely be extremely good at marketing...

“This is a modern natural-history museum,” Kalman said. “It’s for looking at modern life.”...

Mmuseumm is a future thing, a subtle way of asking how we’ll continue to discover systems of meaning that push us toward a wiser, better integrated collective life. In an age of information and commodification, we don’t need more of either in order to best understand our existence. We need tools for determining significance, places where we can stop and think through the shared story of our world and our lives.
museums  miniature  collection  exhibition 
17 days ago
li xiaodong atelier: liyuan library
positioned within the small village of huairou, a two hours drive away from the urban center of beijing, china, the ‘liyuan library’ by chinese practice li xiaodong atelier is encompassed within a mountainous and forested landscape. a five minute stroll from the village’s center, the fully glazed interior contains quiet and contemplative reading spaces and a series of platforms which integrate shelving for books. after analyzing the region’s characteristics, an exterior screen clad with ordinary sticks was chosen to conceal the glass facade, receding into the surrounding nature without competing with it.
libraries  china 
18 days ago
issue 59: Harun Farocki out now | e-flux
Farocki’s films lead us to think that the real brutality of power that uses advanced forms of technology, transmission, and mediation goes far beyond the application of physical violence on human bodies, and towards something much more delicate, much more refined. Its real violence arrives in something like boredom, in rendering the actual functioning of power as boring—uninteresting and technical on the surface, but eventually and ultimately authoritarian in its inaccessibility. It is from this point that Farocki’s mastery begins: by identifying cinema as a historical meeting point between technology and seduction. Cinema has always been the name of the machine for merging warfare and entertainment, propaganda and pornography.

So why can’t we then draw a direct line from its history into a present where cinema has already been weaponized as the primary technique for mobilizing vision—for drones and romantic comedies alike? From here it only takes Farocki’s elegant sleight of hand to twist the apparatus back on itself, to render its own technologies of control interesting, seductive enough to be perceivable, perceivable enough to be accessible. It is through cinema that power can become fascinating in its complexity, charming in its grace, and deadly in its poetry, to the point where the spell of its technology is broken. Once the aura is gone, slippages appear at the very centers of command, where every lock can be picked and US generals fumble blindly with their own software. The technology has become impossible to master, and also available to anyone. With Harun’s precise scrutiny, an intimate world of techno-social micro-machinations comes to life. When an automated gate closes and latches, Harun is there. When looking into the LCD screens replacing rearview mirrors in cars, he is there. He is there when we address a colleague at work with a certain title.

Farocki’s last work looked at the design of worlds within video games. If we understand the history of cinema as also being the history of optics, then what are the physics of a world made out of vision, of a living cinema? In gamespace there is always a problem when you try to leave, when you reach the edge of the world and you try to go past it, to exit completely. And in Farocki’s Parallel I–IV, the moment you reach the edge, you hit a transparent border. Even if you fall through past the limit, the film loop starts again and you are urged to return.
films  operative_images  surveillance  video_games  Farocki 
21 days ago
INTERVIEWS Decoding Rome’s Old Master Graffiti
our relationship with masterpieces, between the 15th and 19th centuries, was very different from what it is today. Our time is marked by a heritage conscience: It advocates for a contemplative relationship to masterpieces — always kept at a distance, protected behind glass or barriers. On the contrary, these graffiti that cover a vast period since the 15th century show a more familiar, tactile, and sensitive relationship to the artworks marked by intimacy and appropriation. They put us on track toward an archaeology of the relationship to art that privileges tactile gestures rather than reliance solely on sight...
Today, most notably with the “graphic revolution” of the Arab Spring, we have a tendency to see graffiti as a transgressive and disruptive gesture, both politically and aesthetically. This may be true for the 20th and 21st centuries, which belong to the era of museums and art galleries, of the opposition between the voices of the street and the institutions of power. But this is not the case with the period spanning the 16th century to the 19th century, when ancient art, even the most canonical, was being updated by living artists, when the relation between ancient and contemporary art was alive and active, and when urban territory was open to more adaptable and unregulated uses. The graffiti etched onto Raphael’s frescoes at the Vatican proclaiming the glory of new popes, for instance, would be unthinkable today!
media_city  writing  graffiti 
21 days ago
Warburg Institute Claims Victory After Court Ruling in Dispute With University of London
Both the Warburg Institute and the University of London, which houses it, claimed victory on Thursday after a ruling by London’s High Court that sought to clarify the university’s obligations to the institute, which has a world-renowned humanist library founded by Aby Warburg, a scion of the German banking family...

In a statement Leticia Jennings, a lawyer who represented the Warburg, said that the ruling came “to the benefit and relief of scholars worldwide” and made clear that the university “is obliged to provide funding for the activities of the Warburg Institute” and maintain it “as an independent unit” within the university. She added that the ruling made clear that the collection “will remain available as before, in its entirety and that the university will not be free to in any way restrict the access of the many scholars who use and rely on the Institute’s outstanding resources.”
libraries  warburg 
21 days ago
An Illustrated Cross Section of Hong Kong’s Infamous Kowloon Walled City
The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was built gradually—building on top of building—over time. Without a single architect, the ungoverned and most densely populated district became a haven for drugs, crime and prostitution until it was demolished in 1993. Photo documentation of the site exists but for the most part much of the inner-workings of the city remained a mystery.

Perhaps due to its proximity, Japan, in particular, developed a keen interest towards Kowloon. Its demolition in 1993 was broadcast on national television. But watching the footage, what most spectators didn’t realize was that up until the night before demolition a team of Japanese researchers were taking precise measurements and documenting the vacated city. Their findings were compiled into a book that, among other things, featured this panoramic cross section of the city depicting what life was like inside. You can read more about the book on Spoon & Tamago, and if you look hard enough, a few rare copies of it are available online. (via deconcrete)
mapping  deep_maps  china  Kowloon 
23 days ago
T-R-E-A-T.US
Jiminez Lai's "Manifestos, Summits, and Gangs"
manifestos  media_architecture  comics  animation 
24 days ago
Looking at Art in Tiny Galleries
Located between two busy train platforms at the Odenplan metro station in Stockholm, Gallery 1:10 is no bigger than a dollhouse. Its current show, If You Tolerate This, includes sculptures of books by Henrik Franklins, as well as several paintings, installations, and video works — some so small they could fit in the palm of your hand.

Run by Anna Lidberg, the gallery is one of several teensy art spaces that regularly put on old-fashioned exhibitions. In Amsterdam, for example, Reflex Gallery runs the Miniature Museum, which has shown thimble-sized works and reproductions of works by more than 900 artists, including Damien Hirst, Ed Ruscha, Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein, and Yayoi Kusama. An ocean away, in Columbus, Ohio, artist Stephanie Rond runs three tiny galleries: S. Dot Gallery, Rigsby Contemporary Museum, and the Painted Lady Feminist Museum (there’s even a film about them).

The tradition of improbable art spaces goes back to at least 1962, when French Fluxus artist Robert Fillious opened the traveling La Galerie Légitime (“The Legitimate Gallery”) inside his hat. Fillious’s gallery was a way of making art more accessible to people and the exhibition hall more accessible to artists. It was also a way of creating a space where the politics of the market-driven art world didn’t rule.
exhibition  miniature  book_art 
24 days ago
The Quietus | Features | Tome On The Range | Cult Of Memory: Simon Critchley Interviewed
Yeah, the idea of memory theatre comes out of this in a sense. I re-read one of the source texts the other week, which is this apocryphal text attributed to Cicero called the Rhetorica ad Herennium which gives this distinction between natural and artificial memory. It’s a twenty page discussion, and there was clearly a whole literature on this subject – most of which has been lost. It’s just this not-particularly-interesting rhetorical manual which has survived, and its description of artificial memory always links it to images and space and defines it in architectural terms. So artificial memory, something one cultivates, is a cultivation of an architectural space which is a space that you imagine and then inhabit and then it’s taken a step further in the physical incarnation of that space....

There’s a scene in the book where the protagonist, we have to say the protagonist I guess, whoever it is, drives into work and the landscape itself appears as a kind of memory theatre which you can then link to a psycho-geographical set of concerns: to inhabit the space of a city or a town or a village is to inhabit a memory theatre. So the concept can be wildly generalised it seems to me.

The question of monuments is a central one as the book is, in some sense, the story of the construction of a failed monument. Separately I’ve got problems with monuments, and with architecture too. In a way, I’m against architecture. There’s that book by Denis Hollier about Bataille which begins with Bataille looking at Chartres cathedral and thinking ‘this is shit and I want to destroy it’ and there is something about architecture which stirs this impulse in me. There is a way which architecture is merely an oppressive monumentalisation of memory which obliterates other possible memories, other possible lines.

One thing which has concerned me over the years in response to this is thr question ‘could you have a monument to something immemorial’, or, could you have a kind of im-monument? Could you have a different notion of architecture which wouldn’t be prey to this memorialisation? I’m thinking of this particularly in relation to the cult of memory surrounding Holocaust memorials, the issues they have thrown up in recent years and, more specifically, I’m thinking of the things that Thomas Hirschhorn was trying to do with his monuments, which are different, almost im-monuments. They are these precarious, badly constructed, transient structures used for a social purpose and then dismantled. Which I guess is what the memory theatre ends up becoming in the back garden at the end....

I don’t want the dead to be forgotten but there is a sense in which the way we enforce remembrance produces obliteration, and it’s counterproductive.

There then is the huge philosophical issue of whether you should remember or whether you should forget, and there is an overwhelming preponderance in all traditions including the philosophical tradition, towards remembering. The idea of recollection in Plato, anamnesis, and through to Hegel, that I discuss in a sense philosophy becomes this total recall and that’s meant to be good because that’s knowledge. Knowledge is recollection based on whatever metaphysical theory that you have. Now on the one hand to remember is good, and the purpose of art is to make us remember. However the flip side of it which I am always conscious of is Nietzsche’s argument that we should actively forget, that we are flayed alive and tortured by memory as Beckett would say, and what has to be cultivated is the attempt to forget the ways in which we’ve been programmed as memory machines.

So there are two options: philosophy, or art, as total recall and then the counter proposal that what we should be cultivating is a kind of obliteration in the name of some kind of freedom from the past and I don’t come down on one side or another, they are merely opposing strategies.
memory  memory_theater  monuments 
25 days ago
How Do I Pitch Myself for Associate-Professor Positions? | Vitae
If you’re searching for a research-focused job at the associate professor rank, here are my suggestions for what information should go into your cover letter. Each of the bulleted items below represents one concise paragraph. (I list the specific number of sentences for each in an attempt put a brake on the rambling that tenured faculty seem unable to resist). For an effective letter, try organizing it by these subjects and in this order:

Introduction to you (about 3 sentences).
Current research: your topic, foci, methods, theory, argument, and conclusions (about 6 sentences).
Contribution of the work to the field (about 2-3 sentences).
Publications from current research, and major conferences (about 4 sentences).
Previous research and contribution of that work to the field (about 4 sentences).
Publications derived from previous research (about 2 sentences).
Dissertation research and publications (if necessary; about 4 sentences).
Next research project, along with with any associated grants, papers, or publications (about 4 sentences).
Teaching paragraph No. 1: basic competencies and methods (about 6 sentences).
Teaching paragraph No. 2: elaboration on particular techniques or skills (about 4 sentences).
Administrative and service experience: be highly selective; resist the urge to data dump; focus on meaningful administrative duties only (about 5 sentences, if needed; shorter is fine).
Tailoring paragraph: not more me, me, me; instead, connect to the hiring department’s existing initiatives, programs, and faculty (about 4 sentences).
Sign-off (2 sentences; don’t beg).
Signature.
job_search  cover_letters  academia 
25 days ago
IM Backup tapes - Sebas and Clim
After seeing how the brand communicates through all its corporative elements we couldn’t resist proposing them to collaborate with our friend and respected paper craft artist Lobulo who has been the one in charge of recreating all the elements designed by SNC.

The colours, the materials, the rhythm of the editing, the sound effects and an accurate postproduction process made this video being simple, unexpected, clean, straight to the point, friendly and contemporary.
data_centers  archives  storage  geology  materiality  failure  error  media_space 
25 days ago
touchable memories make 3D photographs for people without vision
‘touchable memories’ by pirate3D, turns photographs into 3D-printed objects for people without vision. the social experiment project aims to increase the awareness of the endless possibilities of using technology to improve lives. using an affordable home printer called buccaneer, the visually-impaired can re-experience images by fabricating a tangible scene of it.
tactility  memory  haptics  materiality 
25 days ago
Public library (an essay) | Memory of the World
The internet is a new challenge, creating experiences commonly proferred as ‘revolutionary’. Yet, a true revolution of the Internet is the universal access to all knowledge that it makes possible. However, unlike the new epistemologies developed during the French revolution the tendency is to keep the ‘old regime’ (of intellectual property rights, market concentration and control of access). The new possibilities for classification, development of languages, invention of epistemologies which the internet poses, and which might launch off into new orbits from existing classification systems, are being suppressed.

In fact, the reactionary forces of the ‘old regime’ are staging a ‘Thermidor’ to suppress the public libraries from pursuing their mission. Today public libraries cannot acquire, cannot even buy digital books from the world’s largest publishers.ix The small amount of e-books that they were able to acquire already they must destroyed after only twenty-six lendings.x Libraries and the principle of universal access to all existing knowledge that they embody are losing, in every possible way, the battle with a market dominated by new players such as Amazon.com, Google, and Apple...

Petit bourgeois denial prevents society from confronting this disturbing insight. As in many other fields, the only way out offered is innovative market-based entrepreneurship. Some have even suggested that the public library should become an open software platform on top of which creative developers can build app storesxiii or Internet cafés for the poorest, ensuring that they are only a click away from the Amazon.com catalog or the Google search bar. But these proposals overlook, perhaps deliberately, the fundamental principles of access upon which the idea of the public library was built.

Those who are well-meaning, intelligent, and tactfull will try to remind the public of all the many sides of the phenomenon that the public library is: major community center, service for the vulnerable, center of literacy, informal and lifelong learning; a place where hobbyists, enthusiasts, old and young meet and share knowledge and skills.xiv Fascinating. Unfortunately, for purely tactical reasons, this reminder to the public does not always contain an explanation of how these varied effects arise out of the foundational idea of a public library: universal access to knowledge for each member of the society produces knowledge, produces knowledge about knowledge, produces knowledge about knowledge transfer: the public library produces sociability....

The public library does not need the sort of creative crisis management that wants to propose what the library should be transformed into once our society, obsessed with market logic, has made it impossible for the library to perform its main mission. Such proposals, if they do not insist on universal access to knowledge for all members, are Trojan horses for the silent but galloping disappearance of the public library from the historical stage. Sociability—produced by public libraries, with all the richness of its various appearances—will be best preserved if we manage to fight for the values upon which we have built the public library: universal access to knowledge for each member of our society.

Freedom, equality, and brotherhood need brave librarians practicing civil disobedience.
libraries  open_access  infrastructure  social_networks 
25 days ago
Forgotten Forefather: Paul Otlet « Boxes and Arrows
...Paul Otlet envisioned a new kind of scholar’s workstation: a moving desk shaped like a wheel, powered by a network of hinged spokes beneath a series of moving surfaces. The machine would let users search, read and write their way through a vast mechanical database stored on millions of 3×5 index cards...

After evaluating the classification systems then in use, such as Dewey Decimal and the British Museum system, Otlet concluded that they all shared a fatal flaw: they were designed to guide readers as far as the individual book—but no further. Ranganathan had voiced the ethos of modern cataloging when he said: “every reader his or her book, and every book its reader.” But once book and reader were matched, they were left pretty well to their own devices.

Otlet wanted to go a step further. He wanted to penetrate the boundaries of the books themselves, to unearth the “substance, sources and conclusions” inside.

Taking the Dewey Decimal system as his starting point, Otlet began developing what came to be known as the Universal Decimal Classification, now widely recognized as the first—and one of the only—full implementations of a faceted classification system.

Facets of the Universal Decimal Classification
Facts: Empirical observations or assertions.
Interpretation: Analysis or conclusions, derived from “facts.”
Statistics: Measured, quantifiable data.
Sources: Citations or references....

In addition to the so-called Main Tables of subject headings, UDC also supports a series of Auxiliary Tables allowing for the addition of facets. These tables provide notations for place, language, physical characteristics, and for marking relationships between topics using a set of “connector” signs such as “+,” “/” and “:”.

The UDC’s capacity for mapping relationships between ideas—for constructing the “social space” of a document—provides a dimension of use not supported in other purely topical classification schemes....

n 1910, in the wake of the Brussels world’s fair, Otlet and LaFontaine created an installation at the Palais du Cinquantenaire of the Palais Mondial.

Originally envisioned as the centerpiece of a new “city of the intellect,” the Mundaneum was to be the hub of a utopian city that housed a society of the world’s nations.

In 1919, shortly after the end of World War I, Otlet successfully lobbied King Albert and the Belgian government to furnish a new home for the Mundaneum, taking over 150 rooms in Brussels’ Cinquantenaire. At the time, not coincidentally, Belgium was lobbying to host the nascent League of Nations’s new headquarters. Hoping to help his country take center stage in wooing the new organization, Otlet pitched his project as the centerpiece of a new “world city.” Inside the new Mundaneum, he began to assemble his vast “documentary edifice,” eventually comprising over 12 million individual index cards and documents.

At the time, the 3×5 index card represented the latest advance in information storage technology: a standardized, easily manipulated vessel for housing individual nuggets of data. So, Otlet’s réseau began taking shape in the form of an enormous collection of index cards, filed away in a sprawling array of cabinets....

With the faceted philosophy of the UDC as backdrop, the Traité posited a universal “law of organization” declaring that no document could be properly understood by itself, but that its meaning becomes clarified through its influence on other documents, and vice versa. “[A]ll bibliological creation,” he said, “no matter how original and how powerful, implies redistribution, combination and new amalgamations.”8

While that sentiment may sound postmodernist in spirit, Otlet was no semiotician; rather, he simply believed that documents could best be understood as three-dimensional,9 with the third dimension being their social context: their relationship to place, time, language, other readers, writers and topics. Otlet believed in the possibility of empirical truth, or what he called “facticity”—a property that emerged over time, through the ongoing collaboration between readers and writers. In Otlet’s world, each user would leave an imprint, a trail, which would then become part of the explicit history of each document...

For Borges, the universal library was a literary conceit, but for Otlet it was an achievable dream: an “edifice containing all the books and the information together with all the resources of space needed to record and manage them.”

Otlet also recognized the practical importance of “search and retrieval performed by an appropriately qualified permanent staff.” Substitute the word “Google” for “permanent staff,” and Otlet’s vision starts sounding a lot like the World Wide Web....

Would Otlet’s Web have turned out any differently? We may yet find out. With the advent of the Semantic Web and related technologies like RDF/RSS, FOAF, and ontologies, we are moving towards an environment where social context is becoming just as important as topical content. Otlet’s vision holds out a tantalizing possibility: marrying the determinism of facets with the relativism of social networks.
otlet  classification  libraries  organization  facets  furniture  filing  index_cards  textual_form  linking 
25 days ago
Public Library. Rethinking the Infrastructures of Knowledge Production | Memory of the World
From October 30 till November 23, 2014, the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart and Akademie Schloss Solitude are carrying out the project Public Library. Rethinking the Infrastructures of Knowledge Production. It consists of an exhibition – which acts in the same time as an open laboratory and a “scandromat” – at the Kunstverein’s platform Querungen (Traversals) as well as a conference that will be held from October 30 to November 2, 2014 at the Kunstverein and Akademie Schloss Solitude.

The project reflects and discusses today’s conditions of knowledge production: from the neoliberal politics of education and the monopolization of “intellectual property” to alternative critical and anarchistic ways of sharing and “borrowing” knowledge....

Oscillating between the “legal” and “illegal”
Open, independent, and (digitally) networked structures of sharing books, films, music, art, knowledge, et cetera, have been established—always oscillating between the “legal” and “illegal”—at least since the mid-1990s. In the meantime, models of “legal commons” and “common properties” that wish to regulate and legalize ways of sharing things had not only been implemented as “alternative agreements” but also controversially discussed, as they still rely on the capitalist logics of property. The conference basically explores those projects and networks for sharing knowledge, which neither accept the increasingly strict regulations of the (increasingly privatized) official infrastructures and systems of education nor the new monopoles of knowledge (Google, Amazon, etc.).

Curating the archive / library
Of interest here are, besides open digital libraries, also artistic ways of dealing with the structures of the archive and of archiving. Furthermore the necessity and criteria of curating open-access-libraries and -collections such as UbuWeb, Monoskop, Aaaaarg.org, Archive.org or Library Genesis will be discussed.

Constructions of a universal knowledge
Another aspect of the conference concerns critical reflection of the grand narratives and projections of “universal knowledge,” “universal libraries,” and other “world projects.” Reaching from the public library conception of the seventeeth century to projects such as the “Mundaneum”—a Belgian utopia from the early twentieth century, which conceived a city that would bring together all knowledge of the world in one flexible classification system—to Google.

Regulations, classifications, hierarchies
Furthermore, the conference aims to discuss the regulations, classifications, hierarchies, and protocols inherent to the infrastructures of education and knowledge production: from the mechanisms and effects of indexing systems or academic curriculums to dualistic relationships such as teacher-scholar, amateur-expert, “server-client” . . . On the opposite side, alternative models such as The Public School will be presented.

State responsibility
Besides developing open, decentralized, independent, and/or anarchistic infrastructures, we feel it is at the same time important to insist on the state/public’s responsibility of financing and maintaining access to education, knowledge, and art “for everybody” on a large scale. How could we, from this perspective, imagine future relationships between state-managed macro and self-managed micro structures of education and knowledge?
libraries  conferences  epistemology  knowledge_structures  open_access  classification  infrastructure 
26 days ago
Wherein I Answer 13 Questions About Digital Humanities Blogging | Trevor Owens
Shannon Mattern is always writing about these amazing courses she teaches, about visits to galleries in New York and sharing these in depth and thoughtful pieces and talks that have a media studies bent. It’s great stuff.
my_work  blogs 
26 days ago
It's Nice That : Tyrone Lebon's spectacular, moving documentary about photographers
Hardly anyone’s been on an uphill-climb as fast as Tyrone Lebon. One day he plopped into our lives with his photographs and films, and then the next minute he’s everywhere – shooting people all over the world and being talked about by countless magazines and websites. Just to reassure us that he’s no flash in the pan he’s just created this fantastic, informed collage of a film.

Entitled Reely and Truly, the half hour documentary overlays interviews, clips, nuggets of wisdom and head shots of some of the world’s most exciting photographers of all ages. What’s so fantastic about this highly creative effort is how much it truly makes you want to stop what you’re doing and go and be a photographer yourself. Tyrone’s captured the true essence of why these people do this: they love it, and they’re totally addicted to it.
photography  video  institutional_critique  format_studies  parody  meta 
26 days ago
Walter Benjamin's Radio Plays for Kids (1929-1932) | Open Culture
Benjamin’s youth and adult programming has been collected by Verso press in a new book entitled Radio Benjamin, which “brings together some of his most accessible” thinking. “Fascinated by the impact of new technology on culture,” writes Verso, Benjamin “wrote and presented something in the region of eighty broadcasts using the new medium of radio.” Between 1929 and 1932, he delivered around 30 broadcasts he called “Enlightenment for Children” (Aufklärung für Kinder), many of which you can hear read in the original German by Harald Wiesner at Ubuweb (German speakers, listen to an episode above). These, Ubuweb informs us, focused on “introducing the youth to various, some of them classical, natural catastrophes, for instance the Lisbon earthquake of the 1750’s that so shook the optimism of Voltaire and the century.”

Another of Benjamin’s subjects was “various episodes of lawlessness, fraud and deceit, much of it recent.” During one such broadcast, “The Bootleggers,” Benjamin wonders aloud rhetorically, “should children even hear these kinds of stories? Stories of swindlers and miscreants who break the law trying to make a pile of dough, and often succeed?” He admits, “It’s a legitimate question.” He then goes on to elucidate “the laws and grand intentions that create the backdrop for the stories in which alcohol smugglers are heroes” and tells, in fascinating detail, a few “little tales” of said heroes.
benjamin  radio  multimodal_storytelling 
26 days ago
The Origins of Aerial Photography - The New Yorker
Our interest in aerial photography dates back to more than a hundred and fifty years ago. In 1858, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, who used the pseudonym Nadar, captured the first aerial photographs, photographing Paris from a tethered balloon at an altitude of sixteen hundred feet. Two years later, aerial photography came to the United States by way of James Wallace Black, who took photographs from a hot-air balloon above Boston, in 1860.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GROWTH OF MANHATTAN

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

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

GRAPH

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

DATA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whether we are confronting the “end of theory” and the “death of the theorist” as computer coded software devices and sophisticated algorithms increasingly mediate, augment, and even automate academic practice and knowledge production remains an open question for further research. Is academic work really being homogenized and manipulated by the media machines of Google and Facebook, and is disciplinary expertise and knowledge production being displaced to the “algorithmists” of private R&D labs and commercial technology firms?
big_data  methodology  epistemology  academia  policy 
7 weeks ago
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