Mapping Libraries: Creating Real-time Maps of Global Information | The Signal: Digital Preservation
Information occurs against a rich backdrop of geography: every document is created in a location, intended for an audience in the same or other locations, and may discuss yet other locations. The importance of geography in how humans understand and organize the world (PDF) is underscored by its prevalence in the news media: a location is mentioned every 200-300 words in the typical newspaper article of the last 60 years. Social media embraced location a decade ago through transparent geotagging, with Twitter proclaiming in 2009 that the rise of spatial search would fundamentally alter how we discovered information online. Yet the news media has steadfastly resisted this cartographic revolution, continuing to organize itself primarily through coarse editorially-assigned topical sections and eschewing the live maps that have redefined our ability to understand global reaction to major events. Using journalism as a case study, what does the future of mass-scale mapping of information look like and what might we learn of the future potential for libraries?

What would it look like to literally map the world’s information as it happens? What if we could reach across the world’s news media each day in real time and put a dot on a map for every mention in every article, in every language of any location on earth, along with the people, organizations, topics, and emotions associated with each place? For the past two years this has been the focus of the GDELT Project and through a new collaboration with online mapping platform CartoDB, we are making it possible to create rich interactive real-time maps of the world’s journalistic output across 65 languages.
mapping  cartography  infrastructure 
3 days ago
Mapping the Nation - A Companion Site to Mapping the Nation by Susan Schulten
The nineteenth century was a period of great cartographic innovation. Medical men mapped disease to understand epidemics, natural scientists mapped the environment to uncover weather patterns, and educators mapped the past to foster national loyalty among young Americans. As the sectional crisis intensified, Northerners used maps to assess the strength of slavery, especially during the Civil War. After the war, the nation embraced statistical and thematic mapping as a way to profile the population and its resources on an unprecedented scale.
Through these maps, Americans came to see themselves and their nation in fundamentally new ways. Mapping the Nation explains that these experimental maps of disease, the census, the environment, and the past actually redefined cartography. The world we inhabit today—saturated with maps and graphic information—grew out of this reconfiguration of spatial thought and representation.

I developed this site to showcase the complex and beautiful maps that spread through nineteenth-century America, all of which are detailed further in the book, Mapping the Nation.
mapping  cartography  history  data_visualization  statistics 
3 days ago
Aboriginal Australian Maps: Maps are Territories
The bush is criss-crossed with their lines of travel and just as a person's or an animal's tracks are a record of what happened, the features of the landscape- hills, creeks, lakes and trees-are the record, or the story, of what happened in the Dreaming. While particular actions give name and identity to each location, the fact that together, in a certain sequence, the named places constitute journeys by particular Beings, who themselves are related in particular ways, links all identified places into a whole. It is not only the landscape that assumed its identity at this time; all things gained their identities, their places in the scheme of things...

Thus the landscape, knowledge, story, song, graphic representation and social relations all mutually interact, forming one cohesive knowledge network....

the knowledge network is not transparent or passive, it is the real stuff of interaction between groups, and depends for its existence on constant activity, singing, dancing and painting. Through constant negotiation everyone knows who is responsible for what part of the knowledge network, who is charged with the care and maintenance of what song, and what land....

Orientation in space is of prime concern for Yolngu. Any recounting, whether ancestral, historical or contemporary, is framed by a discussion of place: where events happened. Events coalesce in space rather than in time; landscape punctuates stories, and behind this is the 'working assumption' that human activities 'create' places by socialising space....

...Though it depicts topographical features we would hesitate to call it a map. As an account of what happened at one particular stopping place in the journey of the Ancestral Beings, it could be described as a diagram rather than as a map....

Dhulaŋ are maps only insofar as the landscape is itself a 'text'. Unlike Western maps, dhulaŋ do not seek to represent the text of landscape 'in ratio'; they do not seek the 'rational representation of nature'. Dhulaŋ and Western maps have different theories of picturing because they are produced within different theories of knowledge. It is because the Yolngu knowledge system has landscape itself as a meaning system, through which meanings are made following the actions of the Ancestral Beings, that dhulaŋ are coincidentally maps and icons.
mapping  aborigines  sound_space  epistemology  landscape  orientation  geography  navigation 
4 days ago
nytlabs: editor
Fine-grained annotation within an article is a difficult problem that has historically been approached in two ways, both of which have their own challenges. One approach is computational, building rule sets or machine learning processes to take best guesses at where to apply tags. These approaches can be quite successful, but are still not nearly good enough to stand on their own. The other approach is to have people do the tagging. The person writing the article knows the information needed with a high degree of accuracy, but the burden of work required to highlight and annotate every significant phrase is untenable.

Editor is an experimental text editing interface that explores how collaboration between machine learning systems and journalists could afford fine-grained annotation and tagging of news articles. Our approach applies machine learning techniques interactively, as part of the writing process, rather than retroactively. This approach can offload the burden of work to the computational processes, and can create affordances for journalists to augment, edit and correct those processes with their knowledge.
editing  writing  tagging  annotation  revision 
5 days ago
nytlabs
The New York Times Research & Development group looks beyond the next product cycle, identifying trends and technologies that will emerge in the next three to five years. We develop applications and prototypes that imagine the impacts these changes will create, and we share those prototypes to facilitate innovation and thoughtful consideration of the future of media.
research  visualization  information  data_visualization 
5 days ago
Careers in New Mapping | nmp.as.uky.edu
Digital Mapping is a large and fast growing industry. A recent report for Google estimates that the global industry (defined as geoservices) has more than $200 billion dollars in yearly revenues and employs half a million people in the United States. Studies by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration defines geospatial technologies as a high growth industry and predicted that an additional 150,000 jobs would be created between 2010 and 2020.

As a result the U.S. Department of Labor notes that, “the widespread availability of advanced technologies offer great job opportunities for people with many different talents and educational backgrounds.”

Below we outline a series of different job descriptions from GIS Technician to Data Scientist to give you a better sense of how the New Maps Plus program can prepare you for a career in this exciting industry.
mapping  advising  careers 
5 days ago
Mapping the Earth and its Future with Big Data
possible that no big data project will get us closer to that literal goal than the Global Ecological Land Units (ELU) map. The map, a joint project of the U.S. Geological Survey and ESRI, is a groundbreaking effort that maps Earth’s ecosystems in unprecedented detail. The work was commissioned by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), a United Nations-level intergovernmental consortium of 96 nations and the European Commission. The GEO’s mission is “to achieve comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained observations of the Earth … as a basis for sound decision-making for improving human welfare, encouraging innovation and growth, alleviating human suffering, including eradicating poverty, protecting the global environment, and advancing sustainable development.” The ELU map was a part of the GEO work plan because a globally comprehensive map of ecosystems at a management-suitable scale did not exist....

It is a concept wherein we define and then map ecosystems as unique combinations of the physical environment – that is, the bioclimate, the land forms, and the geology, as well as the vegetation that exists in response to that physical potential of the environment....

It’s more quantitative work than what we call interpretive work. It does happen that experts get together and draw boundaries around ecological areas, and their concepts and their bounding of ecological areas have always been really good, because they know their disciplines and they have field experience. So expert opinion-derived maps have been the status quo but they haven’t always been repeatable, as it depends on which experts you have in the room when those lines are drawn. It was always good scientific practice to try to more objectively and quantitatively define these ecosystem boundaries....

we had four essential inputs that we used to model ecosystems, and those are: land forms, and the source of data for the land-form model is a digital elevation model of the Earth, which is derived from satellite imagery. And the climate data that we used is a 50-year historical average of temperature and precipitation data from all of the reporting meteorological stations around the world. And, of course, there are some areas where there are no weather stations and so we don’t really have data from those areas and there had to be some interpolation in those data-poor environments. So that was the land forms and the bioclimate sources of data. And the lithology, or rock-substrate type layer, that’s important because substrate matters to living things. And that data source was the global lithology map, which is a recent arriver on the scene. And for some of those input sources, satellite imagery is used for the geology analysis. And, finally, our last input layer is land cover. And that tells you about the vegetation as well as the human-altered surfaces on the planet. And that is a classic satellite-image-derived product....

And we take those four inputs – climate, land form, lithology, and land cover – and we combine them in a GIS (geographic information system). And so you are multiplying 11 billion cells per layer by four inputs, and we model the ecosystems from that GIS combination of the layers....

And then for climate change, there’s a lot of interest in knowing, in understanding, the impacts of climate change on ecosystems. And I would maintain that we need to know what the ecosystems are and where they are out on the landscape in order to be able to answer that question of how are they being impacted.

And then, for conservation applications, there’s a great utility here as well. It is a fundamental conservation tenet among the global conservation NGOs that, in addition to conserving rare and endangered species, it’s important to conserve representative ecosystems...

And then, finally, there are resource management applications. If you have an ecosystem-based management mandate, then you need to know the ecosystems that are within your jurisdictions so you can properly manage them. And there’s an application around environmental security. Nations will go to war for access to these ecosystem goods and services. So I think it will help us to understand our distribution of ecosystems and the goods and services they are providing to better maintain global environmental security....

We are asking the scientific community to work with us on both improving the concept going forward and providing critical early adopter use cases so that we can demonstrate that ecosystem data are useful for those intended applications.....

...we are in a position to model either forward or backward in time the distribution of ecosystems based on a climate change. If we have climate change trend data, we can actually remodel ecosystem distributions in the past or predict them into the future as part of a potential impact of climate change on ecosystems, but the data themselves do not provide any information on trends in climate change. We need to get that information from the climate change trend modelers....

What are the advantages of linking these ecological land unit maps and data?

Sayre: One advantage is standardization. A global ecosystem map didn’t exist previously, certainly not at this finer spatial resolution and derived from data. Now that it does exist, it’s possible to do regional comparisons or cross-continent comparisons with a standardized reference data set....

I believe that if we can make it easy enough for them to access on a simplified, dashboard type of presentation – and ESRI has developed already some incredible value-added applications for browsing the data and for querying the data – if we can just make it easy enough for policy makers to access and understand, then it does allow policy makers to ask questions about where are ecosystems now and where might they be relocated to in the future given some scenario of climate change, and which ones are currently enjoying some protection in our national park system or the global protected areas. ...this map, along with engaging photos of different types of ecosystems, gives them the ability to approach and understand ecosystems on their own terms as opposed to having it dictated to them.
mapping  big_data  climate_change  ecosystems  ecology  dashboard  governance  interfaces 
5 days ago
Rock Your World (Or, Theory Class Needs an Upgrade) - The Los Angeles Review of Books
UNLESS YOU’VE been hiding under a rock, you know that saying things about rocks is now something humanists are allowing themselves to do with increasing frequency....

as one anthropology scholar said to me recently, “I don’t wish to ontologize” (make ugly face tinged with contempt for medieval scholastics). Epistemology is king: You’d have to be Duns Scotus or a German finance minister to have anything to say about reality. And the first rule of Epistemology Club is, you don't talk about Epistemology Club. You might not even believe you are in a club: You might assert that you are a theorist, not one of those philosopher narcissists. Don't beat up on my favorite hobby. Only the wounded narcissist accuses the other of narcissism....

it is common to hear about how railways are a “story about” something, rather than something. It’s a strange irony that some scholars insist that you can’t talk about anything except for talking about talking about anything, and that this is the correctly politicized, pro-feminist anti-racist stance, while global megacorporations frack in their backyards....

Theory class, in other words, needs an upgrade. Theory class is pretty obviously quite narrow in any case. “Theory” is basically (mostly continental) philosophy or derivatives of philosophy that some (mostly literature) scholar thought was cool sometime between 1968 and now. It’s a record store full of compilations, run by a confusing array of managers who mostly only read emails from other managers about what music is hot at a given moment. Both those facts explain why speculative realism didn't start in an English department and why Alfred North Whitehead is not on the theory radar at all. With the entire universe as his subject matter, Whitehead is definitely not in the record store.
theory 
5 days ago
Workshops, workflows & wooden trains: Prelinger RBML 2015 Keynote
moving images have not been part of most humanities and social sciences research, even though when they are central. Reading time-based media has historically been a specialized practice, often siloed within cinema and media studies. (Cinema and media studies people have probably made less use of our material than people working in the arts, gender studies, and in the historical disciplines.) The films in ours and other IA collections could often be central to scholarly inquiry if graduate students and scholars received more positive reinforcement for working with them. This is changing, but slowly. -- Thing to remember is that most historical moving images are enclosed and unavailable online because of copyright, expense of preservation (most moving image archives won't distribute copies of unpreserved materials -- a fascinating situation), and archivists' unease about "losing control". As a result, most historical moving images research must be done onsite, and researchers must pay hefty fees to make copies). Lack of access to research materials has probably influenced the course of scholarship more than loss. -- Libraries often subscribe to paywalled services that offer films on a pay-for-play for FTE basis, which makes public citation difficult. ...

Theorists who do not work in archives project all sorts of ideas onto what they call "the archive." For them archives can be blank screens, even playthings. And scholars and producers regard us as repositories for what they WISH we collected made available in the ways they WANT to use it. We spend a lot of time resisting the identities projected onto us. But only a few scholars speak with archivists directly. Few have spent even a day processing or arranging a new accession, rewinding film, or shifting cans from one vault to another. Workflow is almost totally absent in academic discussions of "the archive." And yet workflow is far more political, far more potent in its effects on archives than a hundred conferences....

Most writers and artists use the terms interchangeably without interrogating the difference between them, but the imprecision surrounding "the archives" and "the archive" ought to be vexing to archivists. An unstable amalgam of the unconscious and quotidian, the "archive" is an undemanding construct, an impossibly broad discourse. It serves the critical disciplines as they interact with history and memory without necessarily requiring deep engagement. For artists, writers and theorists, "the archive" is terra nullius, open for unchallenged occupation....

"The archive" invites flirtation; the "archives," on the other hand, could not be more demanding. Though their workplaces may seem quiet and their workflows may pretend to appear apolitical, "archives" overflow with contention. To collect is to commit to the survival of certain records over others; to arrange and describe is often to enclose; to preserve is to resist power, violence and constraint; to proffer access is to invite misunderstanding aggression. And yet "archives" yearn for praxis; even the quietest archival labor is practice in search of theory....

Could we try to draw connections between academic, artistic and archival labor? And could we try to link the conceptual umbrella we call "the archive" with the more quotidian work of "the archives"? This might mean listening harder to the people who perform archival labor -- thinking of it as cultural work or research rather than simply wage labor -- and incorporating a more materialist sense of the meaning and importance of archival work based on the work itself, not simply the externalities that influence most decisions archives make. For some time we have considered access to information to be a prime metric for assessing degrees of power and agency. But what kind of social and power relations are embedded in archival workflow? How do our often unexamined assumptions about how archives should be administered and worked affect the position of the archives in society?
archives  workflow  process  labor 
5 days ago
The Trouble with Provenance — Volume
A designer can no longer design a chair without a team of experts ready to craft its message and another team to convey it. Provenance has become the starting point of the design process; the search for the story is now the real design....

To tell the story behind the products, you will be ushered around to a series of video screens, which show in obscene detail the material technique by which each object is crafted. In one video bamboo is carefully shaved into fibers, and then those fibers are hand-woven to form a band that wraps around a delicate porcelain teacup. In another video, yak fur is meticulously hand-rolled into cashmere felt and pressed into sculpted seamless garments. Everything is shot in close-up, with a shallow depth of field focused on calloused knowing hands while rays of sunlight dapple in the slightly dusty air of a cozy workshop. Playing over this is the lamenting sounds of an erhu, a reminder that this is all part of some deeply historical trajectory....

Scour the websites of manufacturers today, and each will feature a litany high-production value videos telling you the stories behind the products, interviews with the makers, narratives about grand aspirations and humble beginnings, and ‘making-of’ sequences which prove the ultimate quality of what is on offer. Of course graphic design, interior design, architecture and product design all play their part in conveying provenance. But the sensory capacity of video, its ability to stimulate both sound and sight, and to tell a story in the most efficient way, insure it as the most important medium of the provenance industry today. As we move deeper into a digital world of online shopping and embedded auto-streamed content, provenance-related video will increasingly form a wall of everyday white noise battling for our attention.
things  authenticity  provenance  exhibition  video  multisensory 
5 days ago
What’s Next: The Radical, Unrealized Potential of Digital Humanities | Miriam Posner's Blog
For all of its vaunted innovation, the digital humanities actually borrows a lot of its infrastructure, data models, and visual rhetoric from other areas, and particularly from models developed for business applications. In some ways, that’s inevitable, because the business market is just so much bigger, and so much better funded, than the market for weird, boutique humanities tools.

But let’s take Google Maps, which powers a lot of our projects. Many have observed — I’m certainly not the first — that this technology enshrines a Cartesian model of space that derives directly from a colonialist project of empire-building.1

This business of flattening and distorting space so that it can be graphed with latitude and longitude? That makes sense when you’re assembling an empire — which is why the Mercator projection emerged in Western Europe in the 16th century. It doesn’t help, of course, that Google Maps is owned by a corporate entity with intentions that are pretty opaque.

But not even open-source alternatives like OpenStreetMap ask us to really reimagine space in any meaningful way. What models of space — what possible futures — are we foreclosing by leaning so heavily on this one representation? What would the world look like if we viewed it on a different kind of map, like, for instance, these maps, produced by Aboriginal communities in Australia?

n a similar way, many of the qualities of computer interfaces that we’ve prized, things like transparency, seamlessness, and flow, privilege ease of use ahead of any kind of critical engagement (even, perhaps, struggle) with the material at hand.

The standard for web usability.
The standard for web usability.
Even time is a big problem for us, as anyone who’s tried to build a timeline knows. Many tools that store temporal data demand times and dates nailed down to the minute, or at least the day, when of course many of us are dealing with things like “ca. 1500s.”

You might be familiar with some problems with the most common types of data visualization, which are great for quickly conveying known quantities but terrible at conveying uncertainty or conflicting opinions. You can assign a number to the degree of your uncertainty for data points, but how do you show the possible universe of missing data? How do we show the ways in which heterogeneous data has been flattened into a model to make it visually legible? If we want to communicate that degree of complexity, must we give up on visualization altogether?...

we frankly haven’t really figured out how to deal with categories like gender that aren’t binary or one-dimensional or stable.

We might, though. We might figure it out. I’m thinking here of Topotime, which is a data specification for representing time that was developed by Elijah Meeks and Karl Grossner at Stanford. By specifying that certain characters represent things like uncertainty, contingency, or approximation, they’ve shown how we could move from depicting time as a point or a line to a much broader canvas of shapes.
data_models  mapping  timelines  epistemology  methodology  digital_humanities  archives  data_visualization 
6 days ago
MATERIALITIES OF SOFTWARE: LOGISTICS, LABOUR, INFRASTRUCTURE
The primary task of the global logistics industry is to manage the movement of people and things in the interests of communication, transport and economic efficiencies. The software applications special to logistics visualise and organise these mobilities, producing knowledge about the world in transit. Yet for the most part the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software remains a black box for those not directly using these systems as a matter of routine in their daily work across a range of industries, which include but are not limited to logistical industries. Healthcare, medical insurance, education, mining and energy industries along with retail and service sectors also adopt ERP systems to manage organisational activities. One key reason for the scarce critical attention to ERP systems is related to the prohibitive price of obtaining proprietary software, which often costs millions of dollars for companies to implement. The aesthetics of ERP software is also notoriously unattractive and the design is frequently not conducive to ease or pleasure of use...

Logistical software functions as a technology of governance and control, measuring the productivity of labour using real-time key performance indicators (KPIs). Central to logistics is the production of new subjectivities of labour. More than any other aspect of logistical industries, this characteristic of logistics software makes it relevant to researchers in digital humanities. Why? Because such techniques of management are finding their way into academic workplace settings, which are undergoing a transformation into what I would term the logistical university (Rossiter 2010, 2014a). The recent rise of MOOCs (massive open online courses) is a logistical operation that will result in the offshoring and outsourcing of knowledge production. ...

The development of a digital visualisation drawing on data from productivity reports of the port is foregrounded to register the relation between design and research practice with regard to the question of method within digital humanities research. While the aesthetic logic of the visualisation is not markedly different from the many visualisations developed in digital humanities, it is nonetheless distinct for the way in which it brings to the fore the practice of method through the process of designing a visualisation. In the case of the Port Botany study, the visualisation served two key purposes: first, as a methodological device in the practice of transdisciplinary research and second, as a media form that made visible the pressures on labour within shipping and transport industries. Both aspects of the visualisation enable a critique of logistics, with the visualisation providing a kind of substitute interface in the absence of access to the software actually used in logistical industries....

In addition to storage, transmission and processing systems, I would suggest the larger study of logistical media might also include attention to how the aesthetic qualities peculiar to the banality of spreadsheets, ERP systems and the software applications have arisen from particular histories in military theatres, cybernetics, infrastructural design, transport and communications. Given the elusiveness of logistical software as an object of encounter, this chapter instead shadows such logistical media with recourse to digital visualisations of logistical operations. I emphasise how the digital visualisations are not just a method of aggregating disparate data sets into a new synthetic form that provides insight into conditions of labour; they also work as a mediating apparatus in terms of the sociality and design of research. In other words, the visualisations mediate the relation between people, organisation and things. Finally, I suggest that the visualisations offer digital humanities an opportunity to extend research into the politics of labour as it meets the logistical force of supply chain governance and technologies of control.
political_economy  labor  interfaces  logistics  methodology 
9 days ago
PQ FUI Toys - aescripts + aeplugins - aescripts.com
PQ FUI Toys is a super simple, pre-animated, sometimes looping, customizable Fake User Interface assets, as editable After Effects comps. Just drag and drop to quickly create FUI layouts to suit your projects, using expression controls to make tweaks to various parameters. The pack contains zero assets, and only uses shape layers, masks and native AE plugins, so you can customize pretty much anything.
funny  GUI  interfaces  aesthetics  fake  parody 
9 days ago
The Evolving Politics of Punk in the Nation's Capital
If it seems surprising that such a strait-laced city has long been a hotbed of a stripped-down, confrontational genre of music, consider the logic of it: Where better to nurture a political, anti-authority art form than the home of that authority?

That a public library is the latest institution to commemorate a genre centered on fighting the establishment might also be counterintuitive, but the sense of D.C.’s past punk glory is strong and for many it is an inextricable part of local culture. Recent years have seen a number of documentary films and projects memorializing the District’s punk scene. But the rash of recent reminiscence has prompted some to meditate on the timing: Perhaps it’s pure coincidence, or perhaps a couple of decades is just the typical time lapse before nostalgia sets in....

MLK’S PUNK ARCHIVE ISN'T the first such collection of local music. George Washington University houses a vernacular music archive that includes punk items, and also features folk music and go-go—D.C.’s homegrown fusion of funk, jazz, R&B, and hip-hop. Academic institutions across the country preserve local art and music, and Michele Casto, special collections librarian and curator of the Punk Archive, cites the University of Louisville’s Underground Music Archive as another example....

“D.C. is really good at mythologizing its punk and hardcore past,” said Kristina Sauvage of Coup Sauvage and the Snips. (The members of the Haus of Sauvage decline to use their “government” names.) “But let’s not forget that as radical as it purports to be, it was hardly as inclusive as it could have been. There have always been people—especially women, queer people, and folks of color—who have felt alienated and been pushed to the margins in punk. It’s hard for me as a black woman who grew up in the D.C. area to be too focused on a past that didn’t always make room for me.”
music_scenes  punk  sound_space  archives 
10 days ago
Faces, Places, Spaces The renaissance of geographic history.
Another version of space history is available these days, though. This might be called the cartographic turn, and is characterized by the argument that, while geography matters, it is visible only through the maps that we make of it. Where borders fall is as much a matter of how things are seen as how they really are. We can know the shape of the planet only through maps—maps in the ordinary glove-compartment sense, maps in a broader metaphoric one—and those maps are made by minds attuned to the relations of power. All nations are shaped by belligerence and slaughter. Their borders are a fretwork of scars; they are the history of violence made legible on earth. A new field of “border studies” has grown up around this insight, with its own journals and its own institutions: there’s a much respected Journal of Borderlands Studies, and there are institutes of border studies at several European universities. The newly published “Borders: A Very Short Introduction” (Oxford), by Alexander C. Diener and Joshua Hagen, makes an excellent and, well, very short introduction to the subject.

Border scholars argue that making borders is the essential modern gesture: ancient empires and medieval states had fluid and flexible borders, or none at all, and people lived and thrived in what were in every sense gray areas. The growth of the nation-state made the border an indispensable bureaucratic tool of mind and body control. Borders told us where to stand, and where we stand. We watch the red grow and shrink in the atlases as the British Empire expands and recedes. We see straight, ruled lines on a map—whether they mark the peaceful states of the American plains or the warring muddles of the Middle East—and we know that those lines were drawn by some yawning bureaucrat in a big building in the capital. And yet these arbitrary lines make cultures as much as they express them. The Canadian-American border, the longest border in the world between two countries, is as willful an act of imagination as a work of conceptual curtaining by Christo, but its existence has made two separate peoples, with two separate stories.

At times, this cartographic turn gestures toward a “Matrix”-like pessimism: what you think is natural is manipulated; that nation you live in, and the country you live in, were fiendish contraptions made by power to catch your soul. That’s the sense you get from “The New Violent Cartography” (Routledge), a collection of academic essays edited by the Hawaii political scientists Sam Okoth Opondo and Michael J. Shapiro, on the problems of why people fight over borders—or, rather, in one case, “an articulation of geographic imaginaries and antagonisms, based on models of identity-difference.” They make perhaps too much of the truth that the things rich people need are better mapped than the things they don’t, and that people with power tend to be able to impose their maps on people without it. Nonetheless, the idea that imaginary lines can have real victims is a powerful one.
geography  cartographic_history  cartography  borders  mapping 
10 days ago
Text and the City
The notion of the city as a (legible) text has been contemplated since the nineteenth century: Baudelaire saw the emerging modern city as a "forest of symbols"; Kracauer considered the deciphering of the "hieroglyphics of spatial images" as "the basis of social reality"; Benjamin observed that the metropolis demanded special kind of 'reading'; and for Barthes, "the city is a poem [...] which unfolds the signifier".[1] Linguistics, semiotics and literary theory have supplied concepts for urban analysis, and literature and film have provided narratives, figures, metaphors and models for investigating the complexities of the city, its landscapes, aesthetics, poetics, and traumas. But the city is also a site of numerous textual practices that in addition to shaping art, literature and theory, inflect our writing and thought, resonate in our language(s), and profoundly affect urban spaces. These textual practices compete for our visual attention, make claims on political allegiences, confront the images of cities and representations of places, assert themselves within the conceptual fields of both the text and the city. They take space. They form immersive and pervasive environments within which we navigate daily. They are manifest in architecture, in monuments and on everyday urban sourfaces, they take form of commemorative inscriptions, outdoor advertising, media screens and mediascapes, signage and regulatory systems, mapping and place naming, branding and marketing, political slogans, public art and street art. Immersive environments of fast changing, visible (and increasingly interactive) everyday texts demand new modes of investigation and new means of conceptualization.
media_city  urban_media  text  textual_form  reading  print 
10 days ago
This Fake Town Built for Self-Driving Cars Is Now Open
July 20, the University of Michigan opened a $10 million, 32-acre vehicle testing lab called Mcity to allow researchers, car makers, and technologists to tinker with environment-connected and self-driving cars in a simulated real-world environment.

Mcity, located at the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex in Ann Arbor, is equipped with sidewalks, a downtown Main Street, roundabouts, traffic lights, parking meters, and even a stretch of highway—all built to a life-sized scale. The area is also wired with networked sensors to collect data as cars roam through the lab.

Some road signs are even defaced by graffiti, and lane markings occasionally look old and faded, in stark contrast with the lab’s vision for test cars.

Peter Sweatman, director of the Michigan Mobility Transformation Center (MTC), says that testing will focus on self-driving cars and technologies that allow cars to communicate with other vehicles and local infrastructure.
data_space  algorithms  transportation  automation  algorithmic_landscapes 
11 days ago
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – The Alchemic Digital, The Planetary Elemental
The visual rhetoric of corporate computation is no longer merely a world of wizardry, of all sorts of technological operations pertaining to software as an immaterial regime of things conjured from nowhere... Rather, its visual rhetoric has become about material production as the showcase of digital luxury....

Gold, aluminum, and stainless steel are the highly managed, standardized elements of Apple Watch marketing material... Liquids turn to solids, and when nature fails to satisfy, engineers custom-design alloys specifically for luxury smart timekeeping. The demand for personalized digital objects is met with standardized materials. Eighteen-carat solid gold becomes a reference point for gadgets... Ultrasonic scanners guarantee its smoothness....

“Shine could be the paradoxically material base of an optical economy typically (mis)understood as being purely cognitive or immaterial.”... Art projects also engage with this premise—for example, Abelardo Gil Fournier’s Mineral Vision installation (2015): a copper slab whose silent façade opens up through augmented reality vision, revealing the quasi-mythological world of hidden messages; the digital opens up the material that becomes itself readable....

Magic, alchemy, and impossible creatures have never really disappeared. Secret knowledge is still held, but more often by way of legal means such as intellectual property and other measures related to finance, or just state security...

massive supply chain operations that govern the emergence of technological media objects. Such transformations are the less polished surface of the visual rhetoric of alchemy, even as the two are intimately linked. In Rare Earthenware (2014) by Unknown Fields, this transformation is tracked in terms of chains of production and the redesign of something that is symbolically luxurious but made of waste: ceramics in the style of Ming vases, but made from the toxic waste residue of smartphone, laptop, and car batteries....

“Sourcery” of the source code fascinates when it comes to the computational, but the other imaginary of contemporary alchemy is just as important.13 The trickery of design is underpinned by the work of material sciences and engineering: the work of labor, materials, and the wider logistical infrastructures in which materials are mutated.14 This transmutation works not by magic but by chemistry and geographically dispersed labor conditions in contemporary capitalism that produce the effect of creative magic, although if one is accurate enough it happens mostly in the various alternative zones that guarantee legal frameworks for material magic...

Watches that measure time—and the various biorhythms and other data captured—are then, besides personal items, also connected to the planetary periodicity, analysis, and computation of materials, which are of course not merely limited to gold, aluminum, and steel....

And there are also the technological apparatuses that have allowed us to understand elemental qualities and relations. The spectroscope, visual technology itself, “enables us to peer into the very heart of nature.”...

The visual culture of minerals was already earlier recognized in terms of optics—for example, the use of fluorite in camera lenses, microscopes, and telescopes.... But further uses of rare earth minerals are less about optics than about the chemistry of how they can be catalyzed. This includes such fine details as the planetary dimensions of a single computer chip, with the dozens of mineral elements it takes to manufacture one—a body of planetary knowledge condensed into a technological artifact. This notion of “planetary” has a molecular constitution, where the most local element is already potentially a planetary mixture in its chemical composition.
luxury  things  manufacturing  secrecy  materiality  geology  chemistry  recycling  labor 
11 days ago
What’s in the Library?
The Wellcome Library and Good, Form & Spectacle Ltd are working together in July-August 2015 to develop several prototype views of the whole library catalogue. Our working title isWhat’s In The Library? and we’ll be exploring four main themes: Scope of the Collection, Show The Things, Context vs Catalogue Data, and Scalability.
libraries  cataloguing  interfaces 
11 days ago
It's Nice That : Two GSA graduates salvage imagery from the Mackintosh Library fire for book
Recent design graduates Kat Loudon and Erin Bradley-Scott watched from the design building as Glasgow School of Art’s historic Mackintosh building went up in flames last year. The much-loved library designed by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh was destroyed and the archive was severely water damaged after a fire broke out as students prepared for their final degree show. Students lost entire portfolios, some 90 oil paintings, 8,000 books and journals, archival material as well as original furniture were all ravaged, and architecture enthusiasts the world over the reeled as it was revealed the Glasgow landmark’s library – a jewel of Art Nouveau design built between 1897 and 1909 – was all but ash.

Months later scorched pages littered the nearby streets as Kat and Erin noticed builders emptying burnt books by the wheelbarrow-full into a skip. They decided to seize the opportunity to see what they could find, salvaging around 200 charred, wet pages from 1970s magazines that would have been stored in the library’s mezzanine.

Working the found imagery into a publication of close crops and textural compositions, 511170 (named after the original reference number) pays homage to the damage done to both the Mackintosh Library and to students’ work. The cover and the order of these abstract reminders of the fire’s devastating effect is unique to each copy.
libraries  preservation  fire  destruction  decay 
12 days ago
fonts, typefaces and all things typographical — I love Typography (ILT)
Eye charts are designed to test visual acuity, or clarity of vision. Each chart design has limitations and advantages, depending on the clinical setting, patient profile, and diagnostic objective. To understand the differences between the charts, it is helpful to know a little historical background of standardized visual acuity testing.

he First Standardized Tests
Frear_figure1
Figure 1: Kuchler Chart. Heinrich Küchler is one of the first individuals credited with creating an eye chart to test visual acuity.

Küchler, a German ophthalmologist, designed a chart in 1836 using figures cut from calendars, books, and newspapers glued in rows of decreasing sizes onto paper. These figures included cannons, guns, birds, farm equipment, camels, and frogs. This system was limited because the figures were not consistent in visual weight or style. Dr. Küchler continued to refine his chart, and in 1843, published a new version using 12 rows of Blackletter letters decreasing in size. This chart was not widely adopted (hard to imagine why) and was published only once in 1843.
typography  graphic_design  testing  vision  sensation 
12 days ago
Max Colson on the digital composite images used to market luxury builds
If you live in a city, the chances are you’ve already encountered the digital composite images used to advertise the new “urban builds” popping up left, right and centre like ant hills in an otherwise lovely summer’s garden. Have you ever taken a second to recognise how hilarious a spectrum of “urban residents” they include though? A lovely smattering of white middle class men aged between 20 and 40, perpetually swinging briefcases, with the odd sweet-looking woman pushing a buggy for good measure.

This is the distinctly modern cultural phenomenon that Max Colson examines in his collection Images of Enjoyment and Spectacle, which is included in his new exhibition Virtual Control at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. Reinterpreting the images “originally used to market privatised public spaces and luxury housing,” Max takes the odd collection of subjects and their shadows and crops them into a dreamy pastel landscape, reimagining this surreal situation in a fantasy landscape.
media_architectrue  real_estate  digital  fantasy  CGI  marketing 
13 days ago
NYU’s Fales Library acquires Triple Canopy’s archive
Triple Canopy is pleased to announce the acquisition of its archive by New York University’s Fales Library & Special Collections. This novel initiative will guide the renowned library’s future efforts to archive the work of artists, writers, and organizations whose work exists primarily in—but cannot be reduced to—digital formats. A schedule of related public discussions and software releases will be announced during the coming year....

Fales Library will make the archive available for research and exhibition, and will collaborate with Triple Canopy to develop open-source tools and improved standards for archiving the work of organizations whose activities range from digital artworks to books to emails to exhibitions.... The partnership between Triple Canopy and Fales Library is a recognition that, in a digital environment, retroactive archiving risks an unacceptable (and ultimately insurmountable) loss of information; and archiving in general requires expensive equipment, technical expertise, and an abundance of time, none of which are likely to be available to small organizations and individuals....

Marvin Taylor: "The partnership between Fales and Triple Canopy urges both organizations to rethink what archiving looks like in the digital world. We know how to handle born-digital business files. Working together, we will be creating new ways of preserving born-digital artistic production.”
publishing  textual_form  preservation  archives  digital_archives  reading 
13 days ago
Artists Redesign the Alphabet, One Letter Per Day, on the Front Page of a City Newspaper
Each edition of the Fitchburg, Massachusetts, newspaper this month has one of 26 typographers designing a letter from the alphabet, and writers contributing poetry and stories inspired by that letter. The Alphabet is the creation of artist Anna Schuleit Haber, who launched the project on July 13. “The front page resembles Main Street, in a way,” Schuleit Haber told Hyperallergic. “And handing it over to an artist for 26 days is very gutsy.”
newspapers  text_art  typography 
13 days ago
It's Nice That : Stephanie Passul applies narrative structures to graphic design
Clear, cohesive, commercial graphic design is all well and good, but every now and then it’s nice to give your brain a stretch, and Stephanie Passul’s MA project, entitled The City in Six Pieces, provides the perfect apparatus for a mental workout. The project, which was developed as the final product of Stephanie’s MA at Dusseldorf’s University of Applied Sciences, explores narrative structures which have been developed as a result of the changing ways we consume information.

“The catalogue shows six visual experiments, transforming narrative structures from literature, theatre and film into editorial design,” she explains. “Every chapter visualises the story The City by Hermann Hesse, using abstract photography, and each chapter is based on another narrative structure, like the classical drama, the epic theatre or the Möbius strip.

“These structures were reduced to their formal distinctions, like units of meaning (act, scene, sequence etc.) and order (linear, non-linear). These kinds of data were used to structure the story and build the base for the design of the chapter.”
textual_form  translation  material_texts  books  graphic_design  theater  narrative  formalism 
13 days ago
A Bestiary for the Magnificently Wrong Monsters of Medieval Times
Beyond the borders of maps, where the limits of exploration fell to imagination, medieval artists and authors created monsters. Humans were deformed into beasts, such as the Panotii with huge ears used for wings and blankets, and the Sciapods — supposedly in China — who held one giant foot above their heads as an umbrella. Unicorns that could only be tamed by virginal women hid in India’s deep forests, and dragons straight from hell tormented distant towns...

The selected monsters reveal the unease and curiosity with the unknown, and the influence of religion at a time when demons were believed to visit your deathbed for one last temptation, and Jerusalem was often situated at the center of maps.
epistemology  borders  unknown  mapping 
16 days ago
By Design: pros and Cons of New Digital Interface Design | Frieze Magazine
If you log on to one of the bigger, busier websites, like The New York Times or the Guardian, you may well spot three horizontal lines of equal length forming a small square at the top of the screen. It is known to techies as the ‘hamburger icon’, even though it is rather a stretch to read the upper and lower lines as the two halves of a bun, and the middle one as the meat, cheese and whatever else is stuffed between them. Oddly named or not, those three lines have appeared on more and more websites in the last year or two, mostly to identify a menu that appears from the side of the screen to reveal a list of the contents.

Like all of the operating symbols on the screens of our laptops, tablets, phones and other digital devices, the hamburger assumed its current function because something had to. In its case, once smart phones had become powerful enough to be used as internet browsers, website designers needed to find ways of removing data from their pages to make them easier to read on smaller screens. Replacing lengthy menus with hidden ones that slid into view at the click of a button was a clever solution...

Many of the most pleasurable aspects of operating digital devices involve touch and movement, like the ‘slide to refresh’ manoeuvre (also designed by Brichter) with which we update email inboxes and Instagram feeds by tugging the top of the screen. But the visual dimension of user interfaces has been less beguiling, even though digital operating symbols like the hamburger icon or the email apps on touchscreens are among the most ubiquitous images of our age and our most useful tools....

The late Bill Moggridge’s 2007 book Designing Interactions describes how the first digital user interfaces were developed by computer scientists and design engineers at research laboratories, like the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC) in northern California. Their work was guided by the shared assumption that the closer a computer’s controls appeared to be to familiar things with similar functions, the simpler they would be to use. To this end they modelled the first digital user interface, which was introduced in 1981 with the Xerox 8010, or Star, computer on the flow of paperwork around an office – storing documents in files, folders and cabinets, and discarding trash – by creating pictorial replicas of those objects to represent the relevant controls...

Praising the glacial beauty of Braun’s vintage radios and record players has become a design cliché, yet they remain models of the efficiency and elegance that Cooper sought for digital graphics. Braun’s designers achieved this by minimizing the number of buttons, switches and dials, positioning them in orderly sequences, and guiding the user with visual prompts like colour-coding. ‘Off’ switches were always red and ‘on’ switches green. They even modified the shapes of the button tops to suggest whether they should be pushed down firmly or pressed at particular points: concave for the former, convex for the latter...

Instead of striving to produce something equally compelling, digital user interface design has seemed to be steeped in nostalgia. For much of the past decade, it has been dominated by hyper-realistic or skeuomorphic images of the type of analogue objects Xerox PARC used as prompts over 30 years ago...

Why would any company invest so much cash and intellectual energy in developing digital books only to present them as being rather like printed ones? Why not illustrate them in a way that spelled out their benefits – such as greater choice and instant accessibility – without wasting paper?...

A few weeks before ios 6’s debut, Microsoft introduced the Windows 8 operating system with a very different aesthetic, which it had been developing for several years. Simpler in style and bereft of decorative flurries, it was dominated by solid blocks of colour and spruce typography. ‘Flat design’, as it was called, was also adopted by Google, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Samsung and, eventually, Apple, after Jonathan Ive, its senior vice president of design, took charge of interface design in 2013. ... Nor is the flat aesthetic free from nostalgia, influenced as it is by the postwar European style of modernism, epitomized by the Swiss Style of typography championed by Max Bill and Adrian Frutiger, and Rams’s work at Braun.

Developing a definitive design aesthetic as Braun once did is fiendishly difficult in any context, but especially so for something as complex as a digital interface with its multifarious functions. Whereas Braun’s designers could depend on the ‘form ever follows function’ principle of modernist industrial design to provide physical clues as to how to operate their products, the designers of digital devices can not do so. How could you guess what to do with a smartphone or tablet by looking at it?
interfaces  interface_aesthetics  cell_phones  icons  buttons 
16 days ago
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – Plastic Shine: From Prosaic Miracle to Retrograde Sublime
By the 1940s, people were so enthralled with plastic, reports science writer Susan Freinkel, that the word “cellophane” was designated the “third most beautiful word in the English language, right behind ‘mother’ and ‘memory.’”12 And while contenders to plastic had emerged, the substance was still by and large celebrated as the pinnacle of change and innovation...

Concerns about plastic grew beyond the art world. When industry began producing “schlocky kinds of things” like pink flamingos for lawns, or DuPont’s synthetic leather in the 1960s, plastic seemed to lose its cutting edge.20
New links were made to environmental and health hazards....

Oceans that once supplied the fossil fuels to process natural oil, generating byproducts used to develop plastics, are now greeted with their perverse offspring: plastics that do not biodegrade (polyurethane takes one thousand years to break down) and contain toxic debris that contaminate soil, ocean life, and waterways. Much of the ocean’s plastic ends up in what is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area of the Pacific Ocean strewn with floating plastic debris twice the size of Texas. Ocean life and marine vertebrae—including birds, dolphins, fish, and turtles—often misinterpret colorful plastic debris (bags, lighters, toothbrushes, etc.) as food or prey...

Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky also uses photography to depict the unbearable reality of plastic’s new problematic shine. Works like China Recycling #7, Wire Yard, Wenxi, Zhejiang Province; China Recycling #8, Plastic Toy Parts Guiyu; and Guangdong Province, all from his China Recycling series (2004), surreptitiously depict e-waste in heaps of plastic wires, cell phones, toy parts, or other forgotten novelties of gratuitous consumerism.
plastic  materiality  cultural_history  things  sustainability  recycling  trash  waste 
16 days ago
Epigraphy
An introduction to the study of Greek inscriptions, with particular emphasis on examining the ways in which they were used and understood by viewers in the ancient world. We will focus on a number of Greek, and especially Athenian, texts, considering them from epigraphical, historical, comparative and theoretical perspectives. We will give attention to certain larger questions: what is a monument? what is the difference between an inscription and other written forms, such as books? how was monumental writing understood in the ancient world? what are the political implications of monumental writing? Critical literature considered will include selections from work on the history of reading, contemporary theory of reading and writing, and the idea of the monumental.
writing  inscription  media_city  epigraphy  Greece 
17 days ago
SciFi Crime Drama With a Strong Black Lead | The New Inquiry
As I’ve examined forensic DNA phenotyping closely and deconstructed its underlying logic, I’ve found a set of problematic assumptions. The assumption that identity is biological, and that characteristics like gender and race can be read from the body, quantified with percentages, labeled as typologies, and transformed into visible characteristics. The assumption that a set of stereotyped representations of race and gender reflect the categories assigned by their coder. The assumption that pure, unadmixed ancestral populations have ever existed, and exist now in contemporary populations.

There are other ways of approaching phenotyping that yield less dramatic results but are firmly rooted in genetics instead of stereotyping. But even the most scientifically grounded and ethically implemented approach to phenotyping will always be inherently limited, as the genotype/phenotype relationship is a complex one modulated by interaction with the environment, age, lifestyle, injury, and self-modification. And as Parabon states in their FAQ, their technique cannot parse DNA mixtures, a common circumstance where a forensic sample is contaminated with another individual’s DNA.

If we are indeed entering a future of genetic surveillance, it is the complexities, limits, biases, and weaknesses of these new technologies we need to excavate. To do so, we need a multifaceted and transdisciplinary approach blending art, science, theory, and hands-on experimentation. The media will talk about how it all works, but to fully understand, to appropriately educate others, to devise suitable policies, and to form strategies of resistance, we need to know how it breaks.
data_analysis  forensics  DNA  profiling  genetics  surveillance 
17 days ago
This illuminating video shows what acoustics do to the sound of your voice | The Verge
This video from Austrian production company Touché Videoproduktion demonstrates this perfectly with a melodic singer who moves from church, to attic, to gym with a clap of his hands. There's even an anechoic chamber in the mix — a type of room used in audio engineering to completely absorb echoes.
acoustics  voice  video  sound_space 
17 days ago
Living Collections Catalogue — Collections — Walker Art Center
Each volume of the Living Collections Catalogue includes media-rich essays on broader themes as well as in-depth investigations of specific works of art. Featured works link to records in the Walker’s collections database, where additional information about the artists and artworks is available. Implicit in the concept of a “living catalogue” is the dynamic nature of an online volume about the Walker’s collections. Information in the database is updated as new research and presentations occur, while essays are versioned and citable with assurances of a permanent address to the information referenced.
art  multimodal_scholarship  multimodal_storytelling  art_history  performance  exhibitions  digital_exhibitions 
19 days ago
Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries Launches Digital.Bodleian, A New “One-Stop” Online Portal
The Digital.Bodleian website, launched yesterday, includes more than 100,000 images covering everything from beautifully illustrated manuscripts and centuries-old maps to Victorian board games and Conservative Party election posters from the last 100 years....

While other cultural institutions have led similar projects to digitize and make their collections available online, Digital.Bodleian is unique in the range of collections featured, the easy-to-use interface and the single point of entry that allows cross-collection searching.

[Our emphasis] This is also the first web resource of its kind to follow IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) guidelines; this allows scholars to make side-by-side comparison of images and online delivery of very high-resolution files which allows investigation of fine detail.
interfaces  archives  digital_archives 
19 days ago
Spaces Where Maps Fail - The Los Angeles Review of Books
Carroll’s subject is what she calls “atopia,” which she defines as “natural regions […] which, because of their intangibility, inhospitality, or inaccessibility, cannot be converted into the locations of affective habitation known as ‘place.’” Carroll is interested, then, in an endemic and unavoidable failure of cartography that supplements and haunts the project, where intangible elements and unmappable spaces provide both imaginary and real sites of resistance to capitalist, colonial, national, and imperial control.

The four atopic regions Carroll identifies are the poles, the ocean, the atmosphere, and the underground. These are, not coincidentally, the sites where Haggard-type adventure fantasies migrated in the late 19th century as the blank spaces on the map were more and more filled in. They are also (not coincidentally?) regions where the long-term devastation of the environment by modern industrial production — or capitalist over-production — has become alarmingly manifest: in the melting of the polar ice caps, the Texas-sized mass of discarded plastic called the Pacific garbage patch, the carbon-laden atmosphere that is attributed primary blame for global climate change, and the depletion of water tables and still uncertain but profoundly worrisome effects of fracking. These contemporary signals of environmental catastrophe comprise the historical moment for Carroll’s interrogation of the cultural logic that has lead to the present dire state of affairs.... While Carroll never invokes Jameson or the theory of cognitive mapping, her project is indeed an attempt to trace the genealogy and articulate the contours of the present crisis by undertaking a precise and original analysis of Western mapping in its broadest sense.

Carroll begins by pointing out that the blank spaces on the map of Africa — the ones that Joseph Conrad dreamed of exploring as a child and then rendered into the Heart of Darkness in his most famous work — are in fact a relatively recent modern construction. In the first pages of the book she shows us a 16th-century map, Giacomo Gastaldi’s Il disegno della geografia moderna de tutta la parte dell Africa, in which the interior of the continent is densely filled in with sites derived not only from travelers’ accounts but also and more abundantly from myth and legend.
mapping  cartography  blanks 
20 days ago
The spectrum of control: A social theory of the smart city | Sadowski | First Monday
Technocrats’ convenient blindness to the most worrisome aspects of the “smart city” invites a more balanced theoretical response. We propose one such response that lays out the characteristics and consequences of a dominant socio-political logic that courses throughout and ties together many of the various practices and ideologies related to “smart cities.” We begin by providing a contextual overview of the “smart city,” building from the burgeoning analytical work on the topic. This leads into a critical introduction to the ideology of the “smart city,” focusing on the stated aspirations of some of its most notable corporate, governmental, and academic exponents. We then offer a Deleuzian alternative, outlining a social theory of the “smart city” in service to capital as a form of control (rather than emancipation) of its subject-citizens. Next, we present two illustrative examples along the resulting spectrum of control: biometric surveillance as a form of monitoring, and automated policing as a particularly brutal and exacting form of manipulation. ...

The problem for smart city advocates is one of overcoming several tensions, if not outright contradictions, in their ideal-type of corporatized governance. Who is ultimately in charge of “hyper collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors?” What are the penalties when, say, deadlines are not met? Who imposes them? What are the problems that the smart city will use “end-to-end solutions” to solve? How will the imposition of such “solutions” be sequenced?...

Internet “terms of service” are the ideal-type of desiccated, hollow, pro forma “consent” that is better termed obeisance, acquiescence, or learned helplessness. Thus the overall pattern of relationships in the smart city results in a seamless “spectrum of control,” with meritorious or merely creepy technologies directly imbricated with deeply disturbing ones. The idea of a “spectrum of control” is more than a turn of phrase [28]. It serves as a symbolic visualization of an interpretation of a text — here, the text is the city, considered simultaneously as a kind of aesthetic object and software program. ... In such cyborg cities concepts like consent vs. coercion, control vs. autonomy do not exist as binaries — but rather they exist on a continuum. Shoehorning the daily experience of the smart city dweller into such binary choices will only further falsify the lived experience of urbanites. Economic pressure toward a “full disclosure future” [30] makes opting out a luxury good (Angwin, 2014).

By theorizing in terms of a spectrum of control we can draw connections between technologies that were before thought of as discrete and independent. The innocuous is enfolded with the menacing. Any significant technology of the smart city becomes a tool to be repurposed for later, often-unforeseeable goals...

The technological systems installed within cities to make them more connected, efficient, secure, and smart don’t exist in a vacuum. They “absorb and reproduce the dominant cultural values of the contemporary political economy” [37]. At the subtle end of the spectrum of control, the systems act on us in ways that are functionally and/or physically invisible; few even know about data brokers, intrusive surveillance, and the ways we become incorporated into the data flows of capital. And even then, we “consent” by default because the options to not do things that pull us into the logics of these systems....

The cyborgification of city life raises critical questions about an interlocking series of existential and social questions. Computerized implementation of rewards and penalties, welfare and policing, are premised on a series of decisions as to whether any given (in)dividual should be controlled, or granted opportunity; should be invested in, or treated as a site of extraction. Existentially, the city dweller must decide whether to compete for investment, or to challenge existing power structures, or simply to drift, swept along by the decisions of those who create the circumstances that others merely endure.

And as our lives increasingly take place within “coded space” — spaces that are augmented by digitally inscribed information — and “code/space” — spaces that are so infused with information that it is a necessary component of their functioning — the power of computerized processes becomes even more pervasive and inescapable (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011). ...

With all the optimistic promises and hopeful visions surrounding ‘smart cities’ it can be easy to lose track of the politics that are coded into these interconnected technologies and initiatives. If we conceptualize these urban transformations as merely neutral enhancements that bring unalloyed goods of efficiency and security, then we miss out on the socio-political, even ontological, aspects of what it means to be entangled in these rhizomatic mechanisms, assimilated deeper into the functioning of the cyborg city, and controlled by algorithmic decisions and technologically extended force.
smart_cities  surveillance  governance  Deleuze  control 
20 days ago
S.M.S |
Founded in New York City by artist, collector and dealer William Copley, S.M.S. was an art collection in a box, filled with small-scale, often whimsical, artworks available by subscription. Delivering art through the post offered Copley, and his collaborator Dmitri Petrov, a way to circumvent the art market and make contemporary art accessible to nearly anyone. Inspired by Copley’s mentor and friend Marcel Duchamp’s Boîte-en-valise, S.M.S. was conceived as an inter-media and intergenerational publication that would present artworks by prominent and unknown artists side by side. The magazine gathered an impressive range including the Surrealist luminaries Man Ray and Meret Oppenheim, Pop artists Richard Hamilton and Roy Lichtenstein, composers Lamont Young and Terry Riley, and an up-and-coming generation of conceptual and post-studio artists such as Joseph Kosuth and Bruce Nauman. Regardless of stature, each was paid $100 for their contribution. This egalitarian spirit extended to the communal atmosphere of Copley’s upper west side Letter Edged in Black Press loft which functioned as an unofficial hangout for many of the participants.
The six issues of S.M.S. are composed of “original reproductions”—luxurious, exacting replicas of each artist’s work in an edition of approximately 2,000. The magazine spared no expense, seeking out, and even inventing, varied and obscure production methods including Lil Picard’s labor intensive Burned Bow Tie—each of which needed to be individually singed. The enormous edition size—and the affordable price of $125 per subscription—enabled a much broader swath of the public to collect the internationally recognized artists contained in the portfolios. Ultimately short-lived, S.M.S. portfolios were mailed bi-monthly between February and December of 1968 directly to subscribers, with each portfolio containing approximately a dozen works of art....

One of our key ambitions was to return to these objects a degree of the kineticism that was integral to their original presentation, and we have devised ways of treating each work as itself a digital object (rather than a disembodied, photographic representation). While the main interface allows viewers to move objects around—grouping them, resizing them, zooming in on them—viewers may also filter the objects by media type, artist or portfolio, and thereby discover new threads among the insistently heterogeneous art of S.M.S. And much in the spirit of S.M.S., which produced exacting replications of sometimes purposefully arbitrary objects, we invite you to explore the high-resolution images of every artwork, images that document the grain of Alain Jacquet’s Color Separation, the fibers of Lil Picard’s Burned Bow Tie, and the meticulous pen-and-ink design of Bruce Conner’s Legal Tender.
art_history  magazine  archives  digital_archives  publication  textual_form  archive_art  subscription  reproduction 
21 days ago
On Whiteness in Sound Studies
I’m struck, however, by the relative absence of a certain strain of work in these volumes—an approach that is difficult to characterize but that is probably best approximated by the term “American Studies.” Over the past two decades, this field has emerged as an especially vibrant site for the sustained, nuanced exploration of forms of social difference, race in particular. Some of the most exciting sound-focused work that I know of arising from this general direction includes: Stoever’s trailblazing account of sound’s role in racial formation in the U.S.; Fred Moten’s enormously influential remix of radical black aesthetics, largely focused on music but including broader sonic phenomena like the scream of Frederick Douglass’s Aunt Hester; Bryan Wagner’s work on the role of racial violence in the “coon songs” written and recorded by George W. Johnson, widely considered the first black phonographic artist; Dolores Inés Casillas’s explication of Spanish-language radio’s tactical sonic coding at the Mexican border; Derek Vaillant’s work on racial formation and Chicago radio in the 1920s and 30s. I was surprised to see none of these authors included in any of the new reference works; indeed, with the exception of one reference in The Sound Studies Reader to Moten’s work (in an essay not concerned with race), none is cited. The new(ish) American Studies provided the bedrock of two sound-focused special issues of journals: American Quarterly’s “Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies,” edited by Kara Keeling and Josh Kun, and Social Text’s “The Politics of Recorded Sound,” edited by me. Many of the authors of the essays in these special issues hold expertise in the history and politics of difference, and scholarship on those issues drives their work on sound. None of them, other than Mara Mills, is among the contributors to the new reference works. Aside from Mills’s contributions and a couple of bibliographic nods in the introduction, these journal issues play no role in the analytical work collected in the volumes....

What I would like to hear more audibly in our field—what I want all of us to work to make more prominent and more possible—is scholarship that explicitly confronts, and broadcasts, the underlying whiteness of the field, and of the generic terms that provide so much currency in it: terms like “the listener,” “the body,” “the ear,” and so on. This work does exist. I believe it should be aggressively encouraged and pursued by the most influential figures in sound studies, regardless of their disciplinary background
sound  listening  race  sound_studies 
21 days ago
Butterfly Room, Team Gallery, Tabor Robak
100 five-inch LCD monitors, 100 single-board computers with solid state data storage, modular acrylic armature, passive HDMI cables, HDMI port savers, micro USB power supplies, four 24-outlet power strips, various connective and structural hardware elements
storage  hardware  CGI  art  materiality  data_aesthetics  cellular 
21 days ago
Tabor Robak : Fake Shrimp
This exhibition is an ecstatic celebration of computer-generated imagery, as well as an agnostic exploration of its distorting capacity to falsely cast citizen in the role of godlike creator.

Where’s My Water? consists of a close crop on a series of “pen cups,” displayed contiguously over twelve 55-inch monitors. The video is characterized as much by the misleading mundanity of those cups as by frequent instances of spontaneity: its dynamic transitions often feature acts of destruction, or other unexpected, seemingly non-sequitur imagery. In order to be viewed at such a grand scale, the images are rendered in excruciating, hyper-real detail. The choice to reserve this grandiose treatment for this particular subject matter is due to the latter’s workaday practicality – Robak has recently come to conceive of his own practice as a job like any other, requiring diligence, organization and an enormous quantity of time. Writing implements are the tools of artists as well as accountants, writers as well as workers, here monumentalized.
video_art  CGI  data_aesthetics  containers  writing 
21 days ago
How Algorithms Shape the Landscape | The Dirt
“The landscape was always made by the weird, uneasy collaboration of nature and man. There’s now a third evolutionary force,” Slavin says.  

Slavin walked the audience through concrete examples of how algorithms are not only driving financial trading but also shaping culture and the physical landscape. The public, especially since the financial crisis, knows that algorithms are the foundation of the financial system. But Slavin also demonstrates their growing influence in other areas of our lives: they provide the underlying logic for cleaning robots and “destination control elevators,” and allow Netflix to analyze movie plots, which makes them better at serving up movie recommendations. Slavin calls this the “physics of culture,” and then introduces the way the way these efficiencies are “terraforming,” or taking physical shape....

Spread Networks dynamited paths through mountains in order to create a 825 mile trench from New York to Chicago for higher-speed fiber optic cables, which can transfer one signal 37 times faster than you can click your mouse. “When you think about this, that we’re running through the United States with dynamite and rock saws so that an algorithm can close the deal 3 microseconds faster all for a communications framework that no human will ever know, that’s a kind of manifest destiny. We’ll always look for a new frontier,” Slavin said.
landscape  algorithms  codespace  algorithmic_landscapes 
21 days ago
Fix a Crumbling Baltic City in the First-Person Video Game INFRA - CityLab
Tell me if this intro to the first-person video game “INFRA” doesn’t get your adrenaline gushing:

We put you into the shoes of a structural analyst. Nothing more than a quiet desk jockey assigned to survey some routine structural damage.

Quickly though, your mission turns from a mundane trek to a fight for survival. Your tools are simple: the camera around your neck and the wits to navigate a virtual labyrinth of debris.

How you tell your story is your choice, will you have the commitment to finish your duty, or will you ignore all else but the preservation of your own life?
infrastructure  video_games 
23 days ago
The Anthropoid Condition - The Los Angeles Review of Books
Regarding representing, clouds bear significance, but without any code to clarify what they mean. Their meanings are essentially vague. The history of cloud media, in painting and photography, is the struggle to capture sensuous objects that are also abstract. (The sky was painting abstract impressionist images long before humans did!) Clouds are the original white noise. Well before analog media such as film and sound recording broke the stranglehold of the symbolic in the late nineteenth century, painters struggled to depict cloud colors and forms, often with stunning results. The ability to represent the indefinite is one of the great achievements of modern mathematics and media, and clouds were at the vanguard here too. If you want to understand how meaning works, you have to understand vagueness, and clouds are a chief example...

Technical infrastructures are not limits on our humanity, but its conditions. We can debunk silicon salvation without resorting to deluded conceptions of original purity....

I am more interested in media as hardly noticed infrastructures (such as vestal fire). Google, as the most prominent among an array of big-data players, marks not just a change in how people think but a disruption of being, if you’ll forgive the pretentious term. Google’s Faustian ambitions, of course, have a long ancestry, but dumbing down is the least of our worries. (Google in fact is a potent cognitive enhancer.) To make dumbing down the chief focus of our critique of the digital shift is like unplugging by watching nature videos on YouTube. It is in Google’s interest to spread the rumor that its business is all ethereal stuff in our heads and to keep our focus on information and cognition. Google is too smart to fall for that claptrap and knows that real power consists in weightier stuff, in birth and death, real estate and profits. The corporation’s air campaign is part of a ground strategy. The control of “bits” is ultimately about the control of “its.” Why else would Google and so many other IT companies be so interested in drones and robotics?...

My discussion of semasiography, which must win the award for ugliest term in the book, argues that the earliest kind of writing was images that held meaning but did not denote words or sounds. The breakthrough came with the rebus, a picture that suggested a sound, and thus enabled phonetic writing. So images sit at the very beginning of writing (André Leroi-Gourhan uses the “graphism” as an expanded term to cover both text and image). Why humans were able to record pictures so many millennia earlier in technical history than sounds is one of the central puzzles of the book, and my answer is the nature of time....

Revealing the invisible supports that hold up the world, a chief aim of infrastructuralism, is clearly allied with the feminist project of revealing unpaid and unappreciated labor.... Without reinforcing a gender binary, the book points to the vast realms of technical history made invisible by the masculinist view of technologies as artifacts that work on matter rather than practices that shape bodies. Technology, as I wrote about one of Google’s more outlandish moves, is womb envy....

It would take a lot of thought to detail my research techniques but they include the following imperatives: write early in the morning, cultivate memory, reread core books, take detailed reading notes, work on several projects at once, maintain a thick archive, rotate crops, take a weekly Sabbath, go to bed at the same time, exercise so hard you can’t think during it, talk to different kinds of people including the very young and very old, take words and their histories seriously (i.e., read dictionaries), step outside of the empire of the English language regularly, look for vocabulary from other fields, love the basic, keep your antennae tuned, and seek out contexts of understanding quickly (i.e., use guides, encyclopedias, and Wikipedia without guilt).
clouds  media_theory  infrastructure  hubris  feminism  research  methodology  process 
23 days ago
Qatar Moves to Craft a New Global Image
DOHA, Qatar—Battered by allegations that it mistreats migrant workers, aids terrorists and bribed its way to hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup, this secretive monarchy is trying something new: openness.

Qatar last month formed a new agency to craft the country’s image abroad and staffed it with 23 Qatari communications graduates, mostly from the local campuses of U.S. universities Northwestern and Georgetown.
place_branding  qatar  branded_places  branding 
24 days ago
Geography for the Non-geographer | Graphicarto
The focus of Geographic science should not only be the advancement of geographic thought and method in a vacuum, but also how geography can actively complement other sciences and industries, something the field is inherently tuned for....

n depth knowledge of the specific problem itself is often required, in addition to spatial knowledge: Data Analyst + Writer + Graphic Designer + Database Administrator + Front-End Programmer + Server-Side Developer + UIUX Expert + Subject Specialist + Statistician = Modern Cartographer

...Software is only a part of the picture, just as fundamentals and concepts are only a part of the picture. The ability to communicate this to non-geographers and non-enthusiasts is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for the geographic sciences to address.
GIS  mapping  cartography  geography  tools 
24 days ago
Embodied mapping, locative mapping, and new media poetics | Jacket2
If Wood is correct in his hypothesis that pre-digital traditions of counter-mapping show us one direction in which the discipline of mapping is headed, Paula Levine’s locative media poem shadows from another place: san francisco <-> baghdad (2004) suggests acts of imagination that can be accomplished with the affordances of GPS, GIS, and high-resolution satellite surveillance systems.

Too briefly described, Levine’s poem superimposes the pattern of bombs and missiles dropped on Baghdad on March 19, 2003, the first day of the U.S. invasion, on a georectified map of San Francisco, where she had listened, in real time, to radio reports of the invasion. “This was the feeling I had . . . ,” Levine writes: “I expected to feel the impact, hear bombs, feel shock waves, see bright lights in the sky outside my window similar to those described on the radio”:
cartography  critical_cartography  mapping  deep_maps 
26 days ago
OpenGeofiction
OpenGeofiction: a collaborative platform for creating fictional maps
OpenGeofiction (OGF) is based on the OpenStreetMap software platform, which means that all map editors and other tools suitable for OpenStreetMap can be used to build OGF's fictional world. This world is set in modern times, so it doesn't have orcs or elves, but rather power plants, motorways and housing projects. But also picturesque old towns, beautiful national parks and lonely beaches.
cartography  mapping 
26 days ago
to be invisible or not to be invisible: that is the power. or is it? | visual/method/culture
First, there are different kinds of visibility and invisibility, it seems to me. Sure, there’s the literal/material/physical hiding-behind-some-kind-of-screen kind of invisibility: the unnamed buildings in which high-finance trades, or the military surveills (or refugees hide – see my final point below). But there are also other kinds: material things not visible to the human eye, like wireless signals (has a history been written of the emergence of the the wireless icon, anyone?)...

Second, as Shannon and Adam point out, a lot of these things are not in fact ‘invisible’, because an awful lot of (cultural) work is being done to represent them: popular books like Andrew Blum’s Tubes, that describe the internet’s physical infrastructure; the current obsession with algorithms; projects like James Bridle’s recent project Seamless Transitions that used digital visualisation to picture the secret places where UK immigration cases are decided; Timo Arnall’s film Immaterials: Light Painting WiFi; Adrian Mackenzie’s essays on financial trading in the London Review of Books. It seems to me, though, that the criticality being offered of these various projects are not being discussed very much at all, in part because of that prevailing assumption that simply exposing something is enough. But how is something exposed? How is it made visible? What are the effects of different kinds of making visible? And this is not only a question of aesthetic form, it is also a question of how images are seen, displayed, encountered, understood and even – as Shannon remarks – acted upon.
visibility  infrastructure  making_visible_invisible  my_work 
26 days ago
indiemaps.com/blog » Wild Bill Bunge
In part, this was a reaction against the idiographic perspective then present in the discipline. Idiographic methods are concerned with describing the infinite variation in these social phenomena rather than discovering generalizable laws common to the entire surface. Bunge thought such an idiographic view would continue to marginalize geography as a science, but received much opposition from geographers who valued the traditional role of description in geographic practice. Later opposition formed against Bunge’s conflation of geometric pattern with explanation; mathematical functions and simple geometric patters couldn’t, in and of themselves, be said to explain anything.

The ideas contained within are too complex and far outside my areas of expertise to cover here; for a better summary of the issues and debates involved, see Michael Goodchild’s 2008 review (pdf). Though his book would become a classic, Bunge had a hard time getting it published stateside, and apparently Torsten Hägerstrand had a hand in its eventual publication by Swedish (”that freer place”) company Gleerup in 1962. Before this, but with his University of Washington PhD in hand, Bunge received his first academic appointment at the University of Iowa in 1960. By 1961, he’d been fired. The next year, with his book published, the activist/academic Bunge moved to the Detroit neighborhood of Fitzgerald to join the Geography Department at Wayne State University.
cartography  critical_cartography  geography  bunge 
26 days ago
Architecture made of rammed earth from the Dezeen archives
Mud is one of the oldest architectural materials – but it's back in fashion. Herzog & de Meuron used rammed earth recently, as did Seth Stein Architects and Watson Architecture + Design for this riding centre near Melbourne. See all our stories about rammed earth buildings
mud  architecture 
27 days ago
Metrosophy: Philosophy and the City - The New York Times
critical importance of Athens to the birth of ancient philosophy with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; or the way that modern philosophy got its start in Bacon’s London, Descartes’s Paris and Spinoza’s Amsterdam; or the deep roots of American pragmatism in New York, where William James spent the first years of his life as a curious child, and John Dewey spent the last years of his life as a revered professor.

These biographical notes are not inconsequential, especially if we acknowledge one of the most basic pragmatist beliefs: Ideas do not operate in a void. They respond to and depend on human beings in particular situations. Ideas prevail not because of their immutable logic but because they are embedded in the social environment at hand....

It is interesting to notice how Rousseau’s two personas — the contrarian who detested the city and everything it stood for, and the authoritarian who promoted the social contract and the general will that is embodied in a powerful sovereign — have continued to inform the way modern society thinks and acts. It is also important to find ways to reevaluate these two distinct sets of values....

In a letter from 1631 Descartes could therefore write: “In this large town everyone but myself is engaged in trade, and hence is so attentive to his own profit that I could live here all my life without ever being noticed by a soul.” But does the fact that your surroundings fail to notice you give you the license to fail to notice your surroundings?...

Although the act of thinking and the object of thinking were severed from the idea of place, the marriage between traditional philosophy and the city runs deep, and Arendt would be the first to acknowledge this in her studies of ancient Greece. Already in Plato’s “Phaedrus,” the titular character reproaches Socrates for not exploring the world outside the walls of Athens. Wouldn’t it be nice to pack a bag and go hiking? Instead of a measured reply, the original philosopher famously snaps: “Landscapes and trees have nothing to teach me! Only the people in the city can do that!”...

Even today, a city like present-day New York has no urgent need of Plato’s sanitized Socrates. Because the city is, in itself, a very efficient Socratic device. It is a ruthless, ironic, but also benevolent machine set to strip its inhabitants of their sense of certainty, self-importance, and claim to ultimate knowledge.
cities  philosophy  things_to_think_with 
27 days ago
Rhizome | How to See Infrastructure: A Guide for Seven Billion Primates
Perhaps because infrastructure wields great power and lacks visibility, it is of particular concern to artists and writers who bring the mysterious influencing machines into public discourse through their travels and research....

There is a value in seeing first-hand, and this experience is something that is treated as privileged resource, but shared in the spirit of research. Consider Unknown Fields Division, a "nomadic design research studio," run by Kate Davies and Liam Young, "that ventures out on expeditions to the ends of the earth to bear witness to alternative worlds, alien landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness." Participants share their experiences with those of us who cannot make the trip, like journalist Tim Maughan, whose dispatches from container ports, Christmas decoration factories, and toxic waste dumps visited on Unknown Fields excursions both horrify and captivate those of us back in the West, who do not have the full picture of where our goods originate.

These contemporary ethnographers are more likely to be found in hard hats than pith helmets. Charmaine Chua, who rode on a container vessel for thirty-six days in order to document the workers of the shipping supply chain, calls herself an ethnographer...

While first-person accounts offer glimpses of the human experience of infrastructure, maps are particularly helpful for conveying a sense of infrastructure's great complexity. For her study of refrigerated food production in the United States for the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Nicola Twilley prepared an interactive map of over 130 different food preparation, storage, and shipment locations, creating a digital "refrigerated landscape," for those of us to explore, who rarely see food anywhere outside of the short path between the grocery store and our kitchens....

Visibility, or lack thereof, is common theme in infrastructural research, spoken of directly in artists' statements, introductory texts, and essays. The language of diagrams, of hidden sites, of the bottoms of icebergs, of ignored vantage points, of proprietary buildings fills the legends of these infrastructural maps and guides. But this is not the fault of the researchers. The infrastructure itself is designed to be kept out of sight, visible only to those with technological access for the purposes of management and security. So why do we go to the effort to make it visible?...

Photographer Allan Sekula, in his book Fish Story, assaults our intellectual reliance upon an equivalence between information and infrastructure...

It is tempting to play with speculative utopias, as if infrastructures were mere Lego sets. In Jenny ODell's Satellite Landscapes, the artist plays with the fantasy of a world laid bare as pure information, taking the future-forward images of infrastructure from satellite views, and cutting them free from their landscapes, presents them as blueprints, as living creatures, and space stations placed in a white vacuum. For ODell, the invisibility of infrastructure is displayed in our forgetting of the "stubborn physicality" of these structures....

[Haraway] continues: "Feminism is about a critical vision consequent upon a critical positioning in unhomogeneous gendered social space." This isn't simply about a multiplicity to replace singular vantages. It is about understanding the territory as always a space with power avenues coursing below it. It is not about postmodern subjective narratives to replace objective knowledge either, in an attempt to install the cameras in the body, to make the "I" into another eye. It is about trying to decide, for seven-billion-and-counting upright, naked primates, what exactly "I" is supposed to mean. Haraway seeks "situated knowledges." Infrastructural ethnography, symbolic monographs, aesthetic explorations of data—these sorts of knowledges do not attempt to be everything, but never forget what they are and where they got their material. Infrastructural research does not claim to be the last word, and it does not claim ownership over its content. It does not treat our human thirst for resources as a resource, and instead treats it as a labor, deserving of value....

the strange thing about hard power manifested in public infrastructure, is that as much as it is secured and classified, it is never truly invisible. As Trevor Paglen has pointed out, "Secrecy is a self-contradictory thing...If it has to be made out of the same stuff as regular stuff, it has to reflect light." By shifting focus from the informatic realm to the situated, material one, infrastructure researchers often gain greater knowledge. James Bridle's Drone Shadow project counters the secrecy of the US military's drone strike programs with the material fact of their existence: the life-size silhouette of a drone, painted on the ground in a public space, in white lines. His Dronestagram project takes freely available satellite imagery from drone strike sites cataloged by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, much of their research done using a network of reporters in the local areas where the attacks occur....

The vast number of projects that could be mentioned, described in detailed terms of how they specifically attempt to situate knowledges of infrastructure, is overwhelming. There seems to be an insatiable curiosity for these sorts of explorations among a certain intellectual set, a real desire to be made aware of uncomfortable truths. Walter Benjamin is perhaps the patron saint of such projects....

With so much at stake, researching infrastructure is no simple task. It must be the political goal of situated knowledges to repair infrastructure's human mechanisms while dispelling the futurist aesthetics of technological acceleration, of utopian mastery, of authoritative control from the level of boilerplates on up....

No book or project will reveal the infrastructure totally, or solve all the problems. But by looking in the crawl spaces, being willing to get one's hands dirty, to crawl a bit, to let one's eyes adjust to the shrouded places, the researcher begins to make infrastructure the structure it is meant to be.
infrastructure  infrastructural_tourism 
4 weeks ago
Media Fields Journal - Making Location Visible
Pike Research released a report in 2012 indicating that spending on the services, software and tools of geographic information systems (GIS) will steadily increase over the next five years, reaching potentially 3.7 billion dollars in 2017. This expenditure legitimizes the declaration made by Dr. Stephen McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel University, that “2012 is the year of GIS.” McElroy’s comment that “the desire to know where everything is located fuels a trend in location-based services” not only validates the degree program’s relevance, but highlights the social situation where “the average person is becoming increasingly impacted by the power of GIS.[1] ”While institutions and government agencies are further utilizing the context-dependent, decision-making capabilities of GIS technology, the impact for the average person comes from a surge of publicly accessible and interactive cartography.

...people are no longer passive users but active consumers, producers, and distributers of geospatial information.... “For those outside, who may not even be aware that there is a field called geospatial, it has made geography ordinary, which is the most revolutionary thing of all.”

...includes commercial geodemographic systems, land information systems, geographic positioning systems, and automated mapping and facilities management systems.

...practitioners, geographers, and commercial suppliers praise GIS as a technical means to increase “geo-literacy,” a new term for a long-standing idea of accessing interactions, interconnections, and implications by utilizing geographic reasoning to make far-reaching decisions about health, community, and the environment... Maps help us integrate and apply our knowledge...

The growing techno-optimism and notions of empowerment surrounding GIS, however, obscure the technology’s politics. As printed maps before, digital maps of the modern era continue to create realities as much as they represent them with the new technological functions only further extending mapmaking possibilities. Location is being revalued as geo-spatial information, but what new knowledge is being mapped, and who is at the helm of its navigation?... These software companies, geodemographic marketing firms, and data vendors are not only maneuvering the political economies of GIS, they are also commercializing data that was once controlled by elite groups and restricted for security reasons. Before we extol GIS as a revolution or a “democratization of maps” that celebrates open participation in geodata production and distribution, [9] It is necessary to consider geospatial information’s value as a commodity.

...by hailing the individual to be the producer of his or her own cultural activity—to personalize their own location-based story and social connection and to locate themselves within both digital and actual social space—they provide the ultimate in "user-subjectivity." ...it is the resort to the conveniences of customization as an alibi for increasingly comprehensive, hyperlocal forms of advertising and consumer monitoring that raises concern. ...data miners collect, aggregate and sort users’ geo-located information for alternative managerial purposes that span from commerce to homeland security.
geography  GIS  mapping  cartography  advertising  Google  egocentrism  surveillance 
4 weeks ago
The Hyperloop Will Be Only the Latest Innovation That's Pretty Much a Series of Tubes | Innovation | Smithsonian
Even as the digital age dawned, pneumatic tubes still felt somehow like a superior technology, a glimpse of a future that should have been. “If the equipment is old, the idea is terribly modern,” Jacques Lepage, director of a pneumatic-transport firm in Paris, said in 1984. “You can move things around extraordinarily quickly through the system here.”
media_archaeology  pneumatic_tubes 
4 weeks ago
MoMA | Extra Art: Artists’ Ephemera in the Library
The MoMA Library recently acquired the Steven Leiber collection of artists’ generated ephemera featured in the 2001 exhibition, and corresponding exhibition catalog, Extra Art: A Survey of Artists’ Ephemera, 1960–1999. The scope of the collection covers a broad span of art movements including Fluxus, Arte Povera, Conceptual art, visual poetry, Minimalism, Pop art, and more, with the physical contents being similarly widely varied. Steven Leiber, art dealer, scholar and curator of the collection, applied the term “extra art” to these materials in order to differentiate them from traditional art ephemera and to position ephemera created by artists as a genre in its own right. These are materials that are integral to artistic practices; they are traces of performances and installations, or artworks in and of themselves. As such, the items in this collection exist in the space between art and ephemera and are an invaluable resource for art researchers.....

In the Extra Art exhibition catalog, Leiber provides specific criteria for determining what constitutes artists’ ephemera and how it can be distinguished from traditional art ephemera. His criteria are:
1. All materials are conceived and/or created by artists specifically for the purpose of being reproduced.
2. All materials are distributed for free or very inexpensively.
3. All materials have a supplemental relationship to art and perform a double function: a) they are secondary expressions of or about art, finding distribution in contexts in which these expressions are useful or instrumental for a short, limited time, and b) although these secondary expressions sometimes function in an external relationship to art, they also function, to varying degrees, as integral components of art or as art itself.
As noted, these materials are considered integral elements of art; they may be documentation that records work, fragments, or evidence of work—they are an archive of the ephemeral.
archives  art  ephemera 
4 weeks ago
Smartphones and the Uncertain Future of 'Spatial Thinking' - CityLab
The habits, hubris, and quirky predilections that once manipulated my movements are being replaced by the judgments of artificial intelligence.... Like any technology, digital maps are changing our brains as well as our behavior. Traditionally, people get around their houses, neighborhoods and cities with the help of an internal "cognitive map." But that system isn't much of a map at all. It's more like a personal library filled with discrete bits of knowledge, landmarks (a bus stop, a church, a friend's house), and routes.... Experts who study the issue are concerned that spatial thinking might be the next casualty of technological progress, another cognitive ability surpassed and then supplanted by the cerebral annex of the Internet....

...Spatial thinking helps us structure, integrate, and recall ideas. It's less an independent field of study than a foundational skill; a 2006 report from the National Research Council called spatial literacy the "missing link" in the K-12 curriculum at large.

Navigating is among the greatest incubators of that ability. A sophisticated internal map, as a famous study of London cab drivers showed, is tied to greater development in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for spatial memory....

Automatic orientation and self-centering, for example, are two cartographic elements that define online directioneering. An auto-oriented map has been rotated to match the viewer's perspective; a self-centered map is organized around the viewer’s location. Each one eliminates a sizable share of the mental effort in map reading.

But self-centering is among the most common techniques deployed by maps in situ. "You-are-here" maps can be found on virtually every floor of every office building, in vast interior spaces like malls and museums, and at junctions of the urban environment like bus stops and train stations....

Contemporaries feared that maps were vulnerable to the machinations of businesses and other controlling interests. "Rather famously, railroad companies would distort geography, especially when competing for markets in the Great Plains," says Jim Akerman, the curator of maps of the Newberry Library in Chicago....

While cartophiles are alternately entranced and worried by the technological progress within maps, the more significant change may be in our collective exposure to geographic information. We no longer have to "read" maps as we once did. But it seems nearly certain that we spend more time looking at them....

The casualty of this gradual fine-tuning, I think, is chance. Routes were once conceived in a febrile mix of logic, accident, and instinct. Today's data-driven apps have mastered logic. They have registered road traffic, train delays, and the other accidents of travel. They have also, by explicitly catering to each of our effable desires, rendered human navigational impulse an eccentricity.
mapping  cartography  navigation  orientation 
4 weeks ago
Redrawing the map | Boston Society of Architects
The proliferation of new spatial tools — everything from the GPS and GIS (Geographic Information System) to the easy availability of statistical and environmental data sets — is making certain kinds of mapping more relevant and ubiquitous than ever. We are not facing the decline of maps, but a shift from maps as repositories of geographic fact to maps as interpretive, argumentative, and unapologetically partial. Cartographic authorship has changed dramatically as well, since scholarship, design, and craft are now increasingly mingled. Mapping is no longer a specialist pursuit anxious about its scientific credentials; it is instead a powerful form of everyday communication. Whether these new maps appear on paper or online is largely irrelevant....

For a good example of the waning ideal of the map-as-fact, consider the massive project known as the International Map of the World. Although little known today, for most of the 20th century it was the flagship project of scientific cartography. The idea was relatively simple. Instead of every mapmaker starting from scratch, cartographers and mapping agencies agreed to a comprehensive set of standards that would allow maps from around the world to contribute to a single atlas of unprecedented detail. The project was first proposed at the fifth International Geographical Congress in 1891, and by 1913 nearly every country in the world had signed on. The graphic standards were even given the force of international treaty.... At its most ambitious, the hope of the project was that nearly all geographic questions could be answered with just one map.

This model came to be seen as seriously flawed as early as the 1950s. Treating maps as comprehensive databases made them cluttered, inflexible, and confusing. Map designers in the US military were especially concerned that high-speed jet pilots and far-flung soldiers needed maps tailor-made for specific tasks, not universal knowledge....

...Today, “message” maps are not being made by large organizations to teach children, but instead by designers, programmers, journalists, and artists participating in vigorous public debate. The largely unofficial nature of these maps has given them an unexpected power, since they can easily use others’ data while bypassing the traditional appeals to neutrality and comprehensiveness. “Inventory” and “message” have indeed diverged, but they have diverged socially and politically, not just technologically....

“Message” here means taking data collected for one purpose (municipal property assessments) and repurposing it as part of a broader discussion. ...

it still requires a cartographer to find interesting patterns and provide the “fixed point of view” necessary to make a visual argument. It seems even less likely that something like the Midwest map would emerge from an algorithm or a location-aware app. There is a slightly paradoxical relationship here: My maps are possible only because of the accessibility of data and software, but most of my work is about making that data and software do things that they were never meant to do....

I would suggest that the cartographer’s sensibility is becoming ever more crucial to public life. We are awash in data, and all our “look-up” needs can be fulfilled in a matter of seconds. But we also rely on maps when making sense of the world — we use them to orient ourselves historically, socially, and politically as well as geographically. This has always been the case, but what is new today is the opportunity for unusual, provocative, or minority points of view to reach a wide audience.
mapping  cartography  standards  rhetoric  data 
4 weeks ago
The politics of making maps - Canadian International Council - Canada's hub for international affairs
First, the map is an image and we tend to associate images to elements of truth (we believe in what we see). Second the map is a scientific image. It comes loaded with scientific connotations such as geographic coordinates, and levels of accuracy and it is deeply associated to the history of scientific measurement tools (from the compass to the GPS), which reinforces its truthfulness. Third, for most of our usages of a map, we don’t need to challenge its scientific base. For instance, a user of Google Maps interested in getting as quickly as possible from A to B is more interested in the traffic situation in real time provided by Google than in the growing geopolitical role played by Google Maps around the world and in how this contributes to the reshaping of the world....

There are now a series of examples worldwide in which borders that have appeared on Google Maps have created diplomatic and sometimes military tensions between countries and between communities. In 2010, Nicaraguan militaries crossed the border with Costa Rica and entered Costa Rica territory based on the fact that the border was misplaced on Google Maps since it was placed according to an old treaty between the two countries.

Another famous example is the different ways the border between Ukraine and Russia in Crimea is marked depending from where you access Google Maps. If you access it from western countries, the border is marked as contested, while if you access it from Russia, Crimea appears as being under the full control of Russia...

...it also became the referential map of the world slowly replacing national agencies and international organizations, without having any legal, political and democratic mandate. In other words, the world borders are now partially defined by a global private company, which operates, based on business plans.

There is a movement in contemporary cartography (called post-representation cartography) that argues that maps should not be dissociated from either their context of production or utilization. Authors in this movement argue that we can only really understand a map by understanding its context of production and its particular usage....

Focusing on mapping as a process instead of on just the map is not trivial and can have some very practical consequences. For instance, in the context of Indigenous cartography, geographer Bjorn Sletto argues that if we shift the attention away from maps as a visual document (with specific scientific and technological codes) to mapping as a social process in which memory and oral history can play a central role, than the process of telling spatial stories (which is controlled by Indigenous communities) becomes more important than the way these stories will be formalized cartographically on the map....

There has been a recent recognition of the social, cultural, historical and even legal importance of indigenous forms of spatial expressions such as performances, oral histories and dances, combined with a few attempts to give them some cartographic shapes. There has been an appropriation of mapping practices by Indigenous groups (often in collaboration with NGO or academics) in order to reuse these tools to defend and reclaim their territory. ...

In order to fit on these high-tech visual maps, Indigenous perspectives on places have to “support” several transformations. They have to lose their spiritual dimension to fit the Euclidean grid. They have to lose their aural structure to become visual. They have to be dehumanized to be coded in computing language. Basically the main argument against the use of online mapping technologies is that it reinforces the subordination of indigenous spatial world-views to western technologies and perspectives through those different transformations....

these hybrid cartographic forms of expressions do not reverse colonial social relations, but rather rework them, helping to develop a new space of mutual understanding, provided that the balance between western science and indigenous knowledge is respected. The transformation of indigenous knowledge and spatial expressions into cartographic artifacts remains a complex issue....

Now maps are fully zoomable, egocentred (centred on our personal location) and the data they represent evolve more and more often in real time.
The map now looks at us as much as we look at it. We are extensively mapped, voluntarily or not. While moving with our GPS enabled smart phones our geographic coordinates are systematically recorded which allow companies to track our movements (for instance Google uses this information about the speed at which our cellphones move to assess the fluidity of the traffic in real time). The personal data that we share with social media are also used to follow our movements and to identify our habits.
mapping  borders  politics  epistemology  cartography  translation  indigenous  data 
4 weeks ago
First Knight News Challenge of 2016 to focus on libraries | KnightBlog
What new ways could libraries connect to outside partners, institutions or audiences?
How should libraries prioritize their resources?
What amazing things happening in libraries should be amplified?
Whose work in libraries should Knight Foundation know about?
What will libraries look like in 10, 20 or 50 years?
What challenges does your library face adapting to the digital age?
libraries  funding 
4 weeks ago
Gianfranco Baruchello’s Infinite Small Systems – SOCKS
His paintings and drawings are fragmented in series of small elements, almost miniatures, connected one another to form a non-linear narrative. Naïve and ermetic at the same time, the canvases are mostly large blank surfaces punctuated with visual annotations and short texts, montages which explore processes and map ideas.

Little galaxies of painted episodes are extrapolated from different realities, from history, natural processes, contemporary events and onirical visions and placed in relationship one another to form unpredictable patterns.
The artist imagines and designs what he defines as “small systems” created in order to contrast the big systems of idealogy and politics.
painting  drawing  objects  things  diagrams  networks 
4 weeks ago
Conor McCafferty | Maps and Microphones
My own presentation looked at three areas:

Mapping sound maps: a whistle-stop tour of the 117 sound maps we’ve gathered so far for a database. This will form the basis of a critical review of sound maps, seeking useful points of dialogue with architecture and planning.
Listening and the urban environment: here, I gave some time to ideas around social listening in urban environments, drawing from a range of fields, including theories and writings by people like Peter Zumthor, David Toop, Pauline Oliveros and Klaske Havik.
Towards my research methodology: this final part focused on the work I’m developing in terms of critical review of sound maps, workshops with built environment professionals and initial ideas about an “urban sound pedagogy”
sound_space  sound_map  mapping 
4 weeks ago
About — Recomposing The City
Recomposing the City: Sonic Art and Urban Architectures is a collaborative research group based at the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities at Queen's University Belfast. Our mission is to bring together researchers and practitioners from a variety of disciplines in addressing the question: How can sound artists and architects working in collaboration generate new ways of analysing, understanding, and transforming urban spaces?  We will explore this question through seminars, events, publications, and design projects. Our ultimate aim is to support new design and development projects, and to improve the understanding of sound within architecture studies and practice.
sound  sound_space  sound_map 
4 weeks ago
Mapping and its Discontents | Global Urban Humanities
From lines drawn in clay to geographic information systems (GIS), humans for millenia have constructed an understanding of the world through visual representations of space. At this interdisciplinary symposium, mapmakers, users, and critics from the worlds of science, urban planning, architecture, history, and new media examined the ways maps work.
"Mapping and Its Discontents" was part of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, a major 3.5-year project supported by the Mellon Foundation. In this joint project, the College of Environmental Design and the Division of Arts & Humanities are collaborating to bring together scholars and practitioners across disciplines to investigate humans and the environments they inhabit and shape.
mapping  cartography 
4 weeks ago
Interview with Celia Lury, Luciana Parisi and Tiziana Terranova on Topologies
The claim we make in the introduction is that we no longer live in or experience movement or transformation as the transmission of fixed forms in space and time but rather movement – organised in terms of ordering and continuity of transformation – composes the forms of social life itself.  These dynamic, distinctively topological ‘abstractions’ emerge in practices of sorting, naming, numbering, comparing, and calculating. The effect of these practices is to introduce new continuities into a discontinuous world, linked to the topological forms of lists, models, networks, clouds, fractals and flows. There is a multiplication of relations of equivalence and difference and a radical expansion of the possibilities of establishing comparisons. Ordinal rankings or ratings, for example, are proliferating and increasing in importance not only in the economy but also in education, health, and popular culture, as they are used to derive and justify the allocation of resources....

our concern with the becoming topological of culture is necessarily a concern with how the computational transformation of technical machines and media into systems of organization, storage, transmission and control of information has led to a new form of culture defined by flows of data and by the rules, procedures, constrains through which they are ordered. So cultural topology for us is intrinsically affected by technology, to the extent that a technical machine is already a cultural, political and social universe that needs to be addressed.
lists  topology  networks  cloud  ontology  classification 
4 weeks ago
Preface · Maps are Territories
In 1987, a team of three people – Wade Chambers, David Turnbull and Helen Watson-Verran –began a systematic review and critique of the cross-cultural content of teaching materials in the academic field of *Science, Technology and Society*. In this book, one of several publications resulting from that collaboration, David Turnbull analyses maps both as a metaphor for knowledge and also as a major means of knowledge representation in a wide array of cultures. Many of the ideas presented in *Maps Are Territories* relate directly to other books in the *Imagining Nature* series, a list of which may be found on the imprint page. Underlying all books in this series is the conviction that the great nature-culture divide is an illusion, one might almost say, a figment of the Western imagination. In attempting to define our place in the world of nature, we deal not with nature on the one hand and culture on the other but rather with many and various cultural constructions of the natural world. This is really to suggest that nature, in the experience of humanity, is not singular but manifold. Understanding nature, in this larger and more intricate sense, involves close knowledge of relevant cultural traditions. Like the other books in this series, *Maps Are Territories* is conceived and structured not as a linear verbal narrative but as a progression of museum or gallery exhibits designed to exercise the skills of visualisation and visual analysis, so essential to any understanding of the basic theoretical issues of perception and cognition. A portfolio rather than a written text, each book stands alone and may be read without reference to the others. However, the full scope of the argument relating to the cultural dimensions of human perception of the natural environment will become clear only if the books are read in close conjunction. Throughout this period of course re-evaluation, discussions were held with representatives of the Deakin University Koori Teacher Education Project. Both the Koori Teacher Education Project and the Social Studies of Science course team supported the undertaking, with the aim of ensuring that Aboriginal knowledge receive more substantive and serious treatment in the University's curriculum as well as within the general forum of intellectual discussion.
mapping  indigenous  aboriginal 
4 weeks ago
'Color Girls': The Human Test Patterns of Color TV - The Atlantic
There are still occasions where the racial biases embedded in our cameras unexpectedly reveal themselves, as in 2009, when HP webcams had difficulties tracking the faces of African-American users. A year later, Microsoft’s XBox Kinect controller came under fire for a similar malfunction. Consumer Reports later attributed both problems to “low-level lighting and not directly to players’ skin color,” exonerating the two companies while sidestepping bigger questions about skin tone and the determination of “proper” lighting levels.

Nevertheless, unlike in the days of Paley and Sarnoff, some technology companies have begun to acknowledge these issues and take steps to address them. A particularly apt illustration of this transition is SRI's Visualizer Test Pattern, a display calibration tool created in the same Princeton facility where RCA scientists developed compatible color television. (SRI took over the research center following RCA's 1986 sale to General Electric.) This new test pattern, intended for digital video signals, features a racially diverse trio of models, rather than asking engineers to gauge picture quality on the basis of a single skin tone.
television  aesthetics  race  color 
4 weeks ago
BLDGBLOG: Transecting Amsterdam
Called Project 360º, it used the idea of the "transect" as a way to map and graphically depict pedestrian movement through urban space.
mapping  walking  psychogeography 
4 weeks ago
How to Avoid Being Fooled by Bad Maps - CityLab
As Mark Monmonier writes in the fantastic book How to Lie With Maps, Americans are taught from an early age to analyze and understand the meaning and manipulation of words, such as advertising, political campaigns, news and the like (to be “cautious consumers of words” as he puts it) but they are rarely taught the same skills about maps....

It’s no surprise then that people often assume maps are accurate, because it’s so often unclear how they are made—maps are “arcane images afforded undue respect and credibility” that are “entrusted to a priesthood of technically competent designers and drafters,” as Monmonier puts it. Almost everybody can write, but not everyone can make a map.

At the same time, the use of geographic information systems (GIS) has exploded as computers and software get more powerful and less expensive. New web mapping tools and the availability of data are democratizing cartography, allowing almost anyone to attempt mapmaking—something that was formerly possible only for experts or users of specialized software. That means many more people are creating their own maps, which is surely a good thing, but it also means that there are many more inaccurate, incorrect maps out there—either by design (to push viral or push a viewpoint) or because the creators don’t fully understand what they’re doing....

The source of the data on a map is one of the first things you should look for—where did this information come from? Is that a trustworthy source? Is it recent? Can you look at it yourself?...

A related feature to look out for is how the data is structured—is it the values of data itself, such as total unemployment or unemployment rate, or something else derived from that data? The farther away you get from the actual values, the more suspicious you should be. Are you looking at the rate of change, or even the decrease in the rate of change?...

Choropleth maps, which I mentioned earlier, can show data very effectively, but they can cause a lot of problems if used improperly. One of those is what’s called the “modifiable areal unit problem,” which arises because states, counties, census tracts and so on are not uniform in size or population, and population is not evenly distributed within them. This means that clusters or patterns in the real world can be obscured by the boundaries used to divide the data. You may need to dig into the data to understand those patterns....

Even the base data used for a map can have important consequences—boundaries, locations and so on. For example, Google Maps changes boundaries based on where you are: the boundaries of China, India and Pakistan are quite different in each country because of each country’s conflicting land claims. The company does the same thing for Crimea in Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the world, subtly adapting to (or even changing) perceptions for people in those countries. You might not realize something is off because you’ve always seen it the same way, while someone somewhere else may have seen different maps their whole life.

Even the way a map is shown can be important. The infamous Mercator projection being a notable example of exaggerating the size of Europe and North America while making Africa and South America appear much smaller than they really are. A funny example of this comes from the West Wing.
mapping  cartography  epistemology  education  geography  rhetoric  data 
5 weeks ago
Who Owns the Digital Map of the World? - CityLab
Maps may be a necessity of an empire, as Paul Ford writes on the rise of Google Maps in The New Republic this week, but whether that empire belongs wholly to Google is up for debate. Right now, the entire digital mapping industry is being re-mapped.

Last week, Mapbox, a map development company based in Washington, D.C., announced that it has raised some $52.55 million in Series B funding, a sum CEO Eric Gunderson called the biggest ever for a mapping company.

Mapbox doesn’t exactly make maps, though. It builds towers of software that organize sets of geo-spatial data for other kinds of businesses—real estate, transportation, agriculture, government, smartphone apps...

What’s key here is the basemap underpinning the above examples. You can see its tiny attributions in the corners: OpenStreetMap (OSM). Though Mapbox uses a mix of open-source, public-domain, and proprietary sources to generate maps, it relies heavily on OSM data as the bedrock of many of its products.

Founded in 2004 by Steve Coast, a British entrepreneur and cartographile, OSM is a totally free and open-source map of the world. Like Wikipedia, it is constantly being updated by a community of now more than two million members, who use GPS tools, satellite photographs, and their own local knowledge. Anyone can edit it. Many argue—and studies have shown—that the breadth of its team of contributors has given rise to data that is as good or even better than Google Maps. Community members verify new entries and correct mistakes.

... As of 2012, Apple, Foursquare, Craigslist, and Wikipedia (to name just a few) all built their maps using the Google Maps A.P.I. But today, none of those companies are using Google—partly because of how much Google started to charge for its services and data, and because of the limitations it draws around what companies can do with them.

All four of the aforementioned companies moved to using OSM (partially, in Apple’s case) because it’s free, and often as good as Google. And because the value of proprietary map data is rapidly plummeting as OSM gets better and better....

Besides OSM, there are three other global data sets: Google, TomTom, and Nokia’s HERE. You know Google’s map-making empire very well. The company employs a small army of professional mappers, editors, developers, designers, and 3-D-camera-mounted-van drivers to build and maintain its digital map. TomTom and HERE have similar, if smaller, operations, and they sell their data to other companies like Google does.

But it’s extremely costly to sustain these massive mapmaking operations through licensing schemes alone. Nokia is learning that lesson right now. The Finnish IT corporation purchased HERE, formerly known as Navteq, for more than $8 billion in 2007. Since then, HERE has aggressively competed to create digital maps as advanced as Google’s.

But in April, Nokia announced that HERE was for sale. Bids from companies ranging from Uber to Microsoft to a suite of carmakers have rolled in around the $2 and $3 billion mark. It’s a lot of money, but compared to what Nokia originally paid for, it’s bargain-bin. That confirms what Mapbox seems to have known for a long time: that the value of proprietary map data is approaching zero. In large part, that’s because of free sources like OSM.

It’s not the only way the geo-spatial landscape has rapidly evolved. “Ten years ago, maps were all about a navigation-use case,” writes Marc Prioleau, a location-based services expert who sits on Mapbox’s board of directors. “We looked at streets, addresses, POIs, maybe a little traffic. That's not true today. Today, it's about imagery, social media, real-time content, and much more. And three years from now, there will be only more data”—especially as location-based sensors increasingly populate the built environment....

Mapbox may be getting OSM data for free, but since its inception in 2010 it has made a point of collaborating extremely closely with the project. “We think of Mapbox as an OSM company,” says Gunderson. “We believe OSM is going to win.”

The company tasks a number of staff members with editing and improving the map daily. It also hosts mapping parties and workshops, helps organize yearly conferences, and regularly submits donations. Shortly after Mapbox announced its fresh round of funding, it donated $20,000 to the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF.), the non-profit, volunteer-staffed entity that supports the project.

“Geospatial data is a project that’s too big solve by a single commercial entity with a business model based on commercializing that data,” says Alex Barth, who heads data at Mapbox. “Open collaboration around global map data is the future of maps. That’s it.”...

But there are obvious tensions, particularly as more eyes turn to OSM as a profitable data set, and to Mapbox, as the most successful company yet to have turned a profit from it. Some—though not all—OSM members are wary of commercial entities coming into “productify” what is an open-source, community-driven project. OSM’s license states that all uses (private, commercial, government, humanitarian) of its data are equally permissible, so long as the user gives proper attribution, and shares back to the OSM community any improvements to the map that she makes public....

For example, geocoding—attaching addresses to places on the map—is hard, time-consuming work, and most volunteer mappers, understandably, don’t want to spend time on it. At the same time, rich address data is crucial to fulfilling some of the most basic expectations of modern web maps. That’s an area where paid mapmakers—employees of companies invested in OSM’s accuracy—could help improve the project...

“[N]o one company should have a monopoly on place,” writes the mapper and self-proclaimed “ethical hacker” Serge Wroclawski. “Place is a shared resource, and when you give all that power to a single entity, you are giving them the power not only to tell you about your location, but to shape it.”

Certainly, Google Maps has features OSM may never have (Street View, for example). It will still be the place many, many people go for navigational directions. But right now, the free map of the world has more business-minded eyes on it than ever before. If the community it is built upon treads carefully on its foundation and takes care to protect the map, OSM will only get better.
mapping  open_street_maps  open_source  google  labor 
5 weeks ago
The Transformation of nypl.org | The New York Public Library
While there’s a great number of resources on the site, we know we can make it better. We can make it easier to find things. We can offer you the opportunity to connect to communities and resources here at the library. We can offer you more access to our fantastic staff, our collections and our expertise. We can make it easier to attend a class, a lecture or ask a librarian a question. We can create a more personal experience and help you get the most out of this great community institution. We want to make the site easier to use, and easier to access, if you are looking at it on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.

In order to do that, we need to rebuild, redesign, and reorganize. We’ve launched a web redevelopment project that will take us into next year and allow us to begin offering new interfaces, new online tools, and new ways for you to interact with NYPL.  You’ll start seeing some of these changes later this fall as we really begin to roll up our sleeves and start building the new digital platform. There’s a great deal to do, with much needed re-tooling of the backend site structure as part of this initial effort, so many of the changes may not be immediately apparent.

We've just completed a 12-week concept phase of the redevelopment of the site. Working with the Portland, Oregon design firm Second Story, we kicked off the phase with a high-intensity boot-camp week of interviews with library departments and staff aimed at assessing everyone’s needs, and we’ve kept everyone at NYPL as involved as possible as the project has progressed. We completed an inventory of all our web content—and there is quite a lot—and created a series of visual designs to establish a design direction after receiving feedback from across our 92 branches. In addition, we began an assessment of the site's infrastructure and began exploring how new web technologies could be integrated into the new environment. Our vision for the site’s rollout is a continuation of the process. Parts of the site will be available in its first appearance while others will be developed in tandem. And even after the whole thing is “complete,” it still won’t be “done.” NYPL is always re-evaluating what it can provide for the public, and our approach to the new website will follow this philosophy.
libraries  interfaces 
5 weeks ago
Avidly / How Email Ruined My Life
Once I send an email, I can do nothing further until someone sends an email back, and thus in a sense, sending that email became a task in itself, a task now completed. More and more it is just a game of hot potato with everyone supposedly moving the task forward by getting it off their desk and onto someone else’s, via email. Every node in this network are themselves fighting to keep up with all their emails, in the back and forth required before anything can actually be done. The irony of the incredible speed of digital mediation is thus that it often results in an intractable slowness in accomplishing simple tasks. (My solution has been to return to the telephone, which easily reduces any 10-email exchange into a 2-minute conversation. Sidenote: I never answer my own phone.)

In case it isn’t already clear, such an onslaught of emails, and the pressure of immediacy exerted sometimes explicitly but mostly by the character of the media, means that we no longer get to leave work (or school, or our friends or our partners). We are always at work, even during time off. The joy of turning on our vacation auto-reply messages is cursory, for even as we cite the “limited access” we will have to email (in, like, Vancouver), we know that we can and will check it. And of course we know that everyone else knows that it’s a lie. Even if we really do take time away from email, making ourselves unavailable (not looking at email, not answering our texts) does not mean email has not been sent to us and is not waiting for us. And we know it, with virtually every fiber of our being. Our practical unavailability does not mitigate our affective understanding that if we ignore email too long, not only will work pile up, but there will be emotional consequences. I can feel the brewing hostility of the email senders: irritated, anxious, angry, disappointed. Even if I start to relax on one level, on another my own anxiety, irritation, and guilt begin to grow. Email doesn’t go away. It’s never over. It’s the fucking digital Babadook, a relentless, reflexive reminder of the unfathomable mass underlying every small transaction of information.
email  labor  productivity  digital_labor 
5 weeks ago
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – Field Guide to Skirmology: Handbook for the Skirmonaut
What are the self-assigned tasks of the Skirmonaut? They are necessarily self-assigned, for Skirmology is only ever an amateur science, if it can be designated a science at all. The task at hand is ostensibly to demarcate the screen. And this is precisely what operates at the degree zero of being any thing at all; hence the science thereof must remain an amateur endeavor (if by amateur we mean the rampant allowance for a total exemption from regulations—in which all linearity of thought and organized activity bursts into confetti skirmishes of sparkles, curves, the glitter of rogue galaxies).

The Skirmonaut, then, practices the unwitting, hasty, and only-ever-amateur art of an alchemical cartography that resembles most closely a provisional piracy, a disorganized navigation (in the quaintest, canonical sense), a frantic but constant assemblage. Skirmology is not the simple transcribing of the territory of the screen, but rather the establishing of an archaeology simultaneous to an unfolding of its topography....

Slightly displaced screenshot displayed upon screenshot. A sloppy palimpsest, a mock sedimentary cross section of an utterly fraudulent geology. A screen wishes to have no depth, but to operate (in loop) in that optative mode only begins to reveal its depths. Shimmering and scale-like. Positively piscine.
Multiple windows flattened into that instance of a click. (To study the Skirmonaut and its fugitive skirmishes may well lead to a musicology of click-cacophony, but in the end, the auditory has been bracketed.) All that remains is the study in camouflage, for in that instance of flattening, collapsing, only ostensible collapsing occurs—it is really collating, coagulating....

The screenshot becomes a divinatory map of screen-as-such. It is the image of the screen that most closely approximates it. It is, for a moment, the screen. It screens the screen. It screens screen screening.

Screening the screen, as it were. Threshold. Screenshot is playing at the threshold of screen as delimitation/delimited space versus threshold/window into something else.
mapping  cartography  screens  methodology  flattening 
5 weeks ago
Google's Sidewalk Labs is taking over the plan to blanket NYC with free Wi-Fi | The Verge
Earlier this month, Google announced the creation of Sidewalk Labs, an independent, Google-owned company that would focus on improving city living through technology innovations. At the time, Google didn't give any details about what projects it would be working on first, but now it seems that Sidewalk Labs is going to dive into the challenge of bringing widespread Wi-Fi to big cities — starting with New York City.

Sidewalk Labs just announced that it is launching Intersection — another new company formed of Control Group and Titan. While those names may not mean anything to you, Control Group and Titan were two of the key players behind the LinkNYC plan that was announced last fall. LinkNYC's goal was to convert the city's old phone booths into 10,000 ad-supported Wi-Fi "pylons," a plan that Bloomberg says is still scheduled to begin this fall. From there, the plan is to roll out similar programs in other cities, though where exactly this will happen hasn't been announced yet.
wifi  wireless  urban_archaeology  infrastructure  google 
5 weeks ago
A Roomful of Death and Destruction by Luc Sante | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
The room, the size of a large walk-in closet, was jammed to the ceiling with filing cabinets and boxes—250 cubic feet worth of material—and it reeked of vinegar. Lorenzini (who had previously brought to light the work of the great but unsung Eugene de Salignac, chronicler of the city’s bridges and structures from 1906 to 1934) spent weeks in the room, in a hazmat suit with breathing apparatus; when he took the subway home at night, people moved away from him. The odor came from the decay of acetate negatives; there were also many nitrate negatives, some of which were so corrupted they had to be disposed of immediately—nitrate still negatives are not quite as dangerous as nitrate motion-picture film coiled in metal cans, which is known to spontaneously combust, but almost. The room also contained many more recent polyester negatives, as well as some 2,000 glass plates and nearly two dozen boxes’ worth of prints. The final yield amounted to about 180,000 images from perhaps 50,000 cases, ranging from an uncertain point prior to 1914 all the way to 1972. In March, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced a grant of $125,000 to the Archives, to allow digitization of 30,000 pictures.....

The one blotter that Lorenzini could not locate was the first, which would have covered everything prior to 1925 or so, which means among other things that the dates of the earliest pictures can only be conjectured. The cases were numbered sequentially, at least at first; since case 599 dates from April 1914, for example, and 708 from June 1915, the earliest surviving pictures, which are in the single digits, might go back to 1910 or even farther, although Lorenzini is loath to speculate.

The 1926 photos have much in common with their counterparts from the previous decade. Police photographers—who included a few of the same people—were still employing bulky plate cameras, using wide-angle lenses (although perhaps not quite as extreme as in the earlier pictures), and lighting with magnesium powder. The slow decay of the flash, combined with the length of the exposures, softened edges and created penumbras, which goes a long way toward explaining the otherwise unaccountable lyricism of these images of death and destruction. Much of the subject matter is likewise familiar: murders, suicides, a few burglaries. Nevertheless, times have clearly changed. There are multiple car crashes, subway accidents, raids on speakeasies and gambling clubs, and, overwhelmingly, illegal stills. During Prohibition, bootleggers erected stills in all sorts of places, but particularly favored abandoned houses, where a still might be positioned—awkwardly—behind the door of an apartment, perhaps tall enough to poke through the ceiling to the floor above, with tubing running into closets.

The pictures are of undeniable photographic significance. Not every one is a masterpiece, but all display patient craftsmanship in their framing and lighting, making them seem lapidary, even definitive. Every picture is a tableau, complete unto itself. In addition, besides preserving the physical facts of important events and highlighting trends and aberrations in social behavior over the decades, the pictures record innumerable details of the appearance and atmosphere of the city in those decades. From them you can learn what kitchens looked like, how grocery stores decorated their display windows, how much trash accumulated in the street, what hazards attended the operation of open-top flivvers, and all about the wild variety of social clubs, illicit and otherwise, fancy or outré or irredeemably basic, that occupied an awful lot of the real estate in any era. They provide a vital and even visceral link to the city’s past, at a time when three-dimensional remnants of that past—buildings, along with their occupants—are being eliminated every day.
archives  photography  urban_history  crime  decay  everyday_life 
5 weeks ago
Archive basics : Austrian State Archives
Even though the “principle of provenance is in practice often considered to be less user-friendly, there are significant reasons that speak in favour of it.

The older “principle of pertinence”, according to which archives in former times used to organise official records according to their subject content without respect to provenance, only looks practical at first sight and more often than not, it cannot be applied consistently. In any event, records are taken out of their context of development thus robbing scholars of important potential to gain insights.
archives  organization  provenance  pertinence 
6 weeks ago
provenance | Society of American Archivists
The French conception of respect des fonds did not include the same stricture to maintain original order (referred to in French as respect de l'ordre intérieure), largely because French archivists had been applying what was known as the principle of pertinence and rearranging records according to their subject content.
archives  classification  provenance  pertinence 
6 weeks ago
William Larson: Fireflies | Gitterman Gallery Web Site
William Larson's Fireflies series (1969–1978) were some of the earliest digitally generated works of art. Larson utilized a technology new to the time to present a dynamic way of image making that extended the vocabulary of montage.

Larson used a Graphic Sciences DEX 1 Teleprinter, a sophisticated early fax machine, which converted pictures, text and sound into digitally-generated audio signals. These signals were transmitted over a telephone line and a stylus burned the image onto a special carbon-based paper, creating a unique “electronic drawing.” He was able to manipulate these images by altering the voltage of the output during the printing process, by moving the stylus during printing and by sending multiple transmissions to the same page, electronically layering images, text and visual representations of sound.

Larson conducted the technology to produce an almost random juxtaposition of dissimilar images. The symbolic, or poetic, potential of the juxtaposition references "the imperfect operations of memory or dreams."

With Fireflies, Larson sought to move beyond the traditional notion of what a photograph can be. He was interested in representing the fluidity of time with a static work of art. He stated: “I started to work and think of photography as a system of production, supporting a bias toward the additive possibilities of the medium, and less the subtractive, descriptive, or literal.”
photography  media_archaeology  fax  automation  telephone_art 
6 weeks ago
MATERIAL WORLD: AN INTERVIEW WITH BERNHARD SIEGERT by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young - artforum.com / in print
BS: Materiality, for Kittler, first of all, means an abyss of non-sense: that which has no meaning. That is the most important definition of what materiality means for Kittler. It is a polemical word: It has to do with his never-ending fight against sense-making systems like hermeneutics and philosophy and pedagogy and psychology—a battle guided by a deeply antihumanist rejection of the tradition of Enlightenment and of hermeneutic interpretation, of discourse systems. He wanted to show that these sense-making machines, these sense-making dispositifs or apparatuses, all are based on materialities that themselves do not make sense, are blind, dumb—but are all the more powerful for it.

And these are: storage media, transmission media, processing media, and so on. They have no spirit. They are geistlos, Kittler would have said; the spirit is processed, produced, by a hardware that is completely free of spirit, of meaning. Media technology is a huge abyss below ideal systems of making meaning....

GWY: I am, for instance, the wife of a Spanish peasant and I want to join my spouse in the New World. I now have to go through an immense, labyrinthine bureaucratic apparatus by stating who I am, by producing witnesses, getting documents, parroting standard phrases, obtaining signatures, and so on and so on.

At first glance, it looks as if we’re dealing with a fairly straightforward Foucauldian grid that is slowly lowered onto the great unlettered masses. And that would presuppose that you and I are preexisting identities that enter into a system of records. But we are actually brought about by the recording itself. And now comes your special point. This recording is a self-enclosed procedure...

BS: Right. And it is not only the subject—that is, the legal Spanish emigrant as a subject—that is produced or constituted by these procedures of writing. What is also produced is the flip side of the legal subject: the vagabond, the idler, all these figures that are denied access to the New World....

It all started with a theory that I call the “Two-Fly Theorem.” It concerns the little fly, the ever-present fly that sits in the Dutch still life. The theorem says that when you have a trompe l’oeil fly, you will always have a second fly. Perhaps more. There is never just one.

You have one diegetic fly that is sitting somewhere on a table, clearly within the fictive space of the image, and then you have another fly, the partner, which produces the illusion that it sits on the image support itself. There is a constant oscillation between the transparency of the illusionary pictorial space and the material opacity of the support.

Normally, trompe l’oeil is seen as an effect added to the still life to enhance its illusionary qualities. But what we are trying to show is that the trompe l’oeil is not added as manneristic embellishment to the still life. Rather, both trompe l’oeil painting and still-life painting are the precipitate of an unfinished—and never successfully completed—rejection of the trompe l’oeil from another medium: the illuminated book.

Still-life trompe l’oeil paintings retain a form of self-reference that we can trace back to late medieval Netherlandish book painting, where, since roughly 1470, you have an abundance of trompe l’oeils. When you study these book illuminations, which are traditionally seen as part of the Ghent-Bruges style from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, you encounter various stages of a process in which miniature, text, and border are differentiated, in order to establish a new “ontology” of the elements found on a book page—like letters, border decorations, perspectival images, grounds. And in the course of this process, the trompe l’oeil begins to disappear, to get pushed out from the page. Yet trompe l’oeil persists in another form: still-life paintings. These later manifestations of trompe l’oeil in paintings are evidence that the process of disappearance was never completed.

The argument, in short, is that in the last thirty years of the fifteenth century, book painting comes under pressure from two sides. First, panel painting is increasingly becoming the medium for artists. It is no longer restricted to altarpieces. Second, you have the printing press. The book becomes a different medium: It is no longer handwritten or handpainted. So you have a divide between writing and image, between the two-dimensionality of the printed text and the three-dimensional space of the picture, and you have the distribution of writing and image into new media—which does not produce, as one might think, the vanishing of the illuminated manuscript, but instead a very rapid development of certain elements of high self-referentiality. It is as if the illuminated book page becomes aware of its own mediality.

And you can see that everywhere. You have these interesting phenomena where the ground of the borders looks as if it were doubled. On the one hand, it is what it is: for instance, gold-covered parchment. On the other hand, it presents itself as a substance that is represented on that page.

You have the image ground, illuminated in gold or in green as the support for objects rendered in trompe l’oeil: flowers, insects, shells, plant tendrils. And at the same time the ground may show folds, may be curved instead of flat, may recede into some kind of imaginary depth and so appear as a depicted object itself.

So you have this doubling of the image support: the actual ground, on the one hand, and its representation, on the other. And the border occasionally develops into a niche structure, in which objects that formerly appeared as trompe l’oeil—seeming to sit on top of the image support, in “actual” space—now appear as part of the depicted fictive space. Hence the niche, which you encounter so often in early still lifes—think of Hans Memling—can be explained as a strategy to integrate the diverging medialities of the border and the miniature. In other words, the niche reconciles the orientation toward the material image support and the orientation toward the fictive image space.

So something that is usually thought of as a matter of style, a history of style, can instead be ascribed to a history of the differentiation of a medium. And with this, we arrive at the possibility of describing painted things like the niche as a reentry of the material side of one medium into the content side of another medium, or as the result of compromises between contradictory aspects of a medium that is in the process of differentiation....

GWY: What I find so beautiful here is the idea that a certain way down the road, a media type refunctionalizes something that was already present in its history, or to a certain degree even reacts to the fact that there is something still there that it no longer needs. So the medium turning on itself, to put it bluntly, allows precisely for the effect of representation. It is via self-referentiality that the closed system becomes lucid, for looking through....

BS: Now, however, cultural techniques may be seen to encompass everything from gadgets, artifacts, and infrastructures all the way to skills, procedures, technologies. Not only machines but legal procedures, sacred rituals, and so on. And we might say that if Kittler’s version of media theory was antihermeneutic, cultural techniques may be called posthermeneutic. Media and technology are no longer playing the bogeyman to meaning. Instead, we can look at a door, for example, as both a material object and a symbolic thing....

GWY: The materialities of jurisprudence.

BS: The law is always bound to certain spaces. Law is not everywhere. It cannot be here in this restaurant. It can only be produced in certain spaces, and these spaces are clearly marked by instruments, by techniques.

GWY: And in a later book, Vismann says that a court of law is almost identical to theatrical space. You’ve got a stage. You’ve got opponents. You’ve got people cordoned off....

BS: Within the context of cultural techniques, the production occurs via what we call ontic operations, or chains of operations. This goes back to a concept that was first brought up by André Leroi-Gourhan. Bruno Latour and others then extended this into the idea of recursive chains of operations.

We use the concept of recursive chains of operations that are completely ontic. So the operation of a door or a switch—these are all techniques that are producing a difference and thereby creating what they differentiate. It’s not given before, but it’s created by these techniques.

Through these operations, an ontology is produced: the ontology of the digital, for instance, which is produced by declaring parts of the analog continuum of the world as nonreal. So ontic operations produce ontology....

BS: ...what Latour calls immutable mobiles, we could call cultural techniques—maps, diagrams, perspectival representations, but also other systems and tools....

BS: ...Carl Schmitt, who wrote widely about the difference between land and sea as a fundamental difference for the history of the world..... The modern invention of the container redefined the difference between land and sea in an absolutely radical way, because it was invented to bridge infrastructures that are land-bound and infrastructures that are sea-bound.... Netscape’s early browser was called Navigator. You remember the ubiquitous ship’s-wheel icon. So from the earliest antiquity until today, our culture has described itself in terms of concepts that can be anthropologically explained by this original act of leaving the land.
painting  cultural_technique  materiality  media_history  navigation 
6 weeks ago
Urban Omnibus » Old Maps, New Tricks: Digital Archaeology in the 19th-Century City
Beneath every map’s intended cartographic purpose lie veins of additional information, clue-laden contexts with the potential to inform contemporary research and historical inquiry. Leah Meisterlin and Gergely Baics, an urbanist and urban historian, respectively, are working together to unlock some of that latent data and interrelate them with a wide range of relevant datasets. Through this combination of emerging mapping technologies and deep historical research, the pair is opening up new seams in experimental urban research....

While the cartographer’s tools have advanced greatly, this sort of purposive data mapping is also not particularly new. Prominent examples date back almost two centuries, including John Snow’s famous 1854 cholera map of London’s Soho neighborhood (see Figure 1) and William Perris’s 1852-54 fire insurance atlas of New York City (see Figure 2). Like today’s data-driven maps, Snow focused his readers’ attention on a specific problem crafted from his information: the clustering of cholera deaths surrounding the Broad Street water pump to support his argument against the miasmatic theory of disease. Perris provided his audience of insurance underwriters with maps that foregrounded significant information for use in risk assessment, including the location, size, land use, and construction material of each building in the city. Where Snow had to find a quick and easy way to visually represent individual cases of cholera deaths, for which he decided to use parallel black bars building by building, Perris faced the challenge of inventing an entire nomenclature of colors and symbols to document various aspects of the urban landscape...

What is now newly emerging is the ability to apply advanced digital mapping methodologies to extract and study the data embedded within these historical representations of the city, as well as to introduce and interrelate new datasets with the original maps. Imagine this as a sort of digitally enabled cartographic archaeology: we may uncover layers of information in the city beneath the data — drawn to varying extents and intended as contextual reference by the authors — just as we would sift through other historic sites. With access to a wide range of information pertaining to demographics, economics, and public health in the 19th century, we can introduce new data sources to the original maps, using visual overlays and various new tools to interrelate these data. The real task becomes identifying the kinds of questions to ask, types of data to include, and methodologies to introduce to the analysis...

While originally intended to convey a landscape of death relative to pump locations, we can also read those layers relative to the walkable geography of the neighborhood. With the detailed representation of streets, Snow offers us the basis of a networked dataset of origins (homes) and destination (the Broad Street pump) for the daily activity of acquiring water — as essential and fundamental a routine as procuring provisions, attending church, or socializing with neighbors...

The next step would be to reconstruct the other determinants of this neighborhood geography, including demographics, land-use patterns, the distribution and types of businesses and activities on and near Broad Street, or the commuting patterns of residents, each of which requires introducing additional sets of data. Moving beyond the question of cholera, we could then begin to reflect on 19th-century working-class neighborhood life with the provisioning of water as one spatial determinant sourced from Snow’s map. By mobilizing emerging mapping technologies upon the historical maps and sources available, we can thus excavate and reconstruct urban history layer by layer.
mapping  cartography  data  urban_history 
6 weeks ago
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