Beyond Open Data
When I started working on the Into the Okavango project three years ago (it's a nine year effort), I believed that making the expedition data open would be enough. In my mind I concocted a fantasy audience, a group of JSON-savvy, conservation-minded enthusiasts just waiting to spend their evenings and weekends making fascinating things with our datasets. This is the open data dream. But with our first attempts, most of these interested parties (if they existed) were being blocked at the door, sometimes by technical barriers, but more importantly because the data didn't offer contextual and narrative hooks that they could latch onto.

Open datasets might be fascinating, the APIs might be usable; but without any structure for story, it's hard for anyone to make anything with them. Perhaps because of this, public data releases too often end up like teetering piles of free IKEA parts, kicked out to the curb with no instructions.
open_data  narrative  multimodal_scholarship 
9 hours ago
Bellerby & Co Globemakers (@globemakers) • Instagram photos and videos
Bellerby & Co Globemakers Daily life of one of the worlds only remaining traditional Globemakers
mapping  cartography  globes  making  craft 
9 hours ago
“The Dregs of the Library”: Trashing the Occupy Wall Street Library « Discard Studies
Our books lived, were killed, and reborn, and released. They were donated, organized, catalogued, seized, destroyed, saved, and became testimony, evidence, burden, and discard.

These books of ours will always be objects in this story of Occupy, embodying our hope, planning, dedication – our rage, sadness, revenge, justice – our memory, our mourning, and moving on. But still, we let them go, we give them away, we recycle them, we throw them away, and we do it all with love.
little_libraries  books  occupy 
9 hours ago
Mishka Henner Uses Google Earth as Muse - The New York Times
“There’s an absurdity to living in an age when everything is photographed,” Mishka Henner, a Belgian-born artist, said recently from his home in Manchester, England, emphasizing, in particular, that every square inch of the earth seems to have been photographed and all of it is accessible online — including some of the world’s most secret places.

Mr. Henner embraces that very absurdity for his own image-making. He is one of a growing number of artists making savvy use of the surveillance capabilities of satellite imaging and Google Street View in work that reflects the way the Internet age has altered our visual experience. Mr. Henner takes a lofty view of what he sees as the multifarious activities of man across the planet, swooping down on the tracks of government or industry — United States military sites, say, or feedlots or pump jacks on oil wells. Seen in wall-size photographs, these mile-wide parcels of earth become specimens of the human imprint on the global landscape, presented with forensic clarity....

Called “51 U.S. Military Outposts,” it catalogs American military installations throughout the world. Mr. Henner was struck by the perversity of so-called secure bases being so visibly exposed. He includes the location of each base by city and country as evidence of its accessibility....

Mr. Henner’s images and artist’s books are made with painstaking aesthetic resolve and exemplify a challenge faced by museums, galleries and even auction houses: how to categorize Internet-based art-making? His work is “at the crossroads of many different genres or practices,” said Quentin Bajac, chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, who considers it “part of a strategy of neo-appropriation that you find in contemporary photography today with the Internet.” He added that Google Street View/Google Earth has been a muse for other artists, too, including Michael Wolf, Doug Rickard, and Jon Rafman.....

“It was a playful gesture at first,” Mr. Henner said of “51 U.S. Military Outposts,” explaining that he had based the idea initially on Ed Ruscha’s “Twentysix Gasoline Stations” (1963) or his “Thirtyfour Parking Lots” (1967), deadpan inventories of suburban banality. Documenting the numbers of military bases, however, became a typology of American global hegemony....

“Today the camera is connected to a complex network of software, protocols and online platforms,” said Katrina Sluis, curator of digital art at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. “When computers are taking photographs for other computers to view and interpret en masse, the role and significance of the individual image has shifted.” Artists like Mr. Henner who rely more and more on the robotic gaze of the Google Street View camera draw our attention to questions of privacy and surveillance. Ms. Sluis refers to them as “Web archaeologists” navigating an “increasingly computational culture” to find the element of human experience within it.
mapping  cartography  map_art  aerial_photography  surveillance  security  photography  appropriation  google 
17 hours ago
Intercolonial Technogalactic: on Google's Cultural Institute
The relation between Paul Otlet, The Mundaneum, the city of Mons and Google was non-existent until the arrival of a data-center in the city of Saint Ghislain, right next to the current Mundaneum archive center. Elio di Rupo, former prime minister of Belgium and chairman of the Socialist party was in charge of the relocation of the Otlet archive from Brussels to Mons, as well as the agreement between Google and The Mundaneum Archive Center, signed in 2013, based on future
opportunities for that region.

In a press release from 20 March 2014, posted by William Echikson, Head of Community Relations, Europe, Google expressed its plans to support the city of Mons during their role as European Capital of Culture in 2015: “One of Google’s two major European data centers is located just down the road from the city, making us a major local investor and employer. It is only natural that we want to help put some sparkle into the city’s ambitious capital of culture plans.”...

Femke Snelting has been following the relation between the city of Mons and Google in relation to the legacy of Paul Otlet: “from the side of the Mundaneum, there has been a lot of work in pursuing or even staging the story that ‘Otlet invented the Internet’ and subsequently, ‘Otlet was the visionary inventor of Google’.”
internet  media_history  archives  otlet  google  exhibition  museums  colonialism 
18 hours ago
Eco, meanwhile, celebrates a poetics of the list by tracing a long history of its use as a descriptive and figurative form in literature and visual art. The list for Eco has a unique capacity to collect the world; it is suggestive of what he calls the “topos of ineffability,” which is an aesthetic gesture toward the infinite, the unknowable, or the not-yet-known that is made again and again throughout the ages to stimulate the imagination of the beholder: “[f]aced with something that is immensely large, or unknown, of which we still do not know enough or of which we shall never know, the author proposes a list as a specimen, example, or indication, leaving the reader to imagine the rest.” [20] John Durham Peters, too, is fond of this disseminative capacity of lists. He describes their function in his writing as both a “battle against [his] own finitude” and an always already futile attempt to “catch the cosmos.” [21] These kinds of lists point us toward the infiniteness of all things on a vast, macrocosmic scale. They open up horizons that can make manifest the entirety of human history, or at least written history, which is, at its core, 5000 years of listmaking. Perhaps the greatest affordance of the list’s poiesis is that it confronts us with this fact, that as long as we have made marks on inscription surfaces, we have made lists; as long as we have contemplated the cosmos, we have sought to capture it and to revel in its infiniteness – often with the very same formal gesture. Lists of the ineffable offer the list maker the means by which to express simultaneously an awe of the infinite, and a sense of his or her own finitude. They offer a means by which to transcend this finitude by reaching across the void to a beholder via an affective form that circumvents any need for interpretation, or even historical context. Certain lists, such as the famous catalogue of ships in Homer’s Odyssey, call forth the past in a way that narrative and prose cannot – call it an “affect of etcetera.” [22]...

Related though divergent takes on the unique capacity of the list to probe horizons of thought and existence have begun to appear in contemporary debates concerning the “new materialist” and “nonhuman” turn(s). Matthew Fuller, for instance, highlights the capacity for lists to materialize relations. Any media ecology, in his theorization, must start with a listing of the stuff of which it is made, a breaking down into constituent parts which allows for the generative exploration of resonances, connections, and becomings between and amongst these parts. Meanwhile, Ian Bogost sees a unique capacity of lists for foregrounding the inherent discontinuity of the world. Bogost argues that “ontographic” forms such as lists disrupt the linearity of narrative and representation, serving to foreground objects or things in their alien, isolated strangeness. The list is an intruder, to the literary ear its “off-pitch sound … only emphasizes [its] real purpose: disjunction instead of flow. Lists remind us that no matter how fluidly a system may operate, its members nevertheless remain utterly isolated, mutual aliens.” [26]

In his thinking about lists – specifically, horizontal lists – Bogost finds especially compelling the work done by the “gentle knot of the comma.” [27] The comma both connects and disconnects, uniting the items of a list only by dividing them into discrete units. As such, the comma seems to do as much or more of the philosophical work Bogost attributes to lists, since it is the comma that materially isolates the alien units contained in a list. For all the richness of his analysis, a preoccupation with the way the list isolates leads Bogost to conflate its material properties – the unit that actually atomizes, the comma, falls under the general rubric of “list” and is not attended to in its own operative strangeness. As a result, the fact of the list itself – a space delineated by borders that inscribe a distinct barrier around its contents – is de-emphasized....

A list is not reducible to its discrete contents, nor only to the connections it forges between them. Before all else, a list is a list – a thing unto itself, a bordered space of collection. The etymology of the word reminds us of this fact: border, strip, edge, or hem. [28] Incorporating vertical lists (which Bogost curiously ignores) can lend precision to this point. Goody notes that “the [vertical] list … has a clear-cut beginning and a precise end, that is, a boundary, an edge, like a piece of cloth … And the existence of boundaries, external and internal, brings greater visibility to categories, at the same time as making them more abstract.” [29] Foregrounding its material properties or techniques of inscription forces us to reckon with the fact that the list always draws things together....

Latour calls forms that do this kind of work “immutable mobiles,” which draw things together and allow us to control their contents – what they re-present – from a distance. [32] “When someone is said to ‘master’ a question or to ‘dominate’ a subject, you should normally look for the flat surface that enables mastery (a map, a list, a file, a census, the wall of a gallery, a card-index, a repertory) and you will find it.” [33]...

I have explored elsewhere [34] the ways in which lists congeal the various components of a field such as popular music, wherein songs, artists, moments, and memories are abstracted as data in a variety of lists that function in field-specific ways. Through this form, collective archives and canons emerge, commodity circulation is measured, taste is made, and mastery of knowledge is performed. This constitutive capacity of lists on knowledge is also observable in Foucault’s meticulous tracing of emergent modes of observation and classification that in the classical period helped distance natural history from the mysticism that preceded it. [35] Lists serve a similar function in the florilegia of the Middle Ages. While this mode of information organization emerged initially as a personal list of things worth remembering about a text, Blair notes that authors of florilegia very quickly began to share and disseminate their lists, which served to establish and spread awareness of a (or “the”) canon. [36] More than mere summaries, florilegia stood as conscious value judgments about a text, in which the “best” or “most important” passages were isolated and emphasized. These lists of individual judgments began to circulate as crucial, authoritative documents regarding important sources and passages, a fact that emphasizes the form’s constitutive function in knowledge formation and circulation. That is, lists are here epistemological operators on emergent fields of knowledge and discourse communities. [37]...

in such administrative contexts, lists prescribe and determine networks of action – the Nazi census produces a series of lists and documents that program the actions of its agents, the structure and organization of its institutions, and the trajectories of its subjects, while the Puritan’s internal checklist prescribes his/her future actions and overall way of being-in-the-world....

Cornelia Vismann isolates this function of lists in her magisterial exploration of files as the privileged entity in Occidental culture. Files, she argues, are constitutive of the central concepts by which the modern West was forged: truth, subject, state, and law. Lists are crucial in this process, she notes, given that they actually prefigure files and “govern the inside of the file world.” While files are process-generated algorithmic entities, going a layer deeper shows that the process generators are themselves “list-shaped control signs.” [48] Lists prescribe any file’s movement through space and time – a file note issues a command for the next movement of a file’s existence (to where or to whom in any network of activity the file will travel, at what time, by which means, etc). Each executed command triggers another one, and over time these notes accumulate, one after the other, to form a list. File notes therefore both program and preserve, prescribe and record any file’s “life.” [49]
lists  classification  textual_form  epistemology  files 
22 hours ago
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – The Vectoralist Class
Second nature is still rather topographic, in that the location of industry is still tied to features of the landscape such as natural harbors or coal and iron deposits. Third nature is rather more topological, in that the dense network of information that overlays the territory enables the landscape to be stretched, compressed, folded, and twisted into new shapes—at least for the purposes of economic activity. It becomes a dense network of rather more temporary things. The liquid world of second nature, with its canalized flows of capital, labor, energy, resources, and goods, really does vaporize into a new, rather more gaseous state.
Third nature becomes an envelope of information flows that doubles not only the natural landscape but the second-nature one as well. It still has some ties to topography, of course. The old cities of second nature become information hubs. The vast data centers that will continue to mushroom in the early twenty-first century still require massive amounts of power and access to water for cooling. But all this new infrastructure yet produces a topological space in which information comes to control the movement and deployment of industrial resources, which in turn command the extraction and deployment of natural resources....

All that was solid and then liquid finally does melt into air. Space becomes a topology in which any point can connect to any other. A line of economic activity becomes a vector, in the sense that it can in principle be deployed anywhere. Connect a supplier of materials to a site of processing with a vector. If the supply becomes erratic, move the vector to connect a different supplier. If the labor at the processing site becomes difficult, move the vector again, connecting the new supplier to a new site of processing. If the capitalist firm doing the processing demands too much in profits, switch to another.11 Castells describes the transition from a space of places to a space of flows, or what I call third nature....

The ascendant power over both labor and capital is the vectoralist class. It does not control land or industry anymore, just information. It does not claim its share of the surplus as rent or profit, but as interest.

The oldest form of the vectoralist class is finance, but in the past its power has always been relative....

Over the course of the late twentieth century, so-called intellectual property emerged out of traditional copyright and patent and gradually became essentially a set of fully private property rights. The production of new information as information is based on a technical separation of the flow of information from its material substrate, such that while information still has no existence outside of a material substrate, its relation to that substrate becomes abstract. The potential of this development is then constrained and channeled via elaborations of the private property form.
But the production of intellectual property, like the production of anything, requires cooperation and collaboration. The source of all production passes through what is common. As with the landlord in relation to the farmer, and as with the capitalist in relation to the worker, the vectoralist class has to separate the hacker class from that which its shared endeavors makes.

Once again, the commons is either enclosed, or retained as a subordinate sphere from which commodification draws its reserves. The difference this time is that commons is potentially infinitely shareable. Land or goods can be scarce, but information is only artificially scarce in an era of plummeting costs of copying and archiving. Hence one of the great social movements from the late twentieth century onwards is dedicated to making information common. Information wants to be free but is everywhere in chains.

Freedom with and of information is the utopia of the hacker class. Four strategies for controlling the hacker class are worth mention. Firstly, the hacker aristocracy: a small cadre are encouraged to see themselves not as part of a class but members of an elite. They are rewarded handsomely, and sometimes share an interest in the vectoralist firm through stock options or bonuses. Secondly, routinization: the vectoral infrastructure is itself designed to separate a few specialized control positions from routine work, in turn separated into discrete parts. Object-oriented programming, for instance, is designed in this fashion. Thirdly, in-sourcing. If outsourcing sends a worker’s job overseas to another worker, in-sourcing assigns the hacker’s job to anyone who will perform the task for free. Thus the cooperative effort and the commons of information is itself treated as a resource from which to extract interest. Lastly, if all else fails, the hacker can be criminalized, imprisoned, or forced into exile.
capitalism  intellectual_property  hacking  flows  geography  topology 
2 days ago
The Everyday Work of Lists | Rowan Wilken, Anthony McCosker | M/C Journal
In this paper we have examined the everyday work of lists and the functions that they serve in mediating the materiality and complexity of everyday life. In the first section of the paper, following Crewe, we explored the dual function of lists as scripting devices in simultaneously “disciplining” us as consumers as well and as a means of controlling the everyday in ways that also feed our sense of self-identity. In this sense lists are complex devices. Perec was especially attuned to the layers of complexity that attend our engagement with lists. In particular, as we explored in the second part of the paper, Perec saw lists as a critical and productive tool (an invent-ory) and used them to scrutinise common things in the hope that they might “speak of what is [and] of what we are” (Perec, “Approaches” 210). Lists remain, in this sense, an accessible discursive technology often surprising for their subtle revelations about the everyday even while they maintain adherence to an inherently recognisable form.

In setting out the importance of his own “project,” and the need to question the habitual, Perec provides a set of instructions (his “pedagogic strategy”—Adair 177), presented as an approach (if not a method), and which signals his desire to critique the traditions of social science as a method of material and social ordering and analysis. Perec’s appropriation of this approach, this discursive technology, also works as a provocation, as a “project” that others might adopt. He prompts his readers to “make an inventory of your pockets, your bag. Ask yourself about the provenance, the use, what will become of each of the objects you take out” (Perec, “Approaches” 210). This is a challenge that was built upon in different ways by a number of writers inspired by the esprit of Perec’s approach to the everyday, associated also with “a wider cultural shift from systems and structures to practices and performances” (Sherringham 292). Sherringham, for instance, traces the “redirection of ethnographic scrutiny from the far to the near” in the work of Augé, Ernaux, Maspero and Réda amongst others (292-359). Perec’s lists thus serve as a series of provocations which still hold critical purchase, and the full implications of which are still to be realised.
lists  classificatio  textual_form  archives  Perec 
2 days ago
Architecture of Radio
The architecture of radio app is a realtime, location based visualization of cell towers, wifi routers, communication, navigation and observation satellites and their signals. A site specific version of the app includes wired communication infrastructure embedded in the exhibition space. It's aim is to provide a comprehensive window into the infosphere.
hertzian_space  infrastructure  invisibility  radio 
3 days ago
This Tactile Map of Burning Man Is Awesome, No Matter Your Level of Sight
what happens when GPS and WiFi signals are glitchy, like in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert? Or what if you’re headed somewhere that, with or without sight, is a little intimidating—say, a temporary metropolis laid out like a clock around a humanoid pyre, populated by naked people on vision-quests?

Blind Burning Man attendees, there’s a tactile map for you....

San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind has been leading the charge on such maps since 2013, when they printed their first BART transit guides. So that the maps are legible to anyone who’s familiar with Braille, LightHouse keeps them de-cluttered and clean, without excess information. They’re labeled with large-print text, so that people with residual or full sight can also use them—or simply appreciate them. From a design perspective, these maps are very appealing.
disability  mapping  cartography  tactility 
3 days ago
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – Surface Encounters
In reflecting upon the nature of things, Lucretius suggests that we consider surfaces as anything but superficial. Yet, despite such consideration in antiquity, there has been a tendency in recent times to denigrate surfaces as just that. But why attach a negative connotation to what is a pervasive state of matter? Think of the surfaces we call skin, fabric, canvas, wall, and screen, and how they positively shape our culture, generating contact, connectivity, and communication. These are sites that are able to hold in their structure substantial forms of haptic, material experienc...

Consider, for instance, how tensile this superficial spatiality may be as it takes shape in the elegant art of Tara Donovan, who creates surface encounters that redefine visual space. Donovan starts with everyday objects—plastic cups, straws, Scotch tape, pencils, pins, toothpicks—and obsessively arranges them in seemingly infinite series to make large-scale installations... Her pliant, latticed matrixes extend from geologic to biologic to nano scales, as if capturing the very volume of their generative processes.
haptics  tactility  surface  facades 
4 days ago
The Cartographer Who's Transforming Map Design | WIRED
Brewer, who chairs the geography program at Penn State, is a popular figure in part because she has devoted much of her career to helping other people make better maps. By bringing research on visual perception to bear on design, Brewer says, cartographers can make maps that are more effective and more intuitive to understand. Many of the same lessons apply equally well to other types of data visualization.

Brewer’s best-known invention is a website called Color Brewer, which helps mapmakers pick a color scheme that’s well-suited for communicating the particular type of data they’re mapping. More recently she’s moved on to other cartographic design dilemmas, from picking fonts to deciding what features should change or disappear as the scale of a map changes (or zooms in and out, as non-cartographers would say). She’s currently helping the U.S. Geological Survey apply the lessons she’s learned from her research to redesign its huge collection of national topographic maps.

“It’s all about matching perceptual dimensions with data dimensions"...

Color isn’t the only design element that could benefit from this type of standardization. Recently, Brewer has turned her attention to scale. As a map zooms out to cover a larger area, some features need to disappear or change size to keep the map from getting too cluttered. Brewer and colleagues have developed a tool called ScaleMaster to help mapmakers decide which features to include at a given scale, and how to change things like the thickness of lines and the size of symbols and text to keep their maps legible...

The same approach could also be applied to fonts. “Fonts are like hues,” Brewer said. “They give a map different looks.” Fonts can make a map look jaunty or serious, for example. They can help emphasize important information.
cartography  mapping  color  scale  typography 
4 days ago
Atlas Sound: A Typology of Sound Maps | THIS IS WEIRD VIBRATIONS // the politics of sound
Sound maps are graphic catalogs of music, noise, local ambient color, or anything else audible. Most often based on city boundaries, they typically plot sound on a Google Map (or something similar) – as art projects, policy evidence, historical archives, or consumer tools.

In many cases, reducing sound to a visual field is a bit awkward – do we really hear better while looking at a two-dimensional picture on a screen than we would if we were actually in the space being represented? Maybe not, but the general desire to control sound is very strong, and what better way to control something than to pinpoint it? In this way, for example, compositional maps bring the urban din into a realm of aesthetic order, policy maps subject it to regulation, archival maps protect it against decay, and application maps help us navigate it. There are obvious appeals (and complexities) in each.

Below is a typology of the most common kinds of sound maps, with examples. Many of these come from recent discussions on the Sound Studies listserv, and from an item on Wayneandwax. Have I missed any important categories? Do you know of other examples?
mapping  cartography  sound_map  sound  sound_space 
4 days ago
Cool Maps [kool maps] noun: A collection of creative maps that use the Esri Mapping Platform to demonstrate how solutions can be enriched with the power of location. Feel free to share these maps with friends but please remember that they are designed to stimulate ideas and for demonstration purposes only.
mapping  cartography 
5 days ago
The World of Hidden Technology Underground - The Atlantic
Most of the locating equipment we saw in the field didn’t really look like dowsing rods. They usually involve two pieces of equipment. One piece looks like a cross between a defibrillator and a handheld vacuum. It’s called the transmitter case. This part connects a ground stake to a transformer or cable box, applying a signal to the pipe or cable being located. The other looks kind of like a metal detector combined with a leafblower, except instead of letting out air it emits various electronic yelps and hums that reflect the strength of that signal—and therefore the location of that conduit....

Old-timer locators are at times dismissive of the growing “bells and whistles,” insisting that the best locating equipment are your eyes and brain. Locators are experts in the minutiae of landscape. Variations in strains or color of grass and cracks in pavement can offer as much insight as a device equipped with Bluetooth or elaborate touch-screen interfaces.

The difficulty of the locate depends on several factors—whether the utility being located or the conduit that utility is in are in fact conductive (pipes need to be metal to actually transmit a signal; for this reason, nonmetal pipes are usually buried with something called a tracer wire), whether the locator has chosen the right frequency, the topography of the locate site, even sometimes the composition of the soil or how recently it’s rained. Ultimately, it all comes down to the skill of the locator, and if he or she gets it wrong, a lot of other things go wrong. Things like gas explosions destroying buildings. Or entire hospitals getting shut down by a sliced fiber-optic cable. Or water main breaks that bring traffic to a standstill.
infrastructure  invisibility  geography  tools  methodology 
5 days ago
Libraries of the future: Super connectivity and a national stature | KnightBlog
The sentiment is nearly universal that the public library – open to and serving all strata of a community – is an asset and public treasure to be protected as well as updated as it necessarily transforms for the digital age.

In the mountains of Colorado last week, a group of library leaders were joined by thought leaders and decision-makers from government, technology, business, academia and philanthropy to consider and plan for the future of the public library. Assisted by facilitators at the Aspen Institute, participants in the Leadership Roundtable on Library Innovation, part of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries and supported by Knight Foundation, worked over three days on proposals to guide libraries through a difficult march toward future relevance....

But not to innovate aggressively is a huge mistake for libraries in an era when digital information technology and the exponential growth in computing power are transforming industry after industry. Most of those gathered in Aspen believe that libraries also will be radically disrupted....

One of the primary recommendations coming out of Aspen is that more libraries (big and small) acquire “super connectivity,” which means adding 10-gigabit connectivity to the Internet. Such a library would have massive capacity (via fiber optic connections) for data transfer in and out of the building....

Another recommendation coming from the Aspen roundtable tags along with super connectivity. Libraries can and should focus more on regional and even national collaborations. Think not just what a library can do for its immediate community, but also about what libraries can do as a group, suggested one roundtable participant. Topic areas such as immigration integration, for instance, typically are important to more than a single city in a region, so collaboration on curating and creating materials will produce a more valuable set of resources, including joint discussions and educational events.

Extending the idea of increased library collaboration, the Aspen participants proposed an “America's Civic Square” program – an infrastructure and platform that would connect libraries nationally. They view the value in going national as a way to enhance the stature of libraries in informing people on and tackling issues of the day...

Identified as critical to libraries’ transition to the digital, high-bandwidth age are adding to the staff innovators who may not have traditional library education and credentials, including higher-level technical talent. Also, outside partnerships and collaborations with other community organizations are seen as crucial; the siloed library is not a good fit with the future.
libraries  infrastructure  connectivity  internt  immigration 
5 days ago
Leadership Roundtable on Library Innovation | Pattern Recognition
Day two began with a presentation on Design Thinking from Michelle Ha Tucker from IDEO. I’m totally sold on human centered design as a key to rethinking the way libraries do what they do, and have done a number of workshops on process on that front. If you aren’t familiar, take a look at her presentation, framed well around library issues...

From our initial discussions about innovation considered broadly, we broke up into three working groups that set about considering what it would take for Libraries to innovate in different areas. The areas identified were Engagement/Access/Inclusion, Learning & Creativity, and Public Forum & Citizenship, and each group discussed what innovation in each of these areas looked like, how that could be translated into the library sphere, and what a project might look like if it attempted to instantiate that solution. I was a part of the Public Forum & Citizenship group, and we spent most of our time revolving around the problem of libraries acting in concert with one another and bemoaning the lack of overarching structures for working together…a common theme from the larger discussions of the Roundtable.

There were several of these emergent themes that repeated themselves during the week. The lack of some form of national organization that allowed economic centralization for libraries was maybe the largest though…the non-librarians in the room were flabbergasted to discover how very local the library economy is, and how much it prohibits collective purchasing efforts....

I understand the concentration on those areas of easy implementation…but I rankle more than a little at the lack of acknowledgement of the greater need for support in rural America. The poorest parts of rural America are much poorer than the equivalent urban poverty centers, and they lack nearly any support system for their poverty....

“CIPA specifically requires public libraries and schools seeking e-rate discounts for internet connections to install technology protection measures, i.e., content filters, to block two categories of visual images that are unprotected by the First Amendment: obscene images and images of child pornography.”
libraries  innovation  infrastructure  internet  censorship  urban_rural 
5 days ago
What Would An Open Access Academic Library Look Like, and What Would an Open Access Academic Librarian Do? | OUseful.Info, the blog...
But what if the library needed to support an fully open-access student body, such as students engaged in an open education course of study, or an open research project, for a strict, rather than openwashed, definition of open? Or perhaps the library serves a wider community of people with problems that access to appropriate “academic” knowledge might help them solve? What would – could – the role of the library be, and what of the role of the librarian?

First, the library would have to be open to everyone. An open course has soft boundaries. A truly open course has no boundaries.

Secondly, the library would need to ensure that all the resources it provided a gateway to were openly licensed. So collections would be built from items listed on the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), perhaps? Indeed, open access academic librarians could go further and curate “meta-journal” readers of interest to their patrons (for example, I seem to remember Martin Weller experimenting with just such a thing a few years ago: Launching Meta EdTech Journal).

Thirdly, the open access academic library should also offer a gateway to good quality open textbook shelves and other open educational resources....

Fourthly, to mitigate against commercial constraints on its activities, the open access library should explore open sustainability....

Fifthly, the open access librarian should offer open access librarian support, perhaps along the lines of invisible support or being an influential friend?

Sixthly, the open access digital library could provide access to online applications or online digital workbenches (of which, more in another post)
libraries  academic_libraries  open_access 
5 days ago
IK Prize 2015: Tate Sensorium | Tate
Galleries are overwhelmingly visual. But people are not – the brain understands the world by combining what it receives from all five senses. Can taste, touch, smell and sound change the way we ‘see’ art?
Tate Sensorium is an immersive display featuring four paintings from the Tate collection. You can experience sounds, smells, tastes and physical forms inspired by the artworks, and record and review your physiological responses through sophisticated measurement devices. 
The experience encourages a new approach to interpreting artworks, using technology to stimulate the senses, triggering both memory and imagination. On leaving, you will be invited to explore the rest of the gallery using the theme of the senses as a guide.
taste  touch  tactility  art  multisensory_art 
5 days ago
Library innovation the focus of leadership roundtable presented by Aspen Institute and Knight Foundation - Knight Foundation
An initiative of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the event will bring together thought leaders and decision-makers from government, libraries, technology, business, civil society and academia in a roundtable and working group format.

Experts will discuss ways to rethink the role of libraries as platforms for innovation and entrepreneurial activity, as well as knowledge creation and learning. Additionally, the group will identify ways that libraries can restructure and evolve their work to the benefit of the community, supporting new jobs, economic growth and social well-being.  A report detailing these findings and recommendations will be published later this year.

“Innovative public libraries are a competitive advantage in an era of digital technology and collaboration; their experience in serving the information and civic needs of their communities is unrivaled,” said Amy Garmer, director of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries.  “The Aspen Institute is thrilled to work alongside Knight Foundation to host this dialogue examining new thinking and new approaches to library practice and community-driven innovation.”
libraries  innovation  infrastructure 
5 days ago
GLOBALE: Infosphere | ZKM
Today, people live in a globally interconnected world in which the biosphere and the infosphere are interfused and interdependent. The Earth is surrounded by a layer of gases which we call the atmosphere. It is the product of photosynthesis, of algae working for millions of years, converting light energy from the sun into air. Evolution’s answer to the atmosphere was the lung. Thus the atmosphere is essential for most living organisms, including people. For around 150 years now, we have been surrounded by an infosphere, as well. With this neologism the technical network is meant, consisting of telegraphy, telephony, television, radio, radar, satellites, and the Internet, which covers the globe and enables global exchange of data as well as the organization of transport for people and goods. Without the global traffic in data, goods, and passengers it would be impossible to meet the biological and social needs and aspirations of over seven billion people.

In the nineteenth century, new transport routes and paths of communication were developed through machines operating on land, sea, and in the air. In the years 1886 to 1888, Heinrich Hertz conducted experiments proving the existence of electromagnetic waves and demonstrating that light consists of these electromagnetic waves. With this discovery, the age of wireless communication began, which enabled message and messenger to be separated: Henceforth data could travel through space without the body of a messenger. In the twentieth century, this resulted in a densely interconnected communication and information network of mobile media: the infosphere – an envelope of radio waves surrounding the Earth. Using artificial, technical organs human beings can, for the first time, use electromagnetic waves for the wireless transmission of words, images, and other data – waves for which humans do not actually possess a sensorium. The social media, which have changed our daily lives, are a part of these technological networks. Thus the formula for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, “Machinery, Material, and Men” (Frank Lloyd Wright, 1930), must be modified for the twenty-first century: “Media, Data, and Men” (Peter Weibel, 2011). Now that the alphabetic code has been supplemented by the numeric code, algorithms constitute a fundamental element of our social order – from stock exchanges to airports.
infrastructure  infrastructural_literacy  internet  materiality  exhibition 
5 days ago
Infosphere | e-flux
As part of GLOBALE, the new art event in the digital age, the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe presents the exhibition Infosphere. The exhibition gives an overview of art in the era of the digital revolution and its social consequences. In addition, it provides insights into the new data world, whose existence has been finally brought home to the general public through the NSA affair. 

The biosphere, from the atmosphere to the oceans, forms the habitable zone in which humans and other life forms live. But since the discovery of wireless radio technology based on electromagnetic waves roughly 150 years ago, we also live in an infosphere.

The infosphere spans the Earth with technical media such as radio, TV, mobile communications, and the Internet, which use electro-magnetic waves and therefore guarantee a global flow of information in real time. Without the global, digitally controlled transfer of information and transport of goods and passengers, the existential demands of more than seven billion people could not be met.

Since alphabetical code was supplemented with numerical code during the information revolution, algorithms have become a fundamental element of our social order. It often appears as if there is no instruction manual available. This becomes very apparent with topics such as surveillance, big data, or copyright on the Internet. The artworks on show in this exhibition present answers that artists, designers, architects, and scientists have found today to the acute challenges of the infosphere.

More than 70 artists will exhibit in Infosphere, including The Office for Creative Research, The Critical Engineering Working Group, Bitnik, Julius Popp, Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon, Tyler Coburn, Emma Charles, Zach Blas, Sterling Crispin, Aram Bartholl, and Jia. For Jia’s work, The Chinese Version, an exhibition catalog will be published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.

Also part of the Infosphere exhibition is Armin Linke’s project The Appearance of That Which Cannot be Seen. It makes the invisible aspects of the infosphere visible: cables and hardware, data centers, spy, surveying and weather satellites, the server rooms of financial corporations and banks, as well as the infrastructure of the infosphere. Scientists and theorists (Ariella Azoulay, Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel, Mark Wigley, and Jan Zalasiewicz) were invited to engage with Armin Linke’s photographic archive. In close cooperation with the artist, different images have been selected to be presented in the exhibition in various combinations.
infrastructure  invisibility  internet  materiality  information 
5 days ago
Private data: The architecture of the internet | View | Architectural Review
Farm, a recent film by pioneer of digital media John Gerrard, offers a similar visual exposure to the physical infrastructure of the ordinarily ethereal internet. The film slowly revolves around a digital model of a Google data centre on the anonymous MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma. This site is normally all but invisible to the public, in direct contrast to the highly visible search platform that it facilitates. The artist chose the data centre for its formal similarity to the subject of previous work, a pork-processing plant. And as with the architecture of global food logistics, that of the data centre is extraordinarily banal − a fact that will come as a surprise to anyone who has seen the multi-coloured fun palaces depicted in the Google-commissioned photography of Connie Zhou or heard about Google’s Finnish data centre designed by Alvar Aalto and sporting a staff sauna. Impressive were it not that the building was originally designed as a paper-pulping mill and never intended to be anything other than an isolated industrial facility. The Google data centres aren’t meant to be seen or experienced by the public, except in the carefully choreographed photographs or sanctioned Street View walkthroughs. It’s not just Google wanting to keep the public at arm’s length: the internet’s infrastructure is not only practically invisible, it is almost entirely built by private companies. ...

The public infrastructure of the postal service cultivated a plethora of examples of generous public architecture, particularly throughout its heyday in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. The central post office in St Martin’s-le-Grand by Henry Tanner provided an extraordinary public hall bedecked in Irish green and Arni Alto marble, with an enormous mahogany counter running its entire length. The generosity of this principal space was partly facilitated by it being the first major application of reinforced concrete in Britain, an expense justified by the pursuit of public service.

Contemporary communications infrastructure, despite the cuddly brand values of its owners, has nothing of this civic intent.....

While the internet might occupy a growing real space within our cities, it is rare that this space is made visible. Even the newly opened Volta Data Centre in central London revels in its anonymity. Previously a Reuters data centre, it has been refurbished by AECOM into a dark, brick behemoth that eats up a block of city while giving very little to the neighbourhood in return. Volta needs such an urban location to minimise latency, the increasingly previous time delay of any digital system which is a factor of a user’s distance from the network exchange. It is in the pursuit of low latency that data centres and carrier hotels, previously found in out-of-town business parks, are making their way into the centre of our cities. ...

The ambition behind the postal infrastructure that preceded these data centres was not only to provide a public service, but to provide a civic architecture as the conduit through which we could engage with that public service, each other and the polis. They were the physical, urban spaces that operated as a conduit for the expansion of the active political city over a territory of potential communication. By contrast, today we engage with each other via private devices through an entirely private network. The lack of a visible, accessible architecture of the internet is representative of a dangerous misunderstanding of the importance of its infrastructure to our common experience of the future city.
internet  infrastructure  invisibility  infrastructural_literacy  public_domain 
5 days ago
pattrn | data-driven, participatory fact mapping
Working as an aggregator of data in different media formats, as well as a powerful data visualisation platform, PATTRN enables its users to make sense out of diffused and partial bits of information.

Its principle is simple: everything that happens does so at a given place and time. The tool enables its users to build collaboratively a database of events with space and time coordinates, and to add tags, media, and content to these events.
mapping  data_visualization  data_journalism  multimodal_storytelling 
5 days ago
Disputed Territories | Knight-Mozilla-MIT “The Open Internet” Hack Day
Abroad, Google Maps has waded into raw, tender issues of national identity. For example, take its depiction of Crimea on, where a dashed line reflects the U.S. view that the area is an occupied territory. But in Russia, on, the boundary line is solid — Russia has officially annexed Crimea. “We work to provide as much discoverable information as possible so that users can make their own judgments about geopolitical disputes,” wrote Robert Boorstin, the director of Google’s public policy team, in an interview with Washington Monthly. Maps served from Russian servers must adhere to Russian laws and the Russian worldview, according to Google. But the company can't possibly create enough maps to make everyone happy. Below, we've collected notable examples of how Google's maps of disputed territories differ depending on who's looking at them.
mapping  cartography  borders  ambiguity 
5 days ago
Booksellers in revolution | OUPblog
Delhi, in particular Ansari Road and Connaught Place, teems with books and book people, the Hindu family bookshops that settled there after the terrible events of Partition, when the most exciting book capital in the world, Lahore, was ripped apart.

To go from one to the other was a joy, one day selling to the Indians and the next to the Pakistani families whose forebears used to have stores beside those now in Delhi.

In Lebanon, booksellers found a way to sell books as the city around them literally fell in pieces; Antranik Helvadjian somehow came to London and Frankfurt, with cash in hand, to pay his bills and ship new titles. Many publishers still have a sentimental side and such people continue to be honoured and supported.

One country’s book trade which has not fully recovered from a Revolution is Iran, where the complete reversal by those events of everything it had known and its ongoing sense of isolation from the world has prevented the import of books and news from returning and thriving — a huge pity for its people, whose history with books is one of the world’s oldest.

During the Gulf War the booksellers in Kuwait kept their heads down and survived, while in Turkey the ups and downs of both the military and the Turkish currency have seen stores thrive, then barely survive, but they continue because it’s all they know.
media_city  books  publishing  print  middle_east 
6 days ago
Upcoming Events | Art of the Archive Workshop | ICIS: Innovating Communication in Scholarship
Digital platforms for curating and publishing cultural heritage and expressive culture—art, music, video, performance, sound—promise new collaborative forms, creating new relationships between producers and publics. Furthermore, archives and databases raise questions of ownership and control over knowledge–including decolonizing ethnographic collections and developing traditional knowledge licensing.

Our workshop will examine the digital archive and database in terms of the aesthetics and politics of curation. We will bring together perspectives from the humanities, arts, and social sciences to address the challenges and possibilities for an emerging art of the archive.

Topics that we will explore include:

How publics are being reimagined and remade in the creation of archives and databases.
How the archive is in movement–less as a storage “place” but rather a network and a mode of reassembly and circulation.
The ways poetics and aesthetics of data collections are shaping access, use and reappropriation.
What types of academic credit, recognition, or assessment making online platforms, exhibitions, and data publications might receive.
How temporality emerges as archives of and for the future and the “way back” are imagined and constructed.
archives  digital_archives  ethics  collection  citation  temporality  colonialism  postcolonialism  interface_aesthetics  digitization 
6 days ago
The Ethics of Aesthetics: Archives and Access in the Digital Landscape - Mukurtu CMS
Although physical archives were never intended to be input only places,  archives are often  defined as places where one “deposits” materials, scholars do so at the end of their careers or their families do upon the end of the academics life. Archives are endings. Over the last ten years with digital tools and platforms that rely on and privilege user-generated content growing in popularity, the process and practices of curation as imagined within the digital landscape have been linked to outward facing, export process and practices. Indeed the read/write and input/export model is undone in the new workflow models for digital curation and digital archiving practices where viewing, displaying and remixing archival materials becomes more central. However, both online and offline, the act of looking and the necessity of seeing are privileged.
The aesthetic experience is defined by the ability and expectation of seeing the archival materials–art, culture, history, etc. Viewing provides pleasure and the aesthetic experience is valued in and of itself as conferring knowledge on those who engage with its form. What if this experience were interrupted by practices and protocols of not seeing? In Australia, Aboriginal practices of masking, deleting, defaming and hiding images, objects, and artifacts based on cultural protocols disrupt the act of looking and the privileging of display as a precursor to knowledge acquisition. Digital archive platforms and new online exhibits define a different mode of knowledge making and circulation. This presentation explores Mukurtu CMS ( as one avenue for understanding the ethics of aesthetics in digital spaces and a new model of curation that follows.
archives  interfaces  invisibility  ethics  material_culture  aborigines  curating 
6 days ago
Eric Fischer’s marvelous maps | Flickr Blog
“Fortunately a lot of good geodata is now available to the public without restriction, but there is also a lot that is available only by request or by special arrangement,” Eric said when asked about the way he gathers the data needed to build his maps. “For example, we were able to map 1.5 million running routes thanks to a partnership with Runkeeper. In another example, the New York taxi pickup locations are nominally public data, but are public in practice only because Chris Whong filed a Freedom of Information request for them.”

Eric’s projects illustrate different global trends: social media usage, taxi trips, and tourist locations around the world, among others. While working on them, he has been able to discover a lot of interesting details about the way things work in different areas: “If there is one universal fact that all photo location data points to, it is that people love taking pictures of bodies of water. Beyond that, neighborhood commercial areas and sports facilities are also very popular photo locations,” he said.
mapping  cartography  atlas 
6 days ago
Marshall McLuhan's 1969 Deck of Cards, Designed For Out-of-the-Box Thinking | Open Culture
Six years before Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt designed their first pack of Oblique Strategies cards—a set of random aphorisms meant to clear creative blocks—communication theorist and philosopher Marshall McLuhan had designed a very similar deck in 1969, this one with a more direct nod to the classic playing card deck.

The name of the card deck, Distant Early Warning, was a reference to the 3,000 mile long DEW Line, a system of 63 radar stations that acted as an early detection invasion buffer during the Cold War. And in his 1964 book Understand Media, McLuhan explained,

“I think of art, at its most significant, as a DEW line, a Distant Early Warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it.”

And so with help from advertising and publishing guru Eugene Schwartz, The Marshall McLuhan DEW-Line Newsletter and its spinoff deck of cards was born. Schwartz saw the newsletter much like we see blogs today: a very immediate way of disseminating information, deeper than television and faster than books.
cards  mcluhan  radar  UMS  design_thinking 
6 days ago
Ethnography Fieldguide - Helsinki Design Lab
An essential part of any design activity is understanding the context one is working in, particularly the social context. Eventually when proposals are made, these too must be measured by their likely impact on the people who will use and live with them.

Ethnography is one way to get closer to the everyday reality that design proposals will be situated within. Design ethnography is generally considered to be a light-weight version of established practices in the social sciences. Below we've collected some resources that may be a useful starting point.

We've also provided a sample "field guide" which is a booklet that participants of the HDL Studios use when venturing into the field to see the reality of a system as it is lived and experienced on the ground. It is intended to be the minimal starting point for this kind of activity. We supplement this document with group discussions to prepare participants and adjust the booklet as needed in different situations.
design_research  methodology  ethnography 
6 days ago
Superconversations Day 73: Mohammad Salemy responds to Sean Dockray & Lawrence Liang, "Sharing Instinct: An Annotation of the Social Contract Through Shadow Libraries" - Forum - e-flux conversations
During my time in graduate school, which coincided with the years 2009-2012, I benefited hugely from the availability of the digital copies of books I was researching. Running searches on these text-enabled pdf books made finding whatever I was looking in my analogue books far easier...

Slowly, I stopped bothering to read anything more than what was absolutely necessary for the purpose of writing or presenting. I began to be more interested in relations between key ideas in several volumes rather than a deep reading of a certain title. As my collection grew and my research expanded, I begin to realize that there were limits to what I could do on my own to extract knowledge from my book collection as a whole.

Not all quantitative accumulations are equal in qualitative terms since some act as a game changing catalyzer in matters more crucial than what’s measurable. The accumulation of written knowledge via books which used to have a linear, front to back temporality has now resulted in a new kind of production and sense-making that involves the expansion of knowledge in multiple directions. The directional script is essentially replaced with the table....

Even though most textual knowledge is still being produced in the classic linear temporality of sentences, paragraphs, pages chapters and books, useful knowledge, for better or worse, is now sought in chunks which are only related according to what’s demanded from the known. If we used to follow knowledge line by line, the inflation of knowledge now has enslaved it to our movements and needs. In this new regime of writing and reading the technologies of sorting and manipulating text are far more consequential than the singular ability of a reader in reading books and relating contents of one to another. We can keep writing and sharing new books, but offering singular texts in their isolated format would not result in a utility of books. Something new ought to be invented to help average readers process/read hundreds of volumes at the same time...

Hypertextuality necessitates the aid of the machines in reading books. Imagine the internet without the search engines.
reading  epistemology  books  information_overload 
6 days ago
Rhizome | Artist Profile: Lawrence Abu Hamdan
You’ve spoken of the "palimpsestic" quality of audio tapes in works like Tape Echo (2014). This metaphor seems to resonate with your work, Conflicted Phonemes (2012), in that the accents of refugees often have a palimpsestic quality as well. In the work, you show how a word, or even a single phoneme, can make the difference between being granted or denied political asylum. The technological capacity of voice analysis provides a kind of "certainty" with regard to a particular portion of data which is then privileged by the authorities, and this then licenses them to discount other data (for example, the biography of the person seeking asylum). Do you feel that this false, technological "certainty" is playing an increased role in political disempowerment in technologically advanced societies at large?

You draw a very interesting parallel between the tone of the works in the Tape Echo series—which is called Conversations with the Unemployed, which involves microscopic enlargements of the surfaces of the cassette tapes—and the subject matter of "Conflicted Phonemes", because, like a cassette tape, an accent is something that never really loses or fully erases its biography. Unlike digital recordings, cassette tapes don’t delete their media. They constantly overlay and overlay, so that what you have on top is every recording and tape head ever applied. In some ways, the biography of an accent is very similar because, of course, our accents are really the product of all the different people we’ve ever spoken to in our lives. This gains even more power in Conflicted Phonemes in which people’s voices and accents are being used—rather than their biography—as a birth certificate. What they’re trying to say is that the accent is from one place, that it’s from where you were born and that’s it. But, of course, having lived a life in migration, as many asylum seekers do, the opposite is probably true: if they really want to find a genuine asylum seeker, they should look for voices which show irregularities, and reflect an itinerant life. In a lot of works, I try to use the visualization of sound to expose its complexities, the ways it resists being fixed to an association with a specific physical space.

It’s very important to emphasize that it’s not a technology that is doing these accent tests; it’s actually a Swedish company which is using former refugees who have no linguistic expertise to screen applicants’ accents. It’s really anecology, using former refugees, and it’s a very unscientific way of screening anybody, for a number of reasons. What’s very important to say is that it’s politically disempowering because the attack is on speech, and speech is what makes us political animals in the kind of society we’ve constructed. Speech is the form by which we negotiate our rights. What many of the asylum seekers say is that they don’t want to speak back to the state because they don’t know how they’re being listened to. The conditions of listening have changed, and I think that is really the key moment of political disempowerment. It’s an attack on speech; the conditions of listening are what have altered the means for those people to speak and to testify about their plight. We’re increasingly seeing—in what you call "technologically advanced societies"—an accelerating shift in which listening is moving outside what we could think of as "listening to what we say", and more towards listening to "other parts" of our speech. And it’s that shift from what we say to how we say it that produces the political disempowerment of the people being listened to....

I was asked by Forensic Architecture if I could determine whether or not the sound of gunfire was rubber bullets or live ammunition in the case of the murder of two boys in the West Bank by Israeli Defense Forces. This case, which involved Defense for Children International, threw up interesting questions in the nature of your question regarding the roles of discipline and expertise because I could, in fact, do this investigation very easily, as could pretty much anybody who has experimented with digital music. From the perspective of somebody who has worked with the aesthetics of audio and somebody who has a keen ear, this question was very simple. This was not a question of expertise. The real experts are those Palestinian boys and girls who can identify in a micro-second what a shot is. And that’s something that’s more difficult than it sounds, because the live rounds are being suppressed by a rubber bullet extender that works like a kind of silencer, so the sound of a rubber bullet and live ammunition is being conflated. The rubber bullet adapter is being used to disguise the fire of live ammunition, but these Palestinian teenagers can exactly identify a tiny distinction in the frequencies and react accordingly. Those are the real acute listeners in this case. Someone like me—an artist, a practitioner of audio aesthetics—can simply provide a visual language for understanding the differences. It's very interesting to turn the nature of expertise on its head and to reclaim the skills that we artists—or musicians, or image-makers, or graphic designers, or architects—have learned from our field of aesthetic practice and research, so that we can listen back to the state and use these tools in other ways as a mode of political intervention.
sound  voice  testimony  sound_space  palimpsest  erasure  forensics 
9 days ago
North Korea and South Korea Trade Fire Across Border, Seoul Says - The New York Times
Tensions have been on the rise along the countries’ heavily armed 155-mile border since Aug. 4, when two South Korean border guards were seriously wounded by land mines that the South said were planted by the North. North Korea has denied planting the mines.

In retaliation, South Korea last week began using loudspeakers along the border to broadcast propaganda messages into North Korea, a tactic dating from the Cold War that had not been used in 11 years. The North turned on propaganda loudspeakers of its own, and it threatened to attack South Korea’s.
sound_space  sonic_warfare 
9 days ago
Century of the Bed: Concept - curated by_vienna 2014
In what is probably now a conservative estimate, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2012 that 80% of young New York City professionals work regularly from bed. Millions of dispersed beds are taking over from concentrated office buildings. The boudoir is defeating the tower. Networked electronic technologies have removed any limit to what can be done in bed. It is not just that the bed/office has been made possible by new media. Rather new media is designed to extend a 100-year-old dream of domestic connectivity to millions of people. The city has moved into the bed....

In his famous short text “Louis-Philippe, or the Interior,” Walter Benjamin wrote of the splitting of work and home in the 19th century:

Under Louis-Philippe, the private citizen enters the stage of history…. For the private person, living space becomes, for the first time, antithetical to the place of work. The former is constituted by the interior; the office is its complement....

Industrialization brought with it the 8 hour shift and the radical separation between home and office/ factory, rest and work, night and day. Post-industrialization collapses work back into the home and takes it further into the bedroom and into the bed itself. Fantasmagoria is no longer lining the room in wallpaper, fabric, images, and objects. It is now in the electronic devices. The whole universe is concentrated on a small screen with the bed floating in an infinite sea of information....

Playboy turns the bed into a workplace. From the mid-1950s on, the bed becomes increasingly sophisticated, outfitted with all sorts of entertainment and communication devices as a kind of control room. The magazine devoted many articles to the design of the perfect bed...

The bed itself is a house. Its rotating and vibrating structure is packed with a small fridge, hi-fi, telephone, filling cabinets, bar, microphone, Dictaphone, video-cameras, headphones, TV, breakfast table, work surfaces, and control for all the lighting fixtures, for the man who never wants to leave. The bed was Hefner’s office, his place of business, where he conducted interviews, made his phone calls, selected images, adjusted lay-outs, edited texts, ate, drank, and consulted with playmates....

Truman Capote; I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and a coffee handy...

The postwar era inaugurated the high performance bed as an epicenter of productivity: a new form of industrialization which was exported globally and has now become available to an international army of dispersed but interconnected producers. A new kind of factory without walls is constructed by compact electronics and extra pillows for the 24/7 generation.

The kind of equipment that Hefner envisioned (some of which, like the answering machine, didn’t yet exist) is now expanded for the internet and social media generation, who not only work in bed but socialize in bed, exercise in bed, read the news in bed, and entertain sexual relationships with people miles away from their beds....

In 1929, at the height of Stalin’s first five year plan, with the working day extended and mass exhaustion of factory workers in the face of staggering production quotas, the Soviet government organized a competition for a new city of rest for 100,000 workers. Konstantin Melnikov presented the “Sonata of Sleep,” a new building type for collective sleep, with mechanized bed rocking the workers to unconsciousness and slanted floors to eliminate the need for pillows. Centralized control booths with sleep attendants would regulate temperature, humidity, smell, and even sounds to maximize sleep. The inspiration was symptomatically American. Melnikov had read about a military academy in Pensacola, Florida that taught language to sleeping cadets. Sleep itself had become part of the industrial process....

Today many companies provide sleeping pods in the office to maximize productivity. Bed and office are never far apart in the 24/7 world. Special self-enclosed beds have been designed for office spaces—turning themselves into compact sealed capsules, mini space ships, that can be used in isolation or gathered together in clusters or lined up in rows for synchronized sleep—understood as a part of work rather than its opposite.

Between the bed inserted in the office and the office inserted in the bed a whole new horizontal architecture has taken over. It is magnified by the “flat” networks of social media that have themselves been fully integrated into the professional, business and industrial environment in a collapse of traditional distinctions between private and public, work and play, rest and action. The bed itself with its ever more sophisticated mattress, linings, and technical attachments is the basis of an intrauterine environment that combines the sense of deep interiority with the sense of hyper connectivity to the outside...

In the 1960s and 70s experimental architects devoted themselves to the equipment of the new mobile nomads in a whole galaxy of lightweight, portable interiors with soft reclining spaces as the core of a complex of prosthetic extensions. All of these projects can be understood as high performance beds complete with media, artificial atmospheres, color, light, smell… a kind of POP Psychedelic Melnikov with the worker now sleeping inside the control booth. Reyner Banham wrote about naked Jane Fonda flying through space in her fur-lined horizontal bubble in the same breath that he enthusiastically embraced the architecture of Playboy. It was just a matter of time before John Lennon and Yoko Ono held a week-long Bed-In for Peace in the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel during their honey moon in March 1969....

This curatorial project is devoted to the radical role of the bed in the last century: From Adolf Loos’ fur covered bedroom for his young wife, to Sigmund Freud’s divan, to the tuberculosis bed of sanatoria, to the Playboy bed, to the zip up bags in space capsules, to the radical nomadic bubbles of the experimental architects of the 1960s, to Barbarella’s flying bed, to the nap pods of today… the project invites to explore every dimension of the bed in the last century.
domesticity  furniture  labor  work  bed  intellectual_furnishings  networks  media_space  media_architecture 
10 days ago
Rhizome | Art in Your Pocket 4: Net Art and Abstraction for the Small Screen
The devices we carry with us can do much more than simply act as communication tools and entertainment appendages. They can also bring us into a growing world of artistic projects that could have never been imagined without their existence.

The recent boom in creative software for the iPhone and iPad now enables artists to remake existing web projects as iOS apps or use the physical world as a canvas for augmented reality, reimagining our physical surroundings through painting and rendering. In this article, the fourth one in a series that I've written over the past six years of reviews surveying art for the iPhone and iPad, I cover projects that both revive net art pieces that were once only possible on traditional computer systems or in browsers, as well as those that use the iPhone and iPad's sound and camera capabilities to their fullest....

Integrating artistic endeavors with built-in heart monitors and force-sensitive touch screens (which is supposedly also coming to the next generation iPhone 7), there will be many different input sources that artists can leverage to create new forms of interaction. The most striking aspect of these projects is that the medium allows for artists to engage with people interacting with their work on a personal and intimate level, far beyond what any gallery or museum might afford. Now, anyone with a phone can engage with art on the go, carrying a personal collection of artworks that allow new kinds of artistic experiences and new forms of interactive artistic expression.

Given the incredible power of the handheld device, which is daily relied upon by millions of people while also marketing to them and surveilling them, carving out a space for aesthetic experience through the device seems particularly important. Thicket's Morgan Packard puts it bluntly: "The work Joshue and I have done together, in contrast to data viz and design, has no immediately obvious value or use. It doesn't tell stories, it doesn't make the complex accessible, it doesn't reveal the beauty of nature. It's really just an exploration of how certain arrangements of light and sound and a certain type of control over them can make us feel."
iPhone  iPhone_art  sound_art  augmented_reality  locative_media  poetry  text_art 
11 days ago
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY
In my labor I seek words for the long working day and night of hundreds of thousands of migrant South Asian men living amongst concrete and sand, in squalid or prison-like camps on and around Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island project. Conditions of forced labor generating significant capital for North Atlantic world institutions seeking consolidation through expansion as global brands. Cultural institutions like the Louvre and the Guggenheim take in hundreds of millions of dollars for their brand alone, while exploiting recruitment debts that keep ill-paid construction workers imprisoned for an average of two years....

Contrast this with the spectacle of Gehry’s Guggenheim, which so effectively represents the insubstantiality of Abu Dhabi’s Island of Terror. Contrast the Guggenheim’s claim to civilizing values that will transform the region and the world with the real effects of its commodifying loop, which erases the Guggenheim museum’s origin in human labor: those exploited, imprisoned, deported, and replaceable South Asian migrants.
labor  middle_east  construction  exploitation 
12 days ago
World Power Map - Google Earth Blog
The WorldPower Map provides an interactive view of the global connections between geopolitics, energy infrastructure, and natural resources. The map is free, view able in Google Earth, and automatically updates with new events.”
mapping  cartography  maps  ideology  infrastructure 
12 days ago
Libraries ǂx Special collections ǂv Blogs | The Collation
How do catalogers make library materials findable? The cataloging process has already been covered here at The Collation—identifying the item and describing its contents so that users and other catalogers alike can compare the book in the catalog record to the book in their hands or the book they want to retrieve from the stacks. At the Folger, we pay particular attention to the artifactual evidence of our items in addition to their contents, and this level of cataloging is enabled by the use of genre and form terms.
Genre and form terms describe what an item is or what physical form it takes, rather than what it is about—a book can be described as being a translation without necessarily including information describing the contents of that translation. In contrast, subject headings are terms which describe the “aboutness” of a book....

In the case of the book above, we can see that it is a translation of Hamlet into Welsh (genre) and a presentation copy (provenance evidence), and that the presentation inscription takes the shape of a fill-in-the-blank form (genre). There are also several advertisements for the publisher inside the front cover (not shown). Checking in the (easily searchable!) RBMS vocabularies shows us that Translations, Presentation copies (Provenance), Blank forms, and Publishers’ advertisements are the established terms used to describe these, so we add them to the record....

Sometimes, the RBMS vocabularies don’t have the exact term needed to describe the item in hand, or we want to supplement them with additional terms. On these occasions, we turn to other specialized vocabularies such as the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), or occasionally to the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Though the LCSH is meant to be used primarily for subject headings, it does contain a few genre terms that can be used to create hybrid headings such as Miniature books ǂv Specimens or Shaving ǂx Equipment and supplies ǂv Specimens.
libraries  metadata  cataloguing  archives 
12 days ago
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – Eating Glass: The New Propaganda
The emergence of a global communications grid in which we are all broadcasting mirrors the decline of an order in which we might agree on what to say. At least for a brief part of modern history, geopolitics were organized around systems of multilateral collaboration. These systems tried to work with the many realities that feed into complex problems. But this approach is disintegrating.
As the billionaire philanthropist George Soros asserts in The New York Review of Books, “international cooperation is in decline both in the political and financial spheres.” Pankaj Mishra writes in the Guardian that a “world organized for the play of individual self-interest looks more and more prone to manic tribalism.” Pope Francis is currently fighting climate change more compellingly than any international organization in recent history. That’s also a sign of the deterioration of an international order that ought to take action but can’t anymore. The return of the quasi-medieval agency of the papacy (granted, for a progressive cause) casts light on a creeping feudalism to which we concede to ourselves more and more openly, saying that “this is the way the world works.”...

The internet began to fill in for the multilateral world order. Information technology was seen as a distributor of freedom, and its programming language was written by the West. It wasn’t about negotiating with authoritarian countries anymore, but about the spontaneous conversion of their populations into liberals. For example, in 2009 the US State Department asked the microblogging platform Twitter to postpone its scheduled maintenance, so that Iranian political protests could keep relying on the service.4 A 2010 speech by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the official false start of the internet’s takeover of internationalism. Stone-faced, Clinton professed that censors around the world were furiously erasing her words from the historical record.
geopolitics  propaganda 
13 days ago
New Landmark Libraries 2015: The Reveal
Cedar Rapids, Lawrence, Madison, San Diego...
libraries  awards 
13 days ago
“Vanguards” | e-flux
In a 1967 report published in Eye: Magazine of the Yale Arts Association, Charles Moore, chairman of the department of architecture at Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture (A&A), spoke to a “marked shift” then taking place.

Students and faculty have now become involved to an unprecedented extent, in real problems in all their complexity with a concern for social issues and more concern for its form and less concern for the shape of objects in it. To an increasing extent, design solutions are expected to come at least partly from interaction with the user rather than from the imposition of an architect’s formal preconceptions. With the development of these concerns comes of course an interest in new tools which are likely to make design more responsive to the complex needs of the world around us.1

Moore identified two new streams of architectural research and teaching within the school related to this shift: on the one hand, the rising fascination with the computer and techniques it facilitated and, on the other hand, a series of initiatives directed towards poverty in America, projects then focused on Appalachia, New Haven, and Harlem. This nexus of computerization and “a concern for social issues” was then informing vanguard practices within architecture, giving rise to research—along with objects, systems, and spaces—affiliated, knowingly or otherwise, with the complex and multifaceted regulatory apparatus emerging to govern the built environment and populations within it.

While frequently situated as a radical or avant-garde departure from traditional formal and aesthetic concerns in architecture, the late-sixties engagement with information technologies and computerization as well as the rise of the “user” as an object of social scientific knowledge—all under the rubric of “responsiveness”—can also be read as symptomatic of the discipline’s functionalist response to a period of rapid technological transformation and of tumultuous social change, for which it was indeed seeking new tools....

Soon after, when outlining the School’s activities for 1968–69, Dean Howard Sayre Weaver stressed that “relevance” was to be understood not only in social terms but also in technological ones. In this respect too Yale sought to operate at the forefront of contemporary transformations, incorporating classes on “experimental architecture,” film, and video into the curriculum and hosting an early World Game seminar run by R. Buckminster Fuller and faculty member Herbert Matter....

The challenge is not merely to adopt technology nor to inject modern gadgetry into art or practice. It is nothing less than to comprehend the changing nature of experience itself.5

This commitment to investigating the impact of a “technetronic” society on architecture and the arts translated, in the first instance, into hosting an important early conference on computerization in architecture in April 1968, “Computer Graphics and Architecture,” hence returning us to the other pole of Moore’s “marked shift.”...

The experiment was sponsored by Bemis Company, Inc., which donated burlap, and Union Carbide Corporation, which donated the polyurethane foam and reportedly watched the experiment “with a great deal of interest.” The students were, in effect, interpolated as a research and development arm for the corporation, testing the viability of Union Carbide’s product for application in an imagined market for complex house forms....

What Moore called “real problems in all their complexity” or “the complex needs of the world around us” remind us, moreover, of the discipline’s proximity to such historical forces and the sometimes ambiguous nature of its professional and ethical directive to respond. Whether we take experiments with computer-driven technologies, social-scientific tools for addressing questions of poverty and discontent, or new materials thought to harbor the potential to respond to new or flexible forms of life, each finds complex footholds in, and utility for, a broader matrix of power then fueling, and fueled by, the so-called military-industrial-academic complex and the multinational corporations who served to benefit from such innovation.
media_architecture  pedagogy  social_justice  user_testing  design_process  public_process  civic_engagement  political_economy 
13 days ago
Violence at the Threshold of Detectability | e-flux
The size of the hole in the roof of Crematorium II was approximately the size of a person as seen from above. The hole was thus approximately the size of a silver salt grain. When an object photographed approximates the recording ability of a negative, it is in a condition that we can refer to as the threshold of detectability. In this condition, the materiality of the object represented (the concrete roof/hole) and the materiality of the surface representing it (the surface of the negative/silver salt grains) should be considered both as presence and as representation. Each surface must be equally analyzed as an image and as a material reality....

Seen from above, the hole in the roof is the only visible trace that the building was attacked by drones. But this hole, and the violence it evidences, are also at the threshold of detectability. This is because the size of the hole that a missile makes in a roof is smaller than that of a single pixel in the resolution to which publicly available satellite images are degraded...

Drone strikes themselves are performed in a high-resolution designed to show information, but are monitored (by NGOs or the UN) in the poor resolution of satellite photographs designed to hide information. This fact inverts one of the foundational principles of forensics since the nineteenth century, namely, that to resolve a crime the police should be able to see more—in higher resolution, using better optics—than the perpetrator of the crime is able to. This inversion is nested in another, because in the case of drone strikes it is state agencies that are the perpetrators. The difference in vision between remote perpetrator and remote witness is the space of denial—but of a different kind than the denial presented earlier in this essay....

Facing the limitations of remote witnessing, one might turn to the testimony of survivors. I would like to present two investigations concerned with witness testimony of a different nature: the first is a video testimony shot hastily by a witness feeling him/herself to be in danger, and the second is based on the slow recollection process of a survivor of a drone strike.
detection  perception  forensics  violence  drones  witnessing 
13 days ago
Post-Postcolonial Sensory Infrastructure | e-flux
The 1950s saw a tribe of modernist planners and architect-adventurers who ventured to the newly independent countries of Asia and Africa like modernized versions of nineteenth-century European colonial travellers. Le Corbusier in Chandigarh, Doxiadis in Islamabad, and Buckminster Fuller in Africa and India were all part of this traffic to the Third World. Pushed by local regimes to set up showcase cities, and even by US and Soviet foreign policy coffers, architect-travellers were in fact on the sidelines of a significant urban transformation initiated by lesser-known transnational urban planners and designers who worked to plan and develop actually existing cities with large populations, such as Delhi, Lagos, Beijing.

In 1950s Delhi, for instance, the Ford Foundation sponsored a major exercise by US urbanists to design a city masterplan.....

The Delhi Masterplan designed by Mayer and his team incorporated a technocratic grid that would deflect migration flows to the periphery, and protect an urban core that assured sovereignty for postcolonial power. It was the model of the city as an urban machine, with neighborhoods as cellular units, linked by a technocratic hierarchy of functions and power. This was a model city with a centralized command regime, with designated legal subjects. The design was a dramatic performance of postcolonial sovereignty for the new regime. The nationalist city would oversee the proper circulation of people and things through careful zoning and state control of all land....

The last few decades have seen the unraveling of this model of urban planning, a tiringly familiar story that played itself out in Asia, Africa, and partly in Latin America. In Delhi, for example, the very forms that the technocratic machine sought to control—economic proliferation, urban sprawl, pirate markets, and migration—all imploded and rendered the control model inoperable. The exact infrastructures that were the hallmark of a new modernity—electricity, roads, water pipes—became locations for new conflicts and claim-making by subaltern populations. The already tottering planning machine splintered, and the technocratic hierarchies of the plan became meaningless. As urban regimes lost the ability to sustain the definitional aspects of the city, infrastructures became the site of new experiments. Pirate cities saw populations poach existing sites: overpasses, unused urban land, abandoned spaces. Remarkably, almost to the letter the post-planning mise en scène resembled Deleuze’s fragmentary notes on “control society.”
urban_planning  piracy  informal_infrastructure 
14 days ago
Honeywell, I’m Home! The Internet of Things and the New Domestic Landscape | e-flux
The effects of the network age on urban life in the early twenty-first century are roughly as Natalini predicted, if less utopian. Immaterial labor has led to a flexible but precarious existence in which, for the young at least, “permanent nomadism” is not so far from the truth. Objects, meanwhile, are dematerializing into live streams, downloads, e-books, smartphone apps, and the so-called “sharing economy.” We have witnessed the primacy of software over hardware....

That tired old trope of “the house of the future” has been replaced by what is now called the “smart home.” The smart home is the network’s great white hope for ubiquitous connectivity. It sounds benign enough, and may conjure Jacques Tati-style mise-en-scènes populated by absurd devices—the smart home is prime territory for farce—but it is also an ideology. It is the house-shaped manifestation of the internet of things, according to which all our devices and appliances will join the network, communicating with us and each other....

The history of architectural historians overlooking the impact of technological innovations is a long one, and its best chronicler was Reyner Banham. In The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, he charts the effects of successive environmental revolutions, such as electric lighting and air-conditioning, on built form. Banham’s geeky enthusiasm for ducting and electrical services enables him to propose a parallel history of architecture according to which the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast (1903), despite its outmoded, castellated styling, was “far more pioneering than anything that had been designed by Walter Gropius” because it was the first building to include a form of air-conditioning...

The trajectory of this parallel history takes in the invention of the suspended ceiling, in the late 1940s, which was required to hide the electrical services once concrete floor slabs had done away with the “dead spaces” in which that messy tangle used to be hidden. Banham can gleefully point out that the advent of the suspended ceiling, now ubiquitous in commercial buildings the world over, passed without comment in architectural literature. ...

Most of these products correspond to Arthur C. Clarke’s third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And it may well be that magic is precisely the quality that will seduce the consumer into embracing a world of all smart mod cons. The world of hyper-performance products, colluding in a domestic ecosystem that we barely understand but that lay its manifest intelligence at our disposal, may be our inevitable destiny. Banham was skeptical about this, averring with amusing bathos that while space capsules may require omni-competence, “here on Earth it will often prove that drawing a blind over a window … is all that is required.”4 More trenchantly, Sterling argues that we the consumer will have little choice in the matter either way. The internet of things is like electrification: if we are even able to opt out, we will simply be routed around and made redundant...

In the meantime, there are various intractable problems to solve. Some of them are technical. For instance, it is widely understood that the effective interconnectivity of all our household devices—their ability to sync and update and communicate with each other—depends on a single unifying platform. All tech companies agree on this and that is why they are all beavering away at solving the problem with their own proprietary platform that will not work with all the others....

The home, then, becomes an extension of our immaterial labor. It is the producer of metrics. Just as our wearable tech counts our footsteps, our homes will monitor and measure us in other ways. All of our devices will cooperate in one great collective data harvest. Why is that data useful to the tech companies that own the appliance companies? Because they will use it for consumer profiling, all the better to send you targeted advertising. They will also use it to try and streamline our future customer experiences through predictive analytics....

Where Le Corbusier could speak of being “proud of a house as practical as a typewriter,” Rem Koolhaas now coolly asserts, “Very soon your house will betray you.”...

The more metaphorical network, then—the meta-network of the internet of things—is reliant on a literal network of rusty pipes and underground cables.....

All of which goes to say that the smart home is merely the consumer entry point to a vast new economic territory of invisible infrastructure. The mundane (or even intimate) domestic data of the smart home accumulates into the “big data” of the smart city. And here there are powerful corporate forces at play—forces that our neoliberalized, austerity-riddled municipal authorities may be increasingly powerless to resist.
smart_homes  internet_of_things  domestic  architecture  security  privacy  interoperability  infrastructure 
14 days ago
Alec Earnest recently made an interesting documentary about a house in Los Angeles whose owner died, leaving behind a personal map collection so massive that, upon being acquisitioned by the city's public library, "it doubled the LAPL’s collection in a single day."

When LAPL map librarian Glen Creason, interviewed for the film, first entered the house, his jaw dropped; "everywhere I looked in the house, there's maps," he explains in the film, including an entire floor that was "absolutely wall to wall with street guides."
mapping  cartography  collection 
17 days ago
Essay calls for the end to most committees and meetings in higher ed | InsideHigherEd
1. Keep it small. A recent report on the most responsive modern companies that are best at elastically meeting new demands shows the optimal size for getting work done is five to nine people -- max. Higher ed committees tend to be much larger than this in many cases, and corporate leaders are stunned that a 15-person committee in academe is a pretty normal thing. How big are your committees? Is each person in that committee carrying his or her weight? Do they come prepared, informed and ready to intelligently move your initiative forward?... Consider: What if you shifted your mind from “committee” to “working group”? At the center is a five- to nine-person team who can reach out to the greater universe of the campus to gain consensus....

2. Meetings are for working together, not being talked at. Most of the people who are at committee meetings are there specifically because they hold veto power, a specific skill/knowledge or the purse strings. Their schedules are tough to get onto. Do you honestly want them sitting there passively at your meeting? Or would your time be much better spent working together?
Consider: What if each of your meetings had clear and concise goals and involved exercises to meet those goals and attain answers you critically need? And what if a core priority of each meeting was to gain consensus on a topic, decide a direction and appoint a small group to get it done within that quarter?...

3. Relaying information is best prior to discussion/activities so people have time to move from collection of information to connection of information. Meetings often go sideways when you’re trying to reach consensus among people who have varying levels of literacy on a topic. Also, we frequently forget that people have different cognitive processing. Some can scan and immediately see broad implications that they want to discuss immediately; others need time to digest the information and check the facts... Consider: How much time is spent on making flash presentations that are meant to explain complex issues in the simplest visual terms? What if we just did one-page explanations of our idea, which outlined the why, what, how much and for how long?...

4. Nothing beats one-on-one, face-to-face. Some consider committees a reason to no longer have one-on-ones. Wrong. Many of the issues you’re going to deal with in your groups are contentious and political -- in short, subjects that many don’t want to first be exposed to when surrounded by their peers.
academia  bureaucracy  meetings 
17 days ago
Brooklyn Libraries, Development and Misdirected Fear - The New York Times
Over the past decade, rampant construction in New York, so little of it bringing any real benefit to working people, has led to a sense of distrust in local governance and its institutions, which has, in turn, prompted its own lapses of reason. This is especially true in Brooklyn, where change has seemed to happen so quickly and where libraries have increasingly become the focus of collective anxiety surrounding all of the transformation.

Last month a public meeting to discuss the proposed renovation of the Cadman Plaza branch in Brooklyn Heights exceeded five hours and became so impassioned and theatrical that a resident called it “a breakdown of democracy.” Should the plan be approved, a private developer, Hudson, would rehabilitate a dilapidated building in need of $9 million in repairs, according to the Brooklyn Public Library, in exchange for the right to build condominiums on top of it and a requirement to build affordable housing in rapidly gentrifying Clinton Hill. The cost for a temporary library space that would be in use during construction would be picked up by the developer, and $40 million from the sale would go to serve other branches in the borough in urgent need of repair.

A two-year-old group called Citizens Defending Libraries, founded by Michael D. D. White, a longtime resident of Brooklyn Heights, and his wife, Carolyn McIntyre, has led the opposition to the proposal on the broad ground that privatizing public space is an unequivocally terrible idea, and with the more specific complaint that the library will be shrunk. (The Brooklyn Public Library counters that in fact the new branch will have more accessible space and simply less dead space.)

The group also objects to a plan to move the library’s business collection to the system’s Central Library in Prospect Heights, where administrators claim it will be more readily used. Adding to the group’s frustration is the sense among members that the library inflates the cost of its repairs to justify getting involved with developers (as if every library administrator secretly wished she were a builder)....

“We are not crazy about the Brooklyn plan,” the group’s executive director, Christian Zabriskie, told me. “But we have done a lot of analysis on this through the lens of library science, and we see it as a viable solution. We would obviously prefer it if buildings weren’t sold off. But it’s the real world. I’d rather ride a unicorn to work, but I can’t.”
libraries  renovation  public_process  nimbyism 
17 days ago
Stacked: Archinect's comparison of Fujimoto and Tschapeller's library stacks | News | Archinect
Instead of being mainly a weight distribution problem for architects, library book stacks are increasingly becoming art installations in cavernous contemplation halls. This is especially evident in Wolfgang Tschapeller's renderings for the Ho Fine Arts Library at Cornell University, in which an ascending, four-story block of books is selectively accessed through staircases (see header image).

Sou Fujimoto takes a slightly different tack, creating a maze-like series of largely empty bookshelves that showcase the winding quest for knowledge more than the actual books they are ostensibly designed to hold.
bookstacks  furniture  storage 
17 days ago
Hearing Modernity – Sawyer Seminar at Harvard | Sonic Terrain
Sound, fleeting and immaterial, has long proved resistant to academic inquiry. Faced with the impenetrable difficulty of pinning down sounds themselves, scholars have largely focused on written texts (instead of spoken words), while musicians have largely focused on notes (instead of sounds). In recent years, however, a number of very promising approaches from a variety of fields, which often bridge the arts and the sciences, have sprung up and have begun to capture this phenomenon in its wider context.

The 2013/14 John E. Sawyer seminar “Hearing Modernity” explores the world of sound studies. As the humanities turn away from the predominance of the visual domain and start exploring other sensory modalities, as the arts turn away from their traditional preoccupation with the work concept and toward a heightened appreciation of ecologies and soundscapes, and as the self-imposed limitations of C. P. Snow’s “Two Cultures” become ever more apparent, sound studies emerges as a new field that responds to multiple challenges at once.
sound_studies  sonic_archaeology  sensory_history  listening 
17 days ago
Watch Stewart Brand's 6-Part Series How Buildings Learn, With Music by Brian Eno | Open Culture
Stewart Brand came onto the cultural scene during the 1960s, helping to stage the Acid Tests made famous by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, and later launching the influential Whole Earth Catalog (something Steve Jobs described as “Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along”). He also vigorously campaigned in 1966 to have NASA release a photograph showing the entirety of Earth from space — something we take for granted now, but fired humanity’s imagination back then.

During the 1970s and beyond, Brand founded CoEvolution Quarterly, a successor to the Whole Earth Catalog; The WELL (“Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link”), “a prototypical, wide-ranging online community for intelligent, informed participants the world over;” and eventually The Long Now Foundation, whose work we’ve highlighted here before. When not creating new institutions, he has poured his creative energies into books and films.

Above you can watch How Buildings Learn, Brand’s six-part BBC TV series from 1997, which comes complete with music by Brian Eno. Based on his illustrated book sharing the same title, the TV series offers a critique of modernist approaches to architecture (think Buckminster Fuller, Frank Gehry, and Le Corbusier) and instead argues for “an organic kind of building, based on four walls, which is easy to change and expand and grow as the ideal form of building.”
architecture  adaptation  modularity  stewart_brand  improvisation  video 
17 days ago
Teaching Machines and Turing Machines: The History of the Future of Labor and Learning
In all things, all tasks, all jobs, women are expected to perform affective labor – caring, listening, smiling, reassuring, comforting, supporting. This work is not valued; often it is unpaid. But affective labor has become a core part of the teaching profession – even though it is, no doubt, “inefficient.” It is what we expect – stereotypically, perhaps – teachers to do. (We can debate, I think, if it’s what we reward professors for doing. We can interrogate too whether all students receive care and support; some get “no excuses,” depending on race and class.)
What happens to affective teaching labor when it runs up against robots, against automation? Even the tasks that education technology purports to now be able to automate – teaching, testing, grading – are shot through with emotion when done by humans, or at least when done by a person who’s supposed to have a caring, supportive relationship with their students. Grading essays isn’t necessarily burdensome because it’s menial, for example; grading essays is burdensome because it is affective labor; it is emotionally and intellectually exhausting....

Of course, we should ask what happens when we remove care from education – this is a question about labor and learning. What happens to thinking and writing when robots grade students’ essays, for example. What happens when testing is standardized, automated? What happens when the whole educational process is offloaded to the machines – to “intelligent tutoring systems,” “adaptive learning systems,” or whatever the latest description may be? What sorts of signals are we sending students?
And what sorts of signals are the machines gathering in turn? What are they learning to do?
labor  affect  care  affective_labor  academia 
20 days ago
Maps That You Can Hear and Touch - CityLab
a group of scientists, architects, and advocates are working toward on new methods of wayfinding for blind people: They're making maps that convey information through touch and sound....

Made on an embossing printer, the maps are tactile, large-print, and have an audio component: By using a Livescribe smart-pen, users can tap on icons (a ticket booth or a exit, say) and listen to more detailed information (how much for a fare, or what intersection the stairs lead to). Advocates at LightHouse have been distributing the maps and pens to clients and teachers since June....

With degrees in physics and psychoacoustics, Miele has dedicated more than 25 years to improving visually impaired people's access to information, with a particular focus on creating accessible maps—where he is truly at the frontier. Having lost his sight at age four, Miele knows firsthand about the dearth of cartographic information that's historically been available for blind people, despite how helpful maps can be to them....

He realized quickly that using Braille sometimes limits a maps's effectiveness, since it comes in only one large font size. That's where the audio component comes in....

Downey also points out how the basic hierarchy of information changes when you explore maps as a visually impaired person. "If you see a drawing or a map visually, you have the overall understanding of the space first. And then you drill into detail," he says. "When you read with fingers, you start with detail first, and you may not have a clue what that detail is. You have to piece it together or find some strategy to find the overall picture."
cartography  mapping  disability  tactility  sound_maps  epistemology  visuality 
21 days ago
Notes toward a critical history of cartography, part 2 | Open Geography
I was especially interested in the exchanges about the Peters projection, which will form one entry in the Critical History. Robinson was famously opposed to the work of Peters and said so (often) in print, more or less politely. (In letters he was a bit more forthright, calling it a “ridiculous display,” “dismissed him as a crackpot” etc).

Snyder was also skeptical of it, although in my opinion he had a more open mind about its purpose. Both men were keen to dispel false cartographic statements by Peters and his US collaborators. Snyder actually wrote to Peters in 1994, although I saw no evidence of a reply (they mention that Peters had polio; he died in 2002).
mapping  cartography  projection 
21 days ago
Uncovering the Early History of “Big Data” and the “Smart City” in Los Angeles | Boom: A Journal of California
Like many smart, new ideas, however, it’s not new. It’s not even new to Los Angeles, which has been pursuing computer-assisted data and policy analysis for decades. Beginning in the late 1960s and through most of the 1970s, the little-known Community Analysis Bureau used computer databases, cluster analysis, and infrared aerial photography to gather data, produce reports on neighborhood demographics and housing quality, and help direct resources to ward off blight and tackle poverty.....

A data-rich snapshot of LA from forty years ago, the report didn’t categorize Los Angeles into the usual neighborhoods or community plan areas, but into scattered clusters with names like “the singles of Los Angeles,” “the suburbs from the fifties,” “richest of the poor,” “gracious living,” and more.[7] The nomenclature was seemingly drawn more from market research than traditional city planning reports.

I mentally filed it away as just another 1970s urban experiment, an attempt to sort and categorize places across LA’s expanse. As I read more about the methodology, however, I became intrigued by the Community Analysis Bureau’s ambition to create an “Urban Information System” that could be applied to tackle the problems of the day. I wondered whether this urban intelligence had influenced city policy or programs. How had the bureau fared as the politics of planning, poverty alleviation, and land use in the city changed? ...

In the years after World War II, that know-how and faith in machines translated, in part, to an interest in computer-assisted social analysis, thanks to the availability of both mainframe computers and large federal grants during the Cold War. Social scientists in particular were interested in exploring the possibilities that data and computers could bring to public policy, as were city planners and architects. In A Second Modernism: MIT, Architecture and the ‘Techno-Social’ Moment, Arindam Dutta writes that for them, “the emphasis on assembling, collating, and processing larger and larger amounts of data” was “paramount in the postwar framing of expertise.”....

ata was the key to know-how, and Los Angeles was key to the techno-optimism of the era. Although the region’s lingering reputation may be for unchecked sprawl and popular entertainment, twentieth-century LA was highly planned—and proud of the systems on which it depended: its networks of streetcars and freeways, its flood control and water infrastructure, and its intentionally fragmented municipal and quasi-public governance. Southern California had a huge high-tech cluster in the aerospace industry....

In 1962, the city submitted a proposal to the Ford Foundation seeking funding for “A Metropolitan Area Fact Bank for the Greater Los Angeles Area.” In proposing the “fact bank,” the mayor’s office noted that Los Angeles “was one of the first non-federal government agencies to use electromechanical and electronic data processing systems in accomplishment of its day-to-day service rendering tasks...

In forming the Community Analysis Bureau, Los Angeles sought new tools to address the old challenges of deteriorating housing by providing detailed local data to identify neighborhoods showing early signs of obsolescence. The city had razed “blighted” housing in Chavez Ravine in the early 1950s[17] and, when the CAB launched in the late 1960s, was using federal funding to redevelop the Bunker Hill area.[18] The bureau’s data would help identify blighted areas across the city for renewal efforts like these and inform measures aimed at alleviating the poverty that led to blight in the first place....

First, however, the bureau had to digitize and centralize relevant information from the US Census, the Los Angeles Police Department, the LA County Assessor, and other private and public sources using the city’s existing IBM-360 mainframe computers. As a partial step toward a comprehensive Los Angeles Urban Information System, the bureau created a database using 220 staff-identified data categories as the nucleus of its database. This eventually expanded to 550 categories available to analyze individual census tracts....

Even with a vast array of data at their fingertips, evaluating the physical state of more than a million housing units spread out over Los Angeles’s nearly 500 square miles was an enormous challenge for the bureau—so bureau staff took to the air. A 1970 report from the bureau noted that “the use of color infrared (CIR) aerial photography offers immediate aid as a relatively inexpensive means of locating those areas most affected by conditions of blight and obsolescence....

The bureau’s data and analyses were intended to spur interventions in the city. An early report on the bureau’s methodology used the analogy of a “thermostat that samples changes in data… and, based on these measurements, or studies, makes recommendations to operating and staff agencies of the City as to the differences in the desired City climate and the actual.”[32] The city’s data-driven climate control would help to regulate everything from crime rates to unemployment to traffic....

But the ultimate failure of the Community Analysis Bureau suggests that data analysis needs to be better linked to planning, policy, and even advocacy. The bureau wasn’t closely allied with social movements that might have pushed for changes related to the agency’s findings, nor was it sufficiently integrated into the structure of decision making and budgeting in the city. With no core constituency in the heart of city government, the bureau’s findings were easy to dismiss as interesting but inessential factoids. Bureau employees predicted this problem in 1970 in a report that noted, “Political realities must be very carefully amalgamated with the tools of technology. This amalgamation will be difficult at best since, by design, the conclusions of technology tend to be objective, while those of politics tend to be subjective and emotional.”[
data  smart_cities  Los_Angeles  algorithms  urban_design  urban_planning  urban_policy  infrastructure  flowcharts  data_visualization  statistics  census  urban_archaeology  urban_history  photography  aerial_photography 
21 days ago
interview with evolution design, the firm behind many of google's global offices
SC: most clients who come to us want us to help them to develop their workplace strategy for the future. this means we normally don’t have a brief, but develop it together with the client.
TR: for this we do quite a lot of research, for which we have developed specific tools for, desk and meeting room utilization studies, workstyle research, workshops and interviews. this is not only about the functional requirements, but also very much about the vision for the future and the company culture and values. only based on this we start developing our design concepts
furniture  media_workplace  google  branding 
21 days ago
The Languages of Bernar Venet’s Conceptual Poetry
One way that Venet strips poetry of lyric superfluity is by resorting to the rudimentary syntax of the list. In “Hétérociens…,” for example, Venet gives us not the best words in their best order but an enumerative string of specialized terms likely taken from scientific and technical publication....

Apoétiques is filled with similar list poems that record everything from synonyms to acronyms to currency exchange rates to the most frequented tourist destinations in France. While some of Venet’s pieces in English may be easier to decipher than “Hétérociens…” they often foreground their fragmentariness and incompletion...

Venet’s minimalist “Monostique” also tests the complicated dynamics of comprehension, reception, and appreciation. “Monostique” turns to the symbolic language of mathematics, stripping the poem not only of lyricism but, contra Coleridge, of words—let alone the “best” ones—altogether. If Edgar Allan Poe argued that “The Raven,” his most well-known poem, “proceeded, step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem,” then Venet raises such precision to a new level by presenting the math itself as the poem....

ike much of Venet’s work, “Monostique” demonstrates a productive dialectical tension between conceptuality and materiality. While it may be a conceptualist gesture (as a demonstration of pure knowledge), to the non-specialist, its potential appeal inheres in the materiality of its visual form, in the way it can be “read” as a concrete poem. In other words, its illegibility can lead to a consideration of its aesthetics, to the surface beauty of its typography and design. “Can,” of course, is the operative word here: the non-specialist, unable to make sense of the equation, might just as well reject “Monostique” in frustration....

On the first page of “Saturation,” Venet overlays a text—apparently from a logic or set theory textbook—with another, creating a palimpsestic effect. After three doublespreads of progressively darker textual overlappings, the poem, in its inscriptional excesses, becomes nearly impossible to read. The final doublespread presents a kind of visual cacophony
poetry  textual_form  media_literature  lists  diagram  semiotics  palimpsest 
23 days ago
The Container Principle: How a Box Changes the Way We Think: Leonardo Reviews Home
Tell me how you store things, and I will tell you what sort of a person you are. And increasingly, we do not keep things only close by in personal collections -whether drawers, boxes and chests-but transported as part of global logistics that ensure that whatever data finds whatever address. Containers stand as a historically crucial reminder of the point at which storage and transportation start to define both human culture in a rather significant anthropological sense from ceramics onwards and, then, also the logistical culture that ties our age to the standardised formats of size, movement, and address spaces. Such space does not merely cross the planet but defines it as an epistemology. The container ship is one obvious reference point in terms of the visual culture of this planetary condition but not the only one in what one could claim to be the containment culture of our era.

Alexander Klose's The Container Principle: How a Box Changes the Way We Think is an alternative media and design history of the seemingly simplest and most formal of principles. And yet it also becomes a material history of what defines the container space: It's not just nothing in the hollow space but the framing of something where the frame becomes a material epistemology. Indeed, it is a question of the materiality of frames whether the containers are empty or full - in either case, boxes and containers are formative of thought and cultural practices.
containers  storage  logistics  transportation  infrastructure  standards 
23 days ago
Studies in Communication and Culture: Data | LMC 3206 / Professor Lauren Klein / Spring 2013
Think of your SAT score, all of your Facebook friends, or even your DNA—we live in what’s been called the “age of data,” and yet, the concept of data has a long and complex history, one that dates back to the Enlightenment and arguably even before. This course will thus examine ideas about data—and in particular, ideas about data visualization—through examples of charts and tables, both historical and contemporary, as well as through literature, philosophy, film, and other media forms that engage the cultural and theoretical issues surrounding data, and related forms of visual display. Over the course of the semester, we will familiarize ourselves with several basic data refining and visualization techniques. In lieu of formal essays, students will develop analytical and creative data-based projects that are informed by the range of topics we’ve explored throughout the course.
data_visualization  syllabus 
23 days ago
The Forgotten Mapmaker: Nokia Has Better Maps Than Apple and Maybe Even Google - The Atlantic
Nokia is the company that receives data from many commercial fleets including FedEx, the company's senior VP of Location Content, Cliff Fox, told me.

"We get over 12 billion probe data points per month coming into the organization," Fox said from his office in Chicago. "We get probe data not only from commercial vehicles like FedEx and UPS trucks, but we also get it from consumers through navigation applications."

Depending on the device type, the data that streams into Nokia can have slight variations.

"The system that they have for tracking the UPS trucks is different from the way the maps application works on the Nokia device. You'll have differences on the amount of times per minute they ping their location, though typically it's every 5 to 15 seconds," Fox said. "It'll give you a location, a direction, and a speed as well." (* See correction at the end of the story: UPS does not send data to Nokia.)

They can then use that data to identify new or changed roads. In 2012, they've used the GPS data they get to identify 65,000 road segments. (A road segment is defined as the strip of surface between intersecting roads.) The GPS data also comes in handy when they're building traffic maps because they know the velocity of the vehicles.

(Fascinatingly, one of their consumer privacy protections is to black out every other 30 seconds of tracking information so that the company can't say "that a particular individual traveled a particular route.")

In the future, Nokia may be able to extract as many as 30 other attributes from the GPS probe data alone. "That kind of data can help us keep the map more current without having people go out and drive," Fox said....

Meet Tony Cha. He's a world crawler, a driver of one of Nokia's "True" vehicles. He's spent roughly three years on the road, moving from city to city in a modded car ... The Volkswagen is stocked with $200,000 worth of equipment (that's Fox's number) including six cameras for capturing street signs, a panoramic camera for doing Bing Street View imagery, two GPS antennae (one on the wheel, the other on the roof), three laptops, and the crown jewel -- a LIDAR system that shoots 64 lasers 360 degrees around the car to create 3D images of the landscape the car passes through.....

The biggest mapping problem -- the thing that makes Tony Cha's Neverending Drive necessary -- is not dimensions one through three, but number four. The world changes in time.

"To build it the first time is relatively the smaller task compared to maintaining that map," Nokia's Fox said.
GPS  mapping 
24 days ago
What Makes a Map a Map?
A map is a representation of space or place, or of phenomena as they exist in space. A map portrays geographical features, spatial features, or a “geography.” A map can be of micro-space (the layout of your bedroom), or of the biggest expanse we know, perhaps a schematic of the cosmos.

A map represents three-dimensional reality, but usually it is drawn on a flat two-dimensional plane (often a piece of paper). To “translate” effectively between these dimensions, the mapmaker employs various cartographic devices, especially “scale” and “projection.” Most maps have formal elements printed right on the map that give you guidance about how the mapmaker has represented the scene: directional information, keys, and scales are part of most maps. In the next section you’ll learn how to use these devices.

A map is much smaller than its subject, sometimes by astonishing degrees of magnitude—for example, a map of the largest country in the world (Russia) might be rendered on a piece of paper as small as an index card. Because of this size differential between real geography and mapped geography, mapmakers must be selective—a map can’t represent all of “reality” in absolute terms, but only some parts of reality. Which parts of “reality” get included on a map varies: first of all, selectivity is determined by the mechanics of drafting and the limitations inherent in drawing big objects on small pieces of paper; but selectivity is also subjective and which parts of “reality” get put on a map depends on the purpose of the map, the mapmaker’s intentions, and the mapmaker’s biases and preferences.
mapping  cartography 
25 days ago
Goldsmiths launches new university press » MobyLives
According to its website, the Press:

…will build on the principles of digital-first publishing and is driven by a widely documented need for new forms of academic publishing in the digital age. Digital first does not mean digital only, and we will publish print books as well as eBooks, apps and online resources.

The Press is also dedicated to publishing work that “exceeds the opposition between convention and experimentation” and is inviting submissions of ‘Audio, visual and/or performance work’, ‘Creative and life writing’, non-standard forms of communication such as ‘an article in the form of a comic or graphic novel’, and perhaps most intriguing of all:

Thought-in-action, provisional or process-capturing work such as briefs, scripts, blogs, storyboards, notebooks, opinion pieces, essays, clips, previews and samples
publishing  university_press  academia 
27 days ago
Shannon Rankin
I create installations, collages and sculptures that use the language of maps to explore the connections among geological and biological processes, patterns in nature, geometry and anatomy.

Using a variety of distinct styles I intricately cut, score, wrinkle, layer, fold, paint and pin maps to produce revised versions that often become more like the terrains they represent.

These new geographies explore notions of place, perception and experience, suggesting the potential for a broader landscape and inviting viewers to examine their relationships with each other and the world we share.
mapping  map_art 
27 days ago
BLDGBLOG: Drone Landscapes, Intelligent Geotextiles, Geographic Countermeasures
We might thus find that sentient artificial landforms built from networks of computational geotextiles and mobilized from within by servomotors could literally redesign landscapes in place, on their own, at will. This would, presumably, be for practical purposes (flood mitigation or landslide control), but could also be purely for aesthetics. Imagine a new park of crawling landforms—slow ripples moving through the grass, forming constantly refreshed hills and valleys, the soil pulsing in waves.

...this would terrestrialize the so-called robot-readable world: burying the signs and sensors that such machines require and disguising them in apparently natural circumstances. What appears to be a meadow is actually an electromagnetically active runway read and used by UAVs. What you think is a forest is a complex signaling landscape. What appears to be a garden is a computational geotextile interacting with driverless ground vehicles miles away.
landscape  geology  security  sensors  indexical_landscapes 
27 days ago
Brooklyn Author Recreates Borges’ Library of Babel as Infinite Website | Flavorwire
Recently, Jonathan Basile, a Brooklyn author and Borgesian Man of the Book, taught himself programming so that he could recreate Borges’ Universal Library as a website. The results are confounding. A true site-as-labyrinth, Basile’s creation is an attempt to write and publish every story conceivable (and inconceivable) to man....

The site is an attempt at a virtual recreation of the world of the Borges’ short story. “The Library of Babel” describes not only a universal library — a library containing all possible combinations of letters, thus all books that ever have and ever could be written — but a universe that is a library, endless hexagonal reading rooms inhabited only by librarians.
library  borges  code  algorithm  text  textual_form 
28 days ago
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 
4 weeks 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 
4 weeks 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 weeks 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 
4 weeks ago
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 
4 weeks ago
Careers in New Mapping |
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 
4 weeks 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 
4 weeks 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.
4 weeks 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 
4 weeks 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 
4 weeks 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 
5 weeks ago
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 
5 weeks ago
PQ FUI Toys - aescripts + aeplugins -
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 
5 weeks ago
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