40 Years of Saul Bass' Groundbreaking Title Sequences in One Compilation | Open Culture
Above you can watch a long compilation of Saul Bass titles, starting with Man with the Golden Arm and ending with Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995). Along the way, the montage illustrates the evolution of style over the course of those 40 years, showing how titles grew in ambition and sophistication. You can see titles for some great films from the yawning spiral in Vertigo to the monochrome crumbling busts in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus to the abstract shots of neon in Casino.
graphic_design  title_credits  film  textual_form 
10 hours ago
See BIG & Heatherwick’s Design for Google’s California Headquarters | ArchDaily
“The idea is simple. Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas… Large translucent canopies will cover each site, controlling the climate inside yet letting in light and air. With trees, landscaping, cafes, and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature.”
media_architecture  media_workplace  google 
2 days ago
Four Million Images from the World’s Endangered Archives
Since 2004, the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, supported by the Arcadia Fund, has funded nearly 246 projects in 78 countries to preserve and digitize archives at risk of extinction.... Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library, said in the release that at “a time when wars and civil emergencies too frequently put archives and library collections at risk, the work the [British] Library does to support fellow institutions around the world during and after conflicts is becoming more urgent than ever.”
archives  preservation  war 
3 days ago
BBC - Future - The invisible network that keeps the world running
It's the kind of logistical information that it's hard to imagine any one human mind comprehending, and the truth is no single one does – this is distributed knowledge, managed by Maersk's vast world-spanning computer network and shaped and interpreted by complex, similarly unknowable, algorithms. In a very real sense the crane and truck drivers are little more than elements in a vast robotic system, receiving instructions in their cabs from their computerised managers, following orders on endless cycles until their shift ends.
logistics  transportation  shipping  infrastructure  networks 
3 days ago
Rural Library Chain Closes, Citing 'Tremendous Pressure' - NYTimes.com
A nongovernmental organization that had run a rural library project with as many as 22 libraries across China has announced that it is closing down, citing “tremendous pressure” from the local authorities.

Since 2007, Liren — which means helping someone find his way — had devoted itself to providing children in underprivileged areas with free access to books and fostering independent thinking. Its founder, Li Yingqiang, who studied economics at Peking University, had started by building a library in his own former school in Hubei Province. From there, the group formed partnerships with other primary and secondary schools, donating books and sending volunteers to help run libraries and organize reading sessions for students. Some Liren libraries that did not have partnerships with local schools were run by volunteers from private premises....

Mr. Li said the fact that he is a Christian might have caused some sensitivity, but he said he never used the organization to preach to students. The Chinese authorities have shown diminishing tolerance for Christianity in recent years.

Mr. Li said it was possible that the group’s stated goal — “helping rural teenagers grow into healthy, normal modern citizens” — might have raised some concern. “The word ‘citizen’ might have worried some people,” he said. “Citizen” is a sensitive word in China because of its association with citizens’ rights, including freedom of speech.

He estimated that around 40,000 readers, mainly rural primary and secondary school students, were affected by Liren’s shutdown.
libraries  little_libraries  china 
4 days ago
8,000 rare books burned by ISIS militants in Mosul » MobyLives
Sunday night, the Mosul Public Library was bombed, another casualty in ISIS militants’ book-burning campaign. The explosive devices used here are described as ”improvised” or even”crude,” as though reporters’ disgust with this story has infected their adjectives. Eight thousand rare books and manuscripts were destroyed....

An estimated 100,000 books have been burned or looted in this ISIS campaign.

There’s something to be said here for making digital archives available of the world’s libraries, before these pieces of our culture are lost. Mosul, or Mawsil, means linking point in Islamic, or junction city in Arabic. A city of intersecting cultures and ideas has been ransacked, symbolically and physically, in an organization’s mission to erase any cultural artifacts that contradict its own ideological belief system.
libraries  war  Iraq 
5 days ago
Smithsonian Libraries offer artists' books collection online » MobyLives
The Smithsonian has put hundreds of artists’ books online this month, as part of a collaborative efforts with institutions like the National Design Library, the American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery. Now over 600 titles can be accessed with one tool, and the collection is a response to growing interest in the book as an art form that can be studied just like any other artistic genre, such as pairing, sculpture or photography.
textual_form  artists_books  libraries 
5 days ago
On seams and edges - dreams of aggregation, access and discovery in a broken world | ALIA
Visions of technological utopia often portray an increasingly 'seamless' world, where technology integrates experience across space and time. Edges are blurred as we move easily between devices and contexts, between the digital and the physical.

But Mark Weiser, one of the pioneers of ubiquitous computing, questioned the idea of seamlessness, arguing instead for 'beautiful seams' -- exposed edges that encouraged questions and the exploration of connections and meanings.

With discovery services and software vendors still promoting 'seamless discovery' as one of their major selling points, it seems the value of seams and edges requires further discussion. As we imagine the future of a service such as Trove, how do we balance the benefits of consistency, coordination and centralisation against the reality of a fragmented, unequal, and fundamentally broken world.

This paper will examine the rhetoric of 'seamlessness' in the world of discovery services, focusing in particular on the possibilities and problems facing Trove. By analysing both the literature around discovery, and the data about user behaviours currently available through Trove, I intend to expose the edges of meaning-making and explore the role of technology in both inhibiting and enriching experience.

How does our dream of comprehensiveness mask the biases in our collections? How do new tools for visualisation reinforce the invisibility of the missing and excluded? How do the assumptions of 'access' direct attention away from practical barriers to participation?
interfaces  seams  collections  libraries  archives  search 
5 days ago
An exploration of potentially new kinds of gestures and postures in the near
future. Based on the behavior we noticed, we were interested in how the type of
situations and the motivations we uncovered would appear when using upcoming
technologies: How would people skip ads while using their augmented reality
glasses? What will be the nervous tics of users who employ facial recognition
systems? Will we still gesticulate when using brain-computer interfaces?
gestures  embodiment  digital  mobile_technology 
7 days ago
AE INTERVIEWS HUGH RAFFLES (Professor of Anthropology, New School), spring 2013
I was also intrigued by the possibilities of working narratively through biography and the way that allowed me to think through questions of class in this “golden age” of British science.

At the same time, I didn’t want to generalize too much. It was the first time I’d had a chance to work through ethnographic material biographically and it took a long time to figure out how to do that and to decide whether or not it was a good idea. I wanted to avoid over-psychologizing this person but at the same time not reduce him to an effect of social processes....

I’m especially worried about what the impulse to branding–and the rewards for branding–do to graduate students. People start to think there’s a currency to a particular type of work and they start referencing it because they think it’s a shorthand way to demonstrate a fluency and an up-to-dateness. The problems with the tendency for the discipline to take “turns” and respond so aggressively to fashion has been well-documented....

I take “multi-species ethnography” in its current incarnation to indicate an orientation to and prioritization of a particular version of reality and I’m cautious about it for two reasons: First, that it elevates the species concept, implying that we should be thinking about species (and their relationships) as our unit of analysis. Given the indeterminacies and vagaries of the species concept among biologists, it doesn’t seem like a very good idea for anthropologists to act as if the term is self-evident and straightforwardly referential. My second concern is that its gesture to inclusivity is rather restrictive. What happens to the inorganic, to non-species life, and to non-life? It’s not a useful rubric under which to think about stone or the weather or even technology, for example....

friendly criticism from a fellow traveler who is excited to see the range of work expanding but just concerned by the emergence of new orthodoxies. I worry that the fashionable is a poor sign under which to do intellectual work....

It’s important to not be preoccupied with making mistakes and to be willing to take intellectual risks. It’s also important not to feel that you have to declare some theoretical allegiance or belong to a movement. Of course, you can and should build upon prior intellectual work without being trapped in it and it’s important to have a strong genealogical sense of your own and others work.... The graduate education structure of grant-giving, dissertation-writing, etc., tends to enforce a defensive mode of scholarship, and faculty, too, are rarely given the breathing-space and opportunity to explore radically new directions in their work.
ethnography  methodology  fieldwork  writing  fashion  species  classification  theory  trends 
9 days ago
By Making Hand-Drawn Maps of Their Slums in India, Kids Are Influencing Urban Planning Policies - CityLab
As part of a broader civic campaign centered on "child clubs," groups of children are creating detailed "social maps" of their marginalized neighborhoods to voice their concerns about public space, as first reported in Citiscope, a CityLab partner site.

Since 2011, UNICEF has been encouraging kids to use mobile technology and open data to map environmental and health issues near their homes. But that technology isn't available to everyone. Instead, much of the child-led mapping campaign sweeping India today relies on old-school topography materials—paper and a rainbow-spectrum of markers.

Teams of young mappers and adult facilitators spend roughly 45 days traversing their slums. They learn the shape of their neighborhood, how streets interconnect (or don't), and the the density of homes there. This information becomes the map's skeleton. Then, they fill in the specifics. They stake out what's needed through the eyes of children—where underserved public areas could become play spaces, where trash bins could be added in an area they regularly see littered with filth. Their ideal neighborhood is drawn and detailed onto the map. Then, after it's complete, leaders from the child clubs present their work to local officials.
mapping  counter_mapping  drawing  India 
10 days ago
New map shows America's quietest places | Science/AAAS | News
After feeding acoustic data into a computer algorithm, the researchers modeled sound levels across the country including variables such as air and street traffic. Deep blue regions, such as Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, have background noise levels lower than 20 decibels—a silence likely as deep as before European colonization, researchers say.
sound_space  acoustic_ecology  sound_map 
11 days ago
PonoPlayer review: Neil Young’s new streaming device sounds no better than an iPhone.
The listeners included audio engineers and hardcore audiophiles. It turned out neither they, nor anybody else, could reliably guess which was the higher-resolution recording. “Of course, the excuses we heard were that the people were all deaf, the gear sucked, and so forth,” says Moran. “So we said have at it and do your own test. No one’s been able to demonstrate that high-res sounds ‘smoother’ or ‘deeper,’ or has ‘more resolution’ or ‘more front to back.’ It’s all faith-based, religious words. No one’s been able to show it sounds different. They refuse to submit to fourth grade–level scientific principle.”
sound  fidelity  listening 
11 days ago
The Future of the Web Is 100 Years Old - Issue 21: Information - Nautilus
The industrial information explosion triggered waves of concern about how to manage all that data. Accomplished librarians like Melvil Dewey (of Decimal System fame), Sir Anthony Panizzi of the British Library, and Charles Cutter of the Boston Athenaeum all began devising new systems to cope with the complexity of their burgeoning collections. In the fast-growing corporate world, company archivists started to develop complex filing systems to accommodate the sudden deluge of typewritten documents.

Among these efforts, one stood out. In 1893, a young Belgian lawyer named Paul Otlet wrote an essay expressing his concern over the rapid proliferation of books, pamphlets, and periodicals. The problem, he argued, should be “alarming to those who are concerned about quality rather than quantity,” and he worried about how anyone would ever make sense of it all. An ardent bibliophile with an entrepreneurial streak, he began working on a solution with his partner, a fellow lawyer named Henri La Fontaine (who would later go on to join the Belgian Senate and win the Nobel Peace Prize): a “Universal Bibliography” (Repertoire bibliographique universel) that would catalog all the world’s published information and make it freely accessible....

Across the Atlantic, an alternative vision of computing was taking shape, driven by a deeply humanistic, individualistic, and American impulse. That vision found its earliest expression in an essay published by Vannevar Bush, a prolific inventor and sometime advisor to President Roosevelt during WWII. In “As We May Think,” first published in The Atlantic in 1945, Bush proposed a purely hypothetical machine called the Memex: a kind of souped-up microfilm reader that has since become one of the platonic objects of the networked age. The Memex would allow its user to search across a large body of documents stored on film, then create associations—“links”—between them.
libraries  classification  otlet  memex 
12 days ago
What's Wrong With Public Intellectuals? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
The thing we’ve lost is really party politics, and it has been replaced by music-centered subculture as the main beacon for the organizing (and self-organizing) of youth. Scratch through the surface of any little magazine of the last 30 years and you’ll find the inspiration of ’zines and DIY punk rock (hip hop may serve a parallel function through different channels). But that may be a subject for another occasion....

The huge personal disappointment—and it puzzled me for a long time—was that junior professors did not, by and large, give us work I wanted to print. I knew their professional work was good. These were brilliant thinkers and writers. Yet the problems I encountered, I hasten to say, were absolutely not those of academic stereotype—not esotericism, specialization, jargon, the "inability" to address a nonacademic audience. The embarrassing truth was rather the opposite. When these brilliant people contemplated writing for the "public," it seemed they merrily left difficulty at home, leapt into colloquial language with both feet, added unnatural (and frankly unfunny) jokes, talked about TV, took on a tone chummy and unctuous. They dumbed down, in short—even with the most innocent intentions. The public, even the "general reader," seemed to mean someone less adept, ingenious, and critical than themselves. Writing for the public awakened the slang of mass media. The public signified fun, frothy, friendly. And it is certainly true that even in many supposedly "intellectual" but debased outlets of the mass culture, talking down to readers in a colorless fashion-magazine argot is such second nature that any alternative seems out of place.....

My sense of the true writing of the "public intellectuals" of the Partisan Review era is that it was always addressed just slightly over the head of an imagined public—at a height where they must reach up to grasp it. But the writing seemed, also, always just slightly above the Partisan Review writers themselves. They, the intellectuals, had stretched themselves to attention, gone up on tiptoe, balancing, to become worthy of the more thoughtful, more electric tenor of intellect they wanted to join. They, too, were of "the public," but a public that wanted to be better, and higher. They distinguished themselves from it momentarily, by pursuing difficulty, in a challenge to the public and themselves—thus becoming equals who could earn the right to address this public....

The idea of the public intellectual in the 21st century should be less about the intellectuals and how, or where, they ought to come from vocationally, than about restoring the highest estimation of the public. Public intellect is most valuable if you don’t accept the construction of the public handed to us by current media. Intellectuals: You—we—are the public. It’s us now, us when we were children, before the orgy of learning, or us when we will be retired; you can choose the exemplary moment you like. But the public must not be anyone less smart and striving than you are, right now. It’s probably best that the imagined public even resemble the person you would like to be rather than who you are. (And it would be wise for intellectuals to stop being so ashamed of ties to universities, however tight or loose; it’s cowardly, and often irrelevant.)
education  public_intellectuals  writing  journals  liberal_arts 
13 days ago
Too Big To Scale - The Data Issue - DIS Magazine
The Data Issue proposes that the most interesting things are happening off screen: in cables and wire, in climate-controlled data centers, in mySQL and at DLD, in Hadoop and MapReduce, and in the series of technologies that enable parallel processing: disparate and real time data joined together in planetary-scale computation.
data  big_data  infrastructure  privacy  computing 
13 days ago
Introduction to Too Big To Scale «DIS Magazine
The Data Issue proposes that the most interesting things are happening off screen: in cables and wire, in climate-controlled data centers, in mySQL and at DLD, in Hadoop and MapReduce, and in the series of technologies that enable parallel processing: disparate and real time data joined together in planetary-scale computation.
data  big_data  infrastructure  privacy  computing 
13 days ago
Sleuthing Search Engine: Even Better Than Google? - WSJ
This year, she analyzed criminal networks using visual displays from a powerful data-mining tool, one whose capabilities hint at the future of investigations into online criminal networks.

The program, a tool called Memex developed by the U.S. military’s research and development arm, is a search engine on steroids. Rather than endless pages of Web links, it returns sophisticated infographics that represent the relationships between Web pages, including many that a Google search would miss.

For instance, searching the name and phone number that appear in a suspicious ad would result in a diagram that showed separate constellations of dots, representing links to ads that contain the name, the phone number, or both. Such results could suggest a ring in which the same phone number was associated with different women. Clicking on a dot can reveal the physical location of the device that posted the ad and the time it was posted. Another click, and it shows a map of the locations from which the ads were posted. Capabilities like this make it possible to identify criminal networks and understand their operations in powerful new ways.

Unlike a Google search, Memex can search not only for text but also for images and latitude/longitude coordinates encoded in photos. It can decipher numbers that are part of an image, including handwritten numbers in a photo, a technique traffickers often use to mask their contact information. It also recognizes photo backgrounds independently of their subjects, so it can identify pictures of different women that share the same backdrop, such as a hotel room—a telltale sign of sex trafficking, experts say.

Also unlike Google, it can look into, and spot relationships among, not only run-of-the-mill Web pages but online databases such as those offered by government agencies and within online forums (the so-called deep Web) and networks like Tor, whose server addresses are obscured (the so-called dark Web).

Since its release a year ago, Memex has had notable successes in sex-trafficking investigations. New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Memex has generated leads in 20 investigations and has been used in eight trials prosecuted by the county’s sex-trafficking division. In a case last June, Mr. Vance said, Memex’s ability to search the posting times of ads that had been taken down helped in a case that resulted in the sentencing of a trafficker to 50 years to life in prison....

Memex is part of a wave of software tools that visualize and organize the rising tide of online information. Unlike many other tools, though, it is free of charge for those who want to download, distribute and modify. Dr. White said he wanted Memex to be free “because taxpayers are paying for it.” Federal agencies have more money to spend, but local law-enforcement agencies often can’t afford the most sophisticated tools, even as more criminal activity moves online.
search  analysis  data_visualization  Google  DARPA  internet 
13 days ago
Design Thinking for Libraries
Design Thinking for Libraries is an approach to improving your library through creative problem solving.
This toolkit guides you through Design Thinking so you can start coming up with solutions to everyday challenges within the library. Design thinking, or human-centered design, is all about starting with people — the users that visit your library.
libraries  design_process 
13 days ago
The Brilliant “Baloney Slicer” That Started the Digital Age - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus
In the early 1950s, the U.S. Air Force Supply Depot in Ohio was looking for a faster way to store and fetch information from its sizable inventory. They had 50,000 items in their records and wanted instant access to each one of them. The dominant storage technologies of the time—punch cards, magnetic tape and magnetic drums (and filing cabinets)—were unreliable and slow.... The Air Force sent a request to IBM, soliciting a bid for a “material information flow device.” ... After a few years of brainstorming and design tweaking, IBM announced the release of the world’s first disk drive in 1956. It was called the RAMAC (Random Access Memory for Accounting and Control) 350, and was housed in the new RAMAC 305 computer. In the press release, IBM promised an “entirely new machine” that stored “millions of facts and figures less than a second from management’s reach.”

The world’s first hard disk drive looked like a giant spool of sewing thread. Fifty aluminum platters were stacked on top of each other, each an inch thick and 24 inches in diameter, separated by a gap of about a third of an inch. The platter faces were covered with magnetic iron oxide, which stored the data. It packed about four megabytes, roughly the amount of information in the King James Bible. Motors whirled the platters around twelve hundred times a minute and drove arms in and out between the platters to store and fetch data. Because of its appearance, some IBM engineers called it a “jukebox”; others, a “meat cutter” or a “baloney slicer.”...

The hard disk drive was a complicated, gigantic piece of hardware, but it was also an elegant and a well-engineered synthesis of two very powerful concepts. The first idea is that all information—words, numbers, music—can be broken down and coded with just two different characters. It’s a concept that is peppered across history in various forms.... The other idea was that magnets could store data. In disk drives like the RAMAC 350, a coating of magnetic material on spinning platters is divided into millions of tiny regions. Each region, or domain, has a magnetic field that can be in two states, a 1 or a 0—one “bit” of information. ...

In hard disk drives like the RAMAC 350, a needle swings over the spinning platter, going from its center to the edge. When an electric signal goes through the magnetic head at the end of the needle, it induces a magnetic field. As the platter moves, the particles in each domain align with the magnetic field from the tip of the head. So the particles on the disk get coded as either 1s or 0s, depending on the direction of the field. Information can thus be stored in the magnetic fields within each domain on the platter. Reading is essentially the reverse process
storage  archives  information  hard_drives  data  IBM 
13 days ago
Performing Publishing: Infrathin Tales from the Printed Web
In “Search, Compile, Publish” I identify some of the tactics used by artists who make books and other printout matter in the post-digital print space: grabbing, scraping, hunting, and performing. Together with an abundance of free content and easy access to print-on-demand technology, this has now become a way to talk about an evolving artists’ web-to-print practice in the post-digital space. Alessandro Ludovico, referring to my taxonomy of techniques and approaches, characterizes this new way of working as a “transduction” between media in printed web works: mixing, lending, and embedding digital processes into traditional print, the two forming a hybrid character.
publishing  artists_books  print  scanning  data_mining  textual_form  ebooks  material_texts  web_to_print 
13 days ago
The aim of P—DPA is to systematically collect, organize and keep trace of experiences in the fields of art and design that explore the relationships between publishing and digital technology. The archive acts as a space in which the collected projects are confronted and juxtaposed in order to highlight relevant paths, mutual themes, common perspectives, interrelations, but also oppositions and idiosyncrasies.
archives  digital  art_books  scanning  marginalia 
13 days ago
RISD Experimental Publishing Studio
Is posting
(always) publishing? We’ll examine substrate, blankness and the
possibility of saying nothing as a post-media publishing strategy. And
as certain legacies recede (privacy, authorship, copyright), how is
publishing still “making public?” Let’s unpack (and entangle) these
and other ways to explore the public circulation of work in a post-
digital space. We’ll draw trajectories to and from the emergence of the
networked artist in the 20th century, into the last twenty years, and
particularly around the last two, as self-publishing becomes more and
more inseparable from the artist’s ambient practice (and work) itself.
publishing  syllabus  material_texts  page 
13 days ago
Studying the appearance of algorithms in popular culture and everyday life.
algorithms  data_aesthetics 
13 days ago
Love Among the Ruins: Traveling Museum Excavates the Artifacts of Lost Relationships | Collectors Weekly
The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, does the opposite. The concept is something akin to saving those objects, putting them on public display, and letting pieces of dead relationships live forever. Each object—donated by a person who’s experienced a relationship falling apart or fading out—has a card explaining what it is, the city it came from, the length of the relationship, and a story submitted by the anonymous donor about how it relates to the relationship. Unlike Joel and Clementine, the exes behind the museum don’t believe failed relationships should be eradicated.
archives  affect  love 
13 days ago
Attendance skyrockets at an innovative library in the Netherlands » MobyLives
Guided by patron surveys, administrators tossed out traditional methods of library organization, turning to retail design and merchandising for inspiration. They now group books by areas of interest, combining fiction and nonfiction; they display books face-out to catch the eye of browsers; and they train staff members in marketing and customer service techniques.

When it opened in 2010, the Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library) had a record number of people visit the library — 100,000  in the first two months. In 2013, they had over a million visits. In an interview with Shareable,  librarians Roy Paes and Marga Kleinenberg say that while everyone was skeptical at first, librarians adopted behavior like booksellers to engage with patrons and recommend books that were featured in displays like in a bookstore.

They also explained how the library’s status as a Seats2meet (S2M) location —  where “patrons are empowered to help one another in exchange for free, permanent, coworking space”— utilized something called the S2M Serendipity Machine.

The S2M Serendipity Machine makes it possible to set up a personal profile based on skills and knowledge. By this facility, visitors can sign up when they are present. In this way, their knowledge and skills are visible to others. This allows people to make contact with each other based on knowledge profiles. Using the Serendipity Machine is fairly new. We hope this way people will find it easier to interact and connect to each other.
libraries  coworking  public_design  design_process 
15 days ago
A Field Guide to the Invisible Internet Infrastructure of NYC
Burrington’s website and the field guide include illustrations and descriptions of various manhole covers, antennae, architecture, and street markings, sourced by researching Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) guides as well as franchise agreements and telecommunications companies. Other times she just spoke with people working under the manhole covers. Among the things she found: “CATV” scrawled on the ground means cable television, while “FO” refers to fiber optic. Subway wifi devices hide above commuters’ heads underground, and up on top of buildings are little groups of cell towers, which often connect your phone to the internet. There’s also the Empire City Subway manhole covers, representing a company founded in 1891, originally for telegraph and telephone cables. Burrington notes that “new infrastructures have a tendency to inherit the homes of past infrastructures, and the internet is no exception.” The giant Art Deco structures at 60 Hudson Street and 32 Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) (recently profiled in the short documentary “Urban Giants” by Davina Pardo and Andrew Blum) were both initially built for telegraph service.
infrastructure  media_city  mapping  internet  telecommunications 
17 days ago
Networks of New York: Field Guide to Internet Infrastructure | Urbanist
In an upcoming book titled Networks of New York: An Internet Infrastructure Field Guide, Ingrid Burrington presents an urban variation on a naturalist’s handbook, giving you the tools to tour the real-life objects that are often obscured or simply hidden in plain sight all around cities.
infrastructure  publishing  media_city  field_guide  writing  internet 
20 days ago
Internet Museum to Open in Berlin - artnet News
The city of Berlin is to get a museum dedicated to the internet, Monopol reported.... The museum's displays will document the development of the web, from the early philosophical pioneers of the network and the technological computing revolution of the 70s and 80s to present day innovators. The museum will also address contemporary online issues such as hackers, the mobile internet, and technology's relationship to civil liberties.
museums  internet  computing_history 
21 days ago
Photo Dispatches From a Miniature, Half-Imagined City - CityLab
Smith is the self-proclaimed "mayor" of Elgin Park, a miniature, fictional, 20th-century town inspired by his past.

Smith creates model buildings—some real but mostly imagined—and uses model cars, real-life city backgrounds, and a keen sense of light to create poignant and remarkably realistic photographs.
media_architecture  video  models  miniature 
21 days ago
Obsidian by Jonathan Hoefler and Andy Clymer of Hoefler & Co. is a contemporary font with roots in the Industrial Revolution.
New York City–based Hoefler & Co., headed by award-winning type designer Jonathan Hoefler, has designed typefaces for magazines such as Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated, and its Hoefler Text family of typefaces has been included in Apple operating systems. Its newest font is Obsidian, a contemporary typeface that mimics the elaborate decorative typography of the Industrial Revolution. Obsidian is derived from Surveyor, a font inspired by type used on engraved maps and charts. It was designed by the former Hoefler & Frere-Jones firm, led by Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones.*
typography  design_process 
24 days ago
Farewell, My Lovely! - The New Yorker
THe lore and legend that governed the Ford were boundless. Owners had their own theories about everything; they discussed mutual problems in that wise, infinitely resourceful way old women discuss rheumatism. Exact knowledge was pretty scarce, and often proved less effective than superstition. Dropping a camphor ball into the gas tank was a popular expedient; it seemed to have a tonic effect on both man and machine. There wasn’t much to base exact knowledge on. The Ford driver flew blind. He didn’t know the temperature of his engine, the speed of his car, the amount of his fuel or the pressure of his oil (the old Ford lubricated itself by what was amiably described as the “splash system”). A speedometer cost money and was an extra, like a windshield-wiper. The dashboard of the early models was bare save for an ignition key; later models, grown effete, boasted an ammeter which pulsated alarmingly with the throbbing of the car. Under the dash was a box of coils, with vibrators which you adjusted, or thought you adjusted. Whatever the driver learned of his motor, he learned not through instruments but through sudden developments. I remember that the timer was one of the vital organs about which there was ample doctrine. When everything else had been checked, you “had a look” at the timer. I
dashboards  automation  machines 
24 days ago
22 ideas win Knight News Challenge: Libraries - Knight Foundation
Building on previous experience working with libraries, this challenge has helped us learn a great deal about libraries and the challenges they face while serving the information needs of their communities. Several themes emerged among the winners, including focusing on digital rights and privacy; history and digital preservation; the maker movement and open data.
libraries  funding  grants 
4 weeks ago
Roman Mars: The Man Who's Building a Podcasting Empire | WIRED
Public radio once cornered the market on the closeness. Listening to NPR became the definition of who you were. And podcasting is a hundredfold more intense than that. Podcast listeners are so, so dedicated. Radio stations have been unresponsive to podcasts up to this point because the raw numbers just don’t add up for them. But the thing they don’t get is that one podcast listener is worth 10,000 radio listeners. The personal connection is major....

eople typically listen to podcasts by themselves, often with earbuds. It’s right there in their ears. It’s not playing over speakers at the bar. And even more important, it’s totally the multitasking medium. We’re in a world now where you have something to do at all times, and podcasts are available for you all the time, on demand.
radio  sound  podcasts  99PI  listening  sound_space 
4 weeks ago
Too Smart for Their Own Good - Triple Canopy
SHEN GOODMANAlong the same lines, do we want to be constantly apprised of the information being gathered and the functions being performed by the objects that we interact with on a daily basis, so that we might constantly modify our behavior? We want a certain seamlessness when we swipe a MetroCard. Being totally aware of every system we’re engaging, every input and output, at every moment—that sounds like hell.
GREENFIELDThis is a great question: What are the areas of life that we should sand down until they are essentially frictionless, and what are the areas in which friction might be useful? If you were constantly exposed to all of the information produced by these objects and to records of every interaction with the systems in which they’re embedded, you’d be overwhelmed. Ideally, we can create interfaces that allow you to negotiate the complexity of the system that you’re operating, to progressively reveal or steadily conceal information, depending on the level of engagement you want....

Three or four years ago I thought that opening up access to the information produced by public objects gathering data was the best way to avoid concentrations and asymmetries of power, and that the two most potent threats to individuals were the private sector and the state, which could bring power to bear on us in ways that we’d ultimately find to not be very congenial. What Gamergate, of all things, has shown me is that directed swarms of sociopathic individuals might present much more of a threat than the state, commercialism, or any confluence of the two. (The fact that I hadn’t recognized this earlier is certainly a failure of imagination on my part and a marker of my comfort and privilege.) The people who could really fucking ruin your day turn out to be “men’s rights” advocates, one of whom may have a law degree and be able to actually hijack the processes of the state and file a ton of bullshit claims against you.
interfaces  friction  smart_cities  ubiquitous_computing  infrastructural_literacy  open_data 
4 weeks ago
Cloudy Logic – The New Inquiry
big data can rearticulate “unfashionable” beliefs in, say, eugenics, by presenting them in supposedly more advanced and accurate empirical terms. Crawford points this out: When fitness-tracking devices (like ­FitBit) are “used to represent objective truth for insurers or courtrooms,” this treats their inconsistent and unreliable measurement of both what counts as exercise and what counts as a “‘normal’ healthy body” to pass as hard evidence. Fitness-tracking systems thereby build dominant ideas of health, embodiment, ability, and activity into the hardware, the software, and the algorithms embedded within them.

Forecasting repackages old-fashioned ideas as unprecedentedly objective knowledge, in part by sweeping inconsistencies under the rug of “individual responsibility.” To pass the social system off as an objective artifact determined by (quasi-)scientific processes, forecasting has to scapegoat “irresponsible” individuals for failing to live up to the terms of the forecast.
big_data  algorithms  values  ideology 
4 weeks ago
History of snow: Victorian appreciation of snowflake shapes.
These plates, cataloging the geometrical forms of snowflakes, are from an 1863 book called Snow-flakes: A Chapter from the Book of Nature, published by the American Tract Society in Boston. ... These navy-and-white snowflake graphics illustrated a book that was a compendium of republished writings about snow. In poetry and prose, the authors celebrated snowfall as a sign of God’s mercy, genius, and design. In this, they echoed a widespread Victorian tendency to see confirmation of religious beliefs in the works of nature.
classification  presentation_images  weather 
4 weeks ago
The Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt: Finally, the Museum of the Future Is Here - The Atlantic
When I visited, I talked to the Labs team in their office and then toured the then not-quite-finished mansion. We talked about the museum first—the physical one we were in. Unlike leaders of other New York museums, who are investing in events, Chan (and the Cooper Hewitt generally) believe the heart of the museum is in its collection and its visitors. In other words: its stuff and its people.

“They don’t want to have the burden of this preservation forever,” he said of the increasingly event-focused Museum of Modern Art, 40 blocks south. “The beauty here is: We’re the Smithsonian. We don’t have a choice. No matter what other staff in this building might say, we don’t have a choice but to keep all this stuff forever.”

The museum will forever be committed to its stuff. But it has to have a more enlivening presence, he believes, than placards and shelves....

But the real treats are in the museum’s interactives that draw from its collection. There’s an “immersion room,” which projects patterns from the museum’s expansive wallpaper archive on the wall. Visitors can also draw their own patterns in there too, which tessellate on the projected walls like the original historical decorations. There are also large, “social” touch-screen tables—think of giant iPads—that let people alone or in groups sort through and look at objects in the collection. These have special search and manipulation features: Someone can draw a shape on the table and see what items in the collection fit it. And the pen—the jewel of the museum’s collection-based interactives—will function as a pen on these touch surfaces. The pen is the exact kind of object that the museum hopes to deploy in the mansion, as it augments a smartphone without requiring one.

All three of these tools—the pen, the touch-screen tables, and the immersion room—were designed and manufactured by outside firms like DSR and Local Projects. But they were created in collaboration with the Labs team, and—more importantly—they used an infrastructure developed by the team. It is the infrastructure that lets the museum plan for the near future, that lets it bridge digital and physical, that lets it Put Things on the Internet: the API....

What the API means, for someone who will never visit the museum, is that every object, every designer, every nation, every era, even every color has a stable URL on the Internet. No other museum does this with the same seriousness as the Cooper Hewitt....

The API seems to be first for users and developers. It lets them play around with the collection, see what’s there. As Cope told me, “the API is there to develop multiple interfaces. That’s the whole point of an API—you let go of control around how people interpret data and give them what they ask for, and then have the confidence they’ll find a way to organize it that makes sense for them.” ...

From the beginning, then, the Cooper Hewitt has prized information over object, discourse over perfection. And while it can no longer permit artists to destroy the physical objects it holds by copying them—the Smithsonian’s central job is preservation—it can allow them to mess with the digital versions. Hence the API, hence the stable URLs, hence the open source code....

maybe the museum should start thinking about some way of keeping that data alongside the object, and maybe it doesn’t need to be privileged in the way the object is.”
museums  display  objects  exhibition  interaction_design  API  material_culture  metadata 
4 weeks ago
decodeunicode on Vimeo
Since 2005 we showed a prototype of this film at the end of our talks. Some people suggested to put it online, so we made a new, complete one: it shows each and every Unicode 6.0 character. 109.242 characters in total.
typography  video  language 
4 weeks ago
Squares, malls, bridges and highways (A note on infrastructure and #BlackLivesMatter) | s0metim3s
protests located within the frame of urban infrastructure and not on the idealized model of the city and politics (or the polis) organized around a public square. Secondly, such actions do not concentrate movements into public squares or parks, but generate pauses and stops at critical points of circulation.
media_city  voice  protest  infrastructure 
4 weeks ago
Plans for Brooklyn Branches Have Merit - NYTimes.com
But for a change, the plans look promising. There is good and bad development, after all, and sometimes, with foresight and some help from City Hall, a community asset like a public library can anchor positive development.

One plan envisions updating, but shrinking, a branch in Brooklyn Heights built in the 1960s. The other overhauls a popular, decrepit branch, from the 1970s, in Sunset Park. Both involve housing, a fair chunk of it subsidized, mostly on top of new storefront libraries.

There’s reason for skepticism. In 2007, the New York Public Library sold off its Donnell site in Midtown Manhattan for what now seems like a song. Library authorities also cooked up a scheme to pool resources and cash in on the property values of the Mid-Manhattan branch and a science library at 34th Street, consolidating both in the 42nd Street building by demolishing its historic stacks. That derailed last year in the face of stiff protests and runaway cost estimates. So did a separate proposal to demolish a century-old branch near Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.
libraries  branch_libraries 
4 weeks ago
One of Many
Creative communities are built by people with compelling stories. I'm traveling to twelve cities across the United States to capture these stories in portrait and writing.
photography  cities  creative_cities  labor 
5 weeks ago
The Rainbow Collection | Letterbox
The prevalence of domestic ink jet printers in the past decade or so has led to the most beautiful set of ‘graphic design watercolours’ emerging after rainfall. The topics of course are domestic in nature – garage sales and lost dogs – and this lends them an intimacy absent in much graphic design.
The unintended illegibility of the bleeding lettering transforms the handwritten to an abstracted stream of colour. And unlike most graphic design, this process is a completely natural one, reminding us that design does in fact exist in an outside and beautifully organic world.
paper  ruin  error  signs 
5 weeks ago
Plans for New Barnard Library Prove Divisive
In December 2014, Barnard president Debora Spar presented library faculty with plans for the new building. And while the original plans were “very faculty-focused,” according to one librarian, faculty were reportedly not happy with many of the decisions that had been made. Much of their dissatisfaction has centered on the decision to send a large part of the collection—some 40 percent of the library’s holdings—offsite, and the lack of transparency surrounding the decision-making process....

“Anything supporting traditional library service is being moved out,” she added. When library staff members have voiced their concerns to Barnard administration, she added, “I feel like we’re being characterized as change-averse and anxious.”....

The original idea involved moving the library into the Diana Center, Barnard’s student center, which ultimately proved infeasible. On her arrival at BLAIS, Norberg was put in charge of a task force to plan for a gut renovation of the existing library in Lehman Hall. That option, in turn, was put on hold when the Barnard Board of Trustees requested a study to compare the cost of renovating to that of new construction.
The study was completed in the spring of 2013, and that July the board decided to move ahead on plans to demolish the current building and replace it with the TLC. The architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) was chosen by a 24-member steering committee of trustees, senior administrators, faculty, and students in April 2014, and formal planning for the building began in earnest. Days after the announcement, project leaders from SOM convened a “visioning session” with Barnard President Debora Spar, College Dean Avis Hinkson, outgoing COO Greg Brown, Norberg, and a selection of administrators and student representatives. Students outlined criticisms of the existing library, including the need for a 24-hour study space, a lack of defined library functions, and insufficient natural light....

In the spring of 2014, a consultant from SOM asked Norberg to compile a spreadsheet with projections for the BLAIS collections in the new library, detailing what should remain, what should be stored offsite, and what could be deaccessioned. Norberg presented what she felt was a progressive plan, she told LJ, taking into account Barnard’s relationship with Columbia and the unique and important aspects of its own collection. “The reaction from the planning committee and administration in particular was one of dismay,” she said. “They really didn’t envision the library giving that much space to books.”
At the same time, librarians and staff were gathering their own input. “Within the library we had a lot of conversations about what we wanted to see in the new space,” a former BLAIS librarian, who requested that her name not be used, told LJ. “We… developed a very specific assessment committee so that we could communicate to the architects what we wanted, as one of many factors to consider.” While there were information sessions for Barnard staff, and another for students and faculty, she said, “there was never a moment when an architect came and spoke to any of the lower levels of the library staff.”
This sentiment was echoed by a current BLAIS librarian: “We were, in fact, the last people considered.”....

The demolition of Lehman Hall will begin in December 2015. This fall, library faculty and staff will move into temporary quarters in Barnard’s LeFrak Gymnasium, which includes repurposed space in the former swimming pool, drained at the end of the 2012–13 school year.
The 11-story TLC, which is scheduled to open in 2018, will hold a number of labs, including a Digital Humanities Lab and a Computational Science Center; classrooms; seminar rooms; the Barnard Center for Research of Women; an office for the Athena Center for Leadership Studies; and three floors of offices for history, economics, and political science faculty, among other features. There will be study spaces, a café (yet another concern is the café’s placement over the space where the archives will be housed, putting an irreplaceable collection potentially at risk for water damage), and green spaces. Plans for the finished building and cost estimates were not available at press time.
An underlying issue persists. Many of the librarians who spoke to LJ on the subject described being left out of the decision-making process as one symptom of a pervasive lack of respect for librarians in academia. As the former BLAIS librarian said, “Stepping back from this a little bit, I don’t necessarily see this as something that’s unique to Barnard at all. For me it’s a much larger conversation about advocating for the profession.”
libraries  academic_libraries  design_process 
5 weeks ago
NYPL Digital Collections Platform: An Introduction | The New York Public Library
Digital Collections contains more than 800,000 digitized items, and that number grows every day. While that’s a small fraction of the New York Public Library’s overall holdings, the aim of Digital Collections is to provide context for the materials we have digitized and to inspire people to use and reuse the media and data on offer there to advance knowledge and create new works.

While the aim of Digital Gallery was similar, we’ve now moved beyond just static images, and the platform includes video, audio, and texts, as well as more interplay with our collections experiments (more on that below).
archives  search  collection  interfaces 
5 weeks ago
Sounds of Science: The Mystique of Sonification | Sounding Out!
using sound to understand scientific phenomena is not actually new. Diarist Samuel Pepys wrote about meeting scientist Robert Hooke in 1666 that “he is able to tell how many strokes a fly makes with her wings (those flies that hum in their flying) by the note that it answers to in musique during their flying.” Unfortunately Hooke never published his findings, leading researchers to speculate on his methods. One popular theory is that he tied strings of varying lengths between a fly and an ear trumpet, recognizing that sympathetic resonance would cause the correct length string to vibrate, thus allowing him to calculate the frequency. Even Galileo used sound, showing the constant acceleration of a ball due to gravity by using an inclined plane with thin moveable frets. By moving the placement of the frets until the clicks created an even tempo he was able to come up with a mathematical equation to describe how time and distance relate when an object falls....

The stethoscope was invented in 1816 for auscultation, listening to the sounds of the body. It was later applied to machines—listening for the operation of the technological gear. Underwater sonar was patented in 1913 and is still used to navigate and communicate using hydroacoustic phenomenon. The Geiger Counter was developed in 1928 using principles discovered in 1908; it is unclear exactly when the distinctive sound was added. These are all examples of auditory display [AD]; sonification-generating or manipulating sound by using data is a subset of AD. ...

But hearing isn’t simple, either. In the current fascination with sonification, the fact that aesthetic decisions must be made in order to translate data into the auditory domain can be obscured. Headlines such as “Here’s What the Higgs Boson Sounds Like” are much sexier than headlines such as “Here is What One Possible Mapping of Some of the Data We Have Collected from a Scientific Measuring Instrument (which itself has inaccuracies) Into Sound.” To illustrate the complexity of these aesthetic decisions, which are always interior to the sonification process, I focus here on how my collaborators and I have been using sound to understand many kinds of scientific data.
sound  data_sonification  hearing  epistemology  methodology 
5 weeks ago
The Public Domain Project Makes 10,000 Film Clips, 64,000 Images & 100s of Audio Files Free to Use | Open Culture
The new Public Domain Project will soon become an important resource for many such creators, offering as it does “thousands of historic media files for your creative projects, completely free and made available by Pond5,” an entity that brands itself as “the world’s most vibrant marketplace for creativity.”...

So what can you find to use in the Public Domain Project? As of this writing, it offers 9715 pieces of footage, 473 audio files, 64,535 images, and 121 3D models. “The project includes digital models of NASA tools and satellites, Georges Méliès’ 1902 film, A Trip To The Moon, speeches by political figures like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr., recordings of performances from composers like Beethoven, and a laid-back picture of President Obama playing pool,” says a post at The Creators Project explaining the site’s background.
public_domain  film  presentation_images 
5 weeks ago
It's Nice That : Royal Studio lampoon vacuous poster visuals in new project
Here’s how they describe it over on their Bechance page: “The unknown is the key. Taking it as a manifesto regarding the global language, the beauty of globalisation, and how pure form tends to overlap conceptual meaning. You’ll enjoy it for the visuals. If you get the language, you’ll notice the poster is in fact the acknowledgement of not knowing a single detail about it. All of them. Ultimately we are telling you how ignorant you might be: though it doesn’t matter – you’ll love it.
graphic_design  marketing  fetishism 
5 weeks ago
'The Cloud' and Other Dangerous Metaphors - The Atlantic
Contemporary ideas about data are tied up inextricably with metaphors around data. As a concept, data constantly eludes crisp definition. It is everywhere and nowhere, encompassing a mind-boggling array of people, activities, and concepts. One dictionary, taking up the challenge of definition, unhelpfully offers that data is “facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.” But this problem is not unique to data; humans are forced all the time to deal with broad concepts they cannot fully articulate. So people do here what they do in all cases—lean on the crutch of metaphor. Rather than talk about data directly, we analogize to better understand situations that seem to line up with the problem at hand.

This is still just a partial solution. Data escapes attempts to fit it neatly into a single conceptual box. Consider three phrases—now so commonplace as to be unremarkable—that we use to talk about data:

“Data Stream,” which refers to the delivery of many chunks of data over time;
“Data Mining,” which refers to what we do to get insightful information from data; and
“The Cloud,” which refers to a place where we store data.

These tropes are notable because they use distinct, physical metaphors to try to make sense of data within a specific context. What’s more, all three impute radically different physical properties to data. Depending on the situation, data is either like a liquid (data streams), a solid (data mining), or a gas (the cloud). Why and how these metaphors get used when they do is not immediately obvious. There are tons of alternatives: Data could be stored in a “data mountain,” or data could be made useful through a process of “data desalination.”

The metaphors we use matter, because metaphors have baggage. Metaphors are encumbered with assumptions, and when people use metaphors, they embed those assumptions in the discussion. These assumptions are the residue of the physical analogues from which the metaphors draw. Referring to “data exhaust”—a term sometimes used to describe the metadata that are created in the course of day-to-day online lives—reinforces the idea that these data, like car exhaust, are unwanted byproducts, discarded waste material that society would benefit from putting to use. On the other hand, calling data “the new oil,” carries strong economic and social connotations: Data are costly to acquire and produced primarily for commercial or industrial ends, but bear the possibility of big payoffs for those with the means to extract it.

What’s more, metaphors matter because they shape laws and policies about data collection and use. As technology advances, law evolves (slowly, and somewhat clumsily) to accommodate new technologies and social norms around them. The most typical way this happens is that judges and regulators think about whether a new, unregulated technology is sufficiently like an existing thing that we already have rules about—and this is where metaphors and comparisons come in.

What’s notable about dominant data metaphors is that they consistently compare data to naturally occurring physical resources.
data  cloud  metaphor  language  infrastructure 
5 weeks ago
MoMA | Collecting Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room
Building upon exhibitions such as Soundings: A Contemporary Score, MoMA’s recent acquisition of both I Am Sitting in a Room and Lucier’s Music for Pure Waves, Bass Drums and Acoustic Pendulums (1980) continues the Museum’s dedication to representing the history of sound art within a broader context of 20th–century artistic practice.
Coinciding with MoMA’s acquisition of more sound art and performance, such as works by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Stephen Vitiello, and Kevin Beasley, I Am Sitting in a Room provides a view into the myriad of challenging questions raised by acquisitions of ephemeral artworks. How does a museum acquire an experimental music performance? What does the museum actually receive? And if the museum doesn’t acquire a physical object, what is the value of adding this work to the collection? (Similar questions have been discussed in previous blog posts, such as this one and this one, to name just a few.) In consultation with Lucier himself, the curatorial team decided that the acquisition would include both the ability for others to perform the work in the future and an archival recording of the composer performing the piece himself at MoMA....

This recording, forever linking I Am Sitting in a Room to the walls of the Museum is hardly definitive. There are a number of recordings of the piece including the original and a version from 1980 released on Lovely Music, Ltd. Each recording has its own temporality—it’s own relationship to a time and place. Each one is an artifact, an articulation of Lucier’s presence at a given point in our continuum. But the presence of the work in MoMA’s collection has an entirely different temporality. As Stuart Comer, Chief Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art, phrased it, the ability to perform the piece “allows it to exist in a constant state of imminence.” A collection of sound art is the endless possibility of bringing the work into fruition, a commitment to the work’s future status as having not just a past but also a present.
sound_art  ephemera  acquisition  museums  preservation  archives 
5 weeks ago
It's Nice That : Tearjerking animation explores our unhealthy relationship with technology
un-showy animation about a man with a head full of worries, queries and contemplations about the role technology plays in his life. Even though he’s a wooden puppet with no facial features, the scenes in which he interacts with various and very familiar items of technology in his home are heartbreaking and scary. Lying in bed with someone and both of your faces lit up by screens is a classic, modern-day scene – but something in the way that Doug puts that across in this quiet, unassuming short with a truly excellent and funny script is tearjerkingly perfect.
presence  attention  social_media 
5 weeks ago
Teach or Perish - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
On his website, McCrory speaks of the need to "align higher education with changing market needs." The public, he contends, along with many other Republicans, is entitled to receive a quantifiable public good from public dollars. To a certain extent, the Obama administration, with its blurry vision of rating colleges according to "labor-market outcomes," shares this rationale. Much of America’s leadership class doubts that courses in Victorian literature, or functionalist sociology, or the Harlem Renaissance do much for the commonweal.

It’s a deceptively difficult argument to neutralize. Scholars generally push back by uttering something about "critical-thinking skills." We’ve been reflexively mouthing that line for decades. As we say it, however, our thoughts are actually concentrated on making next week’s deadline for a research grant. What we really need to argue, or, better yet, prove, is that the college classroom and its personnel transmit lessons and intangibles that are invaluable to the nation’s well-being.

Jobs? Surely someone over in the B-school has demonstrated that better-educated employees are more productive employees. Innovation? We respond that an ensemble of challenging courses in the liberal arts, including gender studies, incubates innovation. Market needs? Our view is that through mentorship a professor helps undergraduates pragmatically ponder their proper vocational niches. Citizenship? We hold that learning how to be an American takes place in a seminar where people argue, civilly but intensely, about ideas. What other national institution offers up such deliverables?...

Our disarticulation of knowledge accumulation and knowledge transmission also leaves us exposed to an even more frightening adversary. I refer to tech and its maniacal destabilizing energy. Financiers have recognized that there’s good money to be made in conveying knowledge; their thoughts, naturally, do not linger on the costly infrastructure that produces knowledge. Working in tandem with the digital wizards, they wager that they can do it better than we can and cash out in the process. Given that they’re up against a cohort that has very little interest, or dexterity, in sharing its immense store of wisdom, the money and tech people like their odds.

So do I. The specs on this showdown suggest a brutal smackdown. We are old. They are young. We are risk-averse. They posit chaos as a sacrament. We are locked into traditions of inquiry centuries in the making. They like to "break shit." We see an undergraduate as a speed bump en route to a research project. They see an undergraduate as something to be monetized. We scrimp to provide a visiting lecturer with a $150 honorarium. They are connected to reserves of capital unimaginable just a decade back. We are an abacus. They are an iPad.
teaching  pedagogy  liberal_arts  teaching_technology  academia 
6 weeks ago
The Open-Office Trap - The New Yorker
some seventy per cent of all offices now have an open floor plan.

The open office was originally conceived by a team from Hamburg, Germany, in the nineteen-fifties, to facilitate communication and idea flow. But a growing body of evidence suggests that the open office undermines the very things that it was designed to achieve. In June, 1997, a large oil and gas company in western Canada asked a group of psychologists at the University of Calgary to monitor workers as they transitioned from a traditional office arrangement to an open one. The psychologists assessed the employees’ satisfaction with their surroundings, as well as their stress level, job performance, and interpersonal relationships before the transition, four weeks after the transition, and, finally, six months afterward. The employees suffered according to every measure: the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome, and, instead of feeling closer, coworkers felt distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Productivity fell.

In 2011, the organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments. He found that, though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.....

But the most problematic aspect of the open office may be physical rather than psychological: simple noise. In laboratory settings, noise has been repeatedly tied to reduced cognitive performance. The psychologist Nick Perham, who studies the effect of sound on how we think, has found that office commotion impairs workers’ ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic. Listening to music to block out the office intrusion doesn’t help: even that, Perham found, impairs our mental acuity. Exposure to noise in an office may also take a toll on the health of employees.
architecture  work  productivity  labor  open_plan  acoustics  noise 
6 weeks ago
The Cathedral of Computation - The Atlantic
today, Enlightenment ideas like reason and science are beginning to flip into their opposites. Science and technology have become so pervasive and distorted, they have turned into a new type of theology.

The worship of the algorithm is hardly the only example of the theological reversal of the Enlightenment—for another sign, just look at the surfeit of nonfiction books promising insights into “The Science of…” anything, from laughter to marijuana. But algorithms hold a special station in the new technological temple because computers have become our favorite idols.

In fact, our purported efforts to enlighten ourselves about algorithms’ role in our culture sometimes offer an unexpected view into our zealous devotion to them. ...

“The Google search algorithm” names something with an initial coherence that quickly scurries away once you really look for it. Googling isn’t a matter of invoking a programmatic subroutine—not on its own, anyway. Google is a monstrosity. It’s a confluence of physical, virtual, computational, and non-computational stuffs—electricity, data centers, servers, air conditioners, security guards, financial markets—just like the rubber ducky is a confluence of vinyl plastic, injection molding, the hands and labor of Chinese workers, the diesel fuel of ships and trains and trucks, the steel of shipping containers.

Once you start looking at them closely, every algorithm betrays the myth of unitary simplicity and computational purity....

Data has become just as theologized as algorithms, especially “big data,” whose name is meant to elevate information to the level of celestial infinity. Today, conventional wisdom would suggest that mystical, ubiquitous sensors are collecting data by the terabyteful without our knowledge or intervention. Even if this is true to an extent, examples like Netflix’s altgenres show that data is created, not simply aggregated, and often by means of laborious, manual processes rather than anonymous vacuum-devices.

Once you adopt skepticism toward the algorithmic- and the data-divine, you can no longer construe any computational system as merely algorithmic. Think about Google Maps, for example. It’s not just mapping software running via computer—it also involves geographical information systems, geolocation satellites and transponders, human-driven automobiles, roof-mounted panoramic optical recording systems, international recording and privacy law, physical- and data-network routing systems, and web/mobile presentational apparatuses. That’s not algorithmic culture—it’s just, well, culture.
algorithms  data  faith  theology 
6 weeks ago
The subliminal power of city fonts | Cities | The Guardian
But can a typeface really represent what’s unique about a city? Van de Craats, not surprisingly, thinks so. Type has a lot of effect on the atmosphere of a place, he says, calling it “the voice of the city”: “I think cities that don’t have this very dynamic energy, they don’t feel the need to change their identity.”

That identity, for many of the world’s largest cities, is intimately tied up with typeface. Johnston Sans and Gill Sans, which are used on the London Underground, say “London” even before you’ve read the signs. In New York it’s Gotham, or Helvetica (where once it was Standard) on the subways. The Legible Cities movement, which is creating a new Cyrillic alphabet for Moscow’s transit system, is gaining momentum.

“When typefaces get attached to cities,” explains Dan Rhatigan, a New York-based type designer, “it’s because typefaces become part of people’s everyday experience. People don’t identify typeface necessarily; very few of us can look at something and say what it is, but it has an effect, it’s a personality.”...

But it is small, post-industrial cities that seem particularly eager to, as it were, make a name for themselves. In Chattanooga, a city of 200,000 on a bend in the Tennessee river, typeface designers Jeremy Dooley and Robbie De Villiers set up a Kickstarter to raise funds for a new city font, securing more than $10,000 (£6,600).

Chattanooga, Dooley believes, was the ideal city for such a project. Its small size made it easy for the design community to rally around the project. He also points out: “If you’ve got a very diverse kind of a city that’s a lot more fragmented, there’s going to be a lot more difficulty in coming with one unifying [typeface].” Where bigger cities have become associated with a typeface, it has tended to happen more organically, or via specific projects for transport networks or road signage, rather than through a city-wide project such as Chattanooga’s.
place  branding  typography 
6 weeks ago
Among the Disrupted - NYTimes.com
Amid the bacchanal of disruption, let us pause to honor the disrupted. The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record stores, which have been destroyed by the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry. Writers hover between a decent poverty and an indecent one; they are expected to render the fruits of their labors for little and even for nothing...

Meanwhile the discussion of culture is being steadily absorbed into the discussion of business. There are “metrics” for phenomena that cannot be metrically measured. Numerical values are assigned to things that cannot be captured by numbers. Economic concepts go rampaging through noneconomic realms: Economists are our experts on happiness! Where wisdom once was, quantification will now be. Quantification is the most overwhelming influence upon the contemporary American understanding of, well, everything. It is enabled by the idolatry of data, which has itself been enabled by the almost unimaginable data-generating capabilities of the new technology. The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past. Beyond its impact upon culture, the new technology penetrates even deeper levels of identity and experience, to cognition and to consciousness. ...

And even as technologism, which is not the same as technology, asserts itself over more and more precincts of human life, so too does scientism, which is not the same as science. The notion that the nonmaterial dimensions of life must be explained in terms of the material dimensions, and that nonscientific understandings must be translated into scientific understandings if they are to qualify as knowledge, is increasingly popular inside and outside the university, where the humanities are disparaged as soft and impractical and insufficiently new...

Here is a humanist proposition for the age of Google: The processing of information is not the highest aim to which the human spirit can aspire, and neither is competitiveness in a global economy. The character of our society cannot be determined by engineers....

The day is approaching when the dream of the democratization of knowledge — Borges’s fantasy of “the total library” — will be realized. Soon all the collections in all the libraries and all the archives in the world will be available to everyone with a screen. Who would not welcome such a vast enfranchisement? But universal accessibility is not the end of the story, it is the beginning. The humanistic methods that were practiced before digitalization will be even more urgent after digitalization, because we will need help in navigating the unprecedented welter. Searches for keywords will not provide contexts for keywords. Patterns that are revealed by searches will not identify their own causes and reasons. The new order will not relieve us of the old burdens, and the old pleasures, of erudition and interpretation.

Is all this — is humanism — sentimental? But sentimentality is not always a counterfeit emotion. Sometimes sentiment is warranted by reality. The persistence of humanism through the centuries, in the face of formidable intellectual and social obstacles, has been owed to the truth of its representations of our complexly beating hearts, and to the guidance that it has offered, in its variegated and conflicting versions, for a soulful and sensitive existence. There is nothing soft about the quest for a significant life. And a complacent humanist is a humanist who has not read his books closely, since they teach disquiet and difficulty. In a society rife with theories and practices that flatten and shrink and chill the human subject, the humanist is the dissenter. Never mind the platforms. Our solemn responsibility is for the substance.
data  humanities  humanism  libraries  fetishism 
6 weeks ago
Car Dashboard Controls Just a Hand Gesture Away - WSJ
The next big tech development likely to invade car cabins will require only a few simple hand gestures to control.

Over the next few years, car makers will start to roll out technology that will replace the use of some button and knob controls with hand motions.
dashboards  transportation  interfaces  gesture 
6 weeks ago
MASS MoCA | Museum of Contemporary Art presents: Bibliothecaphilia in our Galleries on On view beginning January 24, 2015
For centuries, libraries have exerted a quiet sort of gravity, pulling us in with the promise that for a while, in the hushed, book-filled corridors, we can exceed ourselves. But, in this age of eBooks and library apps, does the physical and philosophical space of the library remain relevant? And what qualities define a library? Can libraries exist digitally, or be constituted of things other than books? The six artists in Bibliothecaphilia, explore the medium and ethos of libraries: institutions straddling the public and private spheres, the escapism that libraries offer, libraries’ status as storehouses for physical books — and thus for experiences and knowledge — and the way that these objects circulate and are re-used. Participating artists include Clayton Cubitt, Jonathan Gitelson, Susan Hefuna, Meg Hitchcock, Dan Peterman, and Jena Priebe.
libraries  library_art  exhibitions 
6 weeks ago
Past Perfecting – The New Inquiry
“The painter constructs, the photographer discloses,” Susan Sontag wrote in On Photography, but perhaps the two mediums need not be pitted against each other in all cases. More than ever, photographers can, like painters, choose to reject representation, and in clever ways with the aid of new tools. Historically, 19th century photo processes were a part of an evolution that was born of the painter’s hand — only now they were painting with light. In fact, Henry Peach Robinson, well known for his photo manipulations, began as a painter. His unique combination printing, which blended multiple negatives together, created a new way of altering the image and expanding photography’s creative potential.

The culture of retouching emerges from the contemporary camera’s unprecedented ability to capture minutia....

The “hidden” processes of manipulation don’t merely serve photography or help it distort truth, but they build on photography as a pretext for independent aims. ... To this end, Pieter Hugo makes direct connections between tool and subject. In There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends, he adjusts the individual color channels for each image to emphasize the complexion of his subject. As a result, they appear heavily marred by sun and scars, becoming the antithesis of more stereotypical, “airbrushed” images of magazines. His images becomes a signifier for a canon of beauty based on what is absent, not merely what is captured and enhanced....

Acknowledging manipulation as art emphasizes how we collectively collude in the verisimilitude of images. What makes an image true is not the fidelity of its reference to a verifiable outside reality, but instead, its reference to collective ideas of the real. This truth is no less objective for existing only in what we share, in the images we work together as a society, to sustain.
photography  epistemology  retouching 
6 weeks ago
The Data Sublime – The New Inquiry
“Yes,” the liberal will argue, “people sacrifice some autonomy, some privacy — but they only do so because they value convenience, efficiency, pleasure, or security even more highly.” This suggests, as per rational-choice theory, that social media and smart technologies, like the Google Now “dashboard” that constantly feeds the user information on fastest travel routes and relevant weather information in real time, are simply driving cost savings into everyday life, cutting out time-consuming processes and delivering outcomes more efficiently, much as e-government contractors once promised to do for the state. Dating apps, such as Tinder, pride themselves on allowing people to connect to those who are nearest and most desirable and to block out everyone else.

Leaving aside the unattractiveness of this as a vision of friendship, romance, or society, there are several other problems with it. First, it’s not clear that a utilitarian explanation works even on its own limited terms to justify our surrender to technology. It does not help people do what they want: Today, people hunt desperately for ways of escaping the grid of interactivity, precisely so as to get stuff done. Apps such as Freedom (which blocks all internet connectivity from a laptop) and Anti-Social (which blocks social media specifically) are sold as productivity-enhancing. The rise of “mindfulness,” “digital detox,” and sleep gurus in the contemporary business world testifies to this. Preserving human capital in full working order is something that now involves carefully managed forms of rest and meditation, away from the flickering of data....

The establishment of a Behavioural Insights Team within the British government in 2010 (and since privatized) is a case in point of this surprising new appetite for nonliberal or postliberal theories of individual decision making. Set against the prosaic nature of the team’s actual achievements, which have mainly involved slightly faster processing of tax and paperwork, the level of intrigue that surrounds it, and the political uses of behaviorism in general, seems disproportionate. The unit attracted some state-phobic critiques, but these have been far outnumbered by a half-mystical, half-technocratic media fascination with the idea of policymakers manipulating individual decisions. This poses the question of whether behavior change from above is attractive not in spite of its alleged paternalism but because of it....

Stallabrass argues that:

subjective, creative choice has been subsumed in favour of greater resolution and bit depth, a measurable increase in the quantity of data. The manifest display of very large amounts of data in such images may be related to a broader trend in contemporary art to exploit the effect of the ‘data sublime’. In providing the viewer with the impression and spectacle of a chaotically complex and immensely large configuration of data, these photographs act much as renditions of mountain scenes and stormy seas did on nineteenth-century urban viewers....

The sheer granularity of representation achieves an impact all of its own.... Fascism can be understood as a form of political sublime, combining overwhelming displays of physical force with false memories and histories. What we see in the current culture of quantification and self-surveillance also involves displays and rumors of almost unimaginable physical capability. How big is Big Data? ....

the affective appeal of quantification is to suspend the neoliberal injunction to self-create, or at least to share that responsibility with a data bank whose scale one cannot comprehend...

The appearance of “predictive shopping,” in which goods are selectively mailed to consumers on the basis of past behavior rather than expressed preference or choice (a case of what Rob Horning terms “pre-emptive personalization“), exemplifies the Data Sublime. First appalled by the loss of control, the consumer swiftly discovers that she is nevertheless receiving excellent customer service, and an even more intense pleasure resumes....

But for Fromm, things are more unnerving than that. According to his theory of authoritarianism, the “leader” is secretly as vulnerable as the “follower.” Unable to find any ethical purpose of its own, each party seeks it in the other.

This is the possibility that lurks within the Data Sublime. Sheer quantitative magnitude is as disturbing as exciting, no matter from which angle one perceives it. The engineers of the smart city or the sharing economy undoubtedly want to be rich. But the capacity for social control has now outgrown any currently available political project. Its sole purpose is to sate the more dispersed desire to be controlled.

In a November newspaper interview, Google CEO Larry Page confessed that he was no longer sure what his company was for. He admitted that, as the corporation moves into pharmaceutical research and bodily monitoring, it had outgrown its original mission statement to “organize the world’s information.” “We’re in a bit of uncharted territory,” he said. “We’re trying to figure it out. How do we use all these resources?”

We donate our identities to a sublime grid of quantification, ignorant of the ultimate ends to which this is put. What if there are no ends?... The absence of any ideology behind the Data Sublime renders it a pure procedure, much as Kafka anticipated with respect to bureaucracy.
data  sublime  behaviorism  productivity  surveillance  data_aesthetics  prediction 
6 weeks ago
In the Garden of Sonic Delights | Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
n the Garden of Sonic Delights is a major exhibition of sound art woven into the fabric of Westchester County, NY. Centered at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, the exhibition spans six of the region’s most dynamic cultural institutions and features fifteen commissioned, site-specific artworks by some of the world’s most sought-after artists working in the medium of sound. Each artist has drawn inspiration from their chosen location, creating work that is mindful of the natural and human-made sounds and systems already present in the environment, while engaging each site’s unique characteristics, be they acoustic, historic, architectural, or aesthetic. Over the five-month duration of the exhibition, the artworks will be transformed in their context, in tandem with the passing of the day and the change in seasons, rewarding many return visits. In the Garden of Sonic Delights reveals the power of sound to galvanize our perceptions, encourage participation, elevate awareness, and foster reflection.
sound_art  site  land_art  landscape 
6 weeks ago
Working the Land and the Data - NYTimes.com
Mr. Tom, 59, is as much a chief technology officer as he is a farmer. Where his great-great-grandfather hitched a mule, “we’ve got sensors on the combine, GPS data from satellites, cellular modems on self-driving tractors, apps for irrigation on iPhones,” he said.

The demise of the small family farm has been a long time coming. But for farmers like Mr. Tom, technology offers a lifeline, a way to navigate the boom-and-bust cycles of making a living from the land. It is also helping them grow to compete with giant agribusinesses.
sensors  gps  agriculture  data 
7 weeks ago
Turner Prize 2014 artists: Duncan Campbell | Tate
Duncan Campbell (born Dublin, 1972) won the 2014 Turner Prize for his contribution to Scotland’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Responding to Chris Marker and Alan Resnais’ 1953 film Statues Also Die, Campbell’s It for Others included new work by choreographer Michael Clark.
Campbell makes films about controversial figures such as the Irish political activist Bernadette Devlin or the quixotic car manufacturer John DeLorean. By mixing archive footage and new material, he questions and challenges the documentary form.
film  archive_art 
7 weeks ago
Dan Hill on the positives and negatives of using data to manage cities
Predictive analytics is the ability to deliver services for future events, before the need has manifested itself, based on the accretion of "big data" about past events. Although urban planning and policy has always been a form of prediction — sometimes combined with agency to make it true — this is an order of magnitude shift in data gathering and number crunching; and so, in turn, in the purported accuracy of what can be predicted....

These dynamics underpin Bridj, a transport startup in Boston. Bridj uses patterns of transport use, combined with social media analytics, in order to send its fleet of buses to where there is demand for a fleet of buses — on the fly. It is largely post-timetable, post-route. It could sit neatly between mass transit and private car ownership, working as a form of "relief valve" for the Boston MBTA....

Designer Keiichi Matsuda tells me about the gloriously-festooned buses that careen around Medellin, essentially occupying a legal grey area as well as often unpredictable street routes, and sometimes, the pavement. In Nairobi, the equally gaudy matutu buses are fighting off Google NFC-enabled smart cards, preferring to transact in cash — whilst matutu may observe a form of bus stop, they move through traffic at full pelt as if autonomous vehicles (though with a rather different safety record). Even highly-regulated cities like New York have what The Verge called "a shadow transportation network" of "dollar vans" and buses, serving areas like Chinatown, or particular communities. Often unlicensed, sometimes the police apparently turn a blind eye, and even welcome their presence; other times, not so much.

These services fill in the cracks and gaps of the formal transit networks in a broadly similar way to Bridj, yet based on driver knowledge, instinct and small data, if we can call it that, about local culture. The fact they don't scale doesn't really matter, and in some senses they are more legible, local and, well, likeable than an Uber, say.

Yet both the matutu and the metro could be derailed by startups like Bridj, Lyft, Uber, Relayrides et al. None of these startups have a primary aim of putting public transit agencies out of business, yet the adjacent space they play in could be close enough to destabilise those incumbent agencies...

Be careful of our assumptions, indeed. Whilst the notion of "path dependency" obsesses urbanists, a city is more than just the sum of its previous behaviours; just as a former violent criminal might not ever be violent again.

Fundamentally, with this Predictive City in mind, the sheer unpredictability of cities is not only part of their charm, but a vital lesson about the possibility of change.
smart_cities  prediction  analytics  infrastructure 
7 weeks ago
An Artist Finds a Little Bit of Los Angeles Everywhere - CityLab
The typefaces that people used to use to make signs for buildings—the old signs, the kind of signs that people fight to preserve today—were not the same from coast to coast. The lettering you see on the West Coast is different from the look on the East Coast, says Cynthia Connolly, a photographer who would know. She's been shooting signs on buildings across America for years...

Connolly prefers the typography of Hollywood building signs to any other city's. She says they've got a European flair, inspired by the Fraktur family of typefaces.....

Connolly credits Los Angeles vernacular as the starting point for her work. But the signage is not the only L.A. influence on her photography. There's a quality that makes all her photos look like West Coast pictures, even shots from West Virginia. It's in the composition: Connolly draws on the same diagonals and vectors as L.A.'s favorite son, the painter Ed Ruscha.
typography  lettering  signs  media_space  photography 
7 weeks ago
Five Design Teams Re-Envision New York’s Public Libraries | ArchDaily
There are 207 branch libraries in the city of New York, each providing a number of services to city residents. From the simple lending of books to adult technical literacy classes, these institutions are as vital as they were before the advent of the internet, and their attendance numbers prove it. Between the years of 2002 and 2011, circulation in the city’s library systems increased by 59%. Library program attendance saw an increase of 40%. In spite of this, library funding was cut by 8% within this same timeframe, which has made it difficult to keep many of the system’s buildings in good repair. To spark interest and support from city leaders, The Architectural League, in collaboration with the Center for an Urban Future, instigated the design study Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries.
7 weeks ago
Too Much Magic, Too Little Social Friction: Why Objects Shouldn’t Be Enchanted | The Los Angeles Review of Books
At its core, Enchanted Objects clarifies why Rose is dissatisfied with the current state of consumer technology and offers up what he believes needs to be done to make better things. We’re at a crossroads, he argues. Going forward, we need to surpass three all-too-limited and limiting trajectories.

The first trajectory limits us to incremental improvements on screen-based interfaces, which will lead to devices being produced like the next generation of smart phones. Rose calls this paradigm “terminal world.” For two reasons, he laments “the domination of glass slabs.” First, he isn’t impressed by the uninviting aesthetic. “The terminal world asserts a cold, blue aesthetic into our world, rather than responding to our own. Even the Apple products, celebrated for their hipness, are cold and masculine compared to the materiality of wood, stone and cork.” And, the other reason: Rose isn’t satisfied with the functionality of devices that either “are passive, without personality” and “sit idle, waiting for your orders,” or are “impolite and interruptive.”

...according to Rose, the problem is that in order to create devices with personal heads-up displays that are widely used, it will be necessary to create ones that aren’t “too large and uncomfortable to wear continuously”; that are fashionable; and capable of presenting information worth having, given how distracting such technology can be. ...

The third trajectory Rose wants to transcend involves “animism,” or “living with social robots.” His main objection to social robots is that designers will find it difficult to get past the “uncanny valley” — the point where our encounters with close but imperfect artificial versions of human likenesses strike us as “unacceptable” and “creepy.” He also thinks that, rather than desiring a single multi-purposed robot butler, we’ll find it preferable to live in a world where we can “off-load” work onto multiple, animated, “hyperspecialized” devices calibrated to serve specific needs — “the distributed-agent model” portrayed in Downtown Abbey.

The alternative to all of these trajectories, argues Rose, is to embrace the connectivity of the Internet of Things and design enchanted objects like the GlowCap, ambient orb, and ambient umbrella....

Enchanted objects start as ordinary things—a pen, a wallet, a shoe, a lightbulb, a table. The ordinary thing is then augmented and enhanced through the use of emerging technologies—sensors, actuators, wireless connection, and embedded processing—so that it becomes extraordinary. The enchanted object then gains some remarkable power or ability that makes it more useful, more delightful, more informative, more sensate, more connected, more engaging, than its ordinary self. As the ordinary thing becomes extraordinary, it evokes an emotional response from you and enhances your life....

Rose offers only ham-handed appeals to privacy and transparency that amount to little more than hasty lip-service. And he never questions when nudging goes too far and becomes paternalistic or infantilizing....

vast social justice problems arise when commodities are fetishized through magical thinking. When adults see technology through a magical lens, they risk adopting a consumerist mindset that values goods independently of the activity required to produce and distribute them. Indeed, magical thinking allows us to avoid confronting all sorts of unsettling questions. Whose labor goes into making the objects and experiences we purchase? ...

It’s his prerogative to narrow down the scope of his inquiry to design issues and leave the political theorizing to others. That said, metaphors can become politicized. Since “enchantment” falls into this category, Rose’s uncritical appropriation of it is politically fraught. The more we’re inclined to see technology as wizardry, the less disposed we are to demystifying the illusions that obscure why some people get to enjoy hocus pocus at other people’s expense....

If we could know more about what’s going on with those we love, we could alter our behavior in response. We might be quicker to celebrate the highs and good times of our lives together, more ready to offer support and understanding during low moments and difficult times. If we could see patterns of thought and mood in others, we might be better able to plan when and how we interact with them.

Rose’s conviction [is] that the key to bringing families closer together is to automate more of their communication....

The problem with both examples is that they are guided by the assumption that good relationships can be fashioned using technology to minimize misunderstandings and to maximize predictive awareness....

Rose’s hypothetical mood wall is even worse. It minimizes the amount of observation and checking-in that otherwise would be required to get a sense of how someone is feeling and what makes the person tick. While such scrutiny or attentiveness can be exhausting and fraught with unpleasantness, it’s how we go about showing others they are worth the metaphorical trouble — that they aren’t valued only in circumstances where they are easy to get along with: where they don’t impose friction on our lives....

Ultimately, the mood wall takes an instrumental logic appropriate in some business contexts and superimposes it onto our personal lives. The cost of collapsing these domains is that data-mining begins to crowd out moral attention.
interaction_design  internet_of_things  screens  privacy  instrumentalism  morality  ethics 
7 weeks ago
The Art of Scent
“The Art of Scent 1889 – 2014”, is the first exhibition that presents and analyses scent as a work of art.

Curated by Chandler Burr – former perfume critic at The New York Times –, this display and catalogue was designed by Cano Estudio....

“We sought a space that intrinsically invited visitors to lower their voices, breathe deep and for a few moments, disconnect from the outside world. The goal was to create a relaxing atmosphere to discover the perfume. Perfume in its purest state. Without decorations. That is, without containers or packaging. Simply, aroma, mind and feeling. It was about creating a space that was attractive, even while doing virtually nothing and remaining practically empty” explains Jesús Cano, responsible for the design of the display.

“We create a blank canvas and draw sensory panels with the light, to make a bubble that allows us to focus on one of the least popular senses, olfaction. Because we must recall that smell is the shortest pathway to the emotions”, adds Jesús Cano. Cano Estudio, is also responsible for the graphic image of “The Art of Scent 1889 – 2014”.
smell  sensation  exhibition_design 
7 weeks ago
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