Is 'Design Thinking' the New Liberal Arts? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
What is design thinking? It’s an approach to problem solving based on a few easy-to-grasp principles that sound obvious: "Show Don’t Tell," "Focus on Human Values," "Craft Clarity," "Embrace Experimentation," "Mindful of Process," "Bias Toward Action," and "Radical Collaboration." These seven points reduce to five modes — empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test — and three headings: hear, create, deliver....

Design at Stanford began in the engineering school and grew out of the product-design program, itself born of the union of art and mechanical engineering. Launched in the mid-1960s, the master’s-degree program was open to students in art and engineering, and included what were then new types of courses like "How to Ask a Question" and new materials-based projects like constructing a wooden ship and racing it on the campus lake.

A second crucial influence came from outside Palo Alto, from Esalen. Founded by two Stanford graduates in 1962, Esalen had became an "antihumanities" institute, with lectures, seminars, retreats (and Eastern philosophy, music, and more), but no grades or credits. Bernie Roth, a young Stanford faculty member in the design division, attended a faculty retreat at Esalen in the mid-1960s and brought what he had learned there into courses and programs that focused on creativity and empathy. Today Roth is the academic director of the

A third important influence came from the world of commerce. Kelley, who was a master’s-degree student in mechanical engineering in 1977, and who taught at Stanford off and on afterward, brought the emphases on creativity and empathy to a company he helped found in 1978, which eventually became IDEO — and created Apple’s first mouse. At IDEO, empathy became "human-centered design," shifting the focus from designing products to designing the experience of using the products. IDEO brought in psychologists, behavioral economists, and anthropologists to work alongside product designers, and together they tried to think their way into the mind of the consumer.

Self-conscious reflection on the design process put thinking about how to design on the same level as the thing designed. The success of the approach is reflected in the way IDEO the design company became, little by little, IDEO the design-thinking company, and its subsequent move into areas increasingly remote from traditional product design. IDEO showed how the process of designing, say, a car could be abstracted from the specific product and used to develop "toolkits" to tackle more complex design problems, like building clean-water systems in Africa, a neighborhood association, or a school...

Human-centered design redescribes the classical aim of education as the care and tending of the soul; its focus on empathy follows directly from Rousseau’s stress on compassion as a social virtue....

That’s why Hennessy’s discussions with Kelley aren’t just about Stanford’s future, but about all of ours. Harry J. Elam Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education, elaborated on Hennessy’s thinking: "The is not unlike a center for teaching and learning on steroids: Pedagogy and design thinking inform how to portray content and learning goals." In other words, Stanford’s administration put two and two together: If the already represented a kind of insurgent consultancy, why not focus that consulting work on Stanford itself? If collaborative project-based learning, real-world challenges, and multidisciplinary research architectures were already being taught in the, why not leverage that experience for Stanford as a whole?

Asked whether the administration was aware that the was furnishing the university with nothing less than a new educational model, Elam answers, "Yes. The simple answer is yes." One vision of what that might mean is the Stanford2025 exhibition project, an attempt to reimagine undergraduate experience. Instead of a four-year-and-out program with a progressive narrowing of focus, students have a "mission" instead of a major, and "loop" in and out of the university throughout their work careers, with punctuated periods of different kinds of learning, and with fact-based expertise giving way to skills-based expertise....

Universities and their academic disciplines, he says, provide "context-independent knowledge." The world and its problems are not, however, organized by discipline. Even if humanists still tend to look down on "applied" learning, Leifer argues, knowledge has to fit the shape of the problem, not the other way around. The’s learning is all "context-dependent," pulling whatever it needs from any discipline in order to solve specific problems. The "d in," he says, refers "not to design but to demilitarized." ...

The challenge is how to not be too departmental, but also not too cut off from department life. The answer may turn on rethinking the separation between "research" and "teaching." IDEO’s many design-thinking tool kits always include an extended treatment of research. One of the’s basic courses, "Research as Design: Redesign Your Research Process," aims to improve "the research process to make us more innovative scholars or scientists."

Sounds good, right? But research in the and research in the surrounding university’s humanities departments is very different. In the latter, research is about finding answers to the discipline’s questions. In the, it is a process not of finding answers but of discovering questions, the questions that the subsequent design phase — in IDEO terms, "ideation" and "prototyping" — is supposed to answer.....

On the other hand, as university-based readers of the IDEO tool kits would immediately see, research in the design world is very closely linked to action-oriented solutions, i.e. to client needs. In fact, close attention to the way "research" is described in IDEO’s own publications shows that it is all conducted in the present tense, with no sense that the past matters to the present. Everything is ethnography. Libraries, archives, museums, the great repositories of the human past are rarely called upon for help.... A truly human-centered design, if it takes culture at all seriously, would have to take pastness seriously. As my colleague Michael Shanks, one of the very few tenured professors of humanities teaching regularly in the, points out, design thinking needs to be seen as "necessarily archaeological and represents what prior generations called ‘the liberal arts’ — the belief that knowledge from and about the past is important for living well in the future."...

But without taking the measure of the way the past lives on in the present, and without acknowledging the educational value of defamiliarizing the familiar, if those courses were to replace the classical liberal arts, we would lose precisely the practical value of classical education: seeing ourselves as existing in time and managing a range of imperfect complexities.

Design thinking that took the past more seriously could provide a framework in which humanists and scientists could work together on problems that need to be understood and even solved, such as climate, food, poverty, health, transportation, or built environments.
design_thinking  pedagogy  design_process  curriculum  methodology  history 
17 hours ago
C21 Spring 2015: Matthew Kirschenbaum
This talk explores the medial history and speculative grain of the sand table, a purpose-built furnishing supporting a bounded, malleable, scalable space sculpted in sand and historically used for modeling military or civic operations in three dimensions.

Though sand tables have their origins in the ancient world, they had achieved prominence by the late seventeenth century, more or less coterminous with the rise of relief maps, the science of military fortification as pioneered by Vauban, and the close order drills of “clockwork” field formations formulated by Maurice of Nassau. Georg Leopold von Reisswitz, inventor of the modern wargame or “Kriegsspiel,” built the first implementation of his game on a sand table in Prussia in the early nineteenth century. An early twentieth century American military textbook assumes the sand table as a given in instructing cadets, and enumerates its virtues: that it affords an aerial, “birds-eye” perspective; that it is easily made from common materials; that it is malleable and reconfigurable, capable of reproducing any desired terrain at any scale with greater flexibility and fidelity than static relief maps; and that the resolution of the representations may be as coarse or as “real” as desired.
furniture  media_archaeology  materiality  mapping  military  strategy 
The Artist Project | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ever since it was founded in 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been a place where artists come to gain inspiration from works of art from their own time and place, and also from across time and cultures.

The Artist Project is an online series in which we give artists an opportunity to respond to our encyclopedic collection.

Beginning March 2015, for one year, we will invite 100 artists—local, national, and global—to choose individual works of art or galleries that spark their imaginations. In this online series, artists reflect on what art is, what inspires them from across 5,000 years of art, and in so doing, they reveal the power of a museum and The Met. Their unique and passionate ways of seeing and experiencing art encourage all museum visitors to look in a personal way.

Over the course of five seasons, The Artist Project will share the perspectives of one hundred artists with the public, telling us what they see when they look at The Met.
artists  art  museums  influence  inspiration  method  process  videos 
2 days ago
2d Cut Out People Textures and Silhouettes for visualization
Our goal here at Easy 3d Source is to provide the easiest way for you to shop for the highest quality cut out people textures and alpha masks (which also double as silhouettes). Our products are high resolution, with low prices, and can be purchased individually, or you can save an average of 50% when you purchase our full collections.
media_architecture  renderings  drawings  typology  classification  subjectivity 
2 days ago
The Secret Lives of the Tiny People In Architectural Renderings
The "scalies" themselves reveal much about prevailing social norms. Many of the images in Designing People are from the midcentury modern era and it's not just the fashion that reveals current trends. You'll find that starkly divided gender roles are prevalent: Men are in the living room, women in the kitchen. Golfers are a running theme, especially if the project was hoping to look high-class.

The drawings were illustrating the architecture, says Lowell, but it was the people who were marketing an aspirational lifestyle. "They were selling the idea to the client."
media_architecture  drawing  people  subjectivity  marketing  renderings  typology  classification 
2 days ago
New York Public Library to Break Ground on Expansion of Underground Storage for Research Materials at Iconic Building | The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library breaks ground this week on a significant expansion of modern underground storage at its iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

The project – approved by the Library’s Board of Trustees in September 2012 – will transform 55,700 square feet of raw space underneath Bryant Park into state-of-the-art storage that can hold about 2.5 million research materials.

With the additional storage space, the Library will hold as many or more research volumes on-site as it ever has: approximately 4 million research items. This will allow the Library to accommodate approximately 95 percent of all research requests with materials on-site. 

The project – expected to be completed by spring 2016 – will also dramatically improve the preservation environment at the more than 100-year-old Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, allowing the Library to better preserve materials for future generations of researchers.

“With this expanded storage capacity, we can provide on-site access to the researchers and writers who rely on our research collections while preserving these treasured materials for future generations,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “Decades ago, prior Library leaders made this ingenious investment – creating acres of underground book storage in the heart of Midtown – and we are elated that the world’s research community will soon be able to be enjoy its benefits.”
NYPL  libraries  storage  bookstacks 
2 days ago
Awards | Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA)
ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Awards
The ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Awards are co-sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). The biennial competition honors excellence in library interior design and promotes examples of extraordinary design reflected through innovative concepts. The program is managed by the LLAMA Buildings and Equipment Section's Interior Design Awards Committee.

ALA/AIA Library Building Awards
The ALA/AIA Library Building Awards are co-sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The biennial competition recognizes excellence in the architectural design and planning of libraries.  Awards for distinguished accomplishment in library architecture by an architect licensed in the United States will be made for any library in the United States or abroad.  The program is managed by the LLAMA Buildings and Equipment Section's Library Buildings Awards Committee.
libraries  architecture  interior_design  awards 
2 days ago
Making Room for Informal Learning | American Libraries Magazine
Each of your libraries has a unique brand for its maker­space. How did you develop the space’s identity, and how has it been received by your users?

DANAK: Our main library building has a façade made of recycled pipes in the shape of a hexagon. In our planning process, we made jokes about being worker bees and hav­ing a hive mind. It’s really easy to use the Hive name in an engaging way—we want it to create a buzz, and it’s a hive of activity. We’ve had a really positive response to it.

WINCHOWKY: “Jawn” is a context-dependent substi­tute noun that comes from the Philadelphia hip-hop scene and can replace basically any noun. The library wanted something up to date but specific to Philadelphia. We wanted people to come and tinker and not have rigidity to the space. It was difficult at first because many of our school-age users had always been told what to do. Now they love it—there’s an unbounded energy that comes out of the Maker Jawn.
libraries  makerspaces 
3 days ago
The Future, Today | American Libraries Magazine
The library is in a constant state of evolution, not only in what it offers to patrons but also in its physical presence. Eight winners of the 2014 International Interior Design Association/American Library Association Interior Design Award, which honors excellence in library interior design, spoke with American Libraries about the future of library design and how their award-winning work reflects that vision.
libraries  architecture 
3 days ago
Graphic Means Documentary Recalls the Days When Design was Made by Hand | AIGA Eye on Design
the new documentary, Graphic Means, promises to take you back to the days before desktop publishing and the digital revolution of the late ’80s (if it can get funded via Kickstarter this week).

A curiosity for the profession’s diverse set of hand tools, machines, and traditional processes that have since been replaced by the computer led graphic designer and educator Briar Levit to start collecting old-school design production manuals from the ’70s and ’80s.
graphic_design  labor  tools 
3 days ago
Barbara Fister, Helping students develop skills + disposition to engage in inquiry
Research papers should not be part of the first-year experience. We should stop teaching students how to find sources. Very rarely are citations needed. We should stop implying that 'scholarly' means 'good.' Librarians should spend as much time working w/ faculty as with students
libraries  teaching  pedagogy  writing  research 
3 days ago
Decolonizing Libraries (extended abstract) · Brian Rosenblum
Open access (6) is a powerful and much-needed intervention that can help increase access to scholarship and break apart librarianship’s close and often exploitative relationship with for-profit commercial publishers and vendors. Yet the main goal of OA is not decolonization, and a one-size-fits-all approach to OA may in some respects work against efforts to decolonize scholarly communication. OA focuses largely on issues of access, reuse rights, metrics and research impact, but does little to address, for example, the technical and logistical problems of getting educational materials to communities lacking adequate Internet access (an issue tacked by initiatives such as WiderNet , or the development of publishing infrastructures that can support the production and management of scholarly research in the developing world. Such infrastructures would allow research communities to attain control of their own research output and encourage greater internal and region-to-region research communication, rather than increasing dependency on the infrastructures—and interests—of the global north and supporting a largely north-to-south research flow. Efforts to make cultural materials “open” can also be at odds with the interests of indigenous or marginalized groups, opening up their heritage for appropriation and profit by those with access to the means of knowledge production. Traditional Knowledge (TK) licenses are one attempt to address some of the inadequacies of Creative Commons licenses in this regard (Christen 2012; Greenberg 2014; Mann 2012)....

Another significant development is (7) the emergence of massive digital collections like Hathi Trust, Jstor, Internet Archive, Google Books, Europeana and DPLA, and their increasingly central role in information discovery and as providers of research data. What economic and institutional forces are driving these initiatives, and how well do these kinds of collections enable or limit alternative voices or ways of knowing? .....

ssues of infrastructure, material production, and political-economic control (9) provide another lens for looking at issues of decolonization. Our seemingly “virtual” information infrastructure is dependent upon real power plants, data centers, a network of satellites orbiting the planet and cables on the ocean floor, and generates landfills of toxic e-waste shipped out of site and out of mind, but with real environmental and human consequences (Mattern 2014, 2016; Munoz 2014). What implications does this have for how we think about and practice information sharing and distribution? What does it mean to decolonize knowledge in an age in which the infrastructure for the production and distribution of information is controlled by a network of little understood corporate and governmental entities?
archives  colonialism  epistemology  open_access  privacy  infrastructure 
3 days ago
Rome Reborn: Take a Virtual Tour Through Ancient Rome, 320 C.E. | Open Culture
A few years ago, we featured Rome Reborn, which is essentially “a 3D digital model of the Eternal City at a time when Ancient Rome’s population had reached its peak (about one million) and the first Christian churches were being built.” Rome Reborn offers, declared Matthias Rascher, “a truly stunning bird’s-eye view of ancient Rome that makes you feel as if you were actually there.” You may also remember our posts on video analyses of great works of art by Khan Academy’s Smarthistory. Today, the two come together in the video above, “A Tour Through Ancient Rome in 320 C.E.”
history  Rome  archaeology  urban_history 
4 days ago
Why I Am Not a Maker — The Atlantic
Walk through a museum. Look around a city. Almost all the artifacts that we value as a society were made by or at the order of men. But behind every one is an invisible infrastructure of labor—primarily caregiving, in its various aspects—that is mostly performed by women.... The cultural primacy of making, especially in tech culture—that it is intrinsically superior to not-making, to repair, analysis, and especially caregiving—is informed by the gendered history of who made things, and in particular, who made things that were shared with the world, not merely for hearth and home....

It’s not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with making (although it’s not all that clear that the world needs more stuff). The problem is the idea that the alternative to making is usually not doing nothing—it’s almost always doing things for and with other people, from the barista to the Facebook community moderator to the social worker to the surgeon. Describing oneself as a maker—regardless of what one actually or mostly does—is a way of accruing to oneself the gendered, capitalist benefits of being a person who makes products....

When new products are made, we hear about exciting technological innovation, which are widely seen as worth paying (more) for. In contrast, policy and public discourse around caregiving—besides education, healthcare comes immediately to mind—are rarely about paying more to do better, and are instead mostly about figuring out ways to lower the cost....

I am not a maker. In a framing and value system is about creating artifacts, specifically ones you can sell, I am a less valuable human. As an educator, the work I do is superficially the same, year on year. That’s because all of the actual change, the actual effects, are at the interface between me as an educator, my students, and the learning experiences I design for them. People have happily informed me that I am a maker because I use phrases like "design learning experiences," which is mistaking what I do (teaching) for what I’m actually trying to help elicit (learning). To characterize what I do as "making" is to mistake the methods—courses, workshops, editorials—for the effects.
making  gender  ideology 
5 days ago
“The Cloud” Fosters University Collaboration in New Exhibition on the Infrastructure of IT
“Furnishing the Cloud,” curated by Kimberly Ackert, Orit Halpern, Shannon Mattern, and Brian McGrath, is currently on view at the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries until March 22. A joint effort between students in Halpern’s Making Sense: Methods in the Study of Media, Attention, and Infrastructure and Ackert’s Furniture, Detail and Space courses, the exhibition attempts to conceptualize and give form to the space that makes up The Cloud.  Drawing from the available research on information technology and the architecture of “knowledge and power,” the show links virtual spaces with a specific, built environment. It conceives of The Cloud as something more than a shapeless and immeasurable entity that exists only beyond or above us.
furniture  exhibition  my_work 
7 days ago
Mapping the Sneakernet – The New Inquiry
The most commonly-discussed of these is shared access. Just as a family in the rich world might share a television, families in the developing world often share devices and telecom accounts. In rural Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines, I’ve seen groups of people access the internet via Facebook. One person—the one who is formally connected and counted–has the account, but many others are able to see their feed, access web sites, hear and tell stories from abroad and around the country. Shared access is often overlooked in connectivity studies but has been documented in India, Peru and many other countries.

Beyond shared usage, there are other, more informal methods of accessing what the web has to offer, extending through urban areas in developed countries through rural areas in the global south....

Tubes, of course, are not the only way data travels on the Internet: The electromagnetic waves of mobile and wi-fi networks pass invisibly through us, broadcast by towers powered by electric wires or diesel. Tubes highlights how much of the Internet consists of very physical data handoffs, storage and routing, all powered by human decisions and relationships....

In the dry season of 2013, I visited Aber and Atura, small villages tucked away between Gulu and Lira, the two largest cities in Northern Uganda, each with a population of a few hundred thousand. I conducted this visit as part of my graduate research at Art Center College of Design, with support from UNICEF Uganda’s Innovation Lab and Intel Labs’s Interaction and Experience Research Group. I am grateful to Aber Youth Center and research associate Daniel Nanghaka. Accessible via an hour-long bike ride from the nearest paved highway, Aber and Atura have a few hundred people each and, like much of the region, they have no running electricity or water (electric wires are strung along some roads but are not connected to the grid).... Satellite photos of the region show darkness, but satellites can’t capture the soft glow of a mobile phone. Many residents use their phones to text their friends and keep in touch. Mobile-phone towers dot the landscape, providing 3G Internet access to those who can afford it (a small minority) and SMS/voice access for the others (a larger minority). They power their phones at mobile charging stations set up by enterprising families who invest about $100 to $200 for a solar panel manufactured in India or China.

Nor can satellites hear the music. At night, residents turn on their radios, and those who can afford Chinese feature phones play mp3s.... They were physically transferred, phone to phone, Bluetooth to Bluetooth, USB stick to USB stick, over hundreds of miles by an informal sneakernet of entertainment media downloaded from the Internet or burned from DVDs, bringing media that’s popular in video halls—basically, small theaters for watching DVDs—to their own villages and huts....

Indeed, the practice of sneakernets is global, with political consequences in countries that try to curtail Internet access. In China, I saw many activists trading media files via USB sticks to avoid stringent censorship and surveillance.... Sneakernets also apparently extend into North Korea, where strict government policy means only a small elite have access to any sort of connectivity.....

Packets of information can be distributed via SMS and mobile 3G but also pieces of paper, USB sticks and Bluetooth. Solar-powered computer kiosks in rural areas can have simple capabilities for connecting to mobile phones’ SD cards for upload and download. Technology training courses can start with a more nuanced base level of understanding, rather than assuming zero knowledge of the basics of computing and network transfer. These are broad strokes, of course; the specifics of motivation and methods are complex and need to be studied carefully in any given instance. But the very channels that ferry entertainment media can also ferry health care information, educational material and anything else in compact enough form.
access  connectivity  Internet  infrastructure  cell_phones  Africa  storage  distribution 
7 days ago
a game nonetheless « Bethany Nowviskie
“What do we do,” Kevin productively asks, “when the sociotechnical system we hope to study is obscured from view?” You’ve heard from him about a range of experimental approaches, all tending toward the conclusion—which resonates strongly with my own experience in digital project and platform design—that the most fruitful research paths may lie beyond or alongside the impulse to “reveal” the contents of a so-called algorithmic black box: even to include making a kind of peace with our platforms and our growing awareness of own situated positions within them....

algorithmic methods are productive not only of new texts, but of new readings. My old friend and colleague Steve Ramsay has argued, in a book called Reading Machines, that all “critical reading practices already contain elements of the algorithmic.” And the reverse is true: the design of an algorithm—the composition of code—is inherently subjective and, at its best, critical. Even the most clinically perfect and formally unambiguous algorithmic processes embed their designers’ aesthetic judgments and theoretical stances toward problems, conditions, contexts, and solutions....

There’s a certain strain in scholarship and the arts (arts “useful,” in the sense that Siva Vaidhyanathan so helpfully brought into play today, and decidedly otherwise) that never met a black box without seeing it as a kind of a game: a dark game, in many cases, a rigged game, maybe, but a game nonetheless, in which we are invited to interpret, inform, perform, respond, and even compose a kind of countering ludic algorithm.

Repositioning closed, mechanical or computational operations as participatory or playful algorithms requires what economist and formal game theorist Martin Shubik called “an explicit consideration of the role of the rules.” This algorithmic literacy, this consciousness of the existence and the agency of the governing ruleset itself...

C. S. Peirce interpreted algorithmic specifications not as thwarting, confounding black boxes, but as creative prompts, “in the sense in which we speak of the ‘rules’ of algebra; that is, as a permission under strictly defined conditions.” Algorithmic and combinatoric art forms, such as the work of Sol Lewitt or the OuLiPo group, show us how this functions.
algorithms  black_box  rules  play 
7 days ago
Metafoundry 15: Scribbled Leatherjackets
It's not, of course, that there's anything wrong with making (although it’s not all that clear that the world needs more stuff). It's that the alternative to making is usually not doing nothing—it's nearly always doing things for and with other people, from the barista to the Facebook community moderator to the social worker to the surgeon. Describing oneself as a maker—regardless of what one actually  or mostly does—is a way of accruing to oneself the gendered, capitalist benefits of being a person who makes products. 

I am not a maker. In a framing and value system that is about creating artifacts, specifically ones you can sell, I am a less valuable human. As an educator, the work I do is, at least superficially, the same year after year. That's because all of the actual change is at the interface between me, my students, and the learning experiences I design for them. People have happily informed me that I am a maker because I use phrases like 'design learning experiences', which is mistaking what I do for what I’m actually trying to elicit and support. The appropriate metaphor for education, as Ursula Franklin has pointed out, is a garden, not the production line....

Dan Hon wrote, "But even when there's this shift to Makers (and with all due deference to Getting Excited and Making Things), even when "making things" includes intangibles now like shipped-code, there's still this stigma that feels like it attaches to those-who-don't-make. Well, bullshit. I make stuff." I understand this response, but I'm not going to call myself a maker. Instead, I call bullshit on the stigma, and the culture and values behind it that reward making above everything else. Instead of calling myself a maker, I'm proud to stand with the caregivers, the educators, those that analyse and characterize and critique, everyone who fixes things and all the other people who do valuable work with and for others, that doesn't result in something you can put in a box and sell.
making  critical_design  critical_engineering  gender  ideology 
7 days ago
The Library as Art Project: The Clandestine Reading Room | GW Libraries
Here at GW, the Libraries proudly house the National Security Archive, an independent non-profit organization that for decades has blazed trails by getting government documents declassified and into the public domain, allowing crucial parts of Cold-War history to be told.

With these commitments in mind, my brother – Kant Smith, a visual artist based in New York – and I developed a project we have dubbed the Clandestine Reading Room: a pop-up library devoted to exhibits and programming about government secrecy and surveillance. To our pleasant surprise, our project was selected for inclusion in the “Monument to Cold War Victory” show, which opened in October of 2014 at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in downtown Manhattan. Combining our skills as artist and librarian, my brother and I transformed a wing of the gallery at Cooper Union into an interactive exhibit: a visual timeline showing the history of the U.S. government’s use of surveillance and subterfuge to control and suppress political dissent.
exhibition  libraries  library_art  censorship  freedom_of_information 
7 days ago
About the Mnemosyne Atlas | Mnemosyne
Begun in 1924 and left unfinished at the time of his death in 1929, the Mnemosyne Atlas is Aby Warburg’s attempt to map the “afterlife of antiquity,” or how images of great symbolic, intellectual, and emotional power emerge in Western antiquity and then reappear and are reanimated in the art and cosmology of later times and places, from Alexandrian Greece to Weimar Germany. Focusing especially on the Renaissance, the historical period where he found the struggle between the forces of reason and unreason to be most palpable, Warburg hoped that the Mnemosyne Atlas would allow its spectators to experience for themselves the “polarities” that riddle culture and thought....

This website presents ten of these photographed panels, selected to exemplify both the cosmographical and art-historical content of the Mnemosyne Atlas. Though offering but fragments of a fragment, it is designed to show some of the Wanderstrassen that Warburg pursued in the Atlas. The Warburg Institute has provided new, better scans of the surviving photographs – better, that is, than the images seen in the Gesammelte Schriften volume and other publications (to say nothing of other venues on the Web).
Furthermore, the ability to zoom in and out on the panels and on individual images permits a closer inspection of the material aspects of the Atlas. Alternately, if you click on individual images, a window providing identifying information will appear; frequently links to further iterations and permutations on the same image are also provided. Finally, under the tab “Guided Panels,” the user will find interpretations of individual panels by myself and other scholars. Such meanderings, of course, are meant to be at best exemplary, but never exhaustive.
mnemosyne_atlas  digital_humanities  archives  warburg 
8 days ago
K. Verlag | Press / Books / EX LIBRIS Series
EX LIBRIS departs from investigating the inside of the book as a potential curatorial space. Initiated in six specific libraries, EX LIBRIS comprises a series of book displays developed within these collections, each of which creates a separate constellation of meanings through the careful organization of selected books.
Situated between the exhibition and the editorial process, and using the library both as a resource for curatorial connections “from book to book” and as a direct platform, EX LIBRIS expands the curator Anna-Sophie Springer’s original research interest in the book-as-exhibition to include the relationship between the book and its context. If the book traditionally is seen as the strategy for private consumption and research, and the gallery as the space for public exhibition and performance, the library—as the public place of reading—thus becomes the hybrid site for performing the book.  
The selected libraries range from personal and nonaccessible libraries such as those of artist Nina Canell and book designer Robin Watkins, a private art collector, through the bookshop of gallerists/publishers Barbara Wien and Wilma Lukatsch to the state-funded, public collections of the Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig and the Art Library of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Pointing to contemporary transformations in print culture, the digital pirate archive AAAAARG.ORG will also be probed, engaging the particularity of seeking unrestricted accessibility through private efforts. Together, these collections reflect an exemplary public–private spectrum. 
Assembled by appropriating a variety of display means found on-site, a temporary set of constellations, clusters, and visual narratives play with the book in its multidimensional role as aesthetic object and medium for the representation of information. Through ephemeral connections of image, text, and materiality, the arrangements reflect the character, history, and function of these collections while relating to the surrounding architectures that house each of them.
exhibition  book_art  library_art 
8 days ago
The Total Archive: Dreams of Universal Knowledge from the Encyclopaedia to Big Data – CRASSH
The complete system of knowledge is a standard trope of science fiction, a techno-utopian dream and an aesthetic ideal. It is Solomon’s House, the Encyclopaedia and the Museum. It is also an ideology – of Enlightenment, High Modernism and absolute governance.

Far from ending the dream of a total archive, twentieth-century positivist rationality brought it ever closer. From Paul Otlet’s Mundaneum to Mass-Observation, from the Unity of Science movement to Isaac Asimov’s Encyclopedia Galactica, from the Whole Earth Catalog to Wikipedia, the dream of universal knowledge dies hard. These projects triumphantly burst their own bounds, generating more archival material, more information, than can ever be processed. When it encounters well defined areas – the sportsfield or the model organism – the total archive tracks every movement of every player, of recording every gene and mutation. Increasingly this approach is inverted: databases are linked; quantities are demanded where only qualities existed before. The Human Genome Project is the most famous, but now there are countless databases demanding ever more varied input. Here the question of what is excluded becomes central.

The total archive is a political tool. It encompasses population statistics, GDP, indices of the Standard of Living and the international ideology of UNESCO, the WHO, the free market and, most recently, Big Data. The information-gathering practices of statecraft are the total archive par excellence, carrying the potential to transfer power into the open fields of economics and law – or divest it into the hands of criminals, researchers and activists.

Questions of the total archive engage key issues in the philosophy of classification, the poetics of the universal, the ideology of surveillance and the technologies of information retrieval. What are the social structures and political dynamics required to sustain total archives, and what are the temporalities implied by such projects?

In order to confront the ideology and increasing reality of interconnected data-sets and communication technologies we need a robust conceptual framework – one that does not sacrifice historical nuance for the ability to speculate. This conference brings together scholars from a wide range of fields to discuss the aesthetics and political reality of the total archive.
archives  information_overload  big_data  otlet  universal_library 
8 days ago
Sound & Materials | The Sound and Materials Research Group is actively engaged in the practice, history and critical theory of sound works that employ sound with and through materials.
In recent years there has been a perceivable shift from media practices housed within the architecture of the computer and the screen, to a media art based in materials. From Auduino to Raspberry Pi, from creative coding to modular synths, handmade electronics to cracked media, sound and materials is emerging as a critical focus within media arts and cross-media practices. The area is differentiated from audio/visual paradigms as sound is here approached as a material and through materials.

The Sound and Materials Research Group is actively engaged in the practice, history and critical theory in the area. It is based within the National Institute for Experimental Arts at UNSW | Art & Design. The group seeks active engagement from academics, postgraduates, artists and musicians.
sound_studies  sound_space  PhD  materiality  sound_art 
8 days ago
K. Verlag | Press / Books / . 1 Fantasies of the Library
Fantasies of the Library inaugurates the intercalations: paginated exhibition series. Virtually stacked alongside Anna-Sophie Springer’s feature essay "Melancholies of the Paginated Mind" about unorthodox responses to the institutional ordering principles of book collections, the volume includes an interview with Rick Prelinger and Megan Shaw Prelinger of the Prelinger Library in San Francisco; reflections on the role of cultural memory and the archive by Hammad Nasar, Head of Research and Programmes at the Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; a conversation with media theorist Joanna Zylinska about experiments on the intersections of curatorial practice and open source e-books; and a discussion between K’s co-director Charles Stankievech and platform developer Adam Hyde on new approaches to open source publishing in science and academia. The photo essay, “Reading Rooms Reading Machines,” presents views of unusual historical libraries next to works by artists such as Kader Attia, Andrew Beccone, Mark Dion, Rodney Graham, Katie Paterson, Veronika Spierenburg, Andrew Norman Wilson, and others.
libraries  library_art  classification  book_art 
8 days ago
On The Blower: London's Lost Pneumatic Messaging Tubes
Pneumatic tubes (or telegraph tubes as they were also known) saved cost because they did not require skilled, well-paid telegraph operators, and they eliminated mistakes that often occurred in re-transmission. Pushing a carrier into a pipe requires much less skill. There was also no error in transcription, which was a frequent occurrence, and cash, documents and other small objects could be conveyed securely. As telegrams could be sent in a pneumatic tube carrier faster than post and cheaper than telegrams, as well as being faster and cheaper than a messenger, it is perhaps no surprise they soon became a popular method of communication.
media_history  media_archaeology  pneumatic_tubes 
8 days ago
pneumatic post
Pneumatic post is a place to file notes about the life of pneumatic tube systems (particularly in hospitals) alongside other postal, medical and museum related discoveries.
media_archaeology  pneumatic_tubes 
8 days ago
A map of all the underwater cables that connect the internet - Vox
Cables lying on the seafloor bring the internet to the world. They transmit 99 percent of international data, make transoceanic communication possible in an instant, and serve as a loose proxy for the international trade that connects advanced economies.

Their importance and proliferation inspired Telegeography to make this vintage-inspired map of the cables that connect the internet. It depicts the 299 cables that are active, under construction, or will be funded by the end of this year.

In addition to seeing the cables, you'll find information about "latency" at the bottom of the map (how long it takes for information to transmit) and "lit capacity" in the corners (which shows how much traffic a system can send, usually measured in terabytes). You can browse a full zoomable version here.
cables  infrastructure  mapping 
10 days ago
The World’s Weirdest Library - The New Yorker
Beside each elevator bank, a chart displaying, in capital letters, the library’s curious organization helps guide the bewildered student: “FIRST FLOOR: IMAGE,” “SECOND FLOOR: WORD,” up to “FOURTH FLOOR: ACTION-ORIENTATION,” with “ACTION” comprising “Cultural and Political History,” and “ORIENTATION” “Magic and Science.” Mounted in the stairwells are uncanny black-and-white photographic collages of a single female type—a woman dancing in flowing drapery—that is seen in many forms, from classical friezes to Renaissance painting....

Begun at the start of the last century, in Hamburg, by Aby Warburg, a wealthy banker’s son, the Warburg Library has been often expanded, but the original vision has never really been altered. It is a vast and expensive institution, devoted to a system of ideas that, however fascinating, are also in some dated ways faddish, and in some small ways foolish. Warburg, who died in 1929, spent part of his adult life in and out of mental hospitals—at one point, he lived in fear that he was being daily served human flesh. Yet he was the spirit behind the “iconographic studies” that dominated art history for most of the second half of the twentieth century...

“I started the petition on last July,” she said recently, in that special lilting drawl of East Coast Americans long resident in London. “And within a couple of months it was just shy of twenty-five thousand signatures. It was an astonishing number for a library. But the Warburg has an amazingly vibrant intellectual history. I think what’s probably most interesting to me is that it runs on what they call ‘the law of the good neighbor’—it’s not based on what librarians alphabetically catalogue. Instead, it’s catalogued according to themes. The methodology of serendipity is what it’s all about, and the methodology of serendipity is responsible for most great ideas.”...

In 1912, he dubbed this new “science” of art history “iconology.” Half anthropology, half aestheticism, it took the material of art to be a parade of symbolic images, proliferating, crossbreeding, evolving. Botticelli’s mythologies, including “The Birth of Venus,” weren’t a humanist rejection of the medieval for the affirmation of lived experience; they were dark philosophical codes, which needed to be broken in order to be enjoyed....

Warburg’s essential insight—that imagery is viral, communicable, contagious, and crossbreeding—was, I realized, right. Reproductions, like the black-and-white photographs that Warburg himself used, don’t serve as stoppers to meaning; they serve as carriers of the force of symbols from imagination to imagination. This process, already accelerated in the Renaissance, goes still faster in our time, and is not just the primary dynamic of our visual experience but also the primary matter of our art. We live now on Mnemosyne screens. For good or ill, the methodology of visual serendipity is our own.
libraries  warburg  classification  art_history 
11 days ago
What the Web Said Yesterday - The New Yorker
No one believes any longer, if anyone ever did, that “if it’s on the Web it must be true,” but a lot of people do believe that if it’s on the Web it will stay on the Web. Chances are, though, that it actually won’t. In 2006, David Cameron gave a speech in which he said that Google was democratizing the world, because “making more information available to more people” was providing “the power for anyone to hold to account those who in the past might have had a monopoly of power.” Seven years later, Britain’s Conservative Party scrubbed from its Web site ten years’ worth of Tory speeches, including that one. Last year, BuzzFeed deleted more than four thousand of its staff writers’ early posts, apparently because, as time passed, they looked stupider and stupider. Social media, public records, junk: in the end, everything goes....

The Web dwells in a never-ending present. It is—elementally—ethereal, ephemeral, unstable, and unreliable. Sometimes when you try to visit a Web page what you see is an error message: “Page Not Found.” This is known as “link rot,” and it’s a drag, but it’s better than the alternative. More often, you see an updated Web page; most likely the original has been overwritten. (To overwrite, in computing, means to destroy old data by storing new data in their place; overwriting is an artifact of an era when computer storage was very expensive.) Or maybe the page has been moved and something else is where it used to be. This is known as “content drift,” and it’s more pernicious than an error message, because it’s impossible to tell that what you’re seeing isn’t what you went to look for: the overwriting, erasure, or moving of the original is invisible. For the law and for the courts, link rot and content drift, which are collectively known as “reference rot,” have been disastrous. In providing evidence, legal scholars, lawyers, and judges often cite Web pages in their footnotes; they expect that evidence to remain where they found it as their proof, the way that evidence on paper—in court records and books and law journals—remains where they found it, in libraries and courthouses. But a 2013 survey of law- and policy-related publications found that, at the end of six years, nearly fifty per cent of the URLs cited in those publications no longer worked....

When Kahle started the Internet Archive, in 1996, in his attic, he gave everyone working with him a book called “The Vanished Library,” about the burning of the Library of Alexandria. “The idea is to build the Library of Alexandria Two,” he told me. (The Hellenism goes further: there’s a partial backup of the Internet Archive in Alexandria, Egypt.) Kahle’s plan is to one-up the Greeks. The motto of the Internet Archive is “Universal Access to All Knowledge.” The Library of Alexandria was open only to the learned; the Internet Archive is open to everyone. In 2009, when the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, decided to sell its building, Kahle went to Funston Avenue to see it, and said, “That’s our logo!”...

When Kahle was growing up, some of the very same people who were building what would one day become the Internet were thinking about libraries. In 1961, in Cambridge, J. C. R. Licklider, a scientist at the technology firm Bolt, Beranek and Newman, began a two-year study on the future of the library, funded by the Ford Foundation and aided by a team of researchers that included Marvin Minsky, at M.I.T. As Licklider saw it, books were good at displaying information but bad at storing, organizing, and retrieving it. “We should be prepared to reject the schema of the physical book itself,” he argued, and to reject “the printed page as a long-term storage device.” The goal of the project was to imagine what libraries would be like in the year 2000. Licklider envisioned a library in which computers would replace books and form a “network in which every element of the fund of knowledge is connected to every other element.”...

Berners-Lee toyed with the idea of a time axis for his protocol, too. One reason it was never developed was the preference for the most up-to-date information: a bias against obsolescence. But the chief reason was the premium placed on ease of use. “We were so young then, and the Web was so young,” Berners-Lee told me. “I was trying to get it to go. Preservation was not a priority. But we’re getting older now.” Other scientists involved in building the infrastructure of the Internet are getting older and more concerned, too. Vint Cerf, who worked on ARPANET in the seventies, and now holds the title of Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, has started talking about what he sees as a need for “digital vellum”: long-term storage. “I worry that the twenty-first century will become an informational black hole,” Cerf e-mailed me. But Kahle has been worried about this problem all along....

The Wayback Machine is a robot. It crawls across the Internet, in the manner of Eric Carle’s very hungry caterpillar, attempting to make a copy of every Web page it can find every two months, though that rate varies. (It first crawled over this magazine’s home page,, in November, 1998, and since then has crawled the site nearly seven thousand times, lately at a rate of about six times a day.) The Internet Archive is also stocked with Web pages that are chosen by librarians, specialists like Anatol Shmelev, collecting in subject areas, through a service called Archive It, at, which also allows individuals and institutions to build their own archives. (A copy of everything they save goes into the Wayback Machine, too.) And anyone who wants to can preserve a Web page, at any time, by going to, typing in a URL, and clicking “Save Page Now.” ...

The Wayback Machine has archived more than four hundred and thirty billion Web pages. The Web is global, but, aside from the Internet Archive, a handful of fledgling commercial enterprises, and a growing number of university Web archives, most Web archives are run by national libraries. They collect chiefly what’s in their own domains (the Web Archive of the National Library of Sweden, for instance, includes every Web page that ends in “.se”). The Library of Congress has archived nine billion pages, the British Library six billion. Those collections, like the collections of most national libraries, are in one way or another dependent on the Wayback Machine; the majority also use Heritrix, the Internet Archive’s open-source code. The British Library and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France backfilled the early years of their collections by using the Internet Archive’s crawls of the .uk and .fr domains. The Library of Congress doesn’t actually do its own Web crawling; it contracts with the Internet Archive to do it instead....

Copyright is the elephant in the archive. One reason the Library of Congress has a very small Web-page collection, compared with the Internet Archive, is that the Library of Congress generally does not collect a Web page without asking, or, at least, giving notice. “The Internet Archive hoovers,” Abbie Grotke, who runs the Library of Congress’s Web-archive team, says. “We can’t hoover, because we have to notify site owners and get permissions.”...

The Internet Archive is an invaluable public institution, but it’s not a national library, either, and, because the law of copyright has not kept up with technological change, Kahle has been collecting Web sites and making them freely available to the public without the full and explicit protection of the law. “It’s extremely audacious,” Illien says. “In Europe, no organization, or very few, would take that risk.”...

In 2002, Kahle proposed an initiative in which the Internet Archive, in collaboration with national libraries, would become the head of a worldwide consortium of Web archives. (The Internet Archive collects from around the world, and is available in most of the world. Currently, the biggest exception is China—“I guess because we have materials on the archive that the Chinese government would rather not have its citizens see,” Kahle says.) This plan didn’t work out, but from that failure came the International Internet Preservation Consortium, founded in 2003 and chartered at the BnF....

The plan to found a global Internet archive proved unworkable, partly because national laws relating to legal deposit, copyright, and privacy are impossible to reconcile, but also because Europeans tend to be suspicious of American organizations based in Silicon Valley ingesting their cultural inheritance. Illien told me that, when faced with Kahle’s proposal, “national libraries decided they could not rely on a third party,” even a nonprofit, “for such a fundamental heritage and preservation mission.”...

The Wayback Machine is humongous, and getting humongouser. You can’t search it the way you can search the Web, because it’s too big and what’s in there isn’t sorted, or indexed, or catalogued in any of the many ways in which a paper archive is organized; it’s not ordered in any way at all, except by URL and by date. To use it, all you can do is type in a URL, and choose the date for it that you’d like to look at. It’s more like a phone book than like an archive. Also, it’s riddled with errors. One kind is created when the dead Web grabs content from the live Web, sometimes because Web archives often crawl different parts of the same page at different times...

Last year, the Internet Archive made an archive of its .gov domain, tidied up and compressed the data, and made it available to a group of scholars, who tried very hard to make something of the material. It was so difficult to recruit scholars to use the data that the project was mostly a wash. Kahle says, “I give it a B.” Stanford’s Web archivist, Nicholas Taylor, thinks it’s a chicken-and-egg problem. “We don’t … [more]
internet  archive  digital_archives  preservation  data  media_space  copyright  nation_state  citation  storage  data_centers 
11 days ago
BLDGBLOG: Intermediary Geologies
For a project called "H / AlCuTaAu"—named after the chemical elements that comprise its final form—artists Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen created what they call "an artificial mineral mined from technological artefacts."

As they explain in the accompanying, very brief artists' statement, "Precious metals and stones were mined out of technological objects and transformed back into mineral form. The artificial ore was constructed out of gold (Au), copper (Cu), tantalum (Ta), aluminium (Al) and whetstone; all taken from tools, machinery and computers that were sourced from a recently bankrupt factory."
materiality  media_archaeology  chemistry  geology 
11 days ago
Hunter | Gatherer: Design Observer
In Part II of my tree series, I turn to tree-related projects produced by scientists rather than artists. The term xylotheque is derived from xylon, the Greek word for wood, and theque, meaning repository. These book-like boxes were produced to document a range of woods and the characteristics of each source tree. 

Although rare sets were created in areas of the world such as Japan or southern Africa, Germany is generally considered the birthplace and the center of xylotheque production. Early examples were found in the late seventeenth-century cabinets of curiosities but methodical construction of these collections flourished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries....

Each hinged “volume” in a typical collection focused on a specific tree. Slabs of its wood formed the front and back “covers” and the spines were created from its bark. Along with the scientific and common names of the tree, each box might contain examples of roots, seeds, leaves, twigs, flowers, perhaps a scientific drawing, or even specimens of its insect pests. In some of these wooden libraries there is a special compartment in the spine that held a carefully written description of the tree and its biology.....

The Schildbach Xylotheque is a 530-volume library created in the last decades of the eighteenth century. Each “book” contained the Linnaean classification number, Latin and common names, and a typical volume would include buds, branches, blossoms, a wax model of the tree's fruit, and other related specimens. Schildbach annotated his volumes with additional layers of information, including samples of the wood in a polished state, samples of its lichen or moss, even a piece of its wood burnt alongside detailed information indicating the heat produced by its combustion and temperature readings.
archives  collections  trees  methodology 
11 days ago
Your Home by Mail: The Rise and Fall of Catalogue Housing | ArchDaily
n the first half of the 20th century, mail-order houses, also known as catalogue homes or kit houses, became a phenomenon in Canada and the United States as the population swelled and companies sprang up to offer a relatively inexpensive solution to fill housing needs.
media_architecture  mail  periodicals  magazines  kits_of_parts  renderings 
11 days ago
IPLC (India Public Libraries Conference)
There are more than 600 district public libraries in India. Most of them are either non-functional or completely ineffective. But there are about 10 libraries in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that are showing how adoption of different approach, method, activities, services and relevant digitalisation interventions and a new approach to reading and knowledge behaviour could be used as energising factors to revive our dying public libraries. To discuss how public libraries can be regained as public places for seeking information and knowledge, for the first time in India, an international conference-cum-workshop on public libraries is being organised.
libraries  India 
11 days ago
CCS Bard | The Printernet
were soon to realize that our interests, as reflected in our choices of themes, were inescapably Dubaiian: Voicings/Articulations/Utterances, Speculative Geographies, The Social Olfactory, and finally, simply, Dubai. Despite our best efforts to be placeless, those initial questions continued to haunt us.
Why are we concerned with terroir anyway? Wines and cheeses have terroir; some even have a protected designation of origin certification to guarantee their provenance. There’s a certain Europhilic glamour to the word, sure, and maybe even a hint of luxury. More than that, though, is the connotation of soil, of rootedness, of a connection to the fabric of the land itself. To talk about terroir is to assert or aspire to a sense of belonging in a country (and indeed, region) structured by the denial of formal citizenship to the majority of its denizens. Just as urbanity under the aegis of Dubaization is understood by what it isn’t (not-sea, not-desert), so too is citizenship in the Gulf predicated upon a politics of exclusion (not-South Asian). If locality suggests a “here,” terroir speaks to a “from-here.”...

We try to commission, as much as possible, work from people who live and work in the places they write about. Diaspora complicates this, as does the fact that we publish in English, with both factors colluding to privilege certain voices over others. It’s not dissimilar to a biennale’s celebration of site-specificity even as it invokes a familiar “Designed in California Made in China” tension between “made here” and “from here” with the number of international versus local (however broadly defined) artists....

Let’s tack a “digital” onto that earlier question, to ask whether digital cultural production can have terroir or convey locality in any way.... With the shell thus denuded, it follows that any sense of place in online publishing would have to come largely from the content alone.... Just as we work hard to have Dubai and the Gulf understood on their own terms and not through crude similes, perhaps we should consider online publishing as something entirely new on the world stage. Follow its own rules to grasp how it works, and find new ways of speaking a place. Rather than exploring, as we have in the past, What else can the book do? perhaps what we should be asking is, What else can the internet do?
publishing  format_studies  terroir  localism 
11 days ago
IASC: The Hedgehog Review - Volume 17, No. 1 (Spring 2015) - The Algorithmic Self -
Beyond the psychological, there is a political dimension, too. Legal theorist and Georgetown University law professor Julie Cohen warns of the dangers of “modulation,” which enables advertisers, media executives, political consultants, and intelligence operatives to deploy opaque algorithms to monitor and manipulate behavior. Cultural critic Rob Horning ups the ante on the concerns of Cohen and Turkle with a series of essays dissecting feedback loops among surveillance entities, the capture of important information, and self-readjusting computational interventions designed to channel behavior and thought into ever-narrower channels. Horning also criticizes Carr for failing to emphasize the almost irresistible economic logic behind algorithmic self-making—at first for competitive advantage, then, ultimately, for survival.6

To negotiate contemporary algorithms of reputation and search—ranging from resumé optimization on LinkedIn to strategic Facebook status updates to OkCupid profile grooming—we are increasingly called on to adopt an algorithmic self, one well practiced in strategic self-promotion. This algorithmic selfhood may be critical to finding job opportunities (or even maintaining a reliable circle of friends and family) in an era of accelerating social change. But it can also become self-defeating. Consider, for instance, the self-promoter whose status updates on Facebook or LinkedIn gradually tip from informative to annoying. ...

Yet little is done to resist algorithmic scoring and the surveillance that enables it. Few of us have recognized that behind most encomiums to the power of “Big Data” and “predictive analytics” there is a vast and often unaccountable apparatus of sensors and data controllers. Indeed, there may be a cultural trend afoot to participate in such surveillance, to turn it on oneself via “lifelogging” or on others via casual voyeurism. Few will pause to consider the many pernicious effects of persistent digitized memory, as explicated in Anita Allen’s prescient work on surveillance.17 Allen, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, observes that there are psychological hazards in store for selves committed to recording and quantifying their every move, ranging from excessive rumination on mistakes to the persistence of traumatic memories. Predictable demands for the sharing of such data threaten to make every connected device a future snitch, ready to hold us to account for inefficient or antisocial behavior....

Rosa’s theory of modernity would likely characterize momentary escapes from algorithmatization as a kind of safety valve that ultimately conduces to the resilience of computational acceleration of our social world.36 Yet without such opportunities to stand back from and reflect on our moment-by-moment bombardment with texts, tweets, e-mails, and status updates, it is, sub specie aeternitatis, hard to see how any more humane social order could arise.

Such an order, if possible, will depend on a pattern of self-making far removed from the buzzing behaviorism of programmed apps and schedulers. Reflecting on the problem of overeating in 1976 (a year also marked by anxieties over automation), Charles Taylor contrasted two approaches to the problem: one marked by the “contrastive language of qualitative evaluation” and another based on an assessment of “quantity of satisfaction” afforded by alternative paths of action.37 While apps could easily help us implement the latter, utilitarian approach, the former is more complex. “Strong evaluation,” in Taylor’s terms, requires us to classify desires as “higher or lower, virtuous or vicious, more or less fulfilling, more or less refined, profound or superficial, noble or base.” It is where “they are judged as belonging to qualitatively different modes of life, fragmented or integrated, alienated or free, saintly or merely human, courageous or pusillanimous, and so on.” It is hard to imagine such categories integrated into five-star rating scales or gamified badges. They elude the commensuration that is constitutive of computational culture.38

Criticism of algorithms must go beyond merely recognizing the emptiness of virality or the numbing self-reference inherent in the algorithmic economy’s obsession with “metrics,” “engagement,” and “impact.” Without robust backstops of cultural meaning, and the fight to preserve them, those at the top of society will increasingly engineer out of daily experience all manner of “inconvenient” cultural and social practices. The least we can hope for is some clear understanding of how the strategies the powerful deploy affect how we see the world, how we are seen, and how capital is deployed. And we must work to recognize and preserve those fonts of value that are so rarely encoded into the algorithms of the everyday.
internet_of_things  algorithms  quantified_self  surveillance 
11 days ago
Video Games Are Better Without Characters — The Atlantic
not a game about people, even though its residents, the Sims, would later get their own spin-off. Nor is it a game about particular cities, for it is difficult to recreate one with the game’s brittle, indirect tools. Rather, SimCity is a game about urban societies, about the relationship between land value, pollution, industry, taxation, growth, and other factors. It’s not really a simulation, despite its name, nor is it an educational game. Nobody would want a SimCity expert running their town’s urban planning office. But the game got us all to think about the relationships that make a city run, succeed, and decay, and in so doing to rise above our individual interests, even if only for a moment.

This was a radical way of thinking about video games: as non-fictions about complex systems bigger than ourselves. It changed games forever—or it could have, had players and developers not later abandoned modeling systems at all scales in favor of representing embodied, human identities.....

All of Wright’s games at Maxis followed this model. A software toy, grounded in a worldly theory about a complex system, but abstracted into a playable model about an aspect of the world that seemed too boring or obscure to become the subject of a video game. SimEarth was inspired by James Lovelock’s Gaia principle, which understands the Earth as a single, self-regulating organism. SimAnt was based on Bert Hölldobler and E.O. Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Ants, on the social organization of ant colonies. The smash hit The Sims, often described as a virtual sandbox, was really far more than that, operationalizing Christopher Alexander’s theory of a pattern language for architecture, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and Paco Underhill’s investigations into the rationales behind consumer behavior. Even the seemingly fantastical Spore had a similar grounding, mostly in Lovelock’s lesser-known Gaia spore, the theory that intelligent life is more likely to reproduce itself in the universe through space colonization than it is to evolve anew from nothing.

Maxis’s games have hardly escaped criticism. Game design is a process of abstraction, and you can’t simplify a complex system like the operation of cities without consequence. SimCity was profoundly but weirdly American in its assumptions. Taxation caps out at 20 percent, a level far below what would be needed to operate a social welfare state city like, say, Copenhagen. And at higher tax levels, Sims go on strike or move out of town in disgust. But even in such a seemingly American context, race plays no role in the operation of one’s simulated cities, and the classic features of American sprawl—highways, exurbs—weren’t possible in the earliest versions of the game, even as rail transit has always remained the best way to reduce traffic and increase density in a SimCity metropolis. The game’s most recent version did even stranger things, casting residents as a kind of bizarre blend of middle class laborer and migrant worker, and making homelessness rampant, causing players to reveal curious and sometimes uncomfortable truths about themselves and the world in their quest to (virtually) eradicate it.
media_architecture  media_city  video_games  systems  infrastructure 
13 days ago
"I Dream of Wires: Hardcore Edition" 2013 official trailer - YouTube
I DREAM OF WIRES is an independent documentary exploring the history, demise and resurgence of the ultimate electronic music machine, the MODULAR SYNTHESIZER. A special edition, 4-hour extended cut is available to order now on DVD and BluRay from The feature-length, theatrical cut is set to premiere spring 2014.
music  wires  analog  synthesizer  acoustics  sound_studies 
13 days ago
It's Nice That : Very clever campaign that invites you to see scent
this gorgeous campaign for Laboratory Perfumes, entitled Imagining the Invisible. The images accompany the launch of the brand’s series The Lab, a range of “creative experiments in scent,” which look to the visual world to articulate how bloody lovely their perfumes are.... The idea of the campaign was to evoke the scents using sight, rather than smell. One image was created for each of the fragrances – Amber, Gorse, Samphire and Tonka – creating a still-life for each using lab equipment, fruit and plants. Anna says: “To evoke the senses you have to make sure that what you are representing isn’t misconstrued in any way. Abstracting the ingredients means the viewer can’t make the connection with smell straight away. Rosemary and lavender have to resemble rosemary and lavender.”
smell  synaesthesia  materiality  photography 
13 days ago
It's Nice That : Great design by Julia for Open Editions’ new sound works series Continuous Tone
David Blamey, the artist who founded publisher Open Editions, has authored the first release from Continuous Tone, a series of sound works that treat the medium as a viable space for the production of art....

For Continuous Tone twelve artists have been invited to produce sound works, none of whom commonly use audio in their practice. Each release is issued as a limited-run heavy pressing with specially commissioned sleeve notes, imagery and information booklets. The imprint is designed by London-based studio Julia and will be launched at the South London Gallery on 8 April with a live performance of the work.
sound  material_culture  records 
14 days ago
Off the "Free Stuff" section of Craigslist I inherited over 300 issues of vintage
"SCIENCE - American Association for the Advancement of Science" magazine.
Print dates between 1950 to 1980.
Below is a collection of images from those issues.
science  graphic_design  data_visualization  intellectual_history 
14 days ago
Post-Internet Poetry Comes of Age - The New Yorker
Over the past few years, the art world has been throwing around the term “post-Internet” to describe the practices of artists who use the Web as the basis for their work but don’t make a big deal about it. For these artists, unlike those of previous generations, the Web is just another medium, like painting or sculpture. Their artworks move fluidly between spaces, appearing sometimes on a screen, other times in a gallery. A JPEG of a painting is often considered another version of a painting, and vice versa.

We’re beginning to see a similar turn in poetry. Earlier Web-based poetries tended to either exploit the technical side of the Web or underscore the weirdness of it. E-poetry animated words and letters in browser windows. Conceptual poetry made dry, programmatic works that mimicked the structures of the Web. Flarf harvested strange language from Google searches and then presented it newly as kitschy objet trouvé. Alt Lit aped the goopy sincerity of social media, recasting it in poems. These movements produced very different types of poetry, but they shared the idea that the Web was a distinct rupture in the way that poetry was made: after the Web, we would never write the same way again.

But a book like Zultanski’s “Bribery” uses the Web while downplaying or taking for granted its influence.
media_literature  post_internet  textual_form  poetry 
14 days ago
Finding Out What the Past Smelled Like — The Atlantic
Seeing a reconstruction of the village that can be physically explored when you are standing in the real location is a visceral experience and, for me, comes pretty close to a time machine. However, most current augmented reality technology is almost entirely based around the visual experience to the detriment of the other senses. I wanted as many of these other senses to play a part in my complete experience, if possible. So I included aural augmented reality in the form of a pair of AfterShokz bone-conducting headphones that played 3-D geo-located sounds as I walked around the site—such as the murmured conversation taking place in a hut (occluded by the virtual walls, and using freely downloadable sound effects), and the crackling of the hearth fire. By using bone-conducting headphones that don’t obstruct the ear canals, I could still hear the real world: the sounds of the birds, the sheep in the distance, and wind in the trees. I also developed what I'm calling Dead Man’s Nose, built using an Ardunio microcontroller and a set of small computer fans each with its own specific phial of historical odor (chosen from the plethora of wonderful and weird smells available at this online fragrance shop). The device is worn around the neck and the associated app is programmed to produce a specific smell depending on your geographic location, with a fan that gently wafts it in the direction of your face. (As the Dead Man’s Nose is still in a prototype phase, the pre-emptive whirring of the fans when a smell was about to be wafted was a little anachronistic for the Bronze Age—but the effect the aroma had on me was no less powerful for that.) So now I not only saw the houses, but I heard the muffled conversations and I even smelled the fires and the cooking meat inside.

The whole experience was being overlaid on the real-world, using the actual location and remains of the prehistoric village as a canvas on which to conjure the images, sounds, and smells of the past.
sensory_history  mapping  augmented_reality 
15 days ago
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media » Essays
Biographies of historical figures offer a more favorable terrain for Wikipedia since biography is always an area of popular historical interest. Moreover, biographies offer the opportunity for more systematic comparison because the unit of analysis is clear-cut, whereas other topics can be sliced and diced in multiple ways.... If the unpaid amateurs at Wikipedia have managed to outstrip an expensively produced reference work such as Encarta and provide a surprisingly comprehensive and largely accurate portrait of major and minor figures in U.S. history, professional historians need not fear that Wikipedians will quickly put them out of business. Good historical writing requires not just factual accuracy but also a command of the scholarly literature, persuasive analysis and interpretations, and clear and engaging prose. ... This waffling—encouraged by the npov policy—means that it is hard to discern any overall interpretive stance in Wikipedia history....

Wikipedia's ease of use and its tendency to show up at the top of Google rankings in turn reinforce students' propensity to latch on to the first source they encounter rather than to weigh multiple sources of information....

Professional historians have things to learn not only from the open and democratic distribution model of Wikipedia but also from its open and democratic production model. Although Wikipedia as a product is problematic as a sole source of information, the process of creating Wikipedia fosters an appreciation of the very skills that historians try to teach. Despite Wikipedia's unconventionality in the production and distribution of knowledge, its epistemological approach—exemplified by the npov policy—is highly conventional, even old-fashioned. The guidelines and advice documents that Wikipedia offers its editors sound very much like the standard manuals offered in undergraduate history methods classes.... Participants in the editing process also often learn a more complex lesson about history writing—namely that the "facts" of the past and the way those facts are arranged and reported are often highly contested.... Thus, those who create Wikipedia's articles and debate their contents are involved in an astonishingly intense and widespread process of democratic self-education. Wikipedia, observes one Wikipedia activist, "teaches both contributors and the readers. By empowering contributors to inform others, it gives them incentive to learn how to do so effectively, and how to write well and neutrally." ...

Even a comparison that focuses on the ban on original research understates the differences between professionals and amateurs. For one thing, historical expertise does not reside primarily in the possession of some set of obscure facts. It relies more often on a deep acquaintance with a wide variety of already published narratives and an ability to synthesize those narratives (and facts) coherently. It is considerably easier to craft a policy about "verifiability" or even "neutrality" than about "historical significance." Professional historians might find an account accurate and fair but trivial; that is what some see as the difference between history and antiquarianism. Thus, the conflict between professionals and amateurs is not necessarily a simple one over whether people are doing good or bad history but a more complex (and more interesting) conflict about what kind of history is being done. Comparing the free Wikipedia and the costly and expensively produced American National Biography Online erects professional historical scholarship as a trans-historical and transcultural standard of history writing when we know that there are many ways of writing and talking about the past. What is particularly interesting and revealing about Wikipedia is its reflection of what we could call a "popular history poetics" that follows different rules from conventional professional scholarship.... Wikipedia's view of history is not only more anecdotal and colorful than professional history, it is also—again like much popular history—more factualist. That is reflected in the incessant arguing about npov, but it can also be seen in the obsession with list making.... Finally, Wikipedian history is presentist in a slightly different way from that of professional history—where, for example, a conservative turn in the polity leads us to reevaluate conservatism in the past. Rather, Wikipedia entries often focus on topics that have ignited recent public, not just professional, controversy.
wikipedia  historiography  methodology 
15 days ago
Where the internet lives: the artist who snooped on Google’s data farm | Art and design | The Guardian
The image he has created is a hyperrealistic virtual portrait. It is a digital sculpture mapped out in three dimensions and shown in real time, so the sun moves across the sky and shadows change on the digital landscape at exactly the same time they do on the real data farm in Oklahoma.

Gerrard’s unflattering image of our technological world is itself a miracle of technology. His helicopter took 2,500 photographs, which were sent to his workshop in Vienna. “We spent a year hand-building a digital model of the building in Vienna. We’re not filming anything. We are representing reality within this medium.”

The simulation he has created of Google’s anonymous industrial “farm” is powered by a game engine that generates and erases images second by second. “We purchased a game engine which is designed for massive military simulations.”

Eerily beautiful and intellectually disconcerting, this is a virtual representation of a real, solid place that holds and exchanges virtual information. Gerrard’s monumental projection is a new kind of art. It is also an old kind of art – he calls his works “portraits”...
photography  art  infrastructure  google  data_centers 
16 days ago
The Formal Imagination of Oulipo | The Ploughshares Blog
It must also be said that Oulipo does not necessarily aspire to produce finished works; rather, Oulipian structures are often viewed as a means to access unanticipated material for future use. This is, of course, explicit in the group’s name: Workshop of Potential Literature. In every instance, the madcap challenges embraced by Oulipo are intended to inspire imagination, setting boundaries to be pushed against rather than respectfully minded.

Crucially, Oulipo strives through this approach to call attention to the invisible constraints that haunt the fabric of literature, whether these are popular conventions of creative writing, or an author’s own proclivity to structure their work in a routine manner. In this way, Oulipo is best viewed as creative calisthenics: exercises in overcoming unconscious restrictions by rendering them obvious. Paradoxically, the imposed constraints serve as ingress to liberation and play.

This playfulness can be felt in Oulipo co-founder Raymond Queneau’s “A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems,” in which the lines of ten sonnets are printed on separate strips of paper that can be rearranged to create 1014 different poems. It is likewise felt in more contemporary works, such as Elliot Holt’s abecedarian short story “Picnic, Lightning,” and Harryette Mullen’s “Sleeping With the Dictionary,” a finalist for the 2002 National Book Award. Every poem in Mullen’s collection draws from Oulipian structures, including the wordplay game N+7, in which each noun of a preexisting text is replaced by the seventh subsequent noun in the dictionary.
oulipo  writing  chance  algorithms 
18 days ago
The Invisible Photograph | Hillman Photography Initiative
In Part 5 of The Invisible Photograph, investigate how photographic technologies are being used to visualize the subatomic world at CERN—where photography and the world’s most advanced particle physics research collide.
photography  video  scientific_imagery  epistemology 
19 days ago
Deep mapping as an ‘essaying’ of place | Iain Biggs
In the case of deep mapping as essaying these concerns correspond to McLucas’ view that deep mapping should be a “politicized, passionate, and partisan” evocation of a site, involving “negotiation and contestation over who and what is represented and how” and giving rise to “debate about the documentation and portrayal of people and places” but, above all, should strive to remain “unstable, fragile and temporary… a conversation and not a statement”
deep_maps  mapping  methodology 
19 days ago
A Wink at the Quirks of a Famed Collector -
For “The Order of Things,” opening on May 16, the installation artists Mark Dion, Judy Pfaff and Fred Wilson have been invited to respond to Barnes’s own brand of installation art, his idiosyncratic mix of Impressionist and old master paintings, furniture, metalwork and ceramics placed in “ensembles” according to color, shape and size rather than chronology or art history.
exhibition_design  exhibition  foucault  classification  organization 
20 days ago
The Quietus | Opinion | The Quietus Essay | Sonic Sabotage: The Noisy History Of Auto-Destructive Music
In 1959, a German immigrant and anti-nuclear campaigner named Gustav Metzger launched what he called The Manifesto of Auto-Destructive Art. For Metzger Auto-Destructive Art was a new form of "public art for industrial societies". He would spray nylon canvases with hydrochloric acid on London's South Bank or erect a domino rally of huge panes of glass then set them crashing to the ground. From this very first manifesto, he was clear that the "amplified sound of the auto-destructive process can be an element of the total conception." For some of his followers it became the principal element....

One invitee to the Destruction In Art Symposium who didn't make it was the Czech sculptor and performance artist Milan Knížák. Since 1965, Knížák had been creating what he called 'Destroyed Music'. He would take old records and burn them, paint over them, chop them up and glue different sections back together in different combinations. These joins would cause the needle to jump erratically over the surface during playback sending a jarring series of pops and cracks through the speakers. His techniques anticipated the later use of CDs by glitch artists like Yasunao Tone, Oval, and especially Disc.

A sort of IDM supergroup consisting of Kid606, Lesser, and Matmos, Disc took random free CDs from radio station promo bins and savaged them, live onstage, with needles, razor blades, sticky tape, and chewing gum....

In between the variously doctored discs of Knížák and Lesser, numerous means had been explored for turning recorded media against themselves. Inspired by the Situationists, Factory Records boss Tony Wilson, in 1980, had insisted on packaging Vini Reilly's album The Return Of The Durutti Column in a sandpaper sleeve so it would ruin any records that came near it (Guy Debord had similarly given one of his books a sandpaper dust jacket with the same intent). The abrasive material was glued on by members of Joy Division for £15 each and it had a tendency to fall off at the earliest opportunity.

Six years later, Christian Marclay would issue his Record Without A Cover. Without so much as a paper sleeve to shield it from the elements ("Do not store in a protective package," the spiral writing on the actual disc warns), the album soon acquired myriad scuffs and scratches. Each time you played it the record would sound different, making the history of its gradual degradation into its subject and sound source....

The unique timbral qualities of a decaying sound format are at the very forefront of a 2004 piece by Cory Arcangel. '666' sees the New York media artist pass Iron Maiden's classic 'The Number of the Beast' through the MP3 compression codec six hundred and sixty-six times, resulting in an artefact-heavy ghost of its former self, with a sound like something the liquid metal T1000 from Terminator 2 would make if forced into a recording studio mid-transformation. "If you like this project," Arcangel notes on his webpage about '666', "don't forget to study up on your old school and check out Alvin Lucier's 'I Am Sitting in a Room'.

In 1969, Lucier had recorded himself speaking a simple text (beginning, "I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now…"). He then played the recording back in the same room and recorded that, repeating the process over and over again until the sound of the resonant frequencies in the room had taken over, leaving scarcely any semblance of the composer's own speech patterns.
destruction  art  music  materiality  sound_art 
20 days ago
Allan Wexler | project50 – the USM anniversary initiative - books and modularity
In collaboration with their lecturers, seven teams of students from leading universities in New York, Tokyo, London, Milan, Paris, Karlsruhe and Lausanne consider the significance of modularity in architecture and design today as well as in the future.
video  modularity  design  books  bookstacks  furniture  reading 
20 days ago
- brightspot strategy
brightspot is a strategy consultancy that partners with leading universities, cultural institutions, non-profits, and companies. Our team uses an engaging process to create strategies for spaces, services, organizations, and experiences.
libraries  consulting  design_research  service 
21 days ago
Africa Center for Peace | MASS Design Group
In advance of the twentieth anniversary of the Genocide, MASS was invited by Aegis Trust and John McAslan + Partners to design the new archives at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. MASS began with the space of the testimonial, a space where anyone can come and give their personal account in an intimately-scaled, light-filled pillar of a room.  As these pillar combines with one another, other spaces for reflection, education, exhibition and learning emerge, symbolizing the diversity of stories from which the building is formed. The resulting space is a forest, a gallery, a memory bank, and a library, giving us ownership of our future, but also reverence for the stories and memories which make up our past. When we leave the centre at night, the pillars transform into beacons of light, symbolizing the bright future of Rwanda which lies ahead.
archives  oral_culture  Africa  genocide 
22 days ago
The Plain, Inescapable There-ness of Carl Andre’s Sculptures
In The Names, Don DeLillo writes, "Maybe objects are consoling. Old ones in particular, earth-textured, made by other-minded men. Objects are what we aren’t, what we can’t extend ourselves to be. Do people make things to define the boundaries of the self? Objects are the limits we desperately need. They show us where we end. They dispel our sadness, temporarily."...

The objects here appear less than entirely concerned with a viewer’s emotional state. But indifference is not disdain, and walking around them can offer consolation, if that is what one seeks. Walking on them, too—as the showgoer is encouraged to do with certain of Andre’s sculptures laid flat on the floor—makes for certain peculiarities of mood. In the exhibition catalogue, curator Yasmil Raymond writes of Andre’s habit for evoking the “solemnity and intimacy typically reserved for monuments, graveyards, tombs, and shrines, thus transforming the experience of art into a visit to a ‘place’ where one enacts an unrepeatable event.”
sculpture  art  objects  things 
22 days ago
Leveraging Libraries in the 10-Year Capital Plan | Center for an Urban Future
But though the City often comes to the libraries for help in meeting both short- and long-term policy goals, it has never really taken ownership of them and invested in their ability to serve in so many different capacities.... Just as importantly, public libraries have traditionally played almost no role in the City’s long-term capital plan. As the Center for an Urban Future (CUF) documents in some detail in a recent report, the vast majority of capital investments come through a piecemeal funding process that makes it all but impossible for the libraries to plan for the future. ...

There would be enormous benefits to creating a true, long-term capital plan to help the libraries overcome these challenges. First and foremost, a firm financial commitment from the City—one the libraries could depend on over multiple years—would allow the libraries to raise additional funds from private donors. ...

Now that the de Blasio Administration is breathing new life into the 10-year capital plan and thinking strategically (and rigorously) about how its investments can increase affordable housing and improve community development, libraries have an important role to play. Though they have experienced a sharp increase in users and uses over the last decade, this has happened more often than not despite budget cuts and neglect from the City.
libraries  funding 
22 days ago
The design studio behind Monument Valley is rethinking in-car displays | The Verge
For most, Ustwo is best known for its breakout mobile hit, Monument Valley — but the company is also an accomplished design studio. As part of a partnership with car design consultancy CDR, Ustwo took a hard look at instrument clusters, offering up a few fundamental redesigns for how we interpret speed and other critical information while we're driving.

The company notes that even in the digital age, instrument clusters are presently quite skeuomorphic — digital speedometers typically resemble analog ones, and so on — but the freedom afforded by an LCD display means that there's probably an opportunity to try other things that make more sense. It applied what it calls "adaptive hierarchy," displaying only the most relevant information for the current situation where the driver can see it. For instance, when parked, you don't care about speed — you're stopped — so available range is displayed front and center instead, since you probably want to know how far you can go.
interfaces  dashboards 
22 days ago
It's Nice That : Our round-up of interesting currency redesigns
The Royal Mint has unveiled a new coinage portrait of the Queen, only the fifth during her 63-year reign. The new coins, which will go into circulation later this year, feature a portrait designed by engraver Jody Clark selected in a competition hosted by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee. In light of this, we thought we’d have a look at some proposed and actual redesigns of currencies around the world, from age old gold standards to Bitcoins, and abstract pixels to odes to scientific discovery.
money  currency  graphic_design 
22 days ago
Year in Architecture 2014: Commons Sense
Arizona’s Mesa Public Library Red Mountain Branch Library THINKspot is a collaborative Maker space featuring an AV and photography studio and the latest technology (3-D printer, SMARTboards, conferencing systems, etc.), with mobile furnishings to encourage collaboration. The Brand Library and Art Center, a branch of the Glendale Library, Arts & Culture Department, CA, is housed in a 1904 mansion. The materials collection and the site’s accompanying recital hall, art gallery, and performance plaza make the library both a research center and a lively arts venue.
The Fort York Branch, Toronto Public Library, offers the system’s first branch digital innovation hub. The Savage Branch/STEM Education Center, Howard County Library System, Laurel, MD, includes a HiTech Classroom in which students create robotic projects and apps. The remodeled Library 21c, the main and system headquarters of Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs, presents a business and entrepreneurial center, conference space, print/copy services, and an AV production studio, plus a café/catering services, a 400-seat performance/meeting venue, two Maker spaces, two gaming labs, and an exhibit gallery (see “The Library of the Century,” LJ 10/15/14, p. 21).
The Ames Free Library, MA, turned the 1854 Queset House into a 21st-century learning commons. Its first Author- in-Residence, Kate Klise, wrote, “The[se] clever folks…bought this ridiculously pretty house…and turned it into a, well, community clubhouse of sorts…. a place for people of all ages to meet that’s not school or home or work. Or Starbucks.”
The Barrington Area Library, IL, redefines its connection to the community through smart rooms, media labs, Maker spaces, a business center, an Internet café, and a reading commons. The Niles Public Library, IL, created on the lower level a teen space called the Underground, providing an informal lounge area for this important constituency. The Ridgefield Library, CT, turned a restored 1903 historic building and new construction into a teen center, a technology center, and study and meeting rooms that function as part of a cultural campus with a recently renovated movie theater.
The Bibliothèque de Brossard Georgette-Lepage, Quebec, tore down a wall between two basement storage rooms to create a large room the youth contingent calls SODA, with zones for working, reading, socializing, and relaxing.
libraries  makerspaces  labs 
23 days ago
Successful Creative People Say 'No' - Business Insider
Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?”

A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code? The answer is always the same: “yes” makes less. We do not have enough time as it is. There are groceries to buy, gas tanks to fill, families to love and day jobs to do.

People who create know this. They know the world is all strangers with candy. They know how to say “no” and they know how to suffer the consequences.
professional_practice  time_management 
23 days ago
Inside Project Loon: Google's internet in the sky is almost open for business | The Verge
Loon is being built with the audacious goal of beaming internet access down to the most remote parts of the planet, using specially equipped balloons that kiss the upper edges of Earth’s atmosphere...

Since then, the payload has evolved into a modular aluminum rig wrapped in a metal-mylar blanket that insulates it from temperature changes and high-intensity ultraviolet rays. It’s suspended below two solar panels that collect all the energy used to power its onboard systems. The entire payload below the balloon looks very much like a miniature satellite, but takes a fraction of the time and money to produce. Google won’t divulge the exact cost, except to say each balloon costs "tens of thousands of dollars."

"Communication satellites are typically pretty expensive, hundreds of millions to build and a hundred million plus to launch," says Cassidy. "Whereas the balloons are an order of magnitude or two cheaper to operate on a daily basis, even for a global network."

Loon is always aiming to extend the lifespan of its flights, but in some ways, a short ride can be an advantage. "With balloons you’re only four to five months away from having a fresh balloon," Cassidy explains. "New technologies come, new compression algorithms, the electronics can be updated, so you have a pretty fresh fleet in the air at any time."...

You can’t just launch a bunch of balloons and connect the world, though: right now, Project Loon flies primarily over the southern hemisphere. That’s partially a question of where its services are most needed. Compared to the northern hemisphere, the southern half of the planet is far less densely populated, full of remote areas where broadband internet is less likely to reach. These countries also provide a more welcoming regulatory atmosphere. "The southern hemisphere is pretty easy to overfly in terms of air traffic control," says Johan Mathe, a Frenchman in charge of designing Loon’s navigation. "That’s one of the places where there is the least hand off to do."....

Using massive data sets from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Google’s algorithms try to decide which currents they should ride to pass over coverage areas. It’s a big data exercise that perfectly fits the company’s core capabilities. Mathe draws a rainbow on the board, a vast array of possible trajectories that each balloon will take based on the wind.....

"One of the great benefits of being in the stratosphere is that it’s above the weather," says Cassidy, when I ask him about the potential for flights over more of the developed world. "If there is a hurricane or a typhoon that knocks out power or internet connectivity to people on the ground, the balloons provide very exciting ways to allow people to have immediate connectivity. As long as they have a battery powered phone in their pocket, people will be able to instantly get access to the balloon network."
internet  infrastructure  balloons 
23 days ago
IKEA Is Bringing Wireless Phone Charging to Your Bedroom - Mic
Using the increasingly popular Qi wireless charging technology, the Swedish furniture giant has designed a collection of bedside tables, lamps and desks that can charge compatible devices just through contact. Ikea will also be releasing individual charging pads that can go anywhere. T
furniture  media_space  electricity 
23 days ago
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 
24 days 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 
27 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 
27 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 
28 days ago
Rural Library Chain Closes, Citing 'Tremendous Pressure' -
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 
28 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 
29 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 
29 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 
4 weeks 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 
4 weeks 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 
4 weeks ago
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