Derrida’s Margins ‖ Derrida's Margins
For Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), reading was an active process: he read texts by thinkers like Rousseau, Heidegger, Lévi-Strauss, Hegel, and Husserl with a writing utensil in hand.  As Derrida affirmed in a late interview, the books in his personal library bear the "traces of the violence of pencil strokes, exclamation points, arrows, and underlining."  

Derrida’s Margins invites scholars to investigate these markings while unpacking the library contained within each of Derrida’s published works, beginning with the landmark 1967 text De la grammatologie (Of Grammatology).  Additional Derrida works will be added as the project continues.

The website catalogues each reference (quotation, citation, footnote, etc.) in De la grammatologie and allows users to explore Derrida's personal copies of the texts he cites. Due to copyright restrictions, only annotated pages corresponding to references in De la grammatologie are shown here; users may also view external images of each book as well as images of the numerous insertions (post-it notes, bookmarks, calendar pages, index cards, correspondence, notes, etc.) Derrida tipped in to his books.
reading  digital_humanities  marginalia 
2 days ago
We Are All Research Subjects Now - The Chronicle of Higher Education
These brakes on social inquiry are the same ones that academic researchers labor under — and sometime chafe under — today. And they are the same ones that the Social Data Initiative enlists in its public statements. But we should note that they were designed for research situations like the tearoom ethnography: where the privacy intrusion was intentional, where the potential harm to individuals’ dignity was obvious, where specific consent from the human subjects might feasibly have been obtained, and where careful scholarly review might have prompted a more ethical research design.

The data sets that Facebook plans to hand over to SSRC-approved researchers are by nature quite different. They first of all are being used only after the fact, having been collected via no peer-review process by a for-profit company. Accepting the terms of service of a social-media company is a far lower bar than the "informed consent" required by an IRB. These will be reams of personal data, possibly quite sensitive, and gathered unobtrusively, without the express consent (and often, knowledge) of those being researched.

It is not even certain whether the donors of data in this new venture are "research participants" in the sense that social scientists of the last century would have recognized. Some commentators have argued that because the company’s data will be anonymized before researchers get ahold of them (itself a concern as re-identification techniques improve), standards of informed consent do not even pertain.

Can the protections intended for a relatively small group of identifiable subjects in a bounded study — the men in St. Louis’s public restrooms in 1966, say — be extrapolated to the more than one billion virtual subjects who have been swept willy nilly into Facebook’s informational cache? The SSRC, in its early statements about the Social Data Initiative, seems to believe so. But today’s system of IRBs and federal regulations ought not be treated as definitive, especially given the new risks and possibilities presented by industry partnerships and big data.

Rather than accept the solutions of the 1960s and 1970s as a given, the new initiative would do better to reopen the questions that Tearoom Trade and other cutting-edge social research of its day generated about the legitimate bounds of social inquiry. The regulations that emerged were important, but so was the larger claim that human dignity ought to serve as an essential check on research ambitions....

For those who care both about pathbreaking social research and the rights of human subjects, the SSRC-Facebook collaboration poses dilemmas equivalent to those raised by Tearoom Trade. It is an opportunity to reconsider, and possibly revise, the rules of social inquiry. Are the guidelines for ethical research and treatment of subjects that were devised nearly 50 years ago a durable resource for us today? What kind of help can these tools, forged in quite different conditions, offer us in resolving the potential privacy violations and misuses of personal information that threaten today’s unwitting subjects of social media — and perhaps now scholarly — experimentation and manipulation?...

If we are all research subjects now, what kind of practices and policies will best preserve the values of individual dignity, privacy, and consent?

Given the unique nature of the new collaboration, these questions should be directed to the social scientists who will be making use of novel data sets. But they must also be answered by the corporations and data miners they collaborate with. If the byproduct is a new standard of data ethics with a broad purchase — viewed as the responsibility not simply of academics but also of the multifarious parties now engaged in social and behavioral research — that will truly fulfill the SSRC’s mission to "produce findings that improve everybody’s lives."
research  methodology  ethics  digital_methods  social_science  consent  IRB 
2 days ago
Opinion | When Your Boss Is an Algorithm - The New York Times
While critics use the language of the workplace to describe the treatment of drivers, the language of technology can deflect such concerns. When payments for trips are missing, labor advocates might call it wage theft, but Uber says it’s a glitch. When Uber charges passengers what it predicts they are willing to pay based on their route rather than standard rates, economists may call it price discrimination, but Uber explains it as an innovation in artificial intelligence....

Other tools, like the rating system, serve as automatic enforcers of the nudges made by algorithmic managers. In certain services on Uber’s platform, if drivers fall below 4.6 stars on a 5-star rating system, they may be “deactivated” — never “fired.” So some drivers tolerate bad passenger behavior rather than risk losing their livelihoods because of retaliatory reviews.
algorithms  work  labor  uber  gig_economy 
3 days ago
Redtimed — Ron Morrison
To understand the constantly disruptive present is to extend our fabulist arch back in time. Redtimed is a web-based interactive mapping project using redlining geographies taken from the 1938 Home Ownership Loan Corporation (HOLC) security maps as a lens to view contemporary tax lot and unit data in Upper Manhattan. This project is an ongoing experiment into the various visualities of "slow violence". Working from Rob Nixon's concept I am interested in the offerings of design and media making in visualizing "violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous but instead incremental, whose calamitous repercussions are postponed for years or decades or centuries."  By understanding the racial and spatial histories of policy in this way we become better able to understand longstanding connections between displacement, inequity, race, and space. You can view the entire map here. 
geography  mapping  cartography  race  racism  redlining 
3 days ago
Digital Democracy: An Illustrated Rant — Ron Morrison
Digital Democracy is an illustrated comic investigating contemporary understandings of democracy within digital infrastructures. It argues for an understanding of infrastructure as both social and technical and highlights the work of community organizations in Redhook using technology to work together.
democracy  infrastructure  illustration  internet  mesh  networks 
3 days ago
Research Notes from a Black Urbanist | Participatory Urbanisms
Started in 1936 by a mailman named Victor H. Green in Harlem, The Green Book began as a modest effort to list establishments that African-Americans could patronize in New York City. It soon grew to include numerous other cities in the U.S. and became an essential companion for black people traveling across the country during the violently segregated Jim Crow era. Green hacked the U.S. Postal Service network to gain detailed information about safe places where black people could commune, including hotels, restaurants, and individual homes, thereby appropriating an already existing system for a new function or use. Postal employees became intermediaries, collecting information from residents of the neighborhoods on their delivery routes. Because the information was provided by sources embedded in communities, the ability to review and evaluate spaces for their safety (and alter the guide accordingly) could be done relatively quickly.

In the 1949 edition of the Negro Motorist Green Book there were 3,706 total facilities listed. Of these, 1,643 of the facilities were travel accommodations including hotels, motels, and tourist homes. The remaining listings consisted of beauty parlors, nightclubs, and various other social sites. The 1959 edition listed 1,749 travel accommodations.[1] A possible reason for this increase was that in the post-war era, more and more African-Americans owned automobiles and were traveling long distances for leisure and tourism. Eventually, the Green Book covered all 50 states and parts of Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada. At its height, the Book’s circulation reached two million copies in 1962.[2] Since 1945, the publication had been supported by Standard Oil. The Book hosted printed advertisements for the oil company and was distributed at Esso gas stations across the country, until its final edition in 1964, following the passage of the Civil Rights Act. This partnership with Standard Oil indicates the complicated intersections of capitalism and race at the time.
mapping  cartography  books  race  racism  travel  digital_archives 
3 days ago
Decoding Possibilities — Ron Morrison
Decoding Possibilities explores the dynamics between black feminist geographies and racialized space.  I am interested in how particular methods of rendering and conceptualizing racialized space obscures the messy entanglements of power, encounter, domination, and improvisation that constitutes what geographer Katherine McKittrick calls, "a black sense of place."  This experimental project meditates on redlining, as a popular narrative of post WWII economic segregation and a conceptual framework that is often engaged to explain contemporary patterns of poverty and racial segregation. This question considers black queer, trans, and feminist geographies alongside the 1935 HOLC maps to create a space of speculation on the contemporary impact of red-lining. "Decoding Possibilities," present maps that disrupt the racist view of the HOLC map and consider how black people created networks and infrastructure that both took advantage of the ways that red-lining enshrined economic and social devaluation of black neighborhoods. "Decoding Possibilties," also brings people off the page asking them to use our Racialized Space Reduction Lens (RSRL) to see beneath the map and spatialize their own memories, knowledge, experiences of these urban geographies. 
race  geography  segregation  mapping  cartography  invisibility  redlining 
3 days ago
Collaborative Close Reading | HASTAC
I describe one of my favorite in-class activities for teaching literature: collaborative close reading. Collaborative close reading involves breaking the class into small groups and passing short excerpts from a text around the room. Each group annotates the passage, making their marks and weaving a colorful web of observations atop the author’s words. While social annotation platforms like are all the rage, this activity kicks it old school, requiring no more technological savoir faire than managing a photocopy machine (which, admittedly, can be quite temperamental)....

To prepare for class, I select three-four of the richest, most complex, and thematically-significant paragraphs in whatever text (usually a novel) we are reading. It works best if the passages are 6-7 lines, no more than a paragraph. I scan or photograph these passages and blow them up so that each passage gets its own piece of paper. It’s important that only the passage and the page number are on the paper, none of the surrounding text, and that the printed passage leaves plenty of white room around the margins for students to write on. I number the passages (passage 1, passage 2, and passage 3) and print several copies of each. I also bring colorful highlighters and pens for annotation.

In class, students are placed into groups of three-five, with four being ideal. Often, I end up with six groups of four-ish students, who I then place into two clusters. Within each cluster, one group starts with passage 1, another starts with passage 2, and a third starts with passage 3. I ask them take out their handouts and course notes on what close reading is and how to do it....

I encourage students to write directly on the passage and remind them that no observation is too small. The initial step of close reading is always paying attention and observing what is going on in the passage: how language is being used to do things. It is only later, once we’ve generated as many observations as possible, that we start sorting through to determine which will become useful for analyzing the text (in relation to its genre, historical moment, or literary movements, depending on the focus of the course).

After each group has had 10-15 minutes to annotate their first passage, students pass the excerpt to the next group. The passages circulate around the room, and steps 1-7 begin again.
pedagogy  theory  close_reading  teaching 
3 days ago
Krista Jamieson on Twitter: "The Basics of Digital Archiving: A Thread. There will be many analogies to physical archives. It will not mention technologies/software at all. The tech details will be simplified (for your reading pleasure and based on my own
The Basics of Digital Archiving: A Thread. There will be many analogies to physical archives. It will not mention technologies/software at all. The tech details will be simplified (for your reading pleasure and based on my own knowledge).
archives  digital_archives  professional_practice  preservation  access 
3 days ago
A cartography of consciousness – researchers map where subjective feelings are located in the body – Research Digest
“How do you feel?” is a simple and commonly asked question that belies the complex nature of our conscious experiences. The feelings and emotions we experience daily consist of bodily sensations, often accompanied by some kind of thought process, yet we still know very little about exactly how these different aspects relate to one another, or about how such experiences are organised in the brain.  

Now, reporting their results in PNAS, a team of researchers in Finland, led by neuroscientist Lauri Nummenmaa of the University of Turku, has produced detailed maps of what they call the “human feeling space”, showing how each of dozens of these subjective feelings is associated with a unique set of bodily sensations.

In 2014, Nummenmaa and his colleagues published bodily maps of emotions showing the distinct bodily sensations associated with six basic emotions, such as anger, fear, happiness and sadness, and seven complex emotional states, such as anxiety, love, pride, and shame. ...

The researchers then pooled these data to create “bodily sensation maps” for each of the core feelings (see image, above). For example, the participants localised the feeling of anger to the head, chest, and hands; feelings of hunger and thirst to the stomach and throat, respectively; and the feelings of ‘being conscious’, imagining, and remembering entirely to the head.

The maps showed that, despite the similarities, each core feeling was associated with a unique set of bodily sensations. For example, participants reported perceiving anger mostly in the head and hands, anxiety mostly in the chest; and sadness in the chest and head. Although similar feelings produced similar body maps, the intensity and precise distribution of bodily sensations associated with each was unique.
mapping  affect  data_visualization  emotion  psychology  embodiment 
3 days ago
How mapmakers help indigenous people defend their lands
Maps are still used today by governments and large companies to stake a claim to lands and resources, often at the expense of indigenous populations, says Mac Chapin, an anthropologist and co-founder of the nonprofit Center for the Support of Native Lands. The group has been helping indigenous people map their territories since the 1980s. Indigenous groups have used those maps to seek protected status for their lands and to fight unwanted exploitation of their natural resources by oil, timber, and other companies.

One early project in the 1990s focused on the remote Darién region of Panama. Official maps of the area contained little detail—the persistent cloud cover and dense rainforest canopy were impenetrable to the satellite imagery and aerial photos that government cartographers used to make their maps. But to the three main indigenous groups in the region, Emberá, the Wounaan, and the Guna, the land was filled with landmarks... In collaboration with villagers and their leaders they carefully drew maps that included things of importance to their communities that wouldn’t typically appear on government maps, like hunting and fishing grounds, or places where firewood, fruit, or medicine were gathered. They often chose to leave out cemeteries and sacred sites, preferring to keep that knowledge within their communities. ...

Central America: The 2016 map reveals remarkable overlap between indigenous populations and the best-preserved forests and marine areas remaining in Central America, says Grethel Aguilar, director of the IUCN regional office in San Jose, Costa Rica. To Aguilar, that’s a clear sign that any strategy for preserving these natural environments must take indigenous groups into consideration. “If we do not work with indigenous people and protect their rights, it’s very unlikely the region will achieve its conservation targets,” she says....
mapping  cartography  indigenous 
3 days ago
A Map of Every Building in America - The New York Times
Most of the time, The New York Times asks you to read something. Today we are inviting you, simply, to look. On this page you will find maps showing almost every building in the United States.

Why did we make such a thing? We did it as an opportunity for you to connect with the country’s cities and explore them in detail. To find the familiar, and to discover the unfamiliar.

So … look. Every black speck on the map below is a building, reflecting the built legacy of the United States....

These images are drawn from a huge database that Microsoft released to the public this year. The company’s computer engineers trained a neural network to analyze satellite imagery and then to trace the shapes of buildings across the country. Such information has been available before in some places, but this is the first comprehensive database covering the entire United States.

In some cases, we have augmented the data with information from state and local governments that have collected their own.
cartography  mapping  architecture  buildings  geography  development 
4 days ago
SOCIALITY - ABOUT - Human Sociality is being Engineered and Patented
The conceptual artwork Sociality is composed of over twenty thousands patents for online platforms, interfaces, algorithms, and devices. The artist Paolo Cirio investigated public repositories of patents to document technologies that conceal the social control, manipulation, and surveillance at play on the Internet.
patents  archives  technology  control  surveillance  machine_reading 
5 days ago
Map of the Month: Displacement Alert Map 2.0 — CARTO Blog
Founded in 1974, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development is a coalition of community groups that aims to ensure affordable and equitable housing and neighborhoods for all New Yorkers. Created using CARTO.js and pulling in open data from multiple sources, they hope the latest version of their Displacement Alert Map (DAP Map) will equip organizers, decision makers, and others with a tool to visualize, understand, and hopefully take action to fight housing displacement.
mapping  cartography  gentrification  housing 
7 days ago
Maersk Invests in Freight-Booking Startup Loadsmart - WSJ
A.P. Moeller-Maersk AMKBY -3.07% A/S is investing in U.S. freight-booking startup Loadsmart Inc. as the container shipping giant works to extend its services beyond maritime transportation.

Maersk’s venture investment arm is leading a $21.6 million Series A funding round for Loadsmart, together with Connor Capital SB and Chromo Invest. Maersk said its stake in the New York-based company provides “huge potential” for integrating its ocean-shipping services with Loadsmart’s trucking technology.

The startup, which focuses on booking full-truckload shipments for such shippers as Daimler AG , Anheuser-Busch InBev SA and Electrolux AB, says it will use the funds primarily to reach new customers.
logistics  software  infrastructure 
7 days ago
Geocinema’ considers planetary-scale sensory networks —cell phones, surveillance cameras, satellites, geosensors— as a vastly distributed cinematic apparatus: a camera. Sensing fragments of the earth each signal and transfer runs through their own sets of scales and temporalities while producing terabytes of raw data. Here, the representation of the earth is the sum of a decentralized editing process with its image anything but whole.
sensing  machine_vision  planetary_scale  surveillance  visualization  environment  geology  astronomy  infrastructure  logistics 
10 days ago
“The Most Dangerous Game” - Artforum International
LIBRARIES ARE AN ENDANGERED SPECIES. An early sign of their looming obsolescence was their museumification during the 1960s in the assorted reading rooms of Conceptual art. Since then, the library has become an art medium in its own right, from Andrea Fraser’s insubordinate Information Room, 1998—for which the books of the Kunsthalle Bern were reshelved with their spines to the wall—to Clegg & Guttman’s reclamation of the literary public sphere in Open Public Library, 1991, a neighborhood installation of free, open-air community bookshelves. More recently, Alfredo Jaar’s Marx Lounge, 2010, presented contemporary rereadings of Marx’s ideas in response to the financial crisis, and the touring exhibition “The Martha Rosler Library” reconsidered the Benjaminian figure of the book collector.

A more interesting library-as-exhibition was presented this spring at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. With its extensive bibliographic display, the excellent “Neolithic Childhood. Art in a False Present, c. 1930,” curated by Anselm Franke and Tom Holert, mapped the multiple foundational crises of modernity from the 1920s through the 1940s. The show functioned as a Warburgian memory atlas; even the gallery handout, consisting of an annotated bibliography, provided enough material for a myriad of enterprising dissertations, if not a colossal Borgesian scriptorium. But with the books locked in vitrines, this presentation did not resolve the evident question of how to activate a reading collection within a gallery. This challenge will need to be revisited in HKW’s next show in this vein, “The Most Dangerous Game,” which will revive an unrealized project of Guy Debord and Asger Jorn’s, La Bibliothèque situationniste de Silkeborg, which was first formulated in 1960 as a “yardstick of the cultural avant-garde.” Designed to attract “specialists” from across the globe, La Bibliothèque might be more aptly described as a center of acculturation, suggesting that all avant-garde routes lead to Silkeborg, the provincial Danish town where Jorn spent his youth and to which he would eventually bequeath his archive, including a vast library containing books with dense notes scribbled on nearly every page. It’s an odd proposal—who would have thought the avant-garde was in the business of library science?—though of course the printing and selling of publications was always part of its program.
libraries  library_art 
10 days ago
Qiu Zhijie: 'I plan to map the world' - CNN Style
For Beijing-based artist Qiu Zhijie, maps are a way to "organize chaos" -- sometimes logically and, in other instances, playfully. His creations are less about the physical geography of a space than the relationships of complex, often intangible subjects.
Over a period of months, Qiu will research topics such as fate, politics, religion and even mythical animals, meticulously positioning concepts in relation to one another using sketches and mind-mapping software. Elements of traditional maps, like roads, tunnels, railways, rivers and peaks, also feature, representing the connections between different ideas.
mapping  cartography  epistemology  china 
10 days ago
FCC Moves to Free Up More Airwaves - WSJ
Federal regulators are proposing to free up a broad swath of underused airwaves for Wi-Fi and broadband, as part of their efforts to deploy next-generation 5G wireless technology around the U.S., officials said.

The move will open up airwaves now used by a range of industries including communications companies, utilities and broadcasters for unlicensed uses such as Wi-Fi, to help alleviate the growing wireless traffic crunch.

The proposed changes are a part of the federal government’s broader plan to foster more shared uses of the nation’s increasingly crowded airwaves.

The proposal—to be voted on by the Federal Communications Commission later this month—would encourage more unlicensed radio traffic, easing the burden on licensed spectrum traditionally used by big carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., an FCC official said.

The move would improve download speeds for the next generation of Wi-Fi devices and improve conditions for wireless internet-service providers. Their service, often called “fixed wireless,” can provide broadband access to an area’s homes and businesses through radio waves rather than cables. It is viewed as a potential solution for hard-to-serve rural areas that often lack sufficient broadband access.
telecommunications  infrastructure  5G 
15 days ago
To Boost 5G, Keep the Industry Free - WSJ
Europe and Asia are poised to surge past the U.S. when it comes to mobile internet innovation. At a White House summit Friday on next-generation mobile broadband, or “5G,” industry luminaries and government leaders will gather to discuss how America can retain its dominance in this vital economic arena. The focus should be giving private industry the freedom to innovate, invest and experiment.

Congress, local authorities, antitrust officials and the Federal Communications Commission must resist the urge to micromanage the next-gen wireless market. In January the National Security Council proposed a nationalized 5G network. This is precisely the wrong approach. Overregulation would crush next-gen wireless in its cradle.

Europe and Asia are still smarting over the U.S. having beaten them to the 4G finish line. By 2016, 4G added almost $100 billion annually to American economic output and created millions of wireless-related jobs. It also powered the rise of the “app economy” because tools like Uber, Airbnb, Netflix and Waze require superfast mobile speeds to work. ...

The advent of 5G will allow entrepreneurs to create new technologies and products that we don’t even know we need yet. Ten years ago most consumers didn’t have a smartphone; now most can’t live without them. All of this happened thanks to 4G. With 5G, mobile speeds could be 100 times as fast. This could enable driverless cars to avoid accidents, transform medicine through implanted medical devices, and produce smarter cities and energy grids through the emerging Internet of Things. Countries that build their 5G networks first will be in a better position to experiment with and deploy tomorrow’s technologies. ...

Today the FCC is helping speed 5G deployment by modernizing regulations. Last December it removed utility-style regulations placed on wireless broadband by the Obama administration. On Sept. 26, it pre-empted localities from charging outrageous fees for 5G deployment. It is also gearing up to auction more spectrum in November to help connect the Internet of Things. Tax reform and the Trump administration’s broader deregulatory agenda have also created a more business-friendly environment.
infrastructure  5G  telecommunications 
16 days ago
Department of English
This talk addresses the vibrant, transmedia bookwork of Edward Benlowes (1603-1676). A wealthy gentleman educated at Cambridge, Benlowes lived and worked at Brent Hall in Finchingfield, a small village in Essex, England. For most of his life, he was joined there by his close companion and domestic secretary Jan Schoren, a Dutch printer whom he had met while traveling abroad. Together, they set up a library of lavishly illustrated books and an atelier of printing technologies, including tools to stamp bookbindings and a rolling press for making intaglio plates. From this domestic printshop, they collaborated on a series of boutique publications and, in the process, cultivated a homosocial network of poets, printers, engravers, and composers. They left florid Latin inscriptions on flyleaves for friends, set books to music, pressed elaborate symbols of patronage onto blank pages of Phineas Fletcher’s work, produced the seventeenth-century’s most popular book of emblems with Francis Quarles, and, as their world crashed into civil war, tucked fragments of old prints into the gathered folds of Benlowes’ poetic masterpiece Theophila (1652).

In this talk, I will share what I have learned about what we might call Benlowes’ poetics of the codex while also demonstrating some of the digital tools and methods I have used to better understand his queer collaborations. These include social networks analysis and a new platform, designed with web engineer Liza Daly, for building web-based “tours” of an unusual book like Theophila. Motivating this work are big-picture questions, among them: How can multimedia publishing and digital editing make visible the creative labors of seemingly idiosyncratic or marginalized figures like Benlowes? And how can data help us place their work within broader cultures of reading and writing?
reading  book_history  textual_form  material_texts 
16 days ago
About - Saadia Mirza
I am an architecture and media theorist based between Chicago and Islamabad. An architect by background, I am now currently affiliated with the PhD program in Anthropology at the University of Chicago as a doctoral candidate. My interests and research are situated at the intersection of landscape studies, visual knowledge-making, geography, and the history of science. I am partial to topics involving aesthetics and geopolitics. I work better with images than with text, and use video and new media as a way of investigating representations of landscapes and geographical regions of strategic importance. My past and current research projects include methods such as filmmaking, virtual reality, and mapping. I have recently been stationed as an academic guest at ETH Zürich’s History of Technology research group, after completing a fellowship in Art, Science and Business at Akademie Schloss Solitude.
cartography  remote_sensing  map_art  machine_vision  landscape 
20 days ago
Reentry: Start Here | Urban Omnibus
ER: The vision of a library is a very open system, where people can have free access to information, technology, and books. But if we’re looking at inequality and true inclusion, sometimes the services have to change to better fit the population. It’s about designing something that is directly responding to a community need.
When we started, there were three main buckets of Outreach Services, that each focused on particular populations. I was the Coordinator of Immigrant Services; we focused on creating meaningful access to all library services for people who have limited English proficiency, and we engaged with communities and partners to develop programming that connected people to some services that don’t traditionally happen in a library. With the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, we placed lawyers in libraries to provide free immigration legal services. That’s where BPL worked with DESIS before.

Another bucket was Transitional Services, which was focused on people experiencing homelessness and people touched by the justice system. Homelessness is a major issue in New York City, and a lot of people who come into the libraries are living in shelters, or may be street homeless. They come because it’s a safe space, where nobody will bother them and they can sit and read. So we partnered with Breaking Ground to place social workers in the libraries. The last part of Outreach Services is Services for Older Adults.

We’re in the middle of a shift toward looking at libraries as embedded in communities, as being part of the ecosystem. In the last couple years, throughout the profession, there’s been more of an emphasis on looking at diversity, equity, and the ways that libraries can play a role in dismantling oppression. That opens a space for us to be more explicit about what we’re trying to do. Libraries are one of the foundational institutions of a democracy. The BPL believes that libraries should be community leaders and conveners, so our Strategic Plan emphasizes very purposeful community engagement....

LP: The typical tools of service design are journey maps and service blueprints, which are essentially timelines enriched with qualitative data about users, staff, and the organization. The purpose is to understand what happens in a service, what causal relationships exist between people and the system, what pain points exist, and how the processes can be improved.
Part of our theory of work is to acknowledge that there are some blind spots in this process. It’s a humble approach to design. We insert ourselves as a group of researchers to facilitate the exchange of knowledge between participants, to bridge information gaps and find ways of sharing needed information more effectively, but we are newcomers in this space. We have had some experience working with reentry services in the past, but the families and the libraries and the non-profits are the experts. We’re trying to unearth the knowledge that already exists in this community, and to facilitate the direction that the community as a whole wants to move forward.

Of course it’s never a linear thing; we’re not only trying to map out things mechanically but trying to understand culturally, socially, economically, everything about where a given participant is coming from. They’re people, so things are kind of messy and complex. Enter ethnography.

John Bruce (JB): I’ll be conducting the fieldwork for this project with filmmaker Pawel Wojtasik. We’ll be spending time with stakeholders, forming relationships with them and recording video and audio as they interact with systems of incarceration and reentry.
Ethnographic practices come out of anthropology, but unlike typical social science approaches, design ethnography allows for open-ended, immersive, and collaborative experiences with interlocutors. We’re not going into the field with a strict agenda, a set of interview questions, or a hypothesis that we’re asked to prove or disprove. It’s not like, “OK, today we have 90 minutes and we’re going to follow somebody who goes through the system or through the process of utilizing services.” That becomes stilted quickly. But rather we’re allowing for behaviors, motivations, needs, desires, patterns, and propensities to emerge and evolve as these issues bubble up...

As part of Outreach Services’ support to the branches that are running TeleStory, we go to the branches and speak with the staff about what patrons say they need. For instance, at the Bedford branch, which is really close to the Atlantic Armory where a lot of folks coming out of the criminal justice system find transitional shelter, the branch staff get all sorts of really specific reentry questions. It’s one of the biggest shelters in the city, and a lot of people come in from that shelter during the day to use the library....

One idea that’s been very resonant for a lot of the branch staff is this idea of having reentry navigators: people who have firsthand experience going through the criminal justice system who would be available at set hours at the library. So instead of saying, “I don’t know how to help you,” staff can say, “We have a reentry navigator who’s here on Tuesday, would you like to reserve a slot then?”
ER: It also involves creating different kinds of spaces. One of the questions we’ve been asking ourselves is, what can the physical space in the branch do to create a psychologically welcoming environment for people? There is a traditional model of having a desk that someone goes to. In some ways that promotes access, because it’s something people know to expect at the library. And anybody could go up and ask a question; it’s not like, “If you have this problem, go over to that room.”
With the immigrant population we have “New American Corners” which are a physical space. But we’re not going to have the “Formerly Incarcerated Corner.” It requires a really different approach. We got an interesting idea from our friends over at the Mayor’s office. What was the name they came up with?

MC: The Family Help Desk.
libraries  social_infrastructure  prison  design_methods  service_design 
20 days ago
The Newberry | Mapping Movement
American “Maps of movement” embrace all manner of cartography that enabled or illuminates the historical movements of human beings, goods, and other mappable phenomena across, around, and from the Americas. They are powerful tools for the studying the history of geographical mobility and routemaking as well as economic, social, cultural, intellectual, and political life. From sea charts used by maritime explorers to road maps used by motorists to visit national parks, maps of movement document the detail and pattern of routes; the pace and character of various modes of travel; the imprint of transportation and routes of travel on settlement and migratory patterns; the role of commercial marketing and civic boosterism in geographical movement; and the role mapping and geographical study have played in understanding the earth's surface. American maps of movement have both enabled mobility and shaped conceptions of American landscapes and their possibilities.
mapping  cartography  movement 
22 days ago
How to Be a Generous Professor in Precarious Times - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Going further, generosity grows in the plentitude of microscopic activities we do in everyday academic life:

Agreeing to read a paper.
Having tea with a student in distress.
Steering a committee discussion in a different, more positive way.
Buying a coffee or lunch for a graduate student or an adjunct faculty member attending a conference.
Finding ways to include and pay adjuncts for service work.
What we cherish about academe is that individuals can be radical unto themselves — that academe still offers some agency through which we can highlight an injustice, bring it to attention, and formulate strategies for its alleviation. These acts of generosity offer their own expression of academic freedom....

How can each of us be generous in precarious times?

Remember that no one person is an entire movement, but one person can begin a movement.
Refuse to perpetuate the "normal" abuses of the past. There is no excuse for cruelty in public or in private. Don’t punch down.
Never. Abandon. Anyone. Keep writing the letters of recommendation. Keep trying to bring more full-time, tenure-track faculty members into the fold. If we are safely in the lifeboat, we have a moral obligation to pull everyone out of the water.
Look for ways that adjunct instructors can be involved in the life of departments and institutions, and consistently demand that they be paid for their time and work.
Work with contingent faculty members to see what new solidarities can be created to keep our profession alive.
See the radicalism of generosity as a way of keeping our allies — and ourselves — alive in precarious times.
Build generosity into practice. Bring others into it — like that recalcitrant colleague down the hall. Approach your whole department, or your dean. Design assignments and meetings that encourage students and colleagues to be generous toward each other.
academia  mentoring  generosity 
23 days ago
#decoding, Session 1, Unsettling - 1:12
Power inscribes order on space through codes. Bureaucratic codes measure and normalize dynamic ecologies and constitute the substrate of any infrastructural system, organization, and praxis. They striate space and punctuate time to increase efficiency, maximize profit, reduce risk, and maintain order in cultural, social, economic, and political spheres. #decoding gauges the agency of spatial practices in relation to the challenges and capacities prompted by codes and protocols. Organized by students in the Doctor of Design Studies program, this conference investigates the impact of codes, concerned with mapping of environments, demarcation of legal territories, operational protocols of logistics and risk management, and codes of building and subtraction. By exposing the spatial and socio-cultural implications of micro-politics embedded in the hidden codes and protocols, we speculate about the potential agency of design practices mediating between processes of normalization, and the live, complex, and unpredictable ecologies of human habitation.
satellite_imagery  aerial_photography  classification  machine_vision 
23 days ago
Free for All: Inside the Public Library Documentary & New Media ProjectA documentary film about America's public libraries
From award-winning filmmakers comes a multi-platform project about America’s most beloved institution, where doors are open to all and everything is free.
libraries  film 
26 days ago
Reconstituting ‘dwelling’ for the landless – Traders Talk
This project is the first part of a long-term research question to explore the notion of ‘dwelling’ from the hunter-gatherer perspective, towards challenging definitions of what ‘development’, as a mutation of modernity, can mean and often does. This research hopes to destabilize and disempower such broad, totalizing definitions that drive practices of ‘development’ and to redefine and reconstitute these terms in a manner in which non-western communities concerns are heard.

This project works with displaced hunter-gather communities and human rights groups between Rwanda and Uganda.

The first part of this research (the reconstituting) takes the basis of what is called ‘participatory rural appraisal’; a group action where sites of value in the surrounding area are recalled through memory, mapped and discussed. The map in this case takes the form of a large-scale 3d model of communities’ former ancestral lands made on site from parts constructed and transported from the UK.....

this cultural mapping connects and overlaps with on-going international land-advocacy projects for hunter-gatherers that make legal claims to land lost as a consequence of modernization and ‘development’.
indigenous_mapping  extraction 
26 days ago
Scientific Autonomy, Public Accountability, and the Rise of “Peer Review” in the Cold War United States | Isis: Vol 109, No 3
In the 1970s, in the wake of a series of attacks on scientific funding, American scientists faced a dilemma: there was increasing pressure for science to be accountable to those who funded it, but scientists wanted to ensure their continuing influence over funding decisions. Scientists and their supporters cast expert refereeing—or “peer review,” as it was increasingly called—as the crucial process that ensured the credibility of science as a whole.
academic  publishing  peer_review  epistemology  credibility 
26 days ago
At the Flip of a Switch
With all these uses, the switch generated a visual space whose merit was measured best by the gap between its effortless operation and its broad scope of effect. Its symbolic power rested on a disproportion: the minimum haptic gesture sparked the maximum optical transformation.... The light switch is part of a long history of control mechanisms that regulate an otherwise continuous flow. In this sense it is antique in conception, akin to the dams or sluices that control the movement of water. ...

The English term “switch” derives from a riding switch, a long stick used to indicate to a horse the rider’s interest in greater speed, essentially to convey a rider’s will wordlessly and convincingly. Railway operators picked up the term in the 1820s to designate the set of rails used to shunt trains from one track to another; the lever an operator pulled to effect the shift was called a “switch-rod.” More generally, the switch was a means to change the configuration of a track or circuit, which facilitated its application to electrical circuits. Later in the 19th century, the term was used to describe a telegraph key; with its then unprecedented speed of transmission — as if thought itself leapt across continents — the switch-activated telegraph enabled what seemed nothing less than a compression of time and a collapse of space. By the end of the century, “switch” denoted a manipu­latable tool used to regulate potentialities within a larger current of objects or forces, most notably electricity. 8

Earlier forms of lighting were not so much switched on as they were prepared for illumination. ...

The switch was more than a practical and convenient means of turning lights on and off. In the early days of electrification it was also an assurance that electricity — a potentially lethal force long familiar only as lightning — could easily be controlled. The physics of electricity lay outside the grasp of the public, which recoiled at descriptions of accidental electrocutions, trembled at the thought of planned electrocutions, or read expert testimony regarding the electri­cal industry’s intensification of the natural atmospheric charge, which, some believed, could accumulate and one day explode. Court cases involving electri­cal mishaps helped generate public support to regulate the industry. ...

The light switch, to put it another way, is a modern prosthetic, as much a material extension of the will to see as an instrument of control. As electricity spread through cities in the early 20th century, the tiny drama of homeowners switching their lights on and off rehearsed and thereby reinstated a sense of agency otherwise diminished by the infiltration into daily life of poorly understood power net­works which required specialized trades to maintain. The switch did not merely turn lights on and off. It also brought about a simple but impressive new reality: for the first time in history, ordinary people could alter the visual appearance of their living quarters at will and instantly. From there followed a host of other possibilities....

Buttons lightly pressed turned into a leitmotif of the exposition, as switching on the lights became a nightly entertainment. Charles Edward Bolton, a turn-of-the-century travel writer, recounted the crowds that gathered nightly to witness “the silent touch of an unseen hand” that illuminated the bulb-spangled Edison Tower and a host of other devices... Switches became a staple of political performances. Lighting Christmas trees from afar was an annual favorite... The most powerful button Roosevelt pressed was the one that sparked the turbines of Boulder Dam into action, in 1936. ...

As a national grid began to take shape in the 1920s and ’30s, electricity was seen by many as a binding force. It was possible then to imagine national cohesion as at least partly an effect of electricity. Certainly Rural Electrification suggested as much, with its goal of uniting country and city through the modern amenity of electrical power, regardless of geography. ...

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pressing the button was rou­tinely presented, if not experienced, as a kind of magic. By the slightest of gestures a grand intention was realized, immediately and heedless of distance. 43 By extension, the space generated by the switch shared these properties; its appear­ance brought with it a penumbra of magical traits. ...

the switch typifies the “device paradigm,” an idea introduced in 1984 by the philosopher of modern technology, Albert Borg­mann. The phrase describes a common trait of modern technology: the way in which a par­ticular configuration of components enables a productive mechanism to be eclipsed by the commodity it delivers. Borgmann saw social relations in modern society as structured by the pairing of productive apparatus and a delivered commodity in such a way that consumption appears to be unmediated. Pipes and ducts, for example, separate the combustion of fuel from the resultant heat: they convey warmth while concealing the means of making it... At first glance, the switch seems to contradict the device paradigm since it refocused attention on the mechanisms of the delivery system. But in experiential terms, the switch exemplified the ease with which vast amounts of labor, incalculable stores of energy, and sprawling networks could be snapped into service at a moment’s notice. The switch not only controlled the flow of electricity, it represented that control. ..

employed to reinforce long-stand­ing prejudices about female technological incompetence... Confidence regarding the switch’s opera­tion allowed individuals to accept the infiltration of technological systems into the built environment and agree to the asymmetry between operating them and understanding them. The switch made unknowing routine.... Yet the switch also imparted a feeling of agency to its users. It brought the workings of an otherwise hidden infrastructure pulsing with mysteri­ous and potentially deadly energy back into the jurisdiction of human volition, making fingers a crucial element of electric light’s symbolic system. ...

The technological mundane may be prosaic but it is far from inert. Its ordinariness is central to its cultural power. No further proof is required than the sense of powerlessness, sometimes panic, we experience when we need to light a room but cannot find the switch. The transition from dark to light becomes unbridgeable, and the feeling can be disquieting.
light  switch  buttons  interfaces  spectacle 
28 days ago
Indigenous Place Names and Cultural Property – The Map Room
I’ve mentioned Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canada, a wall map of Canadian place names in indigenous languages, before. I’ve since received a review copy and have been able to examine it in some detail. One thing that struck me is the following statement, which appears on the map.

The place names in this map are the intellectual and cultural property of the First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities on whose territories they are located. The names may not be mapped, copied, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the Nations, communities, and organizations who are their caretakers.
cartography  mapping  indigenous  intellectual_property  naming 
29 days ago
Anatomy of an AI System
When a human engages with an Echo, or another voice-enabled AI device, they are acting as much more than just an end-product consumer. It is difficult to place the human user of an AI system into a single category: rather, they deserve to be considered as a hybrid case. Just as the Greek chimera was a mythological animal that was part lion, goat, snake and monster, the Echo user is simultaneously a consumer, a resource, a worker, and a product. This multiple identity recurs for human users in many technological systems. In the specific case of the Amazon Echo, the user has purchased a consumer device for which they receive a set of convenient affordances. But they are also a resource, as their voice commands are collected, analyzed and retained for the purposes of building an ever-larger corpus of human voices and instructions. And they provide labor, as they continually perform the valuable service of contributing feedback mechanisms regarding the accuracy, usefulness, and overall quality of Alexa’s replies. They are, in essence, helping to train the neural networks within Amazon’s infrastructural stack....

At this moment in the 21st century, we see a new form of extractivism that is well underway: one that reaches into the furthest corners of the biosphere and the deepest layers of human cognitive and affective being. Many of the assumptions about human life made by machine learning systems are narrow, normative and laden with error. Yet they are inscribing and building those assumptions into a new world, and will increasingly play a role in how opportunities, wealth, and knowledge are distributed.

The stack that is required to interact with an Amazon Echo goes well beyond the multi-layered ‘technical stack’ of data modeling, hardware, servers and networks. The full stack reaches much further into capital, labor and nature, and demands an enormous amount of each. The true costs of these systems – social, environmental, economic, and political – remain hidden and may stay that way for some time.
artificial_intelligence  supply_chain  extraction  geology  labor  teaching 
29 days ago
Small is Beautiful? Project
The Small is Beautiful? project aims to investigate the material cultures associated with the making and mending of everyday objects in the South West of England. The research is funded through a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Three linked objectives frame the project: (1) the documentation of workplaces; (2) the exploration of alternative approaches to visual-material research; and (3) dialogue within communities about everyday aesthetics, cultural value, and social change. This blog acts as a place where relevant material can be shared and discussed between the project coordinators and a wider audience.
repair  maintenance 
4 weeks ago
Dayanita Singh: File Museum
Ever since she left photojournalism behind, Dayanita Singh has wandered India, digging under the stereotype of a bustling, teeming nation to catalog absence. Few humans intrude into her luminous sodium nightscapes or deserted industrial sites, but in her new photographic installation File Museum, on view at Frith Street Gallery, London, until January 26, the sense of emptiness is more acute than ever. Archives are her subject. Not the digital-data sort growing in India’s gleaming technological hubs, but the crumbling, cavernous kind—windowless subterranean interiors crammed full of old paper.

Most of the 140 photographs on display show similar scenes: functional but rusty shelving units channel our vision to the point where darkness subsumes them, or where more shelves block our gaze. Files, sacks, trunks, and boxes contest for space. Cupboard doors are forced open by their contents. Shelves lean like dominoes under their loads. Empty chairs (the subject of an earlier series of Singh’s) come under siege from the piles surrounding them. Small patches of wall are only occasionally visible. At times, the floor is taken over with paper towers.
filing  archives  archive_art  India  photography 
4 weeks ago
We Already Are – Sustainable Futures – Medium
We must refuse the rules of inclusion, and vocabularies of recognition and legitimacy that are meant to contain our histories. We should not echo articulations that we do not already exist in the archive. We are not marginal or other to the archive, but integral to it. We may be silenced or made invisible, but we have always been present.

Rather than set out to find or discover what has been lost, or made illegible to forms of whiteness, let us begin with the understanding that we have always been here — becoming.

That what, to some, are unofficial or oppositional archives hold the contour of our lived realities, our struggles to exist in landscapes only made possible by our premature death....

We should do our best to benefit and learn from the accumulated wisdom of the existing profession, but also refuse attempts at incorporation which will only further alienate our communities from themselves.
community_archives  archives 
5 weeks ago
Galiwin'ku library closes book on the Dewey Decimal System to prioritise Yolngu culture - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
To many bookworms, the organisation of books in a library might seem like a trivial fact of little to no consequence.

But in the small East Arnhem Land community of Galiwin'ku, the re-organisation of library books according to local Indigenous concepts has been hailed as a quiet revolution....

It has a small collection of non-fiction, but employees believed its organisation based on the Dewey Decimal System may have been creating more work than it was worth.

"It never seemed to make sense when I was visiting here," said Carol Stableford, who looks after libraries run by the East Arnhem Regional Council....

"When I talked to the community library officers, they explained to me that the concepts of fiction and non-fiction were largely absent in their community's culture," she said.

Developed by the Northern Territory Library and East Arnhem Regional Council, in consultation with the local community, the culturally-sensitive method is expected to promote reading and improve people's connection to their local library.

It effectively closes the book on the Dewey Decimal System — a globally-used library classification system that groups reference books according to their relation to a broader subject, such as technology....

The new program is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia.

The books have been organised according to key cultural aspects of Yolngu life and are categorised in language.
libraries  classification  organization  indigenous  Dewey 
5 weeks ago
Traces of a Revolution: In Search of the Palestinian Film Archive: Ingenta Connect
This paper analyzes two documentaries that examine the legacy of the Palestinian Film Unit: Azza El-Hassan’s Kings and Extras: Digging for a Palestinian Image (2004) and Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory by MohanadYaqubi (2015). Relying on recently found footage as well as interviews and personal accounts, the documentaries recount the importance of the collective’s archive and the impact it had on creating the image of the revolutionary Palestinian. I argue that rather than dwelling on the loss of a Palestinian image, the filmmakers move beyond the impulse to physically locate the archive, providing sites of regeneration that allow alternative narratives to emerge instead. Through the filmmakers’ dialectic disruption of their own attempt to restore the archive, both films pose highly complex questions about the meaning ofthe photographic image and its potential in effecting social or political change.
archives  films  palestine 
5 weeks ago
Maps are a serious fake news threat, and bots may be making them now
A new analysis of “viral maps” published in Cartography and Geographic Information Science examines the more than 500 maps that sprang from Silver’s original one, using Google’s Cloud Vision image analysis platform. The study also points out maps that were created with the pure purpose of misinforming. One egregious example, which claimed to represent an electoral map if only taxpayers voted, was simply a retitled map of something else entirely.
According to Anthony Robinson, an assistant professor of geography at Penn State University who conducted the study, maps are a particularly ripe format for spreading misinformation on the internet because we’re so used to trusting them as fact....

Where there’s misinformation, there’s usually bots involved. Robinson thinks that right now, maps like the one claiming to show what it might look like if only taxpayers voted are likely being disseminated and amplified using bots....

But it may be only a matter of time before bots begin to generate maps automatically. The technology exists: Robinson points to the increasing prevalence of auto-generated video called deepfakes...

While Robinson thinks media literacy is a laudable goal, he doesn’t believe it’s practical. Instead, he’s hoping to use machine learning image detection algorithms like those from Google Cloud Vision to trace the provenance of maps and how they spread online. Because algorithms have the capability to find both exact and partial images matches, they could potentially show users the lineage of a map’s journey through cyberspace.
mapping  cartography  misinformation  epistemology  bots 
5 weeks ago
What's Behind the Backlash Over Sidewalk Labs' Smart City? - CityLab
But there has been no guarantee about who would own the data at the core of its proposal—much of which would ostensibly be gathered in public space. Also unresolved is the question of whether this data could be sold. With little transparency about what that means from the company or its partner, some Torontonians are wondering what Waterfront Toronto—and by extension, the public—is giving away.

After all, Sidewalk Labs is a sister company of Google, the world’s largest search engine and digital advertising company. Monetizing the data that users hand over is the business model that has propelled Google to its status as an IT giant, capable of tracking and guiding society’s desires, decisions, and movements—highly valuable capabilities marketers want, too.

But in Quayside’s case, it’s not clear how, or who, would pay for Sidewalk Labs’ ambitious building plans. Some observers surmise that selling data is likely part of the financing mix.
google  sidewalk_labs  toronto  urban_planning  smart_cities 
5 weeks ago
The 5G Race: China and U.S. Battle to Control World’s Fastest Wireless Internet - WSJ
The early waves of mobile communications were largely driven by American and European companies. As the next era of 5G approaches, promising to again transform the way people use the internet, a battle is on to determine whether the U.S. or China will dominate.

Equipment makers and telecom operators in both countries are rushing to test and roll out the next generation of wireless networks, which will be as much as 100 times faster than the current 4G standard. Governments are involved as well—with China making the bigger push.

The new networks are expected to enable the steering of driverless cars and doctors to perform complex surgeries remotely. They could power connected appliances in the so-called Internet of Things, and virtual and augmented reality. Towers would beam high-speed internet to devices, reducing reliance on cables and Wi-Fi....

While the economics of 5G are still being worked out, boosters say the potential payoffs are immense. Companies that own patents stand to make billions of dollars in royalties. Countries with the largest and most reliable networks will have a head start in developing the technologies enabled by faster speeds. The dominant equipment suppliers could give national intelligence agencies and militaries an advantage in spying on or disrupting rival countries’ networks.

“As we face the future, we know deep down that the birth of 5G standards represents a new beginning,” Huawei’s chairman, Eric Xu, told the audience at the company event....

In the U.S., where the government typically avoids mandating and coordinating efforts by the private sector, much of the experimentation has been led by companies such as AT&T Inc., Verizon, Samsung Electronics Co. and Nokia. Last week, tech companies including Intel Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. argued in comments filed to the U.S. Trade Representative that proposed tariffs would raise the cost of routers, switches and other goods, slowing development of 5G.

Three of the major carriers plan to roll out 5G service in select cities later this year, though most mobile devices compatible with the new network won’t be ready until early 2019.
infrastructure  telecommunications  5G 
5 weeks ago
🍂 mmm cofy ☕️🍂 on Twitter: "This is Skype White. It’s the white noise that Skype inserts into every side of every call, just loud enough that the listener knows that the line is still connected. It’s a repeating pattern. (Visualized in iZoto
This is Skype White. It’s the white noise that Skype inserts into every side of every call, just loud enough that the listener knows that the line is still connected. It’s a repeating pattern. (Visualized in iZotope RX)
sound_design  noise 
5 weeks ago
Claire Bishop on PALACE IN PLUNDERLAND - Artforum International
“Prelude to The Shed” was exactly the kind of hybrid performance-space-as-exhibition that von Hantelmann takes as the starting point in her essay. Some elements of the program were continuous, some events were held at given times, with everything merging in a flux of different genres of dance, performance, contemporary art, and popular culture. On the afternoon I attended, the program scrolled smoothly through four or five elements within thirty minutes. While these transitions were well done, the total impression was less of a new ritual space than of quality decoration for an area where a cozy pied-à-terre will set you back $12 million. In this context, the Price trolleys offered the memory of participatory architecture in the register of defanged ancient history, rather than as a way to put critical pressure on actual real estate. A Schema for a School is one thing; the more radical proposition would be a cultural institution that includes within its architecture crucial services like a public school, day care, or a branch of the New York Public Library....

The construction of yet another enormous venue for culture feels like the harbinger of a horrible new world in which all public services are drained of resources but every High Net Worth Individual can evade taxes by pouring a fraction of their profits into a cultural project that enhances their social status. ...

It’s the familiar jargon of POPS—privately owned public spaces. The space might ostensibly be open to all, but participation is invitation-only. One can only imagine the security response if a group of street dancers descended on the Shed’s plaza unannounced and a crowd of spectators grew around them....

The sheer scale of the Shed—both physical and financial—means that the problem of its social role is accordingly magnified, even though it’s no singular aberration, but the new normal. The same forces that birthed this monster (supply-side predation, accelerated gentrification, speculative construction) have of course also spurred expansion fever and the development of hybrid programming at other venues in the city—and across the whole country....

New York doesn’t need another curated cultural venue. We need to reclaim public assembly.
hudson_yards  museums  cultural_heritage  public_space 
5 weeks ago
Prototyping Pasts and Futures
An offering in the Technology and Society minor at UVic, this course is about the entanglement of Western technologies with society and culture. We'll examine some histories of these entanglements, discuss their effects today, and also speculate about their trajectories. One important question will persist throughout the term: How can and should we intervene in technologies as practices? Rather than treating technologies as tools we use or objects we examine from the outside, we'll prototype with and through them as modes of inquiry. You'll turn patents into 3-D forms, compose and implement use scenarios, "datify" old tech, and imagine a device you want to see in the world. You'll document your research and development process along the way, reflect on what you learned, present your prototypes and findings, and also build a vocabulary of keywords for technology and society. I will not assume that you're familiar with fields such as science and technology studies, media studies, critical design, or experimental art, and the prototyping exercises will rely on low-tech approaches. Technical competency required: know how to send an email.
syllabus  media_history  teaching  sts  making  prototypes 
5 weeks ago
Institutionalizing Analytic Excellence | Data-Smart City Solutions
This chapter explores the inception and operating model of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA)—a young government unit whose story is fraught with identity crisis, having been variously termed New York City’s “civic intelligence center” and City Hall’s “skunk works,” said to have been staffed by the “Mayor’s Geek Squad” or, alternatively, a team of “data therapists.”1 These varying epithets reflect changes in leadership, staff makeup, and institutional design in the eight years since its inception. What persists throughout these changes, however, is that MODA is foundationally an in-house consultancy helping city agencies use data and analytical techniques to improve how they deliver on their missions. By combining a shared service model for public-sector analytics with a broad data stewardship mandate, MODA represents a structural innovation in the way municipal government uses data analytics to produce public value.
big_data  smart_cities  methodology 
5 weeks ago
Are New York’s Free LinkNYC Internet Kiosks Tracking Your Movements?
According to Meyers, the “LinkNYC Mobile Observation” code collects the user’s longitude and latitude, as well as the user’s browser type, operating system, device type, device identifiers, and full URL clickstreams (including date and time) and aggregates this information into a database. In Meyers’s view, this code — along with the functions of the “RxLocation” codebase — suggests that the company is interested in tracking the locations of Wi-Fi users in real time. If such code were run on a mobile app or kiosk, he said, the company would be able to make advertisements available in real time based on where and who someone was, and that this would constitute a potential violation of the company’s privacy policy. In 2016, LinkNYC’s privacy policy made it clear that it did not collect information about users’ precise locations. “However,” it states, “we know where we provide WiFi services, so when you use the services we can determine your general location.”
smart_cities  linknyc  tracking  surveillance 
5 weeks ago
Victorian Doctors Didn't Treat Women With Orgasms, Say Historians - The Atlantic
“One of the big takeaways for me is that the peer-reviewed process is flawed. Peer review is no substitute for fact-checking,” she added. “We need to fix this, and we need to start checking other people’s work, especially in history.”
methodology  epistemology 
5 weeks ago
Archivists Against History Repeating Itself
Archives should be tools for liberation. We are a group of archivists and archival studies scholars who are tired of seeing the same oppressive ideologies, structures, and tactics play out in both the historic records we steward and in the newspaper headlines we read every day. We are trying to move beyond the disjuncture between the frantic pace of inundating crisis and the long game of archival slow-time. We want to use archival records to learn past strategies and get inspiration to enact the structural change we need now.


We are exhausted by the use of professionalism as an excuse for political inaction. We are committed to interrupting cycles of oppression because of and not despite our professional ethical commitments and identities. We believe we can use archives, archival labor, and archival theory for human liberation.
archives  activism 
5 weeks ago
Patrick Feaster: Pictures of Sound: One Thousand Years of Educed Audio, 980-1980 + CD (2012) — Monoskop Log
“Using modern technology, Patrick Feaster is on a mission to resurrect long-vanished voices and sounds—many of which were never intended to be revived.

Over the past thousand years, countless images have been created to depict sound in forms that theoretically could be “played” just as though they were modern sound recordings. Now, for the first time in history, this compilation uses innovative digital techniques to convert historic “pictures of sound” dating back as far as the Middle Ages directly into meaningful audio. It contains the world’s oldest known “sound recordings” in the sense of sound vibrations automatically recorded out of the air—the groundbreaking phonautograms recorded in Paris by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in the 1850s and 1860s—as well as the oldest gramophone records available anywhere for listening today, including inventor Emile Berliner’s recitation of Der Handschuh, played back from an illustration in a magazine, which international news media recently proclaimed to be the oldest audible “record” in the tradition of 78s and vintage vinyl. Other highlights include the oldest known recording of identifiable words spoken in the English language (1878) and the world’s oldest surviving “trick recording” (1889). But Pictures of Sound pursues the thread even further into the past than that by “playing” everything from medieval music manuscripts to historic telegrams, and from seventeenth-century barrel organ programs to eighteenth-century “notations” of Shakespearean recitation.
sound  notation 
6 weeks ago
Mieke Bal: Let’s Abolish the Peer-Review System – Media Theory
This entails a serious social danger: it promotes a tendency to collective insecurity, hidden behind authorities. This is how it works: only if others approve, a work deserves approval. As per objection six, this kills the stimulation for excellent scholars to cultivate their own opinion.
academic  peer_review  publishing 
6 weeks ago
Why the Future of Data Storage is (Still) Magnetic Tape - IEEE Spectrum
It should come as no surprise that recent advances in big-data analytics and artificial intelligence have created strong incentives for enterprises to amass information about every measurable aspect of their businesses. And financial regulations now require organizations to keep records for much longer periods than they had to in the past. So companies and institutions of all stripes are holding onto more and more.

Studies show [PDF] that the amount of data being recorded is increasing at 30 to 40 percent per year. At the same time, the capacity of modern hard drives, which are used to store most of this, is increasing at less than half that rate. Fortunately, much of this information doesn’t need to be accessed instantly. And for such things, magnetic tape is the perfect solution.

Seriously? Tape? The very idea may evoke images of reels rotating fitfully next to a bulky mainframe in an old movie like Desk Set or Dr. Strangelove. So, a quick reality check: Tape has never gone away!

Indeed, much of the world’s data is still kept on tape, including data for basic science, such as particle physics and radio astronomy, human heritage and national archives, major motion pictures, banking, insurance, oil exploration, and more. There is even a cadre of people (including me, trained in materials science, engineering, or physics) whose job it is to keep improving tape storage....

The first commercial digital-tape storage system, IBM’s Model 726, could store about 1.1 megabytes on one reel of tape. Today, a modern tape cartridge can hold 15 terabytes. And a single robotic tape library can contain up to 278 petabytes of data. Storing that much data on compact discs would require more than 397 million of them, which if stacked would form a tower more than 476 kilometers high.

It’s true that tape doesn’t offer the fast access speeds of hard disks or semiconductor memories. Still, the medium’s advantages are many. To begin with, tape storage is more energy efficient: Once all the data has been recorded, a tape cartridge simply sits quietly in a slot in a robotic library and doesn’t consume any power at all. Tape is also exceedingly reliable, with error rates that are four to five orders of magnitude lower than those of hard drives. And tape is very secure, with built-in, on-the-fly encryption and additional security provided by the nature of the medium itself. ...

The offline nature of tape also provides an additional line of defense against buggy software. For example, in 2011, a flaw in a software update caused Google to accidentally delete the saved email messages in about 40,000 Gmail accounts. That loss occurred despite there being several copies of the data stored on hard drives across multiple data centers. Fortunately, the data was also recorded on tape, and Google could eventually restore all the lost data from that backup.

The 2011 Gmail incident was one of the first disclosures that a cloud-service provider was using tape for its operations. More recently, Microsoft let it be known that its Azure Archive Storage uses IBM tape storage equipment....

All these pluses notwithstanding, the main reason why companies use tape is usually simple economics. Tape storage costs one-sixth the amount you’d have to pay to keep the same amount of data on disks, which is why you find tape systems almost anyplace where massive amounts of data are being stored. But because tape has now disappeared completely from consumer-level products, most people are unaware of its existence, let alone of the tremendous advances that tape recording technology has made in recent years and will continue to make for the foreseeable future....

To understand why tape still has so much potential relative to hard drives, consider the way tape and hard drives evolved.

Both rely on the same basic physical mechanisms to store digital data. They do so in the form of narrow tracks in a thin film of magnetic material in which the magnetism switches between two states of polarity. The information is encoded as a series of bits, represented by the presence or absence of a magnetic-polarity transition at specific points along a track. Since the introduction of tape and hard drives in the 1950s, the manufacturers of both have been driven by the mantra “denser, faster, cheaper.” As a result, the cost of both, in terms of dollars per gigabyte of capacity, has fallen by many orders of magnitude....

Over the past few years, the areal density scaling of data on hard disks has slowed from its historical average of around 40 percent a year to between 10 and 15 percent. The reason has to do with some fundamental physics: To record more data in a given area, you need to allot a smaller region to each bit. That in turn reduces the signal you can get when you read it. And if you reduce the signal too much, it gets lost in the noise that arises from the granular nature of the magnetic grains coating the disk.

It’s possible to reduce that background noise by making those grains smaller. But it’s difficult to shrink the magnetic grains beyond a certain size without compromising their ability to maintain a magnetic state in a stable way. The smallest size that’s practical to use for magnetic recording is known in this business as the superparamagnetic limit. And disk manufacturers have reached it....

There are a few technologies under development that could enable hard-drive scaling beyond today’s superparamagnetic limit. These include heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) and microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR), techniques that enable the use of smaller grains and hence allow smaller regions of the disk to be magnetized.
archives  storage  tape  preservation 
6 weeks ago
Prep School Confidential - / current issue
But Freiman also respects the real, energizing thrill of discovering theory for the first time, the way you just assume, with the faith of the freshly deflowered, that these imposing new tools of critique are diamond cutters, when in fact they are baseball bats. Ziggy doesn’t really get the manifesto, but she “really likes the gist.” Theory is always gisty; its primary function is to produce in the reader neither knowledge nor political action, but rather what on Twitter we call a “big mood.”
theory  advising  UMS 
6 weeks ago
Library ArtsLink
LIBRARY ARTSLINK is a resource for libraries who are interested in working with artists and artists interested in working with libraries. It is also a resource for librarians interested in connecting with similar institutions and learning how to expand their arts programing.
libraries  art  design 
6 weeks ago
About – Noncitizen
Noncitizen Archive is a non-profit digital archive for images from migrant experiences. It is an

independent platform for secure digital storage of personal footage. Videos, audio and photos

captured by migrants and people living in ‘noncitizenship’ are important documents of our time,

but often get lost. Footage is deleted and mobile phones go missing. Noncitizen Archive wants to

save this material for the future.

Who is Noncitizen Archive for?

Noncitizen Archive stores footage belonging to migrants, filmmakers, asylum seekers and

stateless persons. The photographer/filmmaker always owns the copyright of the images. With 

the creators’ consent, footage can also be made available to the public on the Noncitizen Archive

archives  migration  community_archives 
7 weeks ago
Louise Despont, ART21 “New York Close Up”, 2015 | The Bottom Line "The Drawing Center"
In this feature from ART21 “New York Close Up”, Louise Despont peruses a vast reference library of images she began collecting in high school and maintains to this day. Drawn to geometry, energy waves, and universal symbols, Despont’s interests reveal a fascination with underlying patterns and cosmological draughtsmen.
diagrams  information_architecture  drawings  graphs  pattern 
7 weeks ago
The Drawing Center | New York, NY | Exhibitions | Louise Despont: Energy Scaffolds and Information Architecture
Energy Scaffolds and Information Architecture is the first solo museum exhibition for Louise Despont, an artist best known for using compasses, stencils, and rulers to create intricate and deeply meditative drawings on ledger paper. For Energy Scaffolds and Information Architecture, The Drawing Center has commissioned a new site-specific architectural installation and several series of large-scale drawings that have been influenced by Despont’s recent relocation to Bali.

The first architectural enclosure on view, entitled Pure Potential, consists of a wooden façade covered by wooden dowels that create a textured and protective surface. For Despont, the series of eight Pure Potential drawings represent the transition of energy from formlessness into form.

The second architectural space, which is oval in shape, holds a monumental frieze drawing that is sixty feet in length, six feet in height, and composed of seven panels. The drawing depicts the relationship between a material form and a subtle body—the independent entity that manifests through the physical self. For Despont, the drawn lines in each work symbolize the invisible structures, channels, and pathways of energy that flow through and exist in symbiosis with the human body. The seven sections of this monumental work are divided by ten columns, each of which is fitted with a diamond form surrounded by a checkered pattern. The design is inspired by the Balinese kain poleng, a manifestation of sacred balance, while the diamond symbolizes the eye of awareness.
information_architecture  drawing  graphs 
7 weeks ago
A Brief Episode in the History of Dusting – Technology's Stories
Perhaps the charwomen learned militancy from their heritage outside and among many households and offices, crossing from one to another with information to strategize, scheme, and blackmail. Historian Elizabeth Clark-Lewis has shown how laundresses picked up and delivered the wash at many homes, and learned much more than the critics of charwomen ever considered: information about employers and potential employers, the secrets and scandals of the community (which they learned from and spread to each household’s servants), a better sense of wages and other market conditions in the city’s domestic economy. All this information would put them in a better bargaining position vis-a-vis potential employers. Eventually, in the 1920s, laundresses used this knowledge to help domestic servants move out of their masters’ and mistresses’ homes and find work that did not require living in.[15]

Like the end of the split shift among office charwomen, the vast decline of live-in servants was largely accomplished by workers’ demands. Did charwomen also benefit because they were nodes in networks of working-class information, the people who brought knowledge across thresholds? It’s just a theory.
maintenance  cleaning  dust  feminism  labor 
7 weeks ago
CTS - conserve the sound
»Conserve the sound« is an online museum for vanishing and endangered sounds. The sound of a dial telephone, a walkman, a analog typewriter, a pay phone, a 56k modem, a nuclear power plant or even a cell phone keypad are partially already gone or are about to disappear from our daily life.

Accompanying the archive people are interviewed and give an insight in to the world of disappearing sounds.
sound  things  objects  sonic_archaeology  sound_history 
7 weeks ago
The World's Newest, Most Gloriously Designed Maps - Atlas Obscura
Calling all map enthusiasts: the North American Cartographic Information Society will soon be releasing the 2018 Atlas of Design, its latest compendium of the world’s newest and best maps. Every two years since 2012, NACIS, a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes cartography, has released a new volume of maps, carefully selected from hundreds of entrants by a panel of judges. This year reveals a bumper crop of map-makers: NACIS received over 300 submissions for just 32 spots.

The entrants were judged by a panel of 12 and Lauren Tierney, who co-edited the Atlas of Design along with Alethea Steingisser and Caroline Rose, acknowledges a healthy divergence of views. “We don’t believe there’s any way to really be objective about something like this,” she says. “The judges were often in disagreement; almost every map was scored well by at least one judge and poorly by another. This disagreement was exactly our goal in bringing the panel together, because our aim was to ensure that the final selection was not dominated by one style or taste, but held something for everyone.”
mapping  cartography 
7 weeks ago
“The Town Was Us”
the contention that the town, and particularly the New England town, represents the geographic form most suitable for practicing democracy....

This supposed equivalence between the geography of the town and the political culture of American democracy remains powerful today. When a politician needs to demonstrate sensitivity to the demands of her constituents, she may hold a “town hall” meeting. When a suburban developer needs to create a focal point for some generic subdivision, he may instruct his planning team to set aside space for a “town common,” and complete the effect with a faux bell tower... Much like the term “democracy” itself, the town as an architecture of democratic action encompasses both hollow symbolization and genuine radicalism, for it has been pressed into service for fantasies as well as for practical experiments. It expresses nostalgia, but also optimism; it stands for both a whitewashed past and a potentially usable history of countervailing power in American life. Most importantly, in its potent mixing of ideas about place and ideas about politics, the idealization of the town raises important questions about the ideological twists and turns in the relationship between locality and democracy. ...

Arriving in Massachusetts Bay, the first colonists brought with them premodern templates of village organization, and infused them with 17th-century ideas about theocratic utopianism and municipal incorporation, leading to a geographic order in the form of nucleated settlements — both physically compact and sociopolitically bound together. The physical environment also reinforced their ideological bias for nucleated communities: New England was poorly suited for large-scale agriculture, with few opportunities for the mass natural-resource exploitation that had motivated earlier waves of European imperialism in the New World....

Above all, the town meeting gave localities in New England a form of institutional legitimacy that did not develop in other regions. A relative of both the church vestry council and the stockholder meeting, the town meeting provided residents with a powerful mechanism for direct political control over their affairs. Although the town meeting system was not identical in every case, it was widely adopted throughout New England, and this local power was always more important than the more spatially diffuse geographic organization of the county. 2 And although the franchise was originally severely limited by the principles of white male supremacy and the precedence of property holders — reflecting the hypocritical universalism characteristic of many strands of Enlightenment thought — the general principle of a body of people governing themselves nevertheless represented a template of local autonomy that powerfully influenced the political revolutions of the 1770s and beyond....

the town was a settlement unit adapted for the ecological and economic conditions of small-scale colonial agriculture in the New England environment. But upon this material geography, the town stacked layers of legal and associative power; it was a jurisdiction as well as a social bloc. It therefore expressed an attitude often assumed but rarely made explicit in theories of democracy: the self in self-government is constituted geographically....

Without this kind of substantive assertion that places establish an essential foundation for the principles of solidarity, equality, and mutuality — that is to say, the principles that constitute a robust rather than schematic practice of democracy — it is all too easy for the politics of place to become a politics of ineffective nostalgia, naïve littleness, and vacant signifiers. The big-money politician’s “town hall” and the mass developer’s “town common” can do nothing to replicate the union between landscape and democracy, because they do nothing to reassert what Mumford described as “robust political life, with effective collective action and a sense of renewed public responsibility.” 26 We should treat places not just as abstract geometries, but rather as the sites where people come to forge a life in common and decide how they would like to share that life. How can this fusion of geography and politics be democratically sustained?
media_city  democracy  oral_culture 
7 weeks ago

“From the Vitruvian man to Le Corbusier’s Modulor, an imagined, ideal human subject has defined the history of Western architecture. This subject, despite claims to the contrary, is far from a universal. Rather, architecture — as discipline, profession, and object — has been designed around a white, male, cis, able, and heterosexual body. Everyone else remains other by design, a foreigner in the world into which they are born. That is, in architecture, a norm is a readymade, reproduced and replicated endlessly. A Norm is a Readymade comprises a video screening and roundtable discussion excavating the normative function of architecture, using Swiss Institute’s new home at St Marks Pl as a testing ground.” – Adjustments Agency
norms  standards  architecture  infrastructure 
8 weeks ago
Missing Maps
Each year, disasters around the world kill nearly 100,000 and affect or displace 200 million people. Many of the places where these disasters occur are literally 'missing' from any map and first responders lack the information to make valuable decisions regarding relief efforts. Missing Maps is an open, collaborative project in which you can help to map areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people.
mapping  cartography  humanitarianism  disaster 
8 weeks ago
#MoreThanCode Full Report | #MoreThanCode
Our society is in the midst of an extremely urgent conversation about the benefits and
harms of digital technology, across all spheres of life. Unfortunately, this conversation too
often fails to include the voices of technology practitioners whose work is focused on social
justice, the common good, and/or the public interest. Every day, technology practitioners
in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, libraries,
technology cooperatives, volunteer networks, and social movement organizations work
to develop, deploy, and maintain digital technology in ways that directly benefit their
communities. These practitioners include software developers, designers, and project
managers, as well as researchers, policy advocates, community organizers, city officials, and
people in many other roles.
#MoreThanCode aims to make the voices of these diverse practitioners heard. Our goals
are to I. explore the current ecosystem; II. expand understanding of practitioner
demographics; III. develop and share knowledge of practitioner experiences; IV. capture
practitioner visions and values; and V. document stories of success and failure. We focus
primarily on practitioners who work in the United States.
This report was produced by the Tech for Social Justice Project (,
co-led by Research Action Design (RAD) and the Open Technology Institute at New America
(OTI), together with research partners Upturn, Media Mobilizing Project,, Hack
the Hood, May First/People Link, Palante Technology Cooperative, Vulpine Blue, and The
Engine Room. NetGain, the Ford Foundation, Mozilla, Code For America, and OTI funded
and advised the project.
Methods: #MoreThanCode is a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project. All research
partner organizations worked together to develop the research questions, study design, data
collection and analysis, conclusions, and recommendations. We interviewed 109 people
and conducted 11 focus groups, with 79 focus group participants. A total of 188 individuals
participated in the study. We sought diverse participants in terms of gender identity, sexual
orientation, race/ethnicity, educational background, sector (government, nonprofit, tech
coop), urban/rural location, and other factors. Our study focused primarily on practitioners
in the United States. Detailed study participant demographics can be found in the main
body of the report. We also collected and analyzed secondary data, including: a database
of 732 organizations and projects; IRS form 990 data for over 40,000 relevant nonprofits;
over 14,500 job listings; and over 350 educational programs, networks, and associations.
The Appendices include detailed methodological information, links to relevant secondary
datasets, and links to interactive tools to further explore study data and findings.
technology  ethics 
8 weeks ago
Public Thinker: Matthew Engelke on Thinking Like an Anthropologist | Public Books
How to Think Like an Anthropologist is a self-help book, then, only in the sense of cultivating what I believe is still best represented by one of Ruth Benedict’s arguments: that other people do things in other ways for perfectly good reasons, and that we are better people for coming to understand those ways. Not necessarily to adopt them. Not necessarily to accept them, but actually to engage with them seriously. That’s our most helpful form of self-help, I’d say....

Anthropology is messy. And anthropologists don’t like definitive answers, or predicting outcomes. Sometimes that’s because we think people are asking the wrong questions. I was once asked by a journalist whether I thought the Church of England would be extinct in a generation’s time. How the fuck should I know? That’s what I thought to myself. But also, Why are you asking that question? Why is the value of “prediction” so high, when it comes to marking expertise and knowledge? I couldn’t say that in a radio interview, but I can express this ethic in a book (with no swearing)....

There was something about the technology of the screen that helped me think in more public terms.

I think it also helped me move away from specialist language and the various framings that mark so much of anthropology: scare quotes, parenthetical asides, dependent clauses that qualify a particular point.

That was one of the real challenges of writing this book. The framing. Letting go of caveats. Or, at least, as many as I could. Every single paragraph in this book could have been footnoted 20 times over with “Well, it’s not always this way,” and “I’m using this word but of course it’s problematic.” But you can’t write that way for a general audience....

I don’t think it’s fully possible to separate out a theoretical perspective, or framing, from ethnographic material. They inform one another. But I think the best gift an anthropologist can give to his or her colleagues is material that others can use in ways that he or she didn’t necessarily expect or allow for. In the vast majority of cases, what will be interesting in 20 years’ time is not the introduction to someone’s book, where they flesh out how their study speaks to the concerns of actor-network theory, or furthers our understanding of bare life à la Giorgio Agamben. It will be the depth and texture of the ethnography.
anthropology  methodology  epistemology  writing  ethnography 
8 weeks ago
Odd Numbers — Real Life
In the case of AI recognizing black faces, Social Science Research Council president Alondra Nelson observed earlier this year, “Algorithmic accountability is tremendously important. Full stop. But I confess that I struggle to understand why we want to make black communities more cognizant in facial recognition systems that are disproportionately used for surveillance.” Stopping false positives is an important goal. But to critique facial recognition in terms of its accuracy seems to already accept that its enormous power will inevitably be deployed in more settings — an assumption that privacy and Fourth Amendment activists are quick to dispute....

The debate over the terms and goals of accountability must not stop at questions like “Is the data processing fairer if its error rate is the same for all races and genders?” We must consider broader questions, such as whether these tools should be developed and deployed at all....

But we should not confuse the necessary work to incrementally reform a system with the moral imperative to also question its basic presuppositions. ..

Whenever a reformer proposes to solve an algorithmic-sorting problem with “more data,” that is an invitation to more surveillance, which can go to absurd lengths. For example, a scheme called “Greater Change” in the U.K. recently proposed bar-coding homeless people to enable digital donations....

Social theory, critical race theory, and feminist theory can all help construct a more inclusive and critical conception of algorithmic accountability....

Were we to approach the problem from a purely technical perspective, we might promote more and better data gathering about the struggling individuals she describes, to ensure that they are not misclassified. But Eubanks argues that complex benefits determinations are not something well-meaning tech experts can “fix.” Instead, the system itself is deeply problematic, constantly shifting the goal line (in all too many states) to throw up barriers to access to care.
artificial_intelligence  algorithms  facial_recognition 
8 weeks ago
Seismic Shifts: On Archival Fact and Fictions – Sustainable Futures – Medium
That truth begins, in earnest, with the rejection of two words we in archives have come to know, love, and abuse: ‘local’ and ‘community-based.’ I maintain that these terms offer diminishing analytic (and consequently, actionable) value because they constitute the most common of empirical fictions. So compelling are these fictions that they pushed me, in part, to pursue anthropology as a discipline due to its apparent emphasis on examination of ‘local’ and ‘community-based’ phenomena.

How distressing it was, then, to encounter in a foundational seminar the work of anthropologist James Ferguson, who in this essay deconstructs the dichotomies of local/global and community/state [1]. For Ferguson, these binaries persist because they enable us to think of power and dominion vertically: the local is necessarily ‘down on the ground’ and the global ‘up in the air,’ while the community is likewise a ‘foundation’ and the state a ‘ceiling.’ This view carries damning effects. It further masks and thus entrenches power, rather than revealing and redistributing it. Moreover, it obscures the flows and exchanges between the proximate and approximate, a point underscored more poignantly by the anthropologist Anna Tsing in her article “The Global Situation” [2].
archives  community_archives  local  global  scale 
8 weeks ago
MIT is testing a desk that changes when you're stressed at work — Quartz
Researchers at MIT Media Lab have designed a desk that adapts to the mood of the user by adjusting lighting, changing images on a screen (attached to the front of the desk) and playing different sound through a set of speakers. The project, called “Mediated Atmosphere,” is based on psychological studies about the way space impacts productivity.
Researcher Nan Zhao said the desk is a combination of technology, psychology, and design. The prototype collects over 30 biological signals including heart-rate, facial-expressions, and posture. The workspace adapts to what the sensors indicate, like showing a video of running wanter if the user is stressed.
intellectual_furnishings  workplace  desks 
8 weeks ago
Writers Have Always Loved Mobile Devices - The Atlantic
Preceding smartphones by centuries, writing boxes were among the first mobile writing inventions. Small and portable, these wooden boxes were equipped with a flat or sloped surface for writing and an interior space for storing materials like paper, inkwells, quills, pens, seals, and wax. Many also included compartments for storing letters and postcards, and secret drawers with locks for private papers, important documents, trinkets, and valuables....

In 17th-and-18th-century Europe and America, storage boxes of all kinds proliferated: bible boxes, bridle boxes, voting boxes, keepsake boxes for baby’s first tooth and lock of hair, and photo boxes, among others. Writing boxes stored physical writing tools as well as ephemeral fruits of writing—traces of literacy, ritual, and memory....

Mechanically, writing was still a complicated affair in the 1700s and 1800s. The writing box thus solved a practical problem. People needed a way to carry dip pens, pen nibs, and inkwells, as well as paper, stamps, and envelopes. As practicality led to widespread use, writing boxes became decorative, too. Designed and built by skilled artisans and woodworkers, writing boxes were embellished with high-quality velvet interiors, brass details, leather slopes, engravings, and clever hidden drawers. Writing boxes were personal possessions as much as emblems of social position....

When fountain pens and manual typewriters became widely available in the early 20th century, the need for writing boxes changed yet again. They eventually gave way to writing desks and general household or work desks. The disappearance of writing boxes wasn’t total, however. People sometimes still use lap desks, a modern descendent of writing boxes, and some antique writing boxes continue to circulate. ...

writing is so entangled with surfaces that creators of mobile-writing apps have designed “distraction free” writing platforms like WriteRoom and ZenWriter, both of which aim to create alternative writing spaces beyond Microsoft Word with minimal bells and whistles. Just write, these apps encourage.
intellectual_furnishings  writing  desks  boxes  containers  storage 
8 weeks ago
Cartography Playground
This is the Cartography Playground, a simple and interactive website for explaining cartographic algorithms, problems and other matters.
It is aimed at students of cartography who want to refresh and deepen their knowledge.
mapping  cartography 
8 weeks ago
Schedule – Critical Digital Archives
In this interdisciplinary graduate seminar we will explore theoretical and practical issues related to the creation, access, and discovery of archives and special collections, including acquisition, description and technical specifications, community building, and post-custodial models. With emphasis on critical archival theory and state-of-the-art digital humanities approaches, this course draws from literary & cultural studies, information studies, critical indigenous studies, history, art history, and anthropology as we build a rigorous theoretical framework and engage in hands-on practice. This course will pair humanistic approaches to the (de)colonial archive with practice and theory from information science and the digital humanities.

The first unit focuses on colonial archives and special collections, using the Benson Latin American Collection as a case study. This unit surveys the field of critical archival studies from literary studies, history, and information studies. The final assignment asks students to consider the ethical obligations of special collections with colonial holdings by proposing a response to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, recently endorsed by the Society of American Archivists.

The second unit focuses on human rights and social justice archives, using the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional of Guatemala as a case study. This unit explores the ethical complications of working with sensitive collections, as well as the practical application of these theories to digital archvies with a human rights component. As a final assignment, students are asked to propose a humanities media project that will create supplemental materials to the AHPN website that address some of the ethical concerns addressed in the unit.

The third unit focuses on indigenous and community archives. This unit explores archival structures and activities that exist outside of or beyond academic or state institutions. The final assignment, which will be designed collectively by students, asks students to propose and enact a community-centered action responding to needs, problems, or opportunities posed by a collection or archive of their choice.
archives  indigenous  preservation  syllabus 
8 weeks ago
Ira Glass's Commencement Speech at the Columbia Journalism School Graduation - This American Life
A brief digression now about editing. Brief but urgent. Editing does not get the respect it should. There are so many awards for reporters. Where are the awards for editors? There are so many famous reporters. So few famous editors. I believe that gifted editors are rarer than talented reporters. If you have the knack for it, I just wanna say: go for it. I really want to give you a nudge of encouragement in that direction. It’s a wonderful job and journalism needs you.

Editing is crucial because in my experience anything you try to make - what YOU want is for the story to be AMAZING. But what the story wants to be is MEDIOCRE OR WORSE. And the entire process of making the story is convincing the story to not be what it wants to be, which is BAD.

And turning it from the bad thing it’s trying to be, where the sources are inarticulate, and you don’t know how to structure it, and the structure you make doesn’t work, into the shining gleaming jewel that you have in your heart … that is editing!
8 weeks ago
Bricolage… or the Impossibility of Pollution - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
In the early 1980s, architect Yona Friedman and artist Jean-Pierre Giovanelli undertook a project titled une intervention sur le déchet (“an intervention on the scrap”).1 The project entailed a four-phase process: First, during the “Phase of Accumulation,” Friedman and Giovanelli amassed what they described as scrap parts from “our sophisticated technologies.” During the subsequent “Phase of Transformation,” these scraps were distributed among “artisanal populations” in non-specified areas of Africa and there subject to a process of “free transformation.” For the next “Phase of Recuperation,” the altered detritus was shipped back to Europe. And finally, during the “Phase of Reinjection,” the resulting art objects were exhibited and sold at a Parisian gallery, with the financial proceeds remitted to Africa....

the devaluation significant here is not that of individual creativity but rather of societal modes of transmitting knowledge. We can only guess the likelihood that the “phase of transformation” had been undertaken in a former French colony, perhaps in one of the many West African cities where ironwork or bronze-work had long been domains of technical expertise. To present this labor as spontaneous bricolage, it was necessary to erase local knowledges and histories by omitting any indication (save the signifier “Africa”) of where the objects were produced. Although Friedman and Giovanelli at least reminded their audience that these African bricoleurs had come from “artisanal populations” (hence, not lacking in trained skill), the non-specificity of the artisanal expertise in question, along with the vague designation of “Africa,” helped set the stage for a growing neoliberal conception of the haphazard creativity of the Third-World informal economic sector—creativity that had to become unbound from its own structured systems and then re-channeled into a global market....

Once inserted within the ambit of modernity, the figure of the bricoleur in urban and economic discourses serves to justify the redistribution of financial risk, in the move from the planned urbanization and state-led industrialization of the postcolony to a neo-liberal model of economic austerity, privatization, and individual entrepreneurship. The bricoleur justifies this model because they can cobble together shelter and commodities from the material detritus generated by north-south inequalities. They can turn the effects of austerity measures to good because the nature of bricolage is not to turn something into something else, but to make something out of nothing. This nothing was to come not only in the form of austerity but also, as Friedman and Giovanelli had divined, in the form of industrial and electronic pollution—the principal ingredients for Third-World bricolage....

Once inserted within the ambit of modernity, the figure of the bricoleur in urban and economic discourses serves to justify the redistribution of financial risk, in the move from the planned urbanization and state-led industrialization of the postcolony to a neo-liberal model of economic austerity, privatization, and individual entrepreneurship. The bricoleur justifies this model because they can cobble together shelter and commodities from the material detritus generated by north-south inequalities. They can turn the effects of austerity measures to good because the nature of bricolage is not to turn something into something else, but to make something out of nothing. This nothing was to come not only in the form of austerity but also, as Friedman and Giovanelli had divined, in the form of industrial and electronic pollution—the principal ingredients for Third-World bricolage....

Once inserted within the ambit of modernity, the figure of the bricoleur in urban and economic discourses serves to justify the redistribution of financial risk, in the move from the planned urbanization and state-led industrialization of the postcolony to a neo-liberal model of economic austerity, privatization, and individual entrepreneurship. The bricoleur justifies this model because they can cobble together shelter and commodities from the material detritus generated by north-south inequalities. They can turn the effects of austerity measures to good because the nature of bricolage is not to turn something into something else, but to make something out of nothing. This nothing was to come not only in the form of austerity but also, as Friedman and Giovanelli had divined, in the form of industrial and electronic pollution—the principal ingredients for Third-World bricolage....

The recent Maker Culture movement offers a particularly legible demonstration of how pollution becomes recast as non-pollution—an operation which is aesthetic, ideological, and economic. ...

In the case of Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), founded by two Boston-trained architects, the relationship between Maker Culture and pollution is made explicit, as their operation is sited at Accra’s notorious international e-waste dump, Agbogbloshie. AMP’s co-founders see design as a way of restoring dignity to a part of the city that has been the target of much negative attention, due to extensive press coverage and blogging related to the issue of international e-waste. AMP draws on the existing practices of e-recycling that have long formed the basis of Agbobbloshie’s economy and hones these practices through the inculcation of new skills and knowledge in design, material science, and construction. In this sense, the endeavor is a laudable one. Nonetheless, processes of e-recycling at Agbogbloshie involve burning off plastic encasements and circuit boards, which emits highly toxic fumes, then sorting through the remaining metals and components for resale. Despite the persistent toxicity of the processes involved, AMP’s stated ambition is to “move beyond the notion of ‘e-waste.’” The virtuosity of design and aesthetic representation (as showcased on AMP’s website) make the claim that the highly toxic effects of e-waste dumping and the still-more toxic processes involved in e-recycling are to be overcome through aesthetic bricolage as a technique of onto-semiotic transformation....

In the case of Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), founded by two Boston-trained architects, the relationship between Maker Culture and pollution is made explicit, as their operation is sited at Accra’s notorious international e-waste dump, Agbogbloshie. AMP’s co-founders see design as a way of restoring dignity to a part of the city that has been the target of much negative attention, due to extensive press coverage and blogging related to the issue of international e-waste. AMP draws on the existing practices of e-recycling that have long formed the basis of Agbobbloshie’s economy and hones these practices through the inculcation of new skills and knowledge in design, material science, and construction. In this sense, the endeavor is a laudable one. Nonetheless, processes of e-recycling at Agbogbloshie involve burning off plastic encasements and circuit boards, which emits highly toxic fumes, then sorting through the remaining metals and components for resale. Despite the persistent toxicity of the processes involved, AMP’s stated ambition is to “move beyond the notion of ‘e-waste.’” The virtuosity of design and aesthetic representation (as showcased on AMP’s website) make the claim that the highly toxic effects of e-waste dumping and the still-more toxic processes involved in e-recycling are to be overcome through aesthetic bricolage as a technique of onto-semiotic transformation.
bricolage  making  repair  e-waste  Global_South  labor 
9 weeks ago
Unstable Control - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
Built in 2010 in reaction to a calamitous landslide, COR was planned to anticipate and respond to future disasters and infrastructure failures. Equally important, it was intended to demonstrate Rio’s commitment to improved urban administration and traffic management. To the International Olympic Committee and Rio’s citizens both, COR was heralded as an urban feedback system and control center that would combine disaster response, urban sensor monitoring, and a form of intelligent traffic administration that would speed circulation during the crush of the 2016 Summer Olympics and after.

The technical and conceptual armature for COR originated in IBM’s “Smarter Cities” initiative. A second, separate command and control center supports police and defense operations by conducting urban surveillance, face recognition sweeps, and crowd pattern evaluation. Segregating overt security and tracking tasks from COR’s operations left IBM and COR with a relatively narrow mandate. COR amasses data on traffic flows, urban health, and weather patterns and responds to interruptions by changing traffic routes and by directing emergency teams to sites of interruption. In short, COR’s primary tasks are to monitor, assess, and represent the metabolism of the city and to respond to actual or potential disruptions that drain, slow, or block it....

COR measures abnormality according to four escalating scales of intensity: incident, event, emergency, crisis. How this scale is registered and represented, and how it determines response, form the foundation of Rio’s computational urbanism.

At first glance, COR’s control syntax appears banal and managerial. Yet it is also charged with potential crisis. For example, if protest erupts, then traffic will have to be redirected to avoid paralysis. If buildings explode, routes will need to be cleared to usher response teams. Explosions, fires, protests, landslides, rallies, and sudden tropical storms combine with faulty traffic lights, accidents, spilled trucks, burning buses, and quotidian congestion as elements of the COR syntax....

Songdo’s master plan—which places towers adjacent to its “central park,” allocates space to global universities and charter schools, and inserts museums and cultural centers into the city grid—is designed to attract residents by generating a convincing image of city life. This is a spreadsheet urbanism, for which elements, buildings, programs, and amenities are determined by a serial logic of differentiation and are calculated to deliver an impression of programmatic and morphological diversity. Yet the fully regulated city is also intrinsically fearful of the diversity, disorder, and social tensions that are among the most visible signs of urbanity....

Songdo is a byproduct of disinvestment in conventional public welfare programs and the inverse investment in border security, immigration, and other global population circulation controls and restrictions. ...

If environmental monitoring and domestic monitoring merge through waste disposal, Songdo’s streets are the site of the most complete condensation. The habituation to monitoring on the inside extends notions of domestic security out onto the streets. In Songdo’s control room—and in its imagination—the street persists as the image of both threat and control, the image of smart city efficiency and optimization, as well as the image of social fears and transgressions. In Songdo, there is a plan to geotag children to better monitor their movement and for fear they will be hit by traffic. Incoming cars are monitored to track drivers, check records, and to alert the city of possible criminal intrusion. Within a narrative of smart city civic life gone awry, each accident is the consequence of a particular system failure. As in Rio de Janeiro, traffic engineering in Songdo is politics. Here, it is also biopolitics: a metonomy of sensing operations connect city, street, camera, license plate, and particulate sensor to environmental threat and to new forms of monitored life....

Smart city control rooms exhibit and conflate at least two primary characteristics. The first is the rational administration of the city. Faced with intensifying density, complexity, and the striation of populations through wealth disparities and access to services, the control room promises a corrective process of municipal management. The second is through their association with urban emergency response centers, from which smart cities cathect an urban imaginary of failures, crises, and vulnerabilities. A sense of threat attaches itself to the smart city at its origins. Looming political instability, environmental catastrophe, financial precarity, infrastructural entropy, and other signs of urban apocalypse fuel the desire for smart city experimentation.
smart_cities  dashboards 
9 weeks ago
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