A Very Detailed, Interactive Map of Chicago’s Tree Canopy - Atlas Obscura
IN JUNE, THE CHICAGO REGIONAL Tree Initiative and Morton Arboretum released what they say is the most comprehensive tree canopy data set of any region in the U.S., covering 284 municipalities in the Chicago area. Now, that data is helping neighborhoods improve their environments and assist their communities....

In Chicago, where more than 2,000 people have been shot this year, scientists are looking at physical features of neighborhoods for solutions. “We started to look at where we have heavy crime, and whether there was a correlation with tree canopy, and often, there is,” says Scott. “Communities that have higher tree population have lower crime. Areas where trees are prevalent, people tend to be outside, mingling, enjoying their community.”...

To make the map, scientists at CRTI and Morton overlaid a wide range of data sets to get the clearest, most holistic picture to date. “We’re able to layer heat island data; demographic information such as age, vulnerable population, education background; we’re layering Medicaid claims because we know there’s a correlation between health issues—cardiopulmonary problems—and loss of trees,” says Scott.
Next, they combined that data with LIDAR imagery. LIDAR is a remote sensing method. A plane with a small camera attached to the underside flies over neighborhoods, where it’s able to record height differences on the ground. That allows scientists to identify the layout of the tree canopy with an impressive degree of accuracy.
mapping  cartography  nonhuman 
2 days ago
Overview ‹ City Science — MIT Media Lab
The City Science research group (formerly known as the Changing Places group) proposes that new strategies must be found for creating the places where people live and work, and the mobility systems that connect them, in order to meet the profound challenges of the future. We are investigating how new models for urban architecture and personal vehicles can be more responsive to the unique needs and values of individuals through the application of disentangled systems and smart customization. We are developing technology to understand and respond to human activity, environmental conditions, and market dynamics. We are interested in finding optimal combinations of automated systems, just-in-time information for personal control, and interfaces to persuade people to adopt sustainable behaviors.
media_city  intellectual_furnishings 
2 days ago
Why Donald Trump Has Been Good For Truth - The Chronicle of Higher Education
What do we learn when we shift our focus from truth as possessed to truth as a pursuit?

A two-volume work published in Hamburg, Germany, in 1930, called Research Institutes: Their History, Organization and Goals was unique for its time and remains so today. It was a collective effort to document the structures of research, its institutionalization from antiquity to the present, and its meaning. Its survey of research institutes, mostly German but not exclusively, is both a snapshot of a particular landscape of learning and a melancholy mirror on what would soon be smashed.

The editors of the volume emphasized that research was the engine at the heart of social and intellectual progress. Their argument that research has a history and that it is interesting as process as well as product has still not been adequately developed. Research is still not a subject of research: Library of Congress subject headings include neither history of research nor philosophy of research....

He outlined a dichotomy between early modern historians who rewrote the surviving narratives of ancient history, and their contemporaries who were "antiquarians" — scholars of the past who drew on new material as well as textual evidence to produce thematic monographs on subjects such as religion, law, calendars, games, food, and clothing.... Momigliano argued that antiquarians had subdued the skeptics with their use of material evidence, including public inscriptions and, above all, coins, whose quantity rendered forgery either impossible or easily spotted.... When Momigliano reworked that 1949 lecture — it would later be published in 1950 as the pathbreaking "Ancient History and the Antiquarian" — he argued that the concept of the document "deepened" the distinction between a primary and secondary source, and "for the first time in the history of historical method," gave rise to manuals that emphasized the handling of evidence over rhetoric. ... "there is only the old remedy: the cautious and methodical examination of documents with all the skills that were developed in the collaboration of antiquaries and textual critics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries."... The history of historiography, he wrote, "has the purpose of discriminating between truth and falsehood." ...

This attention to scholarly practices led to the now-flourishing genre of intellectual history known as "history of scholarship."
epistemology  intellectual_history 
2 days ago
Radio’s Forgotten Technology Is Booming in India - WSJ
As radio stations struggle in the West to attract new advertising and remain relevant in the internet age, India is in the middle of a belated radio revolution.

Hundreds of new radio stations are hitting the airwaves in the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people and attracting a record amount of revenue, thanks to deregulation, small-town consumption and cheap cellphones with built-in FM receivers.

“Suddenly FM stations are being listened to,” said Piyush Pandey, executive chairman for South Asia and India at ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, which now often recommends radio to clients who want to target specific regions or cities.
india  radio  media_city 
2 days ago
Bits & Atoms - an urban planning studio for the 21st century city
We've only just begun. There are 570,000 local governments around the world. But only 2,500 are pursuing smart city projects. And a mere 145 in the United States are committed to building gigabit broadband. Just a handful are doing it strategically. Most are flying by the seat of their pants. Everywhere we look, we find cities that are just starting to grapple with the challenges of digital technology. A pioneering vanguard of cities are leading the way. But what can they teach the rest of us?

We work with clients in industry, government, and the non-profit sector to create the conditions for smart cities to flourish organically, by design. Our approach emphasizes foresight, unconventional approaches to economic development, social capital analytics, and digital inclusion as keys to enabling urban innovation....

We measure our success by the appeal of our ideas, the actions they inspire and shape, and the measurable impact on how cities thrive day to day. Explore some of our most impactful work over the last 15 years.
smart_cities  consulting 
6 days ago
Videos Challenge Accounts of Convention Unrest - The New York Times
Accused of inciting a riot and resisting arrest, Mr. Kyne was the first of the 1,806 people arrested in New York last summer during the Republican National Convention to take his case to a jury. But one day after Officer Wohl testified, and before the defense called a single witness, the prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges.

During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor. A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures. Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints.

A sprawling body of visual evidence, made possible by inexpensive, lightweight cameras in the hands of private citizens, volunteer observers and the police themselves, has shifted the debate over precisely what happened on the streets during the week of the convention....

Last week, he discovered that there were two versions of the same police tape: the one that was to be used as evidence in his trial had been edited at two spots, removing images that showed Mr. Dunlop behaving peacefully. When a volunteer film archivist found a more complete version of the tape and gave it to Mr. Dunlop's lawyer, prosecutors immediately dropped the charges and said that a technician had cut the material by mistake....

So far, 162 defendants have either pleaded guilty or were convicted after trial, and videotapes that bolstered the prosecution's case played a role in at least some of those cases, although prosecutors could not provide details.

Besides offering little support or actually undercutting the prosecution of most of the people arrested, the videotapes also highlight another substantial piece of the historical record: the Police Department's tactics in controlling the demonstrations, parades and rallies of hundreds of thousands of people were largely free of explicit violence...

"The police develop a narrative, the defendant has a different story, and the question becomes, how do you resolve it?" said Eileen Clancy, a member of I-Witness Video, a project that assembled hundreds of videotapes shot during the convention by volunteers for use by defense lawyers...

Video is a useful source of evidence, but not an easy one to manage, because of the difficulties in finding a fleeting image in hundreds of hours of tape. Moreover, many of the tapes lack index and time markings, so cuts in the tape are not immediately apparent.

That was a problem in the case of Mr. Dunlop, who learned that his tape had been altered only after Ms. Clancy found another version of the same tape. Mr. Dunlop had been accused of pushing his bicycle into a line of police officers on the Lower East Side and of resisting arrest, but the deleted parts of the tape show him calmly approaching the police line, and later submitting to arrest without apparent incident...

In the bulk of the 400 cases that were dismissed based on videotapes, most involved arrests at three places -- 16th Street near Union Square, 17th Street near Union Square and on Fulton Street -- where police officers and civilians taped the gatherings, said Martin R. Stolar, the president of the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Those tapes showed that the demonstrators had followed the instructions of senior officers to walk down those streets, only to have another official order their arrests.

Ms. Thompson of the district attorney's office said, "We looked at videos from a variety of sources, and in a number of cases, we have moved to dismiss."

See also http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2005/04/12/nyregion/20050412video_graphic.html
video  forensics  evidence  archives 
6 days ago
Graphic Sociology
Information graphics, distinct from photography and video, use visual means (charts, graphs, network webs, diagrams, etc) to concisely convey and enliven both simple and complex relationships drawn from data. Information graphics have long been a part of making sense of social science data, especially when the data is being presented to wider audiences. The use of information graphics is increasing in the digital age where much information is consumed via full color displays.

Creating coherent, compelling information graphics is left largely to individual practitioners. There is very little training available for social scientists who would like to have basic graphic design skills in their repertoire. Graphic Sociology analyzes the visual presentation of social data from the perspective of social science practice. Each blog consists of a chart, table, interactive graphic or other visual display of sociologically relevant data and an analysis of the successes and weaknesses of the graphic.

The work on this blog supports the idea that public scholarship can utilize information graphics to communicate effectively with publics outside of academia as well as with our colleagues. Just like writing well, constructing clear information graphics is an iterative process that requires time, practice, and peer review. These elements, as well as basic instruction in the production techniques, are lacking in both undergraduate and graduate education within the social sciences. This blog is a jumping off place for thinking about how to incorporate information graphics into the communication process, how to use them to advance research, and a friendly place for scholars and others to start thinking about the social life of information graphics.
map_critique  visualization  mapping  critique  imformation_graphics  information_aesthetics 
6 days ago
World’s Most Powerful Emulator of Radio-Signal Traffic Opens for Business
Today is the grand opening of the Colosseum. We are not referring here to the storied concrete Colosseum in Rome, which was completed in 80 A.D. and remains famous for its ancient gladiatorial spectacles. We are talking here about DARPA’s Colosseum, a next-generation electronic emulator of the invisible electromagnetic world. Though it resides in a mere 30-foot by 20-foot server room on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, MD, the Colosseum is capable of creating a much larger, and critically important wireless world. If all goes as planned during the Agency’s three-year Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2), competitors vying for $3.75 million in prize money will use the Colosseum—which today became fully accessible to them for the first time—as a world-unique testbed to create radically new paradigms for using and managing access to the electromagnetic spectrum in both military and civilian domains.

“The Colosseum is the wireless research environment that we hope will catalyze the advent of autonomous, intelligent, and—most importantly, collaborative—radio technology, which will be essential as the population of devices linking wirelessly to each other and to the internet continues to grow exponentially,” said SC2 program manager Paul
radio  wireless  simulation  data_space  media_space  infrastructure  interference  spedctrum 
6 days ago
In DARPA's Colosseum, the Combatants are RF Signals | EE Times
Testing how a product works in this RF-laden environment is a major challenge to which almost all design, test, and evaluation engineers can attest.

There are actually are two kinds of RF test. The first assesses if the device meets basic, point-to-point and network requirements, as well as regulatory EMI mandates for unwanted emissions. Those are the relatively easy tests.

The much-harder test scenario is to verify and then optimize performance of the unit in a spectrum swamped with interfering signals (many often stronger than the desired ones), poor SNR, multiple modulation schemes, and worse. ...

That’s where DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — is playing a role. To address this real-world RF test environment, their Colosseum installation is a next-generation emulator of RF sources, and lots of them. It is housed in a modest 20 × 30-foot (6 × 9 m) server room at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. Engineers at APL constructed it with 128 two-antenna, software-defined radio (SDR) units built by National Instruments. The system can emulate tens of thousands of possible interactions among hundreds of wireless communication devices, including cell phones, military radios, IoT devices, and more, all operating at the same time....

However, the objective of Colosseum is not just to provide a diverse, fully controllable, RF-intense environment. It is also the testbed for DARPA’s three-year Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2), which competitors will use to hopefully create significant advanced paradigms needed to use and access electromagnetic spectrum in both military and civilian domains; the winner gets $3.75 million in prize money (see more SC2 details are here). SC2 program manager Paul Tilghman noted that “SC2 is asking a group of radios that weren’t designed to work together to learn how to optimize spectrum capacity in real-time, and is relying on artificial intelligence to find and take advantage of ‘gaps’ and other opportunities to increase efficiency.”
media_space  data_space  infrastructure  radio  wireless  interference  internet_of_things 
6 days ago
Teaching A.I. Systems to Behave Themselves - The New York Times
If a machine can learn to navigate a racing game like Grand Theft Auto, researchers believe, it can learn to drive a real car. If it can learn to use a web browser and other common software apps, it can learn to understand natural language and maybe even carry on a conversation. At places like Google and the University of California, Berkeley, robots have already used the technique to learn simple tasks like picking things up or opening a door.

All this is why Mr. Amodei and Mr. Christiano are working to build reinforcement learning algorithms that accept human guidance along the way. This can ensure systems don’t stray from the task at hand.

Together with others at the London-based DeepMind, a lab owned by Google, the two OpenAI researchers recently published some of their research in this area. Spanning two of the world’s top A.I. labs — and two that hadn’t really worked together in the past — these algorithms are considered a notable step forward in A.I. safety research.

“This validates a lot of the previous thinking,” said Dylan Hadfield-Menell, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. “These types of algorithms hold a lot of promise over the next five to 10 years.”

The field is small...

In some cases, researchers are working to ensure that systems don’t make mistakes on their own, as the Coast Runners boat did. They’re also working to ensure that hackers and other bad actors can’t exploit hidden holes in these systems. Researchers like Google’s Ian Goodfellow, for example, are exploring ways that hackers could fool A.I. systems into seeing things that aren’t there.

Modern computer vision is based on what are called deep neural networks, which are pattern-recognition systems that can learn tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data. By analyzing thousands of dog photos, a neural network can learn to recognize a dog. This is how Facebook identifies faces in snapshots, and it’s how Google instantly searches for images inside its Photos app.

But Mr. Goodfellow and others have shown that hackers can alter images so that a neural network will believe they include things that aren’t really there. Just by changing a few pixels in the photo of elephant, for example, they could fool the neural network into thinking it depicts a car....

“If you train an object-recognition system on a million images labeled by humans, you can still create new images where a human and the machine disagree 100 percent of the time,” Mr. Goodfellow said. “We need to understand that phenomenon.”

Another big worry is that A.I. systems will learn to prevent humans from turning them off. If the machine is designed to chase a reward, the thinking goes, it may find that it can chase that reward only if it stays on. This oft-described threat is much further off, but researchers are already working to address it.
artificial_intelligence  neural_nets 
6 days ago
An Algorithm Trained on Emoji Knows When You’re Being Sarcastic on Twitter - MIT Technology Review
an algorithm MIT researchers developed to analyze tweets can now detect sarcasm, and emotional subtext in general, better than most people.

Detecting the sentiment of social-media posts is already useful for tracking attitudes toward brands and products, and for identifying signals that might indicate trends in the financial markets. But more accurately discerning the meaning of tweets and comments could help computers automatically spot and quash abuse and hate speech online. A deeper understanding of Twitter should also help academics understand how information and influence flows through the network. What’s more, as machines become smarter, the ability to sense emotion could become an important feature of human-to-machine communication....

The researchers originally aimed to develop a system capable of detecting racist posts on Twitter. But they soon realized that the meaning of many messages couldn’t be properly understood without some understanding of sarcasm.

The algorithm uses deep learning, a popular machine-learning technique that relies on training a very large simulated neural network to recognize subtle patterns using a large amount of data. The secret to training this algorithm was that many tweets already use something like a labeling system for emotional content: emoji. Once they took advantage of this to help the system read tweets for emotion in general, the researchers had a head start in teaching it to recognize sarcasm.

“Because we can’t use intonation in our voice or body language to contextualize what we are saying, emoji are the way we do it online,” says Iyad Rahwan, an associate professor the MIT Media lab who developed the algorithm with one of his students, Bjarke Felbo. “The neural network learned the connection between a certain kind of language and an emoji.”
artificial_intelligence  language  humor  sarcasm 
6 days ago
The Chronic Sketches “A New Cartography” – Africa is a Country
The latest issue of the Chronic, a quarterly gazette offshoot of the “project-based mutable object” that is Chimurenga, states its thesis on its cover, which, in the digital version, looks like a network of chalky cartographical scrawls across a dark expanse. The drawings evoke colonial discourse of  “blank spaces” and “the dark continent,” reminding readers that such constructions are as arbitrary and temporary as chalk dust, wiped away by whoever takes control of the board next. However, the real value in this issue, titled “A New Cartography,” is how quickly it dispenses with its critique of colonial cartographies and contributes explicitly to a project that has been implicit in much recent African writing: the creation of dynamic, disjunctive spaces that undermine the premise of the map as stable and representative.
counter_mapping  indigenous  cartography 
7 days ago
Ian Bogost reviews The Stack – Critical Inquiry
But the book is a heck of a ride—by my estimate more than 200,000 words (even without the glossary, notes, and index) of viscous and sometimes truculent prose. Part of the genius is in that labor, of course. It’s as if Bratton occupies a parallel universe that converges mostly but not completely with mine. His ability to see that world in parallax affords the creativity and accomplishment of the book. Bratton urges the modern human to acclimate to the vertigo of the Stack, and a generous reader will take its form as an extension of its argument.

But it pays the price in abstruseness. Like many books that justify mechanical difficulty and abstraction as endemic to the complexity of the goal, The Stack’s political ambitions might better be accomplished through clarity, condensation, and exemplification. The book risks becoming a tome to own and display, rather than a tool to use. There are worse fates for academic monographs, but Bratton’s explicitly claims to intervene in design and politics. The result offers promise and intrigue and possibly even utility to those who would take it further. For the rest, The Stack still demands to be read—or at least to be owned and thumbed through, a talisman for the further work it will doubtless inspire.
book_review  stack 
7 days ago
Stumbling Through Pixel Blizzards: Recent Books on Post-Cinema - Los Angeles Review of Books
These public urban displays with bespoke visualizations are becoming increasingly prevalent, underscoring the shifting nature not only of images, but of architecture, too, as the walls around us become homes to yet another permutation of the cinematic, one that abandons mimesis in favor of transcoding.

These three projects take their place among many in demonstrating a shift within image culture, from the cinematic to the informational, from representation to computation, from pictures to data. Rather than using a camera to photograph images produced by light, these projects are created through new image production techniques — from the scanners used in the first, the imagery collected by drones in the second, and the visualization tools that transcode data into imagery in the third. As such, they constitute a very different act of representation, distinct from that of the photographic or the cinematic.

Other transformative shifts in how we understand contemporary cinema include the migration of movies from theaters to the diverse screens where we now encounter them, from cell phones pulled from pockets to clunky Virtual Reality headsets and fashion-backward Augmented Reality visors, from video installations in museums and galleries to those in outdoor public spaces. Similarly various technologies, such as drones, point not only to new ways to capture images, but also emerging cultures of movement and imagery, of information gathering and data tracking. In short, a collection of new image-making practices, technologies, and conditions of viewing embody a new era of the cinematic. ...

“Post-cinema” has become the catch-all term to designate these changes and refers not just to new filmmaking techniques but also to a sense that our world and its flows of money and power have become too abstract to represent visually. Instead, we feel this kind of cinema: it feels disembodied, precarious, virtual, violent, and, on occasion, thrilling, provocative, and beautiful....

In Drone Age Cinema: Action Film and Sensory Assault, Steen Ledet Christiansen investigates the ways in which contemporary action films epitomize a non-human perception, arguing that rather than simply creating fast-paced and spectacular entertainment, action films, such as the Iron Manfranchise, instead create a culture attuned to fear and war, with the world understood to be a target....

The desire to name that new mode of sensing the world continues in Compact Cinematics: The Moving Image in the Age of Bit-Sized Media, in which editors Pepita Hesselberth and Maria Poulaki propose that it’s time to examine the full range of moving-image experiences that we encounter in a media-saturated culture, regardless of their specific origin (as television show, music video, YouTube short, or feature-length movie, for example). Hesselberth and Poulaki are interested in “new modes of engagement and forms of spectatorship, whether they be solitary, contingent, accelerated, fragmented, procrastinating, and/or productive.”
film  screens  urban_media 
7 days ago
Indigenous stories lead scientist to discover plants can hear - Home | Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald | CBC Radio
An Australian scientist was inspired by stories from Indigenous people around the world about how they communicate with plants. ...

The interesting thing is, science is revealing that in some sense, the plants may actually be listening. A new study by Dr. Monica Gagliano, a research associate professor adjunct in Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Western Australia, has demonstrated that plants can hear.  

Plants can sense and move towards moisture in the soil — at quite a distance. Dr. Gagliano tested whether they found that water using sound. And she found that plants will send their roots towards the sound of running water, even if the plants only hear a recording of running water. 
intelligence  nonhuman  plants  botany  sensation 
7 days ago
How Palantir, Peter Thiel's Secretive Data Company, Pushed Its Way Into Policing | WIRED
Palantir had been selling its data storage, analysis, and collaboration software to police departments nationwide on the basis of rock-solid security. “Palantir Law Enforcement provides robust, built-in privacy and civil liberties protections, including granular access controls and advanced data retention capabilities,” its website reads....

Law enforcement accounts for just a small part of Palantir’s business, which mostly consists of military clients, intelligence outfits like the CIA or Homeland Security, and large financial institutions. In police departments, Palantir’s tools are now being used to flag traffic scofflaws, parole violators, and other everyday infractions. But the police departments that deploy Palantir are also dependent upon it for some of their most sensitive work. Palantir’s software can ingest and sift through millions of digital records across multiple jurisdictions, spotting links and sharing data to make or break cases.

The scale of Palantir’s implementation, the type, quantity and persistence of the data it processes, and the unprecedented access that many thousands of people have to that data all raise significant concerns about privacy, equity, racial justice, and civil rights. But until now, we haven’t known very much about how the system works, who is using it, and what their problems are. And neither Palantir nor many of the police departments that use it are willing to talk about it.

In one of the largest systematic investigations of the company to date, Backchannel filed dozens of public records requests with police forces across America. When Palantir started selling its products to law enforcement, it also laid a paper trail. All 50 states have public records laws providing access to contracts, documents, and emails of local and government bodies. That makes it possible to peer inside the company’s police-related operations in ways that simply aren’t possible with its national security work....

What’s clear is that law enforcement agencies deploying Palantir have run into a host of problems. Exposing data is just the start. In the documents our requests produced, police departments have also accused the company, backed by tech investor and Trump supporter Peter Thiel, of spiraling prices, hard-to-use software, opaque terms of service, and “failure to deliver products”...,

These documents show how Palantir applies Silicon Valley’s playbook to domestic law enforcement. New users are welcomed with discounted hardware and federal grants, sharing their own data in return for access to others’. When enough jurisdictions join Palantir’s interconnected web of police departments, government agencies, and databases, the resulting data trove resembles a pay-to-access social network—a Facebook of crime that’s both invisible and largely unaccountable to the citizens whose behavior it tracks....

No one outside Palantir seems to know for sure how many police departments in America use its technology. (Despite multiple requests, Palantir declined to make anyone available for an interview, or to comment on any of Backchannel’s findings.) The New York Police Department has certainly used it, as have Cook County sheriffs in Chicago, the Virginia State Police, the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., and a dozen law enforcement agencies in Utah.... one state, California, accounts for many of the deployments—and perhaps close to 90 percent of the sales—of Palantir’s systems to domestic law enforcement to date....

The first city in California to get involved was Los Angeles. In 2009, LAPD’s then chief of police, Bill Bratton, wanted to test the real-time analysis and visualization of data. “We were looking for [a] tool to do a better job of visualizing our radio calls as they were coming out,” remembers Sean Malinowski, then a captain but now a deputy chief at the LAPD. “Palantir partnered with us on [an] experiment to come up with [a] situational awareness tool.”

That pilot soon evolved into an investigative analysis platform that could access databases of crime reports and license plate information. Bratton even thought that Palantir might be just the tool for a far more ambitious program of predictive policing (the idea that historical data could provide clues to where crimes might occur in the future). He asked Craig Uchida, a consultant and researcher in data-driven policing, to draw up a plan.... “In LA, we started looking at what could be done with violent crime using data, to see where crime was emerging and what was causing it,” says Uchida. ...

Uchida was a big believer in hotspot policing: deploying officers on bike or foot to troubled areas in order to defuse tension and nip possible crimes in the bud. He proposed a project called Laser that would crunch six years of crime data to identify areas of the city with high levels of gun crime. ... Each time officers stopped someone, they would fill out cards about the stop. These “field interview” cards would capture as much information as possible, from the person’s name and address to the bike or car they were driving—even the tattoos they had. “Most of the time it didn’t lead to anything, but it was…data that went into the system, and that’s what I wanted: more data about what was happening, who they were stopping and why,” says Uchida....

Back at base, analysts and officers would use that information to create so-called Chronic Offender Bulletins, identifying key individuals deemed “potential” or “probable” repeat offenders. These people then received extra attention from special units and patrols employing enhanced surveillance techniques, including license plate readers. Before Palantir, building each profile was a time-consuming job, taking about an hour for an analyst to tie together information from disparate sources. With officers in Newton stopping around 100 people each day, according to Uchida, the analysts could never keep up.

“This is where Palantir came into play,” he says. Because Palantir could automatically integrate everything from citizen tips and crime incidents to field interviews and partial license plates, it dramatically accelerated the production of Chronic Offender Bulletins. What used to take an hour could be generated in three to five minutes. The analysts could now profile every single person stopped by police in Newton...,

Fusion centers are “focal points” for collecting and sharing intelligence on domestic terrorism; there are 77 of them in the continental US, with six in California. One of the largest is the Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC), a high-tech command center run by and sharing an office building with a bureau of the LA Sheriff’s Department (LASD). The JRIC would quickly become the nucleus of Palantir’s largest network of local law enforcement agencies in the country, covering Los Angeles and six other counties—nearly 40,000 square miles and 18.5 million people. Its databases would ultimately stretch far beyond terrorism, including everything from parking tickets to maps of schools.

Palantir Technologies was founded in 2004 by a group of investors and technologists including its current CEO, Alex Karp, and Peter Thiel, a billionaire who co-founded PayPal and subsequently set up a hedge fund and venture capital firm. The CIA was an early investor in the company through its In-Q-Tel venture fund, and Palantir’s advisors have included Condoleezza Rice and former CIA director George Tenet. Many of Palantir’s early customers were intelligence agencies and information-gathering units of the military...

That history means the company’s operations have always been the opposite of transparent. But as Palantir began to work with Los Angeles and other taxpayer-funded police departments, it had to expose a little more of its inner workings to politicians, oversight boards, and the public.

Palantir’s law enforcement technology is based on its Gotham platform, a system it also sells to businesses and governments to organize and analyze unstructured data like spreadsheets, reports, and emails. (Palantir’s other major platform, Metropolis, is aimed at the financial and investment industries.) A promotional video supplied by the company shows LAPD officers conducting geographical searches of a neighborhood to find crimes reported there, linking those crimes to suspects, seeing mugshots, visualizing networks of gangs, and even using augmented reality of a location during an arrest....

But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Palantir offers access to a universe of digital databases that are typically inaccessible to the general public. Precisely what kinds of information its tools grant access to has been largely unknown until now. ... list of applications and software—most previously unreported—built by Palantir for the JRIC fusion center between 2010 and 2015.

The system launched with the ability for the fusion center “to intake suspicious activity reports from across the many law enforcement agencies in the region, compare them against each other and all sources of intel…and identify links or patterns of suspicious behavior.” The initial build also included instant access to millions of 911 call records, and a list of every officer on duty during every single police shift of every day.
The next year, Palantir added databases of regional crime data, field interviews, explosive-related incidents, and jail visitation records. ...A much bigger change was the integration in 2011 of data from the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS).

CLETS used to be the primary digital tool for many officers in California. It contains criminal records and restraining orders, but also details of cars and drivers from the Department of Motor Vehicles in California and neighboring Oregon. That means that it includes millions of people outside the criminal justice system.

Once the Palantir system had incorporated … [more]
big_data  predictive_policing  smart_cities  urban_data  Palantir 
7 days ago
Our Machines Now Have Knowledge We’ll Never Understand | WIRED
you give a machine learning system thousands of scans of sloppy, handwritten 8s and it will learn to identify 8s in a new scan. It does so, not by deriving a recognizable rule, such as “An 8 is two circles stacked vertically,” but by looking for complex patterns of darker and lighter pixels, expressed as matrices of numbers — a task that would stymie humans. In a recent agricultural example, the same technique of numerical patterns taught a computer how to sort cucumbers....

The results from this increasingly sophisticated branch of computer science can be deep learning that produces outcomes based on so many different variables under so many different conditions being transformed by so many layers of neural networks that humans simply cannot comprehend the model the computer has built for itself.....

Although AlphaGo has proven itself to be a world class player, it can’t spit out practical maxims from which a human player can learn. The program works not by developing generalized rules of play — e.g., “Never have more than four sets of unconnected stones on the board” — but by analyzing which play has the best chance of succeeding given a precise board configuration. In contrast, Deep Blue, the dedicated IBM chess-playing computer, has been programmed with some general principles of good play. As Christof Koch writes in Scientific American, AlphaGo’s intelligence is in the weights of all those billions of connections among its simulated neurons. It creates a model that enables it to make decisions, but that model is ineffably complex and conditional. Nothing emerges from this mass of contingencies, except victory against humans....

But what do we say about the neural networks that are enabling us to analyze the interactions of genes in two-locus genetic diseases? How about the use of neural networks to discriminate the decay pattern of single and multiple particles at the Large Hadron Collider? How the use of machine learning to help identify which of the 20 climate change models tracked by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is most accurate at any point? Such machines give us good results — for example: “Congratulations! You just found a Higgs boson!” — but we cannot follow their “reasoning.”

Clearly our computers have surpassed us in their power to discriminate, find patterns, and draw conclusions. That’s one reason we use them. Rather than reducing phenomena to fit a relatively simple model, we can now let our computers make models as big as they need to. But this also seems to mean that what we know depends upon the output of machines the functioning of which we cannot follow, explain, or understand...

In 1943, the US Army Corps of Engineers set Italian and German prisoners of war to work building the largest scale model in history: 200 acres representing the 41 percent of the United States that drains into the Mississippi River. By 1949 it was being used to run simulations to determine what would happen to cities and towns along the way if water flooded in from this point or that. It’s credited with preventing flooding in Omaha in 1952 that could have caused $65 million in damage.[2] In fact, some claim its simulations are more accurate than the existing digital models....

The model assumes that what happens at full scale also happens at 1/2000 scale. In fact, the model was built at 1/2000 horizontally but on a vertical scale of 1/100 to “ensure that topographic shifts would be apparent,” resulting in the Rockies rising out of scale, 50 feet above the ground. The model makers assumed, apparently correctly, that the height of the mountains would not affect the outcomes of their experiments. Likewise, they did not simulate the position of the moon or grow miniature crops in the fields because they assumed those factors were not relevant....

it works because it doesn’t require us to understand it: It lets the physics of the simulation do its job without imposing the limitations of human reason on it. The result is a model that is more accurate than one like MONIAC that was constructed based on human theory and understanding....

Until machine learning, we’ve had no choice but to manually design the models that computers then implement. We assumed that the path to increased predictive power meant making the models more detailed and accurate, while accumulating more and better data for those handcrafted models to operate on. Because the models came from human minds, knowledge and understanding would go hand in hand....

For their first fifty years, computers assumed scarcity. They were famous for it. The minimal information required for a purpose was gathered, and was structured into records that were the same for each instance. That limitation was built into computers’ initial ingestion medium: punch cards. These cards turned information into a spatial array that could be read because the array and its encoding were uniform. That uniformity squeezed out differences, peculiarities, exceptions, and idiosyncrasies…the stuff of life, as beatniks and other malcontents recognized from the start....

Punch cards had in turn been developed in the late 18th century as a way of controlling the patterns woven by Jacquard looms. They were not designed to carry information any more than a gear is, and they carried into the computer age the reductive, repetitive parsimony of Industrial Age machine design....

These days we talk about information less as a resource held in storage containers than as streams, a metaphor just about perfectly opposed to the embodiment of information in punch cards. ...

Now our machines are letting us see that even if the rules are simple, elegant, beautiful and rational, the domain they govern is so granular, so intricate, so interrelated, with everything causing everything else all at once and forever, that our brains and our knowledge cannot begin to comprehend it. It takes a network of humans and computers to know a world so thoroughly governed by contingency — one in which it’s chaos all the way down...

Our new reliance on inscrutable models as the source of the justification of our beliefs puts us in an odd position. If knowledge includes the justification of our beliefs, then knowledge cannot be a class of mental content, because the justification now consists of models that exist in machines, models that human mentality cannot comprehend....

We foreswear some types of knowledge already: The courts forbid some evidence because allowing it would give police an incentive for gathering it illegally. Likewise, most research institutions require proposed projects to go through an institutional review board to forestall otherwise worthy programs that might harm the wellbeing of their test subjects....

Mike Williams, a research engineer at Fast Forward Labs, a data analytics company, said in a phone interview that we need to be especially vigilant about the prejudices that often, and perhaps always, make their way into which data sets are considered important and how those data are gathered....

Our machines now are letting us see that even if the rules the universe plays by are not all that much more complicated than Go’s, the interplay of everything all at once makes the place more contingent than Aristotle, Newton, Einstein, or even some Chaos theorists thought. It only looked orderly because our instruments were gross, because our conception of knowledge imposes order by simplifying matters until we find it, and because our needs were satisfied with approximations....

That’s fine if you just want to put the 8-ball in the corner pocket. But if you want to know the real path that ball will take, you have to look at the friction created at the molecular level as it passes over each fiber of the felt, at the pull of the moon and the moment’s variation in the Earth’s wobble, at the unequal impact of the photons emitted from the light fixture above the table and the lamp off to the side, and at the change in the air current as your opponent holds her breath. Not to mention the indeterminacy of the quanta. None of that may affect whether you sink the ball, but it is the truth of what’s going on. ...

Our machines are letting us see this now that they do not require us to strip information down to what fits into a pile of punch cards. With this new capacity we now lean toward including everything and asking questions later....

As this sinks in, we are beginning to undergo a paradigm shift in our pervasive, everyday idea not only of knowledge, but of how the world works. Where once we saw simple laws operating on relatively predictable data, we are now becoming acutely aware of the overwhelming complexity of even the simplest of situations. Where once the regularity of the movement of the heavenly bodies was our paradigm, and life’s constant unpredictable events were anomalies — mere “accidents,” a fine Aristotelian concept that differentiates them from a thing’s “essential” properties — now the contingency of all that happens is becoming our paradigmatic example.
This is bringing us to locate knowledge outside of our heads. We can only know what we know because we are deeply in league with alien tools of our own devising. Our mental stuff is not enough....

We think out in the world with tools. Taking knowledge as a type of mental content — a justified, true opinion — obscures that simple phenomenological truth.
artificial_intelligence  intelligence  epistemology  machine_learning 
7 days ago
Git Physical
Last week at LIL, I had the pleasure of running a pilot of git physical, the first part of a series of workshops aimed at introducing git to artists and designers through creative challenges. In this workshop I focused on covering the basics: three-tree architecture, simple git workflow, and commands (add, commit, push). These lessons were fairly standard but contained a twist: The whole thing was completely analogue!
materiality  pedagogy  git  software  paper_prototype 
8 days ago
Tina Campt: Black Feminist Futures and the Practice of Fugitivity - YouTube
What kinds of ‘practice’ create possibilities for new feminist futures? How do our everyday engagements with power complicate how we understand feminist struggle? This talk uses a black feminist conception of practice to think beyond conventional notions of resistance as the primary model for understanding the relationship of marginalized subjects to power. Focusing on archival photographs of black communities in diaspora, it explores the quotidian practices of black subjects whose micro-labors of struggle are frequently overlooked in an emphasis on collective and individual acts of resistance. The concept of “fugitivity” or “taking flight” emerges as a signature idiom of black diasporic culture and a meaningful pathway for realizing the aspirations of futurity articulated by black feminist theory.
archives  futures  feminism  blackness  race 
8 days ago
Nobody Knows What Lies Beneath New York City - Bloomberg
Leidner believes, fervently, in the power of geospatial data, “interfacing multiple map layers from different sources to come up with valuable intelligence,” as he explains it. In the ’90s, he led the creation of a map of New York City that stands as a pre-Google Earth model of urban cartographic complexity, troves of data integrated to reveal the location of everything from billboards to curbs. What it doesn’t encompass is the subterranean city, the sprawling network of infrastructure and the natural features that surround it. Leidner is convinced that if such a map had been available before Sandy, as a resource shared and referenced by the multiple players who keep the city running, the precariousness of East 13th Street would’ve been obvious. But, he hopes, by the next major hurricane, planning ahead will be easier. Under his direction, New York is on the verge of completing the world’s most complex underground map—and therefore the most detailed realistic picture of the interlocking systems that make a city work. That, Leidner says, will improve public safety, help officials better manage rapid growth, and usher in the era of “smart” cities, in which sensors and other automated technologies manage the flow of daily urban ....

“Light and radio waves don’t go through dirt like they do air,” says George Percivall, chief technical officer for the Open Geospatial Consortium, which is helping to develop global standards for underground mapping. “The next frontier, in both a literal and figurative sense, is underground.”...

Underneath the 6,000 miles of asphalt and concrete road lie thousands of miles of water, sewer, gas, telecommunications, and electrical infrastructure. And let’s not forget the 500 miles of underground subway tracks or Con Edison’s 100-mile steam delivery system. In its entirety, it’s known to no one. The individual details of the vast underground are hoarded and guarded by the various stakeholders. Con Edison has its electrical map; the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) keeps track of water and sewer pipes; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) could tell you where the transit tunnels are; and so on....

the streets are sliced open 200,000 times—an average of almost 550 cuts per day, or 30 per street mile every year....

For every job, contractors are required to call in the keepers of this knowledge. Representatives from the relevant utility companies and city agencies are dispatched to sites, where they survey and mark out the location of underground infrastructure with spray paint. Walk just about any block in the city and you’ll see these urban hieroglyphics, the scar tissue that lingers long after the cuts are sealed. “GAS” is one of the more obvious ones, the unambiguity a sign of how dangerous it is to miscalculate and rupture a gas line. Still, mistakes are common and inevitable. Strikes on underground infrastructure cost the city an estimated $300 million every year...

Leidner’s map would let a user zoom through the city’s layers of pipes and wire, asphalt and tunnels, streams and granite to pinpoint a leaking sewer line or corroding gas line ...

Leidner’s career has unfolded concurrently with the rise of geographic information systems. ... Wendy Dorf was then supervising the agency’s project of using GIS software to convert paper maps of the city’s water delivery system: the water mains, every pipe that connected buildings to the system, “and even the 100,000 hydrants,” she says, still marveling at the accomplishment. “Computer mapping was not sophisticated,” she recalls. “But lo and behold, after 10 years we had networked the entire system.”...

After mapping the system that brought water to the people, DEP set forth on an equally ambitious project to use GIS to map the system that took it away, the sewers. The most obvious course of action would be to build one on top of the other, to create one map. But that would mean working collaboratively—ensuring that the sewer map was constructed with the same specifications, standards, and formats, anchored to what’s termed “control points” (spots whose location is already known with certainty), so that everything lined up correctly. Unfortunately, “the sewer guys hated the water guys,” Leidner remembers....

the technology could create a single accurate map encompassing not merely these two layers but also countless others. It would be called the base map, New York City’s infrastructural ecosystem depicted on one master document containing all the topographical and built features, as well as the water and sewer lines underneath. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani agreed to support the project via the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT). ...

After the water and sewers were mapped, the base map expanded into an exercise in photogrammetry. Planes flew across the city, taking aerial photos that were linked to GPS and control points on the ground. Every pixel represented 1 foot of accuracy. Working with city agencies and overseen by Leidner and Dorf, experts at an outside mapping company scanned and digitized the photos and created outlines for the various components, including every curb line and building footprint. The base map was complete by 1999. It was distributed to all city agencies, many of which built their data upon it. “One map to bind them all,” Leidner says...

From a war room on a Hudson River pier in Midtown, the deep-infrastructure group pored over plans and renderings of the World Trade Center’s basement layers and overlaid them with utility maps. They mapped outage areas for water, telecommunications, and electricity. “We were churning out maps like crazy—something like 3,000 in six weeks,” Leidner says. “It was a real watershed moment for GIS.”... the events of Sept. 11 also put their project in a different light. Con Edison, which by 2001 had been on the cusp of agreeing to initiate a fully digitized, shared map of the electric infrastructure, pulled its support, citing security concerns...

Leidner retired from the city in 2004 and began doing private-sector consulting. Without his enthusiasm or Con Ed’s data, the map languished. Dorf also moved on to private-sector work. Jim McConnell, a commissioner with the city’s Office of Emergency Management, succeeded Leidner and Dorf as the biggest proponent of charting the underground. At the same time, skeletal parts of a future underground map began to emerge. ... He approached the Fund for the City of New York, a Ford Foundation organization tasked with financing innovative projects involving government and nonprofits. ...

The Belgian government responded by ordering the creation, over the next three years, of an underground infrastructure map that depicts every asset owned or controlled by more than 300 utilities in Flanders, a region several times larger than New York City, with about three-quarters of the population. The almost 400,000 miles of subterranean cables, pipelines, wires, and conduits could circle Earth 16 times.

Not just anyone can gain access to the Belgian map. A contractor that wishes to dig underground must submit the coordinates of the work area via a computer portal called KLIP. The request goes out to all stakeholders with infrastructure running beneath the area, which are required to turn over their data. The information is then synthesized and sent to the requester as a single document. ...

Chicago has embarked on a project similar to the Belgian model, and mapping authorities in Singapore and London are also researching pilot programs.
New York’s existing three layers—the DEP’s water and sewer documents, plus the more recent mapping of subway stations—mean it’s starting its project many steps ahead. ...

As Leidner and his team navigate the political thicket of building the map, they continue to work closely with the Open Geospatial Consortium to develop technical standards for worldwide underground mapping. The effort has attracted pro bono consulting from mapping agencies around the world, including the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain and the Singapore Land Authority....

New York’s will provide visuals in three dimensions.
As with any paper map, latitude and longitude are the easiest attributes to depict, and the most crucial—you want to know there’s a gas line here as opposed to there before digging—but knowledge of depth provides a far more useful tool. But it also presents a knottier version of the problem all mapping systems face, especially when they combine different data sets into one map: finding control points. Ahearn, the Hunter College GIS mastermind who aided Leidner’s team after Sept. 11, argues that New York should use the city’s existing sewer map, which is already part of the base map, as an anchoring point. Knowledge of depth (the z-axis) is important for sewer officials, because sewage—as the old axiom says—must roll downhill. New York’s sewer map is one of the most advanced in the world, with precise knowledge of the surface location of every manhole. “If you have two different manhole covers, each has a different x, y, and z location, so you have the invert elevation, the distance down to the pipe for one and the distance down for the top of the other,” Ahearn says. “So if that pipe is straight, you can calculate the x-y-z for any location along the pipe.” On the other hand, he adds, “if it’s curved, you need to know the radius of the curvature.”...

The inclusion of depth information will allow it to depict not only the infrastructure but also information about the soil levels that surround it, using data from hundreds of boreholes around the city. “Knowing the type of soil is very important for the behavior of the infrastructure,” says George Deodatis, a civil engineering professor at Columbia. “If the soil is very soft, you might have settlement, and some of the pipelines might start … [more]
infrastructure  underground  mapping  cartography  GIS 
9 days ago
A History of Zoning in Three Acts - Part I — Strong Towns
Zoning is an umbrella term for a (usually) vast set of regulations that determine where you can build, what you can build, and what activities you can engage in on your property. Some common building elements that are covered by zoning include:

Setbacks (how far from the property line your building can be)
Lot coverage (how much of your land can be used for buildings)...

To understand the legal underpinnings of US zoning, it is important to understand two legal concepts: nuisance and police power. In essence, nuisance law concerns cases where one person’s activity has a negative effect on another person’s property. Under nuisance law, if you dump toxic chemicals that leach onto my land, I can sue you in court for damages.

Police power refers to the ability of a government to regulate the affairs of its citizens in order to ensure the “health, safety, morals, and general welfare” of its people. That phrase is important and one we will revisit on occasion throughout this series. Police power is important because it represents a proactive action to prevent or eliminate harm. For zoning, the idea is that a city can regulate the use of land in order to avoid the nuisance conditions before they happen. This is a concept we will investigate further in part two of this series.

Given its theoretical underpinnings in nuisance and police power, modern zoning was not invented out of thin air. There are many examples of regulations, foreign and domestic, even from pre-Constitutional times, dictating the legal use of real property and the form of buildings thereon.
urban_planning  zoning 
9 days ago
Theaster Gates on the Politics of What We Preserve | NewBlackMan (in Exile)
'We preserve the legacy of some people and cultures, while allowing others to fade into obscurity —  but make no mistake, says innovative artist Theaster Gates, that process isn't neutral. His new exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, How To Build a House Museum, takes a closer look at what we deem worthy of memorializing, what we bother to preserve, and why it matters.'
archives  libraries  community_art  community_archives  urban_planning  theaster_gates 
9 days ago
Density Design | “Data Walk” workshop – by Yanni Loukissas
How can design put data in its place?

During a week in early May, I led a workshop at the Politecnico di Milano to investigate this question. A group of twenty-nine Communication Design students participated. They worked in small teams to explore the design opportunities and challenges posed by situating data in an unfamiliar setting: a walk....

Over the course of five days, I asked students to show how data and place are connected by designing walks that would take us through both data sets and data settings. Walking became the algorithm that allowed us to connect data and place in a series of surprisingly evocative encounters.

Student projects explored how practices of both collecting and displaying data might be critically reimagined through the structure of their walks. Walks gave rise to creative data collections: unconscious head motions, street stickers, discarded cigarette butts, minute changes in the skin. Walks also placed those data within and around the Bovisa campus of the Politecnico as: a prosthetic for walking, a soundscape, an ironic art installation, and a self-monitoring app. This range of rigorous and whimsical experiments helped us all reconsider the relationship between data and place....

Exercise 1. Walking for data collection

In the first exercise, students explored where data come from and how they are shaped by specific origins. This was not an abstract exercise. They learned hands-on how to make their own data sets. First, they identified a public route along which to collect data. Then, they selected a neglected or invisible subject encountered along that route as the focus of their data collection. I offered a selection of unorthodox procedures to help students develop reflexive collecting practices, such as “don’t categorize,” “use irregular measures,” “note absences,” “rely on your judgment,” and “record your own presence.”...

Exercise 2. Walking for data display

In the second exercise, students considered the context in which new audiences might encounter their original data set. In this follow up assignment, students learned how data are affected by local settings for display. Still working in groups, they created short (~5 minute) data walks using the sets collected in exercise 1. Their data walks were both physical and informational traversals. They simultaneously took us through spaces and through a data sets, calling attention to the relationship between the data and its surrounding context. Each group choose a procedure to help shape their walk: “narrate,” “materialize,” “participate,” “layer,” or “zoom.”...

Group 3 gathered discarded cigarette butts and displayed them ironically as annotated art pieces along the promenade from the Bovisa train station. A 2015 Italian law recently redefined cigarette butts discarded in the street as “trash.” The group’s data walk prompted us to reflect on the general category of trash and the specific stories that individual cigarette butts might tell....

Group 4 assembled data on street stickers posted by local bands around Bovisa and subsequently reimagined those stickers as nodes in a sound walk. In their working prototype, each sticker functioned as a virtual speaker that diffuses music. As you got closer to a band’s sticker, the volume of their track increased. When you walked through areas dense with stickers, multiple music tracks played over one another...

Group 7 led us on an archeological investigation of cracks in the architecture of Bovisa, and prompted us to consider their significance as markers of both historical and environmental change. Their prototype mobile app treated cracks as opportunities to peel back the surface of the city and peer into its past.
infrastructural  tourism  data_space  walking  pedagogy 
10 days ago
The Proxy and its Politics | Rhizome
The original meaning of proxy comes from procurator, Latin for an agent able to legally act on behalf of another. Today, when you hear the word you probably think of the VPN obscuring your porn preferences from the NSA; it commonly refers to a computer server acting as an intermediary between a local network and a larger one.

A proxy in this sense is an intermediary but also, in the words of the conference organizers, “a decoy or surrogate.” Yet, as opposed to a legal representative, the digital proxy is often unauthorized—contributing to “a post-representational, or post-democratic, political age, one increasingly populated by bot militias, puppet states, ghostwriters, and communication relays.” Proxy politics, in RCCP’s usage, is both a diagnosis of the contemporary political ground and a potential set of tools for resistance.

A proxy server may provide anonymity and security, but can also block access. Proxy politics is in this sense a struggle for who controls the ratio of information passed back and forth. But the battle, if it’s useful to call it that, is muddied by the fact that it must also be conducted by proxy—if power lies in invisibility, one has to obscure oneself to resist.

The double nature of the proxy led theorist Wendy Chun, in her
10 days ago
Storage Space - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
The internet has become a quotidian source and depository of shared information, turning into a vast, virtual storage space. Shelving away our lives has turned into a daily habit, even an obsession, and takes up considerable amounts of our time. We constantly manage files of our professional and personal lives, and deposit loads of visual and written documents of our collective existence in our computers and various digital devices. As soon as we record the development of our life, we store it away. But are we all archivists? Does the capacity to store information constitute an archive? Is the database machinic and the archive human?
If we wish to understand how the design of cultural memory designs human culture, we should go to the root of the issue. What is this fundamental desire to memorialize, and to archive? “Archive fever,” as Jacques Derrida reminds us, is a phenomenon that has roots in the word arkhē which “names at once the commencement and the commandment.”...

Think of the way the archive has emerged as inspiration as well as model in the visual arts. Here, the idea of archive often has arisen precisely to counteract machinic behavior and to resist commencement, order, and completion. A poignant example is Gerhard Richter’s artistic archive, Atlas (1962–2013), a collection of the pictures, both historical and personal that the artist has accumulated across five decades.7 It is an archive of images of landscapes, urban plans, views, travel sites, peopled places, bodyscapes, objects, and interiors, often marked by slashes of paint. The fragments are set in an orderly fashion but with no systematizing goal or taxonomic obsession to control the contents. In this mnemonic archive, the photographic material is not forced into fixed schemes of memorization; nor is it driven to exhaustion, according to a logic of enclosure. The work is boundless, and yet bound. This cartographic archive is not designed to give categoric form to the knowledge it presents; rather, it conveys a material work of mourning....

Yet the art of the archive goes beyond the use of pictures and found objects, the remake of cabinets of curiosities, or the reenactment of the narratives of former cultural archives. In some way, the contemporary artistic archive has had to come to terms with the old laws of the arkhē, which have reemerged in the digital age in the form of the systems and logic of the database. This phenomenon provokes discussion in art of the difference between an archive and a database, and the possible tension between human and nonhuman factors. For his part, Hal Foster argues that “the archives at issue here are not databases…; they are recalcitrantly material, fragmentary rather than fungible, and as such they call out for human interpretation, not machinic reprocessing.”...

We are witnessing renewed attention to informational modes and models in various ways, which are in turn informing the design of the archive. In speaking of contemporary visual culture, David Joselit has pointed to a “shift from object-based aesthetics in both architecture and art to a network aesthetics premised on the emergence of form from populations of images,” which constitute “formats,” that is, “dynamic mechanisms for aggregating content.”10 This shift demands further reflection on the status of things such as images, their forms of collection, strategies of aggregation, patterns of memorization, and dynamics of circulation—in other words, on the archival design.
It is interesting to note that an intense interest in material culture and a deep fascination for the materiality of the archive has emerged in the digital age, characterized by networks and their seeming immateriality. New disciplines, methods, and forms of scholarship have originated from this tension between material and immaterial culture, and they express this very tension in their development. Think of the rise of “media archaeology,” which, in some ways, is an (in)discipline of all things archival.
archives  archive_art  materiality  media_archaeology 
11 days ago
[Readings] | Forty Questions, by Valeria Luiselli | Harper's Magazine
Questions 9, 10, and 11 on the intake questionnaire are: “How do you like where you’re living now?”; “Are you happy there?”; “Do you feel safe?” It’s hard to imagine that these children, considered a burden to institutions and unwanted intruders by a large part of the society to which they’ve just arrived, soon to face a judge and defend themselves against a removal order, indeed “like” where they are living. In the media and much of the official political discourse, the word “illegal” prevails over “undocumented” and the term “immigrant” over “refugee.” How would anyone who is stigmatized as an “illegal immigrant” feel safe and happy? But the children usually responded yes to those three questions....

Once children receive a Notice to Appear, they have to present themselves in immigration court. If they don’t show up (because they fear going to court, or because they have since moved, or because they simply didn’t get the notice) they are usually “removed in absentia.” An immigration judge, assisted by a translator, informs those who do show up that they have the right to an attorney, but not at the expense of the U.S. government. In other words, it is the children’s responsibility to find and pay for a lawyer, or find a free lawyer, who can help them defend their case against the U.S. government attorney seeking to deport them.

The most common forms of immigration relief are special immigrant juvenile (S.I.J.) status and asylum status. If a child is eligible for either of these, he or she may remain in the United States legally and can later apply for lawful permanent residency and even citizenship. For a child to apply for S.I.J. status, a family court must determine that he or she is impeded from reunification with at least one parent because of abuse, abandonment, neglect, or a similar basis under state law, and that reunification or return to the home country is not in the child’s best interest. Asylum, on the other hand, is granted to people who are fleeing from or who fear persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or association with a particular social group. It is not enough that these children have suffered unspeakable harm, that they will continue to fall victim to the systematic and targeted violence of criminal groups. The harm or persecution must be proved to be because of at least one of these classifications. The main problem with asylum — the reason that lawyers often consider it a secondary choice — is that if it is granted, the children can never return to their home country without jeopardizing their immigration status in the United States. Other less common options are the U visa, which can be granted only to victims of certain crimes, and the T visa, for victims of human trafficking.
classification  bureaucracy 
11 days ago
Indigenous Classification – TLAM Project
1. Organization versus Classification

According to Olson, the concept of organization is appropriate to indigenous classification because it “suggests an organic whole made up of connected parts” (Tomren 10). Traditional classification, on the other hand, emphasizes arrangement of information as individual entities.

2. Using Unbiased Subject Headings/Terms

Olson talks about the need for librarians to be aware and eliminate derogatory terms used by Library of Congress that further marginalize communities of color, women and the disabled.

3. Creating Knowledge Organization Reflecting Indigenous Worldview

Libraries need to understand that the Western worldview, which emphasizes hierarchy, linearity and individuality cannot be applied to the organization of non-Western knowledge. Native cultures, in particular, value relationships, holistic concepts and balance. In addition, indigenous cultures are diverse and should not be treated as a monolithic entity as they have been since the beginnings of American colonization. The Brian Deer Classification system is an example of a classification scheme that reflects a First Nation’s perspective and was developed in the 1970s.
indigenous  classification 
11 days ago
Field Book Project | Smithsonian Institution Archives
he Field Book Project began as a partnership between Smithsonian Institution Archives and National Museum of Natural History to identify, locate, and catalog field notes across the Smithsonian Institution in order to increase their discoverability. The FBP joined with Biodiversity Heritage Library and Smithsonian Libraries in 2014 to make the field notes more widely available through BHL.

In July 2015, FBP staff began work on the current two-year grant from the Arcadia Foundation, UK. In this stage of the project, FBP staff will catalog 2,000 field books as well as digitize and make available 2,600 field books on BHL.

In order to continue supporting BHL’s growing archival collections, FBP staff will also provide support to other projects, including the //Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature Project// funded by IMLS and the //BHL Field Notes Project//funded by CLIR.

Items cataloged for the Field Book Project can be viewed in Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center, and items digitized for the Project are available on BHL.

What is a field book?
Field books, also called field notes or field documentation, are original records of scientific discovery. They are primary source documents that describe the events leading up to and including the collection of specimens or observations during field research. Field books can take many forms depending on the information needs of the collector.

Importance and challenges of field books
Field notes are significant sources of information related to scientific discovery. They provide rich data for researchers to understand how biodiversity has changed over time and space. They enhance information associated with specimens by providing details regarding dates, localities (for geo-referencing), and associated event data. For example, field diary entries may describe habitats, meteorological events, personal observations, and emotional declarations. These additional data allow us to assess the intrinsic value of specimens, as well as use information in new ways: reconstructing historical ecologies, clarifying specimen's provenance, and re-discovering localities.

Field books as an object type are located and described in a wide variety of ways. They can be found in rare book collections, libraries, archives, and museum departments. Field book descriptions can range from brief folder level descriptions in finding aids to having no descriptions at all. Regrettably, field book collections are often distributed across departments within an institution or even across multiple institutions with no centralized access point, complicating researcher’s ability to discover and access them. Furthermore, although generally considered archival documents, field books are just as frequently managed in museum collections, science labs, and discipline-specific libraries. These various types of custodianship result in a myriad of descriptive practices with varying levels of detail, further compounding access and usability issues.
archives  digital_archives  field_guide  nature 
11 days ago
Confronting Our Failure of Care Around the Legacies of Marginalized People in the Archives
The politics of what we’ve traditionally preserved means the archive is filled with silences, absences, and distortions, mostly affecting the legacies of the less privileged, including black women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, poor people, and victims of police violence, to name a few. In the name of neutrality, we’re erasing people, communities and their humanity from the historical record.
The more selective and specialized space of digital collections, prioritizes professionalism, technical expertise, and standards, over a critical interrogation of the cultural character of our records. So this is certainly an appropriate venue to ask questions about the diversity represented in our historical records. Because for digital collections, who gets represented is closely tied to who writes the software, who builds the tools, who produces the technical standards, and who provides the funding or other resources for that work....

title of my talk. It was inspired by the powerful words of the renowned artist and urban planner, Theaster Gates. Theaster is the Director of the Arts and Public Life Initiative and also a professor in the Department of Visual Arts, both at the University of Chicago. He does a lot of amazing things but some of his most powerful art is around working directly within communities that have been forgotten; where he believes art can transform how people see themselves within those communities and how others see them from the outside.
This includes projects like transforming a boarded up and abandoned home into a community centered library, archive, and arts space on the Southside of Chicago; Or converting an abandoned bank building into a thriving arts center. In many ways Gates’ work is about radical inclusion and transformation and I think archivists can learn a lot from that. In an interview earlier this year about his new exhibition, How to Build a House Museum, Gates talked about the politics of what gets preserved, how we decide what is worthy of memorialization, and why those things matter. It’s a fascinating interview where he also touched on the awesome potential of house museums as a powerful way of remembering how local people or communities have contributed to our shared culture....

So how do we begin to confront our failure of care around the legacies of marginalized people? I think we need to start by taking a hard look at our obsession with professionalism and ask instead, why people, are not at the center of our work. ...

2.Model our work after projects, organizations, or institutions that are already doing people centered work. I invite to dig deeper into these project and make contact with the people involved.
Digital Transgender Archive
A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland
Inland Empire Memories
The South Asian American Digital Archive
The Shorefront Legacy Center
Diversifying the Digital Historical Record
Documenting the Now
3.We need to confront the unbearable whiteness of our profession. According to 2014/2015 Association of Research Libraries statistics, “14.8% of professional staff in US ARL university libraries (including law and medical libraries) belongs to one of the four non-Caucasian categories for which ARL keeps records. The percentage of minorities in managerial or leadership positions in ARL academic libraries is far lower: 10.7% are directors (12 out of 112), 6.2% are associate directors (20 out of 323), 7% are assistant directors (11 out of 157), and 8.7% (33 out of 379) are the head of a branch library.” Overall, more than 85% of professionals working in ARL libraries are white. And I use ARL library statistics because most of the larger, resource rich, and prominent American university libraries are
archives  race  inclusion  erasure  silence 
11 days ago
Prototype [draft] [#digitalkeywords] – Culture Digitally
Silicon Valley is a land of prototypes. From cramped, back-room start-ups to the glass-walled cubicle farms of Apple and Oracle, engineers labor day and night to produce working models of new software and new devices on which to run it. These prototypes need not function especially well, or even hardly at all. What they have to do is make a possible future visible. With a prototype in hand, a project ceases to be a pipedream. It becomes something an engineer, a manager, and a marketing team can get behind.

But this is only one kind of prototype, and in many ways, it’s the easiest to describe. Silicon Valley produces others, sometimes alongside software and hardware, in the stories salesmen tell about their products, and sometimes well away from the digital factory floor, in the lives that engineers and their colleagues lead. When salesmen pitch a new iPhone or, say, new software for mapping your local neighborhood, they often also pitch a new vision of the social world. Their devices Will Change Human History For The Better – and you can glimpse the changes to come right there, these hucksters suggest, in the stories they tell. As they enter the marketplace, the technology-centered worlds these storytellers have talked into being become models for society at large. Likew
12 days ago
What We’re Reading - NYTimes.com
Person, Place, Thing

From Places Journal: What we stash away in closets and storage rooms reveals a lot about us, in what we keep — and sometimes hide — from the world. This strange, surprising story evokes that hidden life, in the smells of old typewriters, tools and photographs, and the feel of yellowed newspapers crumbling in your hand. I was transported to my grandfather’s dusty old workshop (and its mysterious bins and cabinets that cried out to be snooped into by a 10-year-old) just in reading it. — Kirk Johnson, Seattle bureau chief
my_work  closets 
12 days ago
A Chair Is a Chair - Triple Canopy
Judd eventually came to deride his first table as a debasement of the original artwork. In his writing, he asserted a quasi-ontological difference between furniture and sculpture; each needed to be approached on its own terms, and one should never serve as the point of departure for the other. Judd disdained “old good ideas made shiny and new” and “‘designer’ Italian furniture,” which was symptomatic of the homogenizing pull of mass production;...

The artist mandated that his artwork and furniture never be exhibited together, and that his plywood chairs not assume the preciousness likely to be associated with his plywood sculptures; chairs were, emphatically, to be used....

The fever for Judd furniture—and the apparent brand synergy—reached a zenith in the fall of 1995, when an eight-page foldout advertisement launching Calvin Klein Home, and shot against the backdrop of Marfa’s Chinati Foundation, appeared in fashion and lifestyle magazines. The first page featured pillows and gauzy sheets casually draped across a reproduction of a Judd bed frame made for the shoot. Behind the bed hung a painting by Korean artist Hyong-Keun Yunan (part of the foundation’s permanent collection), its dark tones precisely coordinated with the raw concrete floor. The next year, Martha Stewart Living published “Martha in Marfa,” a chronicle of a southwestern barbecue prepared at the Chinati Foundation on a monumental concrete grill designed by Judd and echoing the obstinate sculptures strewn about the surrounding landscape....

The fear, occasionally bordering on paranoia, of artworks being perceived as decorative has long haunted prominent strands of modernism. ...

“Calvin has always liked a Minimalist approach to art,” the vice president of Calvin Klein Home said, simply, at the time of the Chinati Foundation campaign. The Chinati Foundation spaces made for appealing backdrops because they were “spare and light” and “made the products stand out.” The VP went on to note that many of Klein’s designs were inspired by Judd’s. Some borrow obliquely from his formal vocabulary of hard-edged quadrilaterals, unadorned materials, and permutational open cubes; others are mirror-image copies or scaled reproductions....

IKEA’s LACK floating shelf is hardly distinguishable from a unit in one of Judd’s vertical stack sculptures, especially when viewed online as a minuscule JPEG. ...

Judd’s ethos of extreme reduction makes his furniture emblematic of the difficulty of copyrighting a chair or table: Functional objects cannot be copyrighted unless their aesthetic aspects can be “conceptually separated” from their utilitarian properties. In effect, this means that the only copyrightable elements of a useful object are those that appear to be tacked on to the basic form—a ballerina figurine on the base of a lamp, a swath of ivy adorning a wrought iron chair—and thus could plausibly be removed without the object failing to function. However, intellectual property law does protect utilitarian objects that were initially conceived as aesthetic works and only later took on a functional application. ... the features that distinguish Judd’s furniture (extreme formal reduction, omission of decorative elements, evacuation of the superfluous), coupled with his disavowal of any relationship to his sculpture, have made the furniture impossible to copyright....

Today, anyone can make a 3-D scan of a Judd chair with her phone and upload the resulting CAD to Thingiverse; anyone can commission a 3-D printed or plywood replica of a Judd stool via an online marketplace. Given the convergence of object, image, and data, copyright law and traditional conceptions of ownership and originality seem increasingly obsolete. The question isn’t whether something is a knock-off or an original, but what it signifies and to whom. Since 1872, the Met has allowed copyists to set up in the museum and create authorized reproductions of artworks in situ—provided that sculptures don’t exceed one cubic foot, canvases aren’t larger than thirty by thirty inches, and the size of the copy differs from the original by at least ten percent. ...

In the past few years, institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty, the Met, and the Rijksmuseum have made high-res, reproduction-quality images of works that are in their collections and in the public domain freely available online....

Two summers ago, a spoof listing for “Donald Judd’s Loft” appeared briefly on Airbnb; it hardly felt hyperbolic. “The way people are living is very Judd,” the artist’s dealer, David Zwirner, recently told the Independent.The statement cuts both ways. The extent to which an artist’s oeuvre resonates in museums as well as in everyday life is, in a certain sense, the ultimate testament to its influence. By that measure, Judd is doubtlessly one of the most important artists of his generation. Museums and nonprofit organizations that derive income from the authorized production, reproduction, and circulation of objects indelibly imprinted with the names of authors and artists have, understandably, been slow to embrace this attitude....

an understanding of authorship borrowed from folk art might, anachronistically, be most applicable to digital culture. The imperative to clearly attribute a work to an individual is particular to our era and its dominant economic forces: It arose in Europe and the US only in the eighteenth century, amidst the rampant piracy of texts and inventions, when ideas came to be classified as personal property. In contrast, folk art has long been characterized by practices of borrowing, merging, reworking, and metabolizing generic and popular motifs with little concern for citation. Walter Benjamin remarked that folk art “passes certain themes from hand to hand, like batons, behind the back of what is known as great art.” Folk art reflects collective desires and needs, and is most often tailored to the idiosyncratic purposes of the creator or of a niche community. In practical and legal terms, contemporary reproduction technologies make it impossible to stanch the flow of images and objects; as soon as they enter into circulation, their status becomes unstable. ...

Judd’s projects in Marfa and at Spring Street sought to collapse the distinction between high art and everyday life by integrating spaces for work, study, exhibition, and domestic life; the diffusion and derivation of Judd’s impassive forms in the realms of fashion and design seem only fitting. For its part, the Judd Foundation is mostly unconcerned by all the replicas. As Hoffman told me, those who want the “real thing” will still seek it out. For this portion of the population, to recognize the gulf between Donald Judd and cheap furniture is a matter of taste; the knockoffs can only enhance the value of the original. For the rest of us, there’s always Zazzle.
intellectual_furnishings  furniture  intellectual_property  copyright  copying  originality 
12 days ago
(Re)Locating Soundscapes of Schooling: Learning to Listen to the Children’s Lifeworlds | Sounding Out!
On my first day of teaching, I was acutely attuned to the “noise” the second-grade children in my classroom made—sounds I had not been aware of as a student. I quickly tried to “correct” their behavior with promises of external rewards if they could only make better “choices,” including quieting themselves to listen to me. Yet, few of the classroom management “tricks” I had learned in my educational training seemed to work. After the last child walked away from the schoolyard, I crumbled in the classroom of my mentor teacher. Crying, I told her I was not cut out for such work. She laughed as she told me that to be a teacher I must (re)learn to listen to the sounds of my classroom.
In time, I learned to listen. The day-to-day sounds of teacher-directed schooling, or what I now know as the banking model of education, quickly gave way to my listening to children. I slowly learned the value of listening to the whispers of children as they read, the scuffle of their feet as they sought a different color crayon from a child at another table, and the wise words they shared with one another about how they used an alternative route to solve a given math problem. I listened to them too when they found my hand to hold during recess and the high-fives before they departed each day. Rather than hearing their sounds as unruly chatter, I opened my ears to the excitement and learning children were sharing with one another.
sound_space  soundscape  labor  pedagogy  play 
12 days ago
The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe - The New York Times
Enrique Medina, the power subsystem expert, was preparing to implement a ‘‘patch,’’ an update that would turn off a heater on Voyager 2 in order to run the gyroscope, roll the spacecraft and calibrate the magnetometer. Even though they simulate every patch with software, there is plenty of room for human error. Far more often, hardware fails for no evident reason. In 1998, Voyager 2 reacted to a command by going silent. For 64 hours straight, the flight team studied the specific instruction — consisting of 18 bits, or 1s and 0s — that preceded the blackout. Bits have been known to ‘‘flip’’ to the opposite value, changing the instruction the same way that swapping a single letter turns ‘‘cat’’ into ‘‘cut.’’ The question was: What instruction had they accidentally given and how could they undo it? At last, modeling the outcome of each possible bit, they discovered one that turned off the exciter, which generates the spacecraft’s radio signal; when they turned it back on, the transmissions resumed. A similar scare took place in 2010, when a bit involved in formatting telemetry flipped, turning the transmissions to gibberish. ‘‘A lot of our anomalies we’ve come up with workarounds for, and at the time we didn’t know why it happened,’’ Weeks explained. Dodd added, ‘‘The No. 1 rule with spacecraft is: Don’t change it if you don’t have to.’’...

‘‘You can see where we are in the culture,’’ she said, with a mild sweep of her palm. Voyager was her first job. She pointed out a used microfiche reader that Tom Weeks, a hardware engineer and the self-described mission librarian, purchased on eBay to read old diagnostics reports. To conserve power on the spacecraft, the engineers must decide what to turn off when, and for how long — which means estimating how cold they can let each component get. (On Voyager 2, because of the broken oscillator, any change in temperature also tweaks the receiver frequency.) Turning the heaters off for a while is the safest way to get enough power to run the instruments, but the lower the overall wattage drops, the faster parts will freeze. One of the team’s most valuable insights so far: Spinning the wheels of an eight-track tape recorder — the spacecrafts’ only data-storage option — generates a bit of additional heat.
media_archaeology  space  administration  archives 
13 days ago
A Googler's Anti-Diversity Screed Reveals Tech's Rotten Core - The Atlantic
All told, the business of computing is infiltrated with a fantasy of global power and wealth that naturally coheres to the entrenched power of men over generations. To mistake such good fortune for inborn ability is to ignore the existence of history.

Men—mostly white, but sometimes Asian—have so dominated technology that it’s difficult even to ponder turning the tables. If you rolled back the clock and computing were as black as hip-hop, if it had been built from the ground up by African American culture, what would it feel like to live in that alternate future—in today’s alternate present? Now run the same thought experiment for a computing forged by a group that represents the general population, brown of average color, even of sex, and multitudinous of gender identity....

Something tells me the outcome wouldn’t be Google and Twitter and Uber and Facebook. It’s depressing that it takes a determined exercise in speculative fiction even to ponder how things might be different were its works made by different hands....

imagine how some of the lost futures of pasts left unpursued might have made for different, actual presents—and that might yet fashion new futures. Only a coward would conclude that none of them are better than the one that’s become naturalized as inevitable.
computing  genealogies  media_industries  gender  race 
14 days ago
Five lessons for libraries looking to innovate in the 21st Century - Knight Foundation
In June, Knight Foundation sent a cohort of U.S. librarians from institutions around the country to the Next Library Conference, an annual gathering held in Aarhus, Denmark that brings together library leaders from around the world to discuss innovative programs, services and ideas in the field. 20 U.S. librarians from 11 cities joined hundreds of colleagues who attended the conference from around the globe, from China to Kenya to the Caribbean....


As civic hubs for information and engagement, libraries can encourage people to get involved in their communities, connect with local issues and become more knowledgeable citizens and voters.
libraries  infrastructure 
14 days ago
camille kachani sprouts wooden limbs and leaves on everyday household items
lebanese native camille kachani develops an inventive collection of furniture relating to nature’s transformation process. his pieces are hybrid objects that investigate the original and primitive conditions of the natural elements, by using everyday materials and objects and giving them new interpretations, resizing their scales and original functions. in doing so, kachani sprouts wooden limbs and leaves on everyday household items, such as chairs, shelves, shovels, rakes and books, in an attempt to bring items back to their original roots.
14 days ago
Here Be Dragons | VQR Online
A naval architect turned explorer, Siggi navigates by scanning aerial photos and uploading them into a plotter, the ship’s electronic navigation system. Sometimes he uses satellite images, sometimes shots taken by Danish geologists from an open-cockpit plane in the 1930s, on one of the only comprehensive surveys of the coast. Siggi sails by comparing what he sees on the shore to these rough outlines. “Of course, then you don’t have any soundings,” he says, referring to charts of ocean depths that sailors normally rely on to navigate and avoid running aground. “I’ve had some close calls.” Over the years, he’s gotten better at reading the landscape to look for clues: He looks for river mouths, for example, where silt deposits might create shallow places to anchor, so that icebergs will go to ground before they crush the boat. In the age of GPS and Google Maps, it’s rare to meet someone who still entrusts his life to such analog navigation. 

Even when Siggi’s retracing his own steps, the landscape of the Forbidden Coast is constantly changing. “Where the glaciers have disappeared,” he explains, pointing at washes of green on a creased, hand-drawn chart, “a peninsula turns out to be an island. It was actually sea where you thought there was land.” To account for this, he often trades notes with local hunters, who are similarly adept at reading the coast. “Their language is very descriptive,” Siggi explains. “So all the names of places mean something.” Although locations may have official Danish names, they’re often ignored. An island technically called Kraemer, for instance, in East Greenlandic means “the place that looks like the harness for a dog’s snout."

Until a century ago, Greenlandic hunters would cut maps out of driftwood. “The wooden part would be the fjord, so it would be a mirror image,” Siggi says. “Holes would be islands. Compared to a paper map, it was actually quite accurate.” These driftwood sculptures were first recorded by a Danish expedition in the 1880s, along with bas-relief versions of fjords, carefully grooved and beveled to represent headland depths. A Danish ethnologist, Gustav Holm, noted that notched into the wood, “the map likewise indicates where a kayak can be carried” when the path between fjords is blocked by ice. Unlike drawings, the contoured wood could be felt, useful in a region where the sun disappears for months at a time. ...

Explorers have long filled in our understanding of the world, using and then discarding the sexton, the compass, MapQuest. “The project of mapping the Earth properly is to some extent complete,” Hessler says. But while there are no longer dragons fleshing out far-flung places, a surprising number of spaces are still uncharted—and the locations we’ve discovered to explore have only expanded. “Where we were just trying to accurately map terrestrial space,” Hessler says, we’ve moved into a “metaphor for how we live. We’re mapping things that don’t have a physical existence, like internet data and the neural connections in our heads.” ...

The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station sits on the Earth’s axis, at an altitude just above 9,000 feet, smack in the world’s largest, coldest desert, where a small settlement of metal shipping containers takes shape in rows on a windblown sheet of continental ice. Heavy equipment beeps in the polar air. In these harsh conditions, Naoko Kurahashi Neilson has been trying to map black holes. ...

As part of her job researching neutrinos, she needed to upgrade the computers: When neutrinos are detected, the information is reported back to a massive collection center that scientists around the world can access. However, there is no easy way for scientists in, say, Wisconsin, to communicate with the computers at the South Pole; the internet for the South Pole Station comes from satellites, which, in polar regions, often orbit below the horizon. “Most of the day, you can’t connect from the South Pole to the outside world,” says Kurahashi Neilson. “So even if it’s a simple algorithm update, you have to go do it yourself.” ...

**“The only way to study something you can’t go to or touch is to look at it in many different ways,” Kurahashi Neilson says. “The funny thing is, if you map the universe in optical light—what humans see—or gamma rays, or radio rays, our universe doesn’t look the same. That’s the beauty of this. You create a map of the same thing in different light, and when you compare them, you understand the universe better.” **...

In astronomy, you can’t conduct experiments. “We can’t build new stars,” Becker explains. “So we do survey maps.” The goal is to create a catalog of the sky, which is essentially a record of all the ongoing experiments in space. “In an infinite universe, all things that can happen will happen,” Becker says, paraphrasing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ....

In much the same way that early explorers stretched the human imagination, astronomy continues to push the limits of our understanding of creation itself, requiring a kind of faith. As Becker notes, more data usually just gives rise to even more questions. “In the outer reaches of even our own universe,” Becker says, “dragons are still there.” ...

If you could somehow drain the seas, scientists predict you’d see not sea monsters but a few volcanoes sprouting from an immense, flat floor, which is hundreds of thousands of hills covered by millennia of falling sediment. Because of these cloaking deposits, developing a better map of the ocean could shed light on the distant past. “It’s one of the most complete records of history on Earth,” says Alan Mix, an oceanographer at Oregon State University. “All of history accumulates in layers on the ocean floor.” The problem is that this wealth of information lies submerged just out of reach. Because satellites cannot read through water, mapping the sea has been much more difficult than mapping land. ...

But the ocean is huge, and submersibles can only travel so far. Even today, only about 17 percent of the ocean has been mapped with sonar, meaning that a ship or submersible has physically driven back and forth over the ocean floor in a grid, like mowing a lawn....

Under the Law of the Sea treaty, Mayer explains, “you’re allowed to establish sovereign rights 200 nautical miles into the sea.” But if the seafloor has certain morphological characteristics, the country’s territory can be extended beyond that 200 nautical-mile limit, into an area called the extended continental shelf. As the rush to claim the Arctic begins—Russia has symbolically staked its claim to recently discovered oil reserves by planting a titanium flag in the bottom of the Arctic Ocean—maps like this will be a crucial part of the maneuvering....

Mapping a round thing in two dimensions is difficult: Imagine flattening the unbroken peel of an orange and trying to connect the edges. “In order to make a map, you have to give something up,” says John Hessler. The decision of which variable to hold true—distance or area or shape or scale—is called a projection, and every one of them distorts the surface of the Earth in some capacity. The world maps you likely remember from high school are Mercator projections, where Greenland appears larger than Africa—a continent fourteen times the island’s size—in order to preserve the accuracy of angles. In the 1960s, Arno Peter created a map that looks strangely elongated in comparison, preserving a more accurate sense of scale. Now called the Peters projection, “he thought [it] had a better sense of equality for third world countries,” Hessler explains. Since then, the number of potential projections has only expanded. Which distortion of the world works best depends on what you think is important....

Since travelers are no longer sailing off the edge of the known world, it can be tempting to look at maps as static. But even on a small island, change is constant. Geodesists from the National Land Survey of Iceland spent this year’s short summer in the mountain highlands, mapping the island’s movement on the Atlantic Ridge. They set up GPS receivers using a level and an infrared device, and then left them for a few days, periodically checking to see if a horse had run into them or if the wind had knocked them over....

Not only is the world constantly changing, our ability to record it is too. “In terms of technology, I view it as standing on the bank of a river and watching it go by,” says Jim Herries, a geographer at Esri, one of the dominant geographic information system (GIS) software companies. This makes it difficult to build modern maps that aren’t obsolete by the time they’re finished. But that rapid development has also expanded who uses cartography; the bulk of Esri’s clients are now businesses, not academics. Although it can take some explaining, mapping is now useful for more people than ever before. At a massive agriculture company, for instance, Herries had to show a prospective client how they could map where every single seed was planted, and the temperature and humidity at each location, before something clicked. “All of a sudden mapping becomes relevant to their world.”....

“Mapping is often romanticized,” she says. “When in reality, now it’s mostly another desk job.” Cartography, she says, is 90 percent dealing with data, “and it’s usually crappy data.” Uber is just one of many smartphone apps that rely on mapmaking, adding to the vast catalog of cartography that many people use on a daily basis without thinking about it....

For centuries, maps defined dominion as well as provided access to new possibility. To name something is often to own it. Until recently, the very ability to make a map was proprietary. Esri was the best—and most expensive—source of cartographic software, but in the last ten years, the quality of … [more]
geography  cartography  indigenous  mapping  epistemology  territory  projection  cognitive_mapping 
14 days ago
By Selling Its In-House Satellites, Google Has Remade the Industry - The Atlantic
Planet also announced that it will deploy 88 small satellites later this month, as part of a rocket launch from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in southeastern India on February 14. Assuming that most of the spacecraft make it to orbit intact, these satellites should become fully operational by the summer.

When that happens, Planet will be the first to hit a long-discussed milestone in the industry: It will photograph every place on the entire planet every day. Every park, every rice paddy, every patch of pine and permafrost: all will be imaged anew, daily, at medium resolution....

A complete image of Earth’s surface, updated daily—this has long been the promise of the small-satellite industry. When it’s finally achieved, it will be critical that it help not only Goldman Sachs and Monsanto, but also humanitarians, climate scientists, and land-rights groups. But it will also be crucial that people appreciate all the exquisite specificity of the image.

Planet is already photographing one-third of the world everyday. Marshall said that the most impressive part of the archive is how much it changes. “We have this psychology that the Earth is static-ish,” he told me. “But I think that has a lot to do with maps we were brought up with, and the fact that the satellite maps we see online are static.”

He continued. “When we get an image down, whenever we compare it to the previous image we took of that same place a couple of days before—every time, we see changes. Either a tree has been taken down, a building has been added, a truck or a ship moves, and sometimes a river moves and you don’t notice it. A field is tilled. Things change every day in every picture we get.”
satellites  cartography  mapping  temporality 
14 days ago
The CfA Redshift Survey and Catalog
The CfA Redshift Survey was started in 1977 by Marc Davis, John Huchra, Dave Latham and John Tonry. The First CfA Survey, completed in 1982, (Huchra, Davis, Latham and Tonry, 1983, ApJS 52, 89) had as its goal the measurement of radial velocities for all galaxies brighter than 14.5 and at high galactic latitude in the merged catalogs of Zwicky and Nilson (the UGC). This survey produce the first large area and moderately deep maps of large scale structure in the nearby universe, as well as the first crude but truly quantitative measurements of the 3-D clustering properties of galaxies. Redshifts are the simplest link to determine galaxy distances. A description of the redshift is given here THE REDSHIFT . Basically, since in most places outside the cores of galaxy clusters or in the very, very local Universe (the Local Group of Galaxies), the expansion of the universe, commonly called the Hubble Flow, is smooth, redshift is a surrogate for distance:
mapping  space  universe 
14 days ago
Symposium – The Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute Then and Now: Commentaries on “Field Notes No.4: The Trumbull Community” | AntipodeFoundation.org
One of the best things about working on a radical journal of geography is the steady stream of surprise: submissions are largely unsolicited, and given Antipode’s relatively wide remit we receive all kinds of wonderful material. One of the highlights of 2016 for me was an email from Bob Colenutt in August.

Whilst working in Syracuse University’s Department of Geography Bob was involved in the 1971 Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute (DGEI), facilitating work with the city’s Trumbull community, which is close to Wayne State University. The outcomes, legacies or “afterlives” of the 1971 DGEI are undoubtedly many, and, arguably, it’s always too early to say what they are. Thinking about dissemination, though, something tangible is Field Notes No.4: The Trumbull Community.

Each DGEI produced a set of “Field Notes”, and Bob kindly supplied a copy of fourth volume, which until now has been less easily available than the others (all can be downloaded below). Working with Bob, we circulated it among a diverse group of critical geographers (broadly defined), inviting them to respond to it and perhaps say something about the�
geography  mapping  pedagogy  bunge  DGEI  cartography 
14 days ago
FCC Revamps Programs to Bridge Rural Digital Divide - WSJ
The agency also voted to begin exploring the idea of expanding wireless carriers’ obligations to expand broadband access as part of their licensing agreements, and it voted to consider more ways of using airwaves for new communications technologies that could help expand access.

The Mobility Fund’s troubles have been typical of the government’s struggles to assist with expansion of broadband technology in rural America, which often lags behind urban and suburban areas.

The Mobility Fund program had been criticized for wasting resources, in part because it has been hard to define which areas currently receive adequate service. As much as $300 million of the $500 million annual Mobility Fund expenditures has been spent on areas where a carrier claims to be providing unsubsidized service already, the FCC has estimated recently.

But officials say the maps, which have been based on providers’ claims, often have overstated service levels.

“In a nutshell, the mapping has been horrible,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has pushed legislation to improve the FCC’s data collection and mapping. Providers “say they’re covering areas that they weren’t.”

The plan adopted by the FCC on Thursday relies on%2
broadband  connectivity  Internet  infrastructure  mapping  cartography 
14 days ago
The Mapmaker’s Craft: A History of Cartography at CIA — Central Intelligence Agency
Tracing its roots to October 1941, CIA’s Cartography Center has a long, proud history of service to the Intelligence Community (IC) and continues to respond to a variety of finished intelligence map requirements. The mission of the Cartography Center is to provide a full range of maps, geographic analysis, and research in support of the Agency, the White House, senior policymakers, and the IC at large. Its chief objectives are to analyze geospatial information, extract intelligence-related geodata, and present the information visually in creative and effective ways for maximum understanding by intelligence consumers.
Since 1941, the Cartography Center maps have told the stories of post-WWII reconstruction, the Suez crisis, the Cuban Missile crisis, the Falklands War, and many other important events in history.
CIA  maps  cartography 
14 days ago
Moniker – The Skeuo Office
In a world where the workspace is becoming more and more generic, Moniker and LRvH introduce skeuomorphism in order to make it feel familiar again.
interaction_design  interior_design  labor  media_workspace  skeuomorph 
15 days ago
Moniker – Paperstorm.it
We build this crazy new campaigning tool paperstorm.it for Mozilla’s advocacy team to make our voices heard!
Remember back in the days when planes spread campaigning messages by throwing thousands of leaflets out of planes? Today Moniker & Mozilla present you the digital equivalent.
The first application of the tool was used for the #fixcopyright campaign in May 2017 ➝ The EU’s current copyright framework – developed for a time before the Internet – can stymie innovation, preventing entrepreneurs from building on existing data or code. It can stifle creativity, making it technically illegal to create, share and remix memes and other online culture and content. Mozilla spreads the word about a possible change in copyright law that will affect all of us.
protest  paper  interaction_design  media_activism 
15 days ago
Out Now: Conditional Design Workbook
Conditional Design is a design method formulated by the graphic designers Luna Maurer, Jonathan Puckey, Roel Wouters and the artist Edo Paulus which foregrounds process over finished products. As a design strategy, it is defined by playfully designed sets of rules and conditions that stimulate collaboration between participants and lead to unpredictable outcomes.
design  workbook  pedagogy  design_education  design_method 
15 days ago
Early English Printers : Free Texts : Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
The Boston Public Library holds a significant collection of books from the earliest years of English printing, including works from the presses of William Caxton, Richard Pynson, Wynkyn De Worde, and others.
book_history  printing  incunabula  typography  material_texts 
16 days ago
Patents and Cartographic Inventions - A New | Mark Monmonier | Palgrave Macmillan
Monmonier examines rural address guides, folding schemes, world map projections, diverse improvements of the terrestrial globe, mechanical route-following machines that anticipated the GPS navigator, and the early electrical you-are-here mall map, which opened the way for digital cartography and provided fodder for patent trolls, who treat the patent largely as a license to litigate. 
cartography  mapping  cultural_technique  materiality  textual_form  GPS  folding 
16 days ago
Mapping towards a Good City Life - Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health
In the future, streets will be increasingly augmented with new monitoring technologies that promise to allocate urban resources (e.g., electricity, clean water, car traffic) more efficiently and, as such, make these streets ‘smarter’. The corporate smart-city rhetoric is about efficiency, predictability, and security. "You’ll get to work on time; no queue when you go shopping, and you are safe because of CCTV cameras around you". Well, all these things make a city acceptable, but they don’t make it great.
Good street design is important, but what matters most is people’s wellbeing. In the last few years, we have worked on projects that offer a counterpoint to the dominant efficiency-driven narrative of the smart cities movement. These projects have focused on understanding how people psychologically experience the city. To foster and maintain momentum, we launched a new initiative called goodcitylife.org. This is a global network of researchers and practitioners who tackle fundamental urban problems that have hitherto received little attention and that would not necessarily make cities smarter but would definitely make dwellers happier....

Kevin Lynch was one of the first to work formally on these kinds of perception and he created a psychological map of Boston by interviewing Bostonians. Based on hand-drawn maps of what the participants’ ‘versions of Boston’ looked like, he found that a few central areas were known to almost all Bostonians, while vast parts of the city were unknown to its dwellers. More than 10 years later, Stanley Milgram repeated the same experiment and did so in a variety of other cities, including Paris and New York.

However, the problem with hand-drawn maps is that capturing them takes time, and it is not clear how to aggregate the variety of unique map configurations. One way of fixing this problem is to place a number of constraints on the participants when externalizing their maps. In this vein, Milgram constrained the experiment by reducing it to a simple question: ‘If an individual is placed at random at a point in the city, how likely is he (or she) to know where he is?’. The idea is that one can measure the relative ‘imaginability’ of cities by finding the proportion of residents who recognize sampled geographic points. That simply translates into showing participants scenes of their city and testing whether they can recognize where the scenes are located. Milgram did setup and successfully run such an experiment in various lecture theatres. Each participant usually spent 90 minutes on the task, and he collected responses from as many as 200 participants for New York City....

By analysing the recognizability of the five London regions, we found that the general conclusions drawn by Milgram for New York hold for London with impressive consistency, adding external validity to our study. Central London was the most recognizable region (about two and a half as many correct placements as for the others) while South London had little cognitive coverage.

With our data we were then able to show quantitatively the extent to which the typical Londoners’ collective psychological map tallies with the socio-economic indicators. By correlating the fraction of correct answers in a borough with the borough’s eight socio-economic indicators, we saw that recognizable boroughs enjoyed better housing and living environments, and higher incomes (Figure 1).
lynch  mapping  cognitive_mapping 
16 days ago
The corporate smart-city rhetoric is about efficiency, predictability, and security. "You’ll get to work on time; no queue when you go shopping, and you are safe because of CCTV cameras around you". Well, all these things make a city acceptable, but they don’t make a city great. We have the technological solutions, but what’s the problem?

Goodcitylife.org is the research answer to that! It’s a global group of researchers and practitioners who think about fundamental urban problems that have received little attention and put forward ideas not to make cities smarter, but dwellers happier. Recently, for example, we have used social media data to map the sensorial and emotional layers of cities. Those layers will make a variety of applications possible - from urban planning to health informatics.
mapping  cartography  sensation  mental_health  affect 
16 days ago
Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health - Home
The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH) is the only think tank dedicated to answering one question: how can we design better mental health into our cities?

To help inform, motivate and empower policymakers, designers, planners, and public health professionals to build better mental health into their cities through smarter urban design.

To be a central repository and global go-to resource and platform for policymakers, architects, transport planners, urban planners, developers, designers, engineers, geographers, and others who want to design better mental health into cities, and drive integration of mental health into urban design as standard.
urban_design  smart_cities  mental_health  affect 
16 days ago
Drowning in Data, Cities Turn to 'Citizen Scientists'
governments are still collecting vast amounts of data and, well, doing nothing with it. “A lot of time is spent and wasted trying to find the right data,” says Adnan Mahmud, founder and CEO of LiveStories, a firm that creates digital tools for visualizing data. “Very little time is spent exploring it.”

Mahmud estimates that government workers spend about 80 percent of their time trying to find data and only about 20 percent of their time analyzing it. ...

That’s where “citizen data scientists” come in. These people aren’t statisticians or analysts by training, nor are they coders -- the people who build apps using government data and programming software during hackathons. Rather, these are skilled workers who can generate predictive models or pursue data analysis using new software tools or apps....

Marin County has begun using report cards that present data in what Willis calls a “storytelling” format so that everyone from county workers and government partners to policymakers can better understand the correlations between certain sets of data. He’s hoping it’s a first step toward encouraging citizen volunteers to begin to do their own analysis using the county’s open data and tools....

But some in governments are wary about letting volunteers and nonexperts interpret data using dashboards and other analytical tools. These officials are worried citizen data scientists will see things that government doesn’t want them to see. For instance, will a map reveal awkward disparities in how rich and poor neighborhoods receive public funding? They also worry that the correlations and predictions could end up being spurious or distracting. Already there’s a cottage industry of unusual and ridiculous correlations. One online meme jokingly notes a correlation between the release of Nicolas Cage movies and the number of swimming pool drownings in the U.S.
citizen_data  data_science  smart_cities  big_data  methodology 
16 days ago
Housing Labor - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
The cybernetic model fascinated architects and inspired some of the most radical architectural thought of the period, such as Cedric Price, Joan Littlewood and Gordon Pask’s Fun Palace (1961–1966), Constant Nieuwenhuys’s New Babylon (1956–1974), and Yona Friedman’s Realisable Utopias (1976). While most went largely unrealized, management consultants Wolfgang and Eberhard Schnelle’s implemented cybernetic principles throughout a wide range of built projects with the invention of Bürolandschaft (office-landscape, 1956–1971). Acting as consultants, the Schnelles and their interdisciplinary QUICKBORNER TEAM developed a design and planning method called “organizational cybernetics” (Organisationskybernetik) which, starting in the early 1960s, they used to generate organizational concepts and office space designs for companies looking for administrative innovation.

For the Schnelles, cybernetics presented itself as a new social structure free from hierarchical structure, capable of transforming the alienation of work into the autonomy of individuals. Their pragmatic approach toward the cybernetic organization and rationalization of administrative activity consisted of recording and systematizing every step in the office’s work process. They placed a particular focus on information flows that would allow for as much work as possible to become calculable, and thus automated. Workers responsible for executing on the spot, trivial, repetitive labor could be replaced by information-processing machines, while non-trivial work with a high degree of “informational” uncertainty, which could not be processed by machines at the time, was planned to be worked on by teams of indiviuals.1 While drawing from its predecessor “scientific management,” Organisationskybernetik adopted a more comprehensive approach to the reorganization of labor by taking into account its informal aspects and atmospheric conditions.

The layout of post-war workplaces were, as portrayed in cinema of the time such as Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960) or later and to critical effect, Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967), geometrically rigorous with a formally legible hierarchy and, as inherited from early industrial factories, designed for central monitoring and discipline. Office-landscapes were instead designed for a “community” of labor consisting of small groups and teams with no discernible bosses or leaders. With its psychologically inflected color schemes and calculated ordering of workplaces, potted plants, and partitions, office-landscapes were intended to make each individual feel as if they were in a democratically organized space, aware of their social responsibilities, and motivated to work. Fundamental to this was the programmatic incorporation of leisure.
workplace  office_culture  media_architecture  intellectual_furnishings  office_design 
16 days ago
Impressions of Disaster - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
Intensified by variously expanded capacities for communication and information processing (especially server-side cloud computing) delivered by ubiquitous computational technologies (the supercomputers still quaintly referred to as mobile “phones”), the internet has fundamentally transformed our ways of knowing urban environments. Wayfinding is now less frequently guided by physical markers that once characterized the urban fabric than it is by GPS markers accessed through networked mobile interfaces; social and programmatic interactions and organizations in physical space are overlaid with the contingencies borne of virtual platforms; and the material exchanges of the city now exist predominantly (if not yet exclusively) as part of extended interfacial chains manipulated through digital networks. As the torrent of images flooding our electronic visual displays and the algorithms governing them influence where we go, where we gather, and how we navigate our cities, the interface becomes an urban force in its own right, shaping the city through its design of information and interaction....

To potentiate its capacity to shape urban processes, interface design invests in the precision work of pixel arrangements, sliders, clicks, and other skeuomorphic enticements, all the better to directly intersect with the cognitive processes responsible for activating intertwined virtual and physical networks. Indeed, interfacial reconstructions are especially evident in social media platforms due not least to the perpetual release of updated features to enhance and sustain user engagement. If architecture is understood as the collective interface that orients our access to the urban environment, how can the discipline of architecture (and, more broadly, a post-internet design practice) leverage the proliferation of screen-as-interface interactions to co-construct the city at various augmented scales? Among the heterogeneous, interlaced, networks of the post-internet city (biological, neural, material, virtual, etc.), how can this co-construction of the city more carefully attend to the microscales of pixels and neurons operating within the macroscales of planetary computation and social imaginations? ...

Returning to the umwelt of the post-internet city, home of billions of human residents, we might ask: how are digital media reshaping human perception? How does this communicative shift drive new communities of sensation, attention, and engagement?5 While all organisms respond in some way or another to ecological transformations in their surroundings, the mutation of the social and cultural landscape through a proliferation of digital modes of interaction begs the question of human adaptation....

Indonesia’s 85% mobile-phone penetration rate potentiates the activation of the screen-as-interface paradigm into a network of pre-installed, distributed, fluid sensory devices that can be integrated as dynamic components of humanitarian infrastructures. Over 70% of Indonesia’s internet users access the internet through mobile devices, and Jakarta’s residents actively embrace hand-held screens to share a variety of real-time information, including flooding.
media_city  digital_city  smart_city  interfaces  scales  urban_design 
17 days ago
FCJ-217 Socio-Technical Imaginaries of a Data-Driven City: Ethnographic Vignettes from Delhi | The Fibreculture Journal : 29
Drawing longer and thicker connections between the postcolonial city and the smart city will remain a work in progress; however, it is worth noting that the dynamic interactivity between social imaginaries and their materialisations is a part of urban (and not just digital) ontology.

- 24 -
It is also important to note that 'splintering' in the Indian context happened without our cities ever achieving the 'modern infrastructure ideal' of universal, uniform grids and networks that covered services like water, electricity, roads, etc. Informal circuits, contested spaces and complex interactivity in co-existing systems of governance and infrastructure have long rendered the built environment in Indian cities some peculiarities which are hard to grasp and account for in urban masterplans and policies ...

emerging modes of data-driven knowledge production are reconfiguring ways of knowing, experiencing and governing a city. The diverse field sites and actors introduced through the ethnographic material, portray some of the on-going reconfigurations which are getting materialised differently in different sites. Given the infancy of these emergences, there has been no explicit attempt to draw connections between the five ethnographic vignettes – namely, the new image of the city, the changing nature of expertise, civic data activism, apps as microcosmic smart cities, and political communication and analytics....

Especially in a postcolonial and global south context like India where technologies and infrastructures materialise very different kinds of sociality and vice versa – than the ones which dominate the technology studies discourse – a conversation on socio-technical imaginaries is highly improbable without substantial emic insights. The methodological recalibration required for engaging with nuances of data-driven systems can perhaps be initiated with a change in epistemological stance....

calls for us to seek a meta-analytics of data; to help frame the conceptual and material ontologies of data analytics without reducing its known and unknown life-worlds – which now includes cities – to either that of pure objects or culturally constructed networks.
smart_cities  postcolonialism  India 
17 days ago
FCJ-219 The Sensed Smog: Smart Ubiquitous Cities and the Sensorial Body | The Fibreculture Journal : 29
Dust and air pollution in general are silent, violent aggressors that demonstrate the political urgency of the atmospheric condition: the age of modernity is one of bubbles and spheres, as Peter Sloterdijk (2011) argues referring to the constitution of subjectivity as an air conditioning operation. Modernity opens up as air conditioning and as airborne terror: of denying possibilities of breathing the air of the streets and the public spaces. Terror begins in and with the air (Sloterdijk, 2009). This claim connects political contexts of cleaning and dusting to the issues of chemical warfare ... tear gas...

what are the conditions of visibility of air pollution? What are the conditions of chemical composition and the political-economic distribution of smog? Smog is then, besides a reference to a specific form of air pollution, also a conceptual bridge between the industrial and the post-industrial computerised city, a bridge between the production of the molecular pollution and its registration as part of the digital city, the smart city sensors and data. ...

what does it mean to look at smog as a medium itself, and to approach it as an index of the technological city that is haunted by the industrial veil. What conditions this ‘looking’ and even ‘seeing the city’ through eyes that are often data, and often statistical, such as art projects like Seeing the Air (Gates and Sampath, 2015)? I am interested in photochemical smog as a screen media of the city and pollution’s relation to smog sensors, and the creation of breathable zones. Many of the problems we identify as ‘environmental’, like air pollution, are already discussed and operated as data (both analytic data and as financial data, traded in the offset markets). Hence I choose to discuss the two in parallel: the environmental as part of a media ecology of observing, measuring and processing of data. ...

Dominique Laporte (2000) in the History of Shit argues that the emergence of the modern infrastructural city is also a site for the production of modern subjectivity. The production of cleanliness became part of city planning as a way to install order; the emergence of bourgeois subjectivity of segregated spaces is partly visible in the measures taken to install sewage and other systems of waste. Furthermore, this was not merely an issue of closing off the unwanteds, but of designing certain ways in which this circulation can be managed productively....

The chemical reality and the data about it are interlocked. In other words, accounting for the layered infrastructures as well as historical legacies of the city reminds us of the old problems new technologies are supposed to solve: smog from industry, transport that is the existing legacy of the 20th century, and the old energy forms still firing up technological society, based on coal etc. This is the particle world of technological cities we inhale: the dirty dust and smaller molecular elements that ensure that air is never just air ...

Not all air pollution is visible, a twist that should not be ignored in the discussion of this visual media that is another entry point to the sensor and data-registered ways in which we understand the chemical atmosphere of the technological city....

think of smog as a chemical screen, even, chemical screen media. The sun enlivens it with light, which is the most fundamental thing in visual culture. The screen is not a background but an environment that wraps you inside its toxic cloud. We register this sort of visual screen with our bodies with every breath but also with different sorts of sensors that have developed as an essential part of the observation of industrial culture....

The effect of the ozone depletion as we have grown to know it, is the increase in penetration of UV-light/radiation through the stratosphere, resulting in a different light balance from the 1970s to approximately to the year 2070...

Pratt engages with the human sensorial through the ‘taste of smog’: cultural practices of domesticating the urban problems of smog are made into a synaesthetic experience with a palette to match the air-born pollutants (Pratt, 2014). Smog imposes itself as a bodily experienced phenomenon, where its molecular status becomes also registered in and on the body. ... This leads to an evaluation of the city in visual, tactile, and even gustatory senses, as Pratt demonstrates in the speculative but highly effective way of framing citizen sensing through art methods....

In a similar vein, a much earlier project by Amy Balkin staged the conceptual and atmospheric site of Public Smog (2004-). An art project that addressed emissions trade, the legal constitution of breathability, and engagement with the wider public in relation to various governmental and intergovernmental organisations, it functioned also to demonstrate the sites and non-sites where pollution takes place geographically and atmospherically....

Amy Balkin's Public Smog: The project attempted to buy emission offsets in order to be able to withdraw these from the financial trading market. As a way of buying back air, it created sites in the atmosphere that were public parks....

Issues of seeing are increasingly dealt with in terms of visibility of data even if the infrastructure of how data is being collected and with what effects is more interesting than merely visual perception. [7] For example, the visualisation project Seeing the Air engages with air quality data from selected cities including Boston, Bangalore, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai and provides a variety of graphs that enable comparison over time, between cities and categories of the AQI (Air Quality Index). Seeing the Air makes pollution understandable through expected representations of sensor data....

In several ways it is the existence of environmental problems that spurs the mobilisation of technological solutions such as massive level smog sensoring coupled with big data analysis. Here, the connections between remote sensing, smog sensing and environmental sensing are forming a crucial node in terms of producing the feedback-looped citizen/ smart environment. ...

Any environment includes also the data about itself, the wider media ecology. This refers to the informational ecology able to store, handle, query and process the data that also changes our understanding and relationship with the environment. It is on this level of the computational infrastructure where the old technological urban pollution such as smog from transport meets the new infrastructures that are built in relation to it: monitors, computational processes, data storage and more....

As Gabrys (2014) outlines, the participatory citizen is nicely fitted in as part of the environmental management in a way that corresponds well with Michel Foucault’s (2007) analysis of territories and security: instead of controlling individuals, environmental management creates environmental conditions in which certain sorts of behaviour and end results are produced. ...

But the data milieu is also conditioned by the historical levels of the layers of the city: its transportation system, infrastructures, the seemingly residual industrial that features as smog. The archaic persists. ...

Hence questions about sensing emerge as a way to negotiate the techno-bodies of sensation (Gabrys, 2012, referring to Rosi Braidotti) as multiple scales of mediated registering: the human-sensorially and remote-sensorially experienced pollution levels are one such sort of entangled mixed ecology of sensing and sensation. This point actually comes back to the conceptual development I offered in the previous section through art projects and the relations of the experiential body to the realities of pollution that are not always easily available to the human senses. Hence, Gabrys and Braidotti provide exciting ways to consider this extended understanding of sensors (the technological, the embodied) and the media realities of air pollution as data, as visual screens, as even as taste in Pratt’s work...

a crucial question as to where the city is sensed, where it is mapped, and what is being seen as valuable of a tactical or strategic location. Barreneche (2012) demonstrates how geo-services produce a specific geographical ontology that is prescribed by way of the software and the corporate platforms through tagging, and the circuiting of user data and so forth.
air  pollution  smart_cities  sensors  sanitation  sensation  environment  visibility  big_data 
17 days ago
NYC Civic Service Design Tools + Tactics
Making public services more effective, accessible and simple for all New Yorkers.

Governments are embracing design — not as a trend, but as a way to transform how we deliver services and information to the public.
Civic Service Design Tools + Tactics is an introduction to service design for public servants, and a set of practical ways to include design methods in your work.

Use this collection of tools and tactics to see your service in context, talk with people who use it, and try out ideas in low-risk ways.
smart_cities  service  design_thinking  civic_tech 
17 days ago
Verso : Adam Greenfield
Data is the decision to acquire and measure bone-length dimensions from faces moving through the field of vision of a municipal CCTV camera. Code is the sorting of people into gendered buckets based on the results of those measurements. Policy is treating people differently depending on which bucket the system has placed them in. There is a politics and a system of values operating at every level.

Perhaps such sorting is defensible in some contexts, and less so in others. But the point is that such decisions should always be made consciously, and in the fullest possible awareness of the values they reproduce. And in my experience, anyway, it so very rarely is....

Now, finally, we’re in a position to understand the questioner who – with an expression on his face that was something between surprise and open horror – took issue with my assertion that one of the aims of municipal technology ought to be “preventing capture of the commons for private advantage.” Isn’t that the whole point of capitalist enterprise, he wondered? Yes, I agreed, it was. Then why on Earth would you ever want to design software that might prevent that from happening? It had evidently never occurred to him that capitalism itself might be a value, or a system of values, shared neither by the designers of civic software nor by the people whose lifechances were shaped by its operation....

And it matters profoundly. If we are to have any hope whatsoever of establishing the conditions of justice in the cities of the twenty-first century, we will need to raise the values embedded in software to the surface and force them to speak themselves. We will need to demand that the engineers who will craft the code that determines all the million material ways in which the networked city interacts with the people who live in it, and give it shape and meaning, are able to consciously articulate the things they believe (even, at the very most basic level, whether or not they conceive of the distribution of civic goods as a zero-sum game). We will have to stop treating the various networked technologies around us as givens, let alone uncomplicated gifts, and learn to see them anew as bearers of ideology. And we’ll need to understand the design of software as the level at which that ideology operates.
algorithms  smart_cities  software  code 
17 days ago
This Unusual 1948 PSA Depicts a World Without Paper - Atlas Obscura
PAPER RECYCLING HAS EXISTED SINCE at least the 11th century, when numerous Japanese shops began exclusively selling re-used paper products. But recycling as an institution did not come fully into vogue until World War II—in an economic and resource crunch, governments implored their citizens to conserve materials for the war effort.

In 1939, as a part of its larger National Salvage Campaign, Britain launched the Paper Salvage movement, which, through a series of posters and video PSAs, urged citizens to sort their trash. Following the war, as the British economy stumbled, the government issued further crackdowns on the overuse of resources like coal and paper.
paper  recycling  materiality 
17 days ago
Workers of the World, Conform! - Triple Canopy
While the popularization of the typewriter and Dewey decimal system in the late 1800s transformed the storage and retrieval of information, Ostwald believed that even more fundamental change was required in order to maximize efficiency. Ostwald, a prolific writer and renowned scholar, proposed something more like the division of physical labor into a series of motions, as advocated by Frederick Winslow Taylor in The Principles of Scientific Management (1911). He aimed to enable distant researchers to communicate with ease and office workers to process data without trouble. ... Ostwald believed that the result would be the seamless documentation and circulation of all knowledge—and, ultimately, the connection of all minds into a single “world brain.”... This shift had a moral dimension, as standardization was associated with orderly and democratic societies, transparent and punctilious characters. ...

Ostwald and his cohort were galvanized by the development of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy increases in any isolated system. The law gave credence to the notion that workplace efficiency represents a scientific and not just a moral or economic imperative. Ostwald was not unusual in his belief that the escalation of entropy threatened the very existence of life on earth. ...

To minimize waste, Ostwald advocated the use of universal auxiliary languages such as Ido, a simplified form of Esperanto (which was billed as “everybody’s second language”), and the invention of a global currency. But his focus shifted after the advertiser and bibliographer K.W. Bührer gave him a copy of Die Organisierung der geistigen Arbeit durch “Die Brücke” (The Organization of Intellectual Work through “The Bridge”) (1911), which Bührer wrote with the mathematician Adolf Saager and published in German and Esperanto. The book argues that the creation of universal systems for recording and circulating information hinges on the worldwide adoption of standards for the formatting of paper. By eliminating the need to consider paper sizes, fonts, layouts, margin sizes, and so on, standards would free postal workers, scholars, and bank clerks from the burdens of information management.

Through a newsletter, leaflets, a series of theoretical essays, and public exhibitions, Die Brücke lobbied for the imposition of uniformity on sheets of paper—which, in their various dimensions, cluttered desks, spilled from folders, and distorted image reproductions. “Paper and other bearers of signs and symbols form the technical foundation of all cultures, that is, of all intellectual capital [geistigen Kapitals],” Ostwald wrote in his 1927 autobiography. “If one wants to organize, one can only do so if one first intervenes in the unification and coordination of the most everyday, common, and thus also least reflective functional routines.” Following a proposal by the eighteenth-century German scientist Christoph Georg Lichtenberg, Ostwald proposed that all paper sizes share a common aspect ratio and that smaller sizes be derived from larger sizes by folding the latter in half.

The paper sizes published by Ostwald and Die Brücke were called World Formats, because they were to be used everywhere and by everyone. “No world format can function without a world that accepts it,” Markus Krajewski writes in World Projects: Global Information Before World War I (2014). “Thus at the end of Ostwald’s script introducing the series of formats lie the unavoidable appeals to publishers and editors to use the eminently utilitarian world format for their own respective print products.” Ostwald managed, at least, to persuade the head of the Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization), who suggested a partnership toward the end of World War I. ...

Although the collaboration fizzled, Ostwald’s former secretary, an engineer named Walter Porstmann, ended up going to work for the German Institute for Standardization. He modified Die Brücke’s proposal, which became the standard DIN 476, published in 1922. The paper formats are now in use by all countries except the United States and Canada. (The vast majority of printed matter appears on A4 sheets of paper, which measure 210 by 297 millimeters.) They are essential to the infrastructure of the Information Age and permeate the modern office, having shaped binders, filing cabinets, envelopes, scanners, printers, as well as programs like Adobe Acrobat and the documents they generate. While they may go unnoticed, and even fade into memory with the domination of the digital realm (which involves ever more complex and obscure forms of standardization), they express a familiar ideal: With the right technical adjustments and systems, society can not only be salvaged but liberated.

The German Institute for Standardization began plotting to reformat society in 1917, when engineers, industrialists, politicians, bureaucrats, and scholars were called on to determine how to increase productivity and decrease costs (especially in relation to the manufacture of arms). They first issued standards for pins, screws, screw threads, screw fittings, and technical drawings. The nonprofit company’s purview expanded during the 1920s, as did the influence of a new kind of worker: Verwaltungsingenieure, or administrative engineers. Each new standard not only prescribed the form of a particular object but contributed to a system that governed the relationship between objects—as well as the processes from which they emerged, and the laborers who executed them.

Following the implementation of DIN 476, which consists of multiple “series” and “classes” of paper sizes, the German Institute for Standardization developed specifications for bank statements, envelopes, address fields, postcards, train tickets, binders, newspapers, business letters, margins, subject headings, and mail-sorting machinery. The postal service and railway were early adopters and fervent evangelists....

With the rise of Hitler, the mandate for orderliness and efficiency was intensified, and took on an overtly sinister aspect. Standardization was associated not only with discipline but with the enhancement of surveillance. The Nazis initially required party communications to conform to DIN 476, and ultimately outlawed the use anything but A4 paper in official correspondences. ...

This attention to communication was matched in the construction industry, which the Nazis standardized and consolidated in order to quickly rearm and achieve economic independence, as well as to manage the mass of slave laborers who made this possible....

The ISO, which is based in Switzerland, now issues protocols for GPS systems, shirt sizes, shipping containers, image compression techniques, and social responsibility; the protocols are voluntary and nonbinding, but the pressure to adopt them—and the costs of failing to do so—can be extraordinary. “Promises of a comprehensive, rationalizing, universalizing intelligence accompany the idea of global governance,” Easterling writes. “Such ideologies have been powerfully shaping the thickening bureaucracies that currently preside over global development.”...

Handbooks like the Bauentwurfslehre guided the arrangement of interlocking components and managed information in order to minimize complexity and ambiguity. Today, architectural drawing is effected through a series of algorithmic protocols, the drafting table having been supplanted by a computer interface that plugs into a programmable black box.
standards  paperwork  Dewey  media_architecture 
17 days ago
The purpose of Sneakercon is to reexamine the offline side of the digital age by foregrounding the prevalence, variety, and uses of offline networks during two days of talks, discussion panels, and workshops.

Sneakernets serve many purposes: to overcome transmission limits, to circumvent surveillance, to foster community, or simply for convenience. Companies like Google and Amazon have found that massive collections of data sometimes travel more quickly by physically moving hard drives from place to place. A whistleblower may decide that delivering a tranche of data to a reporter through the postal service would pose fewer risks than contacting them electronically. Meshnets may provide communications in times of crisis or upheaval, when online network infrastructure may be damaged by severe weather or shut off by the authorities. Even when friends or coworkers share files in person, they may casually opt for some offline method despite the ready availability of the Internet....

Studying unique sneakernets around the world can reveal the complexity and variety of information ecosystems in different cultures, subcultures, movements, and communities. Before the Internet was widely available in Cuba, a static, offline slice of the Web called El Paquete was regularly downloaded in Spain, transported to Havana, and then transmitted through a network of dedicated readers who shared each new edition by copying it in person from drive to drive. During the 'Umbrella Revolution' in Hong Kong, students coordinated their protest using a mesh network rather than risk using centralized communications infrastructure. In Afghanistan, some people create a custom ringtone and share it only with friends and allies, then the tone is treated as evidence of their social connection when they encounter mutual acquaintances.
networks  analog  infrastructure  media_city 
18 days ago
Discover the Jacobean Traveling Library: The 17th Century Precursor to the Kindle | Open Culture
According to the library at the University of Leeds, this "Jacobean Travelling Library" dates back to 1617. That's when William Hakewill, an English lawyer and MP, commissioned the miniature library--a big book, which itself holds 50 smaller books, all "bound in limp vellum covers with coloured fabric ties." What books were in this portable library, meant to accompany noblemen on their journeys? Naturally the classics. Theology, philosophy, classical history, classical poetry. The works of Ovid, Seneca, Cicero, Virgil, Tacitus, and Saint Augustine. Many of the same texts that showed up in The Harvard Classics (now available online) three centuries later, and now our collection of Free eBooks.
books  libraries  portable_library 
18 days ago
About - The HUMAN Project
The HUMAN Project is an interdisciplinary research platform that serves as a public resource for learning everything possible about the connections between our minds, bodies, and environment to enable the development of new theories, therapeutics, and policy recommendations to solve the toughest societal challenges facing us today. These goals are achieved through a partnership between the Project’s participants, the Project’s staff, and their company: Data Cubed Inc.
big_data  behaviorism  smart_cities  environment  methodology 
19 days ago
The Behavioral Urban Informatics, Logistics, and Transport (BUILT) Laboratory conducts research in the area of transportation systems design and modeling. Typical products of this lab may include dynamic operating policies for flexible transport services, a parking pricing and information system for travelers, a decision support tool for evaluating multimodal infrastructure investment strategies, or a fleet routing algorithm for autonomous vehicles or other cyber-physical transportation systems. The lab is a part of the Center for Urban ITS within Tandon, and is headed by Professor Joseph Chow.
big_data  smart_cities  transportation  behaviorism 
19 days ago
Kontokosta: Urban Intelligence Lab
We use data to solve problems facing cities and society. Through an inter-disciplinary approach centered around computational methods, we apply analytics to the study of systems dynamics at the building, district, and city scales to advance the well-being, sustainability, and resilience of urban environments. Our research confronts the social, economic, and political realities facing cities, and seeks to understand how bias and inequality influence data-driven models and their application to urban operations, policy, and planning.
urban_intelligence  big_data  smart_cities  behaviorism 
19 days ago
Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google | World news | The Guardian
Palantir, the CIA-backed startup, is Minority Report come true. It is all-powerful, yet no one knows it even exists. Palantir does not have an office, it has a “SCIF” on a back street in Palo Alto, California. SCIF stands for “sensitive compartmentalised information facility”. Palantir says its building “must be built to be resistant to attempts to access the information within. The network must be ‘airgapped’ from the public internet to prevent information leakage.”

Palantir’s defence systems include advanced biometrics and walls impenetrable to radio waves, phone signal or internet. Its data storage is blockchained: it cannot be accessed by merely sophisticated hacking, it requires digital pass codes held by dozens of independent parties, whose identities are themselves protected by blockchain.

What is Palantir protecting? A palantir is a “seeing stone” in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings; a dark orb used by Saruman to be able to see in darkness or blinding light. “Palantir” means “one that sees from afar”, a mythical instrument of omnipotence....

Palantir watches everything you do and predicts what you will do next in order to stop it. As of 2013, its client list included the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Centre for Disease Control, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point and the IRS. Up to 50% of its business is with the public sector. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture arm, was an early investor....

Palantir is at the heart of the US government, but with its other arm, Palantir Metropolis, it provides the analytical tools for hedge funds, banks and financial services firms to outsmart each other....

Palantir calls its work with the LAPD “improving situational awareness, and responding to crime in real time”.... Algorithms take in data on the location, time and date of previously committed crimes and this data is superimposed to create hotspots on a map for police officers to patrol. ...

In 2013, TechCrunch obtained a leaked report on the use of Palantir by the LA and Chicago police departments. Sgt Peter Jackson of the LAPD was quoted as saying: “Detectives love the type of information [Palantir] provides. They can now do things that we could not do before.”
algorithms  analytics  big_data  palantir  surveillance  security  media_architecture  data_centers 
20 days ago
How Jony Ive Masterminded Apple’s New Headquarters - WSJ
sliding-glass doors on the soundproof offices, a giant European white oak collaboration table, adjustable-height desks, and floors with aluminum-covered hinged panels, hiding cables and wires, and brushed-steel grating for air diffusion...

Yet Ive applied the same design process he brings to technological devices: prototyping to minimize any issues with the end result and to narrow what he calls the delta between the vision and the reality of a project. ...

The scattering of thousands of Apple employees across more than 100 sites in Silicon Valley has rendered more difficult the collaboration necessary for innovation. “We didn’t plan our growth, and then when we saw our growth, we were so engrossed in trying to push things forward that we didn’t spend time to really develop the workplace,” says Cook. “We’ve done a really good job of working around it, but it’s not the way we want to be working, nor does it represent our culture well.”...

The chairs are by Poul Kjærholm...

Some principles were a given, such as the belief that natural light and fresh air make workers happier and more productive....

From the beginning, Ive had an “absolute obsession with the idea that it was built like a product, not like a piece of architecture,” says industrial designer Marc Newson...

Ive takes a subtly British dig at other tech campuses sprouting across Silicon Valley. “A lot of the buildings that are being built at the moment are products of software-only cultures,” says Ive. “Because we understand making, we’ll build [a prototype] and try it and use it, and see what works and what doesn’t.” Facebook commissioned Frank Gehry to make its headquarters, with unfinished plywood walls and cables and cords that dangle from the ceiling. Bjarke Ingels’s and Thomas Heatherwick’s plan for Google’s new campus calls for a giant metal roof canopy.

Ive was used to taking on projects in new domains—such as music players and smartphones—so designing a campus didn’t feel like a leap. In fact, Ive thinks the line separating product design from architecture shouldn’t be so rigid. Architecture is “a sort of product design; you can talk about it in terms of scale and function and materials, material types,” he says. “I think the delineation is a much, much softer set of boundaries that mark our expertise.”...

The fourth floor will be home to the executive suites (including Ive’s design studio), the watch team and part of the group working on Siri, which will also occupy a fraction of the third floor. The Mac and iPad divisions will be interspersed with software teams on the middle levels....

The ring would be made up of pods—units of workspace—built around a central area, like a spoke pointing toward the center of the ring, and a row of customizable seating within each site: 80 pods per floor, 320 in total, but only one to prototype and get right....

The team quickly discovered that early versions of the small offices on each side of the central area were noisy—sound bounced off the flat wood walls. Foster’s architects suggested perforating the walls with millions of tiny holes and lining them with an absorbent material....

“The thing about that level of perfectionism and that level of simplicity is it really belies the complexity.”...

The same attributes accent Apple Park, though the materials are deceptively humble. Most of the ring is made of glass and concrete, Ive points out—though the concrete on the ceilings that run the inner and outer circumferences has been polished to mimic the terrazzo floor in the staircases, down to the same flecks of rock....

The main cafeteria, where Ive began his tour of the recent progress on campus, is a four-level atrium with massive 440,000-pound glass doors that open on both sides to let air pass through. Giant columns clad in blasted steel resemble the aluminum used on Apple’s phones and computers. ...

Ive and Cook place great importance on employees being physically together at work—ironic for a company that has created devices that enable people to work from a distance. Face-to-face communication is essential during the beginning of a project, when an idea is sprouting, they say. Once a model emerges from a series of conversations, it draws people in and gives focus. “For all of the beauty of technology and all the things we’ve helped facilitate over the years, nothing yet replaces human interaction,” says Cook, “and I don’t think it will ever happen.”...

THE THOUSANDS OF employees at Apple Park will need to bend slightly to Ive’s vision of the workplace. Many will be seated in open space, not the small offices they’re used to. Coders and programmers are concerned that their work surroundings will be too noisy and distracting. Whiteboards—synonymous with Silicon Valley brainstorming—are built into floor-to-ceiling sliding doors in the central area of each pod, but “some of the engineers are freaking out” that it isn’t enough, says Whisenhunt. iPhones will be the primary mode of communication for everyone, though individuals can also lobby for a desk phone, if they feel they have a need for one.
media_architecture  media_workplace  furniture  intellectual_furnishings  apple 
20 days ago
Power to the Cities - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Considering these roadblocks and a way through them, Barber raises two questions: the unfunded-mandate question and the sovereignty question. First, how can cities take on global responsibilities when most of the vast revenue they raise is taxed away by central authorities and only a fraction returned? Second, how to argue for cities as the new arbiters of the people’s sovereignty? The core of Barber’s case is not just that cities should and can shoulder the burden, but that this realignment must be couched in the language of rights. It is not just practical and effective for cities to take on this responsibility, it is just and right. He has deemed his Global Parliament of Mayors as first and foremost a global movement for city rights.
cities  urban_studies  local  politics 
20 days ago
Radio Garden – WTSU - WTJB
In the section Live, you can explore a world or radio as it is happening right now. Tune into any place on the globe: what sounds familiar? What sounds foreign? Where would you like to travel and what sounds like ‘home’?
In the section on History you can tune into clips from throughout radio history that show how radio has tried to cross borders. How have people tried to translate their nations into the airwaves? What did they say to the world? How do they engage in conversation across linguistic and geographical barriers?
Click over to Jingles for a world-wide crash course in station identification. How do stations signal within a fraction of a second what kind of programmes you are likely to hear? How do they project being joyful, trustworthy, or up to the minute?
Then stop and listen to radio Stories where listeners past and present tell how they listen beyond their walls. How do they imagine the voices and sounds from around the globe? How do they use radio to make themselves at home in the world?
radio  sound_map 
20 days ago
Atelier NL calls for sand samples from all over the world to make region-specific glass
However, the studio will cast its net wider than before by asking for sand contributions from people across the world. Interested parties can send in 330-millilitre bottles of sand from their own local environments using a special website Atelier NL will launch in August.

When fired at high temperatures, these samples are expected to produce glass with colours and textures unique to their specific areas....

The studio hopes that the project also alerts the industry to the potential application of sand in its wild forms, noting that current glass manufacturing uses exclusively pure white sands from a few quarries.

"As an expression of the human desire for speed, control, and predictability, the conversion of white sands into glass has become highly standardised," they said. "Somehow, along the way, sands have lost their stories along with their natural colours and personalities."
organization  classification  geology  sand  place  materiality  presentation_images 
20 days ago
The scars left by electronic culture on indigenous lands – We Make Money Not Art
Informed by several years of research in the Australian outback desert, It Was Like Experiencing a Fold in Time, She Said bridges the gap between, on the one hand, the landscapes, mythologies and life of outback and aboriginal communities and on the other hand, the brutal origins of our technological ‘progress.’ The work highlights how alienated we are from the geological physicality of our so-called immaterial digital technology. Many of us might not realize it but there would be no IT, no ‘green’ energy without rare earths, iron ore, cobalt and other minerals that are dug out of the ground at huge costs for the environment and local communities....

Another chapter in Persson’s exhibition at Momentum 9 is And Then We Ran Away, a video work that weaves together interviews with Aboriginal women talking about their many languages and culture, images of fauna and flora as well as helicopter rides over the scars that mining activities leave on the landscape. The film quietly conveys how indigenous land is heavily exploited for the raw materials that power the technology we use on a daily basis. Aboriginal peoples, hit by the industry while being often excluded from it, have a deep connection to their ancestral land. The loss, profiteering and poisoning of the territory has thus a devastating social and physical impact on them....

the opal acts as a time machine producing a light show that makes deep time visible here in the present. It portrays the potential of life, encapsulated dormant inside, ready to awaken in a future that the human species might never get to experience.
indigenous  materiality  geology  supply_chain  environment  technology 
20 days ago
Learning from the Virtual - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
The process of rethinking “museum” architecture today must take into consideration the impact of all different types of new and on-the-horizon technologies where VR and AR are but two of many profound ways of thinking and seeing the world that are already affecting the production and experience of art. Add to these voice control, visual and sensory response systems, artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning, and the changes become ever more nuanced and complex, with the potential to radically shift museum culture itself.
virtual_reality  museums  media_architecture  sensation  artificial_intelligence  robotics  machine_learning 
20 days ago
The New Urban Science - The Chronicle of Higher Education
The infusion of big data and big dollars into urban studies has led to a significant shift in the field. But scholars who have long focused on cities say the new urban science has yet to develop enough workable theories or overarching models to predict how any city around the world will change or grow. What’s more, with researchers coming from disciplines as different as anthropology, data science, economics, and urban policy, a common language has yet to emerge.

"We have a lot of new info, but we’re not developing new insight," says Karen C. Seto, a professor of geography and urbanization sciences at Yale University. "This tsunami of data has not necessarily helped us understand what makes a city vibrant and sustainable."...

a new and well-supported science would help researchers understand how urbanization unfolds, "and how this process interacts with local and global environments."...

Some earth scientists who have studied cities say that researchers need to widen their lens. Instead of looking at cities purely as a collection of self-contained ecological entities, scientists should factor in all of the "inputs" that cities gobble up — coal from rural Wyoming, fracked oil from western North Dakota, steel from smoke-belching Chinese mills — and the pollution and warming that come from it. ..

"There are so many problems that you just have to pick one. Then you follow where the data takes you."
smart_cities  urban_science  big_data 
20 days ago
Seattle names first smart city coordinator
The City of Seattle has finished searching for its first smart city coordinator, choosing former Kansas City, Missouri, Innovation Policy Advisor Kate Garman.

The city announced the hire on Thursday after a months-long search for a leader who could bring diligence and community-focus to an emerging technology space fraught with both potential and pitfalls. Garman’s duties as the city's first smart city coordinator will involve leading a smart city program dedicated to establishing “policies, partnerships, systems, platforms, and networks” that serve the needs of Seattle's residents through the innovative use of technology, according to a press release.

“Seattle strives to become a smarter city, responsibly use new technologies and data to improve our community’s quality of life. This means bringing together stakeholders from across the city to understand when these technologies can provide value, and to facilitate deployment in a manner trusted by our community,” said city Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller in a statement. “We are excited to have a proven leader like Kate help us advance our efforts in this space.”
smart_cities  open_data 
20 days ago
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