Designing the technology of ‘Blade Runner 2049’
Throughout the movie, K visits a laboratory where artificial memories are made; an LAPD facility where replicant code, or DNA, is stored on vast pieces of ticker tape; and a vault, deep inside the headquarters of a private company, that stores the results of replicant detection 'Voight-Kampff' tests. In each scene, technology or machinery is used as a plot device to push the larger narrative forward. Almost all of these screens were crafted, at least in part, by a company called Territory Studios...

When a computer or machine is shown on film, it needs to be believable. Sometimes, a static display will do. But others require animation and multiple screens, or loops, to be chained together. Early in the movie, for instance, K steps into his personal Spinner. The screens lining the dashboard change as a call from Joshi comes in, and K scans the eyeball of a replicant he was hunting earlier. These are subtle, but necessary transitions to sell the idea that the vehicle is real.

Every shot was different, but generally Territory provided screens with an initial state, an action state, and then a looping state. Some screens had additional action states, if they were required to pull off a particular sequence. The different states were then triggered by actors or production staff on cue.

Territory could, in theory, design and code full-blown applications. But for a movie like Blade Runner, that would be a costly and time-consuming process. After all, a screen is largely redundant once the scene has been shot. There are also the practicalities of shooting a movie. An actor's focus is already split between the lights, the camera, the lines they need to remember, and the positioning of other cast members. If a screen or prop isn't simple, it could affect their focus and%2
data  archives  interfaces  speculative_interfaces  bladerunner 
7 hours ago
Vintage Skynet: AT&T's Abandoned "Long Lines" Microwave Tower Network - 99% Invisible
Between early wired networks and today’s fiber optics sat a system of microwave relay towers transmitting information from coast to coast across the United States. Built in the early 1950s, this line-of-sight network spanned the continent using zig-zag patterns to avoid signal overlap. It conveyed phone conversations and television signals from the era of the Kennedy assassination through the resignation of Nixon.
infrastructure  microware  telecommunication  line_of_sight 
yesterday
What happened to big data?
there are at least two viable ways to deal with the problems that arise from the imperfect relationship between a data set and the real-world outcome you’re trying to measure or predict.

One is, in short: moar data. This has long been Facebook’s approach. When it became apparent that users’ “likes” were a flawed proxy for what they actually wanted to see more of in their feeds, the company responded by adding more and more proxies to its model. It began measuring other things, like the amount of time they spent looking at a post in their feed, the amount of time they spent reading a story they had clicked on, and whether they hit “like” before or after they had read the piece. ...

One downside of the moar data approach is that it’s hard and expensive. Another is that the more variables are added to your model, the more complex, opaque, and unintelligible its methodology becomes. This is part of the problem Pasquale articulated in The Black Box Society. Even the most sophisticated algorithm, drawing on the best data sets, can go awry—and when it does, diagnosing the problem can be nigh-impossible. There are also the perils of “overfitting” and false confidence: The more sophisticated your model becomes, the more perfectly it seems to match up with all your past observations, and the more faith you place in it, the greater the danger that it will eventually fail you in a dramatic way. (Think mortgage crisis, election prediction models, and Zynga.)

Another possible response to the problems that arise from biases in big data sets is what some have taken to calling “small data.” Small data refers to data sets that are simple enough to be analyzed and interpreted directly by humans, without recourse to supercomputers or Hadoop jobs. Like “slow food,” the term arose as a conscious reaction to the prevalence of its opposite....

A safeguard, when making decisions based on things you know how to measure, is to make sure there are also mechanisms by which you can be made aware of the things you don’t know how to measure. “The question is always, what data don’t you collect?” O’Neil said in a phone interview. “What’s the data you don’t see?”...

There is some hope, then, that in moving away from “big data” as a buzzword, we’re moving gradually toward a more nuanced understanding of data’s power and pitfalls. In retrospect, it makes sense that the sudden proliferation of data-collecting sensors and data-crunching supercomputers would trigger a sort of gold rush, and that fear of missing out would in many cases trump caution and prudence. It was inevitable that thoughtful people would start to call our collective attention to these cases, and that there would be a backlash, and perhaps ultimately a sort of Hegelian synthesis.

Yet the threats posed by the misuse of big data haven’t gone away just because we no longer speak that particular term in reverent tones. Glance at the very peak of Gartner’s 2017 hype cycle and you’ll find the terms machine learning and deep learning, alongside related terms such as autonomous vehicles and virtual assistants that represent real-world applications of these computing techniques. These are new layers of scaffolding built on the same foundation as big data, and they all rely on it. They’re already leading to real breakthroughs—but we can rest assured that they’re also leading to huge mistakes.
big_data  methodology 
yesterday
Alphabet, Google, and Sidewalk Labs Start Their City-Building Venture in Toronto | WIRED
GOOGLE HAS BUILT an online empire by measuring everything. Clicks. GPS coordinates. Visits. Traffic. The company's resource is bits of info on you, which it mines, packages, repackages, repackages again, and then uses to sell you stuff. Now it's taking that data-driven world-building power to the real world. Google is building a city.
Tuesday afternoon, public officials gathered in Toronto to announce that Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary under the Alphabet umbrella that also houses Google, will pilot the redevelopment of 12 acres of southeastern waterfront. Today the area hosts a few industrial buildings and some parking lots. In just a few years, it will be a techified community going by the name of Quayside. Sidewalk Labs has already devoted $50 million to the project, and Google will move its Toronto headquarters to the neighborhood. Once the company has proven out its concept, it plans to expand its redevelopment to the entire 800-acre waterfront area....

This will be a fully Google-fied neighborhood, built from scratch, with a touch of Canadian flavor. (Maple-fried bacon? Poutine? Unfailing bilingual politeness?) Sidewalk Labs promises to embed all sorts of sensors everywhere possible, sucking up a constant stream of information about traffic flow, noise levels, air quality, energy usage, travel patterns, and waste output. Cameras will help the company nail down the more intangible: Are people enjoying this public furniture arrangement in that green space? Are residents using the popup clinic when flu season strikes?...

The waterfront redevelopment proposal outlines a community where everybody has their own account, “a highly secure, personalized portal through which each resident accesses public services and the public sector.” Use your account to tell everyone in the building to quiet down, to get into your gym, or to give the plumber access to your apartment while you're at work.

A mapping application will “record the location of all parts of the public realm in real time”—we’re talking roads, buildings, lawn furniture, and drones. ...

It will test a new housing concept called Loft, packed with flexible spaces to be used for whatever the community needs. It will experiment with building materials like plastic, prefabricated modules, and timber in the place of steel. And yes, Sidewalk Labs says it's working on a comprehensive privacy plan.
The company will then crunch the numbers. Sidewalk Labs' data scientists will analyze the firehose of data to figure out what’s working and what’s not....

It says it will use sophisticated modeling techniques to simulate “what-if scenarios” and determine better courses of action. No one's using that park bench, but what if we moved it to a sunnier corner of the park? “Sidewalk expects that many residents, in general, will be attracted by the idea of living in a place that will continuously improve,” the company writes in its project proposal....

Despite decades of the scholarly research into how cities work, scientists still struggle through gaps in data. Governments mostly collect info about how pedestrians use sidewalks and cyclists use bicycle infrastructure by hand, and then only periodically. Sidewalk Labs could help agencies everywhere crack a few codes.
smart_cities  sidewalk_labs 
2 days ago
Life, Abstracted: Notes on the Floor Plan - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
Unlike the characters of Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, in which the Danish director staged a town made of white painted outlines drawn on the floor with some occasional walls and pieces of furniture, we don’t see or experience the plans of the spaces within which we move. Yet plans are everywhere: we spend most of our life within them. By plan I’m referring to what within the discipline of architecture is commonly understood as a “floor plan,” that is, the orthogonal view of a horizontal section of a building.
The making of almost every architectural structure nowadays implies the design of its floor plan. The drawn plan is thus not just an abstraction of architecture but a “concrete abstraction,” since together with other forms of architectural notation, the plan translates many determinations—money, measures, code, gender, class, rituals, beliefs, ideologies, environmental conditions, etc.—into a specific spatial layout. With its conventions of scale, measure, and view, the plan acts—much like money—as a “general equivalent” within which a multitude of determinations coalesce into a measurable “universal” datum.

...floor plan as a “concrete abstraction,” as something that even in its own abstract status of notation is both determined by and determinate of concrete conditions and the way in which we dwell, inhabit, and produce space....

We can see the architectural plan emerging here in the most essential of terms: a drawing traced on the ground that defines the relationships between building elements to achieve a structure in which the position of each is consistent with the whole. ...

The large marble plan of Rome known as Forma Urbis Romae is a prime example of how the plan imposes its normative power on lived space. Completed during the reign of Septimius Severus in the third century CE, the Forma Urbis was a ground floor plan, a horizontal section of the city carved into marble slabs.8 Fragments of the map were rediscovered during the sixteenth century and have since, in part thanks to depiction by Giovanni Battista Piranesi as part of his Roman Antiquities, become an emblematic representation of ancient Rome. Measuring approximately sixty feet wide by fort-five feet tall, the map was most probably displayed vertically on a wall in a public building such as an archive, library, or as suggested by several scholars, a public register of property.9
In the Forma Urbis Romae, private and public buildings are often—though not systematically—differentiated in terms of how they are represented: the wall thickness and interior columns of public buildings are rendered, whereas the walls of private buildings are drawn as single lines. Furthermore, there are scalar inconsistencies, with monumental public buildings drawn at a slightly larger scale than the surrounding residential fabric. In clearly differentiating res publica from res privata, the purpose of the map was to function as a cadastral survey of the city, i.e. a map that serves as an accurate register of property. The Forma Urbis Romae manifests the Romans’ extreme attention to partitioning the urban territory into public and private land. But this process of reification in which every parcel of the ground is either one or the other found its point of origin not in the res privata per se, but in the very institution of the res publica and res sacra as parcels of land excluded from commerce....

Vitruvius, in his De Architectura Libri Decem, presented three main techniques to correctly draw, and thus design architecture: ichnographia (plan), ortographia (elevation and section) and scenographia (tridimensional rendering).11 While orthography and scenography represent buildings as they appear when built, ichnography, defined as the tracing of a geometrical projection of a building’s horizontal section, is an abstraction of the building that represents a datum not visible from within the built structure itself. Yet it was precisely this “invisible” datum that allowed the juridical value of places to be determined....

The work of partitioning the land was not just bureaucratic and managerial, but often a highly symbolic affair that involved religious rituals such as auspices and acts of consecration. Here we can see that the juridical abstraction of the city into patrimonial values was not at odds with the ritualization of space upon which the planning of cities was founded: both were instrumental to augment and facilitate social consensus. A plan of the city such as the Forma Urbis is thus not just the definition of the city’s value organized into res publica and res privata. The topographical certainty of this partition and its geometric intelligibility is also the political basis on which the empire rests and defines its sovereignty. It is that which makes the abstraction of urban territory possible...

Within the architecture of the monastery, abstraction is performed as the organization of discrete, specific moments into more generalizable and repeatable patterns.13 This spatial condition was reflected by an architecture made of simple, generic, and rhythmic forms. Incidentally the first known architectural drawing is the so-called “ideal plan for a monastery” preserved in the library of St. Gall, Switzerland.14 Drawn on five parchments sewn together, the plan was drafted in the monastery of Reichenau under the supervision of its abbot Haito and sent to Gozbert, the abbot of St. Gall. In addressing Gozbert, Haito wrote that the purpose of the plan was for the abbot of St. Gall to “exercise your ingenuity and recognize my devotion.” This means that the plan was not meant to be the blueprint for a specific project, but rather a diagram (completed with an extensive text and legend on its back) to help the abbot to define the disposition of the different spaces and their use....

By carefully choreographing the monk’s daily routines, the monastery became a fundamental model for industrial civilization. We should not forget that, unlike in antiquity when it was considered an unworthy sphere of life, better avoided or delegated to slaves, it was within the monastery that labor was first recognized to be an essential aspect of life. The monastery thus became a model for modern institutions in which the floor plan becomes the sine qua non of architecture, such as the hospital, prison, factory, school, and above all, housing. At the same time, the spatial ritualization of daily routines became the model for movements and projects that challenged the inevitability of industrial capitalism...

Xenophon’s Oeconomicus compares the perfect conditions for harmonic cohabitation to a dance where everything is ruled according to a carefully orchestrated choreography whose performers are not just objects, but bodies.24 It is precisely here that we see how domestic space produces the most generic condition for production: everyday life. It is also in this way we can understand how a house houses, or becomes housing. While the noun “house” emphasizes the symbolic dimension of the domestic realm, “housing” focuses on the functioning of the house. In the western world, housing as a specific architectural project emerges in the late middle ages when ruling powers began to consider the welfare of workers to be the fundamental precondition for a city or state to be productive and generate wealth. Interestingly, at the moment housing becomes a proper architectural project, the floor plan is understood as an increasingly essential datum for its production. From Sebastiano Serlio’s treatise on domestic architecture to Catharine and Herriet Beecher’s model for “The American Woman Home,” housing is conceived from the vantage point of the plan....

What was a stake in this careful planning of the home was, in Roberts’ words, ”the preservation of domestic privacy and independence of each distinct family and the disconnection of their apartments, so as to effectively prevent the communication of contagious disease.”26 Yet what in these plans seems to be effectively prevented is communication altogether, evincing a capitalist intent to replace the solidarity typical among working class families and households with the petit-bourgeois ideology of “privacy” and self-containment. ... By clearly separating apartments and giving each of them an autonomous entrance, for example, each housing unit would have less windows than what was subject to the then-expensive window tax. In Roberts’ model houses, economy both in the sense of home economics and as large scale social organization overlap and become one, and the plan becomes the most legible hieroglyph of a political economy crystallized into space....

A history of architecture through floor plans would reveal the way life has been constantly ritualized, abstracted, and thus reified in order to become legible and organizable. Understood in this way, the plan demystifies the naturalization of power relations since it shows how they have always been deliberately constructed by the formation of habit and perception.
media_architecture  floorplan  drawing  diagram  code_space  property 
2 days ago
Essay – Futureproof
Most histories of the modern corporate futurist field locate its origins in the discipline of “operations research”, a term as conveniently vague as “futurism.” Operations research emerged during World War II from US military logistics research using nascent analog and digital computing technologies to make more informed decisions grounded in computational analysis and statistical modeling. The brightest minds of World War II operations research would go on to leadership roles at the RAND Corporation, a quasi-governmental private think tank created in 1948 to provide research and development support to the United States military. At RAND, operations research gave way to two major developments that would become integral to the pursuit of rational futures: game theory and scenario planning. Both were integral to the development of Cold War-era military simulations and war games. Of the two, scenario planning employs more narrative interpretation, and is generally expected to be attuned to the subtleties of here and now rather than relying only on calculations and archetypes.

The government and military approaches to scenarios would go on to shape the field of corporate scenario planning, most notably the Shell Oil scenarios team. Formed in 1965, Shell Scenarios continues its work of future visioning to this day. Its reports are full of cautions about the limitations of scenarios, and insist that they are not “predicting the future” per se so much as laying out some reasonably assessed possibilities. Modest protestations aside, the Shell team is among the most written about examples of in-house corporate futurists in part because of the fact that the team largely validated its existence when one of its scenarios “predicted” the 1973 Middle East oil embargo....

Salome Asega and Ayodamola Okunseinde’s Iyapo Repository exists somewhere past that way out in the timeline. It’s an archive literally in the future perfect for objects that will, at some point in the future, become historical artifacts. Through a series of workshops and events, the Repository’s archivists invite the public to imagine tools and technologies that reinforce an affirmative and tangible future of people of African descent. Asega and Okunseinde chose the form of a future archive carefully, appropriating the form as a challenge to the long and fraught history of Western archives and museums misappropriating and erasing the history and culture of African diaspora. In addition to written documentation and sketches from workshops, the Repository includes a selection of physical artifacts fabricated by Asega and Okunseinde, which extend the imaginings of workshop participants into technically functional objects. Not satisfied with the fantasy of possible futures, the Iyapo Repository insists this future has already happened and offers both a comprehensive archival paper trail and tangible artifacts as proof....

Trying to build alternative futures is often a process of facing that haunting spectre: finding life or potential by invoking and living with the ghosts and weird spirits of a world that could have been. Often, the interface for visiting these particular ghosts isn’t the medium or Ouija board but the archive, which is partly why so many of the works in Futureproof take on an archivist, museological tone. The alternative archive is historical evidence of a shift in the timeline, its own kind of proof that another timeline is not only possible, but has already happened, is already happening and emergent before us....

Two years later I saw a satellite exhibition from Ian Alan Paul’s Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History, which manages to articulate that impossible future mostly through its stalwart representation of past and present. The artifacts and documents included in GBMAH exhibitions are real items from our timeline, real documentation of what’s happened at the prison. While there are other archival initiatives about Guantanamo by human rights groups and legal scholarship institutions, to present that archive in the register of museology—to suggest that the prison and its horrors exists in the past tense—gives those artifacts a more insistent, demanding politics than the mournful tone of oral histories. The museum is less a speculation and more a promise to a future or a timeline in which the United States is capable of facing the grim and cruel parts of its own history.
futurism  speculation  operations_research  archives  archive_art 
5 days ago
Using Art to Investigate Catastrophe: A Q&A With Mariam Ghani, the Artist Daughter of Afghanistan’s President | Art for Sale | Artspace
And the last project I would mention in relation to your question is The Trespassers, a 105-minute video about the role of translators in the so-called "global war on terror.” In this piece, the camera follows a magnifying glass as it reads declassified official documents line by line, while Dari and Arabic speakers simultaneously translate the text. I was trying to foreground the importance of translation in this endless war. So much intelligence, and so many decisions made over the past fifteen years, have depended on the translated words of Dari, Pashtu, and Arabic speakers, and so little has been documented about how the actual process of translation. I felt like these translators were ghosts in the records. Every time you read an interrogation transcript you know the interrogation could not have happened without a translator. But the translator’s presence is rarely recorded. If you read enough of these transcripts you become really interested in the missing translators.
Did you find some of these ‘ghosts in the records?’
I did find some of them. But they can’t legally talk about what they experienced. Translators from the diaspora had the highest security clearances, because they were US citizens, so many of them participated in interrogations of “high-value targets,” meaning that they saw a lot of screwed-up stuff. And I think many of them came back pretty traumatized. Meanwhile, in the Afghan-American community, the choice to become a military translator has always been controversial. Families have become quite divided over this issue.
language  translation  archives  archive_art  nationalism 
5 days ago
Acquiring Design - Stephanie Koltun
How can the digital interface of a collection foster user discovery?

The infinite canvas of the web can comprehensively showcase entire archives. In an attempt to move beyond users simply searching through a collection, Acquiring Design presents objects in context with one another and reveals underlying relationships across time. Two modes - Object View and Aggregate View - enable different interpretations of the collection. However, "the other" and "the related" is continually present. The key is the juxtaposition - this versus that - which allows users to identify relationships.
archives  digitization  interfaces 
5 days ago
Virtual Roundtable on “Compression” | Public Books
Writing has been invented independently as few as three times in the history of the world: in ancient Sumer, in ancient China, and in medieval Mesoamerica. Sumerian cuneiform was likely the inspiration for Egyptian hieroglyphs. Those, in turn, inspired the early Semitic script from which all European and several Asian scripts ultimately derive.... Of the six or seven thousand world languages, fewer than a third are written. Of that third, nearly a quarter are typically written in the Latin alphabet, one of only 50 global writing systems. The alphabet today, in its most common guise—namely, this one—is thus regularly used to transcribe some five hundred languages...

Can we attribute this easy mobility to the alphabet’s efficiency in compressing sounds into symbols? Rather than the 2000–3000 characters one must know to read a Chinese newspaper fluently or the 500–1000 signs used in Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform, only 20–30 alphabetic characters are needed to record an increasing number of languages. Yet our alphabets’ history reveals just how slippery and complex “compression” is in relation to the messages that it allegedly compresses. ...

Consider the case of vowels. Just as they are absent from most Hebrew written today, marks of vowels were not usually necessary for transcribing ancient Semitic languages. Nor were they absolutely necessary for transcribing ancient Greek; Linear B encoded vowels along with consonants in its syllabary. When Greek speakers adapted characters from the West Semitic script to systematically represent vowels, they in fact expanded the inventory of types of sounds encoded in their writing.
writing  media_history  compression  transcription 
5 days ago
Adam Greenfield on emerging technology: 'God forbid that anyone stopped to ask what harm this might do us' | The Independent
It almost doesn’t matter what the blockchain actually is or how it works, because it doesn’t do what the popular media, and therefore the popular imagination, understand it to be doing. But at root if someone asserts that a given transaction or document or artefact has a specified provenance, then that assertion can be tested and verified to the satisfaction of all parties, computationally and in a distributed manner, without the need to invoke any centralised source of authority.

The blockchain does this because the people who devised it have a very deeply founded hostility to the state, and in fact to central authority in all its forms. What they wanted to do was establish an alternative to the authority of the state as a guarantor of reliability... I don’t find that to be a particularly utopian prospect. In fact, there’s something shoddy and dishonest about the argument. What the truly convinced blockchain ideologues aim to do is drain taxation and revenue away from the state, because – in the words of Grover Norquist – they want to shrink the state to the point that it can be drowned in a bathtub. This is their explicit ambition. Why shouldn’t we take them at their word?...

You also probe the algorithmic management of economic life via the application of machine learning techniques to large, unstructured data sets. You argue that this is a huge and unprecedented intervention in people’s lives, despite us lacking knowledge on how crucial decisions made about our everyday existence are reached. How has this come to be and why is it so uninterrogated? Is there any way of democratising the algorithms that are increasingly governing our lives?...

Even the institution that relies on that algorithm won’t be able to say to any particular degree of assurance whether or not your handwriting’s been the triggering factor, or if it was something else in the cascade of decision gates that’s ultimately bound up in the way this kind of network does work in the world.

So the sophistication of these systems is rapidly approaching a point at which we cannot force them to offer up their secrets. And we’re about to compound the challenge further. For example, AlphaGo and its successors are designing their own core logics. So increasingly, human intelligence is no longer crafting the algorithmic tools by which decisions are reached....

I’m certainly not arguing in favour of bullshit jobs or busy work. But there is a naiveté in the articulation of what’s been called “fully automated luxury communism”.

I don’t think the folks responsible for developing this line of argument have really quite reckoned with what it’s like when each one of us can have anything we want whenever we want it. I don’t necessarily know if that’s good for human psyches...

The trouble is that so many questions that appear to be purely technical in nature present us with vexingly complicated implications socially or psychologically. I’ll give you an example. For many years, I was passionately involved in a movement calling for open municipal data. That to me seems so clearly preferable to the existing model where the data was held close, was restrictively licensed, and was provided only to the large corporate vendors who happened to be the municipality’s partners. I thought that it would be better off, given that each of us generated that information in the first place, that we could have access to it and make such use of it as we would.

And then Gamergate [the video game online protest that was accused of being a hate campaign] happened. One of the things we saw in Gamergate, which should have been obvious in retrospect, was how trivially easy open data can be weaponised by people who do not feel themselves bound by the same social contract as the rest of us. If neither the restrictive release of data to favoured partners nor its open availability produces desirable social outcomes, what’s left?...

I think that we need to be braver about understanding code. Understanding what an API is, how it works – understanding network topographies, and what the implications of network topographies are for the things which flow across and between their nodes. Understanding corporate governance. Understanding all these things that so many of us who think of ourselves as being on the left prefer not to address. We need badly to develop expertise in these things so that we can contest them, because otherwise it’s black boxes all the way down. We don’t know what these technologies do or how they work. We just don’t see what politics they serve.
ideology  phones  technology  blockchain  artificial_intelligence 
6 days ago
Data Walking for Social Good – Data Science Studies – Medium
What if data scientists could experience the ways data are human, embodied, and contingent, much like an ethnographer of data might? It is in this gap that the data walk becomes a compelling proposition for bridging discourse and practice and generating new collaborative forms of inquiry.
But what is a data walk? There are many possibilities.Thanks to Alison Powell, who has developed the concept and fleshed out what one version of a data walk could look like, we had a very healthy and robust place to start. Powell defines datawalking as:
“A research process for producing radical data through collaborative walks. Data walking creates a process for observing, reflecting on and seeking to intervene in how data influences civic space. By playing roles as photographers, note-takers and map-makers, participants develop ways to think about and reflect on what data might be, and what role it plays in key social issues.” (www.datawalking.org)
infrastructural_tourism  data_literacy  data_visualization 
8 days ago
Graphics IV: maps - www.keviselie-hansragnarmathisen.net
Through his maps and art, Sami artist Hans Ragnar Mathisen is making "a peaceful appropriation" of his people’s land, traditions and culture.

For a millennium, Sami have co-existed with Norwegians — and with the Vikings before them.

"After 1000 years, we still have our language and culture," Mathisen said. "It shows Sami are very strong, but not stupid, because if we were stupid, we would fight with weapons and lose."

To do this Mathisen has chosen to enrich Sami language and culture through his series of maps that depict the world, as seen by Sami eyes.
indigenous  mapping  cartography 
8 days ago
Toward an epistemology of the form of the Informal city: Mapping the process of informal city making | Informal Settlements Research ISR
The current scale of poverty on the planet has overwhelmed the capacity of the formal market to incorporate the masses of impoverished settlers arriving to urban centers all over the world. The informal city now serves as the place for up to one-third of the planet’s urban population.  Even with renewed interest in the role of design to improve informal settlements living conditions, the urban design discipline lacks a comprehensive understanding of variations within this urban phenomena and therefore, effective intervention tools. I believe that we must develop new multifaceted methodologies for intervening in informal settlements. This paper seeks to develop such methodologies by analyzing data collected from interviews with residents in informal settlements in the city of Medellin, Colombia, over a period of the last three years. This analysis challenges some misconceptions of urban informality still present in urban design literature in a search to inform more coherent methodologies for the near future.
mapping  cartography  informal_urbanism 
11 days ago
DC Water Atlas
Critique of Typical Presentations of Spatial Data

American Panorama, a project out of the University of Richmond, is impressive and well-designed, and represents all that is right and wrong with the pursuit of the digital spatial humanities today. With a $500,000 budget (from a Mellon Foundation grant), two full-time historians, and four technicians, it is a difficult behemoth to compete with, but does provide a measure of an objective standard to just how much work and resources one of these projects needs.

The aspect of American Panorama and other projects of its ilk that I most would like to question is the continental-scale conception of the representation of space. Even if indeed one can zoom into a particular canal, the fact that the project is essentially a presentation of data without any interpretation is apparent. The canal remains a polyline, a series of coordinates linked in a chain, only one step up from looking at a database, and conveys no sense of space or place. Instead, these digital humanities projects rest on the laurels of the act of database creation, even if it means the landscape will always remain generic.

The Water Atlas, because of extensive processing, does convey a sense of place and space to the structures and landscapes it considers. A combination of cartography and orthographic drawing conventions, the Water Atlas%
mapping  cartography  water  digital_humanities 
12 days ago
Google's new browser experiment lets you learn about basic AI - The Verge
Just how does machine learning work? You’ve probably read a primer or two on the subject, but often the best way to understand a thing is to try it out for yourself. With that in mind, check out this little in-browser experiment from Google named Teachable Machine. It’s a perfect two-minute summary of what a lot of modern AI can — and more importantly can’t — do.

Teachable Machine lets you use your webcam to train an extremely basic AI program. Just hit the “train green/purple/orange” buttons, and the machine will record whatever it can see through your webcam. Once it’s “learned” enough, it’ll output whatever you like (a GIF or a sound effect or some speech) when it sees the object or activity you trained it with. I taught it to recognize my houseplants and respond with relevant GIFs, but others have used it make their hands go moo or play air guitar on command.
artificial_intelligence  educational_media  training 
12 days ago
Maps Mania: Working With Map Projections
Projection Face is a great illustration of the distortions created by different map projections. The interactive shows how 64 different map projections effect our view of the world by showing each projection's effect when applied to something very familiar, the human face.

The distortions of each of the different projections cab be illustrated further by clicking and dragging any of the mapped faces. This illustrates how the different map projections can be distorted themselves simply by changing the center of the map.

Projections Face is an interactive version of a 1924 illustration from Elements of Map Projection with Applications to Map and Chart Construction. ....

Degenerate State's Map Projections tool is another interesting visualization of how different map projections distort our picture of the world. Map Projections is a very similar tool to Projection Face but this interactive shows you how map projections actually effect maps.

The tool allows you to view a map of the world using 11 different map projections. This in itself is a good demonstration of the choices cartographers make when depicting a three dimensional sphere on a two dimensional plane. However Map Projections also allows you to explore how these different map projections would change if you changed the 0,0 point of latitude and longitude on the map.

If you click anywhere in the world then the map will automatically change to show the distortion needed if this was the origin of the map.

If you want a little help deciding which map projection you should use for your current map project then you can use the Projection Wizard to decide on the best projection.

This map projection guide allows you to select the extent of the map view you are working with by outlining the area on a Leaflet map. Once you've highlighted your map bounds you can choose a distortion property (Equal-area, Conformal, Equidistant or Compromise).

The Projection Wizard will then suggest which map projection you should use depending on the extent and the distortion property of the map. The suggested projections are based on 'A Guide to Selecting Map Projections' by the Cartography and Geovisualization Group at Oregon State University.
cartography  mapping  projection 
12 days ago
Let's Talk Self-Driving
Waymo began as the Google self-driving car project. We have the most experienced cars on the road, with over 8 years and 3 million self-driven miles to date.

Our mission is to make it safe and easy for everyone to get around. We’ve already completed the world’s first fully self-driving ride on public roads, and we’re working to bring this technology to even more people, as soon as possible.

Visit Waymo’s website to learn more. Residents in the Phoenix area can also apply for the early rider program, our first public trial of our self-driving cars.
google  automation  self_driving 
12 days ago
O.K., Computer, Tell Me What This Smells Like | The New Yorker
In the mid-nineteen-eighties, a group of researchers at the American Society for Testing and Materials recruited more than a hundred people to help compile a list of molecules and their associated scents. From this trove of information and others put together since, we know that benzaldehyde smells like cherries and isoamyl acetate like bananas. But such atlases of odor, Vosshall pointed out, are labor-intensive to make, and traditionally they have served the rather limited needs of the flavor and fragrance industries, failing to explore the full range of human olfaction. Over the years, biologists who specialize in the psychophysics of smell have continued to work away at the problem. Earlier this year, Vosshall and her collaborators published a new take on it, this time using computer algorithms.
The researchers first asked around fifty people to rate the intensity and pleasantness of four hundred and seventy-four odor molecules, and to describe them using terms such as “leather,” “fruit,” “bakery,” and “chemical.” Then they provided groups of computer scientists—all entrants in a competition called the dream Olfaction Prediction Challenge—with more than four thousand pieces of information about the molecules, ranging from their component atoms...

another possibility, Vosshall said, is that she and her colleagues are still thinking about olfaction too simplistically. In the nose, there are hundreds of smell receptors. Unlike their brethren in the mouth, which sense just one of the key tastes—sweetness, saltiness, umami, sourness, and bitterness—they don’t appear to be specialized. Instead, they seem to interact with one another and with the environment in all kinds of ways, sending myriad messages to the brain that it interprets as the scent of chocolate cake, sawdust, lilacs. Clearly, the mechanisms of smell are not as simple as a lock fitting into a keyhole, or even an alkaloid from your morning coffee striking a bitter receptor on your tongue. The difficulty of the problem makes it all the more marvellous that we can recognize scents so effortlessly.
artificial_intelligence  machine_learning  sensation  smell 
12 days ago
Index — edgar/Endress
This classification explore the arbitrariness (and cultural specificity) of any attempt to categorize the world anddemonstrates an "other" to our system of thought. In Foucault's book the "Order of Things", Foucault explicates an "archaeological" investigation of knowledge acquisition; he also comments on the fragility of our current means of understanding the world. For Foucault reasoning is the ultimate act of control, delivered through the power of representation to confirm an objective order. Acts of Knowledge begins with a text found in an old social studies text used in U.S. classrooms. This educational text delivers a structural form of knowledge and a series of narratives about the similar and the other. Acts of Knowledge uses the primary forms of knowledge -the encyclopedia- to question the structure imposed by the reasoning. In that context, the acts of estrangement and the visual structuring of the dictionary and the encyclopedias through collages questions the categorization, knowledge, and the arbitrariness of otherness. 
foucault  ordering  classification  epistemology  organization 
12 days ago
Introducing the Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX)
What is PLIX?
The Public Library Innovation Exchange is a Knight Foundation-funded grant project to build collaborations between Media Lab researchers and public libraries across the US. The project has three components:

Residency exchanges—where we will match a public library with a Media Lab researcher to work on a project together. Each partner on the team will travel to the other partner’s institution for a brief residency to allow for in-depth work, co-design, and development.

A public website—where we will host resources to help libraries implement projects created at the Media Lab. This will include how-to guides and kits targeted specifically at public library implementations.

Why pair the Media Lab and libraries?
Here at the Media Lab, we are huge fans of public libraries. They provide far more than books to their visitors; they serve as community hubs for social change and innovation. From maker spaces to recording studios to early literacy programs, libraries are working hard to create open, collaborative, community-oriented environments where learning can flourish. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is also precisely the kind of learning environment the Media Lab aims to be and design for.

Researchers here at the Media Lab are creating solutions to challenges that require community input, including preventing tick-borne disease, increasing data literacy, and engaging kids with code.
mit  libraries  civic_tech  technology 
13 days ago
NEW THEORY CRACKS OPEN THE BLACK BOX OF DEEP NEURAL NETWORKS
Tishby and Shwartz-Ziv also made the intriguing discovery that deep learning proceeds in two phases: a short “fitting” phase, during which the network learns to label its training data, and a much longer “compression” phase, during which it becomes good at generalization, as measured by its performance at labeling new test data.

As a deep neural network tweaks its connections by stochastic gradient descent, at first the number of bits it stores about the input data stays roughly constant or increases slightly, as connections adjust to encode patterns in the input and the network gets good at fitting labels to it. Some experts have compared this phase to memorization.

Then learning switches to the compression phase. The network starts to shed information about the input data, keeping track of only the strongest features—those correlations that are most relevant to the output label. This happens because, in each iteration of stochastic gradient descent, more or less accidental correlations in the training data tell the network to do different things, dialing the strengths of its neural connections up and down in a random walk. This randomization is effectively the same as compressing the system’s representation of the input data.
brains  artificial_intelligence  machine_learning  epistemology  neural_nets 
13 days ago
The People's Roadmap to a Digital New York City | BetaNYC
Welcome to The People's Roadmap to a Digital New York City. In this document you will find values and recommendations formulated by people of New York, for the people of New York, for the 21st Century. Through our roadmap, we look at technology as a catalyst for empowerment and bridging municipal management inequalities.

Through the People's Roadmap to a Digital New York City, we want to move beyond transparency. We want a government that asks us about our needs and is responsive to our problems. Written for the people, by the people, this roadmap has traveled to all five boroughs lighting a pathway for New York City to stay the world's premier digital city.

"Technology is not a slice of the pie, but the pan." - Andrew Rasiej, Chairman of the New York Tech Meetup.

As of the November 2013 election, New York City is at a critical inflection point. A new cast of actors will assume powerful roles across government. This document will help guide this next administration and successive ones into community digital services. We see technology as a catalyst to develop smarter communities, deploy high speed accessible infrastructure, develop lifelong learning education initiatives, programs for employment and economic mobility, and effective and open government.

To accomplish this, we have established four universal digital freedoms:

Free
urban_data  smart_cities  infrastructure  access 
13 days ago
Machine Visions
The writer Michael Chabon likens the films of Wes Anderson to “scale models” or “boxed assemblages” built from “the bittersweet harvest of observation and experience.”1

These “models” are carefully constructed out of wood and paint, text and image, long tracking shots and carefully framed subjects. Anderson is a meticulous world builder in both visual and thematic construction.

The Life Aquatic was the first Anderson movie I really fell in love with, and as I continue to watch more of them, I find myself pondering just what it is that makes an Anderson film Andersonian. Is it the carefully chosen color schemes or the symmetrical compositions? The recurring themes of family and fracture, of discovery and triumph? Or is it the brief magical flashes of the surreal?
Anderson certainly has a style, and his visual motifs are what I want to explore in this essay.
digital_humanities  film  formalism  cultural_analytics  machine_vision  media_theory 
16 days ago
Profound Modernity - Positions - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
For Georges Didi-Huberman, a fabric in the gutters of Paris, not unlike rolled-up sweatpants, leads to a particular conundrum around modernity and the archaic. These fabrics, about a meter wide, are rolled up and lie next to grates along the Paris streets—or they did extensively, until around the turn of the millennium.
It is a sort of drapery. It is to be found, I believe, only in Paris. Moreover, it is found all over Paris … It is a salvaged nondescript piece of fabric—sheet, old garment, carpet scrap—that street sweepers place against the sidewalk, to channel the flow of the “gutter” (as it used to be called) into drain inlets....

The steel tubes of Paris' potable water operate in tandem with non-potable water and rolled-up carpets. This is a nineteenth century greywater network that depends partially on the orchestration of fabric. Steel, that carbon-iron alloy, is such a major factor of nineteenth century technology that it is almost synonymous with the industrial revolution. Yet while the steel tube, like the frame of a skyscraper, became the symbol and system of modernity, the rolled-up fabric, a common domestic material virtually undifferentiated from a living room carpet, did not. Instead, it returns as a performance of the archaic. ...

If there was one project in Mexico City that could be thought of as descendent of Haussmannian Boulevardisation in its expansiveness, destructive power, engineering rationality, and lurking militarism, it would be the Drenaje Profundo. The Drenaje Profundo is a subterranean network of 200 or so kilometers of underground tunnels, interceptors, emitters, and thousands of kilometers of pipes that flush out wastewater and rainwater from Mexico City. Inhabitants of Mexico City colloquially blame the drainage of lakes, rivers, and canals of Mexico City on Spanish colonial practices, including eighteenth century canals, or even the colonial drainage plans of 1555.8 But it was only during the twentieth century with the official completion of Drenaje Profundo in 1973 (yet whose plans can be traced back to at least 1940) that Mexico City staged the culmination of such a large-scale drainage project. Drenaje Profundo reshaped Texcoco Lake in service of a certain idea of ground. It aimed to prepare the city for its complete territorialization by automobiles and tall buildings—both idealized as existing on foundations of firm, dry land....

It would be impossible to summarize the cascading effects of Drenaje Profundo, among which possibly include the large earthquake of 1985 and, more certainly, the dramatic sinking of the city by almost ten meters.9 The system drains the lakebed, but no counter system recharges the aquifer. Drenaje Profundo is designed to flush its water out to the Gulf of Mexico via tunnels hundreds of meters below grade. This sinks the city and dries the aquifer a bit more each year, which in turn requires wells that pump from the aquifer to increase pressure or depth, sinking the city even further....

Where do we end up in Mexico City when guided not by images or narratives of progress, but by the visceral real, the substrate of the city? Following Benjamin, Didi-Huberman claims the street rags to be evidence of a “city that stirs”; an object or image that becomes a "motif of a tactile sensuality of the street, a street that is organic to the point of revealing, when it unfolds, its ultimate reality—a visceral reality."13 The reality of the streets and sidewalks in Mexico City stir so viscerally that they rip open. It is hard to describe the ubiquity of sidewalk construction and road replacement throughout the city. Even streets that are not under construction might be torn open, simply by the effect of subsidence.... The Drenaje Profundo has so thoroughly drained the city that—even as the streets and sidewalks are ripped open—the lakebed water still does not deliver enough potable water to Mexico City residents. Instead, potable water is delivered by truck to many residents and even hospitals, carted in from beyond the city borders. There are also supplements to the Deep Drain—additional wells, additional drains, longer canals. ... When solutions are framed in terms of self-consistent technologies and linear temporalities pushing forward toward increased control, the repetitive and labor-intensive participants in modernity are easily erased. The street rags of Paris are instruments not of control, but of hunches and gestures. Where should the water go? That way. Down. Nudge the roll of fabric with your foot. See what happens. ... According to historian of science Antonio Barrera-Osorio, Mexico City served as an early laboratory of European innovation—not only in calculations, but, more importantly, in the forms of collaborative practices and collectivizing of knowledge.
What emerged in Mexico City from the 1550s to the 1610s was a set of procedures that validated empirical and collaborative practices, outside guilds and circles of experts, for the production of knowledge that benefited the community at large—in this case, Mexico City....

As a non-visual phenomenon, urban stench may be poorly historicized. In fact, perhaps the modern aestheticization of the city—the picturesque control of the boulevards and building envelopes—can be understood as merely a side effect, a supplemental feature to the revolution in smell. When the street does not reek of waste, you can slow down and look..... If the most modern invention of the Haussmann boulevard was, perhaps, not “light and air” but rather the containment of stench and the humble maintenance of streets, what archaic technologies and alternative modernities lie dormant in the streets today? .... This city stews with objects and matter, already politicized, amidst legacy systems entangled with muck.
infrastructure  archaeology  urban_history  sidewalks  construction  maintenance  geology  informal_infrastructure  water 
16 days ago
The Greatest Number - Triple Canopy
Theodore Porter, a historian of science at UCLA, describes the widespread adoption of quantification—the foundation of today’s algorithmic number-crunching—in Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (1995). He tells of nineteenth-century accountants and actuaries who distinguished themselves through their pursuit of objectivity, and the scores of professions that subsequently sought the same credibility and authority via tabulation. He also observes the ramifications of filtering all kinds of natural and social phenomena through numeric measurements.....

In Trust in Numbers, you chronicle the adoption of quantitative methodologies across a wide range of scientific and political domains, from British accountants and actuaries and French civil engineers in the nineteenth century to American ones in the twentieth. In each case, those who claimed the mantle of objectivity accrued power. Were these professions borrowing from the natural sciences? Or did these forms of quantification emerge from the burgeoning social sciences? And how did the spread of quantification legitimize the work of early social scientists?
THEODORE PORTER These quantitative approaches actually emerged within a variety of institutions, and never simply by imitating science or claiming the prestige of science. The methods of accountants, bookkeepers, and economists have their histories, worked out as solutions to their own problems. They aren’t alien impositions, imported wholesale from academic science; yet it was important to these professionals to achieve the dignity of science, which they construed in
terms of uniform and rigorous calculation....

Part of the danger of automating decision-making processes and downplaying human intuition has to do with what you call, in Trust in Numbers, the “moral distance encouraged by a quantitative method.”... in the early twentieth century in the United States, “middle-class philanthropists and social workers used statistics to learn about kinds of people whom they did not know, and often did not care to know, as persons.” How can the benefits of quantification be weighed against the diminution of empathy for—or a true understanding of the conditions of—the people being analyzed?...

In your article “Thin Description: Surface and Depth in Science and Science Studies” (2012), you note, “Statistics in the human domain retains an element of its primal meaning, state-istics, the descriptive science of the state.”

PORTER Yes, but today private businesses are also able to collect massive amounts of data. Instead of the centralized, planned counts of government censuses and surveys, they prefer chaotic counts of data drawn from transactions as they happen. Instead of a scientific approach to research, they rely on the outputs that result from social-media interactions, purchases, clicks on online ads, time spent on websites, and so on. People in the technology industry are extremely proud of the disruption represented in this move away from the centralized planned count...

The historian Daniel Rosenberg points out that “data” descends from the Latin for “given,” but the scholar Johanna Drucker argues that the word has always been misnomer. Noting the labor involved in measurement, she proposes “capta” as an alternative. “Statisticians know very well that no ‘data’ preexist their parameterization,” she writes in “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display” (2011). “Data are capta, taken not given, constructed as an interpretation of the phenomenal world, not inherent in it.”...

The historian Daniel Rosenberg points out that “data” descends from the Latin for “given,” but the scholar Johanna Drucker argues that the word has always been misnomer. Noting the labor involved in measurement, she proposes “capta” as an alternative. “Statisticians know very well that no ‘data’ preexist their parameterization,” she writes in “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display” (2011). “Data are capta, taken not given, constructed as an interpretation of the phenomenal world, not inherent in it.”
big_data  quantification  science  epistemology  statistics 
16 days ago
Time After Time — Real Life
Chronology, like any other algorithm, is a mathematical abstraction, a set of rules for ordering data. It’s also a lazy algorithm, based entirely on an inherited shared belief system about the way time moves — progressing from past, to present, to future. For most of us, our lived experience of time is more a jumbled rat king of divergent thoughts and conflicting rhythms. More closely related to memory, lived time is therefore open to manipulation through factors including drugs, illness, or intense bursts of emotion. This is why it can feel like only yesterday that Beanie Babies were a veritable cultural phenomenon, but you have no idea what you had for breakfast this morning.

Nor should we assume that linear time is any more neutral than algorithmic-time. Sure, algo-time is a cynical adjustment by social media platforms, prioritizing the pursuit of profit over the demands of its users. But let’s not kid ourselves: linear time has no less served these exact same purposes. Time’s arrow has provided vital bedrock for the formation of contemporary capitalism.

Chronological time relegates the past to an increasingly remote distance from our present. It creates a feeling of scarcity, where the past, once lost, is lost forever. Such scarcity contributes to the capitalist commodification of time, in which time — thro
temporality  chronology  algorithms 
16 days ago
Post-Card
“Post-Card” presents serial works that utilize mail and/or correspondence.  The works, ranging in dates from 1971 to 2009, converse with each other in regards to time, work, travel and communication, all in ways that hopefully provide further insight, appreciation and questioning within and between the pieces.
 
Sherrie Levine created her 2009 work, “After Courbet 1-18” after the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2008 survey exhibition of Gustave Courbet’s work (Feb – May, 2008).  Consisting of 18 of the same postcard, each an image of Courbet’s “L'Origine du monde [The Origin of the World]”, Levine’s work engages a number of interconnected issues.  “L'Origine du monde [The Origin of the World]” was originally shown in very covert ways.  Reproductions of it were used on books and repeatedly censored, the postcard, sold by Musée d’Orsay (where the painting is owned) is one of the most popular in the bookstore and, even at the Met, in a nod to this history, the curators presented Courbet’s painting behind its own wall.  Levine takes all of these issues and creates more than a work, but a situation – eighteen of the same reproduction (d’Orsay’s postcard, presumably), mats and frames them individually, taking these small reproduc
textual_form  text_art  postcards  index_cards 
16 days ago
“...meet the Tetracono”: An Interview with David Reinfurt
what I was most interested in was simply the Tetracono itself. 

I had previously looked into this work in the context of an article I wrote and published for The Serving Library. This text, “c. 1962” itself evolved from a lengthier investigation which started with Munari’s connection to an exhibition at the Olivetti typewriter showroom in Milan. Arte Programmata was organized by Munari together with Giorgio Soavi of Olivetti and writer Umberto Eco. That show also initiated the use of a novel term, “programmed art,” for constantly variable, often kinetic, art works which although appearing to be random and constantly variable, were in fact, constituted by carefully constructed programs (or plans, scripts, limits, what have you). These works began to appear right around the same time that Olivetti began to manufacture computers....

The exhibition sparked an interest in Munari’s relationship with Olivetti and with this movement at large, which then led to a performative slideshow delivered with two overlapping metronomes and other audio-visual props that I delivered at the New York Art Book Fair. I arranged to give that same slideshow exactly one year later (in the same room, same time at the book fair). Of course the second time it was a complete train wreck. The first time I barely knew what I was talking about while a year later, I likely knew everything too well. The slideshow became bloated and too authoritative. It was a good reminder that work in progress is much more interesting to think about than work that is already complete...

Long ago I drank the designer Kool Aid that suggests that *limits (constraints) are also opportunities* and that embracing these can make work that is inevitably more alive. I need these checks, and when left without, I can’t make work. When these are not directly in the situation or problem, I end up either inserting or inventing them. So programmed art connects with my disposition....

Well, here is Munari on design research and in particular how it gives rise to works produced in multiple copies (the Tetracono is an arch example):

How to design (multiples) … Multiples are designed with the methods of research. Unlike the artist, the designer does not make a wonderful sketch and later find some reproduction technique. He experiments on a phenomenon which is optical, physical, geometrical, typological, mechanical … He refines the elements of communication, and studies the best material with which to produce the object for the maximum level of visual communication and the minimum level of cost. He finds the mechanical technique which best suits his purposes, and in the end a prototype is born — not a unique artistic creation, but a model for the creation of a series. Reproductions of artwork are always inferior to the original, but when designing a model for mass production, the prototype is always inferior to the final products....

I don’t see a contradiction between useless and important. If you take the idea that art is distinguished by its uselessness, then a work’s importance can be multiplied by its uselessness....

I am pretty sure that “innovation” is mostly a lazy synonym for design which, most often anyway, ignores the rigor, process, and research aspects of design. “Innovation” is a shiny word, and it is telling that it also implies (and incorporates in its linguistic roots) newness. I hardly think that newness is a useful criteria where design is involved. Newness is great if we are talking about yogurt at the supermarket, but I think it ends there.
Munari  books  sculpture  programming  kinetic_art  research  methodology  experimentation  design_research 
17 days ago
Radical Archives and the New Cycles of Contention - Viewpoint Magazine
Let’s consider the FBI in the parlance of today’s technological structure: are the FBI and the U.S. National Archives an early version of a third-party platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, or a host of other social media platforms? All of these institutions have their own privacy policies, terms of service, and archiving policies. Is it wise to entrust the work and legacy of our movements to corporate (.com), educational (.edu) and government (.gov) third-parties?

If activist groups have our websites regularly crawled by the Internet Archive – bravo! If we’re following guidelines for archiving video from the point of creation, as Witness, an international organization dedicated to video as a human rights tool, advises, we’re empowering ourselves to preserve our legacy. We’re (at least partially) taking care of our activist legacy, ensuring it’s available for the future: for our own use, for tomorrow’s activists, or for historians who will tell the story of our successes or failures.5

If we download our archive using the tools a third-party service provider offers, do we know what file format we’ve entrusted with our archive? Do we have more than one piece of hardware and a copy of at least%2
archives  protest  social_movements 
18 days ago
Harvard Design Magazine: The Not-Me Creation
The Ethics of Dust casts are made in the act of cleaning monuments. The dust that is sitting on the surface of monuments is transferred onto a sheet of conservation latex, which then becomes an independent object for consideration. For a lot of people, the dust is extrinsic to the architecture because it is deposited from the atmosphere. For me, the dust belongs to the building.
Dust registers the history of the building. I’m trying to call into question the notion that architecture can be distinctly separated from the atmosphere, because you cannot have all these buildings without producing pollution. The coal and petrol consumed in order to make building materials, to produce energy used to assemble these materials, and to heat buildings—all that Marx would call a “constitutive externality”—that’s all up in the sky.
What we call the weather wasn’t really invented until the mid- to late 19th century. Preservationists like the chemist Robert Angus Smith, member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, discovered that the mortar of buildings was decaying too fast in Manchester. He investigated the causes, realized that there was sulfuric acid in the rainwater, and called it “acid rain.” That’s when we began to talk about chemical climatology. So, at the very time th
architecture  preservation  climate_change 
18 days ago
Tyler Rollins Fine Art - Tiffany Chung: the unwanted population
Tyler Rollins Fine Art is pleased to present the unwanted population (Sept. 7 – Oct. 21, 2017), a solo exhibition of new works by Tiffany Chung featuring recent developments in three of her ongoing projects: The Vietnam Exodus Project, which investigates the post-1975 mass exodus of refugees from Vietnam, of which she herself was a part; The Syria Project, which tracks the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria; and The Global Refugee Migration Project, which surveys the current internal displacement and mass movement of peoples around the world. Shown together for the first time, these projects comprise a comparative study of forced migration. Based in Vietnam and the USA, Chung is internationally known for her cartographic drawings and installations that examine conflict, migration, displacement, and urban transformation in relation to history and cultural memory. The richly detailed surfaces of her cartographic works, with jewel-like tones rendered in ink, acrylic, and oil on translucent vellum, belie their somber thematic content. Utilizing intensive studies of the impacts of geographical shifts and imposed political borders on different groups of human populations, her work excavates layers of history, re-writes chronicles of places, and creates interventions into the spatial and political narratives produced thro
map_art  migration  cartography 
21 days ago
Public Knowledge |
Public Knowledge is an expansive, multi-faceted project that aims to promote public dialogue about the cultural impact of urban and technological change and the role of public institutions in these turbulent times in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Bringing together artists, librarians, scholars, and community collaborators and partners from many backgrounds, it is spearheaded by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library.

The Public Knowledge initiative explores the tectonic economic, social, and cultural shifts transforming San Francisco, the factors involved in the changes taking place, and the stakes involved in surviving, resisting, adapting, and trying to shape these changes. Valuing the unique contribution that artistic thinking and practice can make to public conversations, the project will unfold over two years of artists in residence, free talks, discussions, workshops, performances, and other events in neighborhoods and libraries throughout the city. Together we will explore how contemporary art can illuminate issues of concern to our community, and create spaces for new conversations, both locally and farther afield.

In a time when providing access to public information and social engagement, once a key role of public institutions, is now being taken over by technology, the Public Knowledge project recognizes that people seem to be abandoning public institutions, and ambitiously seeks to examine the historic role of public institutions and reinvigorate their relevance today. By experimenting with new ways of forging relationships and nurturing connections, we look to act as a catalyst for participants to exchange ideas and learn from one another, and together to develop new approaches to strengthening the fabric of civic life.

The project will have a physical location at a new pop-up Public Knowledge Library, a temporary branch of the public library at SFMOMA where visitors can engage with all kinds of related materials, and an online location where anyone interested can learn more and participate.
libraries  museums  epistemology  public_sphere  discourse 
22 days ago
Keepers of the Secrets | Village Voice
These collections aren’t digitized. The only way to find out what’s inside them is to ask for a particular box — often with just a vague notion of what will be in it — and to hold the old papers in your hands. “I don’t know how one could be interested in libraries and not archives,” Lannon told me. They tell you “the stories behind things,” he said, “the unpublished, the hard to find, the true story.” This, I began to see, is why someone might have been inclined to call Lannon the most interesting man in the world: it’s because he knows so many of these stories himself, including stories that no one else knows, because they are only told here.


That is the paradox of being an archivist. The reason an archivist should know something, Lannon said, is to help others to know it. But it’s not really the archivist’s place to impose his knowledge on anyone else. Indeed, if the field could be said to have a creed, it’s that archivists aren’t there to tell you what’s important. Historically momentous documents are to be left in folders next to the trivial and the mundane — because who’s to say what’s actually mundane or not?

The “backend” of the New York public library system is a three-story building in Long Island City, a few blocks from the Court Square subway stop, that looks like an elementary school. The building says “BookOps” on the facade, and sits next to a Tower TLC rental facility for livery drivers. It houses “technical services” for the NYPL and Brooklyn Public Library; every new item destined for either library first comes through here to get cleaned up, bar-coded, and entered into the library database. Rare books that are falling apart, or old maps, are meticulously restored in industrial-grade laboratories on the third floor.

This is the home of the archival processing team, the organization that turns newly acquired archival collections — like Lou Reed’s collected papers and recordings, or jazz musician Sonny Rollins’s, both of which were acquired this year — into a resource that’s usable by researchers....

When a collection arrives in Long Island City, the first step is to “stabilize” it, as though it were a patient just arrived at the ER. One recently acquired collection — the archives of the New York Review of Books — had been sitting at the Navy Yard for twenty years. It was covered in oily dirt. The archivists who brought it here had to wear Tyvek suits and facemasks while unpacking it. There’s a room on the third floor called the “disaster recovery room,” where, say, a mold infestation might be taken care of....

The real work, though, in processing a collection, is intellectual. The goal is to make the files you’ve received findable by a researcher; and of course to make them findable, you have to know what’s in them. In the old days, this was slow work. Archivists would read most of the documents in a folder, taking note of them, rearranging the documents if they seemed disorganized. Their finding aids, the all-important database record that tells a researcher what’s in a given collection were deeply hierarchical, with detail all the way down to individual pieces of paper in individual folders....

By the 2000s, something like a third of all collections at libraries were unprocessed, and backlogs were just getting bigger. One staff member at a public university responded to a survey by writing, “Virtually all the collections processed in the past three years have been done in response to angry donors and family members.”

A 2005 paper titled “More Progress, Less Process” was a wake-up call to the field. “Truly, much of what passes for arrangement in processing work is really just overzealous housekeeping, writ large. Our professional fastidiousness, our reluctance to be perceived as sloppy or uncaring by users and others has encouraged a widespread fixation on tasks that do not need to be performed,” the authors wrote. Pointing out that as much as 80 percent of the archivists’ time was spent “refoldering,” the paper offered shortcuts that, it claimed, would make more collections available without sacrificing much in the way of intellectual accessibility.... The ethos of MPLP was to read as little of a collection as you possibly could, while still ensuring that you made it usable for research.... Her work seemed to be less about getting to know a collection, the way a historian might, and more about simply knowing what was in it — to be, temporarily, a kind of human index to it, before writing it all down as a finding aid. ..

“The best the finding aids give you is ‘Letters, 1921–1937’,” Syme said. “‘I guess I have to look at every single letter?’ Yeah, you do.” The need to pore through boxes forces you to connect with them. Syme described this as one of the few kinds of formal research left. You can’t google — you have to think about what you want. You have to talk to an archivist, and find the right box, and go through that box....

Lannon said that Google had changed the way people sought information. “They only want information based on the information they think they want,” he said. As a rule, he said, archivists at the library should give you the box you’ve asked for — but also suggest another box. There are fewer opportunities, now, to stumble into a world you don’t already know. “It’s important to look outside of your own existence.”
archives 
24 days ago
Emilio Isgrò. Passion in erasing everything, even maps | cARTography
Emilio Isgrò (Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, Sicily, October 1937) is an Italian artist and writer, noted for his use of the erasure technique in his art works.

Isgrò, during decades, cancelled texts using white or black thick strokes, such as ants or bees’ swarms. He modified Autographs, novels, geographic maps, letters, philosophical treatises, musical scores, even the Italian Constitution… A meticulous ritual to bring new sense landscapes, new visual harmony, new horizons of language. To him, language is plastic matter, both tangible and intellectual. It’s something to model, to question, to subtract and regenerate. Something that constitutes ourselves as parts of large or small communities, making us free to communicate and, therefore, to be: in the others, over Time, in History.
cartography  map_art  erasure 
25 days ago
protégé
Protégé is supported by a strong community of academic, government, and corporate users, who use Protégé to build knowledge-based solutions in areas as diverse as biomedicine, e-commerce, and organizational modeling.
ontology  classification 
25 days ago
Sensory THiNK KiT – AHRC Sensory Cities Network
The Sensory Cities THiNK-KiT makes a case for the importance of interdisciplinary and cross-professional investigation of urban sensing. It brings together methods and resources for researching, designing, curating and representing the senses in the city, drawing on the reflections of an Arts and Humanities Research Council UK funded “Sensory Cities” international research network, which involved academics, artists and urban professionals across Europe to discuss and exchange methodological approaches.
smart_cities  sensation  mapping 
27 days ago
a16z Podcast: Exploding the Map by a16z
In this episode, Wei Luo, founding COO of DeepMap -- who build HD maps for autonomous vehicles -- and David Rumsey, founder of the David Rumsey Map Collection (one of the largest paper private map collections in the world, now at Stanford University, and *the* largest digital online private collection in the world, at 80,000 + maps) talk with a16z's Hanne Tidnam about how maps -- and mapmaking tools -- are changing in the age of autonomous vehicles.

New ways of mapping the world have always led to profound changes. In the Renaissance -- another golden age of mapmaking -- mapmakers used tools such as sextants to measure distance to the stars and compasses to navigate the world around them. Cartography is undergoing yet another major paradigm shift as it now evolves into HD mapping. So what kinds of data and information do maps now need to contain in order to allow cars (and other autonomous robots of all kinds) to navigate the world around them, down to only a few centimeters of accuracy? How will the nature of maps fundamentally change when they are made by self-driving cars, for self-driving cars, in the era of HD mapping?
mapping  cartography 
29 days ago
Native-Land.ca | Our home on native land
Native-Land.ca is a resource to help North Americans learn more about their local history.
mapping  cartography  indigenous 
29 days ago
MoEML: The Agas Map
Civitas Londinum is a bird’s-eye view of London first printed from woodblocks in about 1561. Widely known as the Agas map, from a spurious attribution to surveyor Ralph Agas (c.1540-1621), the map offers a richly detailed view both of the buildings and streets of the city and of its environment. No copies survive from 1561, but a modified version was printed in 1633. In the later version of the map, the Stuart coat of arms replaces the Elizabethan arms, and the Royal Exchange, which opened in 1571, occupies the triangle created by the convergence of Threadneedle and Cornhill Streets.
mapping  cartography  urban_history 
29 days ago
The Largest Medieval Map | Mappa Mundi Hereford
Hereford Cathedral is home to the Hereford Mappa Mundi, one of the world’s unique medieval treasures. Measuring 1.59 x 1.34 metres (5’2” by 4’4”), the map is constructed on a single sheet of vellum (calf skin). Scholars believe it was made around the year 1300 and shows the history, geography and destiny of humanity as it was understood in Christian Europe in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.

The inhabited part of the world as it was known then, roughly equivalent to Europe, Asia and North Africa, is mapped within a Christian framework. Jerusalem is in the centre, and east is at the top. East, where the sun rises, was where medieval Christians looked for the second coming of Christ. The British Isles is at the bottom on the left.
mapping  cartography 
29 days ago
SimFactory - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
Automation is a system of control dependent on standards. The introduction of automation to the workplace has created a need to fit the human body to its rigid mechanic rhythm. From ergonomic keyboards to time management sheets and Soylent liquid foods, corporeality has been adjusted to the industrial schedule. Imaging technology has played a major role in the process of establishing a body standard by providing tools to record, scrutinize, and rationalize the human figure. Paradoxically, as special effects unlocked the entertainment industry’s wildest image-desires, the same technology rendered corporeality transparent; a 3D scanner developed by the US Air Force to measure and average its personnel for instance, was subsequently used on the set of James Cameron’s Terminator II to liquefy the shapeshifting android T-1000. Standardization might evoke a calming image of normalcy against the backdrop of the bizarre everyday, yet it provides a rationale for discrimination by defining a norm and demanding individual transparency....

With the introduction of the moving assembly line for automotive production, Henry Ford arranged human and machine within an industrial choreography geared for maximum efficiency. Each worker was assigned one manufacturing step and instructed to perform it repeatedly for the duration of their shift. ... The Gilbreth’s employed image making methods that serve as a precursor to contemporary motion capture technology. Instead of the tight bodysuits garnered with white reflective markers of today, they attached small lights to workers’ hands and took long exposure photographs of single actions that were to be repeated on assembly lines. Jagged lines left behind by the lights tracing the hand’s path would point to unnecessary or inefficient movements to be eliminated. Suddenly there was a “right way” to mount a screw, bend a wire, or grab the next piece. With the Gilbreth’s method constraining motion and industrializing the body, human movement ceased to be free. ...

Pioneered by French police officer Alphonse Bertillon in the beginning of the nineteenth century for criminal identification, anthropometry is the measurement and quantification of the human body into recordable units. Bertillon believed rigorous body data collection would yield insight into the facial features of a criminal and be useful for predictive policing as well as identifying repeat offenders. Translating the human body into numbers is used and abused as an instrument of power and control, enforcing quantitative transparency against the foreign and unknown Other; it has served to rationalize racial, genetic, and body discrimination with horrific consequences. Anthropometry is complicit in some of the worst crimes against humanity, yet it is embedded in a wide array of applications today, such as forensic science, biomechanics, anthropology, ergonomics, computer graphics, architecture, and industrial design. ...

Before omnipresent personal devices were capable of such machine vision feats, body data was recorded by governmental entities conducting population statistics. In 1988, the US Army Anthropometric Survey (ANSUR) collected data of 158 individual body coordinates from around 6,000 men and women. The aim of the study was an updated body measurement database of the US Army’s contemporary personnel “to guide the design and sizing of clothing, personal protective equipment, work stations, and computer-generated human models.”...

The Sprint ad depicts omnipresent optical surveillance, one that would eventually amass a database of body data larger than any anthropometric study possibly could. Once the body data has been collected however, how does one get to a “computer-generated human model”? Generating and animating life-like humanoids on screen faced two main challenges: how to graphically produce a human figure and how to model it according to corporeal measurements. Since the mid 1980s a team lead by Dr. Norman Badler at the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre for Human Modelling and Simulation has been working on Jack, a research project into humanoid simulation software to provide “a computer graphics surrogate human” to engineers and designers to “augment their analysis of designed environments.”...

Automation is a complex system orchestrating individual interacting parts. For it to function, it relies on consistently established norms and standardization across all components. If automation was ever to have provided freedom of work, it has instead arrested the human body in standardization.
automation  simulation  labor  embodiment  biomedia  ergonomics  standards 
29 days ago
At Cornell Tech, Art Engineered for the Imagination - The New York Times
These enigmatic spaces include Mr. Jackson’s “Ordinary Objects of Extraordinary Beauty,” a continuation of his series called “Study Collections.” The small trapezoidal meeting room is lined with shelves displaying natural and found objects — like bones, ceramics and branches — as specimens. “The things these students will dream up are at the cutting edge of the application of new science,” Mr. Jackson said. “I wanted to present a room where they could sit and think about the material resources available on earth and what they’ll do with them.”...

In another room, Ms. Taylor — whose work updates the age-old decorative inlay technique called marquetry — has imagined what Roosevelt Island might have looked like in the 19th century. Using more than 10,000 cut and painted pieces of wood, she has pieced together vivid panoramic scenes covering the walls of the triangular room. One side depicts a dense thicket of tree trunks. The other two walls portray an abandoned interior caving in at the corners, with vines creeping in, like tentacles, through a window....

Known for using text as raw material, Mr. Riedel has created a black-and-white inkjet print on ceiling panels, titled “Cornell Tech Mag,” flowing overhead from the building’s entrance through the cafe and then across the tabletops. Using what he calls “the bible for computer technology,” he rearranged every word in the first four volumes of Donald Knuth’s “The Art of Computer Programming” into alphabetical order, then enlarged all the o’s and l’s. “You can imagine it’s like one and zero, or open and closed, or a circle and a line,” explained Mr. Riedel, who was interested in the resulting abstracted pattern, covering some 5,000 square feet....

Mr. Ritchie’s atrium piece, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” is printed on an 80-foot-high resin wall and three adjoining glass walls ascending through the core of the building and visible from each landing. It was conceived as a kind of “history of logical thinking,” said the artist, who has often tackled epic themes. He wove together clouds of yellows and oranges with all manner of diagrams — prototypes of the compass and the printing press, Charles Darwin’s first sketch of the evolutionary tree of life, the first drawing of the internet — superimposed with calligraphic markings that refer to an early experiment by Eratosthenes to approximate the diameter of the earth.
archive_art  data_art 
4 weeks ago
Library Launches labs.loc.gov | Library of Congress
The Library of Congress today launched labs.loc.gov, a new online space that will host a changing selection of experiments, projects, events and resources designed to encourage creative use of the Library’s digital collections. To help demonstrate the exciting discoveries that are possible, the new site will also feature a gallery of projects from data challenge winners and innovators-in-residence and blog posts and video presentations from leaders in the field.

“We already know the Library of Congress is the ultimate treasure chest, but with labs.loc.gov we are inviting explorers to help crack open digital discoveries and share the collections in new and innovative ways,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Whether you’re tagging images from our digitized historic newspapers to help future visitors, or exploring the changing nature of democracy through the 25 million bibliographic records the Library recently made public, we are providing tools and inspiration that will lead to new uses and new ways of looking at the incredible materials here at the Library.”
libraries  labs  digitization  digital_humanities 
4 weeks ago
Italy’s New Rural - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
Ponticiello’s current project is a meditation on movement. He is building pace—or step—maps. These are navigational guides to the islands and metropolis of Naples and a number of other southern towns and municipalities, measured in paces, rather than miles or kilometers­. The project was inspired, as so many are, by frustration. Driven mad by neighbors and tourists electing to drive around his tiny, beautiful island home of Procida, Ponticiello wanted to empower them to rediscover space and time using our most natural form of locomotion. So he started producing bright, clear maps that bring the abstraction of distance into line with human time, aided by the robust and satisfying metric that, on a comfortable walk, we all average 100 paces a minute. Pace, he points out, is the perfect word. “We should live life on time, and in time, with our own pace.”...

He explains his motivation as “helping communities to self-determine their own identity using technology.” It is a simple mission, but it’s also radical, given the centralizing tendencies so inherent to this industry. “The real vision of the smart city or sharing economy,” he explains, “requires power, data, and infrastructure in the hands of the community.” Similarly, the way to burst the startup bubble, Giordano argues, is to encourage public participation in venture capital funds, to reflect a wider range of interests, and a truer representation of actual problems.
Two of the guest speakers in Caselle, hacker-artist duo Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico, elaborate why Giordano’s emphasis on individual and community empowerment is so necessary. “In a world of smart things,” says Iaconesi, “you don’t have a house, or property; you have a collection of licenses. You are managed and controlled by your services. You consume, but more importantly, you are consumed. We need to escape the logic of control and consumption.” Many of the pairs’ projects, assembled within their collective Art is Open Source, explore these themes within the context of small and micro data, with projects including Ubiquitous Commons, Persona Non Data, and Incautious Porn. “We can transgress the smart city by bringing new poetics, by affecting what people desire. That’s where we need to work—on imagination, not on labor,” says Persico. Iaconesi is in vigorous agreement, “the most exciting hook for transformations is at the micro level, where history is made.”
smart_cities  urban_intelligence  urban_data 
4 weeks ago
A new kind of map: it’s about time – Points of interest
Isochrones get us a bit closer. With a starting point and a mode of travel, they examine the actual geometry of surrounding roads, to delineate an area based on how long it takes to get there. Areas within the same isochrone (Greek for “same time”) take a similar time to reach. Tendrils extend along fast-moving corridors, and squeeze to wrap around mountains, rivers, and other natural barriers.
A step further
But at the core, these maps still serve double duty in visualizing both space and time. Recently, we’ve been thinking of a visualization that cuts directly to the way in which people make decisions about where to go: what would a map look like if we swept the physical world away completely, in favor of the time needed to move around it?...

In this time map, we preserve the direction of each point, relative to the user. But the visual distance from that center point is determined by the time it takes to get there, whether driving, biking, or on foot.
By removing literal geography, we now have a map that more closely reflects the way we think about our environment: a cluster of restaurants “five minutes that way” versus “ten minutes the other.” We can watch our surroundings literally expand and contract with different means of travel. And only after choosing a destination do we think about roads, turns, and the specifics of how to get there.
mapping  time_map  temporality 
4 weeks ago
Qualitative Interfaces | Imaginaries Lab | Carnegie Mellon School of Design
Outside of the digital, we largely live and think and act and feel in response to, and in dialogue with, the perceived qualities of people, things and phenomena, and the relationships between them, rather than their number. Much of our experience of—and meaning-making in—the real world is qualitative rather than quantitative. How friendly was she? How tired do I feel right now? Who’s the tallest in the group? How windy is it out there? Which route shall we take to work? How was your meal? Which apple looks tastier? Which piece of music best suits the mood? Do I need to use the bathroom?

Particularly rarely do we deal with quantities in relation to abstract concepts—two coffees, half a biscuit, three children, but rarely 0.5 loves or 6.8 sadnesses. And yet, quantification has become the default mode of interaction with technology, of display of information, and of interfaces which aim to support decision-making and behavior change in everyday life: quantified self, personal informatics, data, data, more data.

But what might we be missing through this focus on quantification? It seems as though there might be opportunities to explore forms of qualitative display and interface, as an approach to information presentation and interaction, as an aid to help people explore their own and each other’s thinking, and specifically to help people understand their relationships and agency with systems, and also with ideas that are difficult to quantify.

There is somehow more experiential information contained in watching a windsock move, hearing and watching raindrops falling on a puddle, seeing water trapped in a railway carriage door window sloshing around just as we are also jostled by the train’s movement, feeling how a spoon has worn with use, or seeing how worn the “You Are Here” marker is on a map at a tourist attraction, than we can get from a set of numbers, however engagingly presented they might be....

We’re particularly interested in interfaces and displays which make use of the qualities of real-world qualitative phenomena more-or-less directly—perhaps blurring the lines with forms of analog computing. Our first piece of work, including research by Dan Lockton, Delanie Ricketts, Shruti Aditya Chowdhury (CMU) and Chang Hee Lee (RCA) is a CHI 2017 late-breaking work article, ‘Exploring Qualitative Displays and Interfaces’ in which we develop one dimension of a spectrum of qualitative displays, relating phenomena in the real world to the display in terms of how directly they are connected (see image below).
interfaces 
4 weeks ago
Libraries Can Be More Than Just Books - The New York Times
Some might complain that such public-private partnerships do not earn the libraries enough space or money, or that the resulting buildings are too big. Such criticism ignores the complexities of building in the country’s oldest and largest metropolis. These deals do not undermine the libraries within — they underpin their futures. When cities lack housing, new libraries and capital dollars, here is a way to get all three for the nominal public investment of an underused property, one the public continues to own once it is built.

Admirable as these are, New York has fallen well short of its potential. The city has built only 16 branches the past two decades, a paltry 8 percent increase, and nothing compared with rival metropolitan areas.

Other cities are much further ahead. Starting in 1995, Chicago created a master plan tying libraries to community development and has replaced more than three-quarters of its branches. In 1998, Seattle issued the largest library bond in history, allowing for the construction or replacement of all 27 branches. And Columbus, Ohio, unveiled a plan to double, and possibly triple, its system’s square footage over two decades.

New York ought to take such an integrated approach to the billion-dollar needs of its libraries. At the very least, it should embrace the partnerships already flourishing here and foster even more.

My organization, the Center for an Urban Future, working with the architecture firm Marble Fairbanks, has identified at least 25 libraries with surplus development rights. These could easily be redeveloped into libraries beneath housing, or even offices or manufacturing centers, depending on a community’s needs. Factoring in some smart rezonings, dozens more libraries could be upgraded in this fashion.

The Robin Hood Foundation is seeking to nurture this model. In 2015, the foundation offered the de Blasio administration a challenge grant of $25 million, to be divided among five libraries, one in each borough. A $5 million match from the city effectively covers the cost of building out a library, which would be in a new affordable housing complex. It is akin to the venture in Sunset Park.

“The city has used up most of its vacant land, so we really have to get creative about our existing resources,” said Beatriz De La Torre, Robin Hood’s managing director of housing.
libraries  real_estate  development 
4 weeks ago
Artists — Matthew Day Jackson — Images and clips — Study Collection 2 — Hauser & Wirth
Jackson's Study Collection (2009) is an enormous stainless steel shelf-unit (inspired by the artist’s visits to the technological artifacts in MIT Museum's basement storeroom). It features models of all of the missile systems including the V1, V2, Thor, Titan, and Cruise missiles, as well as models of Fat Man and Little Boy along with other thought-artifacts created in the artist's studio.

Study Collection also features a series of models that show the artist's skull morphing into the skull of Phineas Gage, a railroad construction foreman who miraculously survived a horrific accident in which an explosive charge drove a large iron rod through his skull, destroying a portion of his brain’s frontal lobes. Gage suffered major personality changes after the accident thereby profoundly influencing 19thcentury thinking about the brain and its localized functions as they relate to personality and behavior. Harvard University Medical School’s Warren Museum contains Gage’s actual skull in its collection of historical artifacts. Study Collection features a 3-D digital scan of the 3-foot damping rod that shot through Gage's skull making him a living oddity and example of the mind/body split.
archive_art  collection  organization 
4 weeks ago
Companies Look to an Old Technology to Protect Against New Threats - WSJ
To stay up to date in the battle against hackers, some companies are turning to a 1950s technology.

Storing data on tape seems impossibly inconvenient in an age of easy-access cloud computing. But that is the big security advantage of this vintage technology, since hackers have no way to get at the information. The federal government, financial-services firms, health insurers and other regulated industries still keep tape as a backup to digital records.

Now a range of other companies are returning to tape as hackers get smarter about penetrating defenses—and do much more damage when they do get in....

Some security experts and tape users argue that the medium has big advantages over other forms of storage—including a higher reliability rate than hard drives and a lifespan in excess of 30 years. The total cost of ownership per terabyte is also the lowest of any storage medium. Top-of-the-line tapes can hold up to 15 terabytes and can be archived in third-party locations at a fraction of the cost of cheapest cloud storage.
archives  preservation  tape  storage 
4 weeks ago
Qualitative methods 3Progress in Human Geography - Robyn Dowling, Kate Lloyd, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, 2017
In this, our third and final snapshot of contemporary qualitative research methods, we pick up on the proliferation of non-representational theory across human geography and focus on research methods concerned with practices that exceed (more than) representation or are non-representational. We chart work that pays attention to the non-visible, the non-verbal and the non-obvious, as well as methods and methodologies that enable researchers to grasp and grapple with assemblages, relationalities, and life as it unfolds. We characterize these ‘more-than representational’ methodologies as: experimenting with approaches to research, using picturing as an embedded research methodology, and highlighting research as sensing. We conclude that these have opened new forms of knowledge, including into subdisciplines like health geography. Nonetheless, a privileging of written and visual modes of thinking and representing remain, and the discipline must be vigilant to nurture and value the emerging work on neural diversity and non-Western modes of thinking
methodology  non_representational  sensation  affect 
4 weeks ago
Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae (1595) | Special Collections
Heinrich Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae is an alchemical classic, the best known of Khunrath’s works. The work is infused with a strange combination of Christianity and magic, illustrated with elaborate, hand-colored, engraved plates heightened with gold and silver. The tension between spirituality and experiment, and the rich symbolism of Khunrath’s writings and their engravings brought condemnation of the book by the Sorbonne in 1625, and now attracts attention from scholars.
Located in the Duveen Collection in the Department of Special Collections, University of Wisconsin-Madison (call number: Duveen D 897 flat), this is a rare copy of the first edition of this work, probably published in Hamburg in 1595. There are several other editions, some with additional plates, though lacking in general the generous margins and hand-coloring of the copy in Madison. Only two other copies of this first edition, described by Denis Duveen as “one of the most important books in the whole literature of theosophical alchemy and the occult sciences,” are known to exist.
The work consists of four engraved, hand-colored plates, plus a letterpress title page, 24 pages of letterpress text, plus a final unnumbered page (entitl
textual_form  book_history  book_design  books 
4 weeks ago
Shapes in Books: Triangles, Squares, Circles (2015-2016) | Special Collections
In recent reflections on printed books and their history, the so-called geometry of the page has come in for considerable discussion. This exhibit took a slightly different approach to matters geometrical — showcasing rare books on geometry, to be sure, but also other instances of geometrical shapes (in particular, triangles, squares, and circles) as rendered in type, ornament, illustrations, and metaphors.
textual_form  book_design  books 
4 weeks ago
Free Culture? - Future Public - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
The very physicality and integrity of material cultures as objects seem to make them especially fraught in the discourse around cultural appropriation. Or perhaps it’s that these objects cannot be readily consumed—and sometimes even exhumed—the way that cuisine, music, dance, martial arts, and especially language are, all of which point to what happens when culture becomes data. Yet the thing about data, at least in its digital iterations, is that its attribution tends to be built in. Embedded in the files themselves is metadata, which the states of Arizona and Washington have recently ruled to be public record. Creative Commons and similar licenses, meanwhile, give creators a fine level of control over the commercial circulation and derivative iterations of their works. Crucially, the creator(s) retains these rights after their works enter the commons. Although legislation like the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act provides some recourse, the same is rarely true for cultural objects....

Whereas Europe might have favored scientific racism as a technological aide, these days we instead see 3D printing widely deployed as an attempt to preserve and even reconstruct monuments and relics destroyed by ISIS. Take the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA)—a collaboration between Oxford and Harvard universities and the UAE’s Museum of the Future—and its recreation of a razed Palmyran arch. The sintered arch has spent the last year touring intergovernmental summits from its unveiling in Trafalgar Square, London, to its most recent stint at this year’s G7 summit in Florence, with stops in New York and Dubai. (One wonders whether such heritage objects will become de rigeur at such events, like one of Taryn Simon’s political summit flower bouquet portraits.)7 A report from the arch’s New York showing suggests sticking points of attribution, access, and enthusiastic link forging as exemplified in a snippet from the IDA’s executive director Roger Michel’s speech: “New York has thrived in exactly the same ways as Palmyra — as a center of commerce, of art, of technology, of learning. Everything about Palmyra that was great is what is great about New York City.”8
Projects like the IDA’s raise interesting questions about the fungibility of these buildings and artefacts. We may see it as the logical next step in the economy of casts and copies that have long characterized Western institutions.9 But who—if anyone—owns that arch and that heritage, especially with the original destroyed? (Just as the idea of the commons is continually under threat of appropriation by the forces of capital, we might begin to wonder whether adverse possession, or squatter’s rights, are next.)10
commons  museums  digital_archaeology  archaeology  provenance 
5 weeks ago
Decolonizing technology: A reading list | Beatrice Martini – blog
As Anjuan Simmons says in Technology colonialism:

“Colonialism is now seen by many as a discredited form of rule, but technology companies today are increasingly colonial in their actions. This can be seen in the veneer of sovereignty they seek to cultivate, how they work across borders, their use of dominant culture as a weapon, and the clear belief that “superior” technology is a suitable excuse for lawlessness, exploitation and even violence.”

If left unchallenged, such exercise of power will keep exacerbating the inequalities and discriminations which technology would actually have the potential against which to stand.
technology  decolonialization  colonialism 
5 weeks ago
Dry Cleaning the City’s Oldest Maps - The New York Times
The tables in the basement of the Municipal Archives are covered with household staples: cotton swabs, tweezers, food strainers, measuring cups, ashtrays and other materials.

None are items that one would expect to find in a professional art conservation laboratory. But they are tools used by a group of government workers who wash and care for some of the oldest existing maps and architectural drawings of New York City. They call themselves “dry cleaners.”..

The building is home to 243,000 cubic feet of records — enough to cover more than four football fields — including maps, photographs, film spools and birth, death and marriage certificates that tell the story of the city’s past. The last four years have seen a push from researchers and archivists to digitize the annals, slowly making them more accessible to the public, but many of the faded, fraying documents are almost too fragile to endure that process, according to the conservators there. Among the endangered records are hundreds of maps of post-colonial New York, created as early as the 1700s, rolled tightly into cardboard wrapping and stored in the city’s proverbial attic.

“These things have been sitting rolled up in those acidic boxes for 30 years, at least,” said Nora Ligorano, a conservator at the Archives. “No one has opened them or touched them for decades.”...

Until now.

Tragedies and natural disasters in New York and abroad have placed an added urgency on preserving New York’s treasures. The 1966 Florence Flood in Italy, that city’s most devastating natural disaster of modern times, spurred an international effort to rescue valuable documents and set a precedent for how paper relics should be conserved. This century, collections at the World Trade Center were destroyed on 9/11 and works at South Street Seaport and the New York City Police Museum were lost in Hurricane Sandy, reminding New Yorkers — historians and conservators, in particular — of the importance of protecting our archival gems.
archives  conservation  maps  preservation 
5 weeks ago
Eadweard Muybridge’s Secret Cloud Collection
So back to Volcan Quezaltenango—Guatemala. Like nearly all the pictures in the album, it was a fabrication made from at least two different photographs. But whereas the other pictures were literal and descriptive, this one had a phantasmagoric quality. I dismissed the dark and brooding picture as unnecessarily romantic, completely overdone, possibly sentimental, and just plain weird and nonsensical....

That Muybridge should use a combination printing technique to enhance his images was not surprising. Adding clouds to scenes was a common 19th-century practice, a response to the technical limitations of the medium. 8 Glass plate films of the era were particularly sensitive to blue light, which meant that skies and clouds often appeared white in a final print. So photographers made separate exposures of cloud-filled scenes that better registered the delicate details of atmosphere. Then the two negatives, sky and scene, could be stacked together to render a new view when printed. Muybridge was especially adept at this technique and used it extensively throughout his career....

What struck me about Volcan Quezaltenango was that I had already seen those clouds, scattered throughout the album, combined with different landscape views. Muybridge apparently had a collection of cloud pictures that he could shuffle through in order to find just the right fit of land and sky. I imagined his cloud collection as a wooden box filled with carefully filed glass plate negatives, arranged and indexed according to visual and aesthetic properties. 10 That thought prompted a whole string of questions. How did he decide on a pairing? Was he consistent from one print to the next? Where did the cloud scenes originate, and would it be possible to reconstruct them by piecing together parts of different images?...

In archives and libraries across the continent, I found other albums of this work that contained remixes of land and sky. The same landscapes were paired with alternate clouds, depicting parallel realities. Now I had even more questions: Did his choice of clouds reflect his mood at the time? Or did he intend to elicit a particular reaction from the viewer? With modern brain imaging techniques, could I measure the emotional response of individuals looking at the same landscape paired with different clouds?
photography  clouds 
5 weeks ago
Self-driving cars use the same technology that discovers ancient civilizations — Quartz
A mapping system using LiDAR technology not only has the potential to unearth new discoveries—it can also provide far-reaching benefits to a variety of industries, including city planning, architecture, environmental work, disaster relief, and drone delivery. In a world prone to change, by both the environment and humans, LiDAR gives us a quick and accurate way to measure developments around us.
As humanity grapples with how to solve climate change, LiDAR mapping can help us make observations about the speed in which forests are declining, oceans are rising, and ice caps are shrinking. In fact, the Monterey Bay Aquarium recently announced that it is developing a system that will use LiDAR to observe ocean changes and processes that were once incredibly difficult to map and measure.
In the wake of natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes, LiDAR can be used to map damage and pinpoint areas of vulnerability. Downed trees and power lines can be more easily located, for example, without placing humans in danger. After Hurricane Sandy, a work train attached with LiDAR was sent into flooded New York subway tunnels to find sections of structural damage.
In addition to reactionary efforts, the use of LiDAR for planning purposes%2
lidar  planning  disaster_recovery  machine_vision 
5 weeks ago
Inside Waymo's Secret World for Training Self-Driving Cars - The Atlantic
Scenarios like this form the base for the company’s powerful simulation apparatus. “The vast majority of work done—new feature work—is motivated by stuff seen in simulation,” Stout tells me. This is the tool that’s accelerated the development of autonomous vehicles at Waymo, which Alphabet (née Google) spun out of its “moon-shot” research wing, X, in December of 2016.

If Waymo can deliver fully autonomous vehicles in the next few years, Carcraft should be remembered as a virtual world that had an outsized role in reshaping the actual world on which it is based.

Originally developed as a way to “play back” scenes that the cars experienced while driving on public roads, Carcraft, and simulation generally, have taken on an ever-larger role within the self-driving program.

At any time, there are now 25,000 virtual self-driving cars making their way through fully modeled versions of Austin, Mountain View, and Phoenix, as well as test-track scenarios. Waymo might simulate driving down a particularly tricky road hundreds of thousands of times in a single day. Collectively, they now drive 8 million miles per day in the virtual world. In 2016, they logged 2.5 billion virtual miles versus a little over 3 million miles by Google's IRL self-driving cars that run on public roads...

The simulations are part of an intricate process that Waymo has developed. They’ve tightly interwoven the millions of miles their cars have traveled on public roads with a “structured testing” program they conduct at a secret base in the Central Valley they call Castle.

Waymo has never unveiled this system before. The miles they drive on regular roads show them areas where they need extra practice. They carve the spaces they need into the earth at Castle, which lets them run thousands of different scenarios in situ. And in both kinds of real-world testing, their cars capture enough data to create full digital recreations at any point in the future. In that virtual space, they can unhitch from the limits of real life and create thousands of variations of any single scenario, and then run a digital car through all of them. As the driving software improves, it’s downloaded back into the physical cars, which can drive more and harder miles, and the loop begins again.
mapping  automation  self_driving 
5 weeks ago
The New York Times
In 2007, the top-selling image for the search term “woman” in Getty Image’s library of stock photography was a naked woman lying on a bed, gazing at the camera with a towel draped over her bottom half.

In 2017, it’s a woman hiking a rocky trail in Banff National Park, alone on the edge of a cliff high above a turquoise lake. She’s wearing a down jacket and wool hat, and her face isn’t visible. ...

Stock photos — generic images that appear in places like ads, billboards, magazines and blogs — reflect the culture at a moment in time....

The change from women lounging naked (or perhaps laughing alone with salad) to women demonstrating physical or professional prowess was driven in part by the Lean In collection, which Getty developed in 2014 with Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit to seed media with more modern, diverse and empowering images of women. The collection, now with 14,000 photos, has the unofficial tagline, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

The 15 most downloaded images from the Lean In collection so far this year, including those below, are four of fathers playing with children; four of girls and women involved in science and engineering; three of women being athletic; and four of women in business or school settings.
photography  classification  archives  stock_photography 
6 weeks ago
Recovering the Philosophy Chamber, Harvard's Enlightenment-Era Teaching Cabinet
A vast and encompassing view of the world contained in a room so small that it was referred to as a chamber — such was the hope and hubris of the 18th-century Enlightenment figures in America.

The tiny room was called the Philosophy Chamber, and it attracted some of the most inventive minds in the United States, when our country was in its formative years, feeling out its independence and still searching for its own narrative. George Washington visited, Benjamin Franklin helped secure its contents, John Hancock donated the flocked wallpaper, and John Singleton Copley painted august portraits for its walls. At once a laboratory, art gallery, and lecture hall, its main purpose was to serve the students of Harvard College.

This wee chamber thrived from 1766 to 1820 and then all but disappeared, until recent years. Ethan Lasser, a curator at the Harvard Art Museums, kept encountering references to a teaching cabinet at the school while researching something else entirely, the whereabouts of a lost portrait.

What he discovered instead was evidence of a lost museum, a place that was the heart of intellectual life in New England for more than half a century.

Now, for the first time since the Philosophy Chamber was disbanded and its formal portraits, scientific instruments, natura...

In a profound act of cultural erasure, many of these objects were stripped of the particulars of their making and history once they entered the global trade of “rare curiosities,” as the exhibit calls it. Basic information about the creators, materials, and cultures was disregarded in favor of the tales of adventure that brought them to America. In the current exhibit, some of the indigenous objects are intentionally presented without fully correcting the record, with only scant information, as would have been the case in the chamber. This seems strange, even problematic, at first. Yet it’s meaningful to experience these items at they would have been viewed in the cabinet, without the kind of context we’ve come to expect. ...

Indeed, one of the great contributions of this exhibition is the reproachful realities it brings to light, the academic roots of racism. The curators do not shy away from what they’ve uncovered in the primary didactics for the show or its scholarly catalogue.
intellectual_furnishings  media_architecture  pedagogy  museums  cabinets 
6 weeks ago
You’ll Never Want to Leave This All-in-One Bed Full of Gadgets & Storage | Urbanist
Sold by a variety of Asian retailers for roughly $600 USD, including SG Shop and English TaoBao, this slightly bonkers piece of furniture incorporates virtually everything you can imagine (reasonably) wanting to be built right into your bed, from USB chargers, speakers, power outlets and a pop-out laptop table to an actual built-in massage chair with multiple settings.
intellectual_furnishings  media_space  furniture 
6 weeks ago
How South Korea is Building a Techno-Utopia in Seoul | WIRED
I got an advance look at what might turn out to be a powerful tool in his reelection: a visually beautiful data dashboard—its formal name is “The Digital Civic Mayor’s Office”—that is tied to the broad themes the mayor identified in 2014: How safe is the city, how welcoming is it to the very old and the young, how green is it, how open are its operations?...

So far, so simple—the dashboard is simply reporting yearly data in a colorful way, counting up outputs: how many sports facilities, how many senior care places, how much public data is being disclosed. The press loves this stuff, but it’s not very operational; it’s a postcard with bright colors.
The real benefit of this 11-foot-wide dashboard, both for management and disclosure, comes in other views—and you can move through it by gesture, touch, or remote mouse. (I was told the hardware cost $10​0,000​, the programming cost about $50​,000, and that getting reliable data out of agencies had been a huge challenge.)

As it happened, during our demo, the map of giant, congested Seoul showed an indication of an incident—a fire in the city! Web camera views popped trained on where the fire was.... From his dashboard, the mayor (or anyone else, but I refrained from pressing the button) can launch a video call to talk to public officials near the site. (The man with his back to me is the similarly talented Jeong Joon Ahn, to whom Ma reports; Ahn has a huge range of responsibilities that include getting real-time data from all of Seoul’s agencies into the dashboard. Which is not easy.) Another screen showed, in real time, how long it was taking the fire department to put the fire out. During my time with Ma and Ahn, the fire was resolved....

A real-time emergency dashboard isn’t new. What’s new is that Seoul is also measuring and reporting on—in real time—a wide range of other indicators of the city’s health and well-being. How expensive are common things people eat, like apples? How expensive are apartments?...

The traffic data is next to information about air quality, natural disasters, and crime. This whole setup is aimed at understanding and improving quality of life for all Seoul citizens: These are the categories of things that citizens care about.
smart_cities  dashboards 
6 weeks ago
Geoff Manaugh is In Wild Air
The remote northern village of Sackville, Canada, has played host for the past seventy years to a cluster of radio-transmission towers. Filmmaker Amanda Dawn Christie wanted to know how these monumental pieces of communications infrastructure have affected the lives of local residents, so she produced a 2016 documentary called Spectres of Shortwave. 

In the process of making the documentary, Christie found that the towers’ radio transmissions permeated nearly every aspect of local life; “the transmission site affected the appliances, homes and even dreams of local residents,” the CBC reports. Kitchen sinks became accidental antennas, picking up voices from elsewhere in a town haunted by the electromagnetic spectrum. 

Christie recorded “stories about the broadcasts, people hearing radio coming out of their fridge, kids coming home from school and being alone and being afraid that there was someone in the house because it sounded like someone was talking in the basement… People would be convinced that they’d dream in other languages and then call up the technicians to find out how that happened.”...

The San Francisco-based digital cartographers at a firm called Stamen recently explored the fact that everyday communications infrastructure, such as buried fiber-optic cables, has remarkable observational capabilities. To prove their point, they worked with California’s Stanford University on a project called Big Glass Microphone to reveal how unexpected sources of information are being continuously captured by the school’s underground telecommunication network.

Fiber optic cables, it turns out, are constantly bombarded by background noise created by everything from earthquakes to passing delivery trucks. After compensating for and cleverly eliminating unwanted sources of stimulation, Stamen has shown that these buried networks act as an inadvertent microphone—a “Big Glass Microphone”—effectively spying on local events.

“Infrastructure is listening to us,” Stamen managing partner Jon Christensen explained to The Mercury News, “but how much do we want our infrastructure to be monitoring us at the same time that we’re monitoring it?”
media_space  radio  electromagnetic_waves  infrastructure  listening 
6 weeks ago
One Million Years of Isolation || Making the Geologic Now
You start with a question: How do you perceive the need to isolate a material from the environment? I think most people would begin to answer that by looking at the nature of the material...

Now, in most countries, what they have done next is asked: What geology would be very good for isolating this material from the environment? And what geologies are available in our country? The Swedes have gone to their granites, because their whole country is basically underlain by granites. The French looked at granites, salts, and clay, and decided to go with clay. The Belgians and Dutch are looking at clay and salts; and the Germans are looking at salts right now, but also at granites and clay. ...

In the U.S., we did a sweep of the country, looked at all the available geologies, and we decided that we had many possible sites. We investigated some, which basically involved looking at what we knew from geological surveys of the states, and then we made a recommendation to go look at three of the possibilities in greater detail. At that point, Congress stepped in. They started looking at the huge bills associated with site-specific studies - excavation is not cheap - and they said: let's just do one site and see if it's suitable. If it is not, then we'll go back and see what else we can do. So that's how Yucca Mountain, basically, was selected. It was a cost-saving measure over the other two that were in the running for a repository. Those were a bedded salt site in Texas and a basalt site - a deep volcanic rock site - in Washington State....

But all three were looked at, and all three were judged to be equally safe for the first 10,000 years - which, at that time, was the regulation. Since the selection of Yucca Mountain, the regulation has been bumped up to a million years, which is pretty much where the rest of the world is looking: a million years of isolation....

All the other countries in the world are looking at constructing something that is very deep - and under the water table. If you go under the water table deep enough, there is no oxygen in the water, and if there is no oxygen than the solubility of a sizable number of the radionuclides is a non-problem....

you can rely more on the engineered system or more on the natural system. Either way, it's the combination of the two systems that allows you to predict, with relative security, that you're going to isolate a material for well over a million years. ...

To collect the science needed to make credible projections of system safety, we have dug several miles of tunnels under this mountain; we've done lots of testing of how water can move through this mountain, if there was more water; and we've done testing of coupons of the materials that we want to use. These tests were performed using solutions, temperature ranges, and oxygen concentrations that we think are representative over the whole range of what can be reasonably expected at Yucca Mountain. Those kinds of physical tests we have done.

We have also utilized information from people who have taken spent fuel apart in some of our national laboratories and subjected it to leaching tests to see how it dissolves, how fast it dissolves, and what dissolves out of it. We have done all of that kind of testing, and that's what forms the basis for our computer modeling.

One thing we have not done, and can't do, is a mock-up of Yucca Mountain. It just doesn't work that way. It's too complicated, too large, and too long a time-scale.

We've looked for natural analogues of other possible conditions - for example, the climate at Yucca Mountain during an ice age. We've studied six or seven sites that mimic what we would see during a climate change here.

And, in terms of materials, there are some naturally occurring materials that have a passive coating on them. We've studied metals found in nature that are similar in the way they act to the metals that we are using for our waste packages.

So we have gone basically all through nature looking for analogous processes - but none are exact matches for Yucca Mountain....

From the cooling pools or dry storage at the reactor, we've asked the nuclear utility companies to put their spent fuel - or waste - into containers that we have designed and that we will supply to them. The waste will be remotely taken out of whatever container it is in now, put into our containers, which are certified for shipping as well as disposal, and then we would slide those containers onto trains. We want to use mostly trains - we try to avoid truck use.

Rail shipping containers currently in use are massive - some approaching two-hundred tons fully loaded. The trains would bring the containers to us and then we would up-end them remotely and take the material out in a large open bay - all done remotely, again. ...

In terms of what the repository would look like, if built, it would be a series of open tunnels, one after the other, with a bridging tunnel that allows the freight to be brought in on rail. Everything is done remotely. The 40km of tunnels would all be filled up at some point, and then we would seal up the larger openings to the exterior, but leave everything else inside the mountain unsealed.

This is very different, by the way, from every other repository in the world, which would tightly compact material around the waste packages. We want to leave air around the waste packages, because of our situation. We have unsaturated water flow, rather than saturated flow, and, as I've mentioned, water does not like to fall into air out of rock - it would rather stay in the rock, unless it's saturated and under some degree of pressure, such as from the weight of water above it. ...

Manaugh: Of course, once you have sealed the site, you face the challenge of keeping it away from future human contact. How does one mark this location as a place precisely not to come to, for very distant future generations?

Van Luik: We have looked very closely at what WIPP - the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant - is doing in New Mexico. They did a study with futurists and other people - sociologists and language specialists. They decided to come up with markers in seven languages, basically like a Rosetta Stone, with the idea that there will always be someone in the world who studies ancient languages, even 10,000 years from now, someone who will be able to resurrect what the meanings of these stelae are. They will basically say, "This is not a place of honor, don't dig here, this is not good material," etc.

What we have done is adapt that scheme to Yucca Mountain - but we have a different configuration. WIPP is on a flat surface, and their repository is very deep underground.; we're basically inside a mountain with no resources that anybody would want to go after. We will build large marker monuments, and also engrave these same types of warnings onto smaller pieces of rock and metal, and spread them around the area. When people pick them up, they will think, "Oh - let's not go underground here."..

What I have been lobbying for with the international agencies, like the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency, is that before anybody builds a repository, let's have world agreement on the basics of a marker system for everybody. Whoever runs the future, tens of thousands of years from now, shouldn't have to dig up one repository and see a completely different marker system somewhere else and then dig that up, too. They should be able to learn from one not to go to the others.

Of course, there's also a little bit of fun involved here: what is the dominant species going to be in 10,000 years? And can you really mark something for a million years?...

The Finns actually have a very pragmatic attitude to this. They have regulations that basically cover the entire future span, out to a very long time period-but they also say that, once the ice has built up again and covered Finland, it won't be Finland. No one will live there. But it doesn't matter whether anyone lives there or not: you still have to provide a system that's safe for whoever's going to be there when the ice retreats.

We - as in the whole world - need to take these future scenarios quite seriously. And these are very interesting things to think about - things that, in normal industrial practice, you never even consider.
storage  repository  nuclear_history  geology  yucca_mountain  models  universal_language  speculation  deep_time 
6 weeks ago
Impact of Social Sciences – Big data problems we face today can be traced to the social ordering practices of the 19th century.
This is not the first ‘big data’ era but the second. The first was the explosion in data collection that occurred from the early 19th century – Hacking’s ‘avalanche of numbers’, precisely situated between 1820 and 1840. This was an analogue big data era, different to our current digital one but characterized by some very similar problems and concerns. Contemporary problems of data analysis and control include a variety of accepted factors that make them ‘big’ and these generally include size, complexity and technology issues. We also suggest that digitisation is a central process in this second big data era, one that seems obvious but which has also appears to have reached a new threshold. Until a decade or so ago ‘big data’ looked just like a digital version of conventional analogue records and systems. Ones whose management had become normalised through statistical and mathematical analysis. Now however we see a level of concern and anxiety, similar to the concerns that were faced in the first big data era....

there is general acknowledgement that the early 19th century was when the collection, analysis and production of various forms of information accelerated at a rate not previously seen in human history. More specifically, Richards called it the first information age. Linnaeus’ botanical taxonomic approach proved so powerful a heuristic and practical device that it was swiftly applied to human social phenomena including the production of racial taxonomies. The sciences as we know them were assuming their modern shape (Whewell coined the term ‘scientist’ in 1833), the social sciences were emerging from what were known as ‘political arithmetic’, ‘social physics’ and latterly the ‘moral sciences’, while science became an undertaking distinct from natural philosophy....

The 19th century was a pre-digital era in which the ‘computer’ was an individual at a desk doing the counting and calculations manually rather than an electro-mechanical or electronic device, but even this early infrastructure clearly set the scene for our current situation. The 18th century had already seen rapid developments in dictionaries of various kinds, including Diderot’s 1751 Encyclopédie (based on Chamber’s Cyclopedia) and Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language (not the first of its kind) illustrating a growing need to not just to collect but classify, categorise and order information to make it both meaningful and useful. The idea of and search for innate rules and regularity across a wide spectrum of phenomena emerged, with the search for laws of nature came in the following century....

These information devices were supported by a growing number and variety of formalised knowledge production processes and products – the library, the museum, the census office, the printers and publishers with their books, newspapers, periodicals, magazines, journals, forms and envelopes . Cataloguing systems had existed for centuries but this period saw their emergence as formalized systems ranging from Brunet’s Paris Bookseller’s classification (1842) to the Dewey Decimal System (1876). Storage and retrieval also became an issue, leading to the development of library science, archival management strategies and mechanical handling systems.

In the context of colonial administration and scientific research fieldwork became a central concept, one which continues to be relevant to contemporary knowledge production in several disciplines and fields of practice (e.g. botany, geology, anthropology). The development of societies and associations also gained momentum as forums for identifying, exploring and formalizing new and expanding fields of knowledge.

In the United Kingdom parliamentary Blue Books were being produced on an unprecedented scale as government increasingly concerned itself with the collection and analysis of data about this expanding information environment. They became such a phenomenon that many people despaired of their potential to overload bureaucratic knowledge systems that lacked the capacity to analyse the volumes of information being produced. Data visualisation and social mapping developed rapidly in response to this situation including the innovations of William Playfair (the line graph, bar and pie charts) and Florence Nightingale (polar diagrams) which provided new techniques for visualising these large and complex quantities of data.

...shifts in the production, processing and analysis of that information. Many of these methods are still with us including information taxonomies and knowledge trees to name but two. Hacking observed that while social categories are epistemic products their application can have marked ontological effects. Knowledge of the natural world was rapidly applied to the social world and the politicking of social identifies began in earnest, supported by a rising tide of data and analytical methods. Conservatives and social critics alike relied on the production and dissemination of data, both large and small, to support repression and reform. The public inquiry emerged as another 19th century mechanism that persists in the present, with the same general focus – poverty, crime, health and systemic failures....

Our social ordering practices have influenced our social epistemology. We run the risk in the social sciences of perpetuating the ideological victories of the first data revolution as we progress through the second. The need for critical analysis grows apace not just with the production of each new technique or technology but with the uncritical acceptance of the concepts, categories and assumptions that emerged from that first data revolution. That first data revolution proved to be a successful anti-revolutionary response to the numerous threats to social order posed by the incredible changes of the nineteenth century, rather than the Enlightenment emancipation that was promised.
big_data  statistics  logistics  information_overload  classification  disciplinarity 
6 weeks ago
Ex Libris: New York Public Library review – the restless mind of the city | Film | The Guardian
For over 50 years Wiseman’s all-seeing, fly-on-the-wall cinema has visited institutions (a psychiatric hospital, a park, a museum, a concert venue, a school), gobbled it all up and served it back in an edited form that, while avoiding a traditional three-act structure, links sequences that build to a rich, almost-transcendent understanding. Lord knows others ape the style, but few compare.

Ex Libris: New York Public Library has the drive of a vociferous reader checking out and renewing the maximum number of books their card will allow. Its running time of three hours and 17 minutes is generous enough to succeed on multiple levels. The most prominent theme is the divide between rich and poor, and what the NYPL means in different neighbourhoods. The gorgeous main branch on Fifth Avenue with its marble lions serves a different function than the outposts in the economically disadvantaged outer boroughs. On Fifth Avenue, a “Books at noon” guest like Richard Dawkins will wax about the Enlightenment; off Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx, the community huddles up for job interview tips.

The only recurring characters are the caring and determined administrators (some googling puts faces to names; by and larg
libraries  film 
6 weeks ago
He’s Got the Whole Coast in His Hand | Hakai Magazine
As he visualized paddling along the east coast of Greenland in an umiak, Danish explorer Gustav Holm held in his hand generations of navigational know-how. It was the 1880s—long before Siri and satellites were around to lead the way—and Holm was palming a chunk of wood about as long as an iPhone 7. Carved by a Greenlandic Inuit man, this precious piece served as a tactile map, its toothy edges representative of the fjords, headlands, and obstacles of the unforgiving coastline. As Holm ran a finger along the map, he felt a semicircular groove—a sign that he and his party would have to go overland with their boats if they made it that far north. This was just one of several subtle cues he could glean from the map that would help make an exploration safe and successful.

As Holm observed, the Tunumiit people of eastern Greenland had a sharp eye for nature and could accurately describe a place they had visited once, even 20 years earlier. The man who produced the carving was especially skilled, and created two others that accompanied it. A knobby stick about as long as a Super Big Gulp straw represents the islands off the coast, and a thicker, wand-like carving corresponds to a peninsula, with ridges and mounds that mirror the relief of the mountains.
cartography  mapping  tactility  data_physicalization  indigenous 
6 weeks ago
Singapore has an idea to transform city life — but there may be a privacy cost - LA Times
A government initiative, known as Smart Nation, aims to use an untold number of sensors and cameras to track everything from someone smoking in a prohibited space to the number of vehicles on the road.

These sensors are the tentacles of an elaborate, integrated plan that could redefine how cities use technology to improve society — and offer the potential for government to monitor its citizens in a whole new way....

This affluent city-state of glass towers and manicured parks has always been one for rules, where security and efficiency usurp civil liberties like free speech. (Singapore famously restricts gum chewing in favor of clean streets.)

Its free-trade policies and lauded education system have helped make a city of 5 million — more than three times smaller than the Los Angeles metro area — one of the richest in the world. At the same time, Singapore faces the realities of limited resources, low birth rates, an aging population and rising protectionism....

Authorities are working on cashless payments and a single digital identification to streamline transactions. They’ve set aside more than 40 miles of road for the development of self-driving vehicles.

Thousands of sensors scattered across the city help determine how to reroute public transport based on passenger loads or detect when someone has tossed a soda can on the ground. One voluntary program tracks the movements of elderly people at home through wireless sensors, and can inform families when their parent uses the bathroom or stops moving.

Officials even plan to track the spread of an infectious disease or predict the reaction of a frantic crowd to a terrorist attack. The system is still unfolding, they say, so its full possibilities are still unknown....

Singapore’s system is far more centralized.

“What Singapore will provide is that sort of example and case study effectively for the world to say, ‘Those guys got value out of this, could we?’” said Raj Vaswani, co-founder of Silver Spring Networks, a San Jose company that provides smart grid products used in the initiative.

But the government’s digital utopia also looks like a hacker’s treasure chest filled with the gems of medical data and personal identification numbers. For privacy advocates, it instills panic....

But the initiative hits on a tension inherent in the development of digitally connected cities. How much personal privacy should citizens sacrifice for the sake of convenience and safety?

“Singaporeans are resigned to the large amount of data the government collects,” said Kirsten Han, an activist and journalist in Singapore. “Residents don’t see CCTV as scary. They see it as safe.”

This is a democracy with deep faith in government, a driving principle throughout its five decades of existence — all under one party. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founder, told the Straits Times in 1987 that society would not have prospered if “we had not intervened on very personal matters: who your neighbor is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use.”

Documents that restrict what officials can do with personal data are classified.

“Singapore’s legislation is not as much about the right to privacy to protect someone from the public gaze as it is a set of tools to manage the flow of information,” said Simon Chesterman, dean of the National University of Singapore’s law school.
smart_cities  singapore  big_data  surveillance 
6 weeks ago
Undergrad deciphers meaning of knots, giving native South American people a chance to speak
“It’s giving the Incas their own voice,” said Gary Urton, chair of the Anthropology Department and Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies, who guided Medrano in his research. “I could never figure out the hidden meanings in these devices. Manny figured them out, focusing on their color, and on their recto or verso (right-hand and left-hand) construction. This was the only case we have discovered so far in which one or more (in this case six) khipus and a census record matches.”...

“This constitutes the first instance of ‘reading’ information from khipu attachment knots,” states the paper, titled “Toward the Decipherment of a Set of Mid-Colonial Khipus from the Santa Valley, Coastal Peru.”...

“I have been studying some 600 khipus across North America and Europe — not just their color, but the way the cords are spun to the left or to the right, and other such features. There is a lot of structural variation,” Urton said. “I knew we would have our greatest possibility of deciphering these in a match with one or more with a Spanish document that recorded the same information.”...

Medrano told him, “I have spring break coming up and nothing to do.” He studied the khipus, hypothesizing that the recto or verso knots contained meaningful information about the division of the Recuay people into moieties, or halves. These halves not only divided the village geographically, but also reflected social status.

“We now know not only that there were six clans in the valley, but also what social status each clan and each villager held in Recuay society,” said Medrano, who leveraged his concentration in applied mathematics and fluency in Spanish to connect the khipus with the census names. “I loved the idea that there might be numbers or words encoded in these knotted cords.”
writing  records  material_texts  code  archives  accounting  khipus 
7 weeks ago
Dear Elon–Forget Killer Robots. Here’s What You Should Really Worry About
The killer robots aren’t coming for us, despite your warnings last month (and, more recently, your call for an outright ban). The singularity is never going to happen, and the only winter people should be concerned about is the larger and harsher ones brought on by climate change, not an AI one. ...

You should worry about who has a say over the future–the entire world isn’t D.C. or Silicon Valley–so how do we design for everyone?

You should think about how machine learning is changing how we work, and the kind of work we do. You should worry about the impact of artificial intelligence on job losses and job creation. You should worry about training and education for new jobs, and what kind of benefits or income redistribution should result when AI systems displace jobs. You should think about automation, not just from a robotic standpoint but an infrastructural one; how will the shipping and transportation industries be affected by machine learning? ...

You should worry about all of the articles ProPublica publishes on machine bias, especially this one on how predictive policing software radically indicts black people over white people. You should worry about this other ProPublica article that reports on how certain insurance providers charge people of color more for coverage. ...

The series ProPublica published on machine bias isn’t just on the problematic biases within machine learning; it also highlights how fallible machine learning is, and how much users trust it and believe the results to be truthful without questioning it. In its reporting, ProPublica found that the scoring of “most likely to recommit a crime” created within predictive policing algorithms was used as reinforcement for harsher sentences. ...

Elon, you should worry about computer vision not recognizing black skin. You should worry about bad products that are “color blind” as in, the algorithms can’t see skin color so soap dispensers and automatic faucets won’t work on black skin tones. You should worry about cameras that suggest to Asian users that they’ve “blinked” because the data sets were trained on predominately Caucasian eyes.
machine_learning  big_data  algorithms  artificial_intelligence 
7 weeks ago
‘Chaekgeori: Pleasure of Possessions in Korean Painted Screens’ Review: Painting a Backdrop for an Educated Ruler - WSJ
For some 200 years, Korean kings broadcast their heavenly mandate by sitting before a painted screen showing five mountains flanked by a red sun and a white moon. But King Jeongjo, who reigned from 1776 to 1800, invoked another source of authority: books. Besides amassing a large library and overseeing the publication of more than 4,000 books, he commissioned screens depicting bookcases brimming with tomes. Rising behind the throne, they reinforced an oft-expressed concern: People, he believed, should read Confucian and other classics; avoid romance novels, Catholic writings, and other corrupting texts flowing in from China; and eschew using “Chinese objects to show off their highbrow culture.”...

They all share the same subject: Chaekgeori, which means “books and things.” The former are shown lying flat, enclosed in box-like covers and often stacked, with perhaps one volume askew or open, as though the reader has just set it down. Although the books in Jeongjo’s screens reportedly bore titles, these do not (scholars have found only one exception). People would have nevertheless immediately recognized the large-format books with abstract patterns as Korean and the smaller ones enveloped in brocade as Chinese. They would also know that most of the “things” were imported from China: the bronzes and incense burners, calligraphy brushes and ink stones, ceramic bowls and vases, lacquer boxes and carved jade seals, paintings rolled up and partially unfurled.
books  intellectual_furnishings  furniture 
7 weeks ago
The Best Map Ever Made of America's Racial Segregation | WIRED
The map, created by Dustin Cable at University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, is stunningly comprehensive. Drawing on data from the 2010 U.S. Census, it shows one dot per person, color-coded by race. That's 308,745,538 dots in all–around 7 GB of visual data. It isn't the first map to show the country's ethnic distribution, nor is it the first to show every single citizen, but it is the first to do both, making it the most comprehensive map of race in America ever created.
>This is the most comprehensive map of race in America ever created.
White people are shown with blue dots; African-Americans with green; Asians with red; and Latinos with orange, with all other race categories from the Census represented by brown. Since the dots are smaller than pixels at most zoom levels, Cable assigned shades of color based on the multiple dots therein. From a distance, for example, certain neighborhoods will look purple, but zooming-in reveals a finer-grained breakdown of red and blue–or, really, black and white.
"There are a lot of moving parts in this process, so this can cause different shades of color to appear at different zoom levels in really dense areas, like you see in NYC," Cable explains. "I played around with dot siz
mapping  cartography  race 
7 weeks ago
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