Louise Drulhe
Author of the Critical Atlas of the Internet, Louise Drulhe (1990) works on picturing the shape of the Internet. Graduated from Ensad in Paris (École Nationale Supérieur des Arts Décoratifs), she develops a plastic and conceptual research on mapping the Internet and the blockchain. She believes that in order to understand online socio-political issues, we have to study the particular shape of the Internet. Louise Drulhe considers the spatialisation as a tool to understand the stakes involved. She develops her research on different medium from drawing to video making.

http://internet-atlas.net The Two Webs Blockchain, an architecture of control
cartography  mapping  data_visualization  data_art 
15 hours ago
The Download is a series of Rhizome commissions that considers posted files, the act of downloading, and the user’s desktop as a space for exhibition.
publication  textual_form  material_texts  download  files 
The Environment is Not a System | a peer-reviewed journal about_
In late 2017, Microsoft’s chief environmental scientist, Lucas Joppa announced AI for Earth, a new initiative to put artificial intelligence in the hands of those who are trying to “monitor, model and manage the earth’s natural systems”. AI for Earth gives environmental researchers access to Microsoft’s cloud platform and AI technologies, and similar to recent initiatives by companies like Google and Planet Labs, it aims to integrate AI into environmental research and management....

He urges: “for every environmental problem, governments, nonprofits, academia and the technology industry need to ask two questions: ‘how can AI help solve this?’ and ‘how can we facilitate the application of AI?’”...

The word eco-system itself stands as a reminder that the history of ecology is enmeshed with systems theory and presupposes that species entanglements are operational or functional. More surreptitiously, a systematic view of the environment connotes it as bounded, knowable and made up of components operating in chains of cause and effect. This framing strongly invokes possibilities of manipulation and control and implicitly asks: what should an ecosystem be optimized for?...

Does AI have any potential to reveal environments in ways that escape the trapping of systems? Critical to my inquiry is the recent work of Anna Tsing and what she calls, “the arts of noticing”. Tsing’s work offers a starting point for thinking outside of both a systems framework and assumptions of progress (17). Her perspective on ecology and the lifeworlds it describes unfolds and emerges through “encounters” (20) which bring together entities, transforming them in indeterminate ways. Might AI operate through modes of environmental encounters or will it simply amplify “an informatics of domination” (Haraway 162)?...

A systems view of the environment reinforced by computation, has numerous precedents, including 18th and 19th century attempts at scientific forest management....

The scientific forest failed by its own criteria: timber yield. However it is worth acknowledging that if yield had remained high while biodiversity declined, this history of sustainable environmental management would be remembered as a success, analogous to industrial agriculture. Tsing calls environments that are simplified and optimized to produce commodities “plantations” (435). ...

Despite this labor, the Grasslands model, like similar large-scale ecological modeling programs of the time, revealed very few new ecological principles. Deemed “too simplified biologically” despite implementing an unprecedented number of variables (Coupland 154), the model was built with an assumption of default equilibrium. Coupland argues that the Biome Model was simply “a sophisticated version of a cybernetic system […] and cast […] the ecologist in the role of systems engineer” ...

How had NASA’s satellites missed such a marked change in ozone composition? One response from NASA suggests that their data processing software was programmed to discard readings that appeared to be outliers, thus ignoring the drastic changes that were occurring in ozone concentration (Farman). In this case, reality itself was an outlier and assumed to be an error...

Machine learning assumes that enough data can be collected to adequately represent and make predictions about reality. In the context of the environment, this is an enormous challenge given the very limited size of our existing datasets. Another significant assumption is that the past is indicative of the future. ...

She continues: “I want to convey the sense of a provisional collection of parts in constant flux as some are added and others lost. The parts are not so tightly bound that transformations are inhibited and not so loosely connected that information cannot flow between parts” (118). Similarly, I take up assemblage as an imperfect descriptor to avoid the hubristic assumptions of a systems view. Stating “I am studying a grasslands assemblage” instead of “I am studying a grasslands system” produces a remarkable shift in expectations and assumptions. This simple substitution dismantles subtle assumptions of fixed categories of knowledge, as well as assumptions that engineering and control are always possible. Instead it foregrounds uncertainty and acknowledges the unknowability of the world....

Ethnography is one possibility. Tsing’s study of the matsutake mushroom explores what can be learnt from a Japanese mushroom, a lifeform that cannot be cultivated and that thrives in highly disturbed forests. Through her ethnography she shows how close attention inevitably facilitates transformation. Tsing calls this “the arts of noticing”, tactics for thinking without either the abstraction produced by quantification or deeply held assumptions of progress....

Could technologies like machine vision and remote sensing be used to amplify environmental encounters and the arts of noticing our ecological entanglements? The rise of digital naturalism sees the development of apps and initiatives that focus attention on the lifeforms in our various bioregions. Initiatives such as iNaturalist, Merlin Bird ID and eBird invite non-scientists to contribute environmental observations and use either crowd-sourced or “assisted identification” to identify species and build biodiversity databases.
artificial_intelligence  environment  sustainability  methodology  systems  ethnography 
2 days ago
Classification (IEKO)
This article is about classification as a basic term in an interdisciplinary perspective. Classification is a fundamental concept and activity in knowledge organization, but it is also an important concept in many other fields, including biology and philosophy. In knowledge organization and library and information science (LIS), it is mostly about classifying documents, document representations, and concepts (e.g., in thesauri), and library classification systems and ontologies are well-known kinds of knowledge organization systems (KOS). These activities and systems are based on more fundamental conceptions and theories of classifications that are presented in this article.
classification  archives  epistemology  organization 
3 days ago
Race and Multiracial Americans in the U.S. Census | Pew Research Center
From 1790 to 1950, census takers determined the race of the Americans they counted, sometimes taking into account how individuals were perceived in their community or using rules based on their share of “black blood.” Americans who were of multiracial ancestry were either counted in a single race or classified into categories that mainly consisted of gradations of black and white, such as mulattoes, who were tabulated with the non-white population. Beginning in 1960, Americans could choose their own race. Since 2000, they have had the option to identify with more than one.

The first census in 1790 had only three racial categories: free whites, all other free persons and slaves. “Mulatto” was added in 1850, and other multiracial categories were included in subsequent counts. The most recent decennial census, in 2010, had 63 possible race categories: six for single races and 57 for combined races. ... responses to the Census Bureau’s question about “ancestry or ethnic origin.” Here respondents are allowed to write in one or two responses (for example, German, Nicaraguan, Jamaican or Eskimo). These can then be mapped into racial groups.

For most of its history, the United States has had two major races, and until recent decades whites and blacks dominated the census racial categories.17 (American Indians were not counted in early censuses because they were considered to live in separate nations.) At first, blacks were counted only as slaves, but in 1820 a “free colored persons” category was added, encompassing about 13% of blacks.18

In a society where whites had more legal rights and privileges than people of other races, detailed rules limited who was entitled to be called “white” in the census. Until the middle of the 20th century, the general rule was that if someone was both white and any other non-white race (or “color,” as it was called in some early censuses), that person could not be classified as white. This was worded in various ways in the written rules that census takers were given. In the 1930 census, for example, enumerators were told that a person who was both black and white should be counted as black, “no matter how small the percentage of Negro blood,” a classification system known as the “one-drop rule.”

Some race scientists and public officials believed it was important to know more about groups that were not “pure” white or black. Some scientists believed these groups were less fertile, or otherwise weak; they looked to census data to support their theories.20 From the mid-19th century through 1920, the census race categories included some specific multiracial groups, mainly those that were black and white.

“Mulatto” was a category from 1850 to 1890 and in 1910 and 1920. “Octoroon” and “quadroon” were categories in 1890. Definitions for these groups varied from census to census. In 1870, “mulatto” was defined as including “quadroons, octoroons and all persons having any perceptible trace of African blood.” The instructions to census takers said that “important scientific results” depended on their including people in the right categories. In 1890, a mulatto was defined as someone with “three-eighths to five-eighths black blood,” a quadroon had “one-fourth black blood” and an octoroon had “one-eighth or any trace of black blood.”

The word “Negro” was added in 1900 to replace “colored,” and census officials noted that the new term was increasingly favored “among members of the African race.”22 In 2000, “African American” was added to the census form. In 2013, the bureau announced that because “Negro” was offensive to many, the term would be dropped from census forms and surveys.

Although American Indians were not included in early U.S. censuses, an “Indian” category was added in 1860, but enumerators counted only those American Indians who were considered assimilated (for example, those who settled in or near white communities). The census did not attempt to count the entire American Indian population until 1890.

In some censuses, enumerators were told to categorize American Indians according to the amount of Indian or other blood they had, considered a marker of assimilation.23 In 1900, for example, census takers were told to record the proportion of white blood for each American Indian they enumerated.

In the 1960 census, enumerators were told that people they counted who were both white and any other race should be categorized in the minority race. People of multiracial non-white backgrounds were categorized according to their father’s race. There were some exceptions: If someone was both Indian and Negro (the preferred term at the time), census takers were told the person should be considered Negro unless “Indian blood very definitely predominated” and “the person was regarded in the community as an Indian….

In most censuses, the instructions to enumerators did not spell out how to tell which race someone belonged to, or how to determine blood fractions for American Indians or for people who were black and white. But census takers were assumed to know their communities, especially from 1880 onward, when government-appointed census supervisors replaced the federal marshals who had conducted earlier censuses…

It was not until the 1980 census that all Americans were asked whether they were Hispanic. The Hispanic question is asked separately from the race question, but the Census Bureau is now considering whether to make a recommendation to the Office of Management and Budget to combine the two.

Until 1980, only limited attempts were made to count Hispanics. The population was relatively small before passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which broadly changed U.S. policy to allow more visas for people from Latin America, Asia and other non-European regions. Refugees from Cuba and migrants from Puerto Rico also contributed to population growth….

The addition of the Hispanic question to census forms reflected both the population growth of Hispanics and growing pressure from Hispanic advocacy groups seeking more data on the population. The White House responded to the pressure by ordering the secretary of commerce, who oversees the Census Bureau, to add a Hispanic question in 1970.
classification  race  census 
4 days ago
Archive Dreaming on Vimeo
Commissioned to work with SALT Research collections, artist Refik Anadol employed machine learning algorithms to search and sort relations among 1,700,000 documents. Interactions of the multidimensional data found in the archives are, in turn, translated into an immersive media installation. Archive Dreaming, which is presented as part of The Uses of Art: Final Exhibition with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union, is user-driven; however, when idle, the installation "dreams" of unexpected correlations among documents. The resulting high-dimensional data and interactions are translated into an architectural immersive space.

Shortly after receiving the commission, Anadol was a resident artist for Google's Artists and Machine Intelligence Program where he closely collaborated with Mike Tyka and explored cutting-edge developments in the field of machine intelligence in an environment that brings together artists and engineers. Developed during this residency, his intervention Archive Dreaming transforms the gallery space on floor -1 at SALT Galata into an all-encompassing environment that intertwines history with the contemporary, and challenges immutable concepts of the archive, while destabilizing archive-related questions with machine learning algorithms.

In this project, a temporary immersive architectural space is created as a canvas with light and data applied as materials. This radical effort to deconstruct the framework of an illusory space will transgress the normal boundaries of the viewing experience of a library and the conventional flat cinema projection screen, into a three dimensional kinetic and architectonic space of an archive visualized with machine learning algorithms. By training a neural network with images of 1,700,000 documents at SALT Research the main idea is to create an immersive installation with architectural intelligence to reframe memory, history and culture in museum perception for 21st century through the lens of machine intelligence.
archives  digital_archives  digital_art  installation  classification  machine_learning  artificial_intelligence 
5 days ago
Improvisation — Cultural Anthropology
We propose improvisational scores as tools for designing novel ethnography and modes of ethnographic attention....

Improvisation can appear to have a childlike innocence that claims a precultural status before culture constrains and conforms “us.” This status is privileged because there are only certain sorts of persons who can afford to traffic in being primitive and immature—terms that are used to delegitimize other persons (see Weheliye 2014). The notion of being able to choose to improvise is just as historically and politically situated, implying persons who by definition would otherwise just get by. Critical race theorists in anthropology and dance and music studies start from the observation that many people have to improvise in order to survive (Goldman 2010). Here we return to the starting point of this essay: anthropology as the study of the everyday improvisation of people, and the possibilities of using improvisation scores to train our ethnographic practice. Appropriating improvisation as choice overwrites this history, functioning like Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy “as an attempt to repress [the necessary] improvisational motion even as it also would embrace it” (Moten 2003, 101)
ethnography  anthropology  design  scores  performance  pedagogy  improvisation 
7 days ago
Cassandra Hartblay, Cyborg — Cultural Anthropology
The technologies that propel our ethnographic consciousness outward into the world shift with designs for mobility, productivity, and the creation of evidence. Ships, trains, planes, and social networks. Paper, pens, wax cylinders, typewriters, film cameras, video cameras, cassette tapes, minidisk recorders, laptops, digital cameras, and iPhones. Which assistive devices are considered tools and which are pathologized prostheses? 

Ethnography has centered the concerns of nondisabled bodies in study design, subject selection, and training future generations of ethnographers. As feminist, Black, and indigenous anthropologists have asked, what has the discipline taken for granted about the body of the ethnographer? ... Ethnographic research—and, in turn, theorizing—is enabled by designed prosthetic technologies of mobility, observation, and documentation. Ethnographers cannot ignore the ecologies of knowledge production that enable our technological selves.
ethnography  anthropology  design  cyborgs  tools 
7 days ago
Salvador Zarate, Maintenance — Cultural Anthropology
Gomez and Ocean make palpable the relationship across Los Angeles’s suburbs between affluent and working-class, leisured and laboring subjects. In their works, disparate social and material worlds overlap by making explicit the maintenance labor performed by workers who are themselves alienated from the very places they enrich....

Conceiving of maintenance as the material accumulation of labor, resulting in well-fed plants or well-fed children, echoes what Keith Murphy and George Marcus (2013, 258) identify as “the complex processes” that designers and ethnographers undertake, which are “almost entirely obscured by the form of their products.” For maintenance, as for design and ethnography, the final products “receive most of the attention from those who consume them” (Murphy and Marcus 2013, 258). Yet there is a surplus contained in the seemingly invisible labor of maintenance....

For Latina and Latino immigrant gardeners, maintenance also means mantenimiento, a practice of organizing days into routes (rutas) and labor sites into divisions of labor shaped by differences in legal status, ethnicity, age, and ability between gardening company owners and their ayudantes or peónes (hired helpers). Mantenimiento reveals a practice of working around the designs of affluent gated neighborhoods, congested Southern California highways, imperatives of state exclusion, and the demands of homeowners and their plants....
design  ethnography  anthropology  maintenance  repair  labor  class 
7 days ago
Christo Sims, Idealism — Cultural Anthropology
I propose that design has become appealing for anthropology, in part because it appears to offer concrete, hopeful, and future-facing ways for ethnographers to respond to such ethico-political predicaments. However, while this appeal is understandable, there are pitfalls in placing our hopes too heavily on design. ...

such discourses often make a virtue of the presumed speed and activeness, if not also athleticism, of contemporary technology designers while also ascribing a presumed atrophy or obsolescence to more conventional modes of knowledge production...

emulating the practices of professional designers is quite effective at engendering feelings of ethnographic avant-gardism, if not also virility....

Experimentation and newness are not bad things, and I would argue that they are and have always been constitutive features of both ethnographic practice and daily life more generally. My concern is that if ethnographers lift up and laud the terms and techniques of professional designers without also practicing a rigorous form of self-critique, then they risk paddling themselves into a professional eddy that churns on the valorization of ethnographic experimentation for the sake of ethnographic experimentation. ...
design  ethnography  anthropology  idealism  politics 
7 days ago
Peter Redfield, Intervention — Cultural Anthropology
Intervention is a troublesome word, particularly for anyone trained in anthropology. So much depends on the qualifying adjective that comes before it, whether voiced or implied. Are we talking about a theoretical intervention, for example, or a military one? It only gets worse when thinking about colonialism, or working on issues related to humanitarianism or medicine....
design  ethnography  anthropology  intervention  methodology 
7 days ago
Kim de Wolff, Materiality — Cultural Anthropology
The materials of human design, then, are never-finished processes. Plastic endures as part of, rather than existing outside, processes of entangled becomings-with....

Plastic implores ethnographers of design to trace material afterlives, just as it challenges designers of ethnographies to push the boundaries of multisited, multispecies research to sites not traditionally considered human. This means looking not only at objects, but at the infrastructures that keep them that way; not only at making, but also practices of resilience and repair. It means finding new organizing concepts for our strange materialities: to think of the geological, the substantial, and the elemental.
design  anthropology  ethnography  materiality  things  waste 
7 days ago
George Marcus, Ethnography — Cultural Anthropology
Design-based working styles challenge authoritative rules for ethnographic research and encourage different presentations of ethnographic expertise. In its studio/workshop moments, design practice drives the “graphy” out of “ethno” and encourages anthropologists, relying on their intimate relations to fieldnotes, toward different forms of representation. ...

The art of stage design has suited certain contemporary problems in anthropological research very well—especially in making the mise-en-scène of research in the odd spaces in which fieldwork arises. By way of example, assemblage, a conceptual aid for describing the multisited, relational spaces/places of ethnographic research trajectories, is more effectively produced by a design imagination and its forms than described by a literal cartography of fieldwork. ...

Ethnography needs and breeds intermediate forms of expressive production that can circulate, beyond ethnographic texts in the classic genre. The vibrant tradition of ethnographic filmmaking leads in this regard....

This is what design disciplines promise—a lean toward traditions of performance rather than text. This performance capacity is a potential to which designers themselves are perhaps indifferent because they are always already immersed in collaborative relationships.
design  ethnography  anthropology  performance  theater 
7 days ago
Lucy Suchman, Design — Cultural Anthropology
More specifically, we need to mark a set of historical tendencies in professional Design discourses that I take to be antithetical to the ethnographic, as well as to sustainable future-making:
1. grandiosity, or a tendency toward universal propositions and ambitions; 
2. progressivism, or the obdurate tendency to map trajectories of development from them, to us, to a new us;
3. parochialism, or the tendency to engage in conversations with each other, on behalf of everyone;
and finally,
4. politics as the constitutive outside, or the tendency to remain silent with respect to politics in favor of ethics and values, rather than seeing these as always already entangled....

Has design now displaced development as the dominant term for deliberative, transformational change? And to the extent that it has, what are the implications for our engagement, as ethnographers and activists, with the politics of this keyword? Why design, and what might be the alternatives to design, including the worldwide processes and projects of transition that this keyword might work to obscure?
design  anthropology  ethnography 
7 days ago
Introduction: Keywords for Ethnography and Design — Cultural Anthropology
Designers make use of ethnographic methods, cultural anthropologists incorporate elements of design thinking into their ethnographic practice, and scholars critically engage the similarities of each field’s epistemic complicities with global structural violence....

Globally, designers are promoting and pursuing socially conscious design practices and so-called design thinking to remake the world (Papanek 2000). At times, these design approaches resemble a rebranding of ethnography, such as IDEO’s toolkit for “human-centered design” (HCD)....

As anthropologist Peter Redfield (2012) has observed, when Western design firms tackle problems of the global South through what they term “elegant” or “simple” design strategies, they tend to focus on solutions rather than the fully elaborated social and cultural worlds that extend beyond the frame of the project. For instance, Redfield points out that a portable, filtering drinking straw, a direct and individualizing solution to the absence of clean drinking water, fails to account for the ways in which such a design undoes the drive for a publicly funded water system....

What is it about design hubris that so infuriates ethnographers? What might we learn about our own limitations by examining the impulse to critically examine the design project?...

Whereas HCD puts tactics from ethnography in the service of design process, another thread flips this relationship and puts design practices in the service of ethnographic process. Engaging design process thus becomes, as with sensory ethnography (see Nakamura 2013), a way to reinvigorate ethnographic process with modalities beyond the written word. ...

how the design of human interfaces and infrastructures offers an opening to explore social worlds and social inequity. Ilya Utekhin, Kim De Wolff, Sal Zárate, and Joan Donovan each demonstrate how ethnographic worlds can unfurl by the storying of design elements. Each of these contributors use narrative to describe the processes that underlie design practice, the reach of designed objects in the world, and the intended and unintended ways that these objects travel and take on meanings....

By shifting our focus from design’s output or product (finished ethnography or designed object) to its practice and working process, we can think of ethnography itself as a design for social being. As Alberto Corsín Jiménez argues, the notion of constant revision or prototyping toward a better outcome applies to both design and anthropology: as ethnographers we are constantly creating and revising drafts. We are, in effect, designers of the collaborative coproduction of knowledge (Clark 2013, 199). Or, as Arturo Escobar (2018) puts it, design is thinking about ontological possibility. Considering ethnography as design means understanding ethnography as prototyping the social and as devising possible ways of being in the world or interfaces between worlds. ...

Several of our contributors suggest that attention to the design of ethnography as a practice reveals tacit biases. Joan Donovan considers how ethnographers, as researchers working in a digital era, rely on search terms in ways that produce particular kinds of logic and thinking. Cassandra Hartblay argues that ethnography as a practice was traditionally designed not just for white men, but for nondisabled or normatively bodied ethnographers, thereby excluding the perspectives of disabled bodies from the work of knowledge production....
design  ethnography  anthropology  methodology  epistemology 
7 days ago
Keywords for Ethnography and Design — Cultural Anthropology
This series of short essays explores issues facing ethnographers working on or in collaboration with design as a field. It begins from the proposition that the intersection of ethnography and design is not merely a topical convergence of subject matter, but a provocative point from which to theorize what it is that ethnographers do. The essays were adapted for publication from presentations at the conference “Ethnography and Design: Mutual Provocations,” which was held at the University of California, San Diego in October 2016. Our contributors fall into four categories: ethnographers who conduct critical ethnography of or about design thinking and design practice in the world; ethnographers who adapt elements of design practice (including performance and theatrical design, as well as product and digital design) into ethnographic practice; ethnographers who think critically about the epistemological roots of both design and ethnography as Western expert discourses; and ethnographers who are interested in ethnography as a design for social change.
design  ethnography  anthropology 
7 days ago
“Design Thinking”: Defending Silicon Valley at the Apex of Global Labor Hierarchies | Irani | Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience
Fouché (2006), for example, shows how patent officials deemed black invention a product of accident or laziness rather than intention and intelligence (p. 647). Oldenziel (1999) shows how North American and European anxieties about white racial superiority shaped what counts as “technology” – bridges and machines, but not textiles, pottery, and mud architecture. The social category “technology” excluded the creative practices deprioritized by industrial-era capitalists and European colonial powers...

“Design thinking” is a term popularized in Palo Alto by the design firm IDEO and Stanford University through forums like TED, BusinessWeek, and Harvard Business Review. In those forums, it stands for a critique of rationalistic, impersonal, and quantitative forms of corporate knowing... In place of design’s emphasis on specifying product form and mechanism, design thinking teaches corporate workers to tell stories about the lives of potential customers and imagine different futures for them....

design thinking focuses on the identification of market opportunities and broad product strategy informed by applied ethnographic research and design experiments. Design thinking is the promise that methods ─ “ideation,” prototyping, and iterating ─  can locate opportunities where there seem to be none....

IDEO, John explained, was no longer able to command high rates for engineering-oriented projects in the face of competition from Chinese designers. “They started saying, ‘okay, now what do we do?’ Where was there still opportunity to charge rates? They saw McKinsey and some of those other [management consulting firms] making money…for strategy or report kinds of things.” ... Rick cut in to sum it up: “There’s been a shift to less mechanical and to more mystical.” ...

The book argued that three factors threw up a competitive crisis for American symbolic analysts: “Asia,” “abundance,” and “automation.” I will argue that each of these factors in fact figured Asia as a problematic epistemic site.

In Pink’s writings, “Asia” meant a massive, skilled labor pool that could take on “routine” left-brain, logical work ─ financial analysis, radiology, and computer programming ─ for lower wages than Americans performing the same work.

“Abundance” meant an oversupply of consumer products, fueled by global factories usually located in Asia. ...

If US workers were not manufacturing, they could step in as designers, curators, and those with aesthetic judgment and cultural sense. Implicit in this argument was that workers in the factories elsewhere in the world could not provide such judgment. ...

This vision of the machine ─ as in people, as in things ─ generated new visions of the properly human and less than human. Sometimes, these visions emerge in the anxiety to differentiate the human from the merely mechanical. ...

Pink calls on readers to become “high touch, high concept” workers ─ workers who create spiritually meaningful, standout products through art, narrative, and design...

Pink’s ideas expressed a broader public understanding of the proper place of the US in a global economic order shaped by intellectual property law, as well as, the opening up of markets in Eastern Europe and Asia as sources of labor and as potential consumer bases. American brands and patents ─ the stuff of the right-brained mind ─ could become central to economic success while the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs celebrated during the space race now seemed more outsourceable....

The trade agreements and international divisions of labor in Pink’s “conceptual age” cast Asians as mathematical, unaesthetic, rule-oriented producers. Anxious North American publics recast these not as properties of jobs produced by labor processes and IP restrictions, but as properties of racialized people. ...

Design, they concluded, was too “creative” to outsource. Only those living on the edge of the future ─ a temporalization as old as colonial enlightenment and later modernization ─ could combine emotion, cultural cosmopolitanism, and technology to make good designs (see Suchman 2011). ...

n Shenzhen, Lindtner argues that entrepreneurs draw on postcolonial and feminist influences as they seek new sources of inspiration and legitimacy to develop emerging technology enterprises (Lindtner 2017, p.299). Similarly, design thinking also selectively draws on feminist interventions into the philosophies of knowledge and technology in the search for novel markets and value-producing projects. ...

Hierarchies of labor are a product of global political economies ─ trade agreements, investments in education, and accumulations of skill and performance that promise the production of value. Skills like “design thinking” are particularly promissory. A “design thinker” promises insights, new markets, and aesthetic judgment, like a divining rod leading to new markets or domains of life ripe for intervention. Those who possess cosmopolitanism ─ an affable, empathic rapport with consumers and corporate executives alike ─ can promise value in these worlds. Those whom clients, investors, and immigration interviewers read as the right kind of cosmopolitan, even if not white,3 read as citizens of Pink’s “conceptual age.” These are the racialized people whom Mark Zuckerberg defends when he defends the DREAM Act.4 These are the immigrant startup founders the US Department of State sought to recruit under Obama-era start-up promotion laws. These are the very same racialized start-up founders Steve Bannon, former Trump strategist, said overpopulate executive roles in Silicon Valley. Economic nationalism depends on hierarchies of race and economic practice to mobilize people in the name of whiteness and economy. ...

advocates of remix culture protected white difference by reconfiguring legalities to sanction curatorial creativities of “remix” while criminalizing the networks of production and circulation that made modernity’s media available where access failed to serve the project of profit. ...

China produced the larger numbers of industrial designers with which IDEO had to compete. Rather than competing, IDEO protected North American difference. Powerful institutions like Stanford minted and assisted in the circulation of this “mystical,” empathetic, creative vision of labor and personhood that requires the work of manufacturing workers, industrial designers, miners, and others to matter, but renders those labors mechanical and “easy.” ...

On its face, design thinking appears as a form of engineering that integrates feminized rationalities of storytelling and empathy. Yet to treat design thinking as a feminist practice ignores the global divisions of labor and distributions of value that make this sensibility of touching, feeling, and making valuable and effective.
design_thinking  methodology  epistemology  colonialism  gender 
7 days ago
Cracks appear in Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto waterfront plan after fanfare - The Globe and Mail
(In the meantime, Sidewalk, which insists that none of its ideas is set in stone, has launched a public relations campaign that includes citizen workshops, a "design jam" and free summer camp for kids.)...

"The ultimate management of it is something that we will figure out as we move forward," he said. "But I think any sense of the notion that this is government turning over the regulatory or supervisory or administrative functions of government to some private entity is just not accurate."

Still, Sidewalk's response to Waterfront Toronto's request for proposal does call for radical changes to zoning and the building code and warns that "opportunities for innovation in the areas of transportation and energy may require substantial forbearances from existing laws and regulations."
smart_cities  sidewalk_labs  public_process  public_design 
7 days ago
Sensor city: Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto project triggers debate over data - The Globe and Mail
Concerns have begun to emerge, however, that uncritically embracing the opportunity of Quayside could set precedents that stifle Canada's potential. And a growing number of Canadian tech leaders are beginning to ask: If data generated by Canadian cities creates value, shouldn't Canadians share in it?...

How Canada's next generation of infrastructure is built will determine who gets the most value and competitive advantage from it - not just now, but in 10, 20, even 50 years, as cities evolve, innovation blossoms and unanticipated revenue streams emerge. Many tech leaders are calling for a national data strategy, similar to those being discussed across Europe, to ensure that Canada doesn't unwittingly sign away the chance for economic spinoffs. And while Ottawa is promising such a strategy in the coming months, it may not come in time to address Alphabet's Toronto conquest....

Sidewalk has discussed creating a trust to own the data generated by the Quayside project, which Mr. Doctoroff said might be a more independent path than having it handled by governments. It has also promised not to commercialize the data, but Mr. Doctoroff said the company has not ruled out "ultimately licensing the technology" developed in Toronto as a way to monetize the project...

Without a cohesive national strategy, Canada's data risks being taken advantage of, says Ben Bergen, executive director of the Council of Canadian Innovators, which is chaired by former Research in Motion Ltd. co-CEO Jim Balsillie...

forthcoming strategy would address some of the issues Canada's tech community is raising: "Who owns the data? Who will benefit from data? Who monetizes the data? What are some of the ethical issues around that?" In Ontario, Economic Development Minister Steven Del Duca said in an interview that questions around Sidewalk's proposals for Toronto have "focused" the province's need to act, and multiple ministries are working together on a cohesive plan: "We can't afford to wait five or 10 years."
data_privacy  smart_cities  sidewalk_labs  privacy  big_data 
7 days ago
Cartographers Without Borders
...the drone’s spatial resolution affords a degree of photographic detail that far outpaces that of satellite data. That is, Kowadad has sharper eyes than the Guyanese government—which means Fredericks can present real-time evidence to the state, at a higher quality than that to which it has access, when illegal loggers and miners hurdle over their concession boundaries and infringe upon Wapichan forest lands….

Mapping is a means to establish land claims on an ontological footing equal to the government’s. The drone, which resembles an exaggerated model airplane and was assembled via YouTube and Skype tutorials with the onsite help of the Oakland-based nonprofit Digital Democracy, is the latest tool to aid the efforts….

For the state, the forest is strategic. It is either to be conserved or exploited (but never lived in). Decisions must be made about the relative merits of biodiversity and resource extraction and tourism. Perhaps a forest is valuable to the state because it can be logged for timber. ...

Parcels must be divvied. And to align with the logic of private property, these decisions must be mapped. For communities residing in and around forests—who may be quite literally written out of the equation—the map simultaneously speaks and silences. The erasure of community by mapping is a reminder of the enterprise’s inherently sticky subjectivity. …

It is a small irony that the neoliberal hollowing of the state and its twin cults of individualism and privatization would pave the road for decentralized counter-cartographies….

Overlapping permits have led to a situation in which “130 percent of the total area of West Kalimantan is now covered by concessions for mining, palm oil, logging, and pulp and paper plantations,” according to a 2017 study by Indonesian scholar-activist Irendra “Radja” Radjawali and his colleagues….

“The government, the military, the companies—they all use maps,” he explained, speaking shortly after Fredericks back in Paris. “We have to counter-map. We have to use the very same technology to fight back.”…

in a case heard before the Constitutional Court of Indonesia—unrelated to the question of concession boundaries per se—drone orthophotos of West Kalimantan were accepted as supporting evidence of detrimental environmental effects of mining in the region. When the court ruled against the mining corporations in the case in question, environmental activists and civil society organizations celebrated it as having set a precedent for the evidentiary use of counter-maps in the legal system.

In Guyana, Fredericks contends that his central cause is the preservation of traditional knowledge. When we last spoke, he reflected on how it was the proliferation of cell phones among the young people in Shulinab Village that had originally motivated him to seek out ways “to use technology to our benefit”—that is, not as another vector of Western influence but as a means of upholding and elevating indigenous practices.

It’s a quiet little paradox, and one that suggests Amerindian and other indigenous cartographers are often fighting two battles at once: one on the legal front, in an effort to ensure community mapping techniques count as admissible evidence in court; the other epistemic, in which indigenous ontologies square off against Western (colonial) mapping practices.

The latter case is often fraught with compromise. Fixing borders cartographically, for example, may threaten to cement something traditionally conceptualized as fluid or shared. Take, for example, software developer Victor Temprano’s efforts to crowdsource and superimpose Native and First Nations’ territory on a map of North America at Native-Land.ca. To settler eyes, the result is forceful and reorienting. But these territorial boundaries were often never written down as such. At risk of generalizing across diverse systems of indigenous land tenure: they were delineated orally or ecologically or seasonally or cyclically—or, in the case of communal ownership, they didn’t really exist at all.

Fixing borders can not only be misleading, but dangerous. The act of accepting a given state’s administrative units can in turn be co-opted by the state for further land-grabs.
cartography  mapping  drones  indigenous 
7 days ago
Big Brother Goes Digital | by Simon Head | The New York Review of Books
How have the corporate information-technology community and its academic allies justified these practices and the violations of human dignity and autonomy they entail...

From Brynjolfsson and McAfee one would never know that among large US corporations Amazon has relied perhaps most heavily on a combination of surveillance systems to control both its shop floor and its middle management workforce, and to push the performance of both to the limit. It tags its shop floor employees with micro-computers that constantly measure how long they take to load, unload, and shelve packages at Amazon depots. If the timings set by management are not met, even by a few seconds, the computer starts beeping and the employee gets rebuked. ....

The managers are not to blame, in this determinist view, for the human consequences of the “second machine age”: jobs are outsourced, while employees are laid off, deskilled, relentlessly monitored, and forced to settle for precarious and poorly paid jobs. The responsibility for dealing with these casualties is dumped onto the state. But by airbrushing out the decisions corporate managers can—and do—make over how to use technologies like Pentland’s PA systems, Brynjolfsson and McAfee are effectively keeping employees in the dark about the forces that lower their quality of life and their standard of health.

...the more workers have to meet preestablished output targets and respond to real-time analysis of their performance, the fewer opportunities they have to widen their earning power by refining their judgment, experience, and skills.
self_tracking  surveillance  quantified_self 
7 days ago
Classifying Books, Classifying People – The Bytegeist Blog – Medium
Jess noticed that certain kinds of history books weren’t getting Dewey numbers in the 900s. Books that cover the history of the civil rights movement, immigrant histories, and women’s history were getting sent to the 300s — the social sciences section in Dewey — in a way that felt idiosyncratic to Jess.

Elements of the Dewey Decimal System also felt wrong to some of her students. “It seems like most of these should be in history because their stories contributed to history and need to be an acknowledged part of the story,” said Emily, a student at Bard. “And if you’re in history, you’re only going to find the stories of white men. Based on the Dewey Decimal System.”...

Barbara recommends working within Dewey to reform the system rather than throwing it out entirely. Most librarians have opted to do just that. Creating a classification system is really complicated. The Dewey Decimal System is flexible enough to accommodate changes. ...
libraries  classification  Dewey 
7 days ago
Bad Dewey | Goldsmiths Library Blog
Let’s take a brief foray outside the 305s to look at LGBT+ rights and their journey through Dewey 5. LGBT groups of people first made it into the system in 1932 under the straight up offensive ‘abnormal psychology’. By 1989 they had been moved to the differently offensive section for ‘social problems’. So where are they now? The good news is the sections themselves use modern, acceptable terms and they’re found in the section ‘306.7 – Sexual orientation, transgenderism, intersexuality’. The bad news is that 306.7 sandwiches LGBT+ people between prostitution and child trafficking on one side and fetishes and BDSM on the other.

Rather than classifying the LGBT+ community in an area dedicated to sex and surrounded by a whiff of deviancy, I would argue that LGBT+ people should be classed in the 305s as a group of people, because that is what they are.

That brings us to one of Deweys most egregious failings – its marginalisation of most of the world and its legacy of racism6. Entire books have been written about this and I will only be scratching the surface. Melvil Dewey published his classification system in the period immediately after the post-civil war reconstruction in America ended. This context undoubtedly shaped his treatment of African Americans, whom he referred to as “negroes”. They appeared in only two sections – under Biology and Slavery – in a reflection of the United States’ (and indeed the world’s) continuing preoccupation with white supremacy.
classification  Dewey 
12 days ago
Thousands of Tiny Futures | Machinology
It is in such political archaeologies that Afrofuturism and many later ethnofuturisms (as they are sometimes coined) emerge. Whatever the collective term might be, Afrofuturism, Sinofuturism, Gulf Futurism, Black Quantum Futurism and other current versions speak of the multiplication of futures in contemporary art and visual culture (Parikka 2018). Some of it feels like future overturned. For Gulf Futurism, and in works by artists such as Sophia Al Maria, the placement of a future that already arrived is read against the backdrop of the architectural built environments in the Arabian Gulf states. The artificial environments that work both horizontally and vertically as significant elements coined also as Dubai Speed (Bromber et al. 2016: 1) speak of one particular version of capitalist futures. Built from oil and fossil pasts, such cities and environments necessitate imaginaries of the future: how are architectures, building materials and infrastructures primed at the back of fossil fuels for a post-fossil life? While a key archaeological question for Walter Benjamin was how to read the city through its fragments as a slow emergence of capitalist consumer culture, the current version in such situations is how the city is imagined towards a future while trying to deal with that industrial legacy and its toxic environments.
futurism  afrofuturism 
13 days ago
Discover Fascinating Vintage Maps From National Geographic's Archives
Now, for the first time, National Geographic has compiled a digital archive of its entire editorial cartography collection — every map ever published in the magazine since the first issue in October 1888.

The collection is brimming with more than 6,000 maps (and counting), and you’ll have a chance to see some of the highlights as the magazine’s cartographers explore the trove and share one of their favorite maps each day.
mapping  cartography  map_history 
14 days ago
Apple is rebuilding Maps from the ground up | TechCrunch
The coupling of high-resolution image data from car and satellite, plus a 3D point cloud, results in Apple now being able to produce full orthogonal reconstructions of city streets with textures in place. This is massively higher-resolution and easier to see, visually. And it’s synchronized with the “panoramic” images from the car, the satellite view and the raw data. These techniques are used in self-driving applications because they provide a really holistic view of what’s going on around the car. But the ortho view can do even more for human viewers of the data by allowing them to “see” through brush or tree cover that would normally obscure roads, buildings and addresses.

This is hugely important when it comes to the next step in Apple’s battle for supremely accurate and useful Maps: human editors.

Apple has had a team of tool builders working specifically on a toolkit that can be used by human editors to vet and parse data, street by street. The editor’s suite includes tools that allow human editors to assign specific geometries to flyover buildings (think Salesforce tower’s unique ridged dome) that allow them to be instantly recognizable. It lets editors look at real images of street signs shot by the car right next to 3D reconstructions of the scene and computer vision detection of the same signs, instantly recognizing them as accurate or not.

Another tool corrects addresses, letting an editor quickly move an address to the center of a building, determine whether they’re misplaced and shift them around. It also allows for access points to be set, making Apple Maps smarter about the “last 50 feet” of your journey. You’ve made it to the building, but what street is the entrance actually on? And how do you get into the driveway? With a couple of clicks, an editor can make that permanently visible.
mapping  apple  cartography  point_cloud  machine_vision 
14 days ago
Accurat's Perfectly Imperfect Approach to Data Visualization | | Eye on Design
Last year, Lupi published a manifesto of sorts, outlining her and Accurat’s more “humanistic” approach to data. In it, she describes a less technical approach to data visualization; one where qualitative information (human sentiment, for example) is just as important as the quantitative (i.e. earnings report numbers). If done correctly, the two can live alongside each other—the fuzziness of one adding nuance to the hardness of the other.

“People aren’t used to seeing data as something imperfect,” Rossi admits. But there’s a crucial distinction to make between inaccuracy and the imperfection that’s bound to show up in any human-gathered dataset. In many cases, accurately depicting a dataset means including its flaws—its biases, its approximations, its uncertainty. For Accurat, those flaws are where the data becomes interesting. It’s an opportunity to make data feel more human, beautiful, and true.
data_visualization  methodology  epistemology 
14 days ago
Scholarly publishing is broken. Here’s how to fix it | Aeon Ideas
The European Commission has called for full, immediate open access to all scientific publications by 2020 – something often mocked for being unrealistic, and that current growth trends suggest we will fail to achieve. But it is unrealistic only if one focuses on the narrow view of the current system.

If we diversify our thinking away from the superficial field of journals and articles, and instead focus on the power of networked technologies, we can see all sorts of innovative models for scholarly communication. One ideal, based on existing services, would be something much more granular and continuous, with communication and peer review as layered, collaborative processes: envisage a hosting service such as GitHub combined with Wikipedia combined with a Q&A site such as Stack Exchange. Imagine using version control to track the process of research in real time. Peer review becomes a community-governed process, where the quality of engagement becomes the hallmark of individual reputations. Governance structures can be mediated through community elections. Critically, all research outputs can be published and credited – videos, code, visualisations, text, data, things we haven’t even thought of yet. Best of all, a system of fully open communication and collaboration, with not an ‘impact factor’ (a paper’s average number of citations, used to rate journals) in sight....

Such a system of scholarly communication requires the harmonising of three key elements: quality control and moderation, certification and reputation, and incentives for engagement. For example, it would be easy to have a quality-control process in which instead of the closed and secretive process of peer review, self-organised and unrestricted communities collaborate together for research to attain verification and validation. The recklessly used impact factor can be replaced by a reward system that altruistically recognises the quality of engagement, as defined by how content is digested by a community, which itself can be used to unlock new abilities within such a system.
publishing  academia  peer_review  open_access 
14 days ago
Intellectuals and power: A conversation between Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze
A theory is exactly like a box of tools. It has nothing to do with the signifier. It must be useful. It must function. And not for itself. If no one uses it, beginning with the theoretician himself (who then ceases to be a theoretician), then the theory is worthless or the moment is inappropriate. We don't revise a theory, but construct new ones; we have no choice but to make others. It is strange that it was Proust, an author thought to be a pure intellectual, who said it so clearly: treat my book as a pair of glasses directed to the outside; if they don't suit you, find another pair; I leave it to you to find your own instrument, which is necessarily an investment for combat. A theory does not totalise; it is an instrument for multiplication and it also multiplies itself. It is in the nature of power to totalise and it is your position. and one I fully agree with, that theory is by nature opposed to power. As soon as a theory is enmeshed in a particular point, we realise that it will never possess the slightest practical importance unless it can erupt in a totally different area.
theory  media_theory  pedagogy  advising 
18 days ago
Digital Dust – Jay Owens – Medium
Dust would seem to be the most material of things, sometimes the most ultimately material: it’s what is left of an object when all form, structure, context and legibility are stripped away — when the object is destroyed, and only the fact of its materiality remains.

Dust would seem, therefore, to be the antithesis of the digital, the opposite of its binary 0s and 1s. Digital means data, virtual and immaterial; it’s black and white, crisply demarcated, perfectly defined. Dust is grey, and deeply, existentially fuzzy.

So obviously I’m going to argue that the digital is dusty as hell.

This argument has three parts: first, the desire for the digital to become dust in the form of sensor devices shrinking to a tiny, dusty scale. ...

Second, the problem of the digital gathering dust, and aging and disintegrating over time....

The biggest challenge is that communication is expensive: transmitting one bit of information to the outside world ‘costs’ the same amount of energy as 100,000 CPU operations, says Prabal Dutta, a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Keeping a smart dust mote constantly ‘awake’, monitoring and transmitting, requires a larger solar cell and so it isn’t very micro; a smart dust mote that only wakes up and samples occasionally, however, thereby isn’t very smart....

“I think the long-term prospects for neural dust are not only within nerves and the brain, but much broader,“ said Michel Maharbiz. “Having access to in-body telemetry has never been possible because there has been no way to put something supertiny superdeep. But now I can take a speck of nothing and park it next to a nerve or organ, your GI tract or a muscle, and read out the data.“....

Every digital storage medium decays. Solid-state drives & flash memory see electrical charges leak away due to imperfect insulation. Hard drives & floppy disks are magnetic media, and thereby decay as bits lose their magnetic orientation. ...

In the last twenty years, a new discourse of infinite remembering has grown in seeming opposition to the death drive: Big Data. An ideology in which the sheer size of the dataset itself is seen as determining the value and potential insight....

Your training dataset is gap-riddled and inherently biased. It’s lossy. Unsupervised learning methods exist too — deep belief nets, generative adversarial networks — which can find patterns or structure in unlabelled data. But the patterns they find are low-dimensional, and also rather challengingly unverifiable, given the primary data is unlabelled. That is, it’s still messy.

The outputs of machine learning algorithms often acknowledge this in some ways, because they are probabilistic. They cannot specify their blind spots, they don’t know what they don’t know — but they do give confidence estimates for their ability to classify each piece of content (with lower confidence in less familiar items), and express these classifications in probability terms (this meme is 70% likely to contain a cat, 15% a doge).

That is, the outputs of this digital analysis might be described as grey-scale.

That’s before we consider the ways in which forgetting is a cutting edge area of machine learning research. Natalie Fratto outlines three: Long-Term Short-Term Memory networks, Elastic Weight Compresssion, and Bottleneck Theory.
dust  digital  materiality  waste  archives  storage  decay  forgetting 
18 days ago
Policing Is an Information Business | Urban Omnibus
Policing and urban planning have a lot in common. Both cops and planners’ ostensible goal is to make the city a more livable place, though this goal is constantly haunted by a question: Livable for whom? Both transform a public’s experience of a city, generally by imposing and enforcing rules and systems that change how people move through space. In the United States, public understanding of both professions is to some extent influenced by romanticized media narratives which heavily emphasize cities like Los Angeles and New York. Both sectors have a particularly heavy fetish for maps and data as mechanisms for understanding and shaping cities, a fetish that has intensified in the past few decades thanks to advances in technology.

Where the two professions diverge starkly is in matters of time and violence. Where urban planning might be considered a slower, bureaucratic, deliberative process, policing is expected to engage with and respond to city conditions and events in real time — or, increasingly, ahead of time. And unlike urban planners, cops are permitted to respond with firearms and Tasers.

That being said, planning is fully capable of enacting slower, more systemic acts of violence onto a city, and like policing, such violence can be enabled and plausibly denied by sufficiently complex data and maps. Where the urban planner has eminent domain and urban renewal, the police officer has crime hotspots and risk terrain modeling. Where a planner might control a city through highway design and traffic flows, a police department’s automated license plate readers or mobile cell site simulators render public movement into potential patterns of criminal behavior...

Of course, as tremendous instruments of power and violence, maps have been used by police (agents of the former, authorized to hold a monopoly on the latter) for decades. But in the 1990s, the emergence of desktop GIS software for and in police departments dramatically increased the data collection and storage capacities of that “information business.” The technology’s adoption coincided with the era of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and his avuncular lieutenant Jack Maple. This is where many histories tend to pinpoint the transformational moment for crime mapping: Bratton and Maple tracking turnstile jumpers in the New York City subway system, Maple outlining a four-point theory of policing management on a napkin at Elaine’s restaurant (“Accurate, timely intelligence; rapid deployment, effective tactics; relentless follow-up and assessment”), New York’s crime rate precipitously falling thanks to the data-driven innovations of CompStat....

The first CompStat maps were made with pins, paper, and transparent acetate. The NYPD technically didn’t have the budget to support their cost, so the New York City Police Foundation provided a $10,000 donation. Although the department would eventually switch to computerized maps, displayed on eight foot-by-eight foot screens in One Police Plaza, the image of police officers fumbling with pushpins and acetate film they could barely afford suggests a surprisingly scrappy origin story for a management strategy so often associated with precision and technical expertise — even if its own name is both vague and technically meaningless....

With the suspension of traditional legal oversight over surveillance, the NYPD Intelligence Bureau expanded the geography of threats to public disorder beyond the broken window and inside the perfectly-maintained façades of mosques, restaurants, and internet cafés in predominantly Muslim communities.

That geography fell primarily to the purview of the Demographics Unit, which employed a mix of street-level surveillance and undercover work with mapping and analysis of publicly available data.
predictive_policing  smart_cities  governance  urban_planning  policing  mapping 
18 days ago
How to make faculty service demands more equitable (opinion)
How can we get the shirker do more? How might we encourage the colleague who keeps volunteering to do less? How can we make faculty members’ work activities more transparent without embarrassing colleagues or making them angry? How do we credit faculty service when people do different things and contribute at different levels?

Those are exactly the questions posed by the Faculty Workload and Rewards Project, a research project supported by the National Science Foundation and created to help academic departments diagnose equity issues and then design work policies, practices and conditions to address them. As principal investigator, I have worked over the last three years with state leaders and scholars Joya Misra and Audrey Jaeger, co-PI Elizabeth Beise, and research assistant Courtney Lennartz, along with academic departments in four-year institutions in North Carolina, Massachusetts and Maryland.

We have learned that departments can shape better, fairer divisions of labor with and for their faculty members. But both faculty members and chairs (or at least a decent proportion of the faculty within the department) need to want to change. Drawing from “nudge” theory in behavioral economics, it is in many ways about changing the “choice architecture” within which divisions of labor occur within academic departments.
academia  service  committees 
21 days ago
A Cloud Is Not Just a Cloud | Difference Engines
Microsoft’s, Google’s, and Amazon’s rush to provide cloud translation and face recognition for government, including border patrol and spy agencies (source), alerts us to how society’s computing skills have been directed to technologies of surveillance and control rather than human flourishing.

As algorithms and the cloud services that run them have entered into government work, researchers demonstrate how automated bureacuratic judgement becomes even less accountable to oversight, audit, and appeal.
computing  ethics  data_science  liberal_arts  infrastructure 
21 days ago
We, the tenured, must commit to making the university a better place | University Affairs
A lot of us with tenure are watching PhD students leave their programs without finishing, go into debt, suffer lousy adjunct jobs and destroy their mental health. We are watching our undergrad programs turned into scaled-up piecework, our administrative structures turn managerial. What can we do?

Because we, the tenured, are the ones to do it. Who else? Marginalized scholars? Contingent workers? Trustees and boards? No. If anyone has the footing, power and safety to push back, it’s tenured faculty. What are you going to do?

Yes, yes, I know: you are just one mid-level associate trying to finish your book, get that grant, grade those assignments. You’re a nobody. Except you’re a nobody with very strong job protection, a stable salary, benefits and institutional access. That is not nothing. Now what?

You could do some positive things: push for better, stable contracts for adjuncts and lecturers. Push for the continuation of tenure lines. Push to protect people below you from the depredations of academic exploitation. Push for the things you claim to value in your research.
academia  tenure  mentoring 
21 days ago
ATLAS OF PLACES is a non-profit educational and political journal of architecture, landscape, urbanism, photography, cartography, print and academic. Its goal is to question the politics of places and to stand out in an increasingly uniform architectural media landscape for its critical vision/research, in-depth analysis of contemporary issues and publications that illuminate the state and relationship between architecture, technology and society. We produce and share essays, criticisms, photographies, maps, designs, narrative journalism, as well as academic projects and university publications that deserve a wide audience.
cartography  mapping  landscape  architecture  photography  presentation_images 
22 days ago
What is the shape of networks? How do we experience network sculptures? Our goal with this project is to bring networks to life as physical objects, a testimony to their physical reality in spite of being an abstract mathematical construct. Networks are commonly visualized as node-link diagrams where nodes are generally represented as point-like objects and links as one-dimensional lines. We add physicality to the nodes and links to create a manifestation of a network in form of a three-dimensional object.
networks  data_aesthetics  network_architecture 
24 days ago
JS Rubin on Twitter: "Serious question as I redesign my Intro to Anthro class over the summer. How do you deal with colonial legacy of the discipline in an intro class? Teach it and critique it? Or ignore it and build the canon you want? (Links to good sy
Serious question as I redesign my Intro to Anthro class over the summer. How do you deal with colonial legacy of the discipline in an intro class? Teach it and critique it? Or ignore it and build the canon you want? (Links to good syllabi greatly appreciated)
anthropology  teaching  syllabus  colonialism 
24 days ago
Rethinking the Refugee Camp - CityLab
Describing the refugee crisis as “a challenge too big for governments and NGOs alone,” What Design Can Do came up with The Refugee Challenge, an invitation to designers, architects and thinkers to come up with creative solutions. In July, five finalists were selected, all of whom will receive financial and advisory support. Projects include Agrishelter, a temporary and ecological shelter that can be quickly built and integrated into urban spaces; Welcome Card, a streamlined identification card and pass for refugee seekers designed to give quick access to essential information; Eat & Meet, which transforms renovated city buses into food trucks run by refugees; Makers Unite, a project envisioned to unite makers and creative thinkers across refugee and local communities; and Reframe Refugees, a photo agency run by refugees.
camps  refugees  design  humanitarianism 
24 days ago
Mother Earth: Public Sphere, Biosphere, Colonial Sphere - Journal #92 June 2018 - e-flux
he sought out those who resisted the onslaught of colonialism and then he characterized this active political resistance as a form of unchanging stasis. The role these people played in Bateson’s ecology of mind was classically colonial. They provided him a form of difference that would energize his own internal unfolding. In continually encountering distinct regions of mind (among them the Iatmul, the Balinese, US military intelligence, Western science and epistemology, new age ecology), he enriched himself with the selves of others. ...

Still, the itinerary of Bateson’s historiography of mind followed the rhetoric of Western civilizational self-aggrandizement.
anthropology  epistemology  colonialism 
26 days ago
Google and Uber Race to Dominate the Future of Search: Maps | WIRED
Uber isn’t alone in its quest to turbo-charge maps: On your phone, the map app is the new search box. Uber, like a lot of companies, anticipates that mapping will become the way that people merge their digital and physical lives: a real-time search function for the world immediately around you. But that means maps are about to become a lot more sophisticated. “The level of detail and precision...are core to what we do,” says head of product Manik Gupta, who spent more than seven years working on Google Maps before he defected to Uber.

Search has always been partially about location: if Google knows you are in Indiana, you’ll get more meaningful results when you type “today’s weather” into your laptop. Traditionally, though, the physical and digital worlds have been divided. You use search when you need information, and a map when you need to get someplace....

In addition to its Google Maps app, Google powers many of the mapping interfaces other businesses are building. In May, Google rebranded this mapping business as Google Maps Platform. The revamp, the first since it launched the tools 13 years ago, lumps its 18 developer tools into just three categories, making them easier to understand, and introduced a clearer pricing structure. Google also began rolling out specialized sets of mapping features for specific industries like gaming and ride-sharing, where it began testing its ride-sharing offering with Lyft, in which it is an investor, last fall.
mapping  search 
26 days ago
Labs, courts and altars are also traveling truth-spots | Aeon Essays
Oracles such as Delphi have fallen out of favour as homes for legitimate understandings. These days, we build tailor-made places where diverse judgments about different kinds of realities get settled: churches and other sacred spaces for sustaining transcendental verities; laboratories for making scientific claims about the natural world; courthouses for deciding the facts of a case. Such specialised ‘truth-spots’ lend credibility to beliefs or claims that come from there. They are not merely settings where decisions about beliefs and propositions just happen to be made. Rather, through their outward materiality, their geographic location and the stories we share about them, these places contribute actively and vitally to the making of truth....

conversion efforts could not wait for permanent churches to be built throughout Mesoamerica, and so itinerant monks began to conduct Catholic mass in makeshift open-air ‘chapels’ as they moved from settlement to settlement. Proper Catholic mass – and especially the baptisms that were reported to involve hundreds of converts – did not require a church building per se, but only a space sanctified by symbolic objects: an altar (ideally made of stone), a cross, a chalice for the Eucharist.
sacred_spaces  camps  temporary_spaces  epistemology 
26 days ago
Network visualisations show what we can and what we may know | Aeon Ideas
The esoteric secrets of the Universe had long occupied religious and hermetic thinkers, and the cartographic work of mapping wind currents, sea currents and trade routes – to which Moreno’s work bore comparison in the Times’ metaphors – had already been underway for centuries when Moreno created his sociograms. Looking at Moreno’s visualisations alongside those of earlier thinkers illustrates why Moreno might be remembered not for heroically founding network visualisation but for quietly and successfully translating the imagistic aspirations of natural philosophy into a new iconography of the social....

Kircher produced speculative drawings that posited a global system of fiery canals that fed the world’s volcanoes, and diagrams that traced geometrical pathways of echoes through space. Like Moreno 300 years later, Kircher had dedicated his career to developing ‘probable imitation[s] of Nature’s secret realms and forces’, and, it is said, ‘could not think except in images’. ...

It was Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) who identified a ‘river in the ocean’ that strengthened associations between some places and weakened those between others. He called it the Gulf Stream. The map that he produced with his cousin Timothy Folger revealed the true forces of association....
networks  network_map  data_visualization 
26 days ago
Writing for Research – Storyboarding research
In fact prototyping research is just as valuable in research contexts, as it is in a wide range of business and science contexts. ‘Prototyping’ is building any kind of cheap and easy-to- make simulacrum of a final product at a very early stage in its production, especailly the stage of deciding what to try to produce. Protoyping can extend to building something a bit fancier, a ‘minimum viable product’ in business-speak, that can do some of the key functions of the intended final product. Prototyping saves time and money being spent on things that won’t work; or that won’t be acceptable in the form envisaged; or that have flaw or problems that only become manifest when we try to make them even a bit more concrete. Prototypes often fail, but mostly in a particular kind of way, one where ideas are ‘pivoted’ — significantly modified or re-orientated in what the product is trying to do, rather than abandoned altogether.

Scientific and academic researchers often neglect to create prototypes. The ethos of ‘research’ tends to assume that we don’t know what the answers are at the start, and so should avoid preconceptions. The feeling often in that (in some obscure way) it would be biasing to try and look forward to possible answers or outcomes from research before it gets done. The temptation then is to get your head down, get on with assembling materials to ‘test’ the research ‘hypotheses’ and see what happens — not ‘waste time speculating’ about what the ‘findings’ may turn out to be.....

Visualizing your final product is also invaluable in research contexts, and again storyboarding directly helps here. The benefits for scientists and academics include:

Triggering a cumulation of ideas early enough to help shape the research process, rather than these being just unanswered questions left dangling in the ‘writing up’. One paragraph tends to suggest another, perhaps a possible counter-argument, and that in turn may suggest a rebuttal argument. None of this is obvious before the first paragraph gets written. Similarly, looking hard at a completed chart or table almost always reveals patterns (or possible interpretations) highlighting a need for another chart or table.
Facing up to inconsistencies. We all have a strong natural capability to maintain contradictory ideas or arguments in our private thinking, or even in oral expositions and conversations. Writing out arguments, or otherwise visualizing outputs or deliverables in concrete ways, helps counteract maintaining inconsistent inconsistent commitments and arguments. Committing ideas to screen or to paper forces you to face up to weaknesses, refine arguments to avoid problems, or fashion counter-responses or potential solutions for things that seem to clash.
Avoiding procrastination by encouraging researchers to complete known requirements as soon as they feasibly can. If you can foresee that it will take two paragraphs to explain Concept A; or a sub-section must explain Method X; or that a data table will be needed on aspect G — well, why not get that written/done now, instead of in a mad rush at the end, or up against a deadline?
Focusing on a research narrative, early on. Although a storyboard must includes critical, substantive details, it also focuses on getting across overall messages in an accessible way. For a research project, article or PhD chapter a storyboard directs your attention relentlessly to the value-added of the research, the key findings and conclusions, the ‘bottom line’ argument....

By contrast a storyboard is organic and dynamic. As soon as a component can be sketched in, it is included. And as and when the sketch can be filled out, then an image or summary of the completed component sits in its place in the evolving overall structure. Click on any element in a storyboard and there will be something lying behind it, depending on the stage of development of that component of the report or article.
research  research_tools 
26 days ago
works | erin sexton
ERIN SEXTON is a Canadian artist whose works could be described as ritualistic science fiction experiments. They accelerate toward speculative futures where alternate modes of perception might somehow liberate us. In her sculptures and installations she tries to blur the boundaries between abstract models and everyday objects, searching for playful potential within paradox. Global warming and existential threat are undercurrents in her work, explored through expanded notions of time and materiality. As a licensed amateur radio operator (LB9OH/VE2SXN), transmission and collaboration are central to her practice. She is currently based in Bergen, Norway.
sound_art  radio_art  signal  electromagnetic_waves  spectrum 
29 days ago
dOCUMENTA 13: Czechoslovak Radio 1968, by Tamás St. Turba – SOCKS
When Czechoslovakia was invaded by Soviet army in 1968, people resisted to the repression of political reforms through creative means. After people were forbidden to listen to radio broadcasts, they started attaching antennas to bricks as a sign of protest.

Nothing more than painted bricks, these fake radios started to spread among the population pretending to listen to them, and although they were useless as a communication device, they were continuosly confiscated by the Russian Army. It is still unclear if this was caused by the genuine thought these were hidden audio equipments or because they were seen as anarchic pieces of art.
radio_art  protest  sound_art  things 
29 days ago
Signal to Noise – Lasse Scherffig
“Signal to Noise” is a radio based audio installation dealing with the concreteness of ideological discourses and the imaginary of the “Other”. Using two FM radio transmitters and a number of mobile radio receivers, the project creates a volatile acoustic space in which two concurring voices and ideologies compete by broadcasting on the same frequency. Carrying mobile radios, listeners permanently enact an ever-changing soundscape by moving through the space in which both transmitters interfere.

The minimal setup is composed of two radio stations using the same frequency which interfere in the exhibition space. By simultaneously broadcasting archive material from Radio Free Europe and Radio Romania the two transmissions effectively jam each other. It is only when someone carrying mobile radios or receivers moves through the space between both transmitters, that they can hear fragments from the two broadcasts. Listeners are thus caught between two logos (or two ideological positions), where beyond words, the ideological and media wars embody beings.
radio  radio_art  sound_art  transmission_art  electromagnetic_waves  jamming  language 
29 days ago
Julian Oliver on Twitter: "Hey Twitter, I need a hand with an upcoming course at an art school on radio/RF as a material in sound art, visual art and activism. What are your favourite examples of radio art/activism? My list feels a little incomplete.."
Hey Twitter, I need a hand with an upcoming course at an art school on radio/RF as a material in sound art, visual art and activism. What are your favourite examples of radio art/activism? My list feels a little incomplete..
sound_art  radio  radio_art  electromagnetic_waves 
4 weeks ago
Can Ultrasonic Noise Make You Sick? - WSJ
Can what you don’t hear hurt you? Researchers are studying whether the largely inaudible interplay of ultrasound beams from sensors and other devices can trigger headaches and dizziness....

Ultrasonic signals are almost everywhere but the side-effects from so many transmissions remain a mystery, several experts said. Ultrasonic sound is the workhorse of electronics, an essential part of devices that are fixtures of public spaces. They include public-address systems, smart street lights and automatic door openers. In hotels, offices and stores, air-quality sensors, motion detectors and automatic light switches often rely on ultrasonic transmitters to relay readings or trigger alarms. Typically, the signals fall outside the range of sound that all but the most sensitive listeners can hear....

Advertisers embed ultrasonic tones into commercials to track consumer behavior across smartphones, TVs, tablets and computers. Shopping-mall operators deploy airborne ultrasound to drive off loitering youngsters, whose hearing is more sensitive to high-frequency noise....

In his studies of exposure in public places, he found that ultrasonic noise occasionally caused headaches, dizziness, and nausea among unsuspecting pedestrians, but those effects were always temporary....

Researchers in the U.S. and China who specialize in ultrasonic cybersecurity suggest that high-frequency noise generated by a badly engineered eavesdropping device could be at fault....

While most people don’t hear ultrasonic signals, Siri can. So can Alexa, Google Now, Cortana and other speech-recognition systems...

Under ordinary circumstances, almost no-one hears ultrasonic signals. But when two inaudible ultrasonic beams intersect, they can generate audible tones, at frequencies that could cause annoyance and pain, the scientists said.
ultrasonic  sound  listening  speech_recognition  machine_listening 
4 weeks ago
From the Red Sea to Hong Kong in 10 minutes – a stunning cargo-ship timelapse | Aeon Videos
Assembled from 80,000 photographs taken over the course of a month, this video traces a cargo ship’s path from the Red Sea to Hong Kong as it makes stops and captures scenes of storms, sunrises and squid boats along the way. With constellations swirling over the horizon’s line and oceans passing in a flash below it, the timelapse is a powerful reminder of human smallness, both in the scope of our planet and in the cosmos.
logistics  containers  video 
4 weeks ago
We imagine indigenous cultures as the epitome of caring and sharing. In scholarly and popular representations of Indigenous Australians, resources are freely shared within kin groups. Land is a cosmological actor and cannot be owned. Besides, survival in harsh environments requires complete cooperation. But traditionally in Indigenous Australian cultures, knowledge is anything but open (Keen 1994). Controlling the circulation of knowledge is the basis of traditional authority (perhaps all human societies are ‘knowledge economies’).

In postcolonial societies, the control of knowledge held by indigenous communities and produced from indigenous resources (including indigenous bodies and body parts) has become ‘political’ as well as ‘cultural’. Indigenous communities fight to maintain control over lands and peoples, and Western research is often in the firing line. Aware of the history of racial science and more recent scandals (Anderson 2002; Reardon 2005), indigenous people may be wary of participating in research (Smith 2012). Calls to global knowledge and the greater good that motivate ‘altruistic’ participation in the general community ring false to those who feel that scientific progress is made not for their benefit, but at their expense....

Everywhere we are struggling with when to share and when to withhold. Perhaps the critical point is not whether something is open or closed, but who has the control to make this decision. The world of open access proliferates the decisions that need to be made....

Yet when a journal is able to reach a readership no longer defined exclusively by members of a discipline (if this is ever the case), and anticipates that wider market of readers/consumers, does that not change the kinds of things (topics, concerns, methods) that are valued and thus supported by open-access journals and their editors, peer reviewers, etc.? Open access is not only about dissemination; it is about the expectation of an audience as a mode of scholarly production....

‘Opening’ work to collaboration with local actors (as described by Sharon above) does not necessary lead to greater equality. I think we should question the notions of the public sphere and of sharing that underlie normative understandings of open access. As any anthropologist who has read their Mauss can tell you, sharing can be a profoundly coercive practice as much as a leveling one. Sharing and collaboration restrain as much as they generate.
archives  data  open_access  openness  indigenous  anthropology 
4 weeks ago
Materialism : Patrice Maniglier |
1. Dogmatic Materialism
2. Critical Materialism (Marx & Engels)
3. Speculative Materialism (Lenin)
4. Structural Materialism (Althusser)
materialism  philosophy  theory 
4 weeks ago
reconstitute the world « Bethany Nowviskie
What kinds of indigenous knowledge do we neglect to represent—or fail to understand—in our digital libraries? What tacit and embodied understandings? What animal perspectives? What do we in fact choose, through those failures, to extinguish from history—and what does that mean at this precise cultural and technological moment? On the other hand, what sorts of records and recordable things should we let go—should we be working as hard as possible to protect from machine learning for the good of vulnerable communities and creatures—knowing, as we do, that technologies of collection and analysis are by nature tools of surveillance and structures of extractive power? And, finally—from an elegiac archive, a library of endings, can we foster new kinds of human—or at the very least, humane—agency? ...

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a Smithsonian-based international consortium and digitization collective of botanical and natural history libraries.... “Mining Biodiversity” was the theme of a productive 2015 NEH Digging into Data grant, which coupled novel text-mining and visualization techniques with crowdsourcing and outreach. And projects like PaleoDeepDive and GeoDeepDive represent AI-assisted efforts to pull out so-called “dark data” from its bibliographic tar pits: those idiosyncratic features in scientific journal literature like tables and figures, that have not easily leant themselves to structured searching and the assembly of comparative datasets. ... Meanwhile projects like Digital Life, out of the University of Massachusetts, “aim to preserve the heritage of life on Earth through creating and sharing high-quality… 3D models of living organisms.” ... They do this through photogrammetry, circling living creatures with their awesomely-named BeastcamTM, and converting the resulting, overlapping 2d images to highly-accurate 3d representations. And thus the field of biodiversity informatics continues to grow and pose data curation challenges of various sorts, ranging from the preservation and analysis of 3d models to large-scale environmental data generated through remote sensing, to the collection and analysis of, for instance, audio data relating to deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest. ... The use of machine learning in monitoring contexts of various sorts is rapidly becoming the norm, and it is big business more often than community-led conservation. Microsoft has recently announced an “AI for Earth” initiative which commits $50 million dollars in grant funds over the next 5 years for “artificial intelligence projects that support clean water, agriculture, climate, and biodiversity”...

And because we no longer design these little agents to understand things—we simply filter them based on their ability to pass tests—we don’t really understand, ourselves, how they work. Mostly we just understand those tests. ...

a truly successful set of machine learning algorithms can begin to produce its own training data to advance in understanding and pass more real-world tests. This is the generation of completely imagined, fictional and truly speculative collections: manufactured botany, or book pages—leaves that never were. It’s information that the machine has dreamt up from its past encounters with real-world data...

Abelardo Gil-Fournier is applying this technology to his artistic work on predictive landscapes, presented a couple of weeks ago as a workshop in Linz, called Machine Learning: An Earthology of Moving Landforms. This is (I quote) “ongoing research on the image character and temporality of planetary surfaces.” As his collaborator Jussi Parikka puts it, “we can experiment with the correlation of an “imaged” past (the satellite time-lapses) with a machine generated “imaged” future and test how futures work; how do predicted images compare against historical datasets and time-lapses and present their own … temporal landscapes meant to run just a bit ahead of [their] time.”...

Here we have Nao Tokui’s “Imaginary Soundscapes,” a “web-based sound installation, where viewers can freely walk around Google Street View and immerse themselves in an artificial soundscape [that is based on the visual qualities of real-world spaces, but has been wholly] “imagined” by… deep learning models.”...

I’d love to see, for instance, an artistic or analytical machine learning experiment using BHL collections and Scottish flower painter Patrick Syme’s 1814 update to Werner’s Nomenclature of Colors. This book has been recently digitized and republished by the Smithsonian. It contains “the color names used by naturalists, zoologists and archaeologists through the 19th century,” and it shaped Charles Darwin’s formal chromatic vocabulary on the voyage of the Beagle. How might we use machine learning to identify references to these standardized colors in images and texts throughout Western library collections, and put them into conversation with indigenous color-names and perspectives on creatures living and lost?
libraries  archives  ecology  machine_vision  artificial_intelligence  erasure  privacy  security  climate_change  speculation  deep_fakes 
4 weeks ago
The Personal Wake-Up Call to Prayers, a Ramadan Tradition, Is Endangered - The New York Times
For nearly 60 years, Mohammed Shafiq has braved New Delhi’s hot temperatures, a bad knee and evil spirits to wake up his neighbors for morning prayers and a final meal before sunrise during the holy month of Ramadan.

But nothing prepared him for the rise of New Delhi’s electricity grid and its many cellphones.

The 68-year-old Mr. Shafiq is known here as a town crier. The job has been made gradually obsolete by the arrival decades ago of the city’s electricity supply and recent improvements to the grid, powering up smartphones throughout the night and the alarm clocks that wake people up for prayer....

In much of the Middle East, Mr. Shafiq’s job is called “the suhoor drummer” or “musharati,” and the waking up of the neighborhood is done not with the incessant ringing of doorbells as in New Delhi, but with a large drum. The musharati call for the devout to wake up, eat their suhoor — a predawn meal — and perform prayers.

But that tradition, too, is dying, replaced by reliable alarm clocks or the rise of megacities, making the door-to-door wake-up call impossible as individual homes make way for high-rise apartments....

A lot has changed since Mr. Shafiq began making the rounds with his father and brothers when he was 10. Troupes of Quran-memorizers once walked these alleyways reciting verses from their holy book. But people became fatigued with their expectation of nightly alms and stopped giving.

Electricity has also transformed Old Delhi’s peaceful but eerily quiet streets into a bustling jumble of night markets. Under the glare of bare light bulbs, shoppers buy greasy fried chicken and juice from stalls and purchase gifts for loved ones or groceries for the home.
media_archaeology  media_city  voice  oral_culture  Islam 
4 weeks ago
The New Ethnographer – a space for sharing and analysing the contemporary challenges of anthropological research
We are the new ethnographers. All of the contributors to this blog are by researchers in the midst of, or who have recently completed fieldwork. All of us have navigated complex, challenging encounters in the process. Crucially, few of us have received adequate support, guidance or solidarity from supervisors or institutions.

We did not embark on fieldwork without some trepidation, and in some cases the process of conducting risk assessments and ethics clearance creates enough space to think through what the challenges of fieldwork might entail.  Indeed, junior scholars often seek out controversial, proverbially uncharted territories for their doctoral fieldwork, aware of the ever-shrinking job market and the need to have a topic that stands out from the crowd. But in our experience, and indeed as evidence suggests (see Pollard 2009), University risk assessments and ethics procedures are often seen by both doctoral students and their supervisors as hoops to jump through rather than meaningful exercises. It’s always tricky to get ethnographic fieldwork signed off; Only tell them what they need to know; You don’t want them to stop you from doing it. Words to this effect are words that many of us were told before beginning fieldwork. Furthermore, we are asked to rely on data far removed from our projects before we leave for the field, such as our national Foreign Office reports or news briefings that often do not reflect the real political situations on the ground .

Our point of departure here is to ask why it is that academic institutions are seemingly so unwilling to engage with these challenges critically, supportively, constructively – frankly, unwilling to engage at all. We are among many of our peers whose challenges have been met with a quite literal silence from our institutions. We find support and solidarity among our friends and peers, in the field and at home, none of whom are ‘qualified’ to really help us navigate these issues with the weight of the academy in mind. Nor is it their job to do so. Often supervisors are instructed to direct any “emotional” or “health related” concerns to university counselling staff or healthcare professions, to protect themselves for legal reasons.
ethnography  methodology 
5 weeks ago
Finland. Libraries are our place of freedom - Domus
For Finland, freespace, the leitmotif of this sixteenth edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale, is incarnated in public libraries. “Anyone is free to enter a library and enjoy,” explains the curator Anni Vartola. “A library is a place of mutual trust; you can borrow books or simply relax”. In other words, it is “the most democratic place in the world”, according to Doris Lessing. 

It just had to be the most literate country on the planet to point this out. In Finland – according to the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Association – there are 979 public libraries, that is, roughly one for every 5,400 inhabitants (almost double with respect, for example, to neighbouring Denmark or Italy, and 10 times greater than Portugal, where there’s one library for every 54,000 inhabitants). In the nation of Arto Paasilinna, 40% of the population uses libraries (as opposed to 9.6% in Germany) and each year borrows almost one hundred million books. 
finland  libraries  biennale  exhibition 
5 weeks ago
How the Ice Age Shaped New York - The New York Times
The intermittent ridge runs from Puget Sound to the Missouri River to Montauk Point on Long Island, forming the prominence that supports its old lighthouse. The ancient sheet of ice also left its mark on a very modern phenomenon: New York City.

The ice over Manhattan would have buried even the tallest skyscraper and was so heavy that it depressed the underlying bedrock. As it melted, giant boulders embedded deep within its flanks landed throughout what became the city. Many are still visible in Central Park, unlikely obelisks scored by time.

But the island was the last hurrah, and the mammoth sheet of ice ended immediately to the south, in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The terminal moraine, the mounds of rubble left behind, form much of their high ground.
ice_age  deep_time  geology  climate_change  new_york  topography 
6 weeks ago
Finland pays tribute to the public library at Venice Biennale 2018 - CNN Style
When "Freespace" was chosen as the the theme of this year's Architecture Biennale, commissioner Hanna Harris, director of ArchInfo Finland, saw an opportunity. She had already been contemplating the role of the library in Finnish culture for several years, slowly developing the idea for an exhibition. Meanwhile, the library had become a hot topic in Finland after the building of several exciting public libraries.

"Education for all is a principle of Finnish culture and libraries have always played an important part in that thinking. Learning together and active citizenship are at the core of Finnish life," Harris said in a phone interview....

To Harris, Finnish libraries are democratic, communal places for social inclusion -- "freespaces" in every sense. The official introduction to "Mind-Building" reminds us that libraries are protected in Finnish law as a noncommercial common ground for active citizenship, freedom of expression, intellectual and creative freedom.

Anni Vartola, an architecture critic and curator of "Mind-Building," has put together an exhibition that demonstrates a history of progressive library buildings. The projects begin with the first public library in Finland, the Neo-Renaissance Rikhardinkatu Public Library from 1881.
"The idea was to invest in architectural quality, decoration, artwork and uplifting spaces supported the objectives of the public library institution; to make the building architecturally so inviting that ordinary working-class people would want to come in, read newspapers, study books, learn about the world, and, thereby, enlighten themselves and thus become active, well-informed citizens. This basic principle still holds true," she said in an email....

As well as pushing the envelope in regard to architectural skill and style, Finnish libraries have an impressive record of being at the forefront of cultural progress and new thinking. Some of the first maker libraries (spaces where the public can borrow equipment and tools), for example, were founded in Finland, and today, some facilities offer the use of high-tech equipment such as 3-D printers and musical equipment free of charge.

In 2016, Finland implemented an act that states that libraries should contribute to the promotion of active citizenship, democracy and freedom of expression. Libraries are required, by law, to promote equal opportunities in accessing information whatever physical form that information takes. The proximity between the library and Finland's democratic society has never been closer.
libraries  finland 
6 weeks ago
Facing Icy Divide, VCs Seek to Make Cities Smarter - WSJ
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Social Capital is the first venture firm to form a partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, a Rockefeller Foundation-backed initiative focused on helping cities anticipate and adapt to challenges ranging from inefficient transportation to chronic water shortages.

Social Capital will back up to 10 startups addressing problems identified in collaboration with 100 Resilient Cities. The partnership also seeks to improve the sometimes tense relations between the tech industry and public officials.

100 Resilient Cities President Michael Berkowitz said public and private-sector leaders connected last year at a summit of city officials and investors, where he saw a deep divide between the two groups.

Some city officials resented the flouting of local regulations by the likes of Airbnb Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc., Mr. Berkowitz said. One mayor asked investors why startups should even be allowed in their cities. At the same time, the venture capitalists said city leaders didn’t understand the direction innovation is headed.

“It was so stark,” he said.

But Mr. Berkowitz is hopeful venture capitalists can be a part of repairing the divide between startups and city leaders, starting with this partnership. He was impressed by the Social Capital investors’ understanding of the city perspective on technology.

Social Capital focuses on solving hard problems and is willing to wait longer on returns so that it can back companies that fit into the firm’s big-picture vision to advance humanity, said Chamath Palihapitiya, chief executive of the firm, which he has called the “for-profit Justice League.”
smart_cities  funding  venture_capital 
6 weeks ago
Stitching Worlds connects the shared artistic research territory between arts, design, open culture, digital fabrication, information technology and electronics to the engineering and scientific methodologies of textile technology.

The project investigates textile technology as a controversial means for digital fabrication, particularly of the electronic object, based on two premises explored in former artistic research. Patterns in knitting, weaving and embroidery are essentially equivalent to digital codes in rapid manufacturing. Since patterns can be saved, copied, and distributed, textiles can be manifested in their physical form at different times and places, over and over again. Moreover, with the advent of electronically conductive fibres, it might be possible to adapt the use of textile machinery to translate patterns into electronic functions. Altered processes and materials can be used to produce electronic components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, and eventually complete electronic appliances.
textiles  weaving  fabric  computation  digital_fabrication  code 
6 weeks ago
Time OnLine
Time OnLine is a project by Daniel Rosenberg and the University of Oregon Libraries. The project explores a variety of timelines and other tools for visualizing history drawn from historical texts by presenting them in a new interactive digital format. The first of these was an interactive version of a game of historical facts designed by Samuel L. Clemens in the 1880s and produced and marketed in 1892.
temporality  timelines  mapping  cartography 
6 weeks ago
Russell Johnson and “Mister Oswald”: A Tale of Two Proprietors | Hogan's Alley
Mister Oswald, Russell Johnson’s masterful comic strip about Oscar S. Oswald, a hardware store owner. I figured that in an establishment this old, there was a chance that the store owner was familiar with Mister Oswald, so I asked. Mr. Beard proudly replied that their store opened the same year that Mister Oswald began, in 1927. A hardware store in Johnson, Vermont, which opened the same year that Mister Oswald, created by Russell Johnson, began?
hardware_store  comics 
6 weeks ago
Future Remains Presents a History of the Anthropocene in Objects
In the fall of 2014, an unusual event took place at the University of Wisconsin–Madison that would set the stage for the book Future Remains: A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene. Artists and anthropologists, historians and geographers, literary scholars and biologists from around the world gathered in the playful, performative space of an “Anthropocene Slam” to shape a cabinet of curiosities for this new age of humans.
anthropocene  collections  things  objects  cabinets 
6 weeks ago
remembering 'the beige icons' through nostalgia-inducing animated gifs
docubyte designed a series of animated gifs as a sort of rebuttal to the question by apple. ‘I am a computer: icons of beige’ sees 16 classics from the golden age of personal computing turned into dynamic compositions. maybe they don’t have the highest speeds or graphic capabilities, but who cares? they’re awesome. ‘I am computer’ celebrates the visual character of desktop computing machines from a colourless period in industrial design,’ docubyte explains.
gif  media_archaeology  computing_history 
7 weeks ago
The importance of sound | All media content | DW | 02.12.2016
Dishwashers, car engines, electric razors – many industrial products have their own characteristic sound. They’re not a matter of chance. Sound designers ensure that signature acoustics are unmistakable.
sound_design  products  acoustics 
7 weeks ago
Most Maps of the New Ebola Outbreak Are Wrong - The Atlantic
Almost all the maps of the outbreak zone that have thus far been released contain mistakes of this kind. Different health organizations all seem to use their own maps, most of which contain significant discrepancies. Things are roughly in the right place, but their exact positions can be off by miles, as can the boundaries between different regions.

Sinai, a cartographer at UCLA, has been working with the Ministry of Health to improve the accuracy of the Congo’s maps, and flew over on Saturday at their request. For each health zone within the outbreak region, Sinai compiled a list of the constituent villages, plotted them using the most up-to-date sources of geographical data, and drew boundaries that include these places and no others. The maps at the top of this piece show the before (left) and after (right) images...

“These visualizations are important for communicating the reality on the ground to all levels of the health hierarchy, and to international partners who don’t know the country,” says Mathias Mossoko, the head of disease surveillance data in DRC.

“It’s really important for the outbreak response to have real and accurate data,” adds Bernice Selo, who leads the cartographic work from the Ministry of Health’s command center in Kinshasa. “You need to know exactly where the villages are, where the health facilities are, where the transport routes and waterways are. All of this helps you understand where the outbreak is, where it’s moving, how it’s moving. You can see which villages have the highest risk.”

To be clear, there’s no evidence that these problems are hampering the response to the current outbreak. It’s not like doctors are showing up in the middle of the forest, wondering why they’re in the wrong place. “Everyone on the ground knows where the health zones start and end,” says Sinai. “I don’t think this will make or break the response. But you surely want the most accurate data.”...

There still isn’t an accurate map showing where all the cases are coming from. “We need to see that, and to see where the contacts of the cases are,” says Ousmane Ly, a digital health advisor at the nonprofit PATH, who was seconded to the Ministry of Health in February. “This information is very important for us to see the progress of the epidemic and for the ministry and cabinet members to make decisions.”

Claire Halleux, a co-founder of OpenStreetMap DRC, has been helping, too. “Apart from the few main roads and rivers, even the emergency teams don’t know about where all the roads are,” she tells me. To fix that problem, she and other volunteers have used satellite imagery to mark the positions of buildings, rivers, waterways, roads, and other landmarks, creating a blank base map. People on the ground can then use smartphones or GPS receivers to label the map with accurate names....

This afternoon, Selo is leading an emergency meeting of the Référentiel Géographique Commun—a working group of everyone in the DRC who uses geospatial data. Their goal is to “all agree on a standardized set of data that everyone uses,” she tells me. Better maps should then be available to everyone working on the outbreak, but “these won’t be the final boundaries,” Selo says. “They’re not static. There will always be improvements as more data comes in and more validation is done.”

Sinai’s work isn’t confined to the current outbreak. When I met him in the Congo in March, he was three years into an effort to map several provinces, including Kwango, which is south of the current Ebola outbreak, and east of the capital of Kinshasa. He pulled up satellite images of villages and other settlements, which had been identified using machine-learning tools, and met with health-zone officials to label these correctly. “It’s mapping local knowledge onto digital reality,” he told me at the time....

To get better estimates, teams of Congolese surveyors traveled to over 500 randomly selected sites around Kinshasa and its neighboring provinces, and did population counts for each building. To do so, they often had to trudge through thick forests and wade across rivers. They were guided only by handheld tablets, following blue dots in otherwise featureless green terrain. “There’s a face and a story behind every data point,” Sinai said. “When I saw the data, I was like: How did these guys get there?”
cartography  public_health  citizen_cartography 
7 weeks ago
View and Download Nearly 60,000 Maps from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) | Open Culture
Established by Congress in 1879, this august body has documented U.S. lands and waters for 125 years, gathering an incredible amount of detailed information as “the nation’s largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency.” Thanks to the Libre Map Project, the general public can view and download nearly 60,000 of those topographical maps, from all fifty states, and nearly every region within each of those states. See Colorado’s Pike National Forest and surrounding environs, at the top, for example, created from aerial photographs taken in 1950. Above, see a map of San Francisco, compiled in 1956, then revised in 1993 and further edited in 1996....

Browsing the archive can be a challenge, since the maps are catalogued by coordinates rather than place names, but you can enter the names of specific locations in the search field. Also, be advised, the maps “are best used with global positioning software,” the archive tells visitors. Nonetheless, you can click on the first download option for “Multi Page Processed TIFF” to pull up a huge, downloadable image. Enter the archive here and get to scouting.
USGS  geology  geography  mapping  cartography 
7 weeks ago
Qatar National Library by OMA | 2018-04-11 | Architectural Record
There’s no mistaking that the new Qatar National Library was designed by the Rotterdam office of OMA. Like a lot of OMA’s built work, it is slightly odd, slightly off-putting, but impossible to ignore. And the building quite literally borrows from earlier OMA projects, most conspicuously from the Casa da Música in Porto, Portugal with its unusual crystalline geometry and large swaths of corrugated glass, and, inside, from the Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville in Caen, France—though Rem Koolhaas would say otherwise about that.

As Koolhaas described the design during a recent tour of the building, “We started with a square then lifted two corners.” The resulting structure appears like a rocky outcrop amid a bizarre hardscape of craters and faux mounds—by Dutch design firm Inside Outside—that might fit as easily on the moon as in this desert setting. Massive columns, nearly four-feet wide, protrude from the building’s concrete underbelly—where the main entrance is—to support the entire structure and its 80-foot-long sloping spans. Circling the exterior, the library changes appearance from different angles—the “pinched” corners are unquestionably the most intriguing aspect; where the building meets the ground opposite those corners, not so much....

Despite the books, the vast, pitched main room feels more like an arena than a library. In fact, one of OMA’s early plans for the lower central space included programming for sporting events. It now houses the heritage library where rare manuscripts are kept and exhibitions mounted—its exposed sunken, mazelike, travertine-covered walls suggest the excavated pit of the Colosseum in Rome. As in the OMA design for Lab City outside Paris, parts of this pit are covered with platform-like expanses accessible to visitors and, since the building opened last November, where musicians play during recitals.
media_architecture  libraries  middle_east  qatar 
7 weeks ago
Exhibition: Text & Textile in Arts Library Special Collections | Yale University Library
Text and textile are linked far beyond their shared linguistic origin in the Latin verb texere, meaning to weave. Both are situated at intersections of the material and the cultural. Craft, content, and context determine their use values and multiple meanings over time. A multitude of technologies and techniques of the hand and the machine give structure to words as well as fibers. Such verbal and visual transformations may appear on the surface of the thing itself or lie beneath the assembly of interlocking, overlapping, or contrasting elements.

This selection of materials held by the Haas Arts Library Special Collections ranges from a late 18th-century recipe for blue dye to a flipbook rendition of Scheherazade’s nightly storytelling routine. Some works incorporate various methods of textile practice. Others draw parallels through language, pattern, or material. This exhibition is a companion to the Beinecke Library’s Text and Textile exhibition on view from May 3 to August 12.  
textual_form  textiles 
7 weeks ago
Wound treatment of injured ants | Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences
Open wounds are a major health risk in animals, with species prone to injuries likely developing means to reduce these risks. We therefore analysed the behavioural response towards open wounds on the social and individual level in the termite group-hunting ant Megaponera analis. During termite raids, some ants get injured by termite soldiers (biting off extremities), after the fight injured ants get carried back to the nest by nest-mates. We observed treatment of the injury by nest-mates inside the nest through intense allogrooming at the wound. Lack of treatment increased mortality from 10% to 80% within 24 h, most likely due to infections. Wound clotting occurred extraordinarily fast in untreated injured individuals, within 10 min. Furthermore, heavily injured ants (loss of five extremities) were not rescued or treated; this was regulated not by the helper but by the unresponsiveness of the injured ant. Interestingly, lightly injured ants behaved ‘more injured’ near nest-mates. We show organized social wound treatment in insects through a multifaceted help system focused on injured individuals. This was not only limited to selective rescuing of lightly injured individuals by carrying them back (thus reducing predation risk), but, moreover, included a differentiated treatment inside the nest.
animals  health  care  altruism 
7 weeks ago
Jason Farman: Invisible and Instantaneous – Media Theory
The geographic placement of the tubes, underground and out of sight in urban centers, helped fuel a cultural imaginary around the idea of “instant messaging.” The pneumatic tube geographies were central to their success and shaped the way that the medium was not only used from day to day, but also how the public imagined the role of this new medium in their identities at the turn of the twentieth century. The underground placement of the pneumatic tubes served two purposes. First, it was practical, allowing the message canisters to be sent throughout the city without interrupting life above the surface. The ability to send messages without dealing with the crowded city streets or severe weather was one of the main selling points of the pneumatic tube system. It could deliver consistent speeds regardless of how congested or impassable the streets got above. Second, by being out of view, it allowed the imagination to create a mysticism around the system that could be totally disconnected from the physical reality of the pneumatic tubes. For example, in a newspaper cartoon from 1915 that advocated for extending the system, it shows a clunky mail car stuck at a bridge crossing while a missile-shaped canister filled with mail shoots through a tube under the river. The cartoon contrasts these by saying “What We Have” next to the mail car, and “What We Ought to Have” next to the mail-missile (Figure 2).
pneumatic_tubes  media_archaeology 
8 weeks ago
Most institutions say they value teaching but how they assess it tells a different story
SETs -- one piece of the puzzle -- will continue to provide “important feedback to help faculty adjust their teaching practices, but will not be used directly as a measure in their performance review,” Clark said. The university’s evaluation instrument also was recently revised, with input from the faculty, to eliminate bias-prone questions and include more prompts about the learning experience. 

Umbrella questions such as, “How would you rate your professor?” and “How would you rate this course?” -- which Clark called “popularity contest” questions -- are now out. In are questions on course design, course impact and instructional, inclusive and assessment practices. Did the assignments make sense? Do students feel they learned something? 

Students also are now asked about what they brought to a course. How many hours did they spend on coursework outside of class? How many times did they contact the professor? What study strategies did they use? 

While such questions help professors gauge how their students learn, Clark said, they also signal to students that “your learning in this class depends as much as your input as your professor’s work.” There is also new guidance about keeping narrative comments -- which are frequently subjective and off-topic -- to course design and instructional practices.

Still, SETs remain important at USC. Faculty members are expected to explain how they used student feedback to improve instruction in their teaching reflection statements, which continue to be part of the tenure and promotion process, for example. But evaluation data will no longer be used in those personnel decisions....

Peer review will be based on classroom observation and review of course materials, design and assignments. Peer evaluators also will consider professors’ teaching reflection statements and their inclusive practices.

Rewards for high quality teaching will include grants and leaves for teaching development and emphasizing teaching performance in merit, promotion and tenure reviews, Clark said. Most significantly, thus far, the university has introduced continuing appointments for qualifying teaching-intensive professors off the tenure track....

More than simply revising problematic evaluation instruments, the page says, Oregon “seeks to develop a holistic new teaching evaluation system that helps the campus community describe, develop, recognize and reward teaching excellence.” The goal is to “increase equity and transparency in teaching evaluation for merit, contract renewal, promotion and tenure while simultaneously providing tools for continual course improvement.” 
academia  teaching  evaluation 
8 weeks ago
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