Facepalm Pilot: Where Technology Meets Stupidity: An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
We have finally fully arrived at the ultimate in passive voice: the past exonerative tense, so named because culpability is impossible when actions no longer exist. For the most extensive erasure of direct communicative value, the original object can now even be removed entirely.
writing  language  grammar  advising  UMS 
12 hours ago
Advice for securing good reference letters (opinion)
When: If you know you'll be going on the job market for any type of position, get organized and ask people to write your letters as early as you can. Be considerate of your reference writer’s time: I have been asked to write letters of recommendation with as little as two days' notice. I always get them done and can't recall ever saying no to a request, but last-minute letters aren't as well crafted or thoughtful as those given more lead time. Give as much time as possible! A month is not too early to ask. Two weeks' lead time for a reference letter request is what I would consider on the verge of a polite request; more time is even better.

Keep in mind the time of year and the schedule of the person whom you are asking, as well as the timing of the deadline for your application. If, for example, you know your job application deadline is mid-September, it would not be unusual to ask your academic reference about the letter in June or July. You should keep in mind that summer is vacation time, the person may be out of the office/away from a computer for a good portion of it, and the letter will be due when academics are extremely busy. If a letter writer gets the due date on his or her calendar early, they are much more likely to write a good, solid and on-time reference in support of your qualifications and character.
letters_of_recommendation  advising  UMS 
12 hours ago
Don’t Spend Your Holiday Break Writing - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Step No. 1: Write first. Possibly the most unconventional suggestion I give clients for creating a first draft is: Write first, then read, then write again, read more, and write one last time.

That flies in the face of the general wisdom that faculty members impart to undergraduates, which is to read the material carefully before they write a word. And for them, that holds — but not for you, because you have already spent upward of two decades reading and writing smart things, and you’ve almost certainly read the primary source material of your project at least once. ... at the beginning of a project — even if you have only the vaguest idea what it should be about — I suggest you set aside a week and free-write. ...

Step No. 2: The baby bibliography. From that inspired semi-gibberish, you will then mine your first annotated bibliography. And the annotations are the most important part. You should never read anything without writing something down about it. Look up about 10 sources on your subject — the 10 best or, at any rate, the most famous, or most recent and "exciting," or most in vogue, or most something. Just start somewhere. For approximately two weeks, spend every work session reading (or rereading) those sources carefully, creating a full bibliographic entry for each one. Annotate each...

Step No. 3: A skeleton draft. Using your baby bibliography, begin to merge some of your insights with your free-writing to form a primordial outline. You know how.

Organize under subject headings all the quotes, summaries, and opinions inspired by your free-writing.
Copy, paste, shape, and cut stuff.
Always, always create another document to save everything you’ve cut.
Make note, at every turn, of unanswered questions. This is, in effect, the most important part: It’s the part you can’t write yet....

Step No. 4: Close reading. Your skeleton draft is also a road map. Instead of attempting to read Everything (which you will never do), you now know what sorts of sources you need to find and read in order to flesh out your arguments and fill in the gaps.... With an expanded list of sources in hand, it’s time to read more intensely. Spend the next three to six weeks diving into those new sources and expanding your annotated bibliography. ...

Step No. 5: A workable draft. At this point, you’re ready to dive into your now-massive annotated bibliography and do more surgery. All those unanswered questions you had scribbled down in your free-writing? It’s time to fill in the gaps. Extract quotes, summaries, and arguments (copy, don’t delete, them from the bibliography), and paste them into the appropriate places in your Skeleton Draft.
writing  academia  process 
12 hours ago
How Amazon Prime will change the way our cities look - The Boston Globe
But when you can have basic necessities delivered to your door, it means that retail has less power to enrich neighborhoods and nurture the kind of social world that Jacobs spoke of. “Placemaking” has become a popular buzzword in planning and real estate circles, just as making a shopping trip to a specific place becomes increasingly optional as a way of acquiring life’s necessities.

So, are we building cities based on an obsolete vision of urban commerce? What does a post-Amazon future look like for urban centers whose neighborhoods are defined by their stores? Will e-commerce stunt them — or revive them?

THE CITY LANDSCAPE today reflects how people have shopped through the years. In the early history of cities like Boston, small stores clustered in downtowns and squares with banks, public buildings, and restaurants, often with apartments above. Shops provided informal social spaces that anchored communities.

Department stores first emerged in the 19th century; before they consolidated into chains, Macy’s, Marshall Field’s, and Jordan Marsh were icons of their downtowns. These enclosed marketplaces enabled women to shop and socialize unaccompanied by men, but also enforced class and racial boundaries. “They were created with middle-class white women in mind; they were the equivalent of a men’s club for white women,” says Traci Parker, an assistant professor in Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

When those women decamped to the suburbs throughout the 20th century, so did a lot of retail. As suburban housing exploded after World War II, retail reorganized to serve car-oriented lifestyles. First came strip malls, with small businesses anchored by grocery stores and parking. Later, self-enclosed malls turned shopping into a destination and a world unto itself. And beginning in the ’60s, big-box stores like Walmart undercut independent businesses with giant storehouses of goods surrounded by plentiful parking, often just off a highway exit.

In the mid-20th century, department stores left behind in downtowns became battlegrounds for racial integration. Parker says that the struggle to participate in middle-class retail — both as consumers and as salespeople — was an overlooked goal of the black freedom movement. Retail jobs became a path to economic security for women, ethnic and racial minorities, and immigrants.

By the mid-20th century, though, urban planning had come to emphasize separate spaces for working, shopping, and living — functions whose isolation from one another was soon codified with zoning, and could be bridged only by automobile. ...

But the Internet has applied selective pressure that’s forcing retail to evolve. “The Internet has been a very big positive for downtowns,” argues Robert Gibbs, an urban planner and retail expert in Michigan. Downtowns already have foot traffic. “It’s been a killer, though, for shopping malls.” Physical stores now have to compete with and complement online shopping; the buzzword in retail right now is “experience.”...

One thing Bellamy’s vision got right: the need for lots of warehouses. Instant delivery doesn’t happen by magic; it requires keeping goods in a distribution center as close to you as possible. The market for urban industrial real estate is growing as Amazon and other companies race to open small distribution centers filled with all the toothpaste, earphones, and running shoes that customers might be craving. In the future, Stein predicts, your local pharmacy might be mostly warehouse, with a small retail section in the front to bring in foot traffic. Residential buildings will increasingly need to be designed with ample storage for packages, and refrigerated areas for groceries. Single-family houses could also see changes; porches and garages could be repurposed to become secure depositories for deliveries....

Retail has long been an easy way for planners to revitalize main streets and make neighborhoods attractive. Shopping is such an integral part of urban landscapes that it’s hard to imagine a bustling street without it. As people have fewer reasons to leave the house, it creates new challenges for creating vibrant neighborhoods.

But it could also open up new possibilities. In the future, in addition to gyms and restaurants, shuttered stores could be reimagined as galleries, co-working spaces, and arcades.
retail  urban_planning  cities  logistics  delivery 
13 hours ago
To Reduce Privacy Risks, the Census Plans to Report Less Accurate Data - The New York Times
When the Census Bureau gathered data in 2010, it made two promises. The form would be “quick and easy,” it said. And “your answers are protected by law.”

But mathematical breakthroughs, easy access to more powerful computing, and widespread availability of large and varied public data sets have made the bureau reconsider whether the protection it offers Americans is strong enough. To preserve confidentiality, the bureau’s directors have determined they need to adopt a “formal privacy” approach, one that adds uncertainty to census data before it is published and achieves privacy assurances that are provable mathematically.

The census has always added some uncertainty to its data, but a key innovation of this new framework, known as “differential privacy,” is a numerical value describing how much privacy loss a person will experience. It determines the amount of randomness — “noise” — that needs to be added to a data set before it is released, and sets up a balancing act between accuracy and privacy. Too much noise would mean the data would not be accurate enough to be useful — in redistricting, in enforcing the Voting Rights Act or in conducting academic research. But too little, and someone’s personal data could be revealed....

In November 2016, the bureau staged something of an attack on itself. Using only the summary tables with their eight billion numbers, Mr. Abowd formed a small team to try to generate a record for every American that would show the block where he or she lived, as well as his or her sex, age, race and ethnicity — a “reconstruction” of the person-level data.

Each statistic in a summary table leaks a little information, offering clues about, or rather constraints on, what respondents’ answers to the census could look like. Combining statistics from different aggregate tables at different levels of geography, we start to get a picture of the demographics of who is living where....

By this summer, Mr. Abowd and his team had completed their reconstruction for nearly every part of the country. When they matched their reconstructed data to the actual, confidential records — again comparing just block, sex, age, race and ethnicity — they found about 50 percent of people matched exactly. And for over 90 percent there was at most one mistake, typically a person’s age being missed by one or two years. (At smaller levels of geography, the census reports age in five-year buckets.)

This level of accuracy was alarming. Mr. Abowd and his peers say that their reconstruction, while still preliminary, is not a violation of Title 13. Instead it is seen as a red flag that their current disclosure limitation system is out of date....
census  statistics  mapping  privacy 
13 hours ago
The U.S. Government Once Nuked a Bunch of File Cabinets - Atlas Obscura
In 1955, the Department of Defense began Operation Teapot, one of dozens of nuclear experiments that have been performed at the Nevada Test Site since the late 1940s. Operation Teapot consisted of 14 separate explosions, each of which provided the DoD with the opportunity to assess various outcomes of interest.

A test called “Wasp,” for example, was meant to show what would happen if a nuclear device detonated at low altitude. For another, called “ESS,” an 8000-pound bomb was exploded underground, to see how large of a crater it would make. (Many of the tests had quotidian names, like “Bee” and “Zucchini,” which are illustrated on an incongruously playful diploma given to participants.)...

While they were at it, they figured, they might as well nuke some file cabinets, too. For Project 35.5, “Effects of a Nuclear Explosion on Records and Records Storage Equipment,” the FCDA teamed up with the National Records Management Council, several companies that made safes, and a superintendent from Western Union. They filled various storage vessels with various types of media, scattered them at various distances from Apple-2’s Ground Zero, and waited to see what would happen when the bomb dropped.

The project’s official report—which was first released in June of 1958, and was uploaded by nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein on his blog, Restricted Data, in 2011—explains the rationale. “Business records are the memory of an organization,” it reads. “Preservation of important business records in a disaster can help ensure survival of managerial direction and continuity of enterprise."...

The report also lays out the process, which was quite thorough. The guinea pigs included “a complete variety of records storage equipment,” such as file cabinets, steel shelving, corrugated cardboard boxes, and different classes of safe. Inside were materials ranging from photographic film to paper letters to telegraph tape. These were then put in assigned locations, some inside or next to structures, and some completely exposed. For one subtest, the group put samples of four different types of paper—“new rag, old rag, soda sulfite, and purified sulfite”—in various Survival Town basements and garages....

Money chests fared far better. One, originally placed just a fifth of a mile from Ground Zero, was found about 350 feet from its original location, burned and with a broken lock. It had done its job, the report says: “The contents, which were in excellent condition, included a gold watch case, paper, United States postage stamps, loose microfilm, and microfilm in a sealed can.”
archives  storage  intellectual_furnishings  nuclear  destruction 
João Enxuto and Erica Love
Crypto Coffer, 2018, thermoplastic hard case, Ethereum mining rig (motherboard, three graphics processing units (GPUs), battery, hard drive, Windows OS, Ethpool application), LED monitor, 20.5 x 11.50 x 7.20 inches (51 x 29 x 18 cm)

This thermoplastic case houses a portable computer designed to mine Ethereum cryptocurrency. We have produced this prototype to complement the itinerant life of many contemporary artists and the precarious economy from which they fashion a livelihood. The dimensions for the Crypto Coffer conform to international flight carry-on luggage size regulations. Upon arrival at an exhibition destination, art fair, panel, or symposium, the Crypto Coffer can be easily assembled and put to verify proof of work. Ethereum tokens hashed synchronously with a work engagement are stored in the artist’s virtual wallet (coffer). Host institutions need only provide a power outlet and a consistent Wifi connection. Crypto Coffer is their latest proposition to reconsider the art market and its derivative value with the goal of furthering mutuality between art producers and patrons.....

The Digital Divide (Every LinkNYC in Manhattan), 2018, archival inkjet prints, 12 x 12 inches...

Some of the beacons used in this exhibition—small Bluetooth sensors that can be attached to objects to communicate location and other data—are a “smart” technology that allows for user interactivity and monitoring within the gallery space. This technology has recently been employed in commercial contexts and museums to monitor the attention given to commodities and artworks. Like data collected from any social system, this information is often put into service to shore up institutional agendas. For Beacons, we use these and other technologies to foreground how exhibitions spaces, long before the advent “smart technologies”, already functioned according to strict protocols. By drawing thematic threads throughout the gallery as if it was a nervous system (a common analogy used in cybernetics), sensors will graph the movement of objects and map signals from things that would otherwise be insensible. Beacons extends beyond the gallery walls to draw wider connections between contemporary art, creative production, and the possible limits to future growth due to environmental conditions.
crypto  blockchain  LinkNYC  infrastructure  internet_of_things  sensing  art 
2 days ago
What We’ve Learned from Dieter Rams, and What We’ve Ignored | The New Yorker
Rams is still living with products that he designed or purchased in the nineteen-sixties, whereas we are forced to upgrade our buttonless rectangles every few years. He is also responsible for the dominant technological aesthetic of our age: smoothness. ...

But fetishization isn’t the point that audiences should take away. “In reality the design is meant to disappear; it is meant to be the structure for everyday life,” Fanning says, echoing the fifth principle in Rams’s oft-invoked Ten Principles of Good Design: “Good design is unobtrusive.”...

“the rapid obsolescence and environmental impact of these devices sits uneasily against Rams’s advocacy of long-lasting, durable design.”

The minute design twitches of each year’s Apple launch are a far cry from the revolutionary change that the click wheel ushered in. Newfangled ports, rose-gold backs, the elimination of the home button—these don’t change our relationships to our phones, except to annoy. Seeing Fukasawa’s hands on the T3, I am reminded again that Apple is no longer making small phones for those of us who are perfectly comfortable with our small hands. The technological future Rams imagined in 1958 was tactile and user-friendly. Dongles would horrify him....

I recently read John Carreyrou’s book, “Bad Blood,” about the exposure of the Theranos fraud, and realized that Rams’s influence, via Apple, had been passed on to a new generation as an aesthetic rather than as an ethic. Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes hired designers from the Apple team, and insisted for years that her blood-testing system fit inside a tabletop monochrome box—as if a toaster and a laboratory could and should look the same...

The new-products division at Braun, founded in the mid-sixties, focussed on new categories of objects for personal grooming and the desktop, which required even more attention to shape, color, and tactility. In a world where the On button is endangered, there’s something wonderfully clear about Rams and Lubs’s calculator’s green On and red Off buttons, rounded to meet the fingertip. In a world where even home coffeemakers bristle with nozzles and switches, there’s something wonderfully soothing about the Braun kitchen appliances, most of which have a single toggle switch.
product_design  sustainability  obsolescence  interfaces  buttons 
3 days ago
Bio - Mitchell Akiyama
Mitchell Akiyama is a Toronto-based scholar, composer, and artist. His eclectic body of work includes writings about sound, metaphors, animals, and media technologies; scores for film and dance; and objects and installations that trouble received ideas about history, perception, and sensory experience. He holds a PhD in communications from McGill University and an MFA from Concordia University and is Assistant Professor of Visual Studies in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.
sound_art  animals  other_species  sound 
3 days ago
On Small Seasons and Long Calendars – Ross Zurowski
Sekki, phases, and the long calendar are just a few examples of more human and purposeful calendaring systems. Heck, even a seasonal vegetable chart for an area is an unexpectedly useful time-keeping tool. Why shouldn’t your calendar help you decide when to make a minestrone soup, oxtail stew, or a pico de gallo?

You can imagine some bigger questions along the same train of thought:

How can calendars inspire or inform daily living?
What does a communal calendar look like? How can it afford community action and a sense of collective identity?
How can calendars encourage thinking beyond our own lifespans? (Peter Bïlak’s 100-year calendar is an interesting example of this)
calendars  temporality  time_management  time 
3 days ago
Helsinki’s Poetic New Central Library Is a Public Space for the Digital Age
Vartola’s Mind-Building at Venice anticipated the opening of Oodi, a new library for Helsinki designed by local firm ALA Architects. Viewed from the steps of the nearby Finnish parliament house, the library appears like an inverted boat, a great mass that is submerged beneath a wave of undulating glazing.

Inside, Oodi (roughly “ode” in Finnish) is best understood as three floors located within and around a bridge that spans over 300 feet of the ground floor, creating a column-free entry sequence: “We have one floor under the bridge, one open floor on top of the bridge, and then the third space is inside the bridge structure,” explains Antti Nousjoki, partner at ALA.

The ground floor is an extension of the city. Visitors can enter from one of three entrances, two at the north and south ends, and a main entrance beneath a 38-foot cantilever that extends onto a plaza. Tucked beneath this spruce-clad canopy, the building’s curtain walls provide a clear view of what’s going on inside: book return and information facilities, flexible theater seating for events, and a cinema. Now that the Venice Biennale is over, the ground floor will also soon host Mind-Building.

From the ground floor, visitors are drawn upwards via a corkscrewing helical staircase, elevators, or a prominent set of escalators at Oodi’s southeast corner, where the entrance point connects directly to Helsinki’s central station and “pretty much the most urban area in Finland,” says Nousjoki....

On the second floor, on top of the structural “bridge,” things get interesting. The lofty daylit atrium is replaced by a more confined “urban workshop” floor, characterized by open ceilings, structural trusses clad in plywood, and the bridge structure that curves through the space. There is nary a book to be seen—instead, there are sewing machines, 3D printers, a games console room, a set of studios for music or photography, CNC machines, a kitchen, a massive printer, and more. All of these facilities can be used for free by anyone with a library card. These spaces take on the same premise as the very first public libraries—to grant free access to culture and creativity in a safe space—but simply update the technology.

Architecturally, this “urban workshop” is a no-frills corridor lined by box rooms with large windows, but the social offer is breathtaking. One imagines future fashion designers making first designs on the sewing machines, or recording a first album on publicly-available equipment. And everyone is invited to take part: “homeless people, to CEOs with a couple of hours to spare, to asylum seekers, to small children,” according to Tommi Laitio, director of Culture and Leisure for the City of Helsinki....

Within this quiet, poetic space, would-be readers can at last find the books. Only 100,00 of them (the city’s main library is in Pasila, north of the city center), plus magazines, board games, DVDs, and plenty of seating. The floor’s sloped ends also create enclosures for services and emergency exits, plus a trick bookcase which opens up to reveal a hidden room for story-telling—a delightful touch. Across the rest of the floor light floods in via the curtain wall and porthole-like skylights—an idea borrowed from Alvar Aalto’s university library in Otaniemi. “Welcome to book heaven,” remarks Katri Vänttinen, director of libraries in the city government. She’s not far off.

So how is all this possible? And how did Finland get a world-class facility in the heart of its city center that will enrich the lives of its citizens and visitors alike? Firstly, it was entirely publicly funded, with $80 million from the city government and $34 million from the national government, a fact largely made possible by the country’s progressive taxation and small population.

On top of this, libraries have had a foundational role in Finland’s national identity. As Vartola explains at Oodi, at the time of Finland’s independence from Russia in 1917 libraries contributed to the strengthening of the Finnish language and culture, as well as the creation of communities around civic infrastructure. To this day, libraries across Helsinki are thriving as well-designed social hubs with facilities for social inclusion and progression.
libraries  finland  helsinki 
3 days ago
The Chair Project — Office of Philipp Schmitt
The chAIr Project is a series of four chairs co-designed by artificial intelligence and human designers. The project explores a collaborative creative process between the two.

We trained a generative neural network (GAN) using a dataset of iconic 20th-century chairs with the goal to “generate a classic”. The resulting model was used to generate new chairs — semi-abstract visual prompts for a human designer who used them as a starting point for actual chair design concepts.

The project reverses the roles of human and machine in the design process and industrial production. It explores co-creativity between humans and AI, taking the chair — the archetype of a designed object — as an example.

The chAIr Project is a collaboration between Philipp Schmitt, Steffen Weiss, and two neural networks.
algorithms  neural_nets  machine_learning  furniture  intellectual_furnishings 
6 days ago
Review: House of Wisdom and its unpalatable foreigners - by Cüneyt Çakırlar – Framer Framed
As the curatorial organisation of the show demands that its audience/readers study the House of Wisdom as a library, the exchange becomes relational and even intimate. While it effectively tackles the geopolitical intricacies of censorship and knowledge production, the show’s formal flexibility and curatorial openness to site-specific interventions turns it into an experiment on the cross-cultural mobility of arts: a speculation that can ‘stick’ wherever it travels to. If there is no labour of immersion, you end up with a detached glimpse of unpalatable foreigners in this library. In other words, House of Wisdom is an experiment that requires the art enthusiast’s labour of intimacy, and refuses to make its presentation easily palatable through a simplistic humanitarian investment in ‘Turkish’, ‘Muslim’, ‘freedom of speech’, ‘censorship’, ‘oppression’, and so on. ...

Most of the 44 artworks on display in the House of Wisdom exhibition are presented in the form of artistic books, which creates the sense of an actual library. However, the show in its entirety also accommodates creative abstractions of library-as-concept that play with the materiality of books/libraries as reservoirs of politics, loss and memory. I would like to provide a few examples here:

Responding to the bombing of Baghdad’s literary centre, Al-Mutanabbi Street, Mona Kriegler’s Pain and Memory (2012-13) presents a black box of images where the city and its residents’ bodies are treated as wounded embodiments. Kriegler locates these wounds and sews them with a golden thread. Similarly, Didem Erk’s Black Thread (2015) presents a selection of books that were once burnt or censored. Erk sews every page of these books word by word, sentence by sentence. For both Kriegler and Erk, the performative act of sewing not only locates and recognises violence, but also suggests that reparation comes from this recognition. Similarly, Istanbul Queer Art Collective’s Just in Bookcase (2017) is a piece that mourns the personal libraries the collective left behind when emigrating from Turkey. What is left of their library is a suitcase full of postcards, each of which presents a book left behind in Turkey. Presenting personal memories of war through ink drawings, Walid Siti’s Dark Interludes (2017) and Ali Yass’s Destination II (2017) are ‘unshelved’ open books with their pages on display, which work as sculptural installations in the show. These are just a few examples of the ways in which the artists of House of Wisdom play with, expand, abstract, dissect and complicate the materiality of books and the conceptual depth of library-as-space.
library_art  libraries 
8 days ago
Naz Cuguoglu — House of Wisdom
Throughout history, libraries have been perceived as places where information on life and space are organised, read, and interpreted. Their political significance, however, has at times been underestimated. As in the example of the original House of Wisdom*, libraries are also known as centers of research, learning, and sharing. This concentration and exchange of knowledge makes them important symbols of political power and the formation of cultural identity.

Based on the power of libraries, and Foucault’s notion of the archive as ‘the general system of the formation and transformation of statements’, the curators followed their archival urge and decided to build their own archive-library. To shed light on the increasing levels of censorship on information and the current sociopolitical situation in and around Turkey, they invited artists and researchers to take part in the project. The House of Wisdom exhibition aims to rethink the political nature of books, whose mere existence is under threat, ultimately asking the question: ‘What could be the outcome of collectively rethinking the notion of the archive, particularly when issues such as censorship and suppression of information are involved?’

House of Wisdom is an open space, a gathering place. Visitors of the exhibition are invited to enter the library-exhibition to read, discuss, collaborate, scheme, and exchange knowledge and ideas. Collective Çukurcuma organises public programs of reading groups, talks and presentations as part of the exhibition.

*House of Wisdom (Bayt-al Hikma) was a library founded in the beginning of the 8th century in Baghdad, where thousands of books in various languages from different regions, on philosophy, art, science, and history were housed. Researchers from different regions came together to make research, and work on techniques of translation, writing, and discussion.

** House of Wisdom is a mobile and ever-evolving library/exhibition curated by Collective Çukurcuma. It was previously shown at various locations in Nottingham (2018), Framer Framer (Amsterdam, 2017), Dzialdov (Berlin, 2017), and IKSV Building (Public program of the 15th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2017).
library_art  popups 
8 days ago
Psychic Bibliophiles: What the Cards Say

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books I: The Shadow of the Wind:

Our library had to die, when we felt we had to leave our country.
Books are heavy, but their spirits are light.
Now each book in our ex-library has a card;
And each card contains a story
Of how the book came into our hands
Where we read it
What we thought of it
Who has it now…
Anecdotes that paint the portrait
Of what it was like to have lived and read in our country.

So step into our parlour and pick a card or two
Let the book spirit mediums tell you its story
Only for your ears and once in a life time
The spirit of our dead library will talk to you personally
And stamp you permanently.
8 days ago
Voice Recognition Resources
Just wondering: who, aside from @jessicafeldman + @xiaochang, is studying voice recognition from a humanities or social science perspective? (i.e., not through CS) Has anything been published yet? I'm not finding it.
voice  race  bias  voice_recognition 
8 days ago
(51) Session 10: The 'Big' Questions - YouTube
Siri mek mi speak like ah freshwater Yankee\ Halcyon M. Lawrence (Towson University)

Developments in speech technology have launched us into a new practice of oral customs facilitated by voice assistants that respond to a litany of commands: change, review, set, create, play, cancel, and on. Premised on the promise of natural language use for speakers, these technologies encourage their users not to alter their language in any way for successful interactions. Yet, for large groups of persons who attempt to use these technologies, virtual assistants are unresponsive and frustrating. If you speak English in dialect or a foreign accent, speech technologies practice a form of othering that is biased and disciplinary, imposing a form of post-colonial assimilation to standard accents that “silences” the speaker’s socio-historical reality. To understand the innate bias of speech technologies, is to understand both the socio-economic context in which these technologies are developed and the long history of assimilation that non-native speakers of English have practiced in order to participate in global economic and social systems. This continued assimilation is particularly egregious given that the number of second language speakers of English has already exceeded the number of native English language speakers worldwide (Crystal 2003). The result is the sustained marginalization and de-legitimization of accented speakers of the English language. In this talk, I will discuss recent developments in field of speech technology and point to empirical work that is being done to ensure that “technology support for other cultures is not a feature of software design, but a core principle” (Nasser 2017).
voice  interfaces  accents  voice_recognition  colonialism 
8 days ago
LIZA STARK » Hilda Wove All Those Wires
While researching early forms of computer memory for the 2018 Woolpunk Congress, I came across a woman named Hilda G. Carpenter, an African American lab technician at MIT. She was part of a research group that was investigating how small magnetic rings could be used to store memory by weaving wires through them. Indeed, Hilda wove the first plane of this magnetic core memory and dozens more during her time there. Their research was a great success – this was the memory that would eventually be used to land Apollo missions on the moon among other things. In reading recorded interviews of the men who participated in the research group, some mentioned this one woman whose efficiency and productive prowess contributed invaluably to their success. They remembered her name was Hilda – maybe – but could not remember her last name. After weeks of research, I uncovered few documents in the digital archive I could use to thread her story together. This zine captures all of them that I could find.
weaving  textiles  computing_history  women  materiality  hard_drives  storage  media_archaeology 
8 days ago
This map lets you hear what the world sounds like without humans - The Verge
Since its beginning in 2014, Cities and Memory has created sound maps focused on protest, sacred places, and photographs. Its newest project, however, steps away from humans and instead focuses on the areas where the natural world is undisturbed. Sounding Nature is the biggest global collection of nature sounds, featuring nearly 500 sounds from 55 countries, from jungles to glaciers to underwater shrimp recordings. The map has two parts: the field recording of the sound itself, and then the musical remix it inspired. ...

we wanted to try and showcase what a map of the world would sound like if you couldn’t hear the humans. That’s really difficult to do because humans are a really, really noisy bunch and we’re getting louder all the time. Noises in the ocean have doubled every 10 years for the past 50 years, and the trend is holding even for remote areas.

The other side is that we wanted to shine a light on how the noise we make as human beings can have a serious and dramatic impact on the natural world. We’re not just talking about the animals being irritated, we’re talking about habitat changing and physiological changes.
soundscape  noise  sound_map  cartography 
8 days ago
The Quietus | Features | Tome On The Range | Cinema Without Images: The Unusual Sounds Of Library Music
That any of those records were even in that shop in the first place is something of a historical accident. Library music is not made to be sold in shops and snapped up by consumers. It is scarcely meant to be consumed at all.

These are tracks composed and produced by largely anonymous figures, according to pre-assigned briefs set by men in crumpled office wear, for the purpose of filling up gaps in feature films and broadcast programmes when the officially commissioned score falls short – or when the picture is too cheap to commission a score in the first place.
music  film  soundtrack 
8 days ago
Solved: A Decades-Old Ansel Adams Mystery - Atlas Obscura
To determine these two “whens,” they first had to figure out each “where”: the exact location of Adams’s tripod when he released the shutter. The rippled landscape of Moon and Denali provided clues. “The foreground of [the photograph] includes geological features known as ‘cirques,’ semi-circular steep-sided hollows shaped like amphitheaters,” Olson writes.

“If the image has foreground objects that we can see aligned with distant background objects, then we can use the alignments to figure out exactly where the artist was located,” Olson says, in an email. So he and a student, Ava Pope, got some detailed topographic maps of Denali National Park. By comparing the shapes of the cirques in the photograph with the contours on the maps, they were able to identify the locations of several landmarks in the photograph, and measure how far they were from each other....

Using this information, he writes “we wrote a computer program that could calculate the view from any possible spot for Ansel Adams’s tripod,” correcting for refraction and the Earth’s curvature. “Our computer program eventually produced a camera position where the calculated view appeared to match the photograph.” They then called up their man on the ground, Jon Paynter, a GIS specialist who works at the park. He traveled to the potential location—a spot on the road about eight miles from the nearest ranger station—and tweaked his positioning until he could reproduce the view himself.

The team now had the precise location of Adams’s camera when it captured Moon and Denali. Using planetarium software, which simulates the organization of the sky at particular moments in time, they asked when during the summers in question the moon’s positioning lined up with the photograph. As Olson writes, they found “one possible result: Moon and Denali was captured on July 14, 1948, at 8:28 p.m.”
GIS  photography  landscape  forensics 
8 days ago
Amazon Is Bringing in Elite Lobbyists Amid Seething Rage Over HQ2 - VICE
As the company tries to erect a massive headquarters in America’s largest city, it has come up against staunch opposition from residents, politicians and unions—all concerned the powerful monopoly will serve to inflate rent and strain local infrastructure, especially the housing supply and subway system. And while it might seem like a trillion-dollar company could easily quash protesting naysayers, turns out CEO Jeff Bezos might actually have good reason to try and win the haters over.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported Amazon hired high-powered Democratic consulting firm SKD Knickerbocker, and a lobbying shop called Greenberg Traurig, to help smooth the way forward for its new HQ. While Amazon remained relatively tight-lipped, the company has sought to make inroads into affected communities—planning meetings with public-housing residents and reaching out to members of the city council. ....

According to Richard Brodsky, a lawyer and veteran Democratic politician who served in the state assembly, if city officials or other activists took Amazon or the politicians who supported the plan to court, they could employ legislative subpoenas to demand more documentation of the project, and investigate compliance issues. Brodsky argued Amazon’s bid might provide the jobs promised, but that the company still had a long way to go in informing the public about how it would impact communities.
amazon  media_city 
8 days ago
Amazon’s HQ2 Bids Gave it a Blueprint for Expansion
In the course of deciding where to put its new headquarters, Amazon learned that Las Vegas has 2,185 students in computer-science programs, that Albany has an exceptionally low uninsured rate, and that three out of four Pittsburghers can afford to buy homes. It also learned about pending real-estate developments and discovered that the governments of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., don’t get along — but Buffalo’s and Rochester’s do. It gathered hundreds of pages’ worth of other information, too, some of it proprietary, on cities as large as New York and as small as Tewksbury, Massachusetts.

As the company strives to become all things to all people, this trove of information could be the foundation of its strategy, the blueprint for its continuing evolution. In the long run, it could be even more valuable than the few billion dollars’ worth of tax incentives Amazon is getting in New York and Virginia.

It’s hard to get away from thinking of Amazon as a retail company, because that’s how most people encounter it: by shopping on its website or app, or by asking Alexa to place an order. But if Amazon specializes in anything now, it’s infrastructure. It has more than 250 facilities around the country, mostly hidden in plain sight, so that half the population lives within a short drive of one of its warehouses. It has an extensive shipping operation, which has started competing for UPS and FedEx customers in California. And it stores a vast share of corporate America’s data, including that of Netflix and Comcast, with its cloud-computing service. As Stacy Mitchell, an activist with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has been arguing for several years, the company is making it increasingly hard for any of its competitors, large or small, to reach customers without going through Amazon channels.
The trove of data Amazon has gathered could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities...

However, Parilla thinks the most important material Amazon collected goes beyond mere numbers. “It’s this soft data — that I, as an analyst, would love to have,” he said. “For instance, what are the current and planned partnerships or investments that these regions are planning, that will matter to Amazon?” He also cited STEM partnerships, plans to increase the supply of housing, concerns about affordability, and the kinds of incentives governments might give when Amazon wants to negotiate future development projects. The bids also gave Amazon clues about competence and efficiency, and about how well local governments cooperate with one another — or don’t, as in the case of D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, which submitted separate bids, even though all they touch a single metropolitan area.

Picturing how Amazon might use all this material requires a little imagination. For retail purposes alone, it could help on the marketing front. Scott Galloway, an NYU marketing professor who wrote a book on how the biggest tech companies have embedded themselves into American life, believes the data might even give Amazon a “springboard into new industries.” “Which city has a pipeline of young educated talent earning high salaries and also has affordable housing?” he wrote in an email. “Introducing Prime mortgages. Where are the top hospitals? Introducing Prime health.”

Meanwhile, all that real-estate information will surely help as the company’s physical footprint keeps expanding....

Amazon’s ultimate vision, they believe, is to situate itself between the public and any other companies that might produce or sell goods. “In effect, Amazon is turning an open, public marketplace into a privately controlled one,” they wrote. “It would be as if Walmart owned most of our malls and Main Streets, decided the terms by which its rivals could rent these spaces, and oversaw every sale they made.” So far, Amazon controls about 49 percent of online retail, and 5 percent of all retail — and those figures are inching up every year.

Meanwhile, on its drive to become almost a para-governmental institution, Amazon has always relied on help from actual governments to gain advantages over its competitors, as Mitchell’s colleague, Olivia LaVecchia, pointed out last year. In the past, that has included getting a pass on sales tax and securing big incentives when it builds new facilities. Outsourcing Amazon’s reconnaissance was just the latest example.
amazon  infrastructure  logistics  media_city 
12 days ago
Citation Matters: An Updated Reading List for a Progressive Environmental Anthropology — Cultural Anthropology
A progressive environmental anthropology will take the field in a new direction. This reading list builds on scholarship that expands debates about the value of anthropology to the humanistic study of the environment. We have organized it according to themes as a way to put ethnographically oriented work in dialogue with other humanities and social sciences, as well as with engineering and the natural/physical sciences. These themes are guideposts for thinking about the environment in its many dimensions. To this end, each week of our imagined syllabus attempts to offer theoretical and regional breadth that pushes at the intellectual and practical boundaries of environmental anthropology.
envrionmental_history  anthropology  extraction  conservation  landscape 
12 days ago
Elfreda Chatman - Wikipedia
Dr. Elfreda A. Chatman was well known for her ethnographic approaches in researching information seeking behaviors among understudied or minority groups (poor people, the elderly, retired women, female inmates, and janitors).
ethnography  libraries  LIS 
15 days ago
Does ‘High-Impact’ Teaching Cause High-Impact Fatigue? - The Chronicle of Higher Education
High-impact practices can be exhausting. They are labor intensive — for students, yes, but especially for faculty members. Designing and managing these efforts can be all-consuming and energy-draining. You may need a manageable case of obsessive-compulsive disorder just to survive the experience. Consider some of the predictable hazards:

Giving students multiple opportunities to revise and even substantially rewrite their work means that instructors risk having to evaluate lots of papers over and over again. That’s less of a problem with good papers, of course, but it means a lot of extra work on multiple versions of the problematic ones.
The detailed feedback you spent hours drafting may go entirely unread by students. For those undergraduates who are focused on getting a grade and moving onto the next assignment, the depth and intensity of your effort becomes an utter waste of time. Faculty members regularly muse, "Why am I working harder on this paper than the student seemed to?"
Group projects can combust with little warning. The fallout may include chaotic conditions that result when some group members do little or no work yet expect to share in the grade. Many undergraduates adhere to an unwritten code of silence when it comes to outing the loafers. Worse, the disgruntled may storm your office hours as grades are about to be assigned, demanding "justice."...

Tailor how you offer feedback. Ask students for a candid assessment of whether or not they actually read the comments you write on their essays...

Stagger deadlines. Nothing can gut your enthusiasm for teaching like facing a large stack of papers that must be read and evaluated at the end of the semester. Encourage students to sign up for different submission times. For example, if student presentations and corresponding papers are part of the plan, ask students to submit papers a week after their assigned presentation time. With advance notice of the scheduling and opportunities to pick the deadlines that will work best with their own schedules, students are far less likely to complain that some people had an unfair advantage by having more time.

Involve students in grading. To discourage the loafers, obligate students in group projects to evaluate how much each member contributed. At a minimum, students should rank the relative value added to the group process by each group member....

Ask students to reflect on the experience. If high-impact practices produce the transformative effects claimed by the experts, then the positive reports you hear from students might make the long hours you’ve put in seem worthwhile.
teaching  pedagogy  grading  labor 
15 days ago
On the Value of Dissertation Writing Groups - The Chronicle of Higher Education
The glorification of solitary labor permeates the imaginary ideal of scholarship in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Your dissertation is your own work of expertise, your own plot in the great intellectual firmament. And you write it by yourself.

Here’s the trouble: It just ain’t so.

Writing is collaborative, and scholarly writing especially so. In the acknowledgements pages of scholarly books, you can see the writer thanking not only librarians and archivists, but also — and crucially — the people who have been reading drafts all along, making suggestions, editing, shaping. The person whose name is on the spine does the largest part of the work, but others share in the labor....

When I teach dissertation writing to my graduate students, I try to emphasize the collaborative element. One of the best ways to do that, I’ve found, is to bring students together into a dissertation group and encourage them to meet regularly and work with one another. A dissertation group brings many benefits, starting with the way the group creates socially enforced deadlines that keep students writing. At the same time, the group helps me as an adviser, since the regular meetings help me keep tabs on how various students are progressing, and check in on them informally....

Here’s how it works in my case: My students and I convene each month during the school year, at someone’s house or in a conference room on the campus. There’s always food, the great social mastic. I aim for dinner, but sometimes it’s lunch or an afternoon snack. Sometimes we hold a potluck — which I prefer, since it’s another kind of collaboration — but there are days when practical demands lead us to choose pizza or deli sandwiches.

A week ahead of the meeting, two dissertators send out chapter drafts for everyone to read in advance. Once we’ve eaten (and perhaps had a glass of wine), the writers briefly introduce their work, usually to spotlight particular questions for the group. Then we discuss it. Afterward, everyone gives the writer written comments they’ve prepared. The writer goes home with research leads, micro and macro questions to tackle, copyedits — and, usually, inspiration.
advising  dissertations  PhD 
15 days ago
Should Studying Literature Be Fun? - The Chronicle of Higher Education
the systematic refusal of aesthetic pleasure within academic literary studies. Looking back, I see the two motives as aligned: Disavowing aesthetic pleasure is precisely how academics have sought to signal their professionalism and affirm the joblike nature of the work.

It is impossible to overstate just how much professional anxiety graduate school can produce even at a well-funded program like Princeton’s. Everyone around you seems to have read more and more intelligently, and in more languages, than you. Professors make conspiratorial quips about the naïve responses of their undergraduates (responses that resemble your own since you have, after all, just finished undergrad), and constant mini-trials, some casual, some official, test whether you are successfully evolving from said naïve undergraduate to deserving member of the academy.

Then there is the pressure to master bodies of knowledge of vast but uncertain magnitude and simultaneously to think up some original contribution to that knowledge. A dissertation needs first to be proposed, then researched, then written, then defended, and the ever menacing, impossibly contracting job market is waiting to finish you off in case you manage to get that far through the oversight or careless charity of your busy advisers. Your daily fear is that you will discover that you are doing everything wrong. So, when all your professors advise against seeking aesthetic satisfaction from literature, you comply....

In 1998, the year I started my Ph.D., The Chronicle published an article announcing that several scholars, including Elaine Scarry, Anne K. Mellor, and Emory Elliott, had rediscovered aesthetics. These were the forerunners of what would come to be known as New Formalism, a movement spearheaded by Susan J. Wolfson and Marshall Brown’s 2001 Modern Language Quarterly special issue, "Reading for Form," and carried on today by critics such as Caroline Levine, Namwali Serpell, David James, Sandra Macpherson, and Joseph North. The enterprise seemed a risky one back in 1998, with Elliott calling beauty "the forbidden subject" and Anne A. Cheng calling aesthetics "the bad child no one wants to talk about.".... It wasn’t that professors spent much time debunking aesthetic judgment. Those battles had already been fought and won. It was just that certain questions to do with beauty or pleasure almost never arose; you learned not to ask them the same way you learned to stop liking bands like Coldplay....

But it’s also fair to say that New Formalism has not radically rewritten the discipline in the same way New Criticism and New Historicism did. One reason, of course, is that political criticism, in its myriad forms, has taught us many things about literature that we cannot unlearn. It’s significantly harder to appreciate the narrative craft of your typical Victorian marriage plot for its own sake when you know it’s a means of reinforcing heteronormative, bourgeois ideology. Another reason, however, is that on some level aesthetics never fully disappeared — it persisted, in disguised form, in political criticism itself.

And this same dynamic is evident in many of the present-day critiques of the canon now being mobilized by the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. Politics is in the lead, but aesthetic judgment plays its own quiet part.
aesthetics  criticism  academia 
15 days ago
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE — João Enxuto and Erica Love
The Digital Divide (Every LinkNYC in Manhattan), 2018, archival inkjet prints, 12 x 12 inches
digital_divide  access  infrastructure  photography 
16 days ago
Ethnography = Better Design – Dear Design Student
Data may tell you what the trends are, but ethnography is a tool for figuring out WHY those trends are happening.
ethnography  anthrodesign 
16 days ago
5G is weeks away — and Tuesday marks its first real test
Next week, Qualcomm’s third annual Snapdragon Technology Summit is happening in Maui, and it promises to be the first — and last — major public debut of blazing-fast 5G before the new cellular standard launches in the US for real. And while inviting 330 people to a tropical island setting might seem frivolous, there’s some serious money and technology at stake.

You see, AT&T is promising to launch real 5G NR cellular in 12 cities by the end of 2018, mere weeks from today. But despite that fact — and a variety of promises, milestones, and one-off demonstrations from other carriers which plan to launch as soon as early 2019 — we still don’t have a clear idea of what 5G will actually offer right away. Few journalists have even so much as touched a 5G device.

That will change next week. AT&T and Verizon tell The Verge they’ll have live 5G networks in Maui at Qualcomm’s big event, and we’ll be able to try a real, pocketable 5G mobile hotspot (affectionately known as the “puck”) for the first time...

you’ll probably be waiting until Q2 2019 at the earliest. That’s when Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon expects the first real wave of smartphones to arrive.

”We are working, so as early as the second quarter of 2019, you’ll have smartphones being launched across the United States, across Europe, across South Korea, Australia. Some early in the quarter, some later in the quarter... they’re all going to be Android flagship devices,” says Amon. “You go to CES [in January], you’ll start to see a lot of phone announcements; you go to MWC [in February], you’ll see a lot of actual phone launches.”...

That’s why, even out of the gate, he says 5G will be dramatically faster and dramatically more responsive, to the point that bandwidth-sapping uses like streaming video will feel effortless.

“Today you stream music everywhere. You don’t download music anymore; even if you have low coverage, you have enough quality to stream music. 5G will do that for video,” Amon says, before moving on to fancier, further-out predictions like unlimited storage and on-demand processing power from the cloud that can, he imagines, virtually cram the power of a Magic Leap-lik
5G  infrastructure  telecommunications 
17 days ago
Centre for Global Knowledge Studies
The Centre for Global Knowledge Studies (gloknos) was founded by Dr. Inanna Hamati-Ataya in autumn 2017 with support from the European Research Council, and inaugurated at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, in autumn 2018. Welcome to our website.

gloknos (/'glɒnɒs/) is a multi-disciplinary research centre and intellectual community concerned with the constitution, diffusion, exchange, and use of human knowledges throughout history. It aims to foster advanced cross-disciplinary research and pedagogical training in Global Epistemics, as well as cross-sectorial exchanges and initiatives, through a global network of associate members and partners engaged in academic and public-oriented collaborations and activities, an institutional and virtual infrastructure, and a range of scientific and public dissemination channels dedicated to the diffusion of its research outputs to the widest audience.
epistemology  deep_time  globalization 
17 days ago
Inventing the Map
this 14-year-old girl's textually-derived maps and cartographically-arranged texts also provide some of our best direct evidence for the teaching practices of famed women's educational reformer Emma Willard. Willard founded Frances Henshaw's school at a time when geography was taught almost entirely through prose, and there she developed a new, visual and experimental pedagogy. This led her to assert her own impact on spatial and historical understanding in the early American republic unblushingly:
"In history," wrote Emma Willard, "I have invented the map."
maps  cartography  feminism  women 
17 days ago
Black Womxn Temporal
An online protest statement against limited conceptions about what "The Future is..." that disincludes Black women, femmes, transwomen, and girls. The statement recognizes the plurality and quantum nature of the future(s) where Black womxn, femmes, and girls exist and are safe, loved, and valued. Considering the unique, intersectional temporal experiences of Black women and girls and the ways in which we are being actively erased from the objective, linear future, this text, sound, and image series is part of a nonlinear timescape/tapestry/temporal map/toolkit preparing us for the Black womanist, quantum future(s). It is an interactive, open access archive of the temporal technologies Black womxn and girls have developed to ensure our quantum future(s) and uncover our ancestral space-time configurations for survival in the present.
feminism  mapping  cartography  temporality  timelines 
18 days ago
America's Top 50 Women In Tech 2018
To find America’s top 50 women in tech, Forbes identified a pool of more than 300 candidates working in Artificial Intelligence, consumer and enterprise technology, biotech, video games and the U.S. government. We found women who work in labs, know their way around Raspberry Pi or hold tech-adjacent jobs shaping digital policy and helping underrepresented founders start up their startups.
women  technology  feminism 
18 days ago
Emeka Ogboh
Emeka Ogboh connects to places with his senses of hearing and taste. Through his audio installations and gastronomic works, Ogboh explores how private, public, collective memories and histories are translated, transformed and encoded into sound and food. These works contemplate how sound and food capture existential relationships, frame our understanding of the world and provide a context in which to ask critical questions on immigration, globalization, and post-colonialism.
sound_art  soundscapes  sensation 
18 days ago
The future of typing doesn’t involve a keyboard
If we’re removing the keyboard, shouldn’t we be removing the need to move the fingers as if they’re touching a keyboard? Indeed, technology allowing people to type simply by looking at the letters does exist. Early eye-gaze typing, developed for adults with cognitive function but reduced mobility, was once slow and straining, but has come a long way. At a recent artificial intelligence conference in Cambridge, Kristensson presented a method for typing which combines eye-tracking with prediction, meaning that a user can slide their gaze from letter to letter, not dwelling, and not worrying if their gaze ‘touches’ intervening letters....

All these solutions, of course, maintain at least the idea of a keyboard. Is it necessary? Interacting with a computer via thought alone is a tantalizing prospect. In fact, thought-only typing is technically possible, but as previous experiments have shown, it’s still a laborious process.

Facebook was for a time seriously researching brain-only interaction
typewriter  keyboards  interfaces 
18 days ago
Students Want to Write Well; We Don’t Let Them
By the time students arrive in their first-year writing classes, which are required at most every institution of higher learning in the United States, they have a lot of baggage. Trained to write “Potemkin essays” for strictly formatted tests like the SAT or Advanced Placement exams (writing produced quickly under pressure and likely scored by a harried, underpaid reader), students enter freshman comp trained only “to pass standardized assessments” where curiosity and creativity are risks.

The five-paragraph essay, bête noire of writing professors, encapsulates this: a straitjacket format never seen in the wild, where actual writers have to be flexible, creative, and intuitive based on genre and audience, the five-paragraph model is wholly artificial. And since the only person who reads it is an adult who holds a grade over the writer’s head, this example of “education folklore” (Warner’s term) socializes students to obsess about grades (which research shows are detrimental to learning and merely increase anxiety) and view The Teacher as the only arbiter of quality, who judges everything according to a strict rubric. All that matters is the final score, which can be standardized, rather than the kind of rich, in-depth, guiding feedback that only experienced teachers can provide their students. In overcrowded, over-tested classrooms, students come to see every assignment as just another flaming hoop to jump through.

Good writing instruction gets short-circuited by the managerial, industrial model that dominates American schools. “Writing assessments that can withstand standardization,” observes Warner, “are fundamentally incompatible with the experiences students must have in order to develop their writing practices.”...

We seek to increase educational challenges while simultaneously decreasing student stress and anxiety related to writing.
We seek to change the orientation of school from only preparing students (poorly, as it turns out) for the indefinite future to also living and learning in the present.
We seek to provide experiences designed around learning and growth, rather than giving assignments and testing for competencies.
We will end the tyranny of grades and replace them with self-assessment and reflection.
We will give teachers sufficient time, freedom, and resources to teach effectively. In return, they will be required to embrace the same ethos of self-assessment and reflection expected of students.
writing  teaching  advising  UMS 
18 days ago
How Cheap Labor Drives China’s A.I. Ambitions
Some of the most critical work in advancing China’s technology goals takes place in a former cement factory in the middle of the country’s heartland, far from the aspiring Silicon Valleys of Beijing and Shenzhen. An idled concrete mixer still stands in the middle of the courtyard. Boxes of melamine dinnerware are stacked in a warehouse next door.

Inside, Hou Xiameng runs a company that helps artificial intelligence make sense of the world. Two dozen young people go through photos and videos, labeling just about everything they see. That’s a car. That’s a traffic light. That’s bread, that’s milk, that’s chocolate. That’s what it looks like when a person walks.

“I used to think the machines are geniuses,” Ms. Hou, 24, said. “Now I know we’re the reason for their genius.”

In China, long the world’s factory floor, a new generation of low-wage workers is assembling the foundations of the future. Start-ups in smaller, cheaper cities have sprung up to apply labels to China’s huge trove of images and surveillance footage. If China is the Saudi Arabia of data, as one expert says, these businesses are the refineries, turning raw data into the fuel that can power China’s A.I. ambitions.

Conventional wisdom says that China and the United States are competing for A.I. supremacy and that China has certain advantages. The Chinese government broadly supports A.I. companies, financially and politically. Chinese start-ups made up one third of the global computer vision market in 2017, surpassing the United States. Chinese academic papers are cited more often in research papers. In a key policy announcement last year, the China government said that it expected the country to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030.

Most importantly, this thinking goes, the Chinese government and companies enjoy access to mountains of data, thanks to weak privacy laws and enforcement. Beyond what Facebook, Google and Amazon have amassed, Chinese internet companies can get more because people there so heavily use their mobile phones to shop, pay for meals and buy movie tickets.
artificial_intelligence  labor  digital_labor  china  images  classification  archives  automation 
18 days ago
KULA : Endangered Knowledge
Guest editors Samantha MacFarlane, Rachel Mattson, and Bethany Nowviskie have assembled a collection of scholarly articles, pedagogical reflections, and project reports that take up theoretical and practical considerations of archival salvage and erasure, the persistence of the public record, indigenous knowledge, and the politics of loss. The special issue explores endangerment as a critical category of analysis for records, data, collections, languages, ecosystems, and networks.
archives  indigenous  records  preservation 
19 days ago
A Business With No End
As it happens, uncanny ecommerce is a passion of mine, which is why my student mentioned the packages, and why I suspected that whoever was behind these retailers was doing something like “dropshipping,” just taken up a notch.

Dropshippers are online sellers who don’t keep any products in stock. Instead, they advertise a product and, if it is purchased, they buy the item from overseas and ship it directly to the customer.

In this case, it seemed that Valley Fountain LLC and other companies were posing as traditional retailers — usually by setting up Amazon storefronts like Sendai Book Store — and were just reselling items from other Amazon storefronts at inflated prices. It sounds confusing, but ultimately, it’s pretty similar to scalping concert tickets: A middleman makes money by ratcheting up the price.

The items in many of the storefronts associated with 235 Montgomery, Suite 350 had an unusually long shipping time and consistently low stock, so it made sense that items purchased from them might be coming from elsewhere.

While I waited for my lipstick, I returned to the list of LLCs, and noticed that there was something else that the companies had in common. According to LinkedIn and Facebook, at least a handful of the listed agents were alumni of Olivet University, a Bible college based in California.

If Olivet University sounds familiar, that’s because it has been in the news lately. Earlier this year its offices were raided as part of a fraud investigation being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
logistics  forensics 
20 days ago
In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing? | The New Yorker
The acceleration of home computing has converged with another trend: the mass uploading of photographs and videos to the Web. Later, when I sat down with Efros in his office, he explained that, even in the early two-thousands, computer graphics had been “data-starved”: although 3-D modellers were capable of creating photorealistic scenes, their cities, interiors, and mountainscapes felt empty and lifeless. True realism, Efros said, requires “data, data, data” about “the gunk, the dirt, the complexity of the world,” which is best gathered by accident, through the recording of ordinary life.

Today, researchers have access to systems like ImageNet, a site run by computer scientists at Stanford and Princeton which brings together fourteen million photographs of ordinary places and objects, most of them casual snapshots posted to Flickr, eBay, and other Web sites. Initially, these images were sorted into categories (carrousels, subwoofers, paper clips, parking meters, chests of drawers) by tens of thousands of workers hired through Amazon Mechanical Turk. Then, in 2012, researchers at the University of Toronto succeeded in building neural networks capable of categorizing ImageNet’s images automatically; their dramatic success helped set off today’s neural-networking boom. In recent years, YouTube has become an unofficial ImageNet for video. ...

In the early days of photography, its practitioners had to argue for its objectivity. In courtrooms, experts debated whether photos were reflections of reality or artistic products; legal scholars wondered whether photographs needed to be corroborated by witnesses. It took decades for a consensus to emerge about what made a photograph trustworthy. Some technologists wonder if that consensus could be reëstablished on different terms. Perhaps, using modern tools, photography might be rebooted.

Truepic, a startup in San Diego, aims at producing a new kind of photograph—a verifiable digital original. Photographs taken with its smartphone app are uploaded to its servers, where they enter a kind of cryptographic lockbox. “We make sure the image hasn’t been manipulated in transit,” Jeffrey McGregor, the company’s C.E.O., explained. “We look at geolocation data, at the nearby cell towers, at the barometric-pressure sensor on the phone, and verify that everything matches. We run the photo through a bunch of computer-vision tests.” If the image passes muster, it’s entered into the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain. From then on, it can be shared on a special Web page that verifies its authenticity. Today, Truepic’s biggest clients are insurance companies, which allow policyholders to take verified photographs of their flooded basements or broken windshields. The software has also been used by N.G.O.s to document human-rights violations, and by workers at a construction company in Kazakhstan, who take “verified selfies” as a means of clocking in and out. “Our goal is to expand into industries where there’s a ‘trust gap,’ ” McGregor said: property rentals, online dating. Eventually, he hopes to integrate his software into camera components, so that “verification can begin the moment photons enter the lens.”
photography  images  epistemology  truth  deep_fakes  documentary  video  archives  classification 
23 days ago
Visualizing Cities
An open platform for urban visualization projects

Visualization as a tool for analysis, exploration and communication has become a driving force in the task of unravelling the complex urban fabrics that form our cities. This platform tries to bring together an interdisciplinary community and establish an exchange of knowledge & ideas on urban visualization projects from around the globe.
mapping  data_visualization  urban_data  open_data 
26 days ago
This Is Not an Atlas
Kollektiv orangotango was founded in 2008. Since then it has been constantly developing through a network of critical geographers, friends and activists who deal with questions regarding space, power and re­sistance. With our geographical activism, we seek to support processes and oppositional actors who instigate social change by prefiguring social alternatives. We conduct emancipatory educational work as well as con­crete political and artistic interventions. These are supposed to enforce reflections on and changes of social conditions. Through workshops, publications, mappings, excursions, and creative in­terventions within public space, we collectively learn how to read space and how to initiate emancipatory processes from below. By sticking to the traditions of activist research, we connect theoret­ical reflections and concrete actions.

So far we have engaged in the fields of right to the city, (urban) agriculture, critical pedagogy, alternative housing and solidarity economy, mostly in Europe and also in Latin America. But kollektiv orangotango also functions as a platform for dif­ferent actions. In the case of Not-an-Atlas, its publication was realized by kollektiv orangotango in cooperation with other activists and academics. That is the reason why it was named kollektiv orangotango+.
critical_cartography  mapping  cartography  counter_mapping 
26 days ago
Franklin Furnace’s Pioneering Performances Are Now Archived Online
Archives are big business these days. Selling large accumulations of cultural artifacts and ephemera has helped many an individual or organization with an acquisitive nature to pay some bills. But even more than selling, the business is in the acquiring. Those who buy up others’ archives are counting on significant paydays, most often by charging for access and to make use of the archives, typically through outsize licensing fees. This makes it all the more surprising just how open Franklin Furnace has consistently been with their archive, as demonstrated most recently by the institute’s new book and online collection, Franklin Furnace: Performance & Politics, co-curated by Martha Wilson and Oraison H. Larmon.

Not only is the book, which covers 40–plus works from across Franklin Furnace’s history, available for free to everyone online, it’s also possible to view documents and videos from each of the works contained within. Ranging from photos and short films created by Martha Wilson in the years just prior to her founding of Franklin Furnace in 1976, to materials from early artist book exhibitions (the original collecting focus of Franklin Furnace), to performance works as recent as 2014, the collection gives a taste of the enormous array of artworks that the organization has supported, presented, and/or collected over the decades...

Few museums have significant performance collections to begin with, and even when a museum does have performance works, obtaining the rights required to publicly share documentation of live performance can prove a Sisyphean task, as it typically requires contacting any artists who contributed to the work, as well as the original authors of the works, or their estates. For contemporary work it’s much easier to at least identify all the pieces of the puzzle, as artists are much more savvy today about rights and documentation, but for artists making one-off performances two or three decades ago, things can get complicated quickly. And if fees enter the equation, absurdly high profit expectations can stand in the way of individuals and small organizations ever having a hope of sharing the work with the public....

Apart from the individual documents and videos themselves, Wilson’s choice to make so much of the archive accessible reads as a political gesture at a time when ever more of our public culture has been enclosed by those wishing to profit off of it, whether it be Facebook and Instagram capitalizing on the emotive and social content that so many of us post on their platforms, or the photographic record of our culture being hoovered up by Getty Images. It should be noted that Wilson did make the choice in the early 1990s to sell Franklin Furnace’ artist book collection to the Museum of Modern Art. The primary reason for the sale was the relentless series of attacks by the local and federal government on Franklin Furnace in the midst of the Culture Wars of the 1980s and ’90s, which eventually resulted in the space being shut down.


archives  performance  intellectual_property  censorship 
26 days ago
Automated landscapes | Volume
Cow 9273 has to push several times before the brush starts slowly spinning, but when it does, she treats herself to a firm back massage. Welcome to dairy farm ‘The Promised Land’ where 1.5 fte and nine robotized computer systems manage a herd of 280 cows plus 180 ‘youngsters’....

the group we’re part of has become convinced that technology is all pervasive in the countryside. Most of us knew about ‘mechanization takes command’ kind of developments – milking machines, conveyor belts, combiners and the like – but hardly anyone of us citizens was prepared for the scene of a herd being managed with an app. by a farmer with a smart phone in his hand. For each cow the body temperature (a health indicator), the amount of food taken in, the amount of milk produced, the amount of time taken to ruminate, the amount of manure produced and much more can be registered real time. ...

When it comes to growing, orchids in this case, the levels of control are close to 100%. The number of flowers per stem, the number of stems per plant, the height of each stem, the color of the flower, the size of the flowers, it’s all being manipulated by sensors and automated systems optimizing production and uniformity of the product. And that includes the avoidance of damage by snapping or spoiling plants, adding to the efficiency of production. Not by the hundreds, not by the thousands, but 1.5 million potted orchids in different stages of development under one glass roof....

Instead of an ever more artificial, forced and confined life, present day high tech managed dairy cows are living a life of their own choice: they leave the shed into the open (meadow) when they choose to, they are being milked by the milking robot when they feel like, they eat when they are hungry the grass they like (selected to optimize milk production), and they lie down to ruminate when they think it the right time and where they feel most comfortable. So, technology 2.0 allows for a more natural way of living for (dairy) cows, than we have seen in close to a century.
smart_environments  media_space  farm 
26 days ago
‘I Thought of Songs as Found Objects’: Watch Turner Prize-Winning Artist Susan Philipsz Sculpt the Sounds of History
Turner Prize-winning artist Susan Philipsz hears things where others perceive only silence. The Scottish-born, Berlin-based artist has built her career creating art with and about things that can’t be seen. Just don’t call her a musician.

Instead, she views herself as a sculptor, treating audio as a physical material that she coaxes and bends into different formations. In an exclusive interview for Art21’s new 2018 season, the artist says, “I thought of songs as found objects” that she could collect them from different times and places and then re-contextualize through a contemporary lens.
sound_art  listening  sculpture 
26 days ago
“Destabilized Perception”: Infrastructural Aesthetics in the Films of Adam Curtis | Cultural Politics
The formerly dissident status of the essay film has, in recent years, been exchanged for a great deal of favorable attention both inside and outside academia. In the more overly moralistic commentary on the form, the contemporary essay film is submitted as a tactical response to a surfeit of audiovisual media, to an era in which most of us have become both consumers and producers of a digital deluge. The work of Adam Curtis is notably absent from these ongoing debates. Yet Curtis is far from an underground figure—he has been making essayistic films for the BBC for more than twenty years and was the first to produce work directly for the iPlayer platform. Using archival images to examine the present, his films produce counterintuitive connections and abrupt collisions that supplant the authority of narrative causality for a precarious network of associations and linkages. This article treats Curtis’s recent body of work diagnostically. It argues that, quite apart from any promise of escape or deliverance, the aesthetic form of his work actively inhabits the rhythms and vectors of contemporary media. For Curtis, the media-technological conditions of the twenty-first century provoke a crisis that is both political and epistemological, one in which sensemaking can no longer claim to take place at a distance from the infrastructure that mediates such processes but is instead thoroughly and inescapably immanent to it, a situation that prevents contact with the outside. His films are about what he calls “destabilized perception,” but importantly they are also a function of this condition, one that in turn demands a shift in how we conceive the essay film in the twenty-first century.
aesthetics  film  epistemology  propaganda  archive_art  archives 
26 days ago
Critical By Design? | 17-18 May 2018 | Basel
Critical By Design? is a two-day international research conference on the capacity of design as a mode of critique. It offers a unique platform for the interdisciplinary discussion of critical theories and practices from a design perspective. Renowned experts from design theory, history and practice, the philosophy of technology, the art, cultural and media studies as well as the field of human-computer interaction come together to reconsider historical trajectories, advance contemporary understandings and propose future developments of design as a materialized form of critique.
design_research  design  critique 
28 days ago
Mobile Repair Cultures
“Mobile Repair Cultures” is a research project at the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD – Genève) into repair practices, ethnography and product/interaction design. Funded by the Swiss National Research Fund, it investigates informal repair cultures by looking at mobile phones and smartphones repair places, and hypothesise that they play an important, yet unrecognized, role in ecosystems of innovation.

Using an ethnographic approach focused on Swiss unlicensed stores and hackerspaces, we want to (a) understand of the forms of repair and transformation of these technical objects, (b) investigate how these practices are constructed and deployed considering that such technologies are often closed or quite opaque, (c) grasp the role and the innovative character of these practices in the context of product or interaction design.
cell_phones  ethnography  repair  maintenance  makerspaces  hacking 
28 days ago
Remapping Sound Studies - Franklin Humanities Institute
the first wave of sound studies produced narratives on the history of sound in modernity told from largely Northern-centric perspectives. The neglect of the global South in sound studies, and of Africa and Asia in particular, is striking. Routledge’s four-volume Sound Studies anthology—comprising 72 chapters and more than 1,500 pages (Bull 2013)—does not contain a single chapter on Africa or Asia (which together form over half of the world’s landmass and currently comprise well over 100 sovereign nation-states). The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies (Pinch and Bijsterveld 2011) contains 23 chapters on topics ranging from Pixar and birdsong to cochlear implants and iPod culture, but Africa and Asia are absent there as well. The earlier edited collection, Hearing Cultures (Erlmann 2004), is also North-centric, the lone exception being Charles Hirschkind’s chapter on Egypt. Georgina Born’s recent edited volume, Music, Sound and Space (2013), includes just one chapter set outside Euro-America (Andrew Eisenberg’s chapter on Kenya). And Routledge’s single-volume Sound Studies Reader (Sterne 2012a) fares just slightly better: of its 45 chapters, there is just one on southern Africa (by Louise Meintjes) and two on North Africa (one by Hirschkind and an early text by Franz Fanon).
sound_studies  sound  acoustics  listening  globalization 
28 days ago
Acoustics of Empire – Sound and Materialism in the 19th Century
In recent years, music and sound studies have increasingly turned attention to questions of empire and postcolonial thought, raising new questions about the forms and circulation of cultural, technological and military power as manifest in and through sound. However, with a few notable exceptions, most of this scholarship has focused on the 20th century, an era of pronounced decolonization and more obvious forms of sound technology that have drawn recent scholarly attention. Inversely, sound and media studies have made 19th century histories of science and technology a central part of their canonical repertoire, but largely overlooked the ways in which these technological developments emerged from contexts of empire.

These lacunae result not only from the difficulties of accessing relevant materials, which often span multiple languages (of both colony and colonizer), but also from the particular histories of music studies as a discipline, in which historical musicology has largely attended to European music in the past and present, while ethnomusicology has used ethnography to primarily explore contemporary music making in a range of non­western contexts. As part of the larger ERC-funded project, “Sound and Materialism in the 19th Century,” we will be holding “The Acoustics of Empire” conference in December 2018. We hope to cultivate a conversation among scholars of sound, media and empire with the aim of continuing the work of decolonizing historical sound studies, while also bringing sound more centrally into postcolonial studies.
acoustics  sound  empire 
28 days ago
Sound and Materialism in the 19th Century – University of Cambridge Research Group
The research project Sound and Materialism in the 19th century, based at the University of Cambridge, investigates a scientific and a materialist perspective on music and sound in the 19th century to enlarge and enrich our understanding of the dialogue between 19th-century music and natural science.

Examining in particular how a scientific-materialist conception of sound was formed alongside a dominant culture of romantic idealism, the project placing itself at the intersection of historical musicology and the history and philosophy of science. It project investigates the view that sound, instead of the property of metaphysics, was also regarded by writers, composers, scientists and engineers as tangible, material and subject to physical laws. This scientific thinking was not anathema but—at key moments—intrinsic to music aesthetics and criticism. Philosophies of mind and theories of the creative process also drew on mechanical rules of causality and associative ‘laws’ and the technological innovations brought about by scientific research (from steam trains to stethoscopes) were accompanied by new concepts and new ways of listening that radically impacted the sound world of composers, critics and performers.

In short, the project seeks to uncover a substantively integrated view of the musical and scientific culture of the 19th century.
sound  acoustics  materiality 
28 days ago
Mapping Segregation DC
Mapping Segregation in Washington DC reveals the profound impact of racially restricted housing on the nation’s capital. During the first half of the 20th century, restrictive deed covenants—which barred the conveyance of property to African Americans and sometimes other groups—largely controlled where DC residents lived. Real estate developers and white citizens groups used covenants to create and maintain racial barriers. Upheld by the courts, covenants assigned value to housing and to entire neighborhoods based on the race of their occupants, and made residential segregation the norm. Although eventually outlawed, covenants had a lasting imprint on the city. Their legacy was central to shaping DC's mid-century racial transformation; led to decades of disinvestment in areas where African Americans lived; and influenced residential patterns that persist today.
mapping  cartography  digital_humanities  segregation  redlining  race 
28 days ago
The New York Public Library’s Collection of Weird and Wonderful Objects «TwistedSifter
A lock of Walt Whitman’s hair, Jack Kerouac’s boots, and Virginia Woolf’s cane are just a few of the items of literary paraphernalia available at the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection—if you have an appointment.

The New Yorker sits down with Declan Kiely, the NYPL’s Director of Exhibitions, to talk about the library’s weird and wonderful collection.
libraries  collections  objects  things 
28 days ago
Before Algorithms: A History of Bias and Oppression in Computing on Vimeo
Dr. Safiya Noble, Dr. Sarah Roberts, Dr. Marie Hicks, and Dr. Khalil Muhammad join us for a conversation about the underlying systems of power, privilege, and oppression as they relate to present-day conversations about algorithms. There are many conversations about algorithms, and the impact of technology, but there aren’t as many conversations about ‘how we got here’ - or reflect on the fact that ‘we have been here before.’
algorithms  bias  gender  classification 
28 days ago
Reverse information architecture - Urban Complexity Lab
The project started in 2014 as part of the course "Visualizing Cultural Collections", with the aim to examine the current state of existing interfaces of digital collections of museums. In digital collections, the web is intended to provide the entirety of a physical collection. Assuming that more and more museums are providing digital collections online, the project started with an initial analysis and overview. It was revealing did with the aim of making the rich and comprehensive datasets accessible, a so called explore fashion what increasingly Offered across most websites. Soon, the questions of what it meant and how it manifested in the structure of the digital collections appeared.

In the following research phase, a more concrete conceptualization of the term "exploration" has been developed (view, movement, contextualization, and participation). Furthermore, the function of exploration is manifested in the structure and interface. With this unique method, the given contents are examined to which degree and in which manner the functions of exploration are implemented in digital collections. The working base for the study were screenshots of eight well-known museum collections worldwide, Which were Analyzed with the new method we call reverse information architecture .
archives  digital_archives  serendipity  search  digital_cultural_heritage  interfaces  collections 
29 days ago
About – Urban Complexity Lab
The Urban Complexity Lab hosts research projects related to the visualization of urban and cultural data. Especially concerning big data and smart cities, interface designers and visualization researchers develop a responsible approach towards data and study innovative methods of interactive visualization to make sense of complex datasets. Within University of Applied Sciences Potsdam (FH Potsdam), the Urban Complexity Lab is a research space between the Department of Design and the Institute for Urban Futures. The lab is jointly directed by Boris Müller, professor for interaction design, and Marian Dörk, research professor for information visualization. The research lab is located in the main building on the FHP campus in Potsdam, where researchers and students of varying background especially interface design, information science, and cultural studies are coming together. We frequently invite practitioners and researchers to our public lecture series  information+visualization to speak about current issues and developments in data visualization.
data_visualization  smart_cities  digital_archives  digital_cultural_heritage  mapping 
29 days ago
150 mapas de la desaparición forzada de personas en Colombia - Desaparición Forzada en Colombia
A crime so opaque, with so many conceptual and legal edges and so wrapped up in the "night and fog" invites to multiply the efforts of diffusion and sensitization that help to fight it. In general, maps are excellent tools to reveal and visualize complex events, so we take full advantage of these characteristics. That's why we usually map all existing sources and not limit ourselves to just one.

In addition, we wanted that anyone can know the magnitude of this crime against humanity in each of the municipalities of Colombia . Labeling each of the municipalities and victims of enforced disappearance can not be done on a single map (unless it is huge!). One of the ways to solve the problem is from the preparation of departmental maps , where you can identify each of its municipalities and people who have been victims of this crime. It is not easy to get in all departments, but we have not hesitated to sacrifice the composition and readability of some maps in order to appreciate the name of each municipality and the total of victims in it. That is the case, for example, of the maps of Antioquia , which is the department with the largest number of municipalities and also victims of enforced disappearance.

We are currently developing 7 maps of each department, although it is more than likely that we incorporate some more ...
mapping  atlas  erasure  disappearance 
4 weeks ago
The kilogram weight will no longer be determined by the IPK — Quartz
As of today (Nov. 16), the kilogram is dead. The International Prototype “king” Kilogram, held in sanctitude in Paris, has been stripped of its title; a new system for deciding the weight of a kilogram, based on electric current, now takes its crown.

One by one, delegates at the annual General Conference on Weights and Measures stood to voice their vote. They unanimously decided to define one kilogram as the amount of mass needed to balance a scale being pulled by an electromagnet using a specific amount of electricity. Weight is now defined using a fundamental constant in nature, instead of a hunk of metal in a vault.

The change has no measurable effect. Under the new definition of a kilogram the International Prototype weighs precisely as much as before. Instead of calculating weight by comparing everything to that metal cylinder, scientists now define the weight based on electrical force. That force is measured using Planck’s constant, effectively the smallest amount of energy possible. If the International Prototype was damaged, lost, or destroyed, the world would still be able to standardize weights.
standards  measurement  infrastructure 
4 weeks ago
Craig Dworkin - Wikipedia
Dworkin graduated from Stanford University for his B.A. and University of California, Berkeley for his Ph.D. Dworkin is a poet, critic, editor, and currently a professor at the University of Utah. Notable from Dworkin is his work Fact, a poem that presents the chemical compounds of ink on paper.[1] Dworkin has written five books of poetry: Motes (2011), The Perverse Library (2010), Parse (2008), Strand (2004), and Dure (2004). He has edited six volumes, including Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (2011) with Kenneth Goldsmith, The Sound of Poetry / The Poetry of Sound (2009) with Marjorie Perloff, and The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics (2008). Dworkin is also the author of two scholarly books, Reading the Illegible (2003) and No Medium (2013), in which he discusses works that are blank, erased, clear, or silent. He has published articles in such diverse journals as October, Grey Room, Contemporary Literature, and College English. He runs Eclipse, an online archive of radical small-press writing from the last quarter century.[2]
materiality  textual_form  writing 
4 weeks ago
Data Feminism · MIT Press Open
This is a book that aspires to speak to multiple audiences. These include professionals such as data scientists, data journalists, visualization designers, and software developers, as well as activists and organizers who work with data. Additional audiences include students and scholars from a range of academic fields, including digital humanities, women's and gender studies, critical race studies, media studies, information science/studies, STS, HCI, and information visualization, among others. We also welcome your help in pointing out any places that may require additional explanation, or that may not be accessible to newcomers in those professions and fields.
data_science  epistemology  methodology  data_visualization  pedagogy  mapping  cartography  teaching 
4 weeks ago
Hudson Yards wants to become NYC’s next great neighborhood - Curbed NY
Donald Clinton, a partner with Cooper Robertson, the architecture and urban design firm that prepared the master plan for Hudson Yards, says early concepts for the site have mostly remained intact. The plan was envisioned to be heavily mixed-use, anchored by a cultural facility (what is now the Shed) and stuffed with green space. And they knew its success would depend on the extension of the 7 train, which ultimately opened in 2015. “The plan turned into zoning, and Related is now building within the framework of that zoning,” Clinton notes....

KPF is the main architect of record and behind the distinctive towers at 10, 30, and 55 Hudson Yards, but Related hired a mix of firms to create a diverse skyline. ...

When it came to devising the makeup of Hudson Yards, Related wanted the Time Warner Center on steroids. Zoning required 50 percent of the site be utilized as open public space, which set the tone for how all of its buildings would connect. Planners also sought input from actual New Yorkers, seeking to find the commonalities among the places they actually frequent. “We did a lot of research, asking shoppers, residents, and office workers to name their favorite neighborhoods, and we’d find the common denominators,” says Cross. “All three groups liked Union Square and Madison Square; it all came down to the authenticity, liveliness, and mix of uses. That convinced us that we were on the right track.”
4 weeks ago
Google’s “Smart City” in Toronto Faces New Resistance
In keeping with the utopian rhetoric that fuels the development of so much digital infrastructure, Sidewalk Labs has pitched Quayside as the solution to everything from traffic congestion and rising housing prices to environmental pollution. The proposal for Quayside includes a centralized identity management system, through which “each resident accesses public services” such as library cards and health care. An applicant for a position at Sidewalk Labs in Toronto was shocked when he was asked in an interview to imagine how, in a smart city, “voting might be different in the future.”...

“This isn’t just about data being sold,” Wylie said. “It’s also about how is this data being used with other kinds of data in other products. You can move a lot of information around within Alphabet without having to sell it, and we need to talk about that.” The outcome of Toronto’s ability to reign in the Google affiliate, in other words, has ramifications not just for Canadians, but also for the future of who controls our civic life...

When Saadia Muzaffar, a prominent technologist and the founder of TechGirls Canada, resigned from Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel in October, it was due in part to the partnership’s “blatant disregard for resident concerns about data and digital infrastructure.” In her viral letter of resignation, Muzaffar criticized Sidewalk Toronto’s dishonest negotiations process: “There is nothing innovative about city-building that disenfranchises its residents in insidious ways and robs valuable earnings out of public budgets, or commits scarce public funds to the ongoing maintenance of technology that city leadership has not even declared a need for.”...

As Jim Balsillie, the former CEO of Blackberry, recently pointed out in an op-ed, Waterfront Toronto has left the ownership of intellectual property and data unresolved in its latest agreement; this means that it would default to Sidewalk Labs, giving the company a gross market advantage. Indeed, in an announcement last year, Schmidt went as far as to thank Canadian taxpayers for creating some of Alphabet’s key artificial intelligence technology, the intellectual property of which the company now owns.
sidewalk_labs  smart_cities  sidewalk_toronto  data_privacy 
4 weeks ago
Beautiful Armoire : Penelope Umbrico
This web piece starts with an idealized image of an armoire from a home decor website, and follows with images I have taken from Craigslist and eBay posted by anonymous individuals selling the same armoire. Navigating through the pages engages the user in a self-reflective critique of object accumulation.
The juxtaposition of a perverse fantasy played out in the abstract idealized spaces of home-improvement Internet sites, where the promise of better self-image, without the out-of-control mess of everyday life, quickly deflates within the context of the average lived-in home, along with a reciprocal deflation of the object that is no longer wanted.

In our culture of object abundance and accumulation, the armoire is the prefect symbol of a container that promises control and organization over this growing accumulation of stuff. But navigating through my site (possibly in search of a solution for one’s domestic mess) reveals quite the opposite story.
storage  intellectual_furnishings  furniture  organization 
4 weeks ago
The Evolution of Silence (Version 1) – RR
The Evolution of Silence, Version 1 is a web-based map, which explores the impact of forty-one years of post-WWII nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site (a remote and highly-restricted area 80 miles north of Las Vegas, NV). The map focuses on Yucca Flat, an area within the Nevada Test Site, which is marked by hundreds of sinkhole craters caused by underground nuclear explosions.

As part of a series of explorations, the map presents a multivalent interpretation of the data of war and the dynamics of transformation. Layers to the project reveal disorienting views of the environment and of human involvement. The map visualizes the individual and accumulated location(s) of every nuclear detonation that occurred in Yucca Flat (828 total). The official data from the U.S. Department of Energy is connected to other kinds of data—my drawings, photos, videos, sounds, writings, etc. Fragments of satellite images (a grant from the DigitalGlobe Foundation) form a partially reconstructed aerial view of the valley floor, in which only the detonation sites are visualized. The viewer is able to break apart this composite image even further—by manually dragging the image tiles and actively rearranging and separating them from one another on screen. One is challenged through their own inquiry to make sense of the scale of violence that occurred and to conceptually reclaim this contested space through an experience of knowing. Bypassing government restrictions on the Nevada Test Site that limit its visual representation, the project allows anyone to engage aspects of this resilient landscape and to reflect on the toll of war.
mapping  nuclear_testing  multimodal_storytelling 
4 weeks ago
Before You Make a Thing | ts200v2
Approach technologies as congealed labour; doing so expands what “technology” means and underscores the embodied work and material histories at play from ideation and patenting to manufacturing and maintenance. Technologies are not only things; they are processes, too. (See Mayer; reading optophone; Crawford and Joler.)
Ask who benefits most from automation and novelty; doing so attends to how planned obsolescence and deskilling affect various groups of people. Automation may increase efficiency or productivity in some areas, but it most certainly shapes craft and changes demands for occupations and forms of expertise. (See Luddites; Crawford and Joler; Pedercini.)
Recognize when projects aestheticize the politics of their technologies; doing so addresses how values are expressed through design as well as through terms such as “user-friendly,” “fast,” “sleek,” “convenient,” and even “minimalist.” Design may be politics by seemingly apolitical means. (See Parker; McPherson; Crawford and Joler.)
Engage directly the power of technology; doing so foregrounds how and why a given technology could oppress groups of people, or be used to resist oppression. Technology is not only an object but also a force, and it is entangled with issues of race, gender, sexuality, extraction, and ability. (See Nakamura; Nelson; Case; Pedercini.)
Examine the “default settings” of technologies; doing so asks for whom, by whom, and under what assumptions they are designed, and who they may exclude and enable. All projects have intended audiences, even if those intentions are not always conscious or deliberate. (See Skawennati; Nelson; Nakamura.)
pedagogy  teaching  media_theory 
4 weeks ago
Vox Borders - YouTube
Reporting from six borders around the world, Emmy-nominated journalist Johnny Harris investigates the human stories behind the lines on a map in a new series for Vox.com
borders  mapping  cartography  geopolitics 
4 weeks ago
Best Practices for Conducting Risky Research and Protecting Yourself from Online Harassment | Data & Society
Researchers who investigate sensitive topics may face online harassment, social shaming, or other networked forms of abuse. In addition to potential impacts on the researcher’s reputation and mental health, fear of harassment may have a chilling effect on the type of research that is conducted and the capabilities of individual researchers.

This document is a set of best practices for researchers – especially junior researchers – who wish to engage in research that may make them susceptible to online harassment. We provide recommendations for academic institutions, supervisors, and individuals, including cyber-security guidelines and links to other resources.

We’ve also created a 2-page information sheet that researchers can give to university personnel to educate them about the realities of online harassment and what administrators can do about it.

The authors welcome feedback about this document. Please send suggestions and edits to riskyresearch at datasociety dot net.
methodology  risk  harassment  privacy 
4 weeks ago
Why New Yorkers Insisted On a "Worse" Subway Map - Cheddar Explains - YouTube
Simplified metro system maps have been adopted by cities around the world, but when New York City tried to follow suit the public pushback forced a reversal. We dive into why New Yorkers insisted on using a "worse" subway map instead of the one that was widely considered to be "perfectly" designed.
mapping  subways  transit  graphic_design 
5 weeks ago
Slides for "Syrian Archive"
There is currently no tool that supports finding, collecting, preserving and collaboratively verifying and curating visual evidence from social media platforms: The Syrian Archive is the first to do so. In this talk, members of the Syrian Archive team will give an overview of the Syrian Archive project, explore the technical components and verification procedures, and review investigations completed using open source methodologies. Journalists and human rights groups need to find and use verified visual evidence in order to accurately report about what’s happening in conflict zones. We have currently developed an open source tool in alpha stage in collaboration with developers from Tactical Tech which collects and preserves video evidence from Youtube. We have additionally developed a unique workflow in order to verify video documentation and to conduct our investigations. By aggregating, preserving, cataloging and securing digital documentation relating to human rights violations in Syria, the Syrian Archive project helps Syrian civil society, human rights activists, media offices, journalists and lawyers increase their capacity to respond to human rights violations thorough using documentation and investigations that adhere to international standards, and using better tools to demand accountability against perpetrators of those violations. Findings from investigations have been used by Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Security Council and the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons in their work investigating the Syrian conflict. Further, research has been cross-published by Bellingcat, an award-winning open source investigation platform and partner to the project.
syrian_archive  archives  conflict  community_archives 
5 weeks ago
Philosophy — Feminist.AI
Design with and for unheard voices in AI creation.

We must be invited to a location to participate.

All knowledge systems and skills are equally honored and valued.

Acknowledge and own privilege.  

We want multiple entry points for involvement, so we can pull from different knowledge systems for our design and development.

The AI project/research can be a social response or technical making.

We would like to revisit every step of our process with every new project.

The physical (hardware, interaction, experience) and the digital are key elements in our AI Design. The material and purpose are just as important as the data and model.

We attribute everything (people who have come before us, original parallel research).

We encourage our community to move beyond comparing AI to the human brain, and to think about alternative systems to design with AI.

We probe the knowledge assumptions in AI systems, and deliberately deconstruct existing approaches to the AI creation (from the data, to the rulesets, to the output).

We work to contribute to and community source our own data, to control our own intelligent futures.
artificial_intelligence  pedagogy 
5 weeks ago
About — Posthuman Feminist AI: Bits & Bytes
(Posthuman) Feminist AI Projects: Bits & Bytes Exploring embodiment in AI design, while re-imagining AI systems through collaborative making.

With the rise of consumer facing systems, AI, has the potential to combat or spread new forms of discrimination, through fundamental choices in representation, design and development. Bits and Bytes emerged from Feminist Posthuman AI Art Projects and engages with communities across Los Angeles to fight discrimination in AI through community workshops held across Los Angeles. 

Philosophy: Our approach is to collaboratively design with voices who have not been heard in Artificial Intelligence creation. Our focus is to include embodiment in AI design, incorporating sensory, cultural and emotional considerations. All are welcome to join at any point in the process - tech experience is not necessary. All knowledge is equally valued. 

What are we doing? We have multiple AI Art and Design Projects, but our primary project is looking at ways we can use intelligent interfaces for collaborative protest and civic engagement. We call this project XR Intelligent Protests. In the first part of the Intelligent Protest project, we used an an intelligent interface to protest with face movements instead of voices. In the second phase of the project, we implement the face protest into physical, virtual and augmented environments.

Challenges in this space.  Through our making, we consider questions like:

How can we positively inform AI design by recognizing cultural and social assumptions and biases that lead to discrimination?
How can we ensure that our approach to feminism is both transnational and posthuman?
As we have multiple selves across physical, web, virtual and augmented realities, how can we think about designing in a new way? Using one behavior across realities?
artificial_intelligence  pedagogy 
5 weeks ago
Step Inside the World’s 8 Most Futuristic Libraries | Architectural Digest
The library was once a silent sanctuary of books but today—thanks to new technology and trailblazing design—its contemporary interpretations are far from quiet. Step inside the world’s most modern libraries and you’ll find dynamic tools and spaces, from podcast recording studios to game development labs. Robotic book-retrieval systems have made way for communal spaces punctuated with art, turning the library into a social sphere. According to an analysis of U.S. library attendance by Pew Research Center, millennials use libraries more than any other generation. As a result, services and spaces have evolved to appeal to digitally native generations. One tradition has been remained, though: The art of making the library an architectural centerpiece. In the spirit of buildings like Dublin’s Trinity College Library, today’s institutions are designed to inspire. While historians consider the 17th century to be “the golden age of libraries,” these contemporary projects suggest a biblio-renaissance is well underway.
5 weeks ago
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