Tuesday, June 07. 2016
Note: I've posted several articles about automation recently. This was the occasion to continue collect some thoughts about the topic (automation then) so as the larger social implications that this might trigger.
But it was also a "collection" that took place at a special moment in Switzerland when we had to vote about the "Revenu the Base Inconditionnel" (Unconditional Basic Income). I mentioned it in a previous post ("On Algorithmic Communism"), in particular the relation that is often made between this idea (Basic Income / Universal Income) and the probable evolution of work in the decades to come (less work for "humans" vs. more for "robots").
Well, the campain and votation triggered very interesting debates among the civil population, but in the end and predictably, the idea was largely rejected (~25% of the voters accepted it, with some small geographical areas that indeed acceted it at more than 50% --urban areas mainly--. Some where not so far, for exemple the city capital, Bern, voted at 40% for the RBI).
This was very new and a probably too (?) early question for the Swiss population, but it will undoubtedly become a growing debate in the decades to come. A question that has many important associated stakes.
Press talking about the RBI, image from RTS website.
Wednesday, August 26. 2015
Hippie Modernism exhibition at the Walker Art Center to celebrate design's trippy side | #radical #experiments #counterculture
Note: In parallel with the exhibition about the work of E.A.T at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, another exhibition: Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia that will certainly be worth a detour at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis later this autumn.
The architecture and design of the counterculture era has been overlooked, according to the curator of an upcoming exhibition dedicated to "Hippie Modernism".
Yellow submarine by Corita Kent, 1967. Photograph by Joshua White
The radical output of the 1960s and 1970s has had a profound influence on contemporary life but has been "largely ignored in official histories of art, architecture and design," said Andrew Blauvelt, curator of the exhibition that opens at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis this autumn.
"It's difficult to identify another period of history that has exerted more influence on contemporary culture and politics," he said.
Superchair by Ken Isaacs, 1967
Women in Design: The Next Decade by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, 1975. Courtesy of Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
While not representative of a formal movement, the works in Hippie Modernism challenged the establishment and high Modernism, which had become fully assimilated as a corporate style, both in Europe and North America by the 1960s.
The exhibition, entitled Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia will centre on three themes taken from taken from American psychologist and psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary's era-defining mantra: Turn on, tune in, drop out.
Organised with the participation of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, it will cover a diverse range of cultural objects including films, music posters, furniture, installations, conceptual architectural projects and environments.
Hendrixwar/Cosmococa Programa-in-Progress, 1973. Courtesy of the Walker Art Center collection, Minneapolis
Jimi Hendrix, Ira Cohen, 1968. Photograph from the Mylar Chamber, courtesy of the Ira Cohen Archive
The Turn On section of the show will focus on altered perception and expanded individual awareness. It will include conceptual works by British avant-garde architectural group Archigram, American architecture collective Ant Farm, and a predecessor to the music video by American artist Bruce Conner – known for pioneering works in assemblage and video art.
Tune In will look at media as a device for raising collective consciousness and social awareness around issues of the time, many of which resonate today, like the powerful graphics of the US-based black nationalist party Black Panther Movement.
Untitled [the Cockettes] by Clay Geerdes, 1972. Courtesy of the estate of Clay Geerdes
Drop Out includes alternative structures that allowed or proposed ways for individuals and groups to challenge norms or remove themselves from conventional society, with works like the Drop City collective's recreation dome – a hippie version of a Buckminster Fuller dome – and Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison's Portable Orchard, a commentary on the loss of agricultural lands to the spread of suburban sprawl.
Environment Transformer/Flyhead Helmet by Haus-Rucker-Co, 1968. Photograph courtesy of Haus-Rucker-Co and Gerald Zugmann
The issues raised by the projects in Hippie Modernism – racial justice, women's and LGBT rights, environmentalism, and localism among many other – continue to shape culture and politics today.
Blauvelt sees the period's ongoing impact in current practices of public-interest design and social-impact design, where the authorship of the building or object is less important than the need that it serves.
Payne's Gray by Judith Williams, circa 1966. Photograph courtesy of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, The University of British Columbia
Superonda Sofa by Archizoom Associati, 1966. Photograph courtesy of Dario Bartolini, Archizoom Associati
Many of the exhibited artists, designers, and architects created immersive environments that challenged notions of domesticity, inside/outside, and traditional limitations on the body, like the Italian avant-garde design group Superstudio's Superonda: conceptual furniture which together creates an architectural landscape that suggests new ways of living and socialising.
Hello Dali by Isaac Abrams, 1965
Blauvelt sees the period's utopian project ending with the OPEC oil crisis of the mid 1970s, which helped initiate the more conservative consumer culture of the late 1970s and 1980s.
Organised in collaboration with the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive, Hippie Modernism will run from 24 October 2015 to 28 February 2016 at the Walker Art Center.
Friday, August 14. 2015
Note: While being interested in the idea of the commune for some time now --I've been digging into old stories, like the ones of the well named Haight-Ashbury's Diggers, or the Droppers, in connection to system theory, cybernetics and information theory and then of course, to THE Personal Computer as "small scale technology" , so as to "the biggest commune of all: the internet" (F. Turner)--.
The idealistic social flatness of the communes, anarchic yet with inevitable emerging order, its "counter" approach to western social organization but also the fact that in the end, the 60ies initiatives seemed to have "failed" for different reasons, interests me for further works. These "diggings" are also somehow connected to a ongoing project and tool we recently published online, a "data commune": Datadroppers (even so it is just a shared tool).
Following this interest, I came accross this latest online publication by uncube (Issue #34) about the Commune Revisited, which both have an historic approach to old experiments (like the one of Drop City), and to more recent ones, up to the "gated community" ... The idea of the editors being to investigate the diversity of the concepts. It brings an interesting contemporary twist and understanding to the general idea... In a time when we are totally fed up with neo liberalism.
"One year after our Urban Commons issue, we're returning to the idea of the communal, this time investigating just how diversly the concept of "commune" can be interpreted - and not always with entirely benevolent intentions or successful results.
Wether trying to escape a broken economy or an oppressive system via new forms of existence or looking to break the system itself via anarchic methodologies, forming a commune traditionnaly involves segregation or stepping "outside" society.
But no matter how off-grid and back-to-nature the contemporary communities that we investigate here are, it turns out they are far more connected than we think.
Turn on, tune out, drop in.
Monday, July 20. 2015
Note: an interesting handmade book initiative by Garnet hertz around the makers movement, from their critical point of view. Not critical thinking or design therefore, but critical make. I would even prefer to say "make thinking"!
Via Critical Making
"Critical Making is a handmade book project by Garnet Hertz that explores how hands-on productive work ‐ making ‐ can supplement and extend critical reflection on technology and society. It works to blend and extend the fields of design, contemporary art, DIY/craft and technological development. It also can be thought of as an appeal to the electronic DIY maker movement to be critically engaged with culture, history and society: after learning to use a 3D printer, making an LED blink or using an Arduino, then what?"
The entire collection can be downloaded on the website.
Friday, November 21. 2014
Note: a message from Matthew on Tuesday about his ongoing I&IC workshop. More resources to come there by the end of the week, as students are looking into many different directions!
Friday, August 01. 2014
By fabric | ch
As we continue to lack a decent search engine on this blog and as we don't have a "tag cloud" ... This post could help you navigate though all the content on | rblg, via its tags.
HERE ARE ALL THE CURRENT TAGS TO NAVIGATE ON | RBLG BLOG:
(to be seen just below if you're navigating on the blog's page or here for rss readers)
Posted by Patrick Keller in fabric | ch at 21:19
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Thursday, July 03. 2014
Note: I'm happy to learn that I'm not a "social capitalist"! I am not a "regular capitalist" either...
Via MIT Technology
Social capitalists on Twitter are inadvertently ruining the network for ordinary users, say network scientists.
A couple of years, ago, network scientists began to study the phenomenon of “link farming” on Twitter and other social networks. This is the process in which spammers gather as many links or followers as possible to help spread their messages.
What these researchers discovered on Twitter was curious. They found that link farming was common among spammers. However, most of the people who followed the spam accounts came from a relatively small pool of human users on Twitter.
These people turn out to be individuals who are themselves trying to amass social capital by gathering as many followers as possible. The researchers called these people social capitalists.
That raises an interesting question: how do social capitalists emerge and what kind of influence do they have on the network? Today we get an answer of sorts, thanks to the work of Vincent Labatut at Galatasaray University in Turkey and a couple of pals who have carried out the first detailed study of social capitalists and how they behave.
These guys say that social capitalists fall into at least two different categories that reflect their success and the roles they play in linking together diverse communities. But they warn that social capitalists have a dark side too.
First, a bit of background. Twitter has around 600 million users who send 60 million tweets every day. On average, each Twitter user has around 200 followers and follows a similar number, creating a dynamic social network in which messages percolate through the network of links.
Many of these people use Twitter to connect with friends, family, news organizations, and so on. But a few, the social capitalists, use the network purely to maximize their own number of followers.
Social capitalists essentially rely on two kinds of reciprocity to amass followers. The first is to reassure other users that if they follow this user, then he or she will follow them back, a process called Follow Me and I Follow You or FMIFY. The second is to follow anybody and hope they follow back, a process called I Follow You, Follow Me or IFYFM.
This process takes place regardless of the content of messages, which is how they get mixed up with spammers, a point that turns out to be significant later.
Clearly, social capitalists are different from Twitter users who choose to follow people based on the content they tweet. The question that Labatut and co set out to answer is how to automatically identify social capitalists in Twitter and to work out how they sit within the Twitter network.
A clear feature of the reciprocity mechanism is that there will be a large overlap between the friends and followers of social capitalists. It’s possible to measure this overlap and categorize users accordingly. Social capitalists tend to have an overlap much closer to 100 percent than ordinary users.
One final way to categorize them is by their level of success. Here, Labatut and others set an arbitrary threshold of 10,000 followers. Social capitalists with more than this are obviously more successful than those with less.
To study these groups, Labatut and coanalyze an anonymized dataset of 55 million Twitter users with two billion links between them. And they find some 160,000 users who fit the description of social capitalist.
In particular, the team is interested in how social capitalists are linked to communities within Twitter, that is groups of users who are more strongly interlinked than average.
It turns out that there is a surprisingly large variety of social capitalists playing different roles. “We ﬁnd out the different kinds of social capitalists occupy very speciﬁc roles,” say Labatut and co.
For example, social capitalists with fewer than 10,000 followers tend not to have large numbers of links within a single community but links to lots of different communities. By contrast, those with more than 10,000 followers can have a strong presence in single communities as well as link disparate communities together. In both cases, social capitalists are significant because their messages travel widely across the entire Twitter network.
That has important consequences for the Twitter network. Labatut and co say there is a clear dark side to the role of social capitalists. “Because of this lack of interest in the content produced by the users they follow, social capitalists are not healthy for a service such as Twitter,” they say.
That’s because they provide an indiscriminate conduit for spammers to peddle their wares. “[Social capitalists’] behavior helps spammers gain inﬂuence, and more generally makes the task of ﬁnding relevant information harder for regular users,” say Labatut and co.
That’s an interesting insight that raises a tricky question for Twitter and other social networks. Finding social capitalists should now be straightforward now that Labatut and others have found a way to spot them automatically. But if social capitalists are detrimental, should their activities be restricted?
http://arxiv.org/abs/1406.6611 : Identifying the Community Roles of Social Capitalists in the Twitter Network.
http://www.mpi-sws.org/~farshad/TwitterLinkfarming.pdf : Understanding and Combating Link Farming in the Twitter Social Network
Wednesday, June 18. 2014
Learning doesn’t necessarily need to be formal – or expensive for that matter. Thanks to the Internet and some generous benefactors, you can further your education for free from the comfort of your own home. Top schools such as MIT and Harvard University are affiliated with free online learning resources, allowing people from all over the globe to connect and audit courses at their own pace. In some cases, these services even provide self-educators with proof for having completed courses. Keep reading after the break to check out our round-up of four free online learning resources.
In 2003, MIT officially launched OpenCourseWare – an online platform through which absolutely anyone can access the same course content as paying students – for free. The architecture section boasts over 100 undergraduate and graduate level courses, complete with downloadable lecture notes, assignments, reading lists, and in many cases, examples of past student work. Even though you won’t receive feedback from professors or certification for completing coursework, having free access to the oldest architecture department in the United States’ teachings is nevertheless an amazing resource. Below are two of the MIT OpenCourseWare architecture courses, described.
Architectural Construction and Computation is for architecture students interested in how computers can be facilitate design and construction. The course begins with a pre-prepared computer model, which is used for testing and investigating the construction process. The construction process is explored in terms of detail design and structural design, taking legal and computational issues into consideration.
Theory of City Form is one of the handful of architecture courses offered in audio and video format through MIT OpenCourseWare. The title is pretty self-explanatory – the course presents students with historical and modern theories of city form along with appropriate case studies, helping them build an understanding of urbanism and architecture for future educational and professional pursuits.
Just like MIT, TU Delft also has an OpenCourseWare platform – albeit less extensive. Even though the website does not have a designated architecture section, designers can still make use out of the prestigious school’s science and technical offerings. Available material for the majority of courses includes audio and video lecture recordings, readings, assignments, and practice exams.
Bio Inspired Design ”gives an overview of non-conventional mechanical approaches in nature and shows how this knowledge can lead to more creativity in mechanical design and to better (simpler, smaller, more robust) solutions than with conventional technology. It discusses a large number of biological organisms with smart constructions, unusual mechanisms or clever sensing and processing methods and presents a number of technical examples and designs of bio-inspired instruments and machines.”
Wastewater Treatment looks at the development of wastewater treatment technologies and their application. “High-tech and low-tech systems, which are applicable in both industrialized and developing countries, are discussed.” Specific examination topics include technologies for nutrient removal and recovery, such as anaerobic treatment systems and membrane filtration techniques.
EdX, a non-profit online initiative founded by MIT and Harvard University, offers free interactive classes from some of the world’s top universities. If you decide to take a course, you can try for a certificate of achievement – or you can simply audit it, choosing what and how much you want to do. It’s up to you. A huge benefit is being able to connect with like-minded classmates all over the world using the website’s peer-to-peer social learning tools. In addition to categories like computer science, music, and economics, they have a dedicated architecture section. Two of their architecture courses, described below, are currently open to fall registration.
The Search for Vernacular Architecture of Asia ”is a comprehensive, dialogue-based course providing an in-depth exploration of the vernacular concept and its applications to the culture and built environments of the past, present, and future. Designed to promote discussion and dialogue while contributing to the discourse surrounding the concept of the vernacular, this five-week course will challenge the perception of tradition and stimulate a deeper analysis of one’s local environment.” As suggested in the title, the course will focus specifically on the vernacular in Asia.
“While the development of cities in different parts of the world is moving in diverse directions, all estimations show that cities worldwide will change and grow strongly in the coming years” – especially in the tropics, where “it is expected that the number of new urban residents will increase by 3 times the population of Europe today.” With a specific focus on Asia, Future Cities will explore design and management methods over the course of nine weeks to increase the sustainable performance of cities and therefore, their resiliency.
Iversity is a similar platform to Edx, offering a wide range of interactive courses in collaboration with independent instructors, universities, and knowledge-based companies. Dr. Ivan Shumkov, one of the website’s educators, is a New York based architect, curator, and professor. He has taught at Harvard GSD, the Pratt Institute‘s School of Architecture, and Parsons The New School for Design – just to name a few. So far, he has offered two free architecture courses via Iversity, described below. Be sure to keep an eye out for his offerings in the future and take a look to see if any of the other courses appeal to you.
Contemporary Architecture analyzed “major contemporary architectural ideas, ideologies, and projects in the context of both globalization and specific local contexts” over a 12-week period. Students studied material from the 1990s onwards, submitting weekly assignments and sitting in on virtual classes and tours. Shumkov hopes to offer the course again after nearly 20,000 people from across the globe participated in its first iteration.
Designing Resilient Schools was taught by both Shumkov and Illac Diaz, the man behind the Liter of Light project in the Phillippines, which won the Curry Stone Design Prize in 2012. The 7-week course asked students to collaborate on resilient school design proposals for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Phillippines on November 9th, 2013. At the end of the course, which was essentially an online version of design studio, an international jury – including Kenneth Frampton and Giancarlo Mazzanti – selected the best design proposals for future implementation.
Wednesday, February 26. 2014
Three years ago we published a post by Nicolas Nova about Salvator Allende's project Cybersyn. A trial to build a cybernetic society (including feedbacks from the chilean population) back in the early 70ies.
Here is another article and picture piece about this amazing projetc on Frieze. You'll need to buy the magazione to see the pictures, though!
Phograph of Cybersyn, Salvador Allende's attempt to create a 'socialist internet, decades ahead of its time'
This is a tantalizing glimpse of a world that could have been our world. What we are looking at is the heart of the Cybersyn system, created for Salvador Allende’s socialist Chilean government by the British cybernetician Stafford Beer. Beer’s ambition was to ‘implant an electronic nervous system’ into Chile. With its network of telex machines and other communication devices, Cybersyn was to be – in the words of Andy Beckett, author of Pinochet in Piccadilly (2003) – a ‘socialist internet, decades ahead of its time’.
Capitalist propagandists claimed that this was a Big Brother-style surveillance system, but the aim was exactly the opposite: Beer and Allende wanted a network that would allow workers unprecedented levels of control over their own lives. Instead of commanding from on high, the government would be able to respond to up-to-the-minute information coming from factories. Yet Cybersyn was envisaged as much more than a system for relaying economic data: it was also hoped that it would eventually allow the population to instantaneously communicate its feelings about decisions the government had taken.
In 1973, General Pinochet’s cia-backed military coup brutally overthrew Allende’s government. The stakes couldn’t have been higher. It wasn’t only that a new model of socialism was defeated in Chile; the defeat immediately cleared the ground for Chile to become the testing-ground for the neoliberal version of capitalism. The military takeover was swiftly followed by the widespread torture and terrorization of Allende’s supporters, alongside a massive programme of privatization and de-regulation. One world was destroyed before it could really be born; another world – the world in which there is no alternative to capitalism, our world, the world of capitalist realism – started to emerge.
There’s an aching poignancy in this image of Cybersyn now, when the pathological effects of communicative capitalism’s always-on cyberblitz are becoming increasingly apparent. Cloaked in a rhetoric of inclusion and participation, semio-capitalism keeps us in a state of permanent anxiety. But Cybersyn reminds us that this is not an inherent feature of communications technology. A whole other use of cybernetic sytems is possible. Perhaps, rather than being some fragment of a lost world, Cybersyn is a glimpse of a future that can still happen.
Tuesday, November 05. 2013
Twitter data reveals the cities that set trends and those that follow. And the difference may be in the way air passengers carry information across the country, by-passing the Internet, say network scientists.
One of the defining properties of social networks is the ease with which information can spread across them. This flow leads to information avalanches in which videos or photographs or other content becomes viral across entire countries, continents and even the globe.
It’s easy to imagine that these trends are simply the result of the properties of the network. Indeed, there are plenty of studies that seem to show this.
But in recent years, researchers have become increasingly interested in the relationship between a network and the geography it is superimposed on. What role does geography play in the emergence and spread of trends? And which areas are trend setters and which are trend followers?
Today we get an answer of sorts thanks to the work of Emilio Ferrara and pals at Indiana University in Bloomington. These guys have examined the way trends emerge in cities across the US and how they spread to other cities and beyond.
Their research allows them to classify US cities as sources, those that lead the way in trends, or those that follow the trends which the team call sinks.
Their research also leads to a curious conclusion–that air travel plays a crucial role in the spread of information around the country This implies that trends spread from one part of the country to another not over the internet but via air passengers, just like diseases.
The method these guys use is straightforward. Twitter publishes a continuously updated list pf the the top ten most popular phrases or hashtags on its webpage. It also has webpages showing the trending topics for each of 63 US cities.
To capture the way these trends emerge and spread, Ferrra and co set up a web crawler to check each list every ten minutes between 12 April and 30 May 2013. In this way the collected over 11,000 different phrases and hashtags that became popular throughout these 50 days.
They then plotted the evolution of these trends in each US city over time. This allowed them to study how trends spread from one city to another and to look for clusters of cities in which the same topics trend together.
The results are revealing. They say most trends die away quickly–around 70 per cent of trends last only 20 minutes and only 0.3 per cent last more than a day.
Ferrara and co say they can see three distinct geographical regions that share similar trends–the East Coast, the Midwest and Southwest. It’s easy to imagine how trends arise at a low level and spread through the region through local links such as friends.
But these guys say there is also a fourth cluster of influential cities that also form a group where the emergence of trends is related. However, these place are not geographically related. They are metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Chicago and so on.
What links these places is not geography but airports, say Ferrara and co. Their hypothesis is that topics trend in these places because of the influence of air passengers. In other words, trending topics spread just like diseases.
Ferrara and co have created a list of the cities that act as trend setters and those that act as trend followers.
The top five sources of trends are: Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Washington, Seattle and New York.
The top five trend followers (or sinks) are: Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, El Paso, Omaha and Kansas City.
That’s a fascinating result. In a sense it’s obvious that the large scale movement of people will influence the apread of information However, it’s not obvious that this should happen at a rate that is comparable to the spread of trends across the internet itself.
And it raises an interesting question that Ferrara and co hope to answer in future work. “Does information travel faster by airplane than over the Internet?” they ask.
We’ll be watching for when they reveal the answer.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1310.2671 : Traveling Trends: Social Butterﬂies or Frequent Fliers?
Interesting results (information travels by plane either, like diseases...), yet when only 0.3% of "trends" last more than a day, we can wonder if it even matters to have concerns about the 99.7% other ones (just some crap lolcats stuff ?)... or that on the contrary, it could possibly be the revelator of incredible "short time" pulses of "things/memes/subjects" in and in-between cities?
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fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
Most articles concern the intertwined fields of architecture, territory, art, interaction design, thinking and science. From time to time, we also publish documentation about our own work and research, immersed among these related resources and inspirations.
This website is used by fabric | ch as archive, references and resources. It is shared with all those interested in the same topics as we are, in the hope that they will also find valuable references and content in it.
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