Wednesday, April 19. 2017
Note: the following happened to be a quite fascinating and "spontaneous" collaborative experience recently held in 2d, pixel by pixel as the main expression tool, on Reddit.
It has certrainly the formal flavour of the online community (-ies) the project was first dedicated to ("dick" stuff, fantaisy or game characters, ...). But nonetheless, how much (almost spatial/ "places") "stories" can happen inside a blank online shared 2d space, with 16 colors and pixels, during 72 hours, is quite astonishing.
The project was called Place.
Terminologies used in the post below could certainly be refined and we could also wonder why (kind of sad) the process ends up into so many national flags (when it comes to collaborative design, a flag is certainly something so simple to communicate to many and co-create, due to its basic shapes and identifiable design rules, that it might be a reason - if not the reason - for the large amount of them that are present at the end of the experience (beside the copycat effect) - or why are these what we see at first glance? But that's not the main point about the whole experience.
As a matter of fact, it is undoubtedly a reminiscence and a much more interesting version of this "Million Dollar Homepage" by Alex Tew, on a 1000 x 1000 pixel grid, dating back 2005.
Via & by Sudoscript
Last weekend, a fascinating act in the history of humanity played out on Reddit.
For April Fool's Day, Reddit launched a little experiment. It gave its users, who are all anonymous, a blank canvas called Place. The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one. Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.
From a single blank canvas, a couple simple rules and no plan, came this:
Each pixel you see was placed by hand. Each icon, each flag, each meme created painstakingly by millions of people who had nothing in common except an Internet connection. Somehow, someway, what happened in Reddit over those 72 hours was the birth of Art.
How did this happen?
While I followed Place closely, I cannot do justice to the story behind it in the few words here. There were countless dramas -- countless ideas, and fights, and battles, and wars -- that I don't even know about. They happened in small forums and private Discord chats, with too much happening at once, all the time, to keep track of everything. And, of course, I had to sleep.
But at its core, the story of Place is an eternal story, about the three forces that humanity needs to make art, creation, and technology possible.
First came "the Creators". They were the artists to whom the blank canvas was an irresistible opportunity.
When Place was launched, with no warning, the first users started placing pixels willy-nilly, just to see what they could do. Within minutes, the first sketches appeared on Place. Crude and immature, they resembled cavemen paintings, the work of artists just stretching their wings.
Even from that humble beginning, the Creators quickly saw that the pixels held power, and lots of potential. But working alone, they could only place one pixel every 5 or 10 minutes. Making anything more meaningful would take forever -- if someone didn't mess up their work as they were doing it. To make something bigger, they would have to work together.
That's when someone hit on the brilliant notion of a gridmap. They took a simple idea -- a drawing overlaid on a grid, that showed where each of the pixels should go -- and combined it with an image that resonated with the adolescent humor of Redditors. They proposed drawing Dickbutt.
The Placetions (denizens of r/place) quickly got to work. It didn't take long -- Dickbutt materialized within minutes in the lower left part of the canvas. The Place had its first collaborative Art.
But Creators didn't stop there. They added more appendages to the creature, they added colors, and then they attempted to metamorphize their creation into Dickbutterfly. Behind its silliness was the hint of a creative tsunami about to come.
But it didn't happen all at once. Creators started to get a little drunk on their power. Across the canvas from Dickbutt, a small Charmander came to life. But once the Pokemon character was brought to life, it started growing a large male member where once had been a leg. Then came two more.
This was not by design. Some Creators frantically tried to remove the offending additions, putting out calls to "purify" the art, but others kept the additions going.
Suddenly, it looked like Place would be a short-lived experiment that took the path of least surprise. Left to their own devices, Creators threatened to turn the Place into a phallic fantasy. Of course.
The problem was less one of immaturity, and more of the fundamental complexity of the creative process. What the Creators were starting to face was something that would become the defining theme of Place: too much freedom leads to chaos. Creativity needs constraint as much as it needs freedom.
When anyone could put any pixel anywhere, how does it not lead immediately to mayhem?
Another set of users emerged, who would soon address this very problem.
But like the primitive Creators, they weren't yet self-aware of their purpose on the great white canvas. Instead, they began by simplifying the experiment into a single goal: world conquest.
They formed Factions around colors, that they used to take over the Place with. The Blue Corner was among the first, and by far the largest. It began in the bottom right corner and spread like a plague. Its followers self-identified with the color, claiming that its manifest destiny was to take over Place. Pixel by pixel, they started turning it into reality, in a mad land grab over the wide open space.
The Blue Corner wasn't alone. Another group started a Red Corner on the other side of the canvas. Their users claimed a leftist political leaning. Yet another started the Green Lattice, which went for a polka-dot design with interspersing green pixels and white. They championed their superior efficiency, since they only had to color half as many pixels as the other Factions.
It wasn't long before the Factions ran head-on into the Creators. Charmander was among the first battle sites. As the Blue Corner began to overwrite the Pokemon with blue pixels, the Creators turned from their internecine phallic wars to the bigger threat now on their doorstep.
They fought back, replacing each blue pixel with their own. But the numbers were against them. With its single-minded focus on expansion, the Blue Corner commanded a much larger army than the Creators could muster. So they did the only thing they could do. They pled for their lives.
Somehow, it struck a chord. It ignited a debate within the Blue Corner. What was their role in relation to Art? A member asked: "As our tide inevitably covers the world from edge to edge, should we show mercy to other art we come across?"
This was a question each Faction faced in turn. With all the power given to them by their expansionary zeal, what were they to do about the art that stood in their path?
They all decided to save it. One by one, each of the Factions began flowing around the artwork, rather than through them.
Rebel against Bluegoisie all you want, but let's make one thing clear: THESE THREE ARE OFF ABSOLUTELY OFF LIMITS. THEY ARE NOT TO BE HARMED. from place
This was a turning point. The mindless Factions had turned into beneficent Protectors
Still No Happy Ending
Finally at peace with the ravenous color horde, the Creators turned back to their creations. They started making them more complex, adding one element after another.
They started using 3-pixel fonts to write text. A Star Wars prequel meme that had been sputtering along took a more defined shape, becoming one of the most prominent pieces of art in Place.
Others formed Creator collectives around common projects. Organizing in smaller subreddits that they created just for this purpose, they planned strategies and shared templates.
One of the most successful was a group that added a Windows 95-esque taskbar along the bottom, replete with Start button in the corner.
Another were a block of hearts. They started with only a few, mimicking hearts of life in old bitmap video games, like Zelda, before their collective took off with the idea. By the end they stretched across half the canvas, in a dazzling array of flags and designs.
And of course, there was Van Gogh.
But not all was well. The Protectors who they had once welcomed with relief had become tyrants dictating fashion. They decided what could and couldn't be made. It wasn't long before Creators started chafing under their rule.
Meanwhile, with the issue of artwork resolved, the Factions had turned their sights on each other, forcing followers to choose sides in epic battles. They had little time to pay attention to the pathetic pleas of Creators who wanted approval for ideas of new art.
The fights between the Protectors got nasty. A Twitch live-streamer exhorted his followers to attack the Blue Corner with Purple. There were battle plans. There were appeals to emotion. There were even false-flag attacks, where the followers of one color placed pixels of the opposing side inside their own, just so they could cry foul and attack in return.
But the biggest problem of all was one of the only hard rules of Place -- it couldn't grow. With the Factions engaged in a massive battle among themselves, the Creators started realizing there wasn't space to make new Art.
Country flags had started emerging pretty much from the beginning. But as they grew and grew, they started bumping into each other.
Out in the unclaimed territory of the middle of the canvas, with no Protector to mediate between them, Germany and France engaged in an epic battle that sent shockwaves through Place.
Suddenly, a world that had been saved from its primitive beginnings looked like it would succumb to war. There were frantic attempts at diplomacy between all sides. Leaders form the Protectors and the Creators and met each other in chat rooms, but mostly they just pointed fingers at each other.
What Place needed was a villain that everyone could agree upon.
Enter the Void.
They started on 4chan, Reddit's mangled, red-headed step-brother. It wasn't long before the pranksters on the Internet's most notorious imageboard took notice of what was happening on Reddit. It was too good an opportunity for them to pass up. And so they turned to the color closest to their heart -- black. They became the Void.
Like a tear spreading slowly across the canvas, black pixels started emerging near the center of Place.
At first, other Factions tried to form an alliance with them, foolishly assuming that diplomacy would work. But they failed, because the Void was different.
The Void was no Protector. Unlike the Factions, it professed no loyalty to Art. Followers of the Void championed its destructive egalitarianism, chanting only that "the Void will consume." They took no sides. They only wanted to paint the world black.
This was exactly the kick in the ass that Place needed. While Creators had been busy fighting each other, and Protectors still measured themselves by the extent of canvas they controlled, a new threat -- a real threat -- had emerged under their nose.
Against the face of extinction, they banded together to fight the Void and save their Art.
But the Void was not easy to vanquish, because the Place needed it. It needed destruction so that new Art, better Art, would emerge from the ashes. Without the Void, there was no force to clean up the old Art.
I used to hate the Void but watching the time-lapses I see they're a vital part of the r/place ecosystem. Like a forest fire making way for new life. from place
And yet, this was exactly what Place needed. By destroying art, the Void forced Placetions to come up with something better. They knew they could overcome the sourge. They just needed an idea good enough, with enough momentum and enough followers, to beat the black monster.
That idea was the American flag.
In the last day of Place, a most unlikely coalition came together to beat back the Void, once and for all.
They were people who otherwise tear each other apart every day -- Trump supporters and Trump resisters, Democrats and Republicans, Americans and Europeans. And here they were coming together to build something together, on a little corner of the Internet, proving in an age when such cooperation seems impossible, that they still can.
The Ancients Were Right
Reddit's experiment ended soon after. There are so many more stories hidden deep in the dozens of subreddits and chat rooms that cropped up around Place. For every piece of artwork I mentioned, there are hundreds more on the final canvas. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that on an anonymous, no-holds-barred space on the Internet, there were no hate or racist symbols at all on the final canvas.
It is a beautiful circle of art, life and death. And it isn't the first time in our history that we've seen it.
Many millenia before Place, when humanity itself was still in its infancy (the real one, not the one on Reddit), Hindu philosophers theorized that the Heavens were made of three competing, but necessary, deities that they called the Trimurti. They were Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Protector, and Shiva the Destroyer.
Without any single one of them, the Universe would not work. For there to be light, there needed to be dark. For there to be life, there needed to be death. For there to be creation and art, there needed to be destruction.
Over the last few days, their vision proved prescient. In the most uncanny way, Reddit proved that human creation requires all three.
The Final Canvas
Tuesday, August 02. 2016
By fabric | ch
As we continue to lack a decent search engine on this blog and as we don't use a "tag cloud" ... This post could help navigate through the updated content on | rblg (as of 07.2016), via all 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 16:58
Defined tags for this entry: 3d, activism, advertising, agriculture, air, animation, applications, archeology, architects, architecture, art, art direction, artificial reality, artists, atmosphere, automation, behaviour, bioinspired, biotech, blog, body, books, brand, character, citizen, city, climate, clips, code, cognition, collaboration, commodification, communication, community, computing, conditioning, conferences, consumption, content, control, craft, culture & society, curators, customization, data, density, design, design (environments), design (fashion), design (graphic), design (interactions), design (motion), design (products), designers, development, devices, digital, digital fabrication, digital life, digital marketing, dimensions, direct, display, documentary, earth, ecal, ecology, economy, electronics, energy, engineering, environment, equipment, event, exhibitions, experience, experimentation, fabric | ch, farming, fashion, fiction, films, food, form, franchised, friends, function, future, gadgets, games, garden, generative, geography, globalization, goods, hack, hardware, harvesting, health, history, housing, hybrid, identification, illustration, images, information, infrastructure, installations, interaction design, interface, interferences, kinetic, knowledge, landscape, language, law, life, lighting, localization, localized, magazines, make, mapping, marketing, mashup, materials, media, mediated, mind, mining, mobile, mobility, molecules, monitoring, monography, movie, museum, music, nanotech, narrative, nature, networks, neurosciences, opensource, operating system, participative, particles, people, perception, photography, physics, physiological, politics, pollution, presence, print, privacy, product, profiling, projects, psychological, public, publishing, reactive, real time, recycling, research, resources, responsive, ressources, robotics, santé, scenography, schools, science & technology, scientists, screen, search, security, semantic, services, sharing, shopping, signage, smart, social, society, software, solar, sound, space, speculation, statement, surveillance, sustainability, tactile, tagging, tangible, targeted, teaching, technology, tele-, telecom, territory, text, textile, theory, thinkers, thinking, time, tools, topology, tourism, toys, transmission, trend, typography, ubiquitous, urbanism, users, variable, vernacular, video, viral, vision, visualization, voice, vr, war, weather, web, wireless, writing
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!
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.
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fabric | rblg
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