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San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “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.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Maintenance and Care
"A working guide to the repair of rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code in our cities, our homes, and our social relations."
shannonmattern  maintenance  repair  care  caring  2018  rust  dust  homes  cities  labor  work  art  performance  shanzhai  jugaad  gambiarra  fixing  mending  gender 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Small, Moving, Intelligent Parts – Words in Space
"Abstract: The great expositions and World’s Fairs of the 19th and 20th centuries were known for celebrating new technological developments. The world of index cards, fiches, and data management hardly seems germane to the avant-garde, one of the central concerns of this special issue – yet the fairs made clear that information management systems were themselves designed, and were critical components of more obviously revolutionary design practices and political movements. Cards and files became familiar attractions at expos throughout the long-20th century. But those standardized supplies came to embody different ideologies, different fantasies, as the cultural and political contexts surrounding them evolved – from the Unispheric “global village” modeled in 1964; to 1939’s scientifically managed World of Tomorrow; and, finally, to the age of internationalist aspirations that led up to World War I. We examine how the small, moving parts of information have indexed not only data, but also their own historical and cultural milieux."

[See also this thread,
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/748180579426930688

that points to
https://twitter.com/npseaver/status/735140727806648320
http://savageminds.org/2014/05/21/structuralism-thinking-with-computers/
https://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/12/luhmanns-zettelkasten.html ]
shannonmattern  2016  information  history  postits  hypercard  indexcards  cards  paperslips  1964  1939  data  archives  fiches  microfiche  datamanagement  officesupplies  ottoneurath  patrickgeddes  jamerhunt  evenote  writersduet  scrivener  notecards  obliquestrategycards  brianeno  peterschmidt  marshallmcluhan  julesverne  milydickinson  walterbenjamin  wittgenstein  claudelévi-strauss  rolandbarthes  niklasluhmann  georgesperec  raymondcarver  stanleybrouwn  marklombardi  corneliavismann  eames  fragments  flow  streams  johnwilkins  knoradgessner  williamcroswellcharlescoffinjewett  vannevarbush  timberners-lee  remingtonrand  melvildewey  deweydecimalsystem  srg  paulotlet  henrilafontaine  sperrycorporation  burroughscorporation  technology  kardexsystems  sperryrand  hermanhollerith  frederickwinslotaylor  worldoftomorrow  charleseames  ibm  orithlpern  johnharwood  thomasfarrell  wallaceharrison  gordonbunschaft  edwarddurrellstone  henrydreyfuss  emilpraeger  robertmoses  janejacobs  post-its 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Parsons :: Exhibitions and Events :: The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center :: Exhibitions :: Current and Upcoming Exhibitions
"Much of our common stock of knowledge -- from the inscriptions of early civilizations, the classic texts of the ancient world, the manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and the maps and scientific treatises of the Renaissance, to the tweets and open data sets of today -- now resides in The Cloud. That Cloud seems to have no boundaries, no place; it floats above us, bringing its intellectual riches to those of us who are connected to it, wherever we might be. Yet The Cloud isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as the weather. Its accessibility is limited by protocols and cables, and its “content” has to be shaped, formalized through various interfaces, in order for us to perceive and process it. While artists, designers, and researchers have acknowledged that The Cloud has an architecture -- from the routers generating wisps of wifi in our homes, to the massive data centers storing that “rain of data,” to the cables and satellites that function as the system’s plumbing -- we’ve paid little attention to the places where The Cloud meets our individual bodies. Furnishing the Cloud considers both how we have historically imagined the architectures and containers of our common stock of knowledge -- the universal library, the endless bookshelf, the collective brain, among other structural/architectural metaphors -- and proposes new infrastructures for storing, accessing, and processing The Cloud. What are our new ergonomics of reading and viewing and auditing digital content, and how can we design to support those postures and modes of perception? How might we Furnish the Cloud?

Related programs:

SENSORY INFRASTRUCTURES Roundtable Discussion
Friday, March 13, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
“Bark Room,” Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 2 W 13th Street, Ground Floor
Free and open to the public; no RSVP required

How do we perceive the presence of data? How do our bodies interface with information streams and the digital technologies that bring them to us? What aspects of “the cloud” are rendered sensible to us — not only visible, but also audible and tangible? Join the curators for “Furnishing the Cloud,” Kimberly Ackert, Orit Halpern, Shannon Mattern, and Brian McGrath, who will offer short provocations, exploring the exhibition’s themes from the perspectives of furniture and exhibition design, history, media studies, architecture, and urbanism.

http://furnishingthecloud.net

Presented by the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, with funding from the Provost Office Research Cluster Grant and the School of Constructed Environments, Parsons the New School for Design. With additional support from Historical Studies, New School for Social Research, and the School of Media Studies, New School for Public Engagement.

Exhibition Designers: Kimberly Ackert, with assistance from Jordana Maisie Goot
Curators: Kimberly Ackert, Orit Halpern, Shannon Mattern, and Brian McGrath
Web Development:Daniel Udell
Curatorial Assistant: Nadia Christidi
Students from Kimberly Ackert's Furniture, Detail and Space course: Dhafar Al-Edani, Mariam Alshamali, Tanyaporn Anantrungroj, Derick Brown, Felipe Colin, Kristina Cowger, Jo Garst, Jennifer Hindelang, Jacqueline Leung, Pei Ying Lin, Valter Lindgren, Mochi Lui, Matilda Maansdotter, Emmanuela Martini, Simon Schulz, Whitney Shanks, Raquel Sonobe
Web Projects: Zachary Franciose, Laura Sanchez, Eishin Yoshida
Students from Orit Halpern’s Making Sense: Methods in the Study of Media, Attention, and Infrastructure course: Jeffery Berryhill, Nicholas Cavaioli, Raquel DeAnda, Joseph Goldsmith, Angelica Huggins, Ian Keith, Kate McEntee, Awis Nari Mranani, Erika Nyame-Nseke, Kevin Swann, Shea Sweeney, Daniel Udell, Michal Unterberg, Kyla Wasserman"

[via (with images): https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/574656819517394944
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/574653891184345088 ]
kimberlyackert  orithalpern  shannonmattern  brianmcgrath  2015  design  cloud  data  furniture  architecture  media  mediastudies  urbanism  reading  howweread  digital  datacenters  storage  access 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Maps as Media: New Fall 2015 Studio – Words in Space
"coming fall, I’ll introduce a new hybrid theory-practice studio course: Maps as Media. Here’s my tentative course description:

Maps reveal, delineate, verify, orient, navigate, anticipate, historicize, conceal, persuade, and, on occasion, even lie. From the earliest maps in cave paintings and on clay tablets, to the predictive climate visualizations and crime maps and mobile cartographic apps of today and tomorrow, maps have offered far more than an objective representation of a stable reality. In this hybrid theory-practice studio we’ll examine the past, present, and future – across myriad geographic and cultural contexts – of our techniques and technologies for mapping space and time. In the process, we’ll address various critical frameworks for analyzing the rhetorics, poetics, politics, and epistemologies of spatial and temporal maps. Throughout the semester we’ll also experiment with a variety of critical mapping tools and methods, from techniques of critical cartography to sensory mapping to time-lining, using both analog and digital approaches. Tentative course requirements include: individual map critiques; individual final critical-creative projects in a format of each student’s choosing; and small-group projects completed in collaboration with NYPL Labs and the NYPL Map Division, in support of their work on the Knight Foundation-funded Space/Time Directory.

I welcome overtures from potential guest speakers, hosts of field trips and/or other cartographic excursions, and especially creative, tech-savvy, GIS-fluent teaching assistants!"
shannonmattern  2015  maps  mapping  cartography  history  visualization  media  classes 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Library as Infrastructure
"For millennia libraries have acquired resources, organized them, preserved them and made them accessible (or not) to patrons. But the forms of those resources have changed — from scrolls and codices; to LPs and LaserDiscs; to e-books, electronic databases and open data sets. Libraries have had at least to comprehend, if not become a key node within, evolving systems of media production and distribution. Consider the medieval scriptoria where manuscripts were produced; the evolution of the publishing industry and book trade after Gutenberg; the rise of information technology and its webs of wires, protocols and regulations. 1 At every stage, the contexts — spatial, political, economic, cultural — in which libraries function have shifted; so they are continuously reinventing themselves and the means by which they provide those vital information services.

Libraries have also assumed a host of ever-changing social and symbolic functions. They have been expected to symbolize the eminence of a ruler or state, to integrally link “knowledge” and “power” — and, more recently, to serve as “community centers,” “public squares” or “think tanks.” Even those seemingly modern metaphors have deep histories. The ancient Library of Alexandria was a prototypical think tank, 2 and the early Carnegie buildings of the 1880s were community centers with swimming pools and public baths, bowling alleys, billiard rooms, even rifle ranges, as well as book stacks. 3 As the Carnegie funding program expanded internationally — to more than 2,500 libraries worldwide — secretary James Bertram standardized the design in his 1911 pamphlet “Notes on the Erection of Library Buildings,” which offered grantees a choice of six models, believed to be the work of architect Edward Tilton. Notably, they all included a lecture room.

In short, the library has always been a place where informational and social infrastructures intersect within a physical infrastructure that (ideally) supports that program.

Now we are seeing the rise of a new metaphor: the library as “platform” — a buzzy word that refers to a base upon which developers create new applications, technologies and processes. In an influential 2012 article in Library Journal, David Weinberger proposed that we think of libraries as “open platforms” — not only for the creation of software, but also for the development of knowledge and community. 4 Weinberger argued that libraries should open up their entire collections, all their metadata, and any technologies they’ve created, and allow anyone to build new products and services on top of that foundation. The platform model, he wrote, “focuses our attention away from the provisioning of resources to the foment” — the “messy, rich networks of people and ideas” — that “those resources engender.” Thus the ancient Library of Alexandria, part of a larger museum with botanical gardens, laboratories, living quarters and dining halls, was a platform not only for the translation and copying of myriad texts and the compilation of a magnificent collection, but also for the launch of works by Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes and their peers."



"Partly because of their skill in reaching populations that others miss, libraries have recently reported record circulation and visitation, despite severe budget cuts, decreased hours and the threatened closure or sale of “underperforming” branches. 9 Meanwhile the Pew Research Center has released a series of studies about the materials and services Americans want their libraries to provide. Among the findings: 90 percent of respondents say the closure of their local public library would have an impact on their community, and 63 percent describe that impact as “major.”"



"Again, we need to look to the infrastructural ecology — the larger network of public services and knowledge institutions of which each library is a part. How might towns, cities and regions assess what their various public (and private) institutions are uniquely qualified and sufficiently resourced to do, and then deploy those resources most effectively? Should we regard the library as the territory of the civic mind and ask other social services to attend to the civic body? The assignment of social responsibility isn’t so black and white — nor are the boundaries between mind and body, cognition and affect — but libraries do need to collaborate with other institutions to determine how they leverage the resources of the infrastructural ecology to serve their publics, with each institution and organization contributing what it’s best equipped to contribute — and each operating with a clear sense of its mission and obligation."



"Libraries need to stay focused on their long-term cultural goals — which should hold true regardless of what Google decides to do tomorrow — and on their place within the larger infrastructural ecology. They also need to consider how their various infrastructural identities map onto each other, or don’t. Can an institution whose technical and physical infrastructure is governed by the pursuit of innovation also fulfill its obligations as a social infrastructure serving the disenfranchised? What ethics are embodied in the single-minded pursuit of “the latest” technologies, or the equation of learning with entrepreneurialism?

As Zadie Smith argued beautifully in the New York Review of Books, we risk losing the library’s role as a “different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.” Barbara Fister, a librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, offered an equally eloquent plea for the library as a space of exception:
Libraries are not, or at least should not be, engines of productivity. If anything, they should slow people down and seduce them with the unexpected, the irrelevant, the odd and the unexplainable. Productivity is a destructive way to justify the individual’s value in a system that is naturally communal, not an individualistic or entrepreneurial zero-sum game to be won by the most industrious.


Libraries, she argued, “will always be at a disadvantage” to Google and Amazon because they value privacy; they refuse to exploit users’ private data to improve the search experience. Yet libraries’ failure to compete in efficiency is what affords them the opportunity to offer a “different kind of social reality.” I’d venture that there is room for entrepreneurial learning in the library, but there also has to be room for that alternate reality where knowledge needn’t have monetary value, where learning isn’t driven by a profit motive. We can accommodate both spaces for entrepreneurship and spaces of exception, provided the institution has a strong epistemic framing that encompasses both. This means that the library needs to know how to read itself as a social-technical-intellectual infrastructure."



"In libraries like BiblioTech — and the Digital Public Library of America — the collection itself is off-site. Do patrons wonder where, exactly, all those books and periodicals and cloud-based materials live? What’s under, or floating above, the “platform”? Do they think about the algorithms that lead them to particular library materials, and the conduits and protocols through which they access them? Do they consider what it means to supplant bookstacks with server stacks — whose metal racks we can’t kick, lights we can’t adjust, knobs we can’t fiddle with? Do they think about the librarians negotiating access licenses and adding metadata to “digital assets,” or the engineers maintaining the servers? With the increasing recession of these technical infrastructures — and the human labor that supports them — further off-site, behind the interface, deeper inside the black box, how can we understand the ways in which those structures structure our intellect and sociality?

We need to develop — both among library patrons and librarians themselves — new critical capacities to understand the distributed physical, technical and social architectures that scaffold our institutions of knowledge and program our values. And we must consider where those infrastructures intersect — where they should be, and perhaps aren’t, mutually reinforcing one another. When do our social obligations compromise our intellectual aspirations, or vice versa? And when do those social or intellectual aspirations for the library exceed — or fail to fully exploit — the capacities of our architectural and technological infrastructures? Ultimately, we need to ensure that we have a strong epistemological framework — a narrative that explains how the library promotes learning and stewards knowledge — so that everything hangs together, so there’s some institutional coherence. We need to sync the library’s intersecting infrastructures so that they work together to support our shared intellectual and ethical goals."
shannonmattern  2014  libraries  infrastructure  access  accessibility  services  government  civics  librarians  information  ethics  community  makerspaces  privacy  safety  learning  openstudioproject  education  lcproject  zadiesmith  barbarafister  seattle  nyc  pittsburgh  culture  google  neoliberalism  knowledge  diversity  inequality  coworking  brooklyn  nypl  washingtondc  architecture  design  hackerlabs  hackerspaces  annebalsamo  technology  chicago  ncsu  books  mexicocity  mexicodf  davidadjaye  social  socialinfrastructure  ala  intellectualfreedom  freedom  democracy  publicgood  public  lifelonglearning  saltlakecity  marellusturner  partnerships  toyoito  refuge  cities  ericklinenberg  economics  amazon  disparity  mediaproduction  readwrite  melvildewey  df 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Urban Omnibus » Precedents for Experimentation: Talking Libraries with Shannon Mattern and Nate Hill
"Mattern: That’s interesting. In the branch library design study I’m working on with The Architectural League and the Center for an Urban Future, one of multiple challenges is to “find closets,” which is to say, to make minor modulations in order to offer the kind of access you are able to provide in Chattanooga.

Hill: I know what you mean. But it’s not always about the size of the space. When I talk to other library systems around the country about how they can take on the types of activities that we support here, it’s about making decisions. It’s about observing how library users are actually using the facility and then creating structures to enable those users to engage in the different activities they want to be doing.

When you look at the branches in New York City, some library advocates like to cite the high circulation statistics as a means of measuring success. But then you see the banks of public computers and how long the wait is to get online. I think there are great opportunities for branch library systems to diversify what public computing is, and to make some hard decisions about how to use your space.

Earlier today I was speaking with a council of local mayors about the work we do at the library and its context within downtown redevelopment. And the ideas that you have written about — the notion of the library as a piece of flexible infrastructure — really resonated with these officials. Your mention of the Rem Koolhaas design for the Seattle Public Library reminds me of an issue of Volume magazine about architecture as a content management system. That was a powerful read for me. Our job is to move information objects around a complex system, and a library user’s view of the data depends on where she is and how the information is being sorted."



"Hill: I hear a lot about how browsability and serendipity are essential to the library experience. Personally, I love looking through shelves and stacks. But it’s not an efficient way to use the prime real estate where libraries should ideally be located. Browsing has moved online. In New York as well as here in Chattanooga, I see a huge shift in people wanting to pick up their materials wherever is most convenient to them. If the buildings have fewer stacks of books, those spaces can become community platforms, where people can engage with one another and with the distributed nature of knowledge in that community. The content, the collection, can be sent there."



"Hill: Looking around the US, most of the excellent libraries in our country are in smaller systems that are able to be more agile. The state of Colorado is filled with good library systems, such as Douglas County or the Rangeview Library District, which rebranded itself “Anythink.”

But we need to figure out how to get this right in our big cities. I think they’re working really hard in Chicago. It’s a massive challenge and very exciting.

I just came back from checking out a fascinating project in Greece, where the Stavros Niarchos Foundation is building a cultural center that will house the national library, an opera house, and a botanical garden. I’ve spent some time checking out branch libraries in Copenhagen; I regularly look to Scandinavia for inspiration.

Aarhus, Denmark, is a good example. One of the smartest things about their project was that they started doing transformation work early on: an iterative process of trying out new services and community engagement techniques in their old building. So by the time that they open this new, incredible space, there won’t be any surprises about the services being provided or how it will be staffed.

In Helsinki, there’s a project called Library 10. In the US, we give a lot of lip service to the idea of co-working in the library. But in Finland, it really works: people come in and use their library cards to check out portable screens and create a work area."



"Mattern: I think the social service sector needs to be engaged. Returning to the notion that libraries often pick up slack where other institutions fall short, I think we need to recognize the library as part of an ecosystem of social-cultural knowledge resources. I think the library conversation needs to include university presidents; school superintendents and principals; advocates who deal with affordable housing, recent immigrants, or other disenfranchised populations; real estate developers; and other people with innovative ideas for co-location or partnerships."
2014  shannonmattern  architecture  libraries  design  engagement  servicedesign  natehill  chattanooga  bookmobiles  aarhus  makers  makerspaces  lcproject  openstudioproject  browsability  serendipity 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Theaster Gates Sessions now posted onto New School’s YouTube channel
"as promised, we finally got all of the clearances to post the sessions and forums pertaining to Theaster Gates’ residency.

Here is a short Highlight clip: http://youtu.be/xCnDtYMuAUw

And here are the remaining YouTube links:

Session 1 – http://youtu.be/ZtQVNsy2630
Session 2 – http://youtu.be/tyiEaQex4XA
Session 3 – http://youtu.be/BvCO1ybgZ-Q
Session 4 – http://youtu.be/PFrEWOKTGdA

Day 2, Part 1 – http://youtu.be/jtEcOg8ciIU
Day 2, Part 2 – http://youtu.be/NxmDSAumvqQ "
theastergates  shannonmattern  2013  art  community  rehabilitation  arts  chicago  urban  urbanism  migration  socialpracticeart  spirituality  belief  howwework 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Lebbeus Woods: The Politics of Small Things – Words in Space
[now redirects to: http://www.wordsinspace.net/shannon/2014/04/19/lebbeus-woods-the-politics-of-small-things/ ]

"In his introductory lecture Lebbeus examined the longue durée of mark-making – from cave paintings and cuneiform through the spiritualists’ fascination with automatic writing, Dada’s exquisite corpse, and Cy Twombly’s seemingly improvised scripts, and ending where the studio would begin: with the palimpsests of intentional and accidental markings on our urban facades and sidewalks. Over the course of two weeks, Lebbeus and Christoph urged their students to read, rather than read past, the small and the quotidian. They collaboratively developed a politics of small things.

I, and perhaps you, have traditionally associated Lebbeus Woods with big, aberrant ideas – proposing bold architectural interventions into war-torn territories, imagining tombs that traverse the galaxy on beams of light, grappling with forces of nature and laws of physics, envisioning buildings that not even Arup could render structurally sound. These are not small visions. Yet having license to be so bold might be the reward for humility. For all his big thinking, he also saw the power of the small mark, the subtle gesture, the nuanced articulation – and the hidden potential.

“Common Ground” echoed themes from Lebbeus’s earlier work. As he wrote in 1992, in regard to his Berlin Free-Zones project,
I am much more interested in the secret life of the city, those things which can maybe happen out of sight or in a kind of unseen way, strange things…that are unexplainable, even unjustifiable in terms of any sort of convention of society or certainly of architecture. I decided to bring to the city some…spaces that didn’t exist already…. [S]o I just simply began by introducing a kind of tectonic manifestation, a kind of form that was not quite yet architecture, not something inhabitable…. I began to call these freespace structures[,…] free of any kind of predetermined meaning or usefulness.

The Berlin Free-Zones, he wrote in Radical Reconstruction (1997), were imagined as a hidden city of interior spaces linked by communication technologies, which bound a community through the “vagaries of dialogue” (p. 26). These freespaces acquired meaning and usefulness as they transformed into spaces for communication.

Woods practiced architecture as if it were such a space for multiform communication. The current show at the Drawing Center, “Lebbeus Woods, Architect” (emphasis added), presents the sketch, the formal drawing, and the model as equal manifestations of architectural practice – in his case, a practice in which small marks and folds, intricate parts, and subtle annotations add up to big, potent ideas.

Later in his career, as he sought to free himself from the “tyranny of the object” and shifted his focus from “from objects to fields,” Woods added another practice – another field, or “freezone,” of architectural mediation – to his repertoire. The fall of 2007 brought us Lebbeus’s blog. The previous summer he had participated in an architecture blogging conference, “Postopolis!,” at Storefront for Art and Architecture, and the organizers of that event contend that it inspired Lebbeus to explore this new medium. His blog’s minimalist theme – the Hemingway – and small, sans serif typeface are unassuming on their face. And Lebbeus’s blogging voice, which is much less prone to manifesto-like proclamations than in his earlier writing, is generous and elegantly conversational and marked by wizened humility. The writing, much like the forms of mark-making addressed in that Cornell studio, strikes a balance between the intentional and accidental. Thus is the nature of blogging: it’s both planned and automatic; it’s a “freezone” web architecture that takes on purpose as it’s inhabited and actualized.

This space of subtle aesthetics and small marks was, since its inception, actualized into a zone of vibrant debate. Lebbeus’s posts often drew dozens of thoughtful comments and inspired follow-up conversations in other forums. It was a small space for big political discussions of both big and small things. The blog itself thus constituted a “common ground” for architectural discourse. It’s fitting, then, that the blog resides at wordpress.com. WordPress is an open-source blogging platform and content management system that users can either download and install on their own servers, or allow WordPress to host on their behalves. Lebbeus chose the latter – probably not intentionally, in an attempt to make a political statement about hegemonic discourse, but rather more likely because of a lack of technical expertise. Yet the accidental result of this unintentional choice is that lebbeuswoods.wordpresss.com lives out there on common ground, in freespace – echoing big ideas through small type; riding on a beam of light, in perpetuity, for all the world to read."
lebbeuswoods  shannonmattern  2014  small  architecture  blogging  blogs  objects  freezone  fields  freespace  wordpress 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Interface Critique | Words in Space
[Updated version [22 Jan 2014]: http://www.wordsinspace.net/wordpress/2014/01/22/interface-critique-revisited-thinking-about-archival-interfaces/ ]

"how do we critique an interface?"

… "We should attend to variables of basic composition (e.g. the size, shape, position, etc., of elements on the screen), as well as how they work together across time and space: how we read across panels and scenes, how we follow action sequences and narrative and thematic threads through the graphic interface."

… "Reading “beneath” those graphic frames provides insight into the data models structuring our interaction with the technology. ... The design of an interface thus isn’t simply about efficiently arranging elements and structuring users’ behavior; interface design also models – perhaps unwittingly – an epistemology and a method of interpretation."

… "In our interface critique, then, we might also consider what acts of interpretive translation or allegorization are taking place at those nodes or hinges between layers of interfaces."

… "We might consider how the interface enunciates – what language it uses to “frame” its content into fundamental categories, to whom it speaks and how, what point(s) of view are tacitly or explicitly adopted. ... How the interface addresses, or fails to address us – and how its underlying database categorizes us into what Galloway calls “cybertypes” – has the potential to shape how we understand our social roles and what behavior is expected of us."

… "We also, finally, must consider what is not made visible or otherwise perceptible. What is simply not representable through a graphic or gestural user interface, on a zoomable map, via data visualization?"

… "Yet we should also consider the possibility that some aspects of our cities are simply not, and will never be, machine-readable. In our interface critique, then, we might imagine what dimensions of human experience and the world we inhabit simply cannot be translated or interfaced."
toread  shannonmattern  interface  ubicomp  design  2014  johannadrucker  stevenjohnson  criticism  scottmccloud  cities  alexandergalloway  adamgreenfield  materiality  scale  location  urban  urbanism  time  space  orientation  frameanalysis  minorityreport 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Little Libraries and Tactical Urbanism: Places: Design Observer
"A few years ago libraries were flying high. I wrote a book about the so-called "third wave" library-building boom of the '90s and early aughts, a boom made possible in part by the dot.com bubble. Today, nearly a decade later, our cities and their libraries find themselves in a very different situation. While libraries are welcoming record numbers of visitors and breaking circulation records, library budgets are facing drastic cuts, some of those flashy new buildings are often shuttered, and cities are resorting to the privatization or outsourcing of library services. Meanwhile, many services that patrons once relied on libraries to provide — specifically the provision and preservation of information in multiple formats — are now accessible elsewhere, including in our living rooms, and even in the palms of our hands."
architecture  cities  diy  intervention  libraries  shannonmattern  2012  littlelibraries  tacticalurbanism  urban  urbanism 
july 2013 by robertogreco

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