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robertogreco : usmanhaque   18

The truth about smart cities: ‘In the end, they will destroy democracy' | Cities | The Guardian
"The smart city is, to many urban thinkers, just a buzzphrase that has outlived its usefulness: ‘the wrong idea pitched in the wrong way to the wrong people’. So why did that happen – and what’s coming in its place?"



"In truth, competing visions of the smart city are proxies for competing visions of society, and in particular about who holds power in society. “In the end, the smart city will destroy democracy,” Hollis warns. “Like Google, they’ll have enough data not to have to ask you what you want.”

You sometimes see in the smart city’s prophets a kind of casual assumption that politics as we know it is over. One enthusiastic presenter at the Future Cities Summit went so far as to say, with a shrug: “Internet eats everything, and internet will eat government.” In another presentation, about a new kind of “autocatalytic paint” for street furniture that “eats” noxious pollutants such as nitrous oxide, an engineer in a video clip complained: “No one really owns pollution as a problem.” Except that national and local governments do already own pollution as a problem, and have the power to tax and regulate it. Replacing them with smart paint ain’t necessarily the smartest thing to do.

And while some tech-boosters celebrate the power of companies such as Über – the smartphone-based unlicensed-taxi service now banned in Spain and New Delhi, and being sued in several US states – to “disrupt” existing transport infrastructure, Hill asks reasonably: “That Californian ideology that underlies that user experience, should it really be copy-pasted all over the world? Let’s not throw away the idea of universal service that Transport for London adheres to.”

Perhaps the smartest of smart city projects needn’t depend exclusively – or even at all – on sensors and computers. At Future Cities, Julia Alexander of Siemens nominated as one of the “smartest” cities in the world the once-notorious Medellin in Colombia, site of innumerable gang murders a few decades ago. Its problem favelas were reintegrated into the city not with smartphones but with publicly funded sports facilities and a cable car connecting them to the city. “All of a sudden,” Alexander said, “you’ve got communities interacting” in a way they never had before. Last year, Medellin – now the oft-cited poster child for “social urbanism” – was named the most innovative city in the world by the Urban Land Institute.

One sceptical observer of many presentations at the Future Cities Summit, Jonathan Rez of the University of New South Wales, suggests that “a smarter way” to build cities “might be for architects and urban planners to have psychologists and ethnographers on the team.” That would certainly be one way to acquire a better understanding of what technologists call the “end user” – in this case, the citizen. After all, as one of the tribunes asks the crowd in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: “What is the city but the people?”"
smartcities  cities  surveillance  technology  stevenpoole  democracy  2014  usmanhaque  danhill  adamgreenfield  songdo  medellín  leohollis  urbanurbanism  data  internetofthings  networkedobjects  californianideology  juliaalexander  communities  medellin  colombia  iot 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Playable cities
"In Bristol, the recent conference “Making the City Playable” reveals that being smart isn’t the only attribute to which cities should aspire: publicly playful activities can create a happier, more cohesive and even more effective urban future."



"How do you empower people to transform their cities? It is a question that Usman Haque grapples with at Umbrellium on a daily basis. Trained as an architect, Haque’s interest in the psychology of public space led him to a career building creative response environments, interactive installations, and mass participation initiatives designed to foster a sense of collective creative ownership. With creations such as Burble (in which the public collectively constructs a massive inflatable structure made of balloons containing sensor-controlled LEDs that send crowd-responsive patterns of light rippling through the structure) or Assemblance (which recently filled the Barbican, London’s renowned performing arts center, with an immersive environment of three-dimensional interactive light-structures that encourage people to work together to sculpt and manipulate their form), Haque uses creative technology to explore the decision making frameworks that foster collaboration. “It is not inevitable that technology isolates us,” he argues; instead, he sees it as a call to action to explore its ability to connect us. “What I’d like to see more of is the feeling of belonging and ‘this is ours and we can do great things with it’” he concludes: “I’d like to see more of that sense of ownership, and anything that supports and reinforces that.”"



"As the recent Making the City Playable Conference highlighted, many things must work together to support and reinforce that sense of ownership and engagement. “Real regeneration is about people not buildings; activity not big investment,” affirms Bristol’s mayor—and former architect—George Ferguson. A champion of good urbanism, Ferguson has had a pivotal role in some of Bristol’s largest urban transformation projects and is a strong advocate of the Playable City movement. His support has not only enabled many of the city’s recent playful interventions—from Park and Slide, to a city wide zombie chase game, streets temporarily closed for children’s play, and the Playable City Award’s Hello Lamppost and Shadowing—it has also highlighted the benefits that can be achieved by (and often necessity of) working with local authorities. Nevertheless it is worth noting that playful interventions can come in all sizes and degrees.

To wit, while Bristol has built its reputation as a city willing to try things and be unorthodox, it has not always done so by being the class clown. As both Playable City Award projects show, serendipity and the unexpected are equally as valid as the overt gesture. “At first you have the initial excitement reaction where you have people doing crazy things and having their friends come visit and take videos,” explains Matthew Rosier of Shadowing, the shadow-capturing streetlight he and partner Jonathan Chomko recently unveiled in eight locations throughout Bristol, “but we’re more excited to see how it’s working in a few weeks time, when it has become part of peoples’ routines and we can see how they experience it in their daily lives.” It’s about more than cheeky people doing funny things in the streets.

The Playable City will face some inevitable growing pains. One of its major challenges—as a movement not primarily about economic impact or mass behavior change—is providing quantifiable metrics. Bristol’s relatively small size and progressive city governance present a very unique breeding ground that is not easily replicated. Furthermore the concept of play is not a constant across cultures. Nevertheless, Watershed is determined to drive a global playable city network comprised of 10-20 cities around the world that want to steward the movement. “We’d really like to fund a much more significant global playable city award where we would be able to award another city with funds to pioneer something that we can learn from, be inspired by, and share,” Watershed’s Reddington says. With Hello Lamppost set to travel to Austin, USA, it seems the Playable City movement is gaining ground. Between you, me and the lamppost, I’d join their team."
play  cities  urban  urbanism  kimberliebirks  2014  playablecities  hellolampost  playablecity  clarereddington  umbrellium  usmanhaque  thewatershed  tomuglow  smartcities  bogotá  stockholm  publicspace  burble  ownership  technology  isolation  connection  social  engagement  shadowing  parkandslide  georgeferguson  matthewrosier  jonathanchomko 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Beyond Pong: why digital art matters | Artanddesign | The Guardian
"When critical thinking is at its strongest, it often comes from exactly the sort of fluidity of practice that does run through Digital Revolution. The London-based architect and artist Usman Haque has been creating innovative software products alongside interactive artworks for more than 15 years. In 2007, he founded Pachube, a global data-sharing network that anticipated by years the current buzz around big data and the internet of things. In 2011, Pachube enabled hundreds of Japanese civilians to quickly and easily share weather and radiation data in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, boosting monitoring and relief efforts. Haque's Umbrellium team has produced a new artwork for Digital Revolution, which takes up the entirety of The Pit, the Barbican's subterranean theatre space. Called Assemblance, the piece allows about 25 people at a time to physically shape beams of light with their hands, pushing and pulling them around the space – while also bumping into and potentially messing up the shapes created by other people.

Haque calls it "a virtual reality", but not in the sense of a purely digital realm: "It's there, it's responding to you, you can see it, but as you try and approach it you can't actually feel it. For me, the idea is to question this distinction between the physical and the virtual." The process is akin to building a sandcastle on the beach, where you are building a structure that anyone else, or the elements, can destroy in a moment.

Assemblance attempts to answer the question: "How do we create things together in a shared environment, where we can't always trust each other, but we need to act together regardless?" This, indeed, is the situation we find ourselves in now. In the modern digital world, the question of participation is crucial as our various networks – social, media, national – require us to constantly mediate between acting as individuals and acting as a group. For Haque, the digital has given us "the capacity to have an effect on the other side of the world almost instantaneously", from news events and economic flows to disaster response and warfare. "We can do things to other people in distant lands, and so the question of our responsibility, and our culpability, is thrown up in ways that it hasn't been before. On the other hand, we now have the capacity to connect with each other, and develop new ways to work together, rather than against each other."

Assemblance asks the audience to see itself as part of a networked whole, where actions have consequences. It also points towards the fact that "the digital" is not a medium, but a context, in which new social, political and artistic forms arise. After 50 years, at least, of digital practice, institutions are still trying to work out its relevance, and how to display and communicate it – a marker, perhaps, that it is indeed a form of art."
jamesbridle  2014  digital  digitalart  art  usmanhaque  dotsasmen  umbrellium  assemblance  criticalthinking  pachube  collaboration  internet  web  online  audience  participatory  networks  context  social  socialnetworks  digitalarchaeology  olialialina  susankare  timberners-lee  liamyoung  dronestagram  jamesgeorge  jonathanminard  christophernolan  pong  raspberrypi  minecraft  geocities  martinbircher  chrismilk  aaronkoblin  wecreate  conradbodman  gta  cpsnow  eniac  grandtheftauto 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Save The Data Drama
"Place



A location rife with beautiful signifiers of gentle exclusion seemed an ideal place for a conference like this. Within a few minutes of Friday's talks beginning, it became clear that almost everyone at this event knew each other, and if they didn't know the speakers they were probably grad students. I came to this thing from a periphery: close enough to some of the speakers to not be totally isolated, making work that's relevant to the topic, but not transactionally useful to the majority of the people there.

I admittedly have a knack for showing up in places where I am out of place. I tend to show up to such places bearing a massive, posture-ruining, class warfare chip on my shoulder. Some of this comes from the fact that being alive feels like being out of place, because honestly I wake up every day amazed that I'm still alive after an unrelated incident in 2009 that I don't really want to talk about.

One side effect of my terrible posture is that I'm a terrible liar. When faced with the elaborate theater of someone trying to convince me that this is the hippest data center ever or that he is the Most Important Man In The Room, I kind of just start laughing. And when I start to get worked up about how out of place I am in a given situation, I get defensive and snarky.

This isn't necessarily an apology (I don't think I have to apologize for for thinking that careerism is silly or for having reactions to however unintentionally hostile spaces); just context on the off-chance any of the Serious Important Men of Data Drama (who perhaps hereafter should be called the Data Drama Queens) who were probably annoyed with me read this. Don't worry guys, I'm just a silly woman living paycheck to paycheck, don't mind me.



Privilege



Honestly, I don't really like being the person at a gendered, privileged event talking about gender or privilege, because I know that I have so much privilege, and I don't want to claim to speak for the marginalized who are not in the room. Hell, we didn't even really get into how deeply white the conference was (in both speaker and audience makeup). There was a uniquely awkward moment when, during a Q&A session, filmmaker Ben Lewis complained about the difficulty he encountered finding people to interview who were concerned about or negatively affected by surveillance--this after James Bridle had given a talk about British citizens stripped of their citizenship essentially so they could be droned. The anger at Lewis' apparent ignorance was palpable, but not necessarily productive--while yes, someone probably should have said "Ben, perhaps you should consider speaking to people who don't look like you", there weren't that many examples of such people to point to in that conference room at Princeton.


When Data Drama Queens talk about the risks being faced in our new data age, the future adaptations of cyborg humans, the potential of World 2.0, who is actually being spoken about or spoken for? To what extent are these speculations of the future posed more or less for people like them?



Magic

The aesthetics of the slide talks and much of the work presented varied--from Metahaven's seapunk-Geocities collages to Adam Harvey's apparently oblivious fashion magazine-glossy male gaze--but there was a frequently ambivalent return to a rhetoric and aesthetics of awe. Despite ourselves, we are kind of in love with the technology, even if it is in the hands of the oppressor, and that's hard to reconcile.

Early on during Saturday's talks, a Q&A got into a discussion of magic, and that's the thing I keep coming back to. I'm not sure what that's going to look like, but I think it's got a lot of potential. I am for a dialogue on technology and society that allows for weirdness, allows for vulnerability, allows for humanity, requires a certain amount of faith, and isn't about pure mastery. I think there's more space for that in the language of magic, I don't know. Mostly I wanted to know how many of the people at that conference listen to Welcome to Nightvale."
ingridburrington  datadrama  2014  data  privilege  place  conferences  magic  nightvale  mastery  usmanhaque  katecrawford  cv  honesty  lying  class  classwarfare  liamyoung  jamesbridle  benlewis 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Usman Haque: 'Messiness will inevitably arise' in spite of smart cities' (Wired UK)
"In the smart-city equivalent -- "Grub City" -- I see citizens mocking the homogenising of static urban data infrastructures and rejecting their bids to handle cities' "super wicked" messes through reductivist approaches to data. What we decide to measure, how we decide to measure, and why we decide to measure -- these questions are vital for Grub City citizens, who craft and perform data "badly" and "messily", because that enables invention unanticipated by planners. 

Grub City citizens recognise it's through the activity of measurement, not passive interpreting of data, that we understand our environment; that we build up intuitions about how we affect it; and through which we develop our own standards of evidence. It's the ensuing heterogeneity of understandings, explanations and attempts to control (as well as the heterogeneity of goals implied) that is essential for any sustainable model of city-making. New technologies help us do this not "better" but "differently". We will see contradictions, for even collaboration does not need consensus. But no matter what attempts are made to impose order and predictability on cities of the near future, a messiness will inevitably arise. 

Long live Grub City!"
usmanhaque  cities  smartcities  urbanism  bigdata  measurement  urban  data  messiness  grubcity  planning  unplanning 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Two talks about data on Env
"Both of these discuss the limits of data visualization and indeed data and indeed knowledge. It’s not hard to find people claiming that we don’t know very much, but these two are experts at figuring out and showing what we know. Skepticism about the power of scatterplots means something serious – is more than sophomoric nihilism – when it comes from them.

I hope these might be news of a fresh wave of data work: analysis and visualization that retains a sense of play, but also admits its responsibility as rhetoric and is more able to expose its own assumptions and omissions. In my head I’ve been calling this data with context, but I think we need something catchier."
patterns  patternrecognition  sensemaking  rhetoric  interpretation  design  skepticism  designinggeopolitics  context  datawithcontext  analysis  dataanalysis  usmanhaque  eyeo  jenlowe  visualization  data  2012  charlieloyd 
june 2012 by robertogreco
haque design + research - on reality, augmented reality, and that talk by kevin
“the only “augmented” reality, is the one that’s constantly being built up through our interactions through the world — whether that’s through a mobile phone, through our sunglasses, or even just through closed eyelids. the process of understanding, it seems to me, is a process of constructing an understanding. the problem with AR, then, is that it assumes that the reality “out there” is fixed, and that we’re merely passive observers that need some kind of markup on it to help understand it “better”. it’s like the terminator analogy you cited: AR is set up so that “we” are sitting inside, simply waiting for info to come in (like arnie “seeing” inside his own head with its own reductio ad absurdam) and all the concomitant repercussions on what this means for our own agency (or lack thereof) in the world. it also assumes that we all see the same thing, which we manifestly do not — and this isn’t because of some distortion in our perceptors…"
visualization  kevinslavin  usmanhaque  augmentedreality  ar  2011  momoamsterdam  via:preoccupations  theory 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Natural Fuse : home / map
"Natural Fuse creates a city-wide network of electronically-assisted plants that act both as energy providers and as circuit breakers.

Every seemingly helpful device that a human being uses has its own carbon “footprint” which, in excess, can harm other living beings. “Natural fuse” is a micro scale CO2 monitoring & overload protection framework that works locally and globally, harnessing the carbon-sinking capabilities of plants.

Natural fuses allow only a limited amount of energy to be expended in the system; that amount is balanced by the amount of CO2 that can be absorbed by the plants that are growing in the system.

In the same way that circuit-breakers are useful for preventing excessive current use, so too can the Natural Fuse plants break the CO2 footprint “circuit”.

What would you do? Use less energy?Or supersize the fuse?"
usmanhaque  design  art  science  community  green  electronics  sensors  plants  city  network  carbon  situated  energy 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Lowtech Sensors and Actuators
"This report describes the results of a collaborative research project to develop a suite of low-tech sensors and actuators that might be useful for artists and architects working with interactive environments. With this project we hoped to consolidate a number of different approaches we had found ourselves taking in our own work and develop both a "kit-of-parts" and a more conceptual framework for producing such works."
edg  make  art  howto  diy  electronics  toys  hardware  tutorial  robotics  sensors  hacking  arduino  physicalcomputing  computing  hacks  technology  opensource  programming  interface  lowtech  usmanhaque  low-tech 
may 2009 by robertogreco
haque :: design + research :: Haunt
"Using humidity, temperatures and electromagnetic and sonic frequencies that parapsychologists have associated with haunted spaces, this project aims at building an environment that feels "haunted": a non-visual architecture."
via:kazys  usmanhaque  technology  art  paranormal  psychology  architecture  installation  perception  audio  design  science  code  poetry  physical 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Pachube, Patching the Planet: Interview with Usman Haque  | UgoTrade
"Usman Haque (architect and director, Haque Design + Research) and founder of Pachube pointed me to this image from T.R. Oke’s book, “Boundary Layer Climates” (original photo source Prof. L. E. Mount’s The Climatic Physiology of the Pig) to explain his approach to the “software” of space."

[via: http://blog.wired.com/sterling/2009/01/spime-watch-pac.html AND
http://blog.neo-nomad.net/pachube-patching-the-planet/1217/

Broken, now at: http://web.archive.org/web/20090209042309/http://blog.neo-nomad.net/pachube-patching-the-planet/1217/ ]
pachube  empowerment  interaction  interactive  architecture  cities  ubicomp  environment  spimes  usmanhaque  hardware  hacking  diy  innovation  locative  blogjects 
january 2009 by robertogreco
plus six » Auld Reekie vs The Big Smoke (emerging trends in post-disciplinary creative practice)
"aim of this event is to inspire and inform the symposium delegates of the significance of this trans-disciplinary research and its impact for creative practice in the UK. This event will appeal to a wide audience including practitioners, researchers, educators, industrialists and stakeholders involved in the creative industries."
via:blackbeltjones  interactiondesign  computing  architecture  design  art  greyworld  troika  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  creativity  interaction  experience  usmanhaque 
june 2008 by robertogreco
pachube :: connecting environments, patching the planet - Map of feeds
"Welcome to Pachube, a service that enables people to tag and share real time environmental data from objects, devices and spaces around the world. The key aim is to facilitate interaction between remote environments, both physical and virtual."
sensors  environment  maps  data  ubicomp  aggregator  geotagging  geolocation  nature  geography  usmanhaque  location  interactive  ecology  arduino  blogjects  spimes  mapping 
june 2008 by robertogreco
pachube.com :: connecting environments, patching the planet
"enables people to tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices and spaces around the world...key aim is to facilitate interaction between remote environments, both physical and virtual. Apart from enabling direct connections between any two
data  environment  usmanhaque  via:timo  locative  location  location-based  ubicomp  spimes  everyware  pervasive  sensors  blogjects  sustainability  arduino  processing  geography  diy  aggregator  geotagging  maps  mapping  programming  electronics 
april 2008 by robertogreco
haque :: design + research
"The domain of architecture has been transformed by developments in interaction research, wearable computing, mobile connectivity, people-centered design, contextual awareness, RFID systems and ubiquitous computing. These technologies alter our understand
usmanhaque  architecture  design  technology  ubiquitous  ubicomp  computers  artists  balloons  collaboration  collective  inflatable  electronics  environment  experiencedesign  gps  locative  location-based  light  interface  interactive  interaction  installation  inspiration  sensors  art  space  sound  social  opensource  networks  systems  visualization  virtual  urban  pervasive  everyware  materials  projects  sculpture  mobile  glvo  inflatables 
july 2007 by robertogreco
russell davies: we love technology - part one
"I understood this most when he said that when we claim to build technology that's inspired by biology we're fooling ourselves, because we tend to be inspired by biological objects not broader biological systems."
usmanhaque  systems  design  biomimicry  technology  welovetechnology  glvo  architecture  biomimetics 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Usman Haque - I Hate Technology
"Technology used to imply "knowledge", it was the study of making. It was not an object but the description of an object...was more about the description of systems. Today we tend to think that technology resides in physical things. That is a rather drama
art  biology  design  progress  technology  definitions  words  architecture  usmanhaque  artefacts  fetishism  innovation  efficiency  glvo  systems  culture 
july 2007 by robertogreco

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