Back to Utopia?

Through Bruce Sterling’s Beyond the Beyond, I found this link to an article on the continued importance of Utopian thinking today. But, of course, what is the multitude if not a Utopian idea?

On a related note, Reinhold Martin’s Critical of What? Towards a Utopian Realism is a good read by one of the best thinkers in architecture today. Martin bursts the bubble of post-criticism prior to outlining his thoughts on the emergence of a “utopian realism.”
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Broadband 2.0’s Consequences for Cities

Over at my netpublics research blog, I have a lengthy post reflecting on the consequences of broadband 2.0 for cities.

If you are interested in the consequences of telecommuting, the future of wired and wireless connections, or have just bought overpriced property in a run down area of the city (read: get out now), take a look.
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Centralization and Eavesdropping

In the past I’ve written about the dangers of telecoms centralizing, but my thought had always been that terrorism and natural disaster were the big threats. Silly me.

This weekend, the New York Times broke the news that the NSA has been installing eavesdropping equipment directly at telecoms without search warrants. One of the most interesting observations in the article was that since so much international voice and data traffic passes through U. S. switches, the government is free to observe this traffic as well.

So much for the triumph of the California Ideology. Welcome to the culture of the aggregator. Also at the New York Times, James Banford worries that the NSA is “The Agency That Could be Big Brother“. At his Washington Post blog, William Arkin worries about this as well. In retrospect, Watergate seems so quaint. That brought down a presidency? On this rainy Monday in LA, I think I’ll be spending my evening watching Three Days of the Condor.
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Beyond Locative Media

Marc Tuters and I recently completed a draft of an essay for Leonardo and thought we should share it with you. In true netPublics fashion, we wrote the essay collaboratively on Writely.

Abstract:

Locative Media has been attacked for being too eager to appeal to commercial interests as well as for its reliance on the Cartesian mapping systems and the United States military-controlled Global Positioning System. If these critiques are well-founded, they also nostalgic, invoking a notion of art as autonomous from the circuits of mass communication technologies. This essay begins with a survey of the development of Locative Media and its distancing from Net Art, looks at some of the critiques launched against Locative Media, discusses how Locative Media may address these critiques, and explores possible futures for how the field might develop.

Read more at the netpublics site.
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Chaos at the Crossroads

I was at the University of Limerick School of Architecture this weekend. Browsing in the airport bookstore on the way back, I found a copy of Chaos at the Crossroads by Frank McDonald and James Nix and picked it up. Having read about half of it thus far, my first impression is that not only is this an excellent analysis of the exurban sprawl that is taking over the Irish landscape, it would be a remarkable work for any country. McDonald and Nix marshall a huge amount of statistics in their effort—did you know the Irish drive their cars more than Americans do? or that 30% of the housing stock in Ireland has been built since 1990?—and paint an apocalyptic vision of Dublin growing to the size of Los Angeles with 1/3 the population. Unlike anti-modern luddites in the US like James Howard Kunstler, McDonald and Nix aren’t afraid of contemporary architecture and instead see it as playing a crucial role in building a network of dense modern cities to counteract the drive to the one-off freestanding McMansion. Also worth noting are the copious photographs of both villains and heroes in the struggle over the Irish landscape today. You may find the book at amazon.co.uk
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A Frozen New Orleans

While at Logan airport, the cover story of the most recent US News and World Report caught my eye. Heating costs are already well above their record levels of last year. Is this the economic disaster that the Northeast and Midwest have been waiting for, pushing the economic rebounds of these regions back into the sort of death spiral the endured in the 1980s? The article also warns that scarce fuel could impact electric generation in the Northeast and, most ominously, calls into question the stability of New York City’s aged steam generating system, suggesting that a winter failure could be devastating. Concludes the article: “Former Central Intelligence Agency chief Jim Woolsey, now active on energy issues, argues that parts of the city ‘could resemble a frozen New Orleans.'”
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