design in the age of intelligent maps

The Netlab has the first product of this summer of work over at Adobe Thinktank. Our article, "Invisible City: Design in the Age of Intelligent Maps" went live this morning. A new link is here (2014)

Many thanks to my collaborator at the Netlab, Leah Meisterlin and to David Womack at Adobe, a great editor.

As usual, your comments make all our work worthwhile!

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the secret life of robin hood gardens

I just read a beautiful post at one of my favorite blogs, Kosmograd, on "the Secret Life of Robin Hood Gardens." Although I suppose it is better to destroy the project than tartify it with some kind of crazy scheme by Will Alsop, the thought of losing such a place is depressing. Waking up and stretching one’s arms out at Robin Hood Gardens while looking out the window must have been a fabulous experience, a moment in which one could have been capable of anything. As Komograd points out, the residents would agree, but money and urban growth beg to differ. A tragedy.

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locative media is here

I’ve been playing with version 2.0 of the iPhone firmware for a few hours already and am impressed.

For too long, locative media has been deferred into the near future, but now, overnight everything changed: a widely-used handheld platform can deliver a large (and growing) array of information swiftly and efficiently (yelp, hotels.com, and even the yellow pages can do this now). Some of this information (such as the nearpics application that draws on photographs at panoramio) is even user-uploaded.

Now secondary questions arise: is this kind of information going to be limited to walled gardens within individual applications or will developers find ways of exchanging this information between databases (as openid promises for identity). Is this kind of interaction between informatic and physical space a minor tweak of an existing relationship to networkedpublics.org/book/place or is it something else entirely? What sort of radical applications can this platform spawn?

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notes from underground

The endless summer of finishing books drags on. In the meantime, I have been thinking that it might be enjoyable for my readership if I posted some quotes from books that are particularly fascinating to me. To start with,

T. J. Clark, Farewell to an Idea. Episodes from a History of Modernism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 2-3.

"Now that I sit down to write my introdcution, I realize that what I had taken for a convenient opening ploy—the fragments, the puzzling scholars, the intervening holocaust—speaks to the book’s deepest conviction, that already the modernist past is a ruin, the logic of whose architecture we do not remotely grasp. This has not happened, in my view, because we have entered a new age. That is not my book title means. On the contrary, it is just because the ‘modernity’ which modernism prophesied has finally arrived that the forms of representation it originally gave rise to are now unreadable. (Or readable only under some dismissive fantasy rubric—of ‘purism,’ ‘opticality,’ ‘formalism,’ ‘elitism,’ etc.) The intervening (and interminable) holocaust was modernization. Modernism is unintelligible now because it had truck with a modernity not fully in place. Post-modernism mistakes the ruins of those previous representations, or the fact that from where we stand they seem ruinous, for the ruin of modernity itself—not seeing that what we are living through is modernity’s triumph.

"Modernism is our antiquity, in orther words; the only one we have; and no doubt the Baku Palace of the Press, if it survives, or the Moltke Museum, if it has not been scrubbed and tweaked into post-modern receptivity (coffee and biscotti and interactive video), is as overgrown and labyrinthine as Shelley’s dream of Rome."

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site updates

This seems like the summer of endlessly extended projects. It’s already July and I am still finishing work on books that I thought would be done last semester. But with a larger staff at the Netlab and with those projects wrapping up, this should be a good summer for new work and, I hope, for the blog.

Over the weekend, I’ve been bumping up both this site and the Netlab site. With Drupal as the underlying content management system, it’s pretty trivial to change the look of the site, so I brought varnelis.net in line with the underlying theme at AUDC. It probably looks a tiny bit less polished right now, but it has more potential for growth in the long run. At the Netlab, I set up a photoblog, which seemed long overdue given the number of photographers around.

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