Architecture and Situated Technologies Symposium

From Thursday to Saturday, 19-21 October, 2006, I will be taking part in the Architecture and Situated Technologies symposium @ The Urban Center and Eyebeam, NYC.

Here is the description from the organizers of this promising event:

Since the late 1980s, computer scientists and engineers have been researching ways of embedding computational intelligence into the built environment. Researchers at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) began to look beyond the model of personal computing, which placed the computer in the foreground of our attention, to one of “ubiquitous” computing that takes into account the contingencies of human environments and allows computers themselves to vanish into the background. Recently, the UN released a report produced by the International Telecommunications Union predicting an “Internet of Things”, where the “users” of the Internet will be counted in billions and where humans may become the minority as generators and receivers of information. As GPS modules, RFID tags, sensors, and actuators are becoming available in ever smaller packages, everyday objects and spaces are being networked with computational intelligence. Current research has focused on how situational parameters inform the design of these technologies. Incorporating an awareness of cultural context, accrued social meanings, and the temporality of spatial experience, situated technologies privilege the local, context- specific and spatially contingent dimension of their use.

This symposium, organized around the notion of an "encounter," will attempt to articulate new research vectors, sites of practice, and working methods for the confluence of architecture and situated technologies. What opportunities and dilemmas does a world of networked objects and spaces pose for architecture, media art, and computing? What post-optimal design strategies and tactics might we propose for an age of responsive environments, smart materials, embodied interaction, and participatory networks? How might this evolving relation between people and "things" alter the way we occupy, navigate, and inhabit the built environment? What is the status of the material object in a world privileging networked relations between "things"? What distinguishes the emerging urban sociality enabled by wireless communication technologies? How do certain social uses of these technologies, including (non-) affective giving, destabilize rationalized "use-case scenarios" designed around the generic consumer? How do distinctions between space and place change within these networked media ecologies?

Through a combination of workshops, presentations, and panel discussions, the symposium will attempt to stage a set of encounters between invited participants, an audience encouraged to participate, and the City of New York.

Organised by: Omar Khan, Trebor Scholz, and Mark Shepard

Participants include Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Richard Coyne, Karmen Franinovic, Michael Fox, Anne Galloway, Charlie Gere, Usman Haque, Peter Hasdell, Natalie Jeremijenko, Sheila Kennedy, Eric Paulos, Mette Ramsgard Thomsen and Kazys Varnelis.

Co-Produced by: The Center for Virtual Architecture, The Institute for Distributed Creativity, and the Architectural League of New York

Reservations/advance ticket purchase are required.

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The Mobile Phone and the Web in Developing Countries

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium … as close to a governing body as the Internet has) has a call for papers that makes an interesting proposition: that mobile phones will be the prime means of accessing the web for users in developing countries. See the press release at
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virtual world of seven million

The New York Times ran a story yesterday on the global success of World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online role playing game with some seven million players. It seems unlikely that this is merely a passing fancy. On the contrary, Warcraft is one of the most successful entertainment ventures around. What does this mean for entertainment, online communities, architecture? Right now it seems too soon to tell although its safe to say that MMORPGs will be one of the big stories of the second half of the decade.

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Trading Sites. Destroyed, Revealed, Restored

We’re in the midst of the big move across the country so postings will be sparse, but this morning, I received an email from Daniel Beunza, who is a sociologist teaching at the Columbia Business School. A little research led to Trading Sites. Destroyed, Revealed, Restored, an insightful paper that he and David Stark of the Russell Sage Foundation , Columbia, and the Santa Fe Institute co-wrote on how one firm in Lower Manhattan reconfigured itself in New Jersey after 9/11. A must read for anyone interested in place, architecture, and network culture.
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Network Architecture Lab Established

Why has this blog been so barren lately? Am I giving up on the Net? No! Far from it. I have, however, been a little busy lately. Now that the project is safely established, we can announce that…

AUDC Establishes Network Architecture Lab

@ Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

Formed in 2001, AUDC [Architecture Urbanism Design Collaborative] specializes in research as a form of practice. The AUDC Network Architecture Lab is an experimental unit at Columbia University that embraces the studio and the seminar as venues for architectural analysis and speculation, exploring new forms of research through architecture, text, new media design, film production and environment design.

Specifically, the Network Architecture Lab investigates the impact of computation and communications on architecture and urbanism. What opportunities do programming, telematics, and new media offer architecture? How does the network city affect the building? Who is the subject and what is the object in a world of networked things and spaces? How do transformations in communications reflect and affect the broader socioeconomic milieu? The NetLab seeks to both document this emergent condition and to produce new sites of practice and innovative working methods for architecture in the twenty-first century. Using new media technologies, the lab aims to develop new interfaces to both physical and virtual space.

The NetLab is consciously understood as an interdisciplinary unit, establishing collaborative relationships with other centers both at Columbia and at other institutions.

The NetLab begins operations in September 2006.

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goodbye, supermodernism

With a huge amount of work to do and some crucial transitions underway into next year, blog posts have been all too scant lately, unfortunately.

But if you’re starved for reading material as a consequence, try my article “Goodbye, Supermodernism” in the July issue of Architecture magazine, dedicated to mobility. My brief piece””?part of my history/theory column for the journal, addresses the impact of telecommunications on architecture. If Hans Ibelings saw Marc Augé’s Non-Places as the future of space and understood an acontextual modernism as the inevitable result, I suggest that both Non-Places and supermodernism have seen their day. Instead of the formally based movement that aimed to express the solitude and lack of meaning inherent in contemporary life, we need to develop a programmed architecture for the new place of today in which we dwell, floating, between virtual and physical spaces. The future of communication in architecture isn’t semiology or its denial, but code and cable.
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Networked Publics Book Draft On-Line

As a culmination to the Networked Publics program, the faculty research group that I have been working at for the last year, we will be publishing a collaboratively written group book with the MIT Press. Three of drafts of our essays are finished (on place, culture, and politics) and available online at the Networked Publics site.

Throughout the Networked Publics program, we have tried to employ collaborative scholarship whereever possible and effective. Readers, colleagues, and friends are invited to to contribute by posting comments at the end of each essay (note that easier to read versions of the essays can be also be downloaded from the appropriate pages). Our hope is to take the comments that we receive and append them to the essay in a virtual symposium to follow each chapter.

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rethinking wikipedia

One of my colleagues at the Institute for the Future of the Book, Ben Vershbow, wrote an intelligent post pointing to a front page New York Times on steps being taken within Wikipedia to deal with controversies over articles.

What Ben’s post and the NY article (which was on the front page) point to is that Wikipedia is bringing back the need to read critically, a skill that was increasingly being lost””?and not only due to the Internet. Moreover, for any good historian, the controversies and the changing nature of the entries on Wikipedia is a great thing, reminding us that knowledge is always in flux and often contested.

Somehow, in our rush to absorb as much information as possible (or is it to surf as much information as possible?), these age old lessons from historiography seem to have been forgotten. Wikipedia is a great thing since it brings them to the fore. And (especially when downloaded to my Treo) it’s so darn handy too! (broken post fixed)
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