A graphic record of my talk at 10 things I learnt – Design Wales

Last Friday, 9th March 2012, I gave a talk as part of the ’10 things I learnt’ event convened by Design Wales Forum, held at the Welsh Millennium Centre.  I was talking about ’10 things I have learned about anticipating technology futures’.  I gave some short provocations based on some of my research and drawing on the work of Julian Bleecker (Near Future Laboratory).  I’ll try and provide a write-up soon.

Today I received a tweet from @_auralab who has created some ‘sketch notes’ of the event. Here’s what Laura made of my talk! –

Sketch note of my talk by auralab

Click through to the Flickr stream of Laura Sorvala

The beginnings of a ‘Design Fiction’ bibliography

On Friday 10th February I will be talking about ‘design fiction’ for the Pervasive Media Studio’s lunchtime talk series. ‘Design Fiction’ describes ways of using storytelling techniques, especially in the form of video, to make speculative design ideas feel real. I have collected together the various resources from which I have drawn my materials for the talk into a preliminary bibliography that may be of use to others interested in the topic. Continue reading “The beginnings of a ‘Design Fiction’ bibliography”

Public Objects – the networked city and civic responsibility: Adam Greenfield

Re-posted from the Digital Cultures Research Centre blog.

Last night DCRC in collaboration with Bristol Festival of Ideas and the Pervasive Media Studio hosted a talk by Adam Greenfield, which he titled “On Public Objects: connected things and civic responsibility”.  During the talk Adam suggested that a significant question before us now is that of ‘networked urbanism’, the increasing range of ordinary things and places in the city that are identifying themselves to global information networks or being identified by them.  Clare Reddington, Director of iShed and the Pervasive Media Studio, created a Storify feed during the talk which contains lots of images and links to aspects of Adam’s talk – it is an excellent precis of the talk.

I’d like to offer a brief account of the talk, also drawing upon Adam’s recent essay “Beyond the ‘Smart City’.”

The argument of Adam’s talk was forged upon the theoretical impetus of Marxian scholar Henri Lefebvre’s contention of the right to the city. We are, according to Greenfield, living in a ‘networked now’ in which people are comprehensively instrumented with network communications technologies, even, and especially, in the developing world.  We operate with ‘locative’ and ‘declarative’ media, through which devices elicit geo-located information or people themselves announce their locations or activities. In turn, these media are leveraged by commercial interests by performing analytics such as ‘sentiment analysis‘. There are also an emerging range of declarative objects, such as London’s Tower Bridge, which has been endowed with a Twitter account to declare “I am opening for…” and “I am closing after…”.  Greenfield argued that objects are increasingly gathering, processing, displaying, transmitting and sometimes physically acting upon data.

Adam’s principal argument, therefore, is that we need a new theory (and jurisprudence) for networked objects.  Throughout the latter part of the talk Adam offered some observations about the ‘morality of objects’ such as a Finnish road sensor, a Japanese vending machine that profiles customers, and networked bollards that limit access to the Ramblas in Barcelona.  For Adam, it is necessary to find a new way of conceiving of things we encounter in public space.  He offered a working definition of ‘Public Objects’ as: “any artifact located in or bounding upon public rights-of-way”, “any discrete object in the common spatial domain intended for the use and enjoyment of the general public”, “any discrete object which is de facto shared by and accessbile to the public, regardless of its ownership or original” intention.

We are asked to consider what happens when power resides not in the material manifestations of the network, as in the physical ‘public objects’, but in code. Adam gave the example of software updates that facilitate new functionality, about which members of the public are not informed but could be seen to infringe their rights – for example: the addition of facial recognition pattern matching software to municipal CCTV systems without the public being informed.

Adam closed his talk by arguing that public objects, as defined above, must be open and usable by citizens.  This openness, he argued, should be figured through APIs (open interface platforms that allow people to interact with them); it should involve “read” and, sometimes, “write” access to data streams, so that people can access the data that public objects gather and sometimes be able to write into it; and that public objects should be non-rivalrous and non-excludable, i.e. in economic theory, they should be public goods.

In conclusion, Adam argued that we should be acting against the capture of public space by private interests and acting towards a revitalised public sphere.

This talk was recorded by Watershed and will shortly feature on dshed and in the DCRC Vimeo feed – check back with our blog for details soon!

The technics of attention – thinking about the attention economy through Stiegler’s philosophy of technology

In a final post about the ESF sponsored conference, Paying Attention, held by DCRC in September, I have recently written about the concept of technicity in relation to the capacity for attention. What follows is the text from that post, I hope it is of vague interest…
Continue reading “The technics of attention – thinking about the attention economy through Stiegler’s philosophy of technology”

A brief history of the future of pervasive media – Talk at the Pervasive Media Studio

I will be giving a talk at the Pervasive Media Studio on Friday 14th May entitled ‘A brief history of the future of pervasive media’, which is broadly derived from my PhD research. The talk will be open to the public, so please feel free to come along! Here’s the bumpf:

Pervasive media, and the various forms of computing from which they are derived, stem from a tradition of anticipating future scenarios of technology use. Sam Kinsley’s PhD research concerned the ways in which those involved in pervasive computing research and development imaginatively envision future worlds in which they’re technologies exist.

This lunchtime talk examines the ways in which future people, places and things are imagined in the research and development of pervasive media. Examples taken from prospective pervasive computing research and development in the last twenty years will be explored as emblematic of such future gazing. The aim is to provide a broad means of understanding the rationales by which technological futures are invoked so that pervasive media producers can critically reflect on the role the idea of the future in their work. Such an understanding is important because a history of computing is in large part a history of places and things that were never created – a history of yesterday’s tomorrows.

[Repost] Transliteracy: techniques for navigating and understanding user-generated content

The growth and diversity of media and those using them to disseminate their point of view has, in that process, required the development of new literacies for information consumption, gathering and production. Some of the resulting practices have been instrumentally driven, i.e. they have been led by particular tools (such as RSS and Bloglines/Google Reader). However, and perhaps more interestingly, with the growth in the production and availability of ‘content’ the spectre of ‘information overload’, or as Richard Saul Wurman calls it ‘information anxiety‘, new strategies for engaging meaningfully with the glut have been developed. At a level slighlty abstract from such strategies we might identify new forms of literacy. The transliteracy research group have usefully described this as:

‘the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.’

Continue reading “[Repost] Transliteracy: techniques for navigating and understanding user-generated content”