Archive for the 'Data' Category

Make Work Data Work


On Wed 21st October, Studio 223 at SWG3 will host a very informal Feral Studio / Make Works event, with Open Work presenting some ideas they’ve been developing using Make Works databases of makers and manufacturers. It’s a 5-way collab. The best kind of collab.

The second part of the evening might involve a making and manufacturing Pecha Kucha Roulette, featuring some of Glasgow’s hottest designers and makers (if we can get it together).

6 for 6.30pm start.

Source: Make Work Data Work – A Feral Studio

Real-time times two

Recently I have been hooked on two websites which are (un)related real-time updates of digital (mis)communication.

The first is a site created by Norse, an internet attack intelligence agancy (very Neuromancer but without the rastas in space). The site is a real-time visualisation of a small percentage (apparently <1%) of cyber attacks. It shows where the attacks originate, where is being targeted and the type of attack. It is pretty incredible. If you watch it for long enough you’ll see the map quieten down and then, boom, a massive coordinated attack will fire off. Usually against the USA.

The second site is a real-time visualisation of every emoji being used on twitter. I find it mesmerising. It follows on from an article I read in The Observer last weekend which was interested in the popularity of Emoji and how it has become a ubiquitous virtual language, with pictograms replacing words and combinations of these symbols replacing whole sentences but adding a multitude of increased interpretations. As the author of the article writes at the end of the article, “Barthes would have had a field day.”

Both of the sites are socially interesting and although at first glance I think it seems that the Norse one is the more ‘important’ of the two, I am fascinated by the Emoji one and by the questions it raises about how we communicate digitally, why are we always more drawn towards using pictures (pun intended), what does this mean for words and writing, is the majority of written language superfluous to communicative needs, can we call emoji a recognised language in its own right, and how would a shift towards a pictorial-based language system affect things like journalism, poetry, books etc, and physical interaction? Its a highly unlikely thing to happen but it is interesting to think about.



Ivor Williams, vis com des person and visiting tutor, launches Uji. Using the wall-clock archetype, this device responds to the heartbeat of the owner/user. The project stems from Ivor’s work and research at Fabrica, and he talks about the project on Dezeen, here.

Inspiration, Manipulation

“We’ll have Google Glass, but we’ll still have ‘business-casual'”

This video is currently doing the rounds. Bratton is perhaps saying what we all think and feel, but after initially faltering a little, does it in a very convincing and coherent way. A slight tangent, but wonder if it’s linked in some way to this article, many parts of which I disagree with: Why being nice in the online world is no bad thing.


One of my favourite journals – Open! – which recently ceased in its print form due to funding cuts by the Dutch government, has only gone and reimagined itself in amazing website form.

watching us

this is a fantastic resource that has a wealth of information on topics relevant to modern society and globalised culture.

“There’s already a lot of information on the Internet, so our goal is to cut through the noise and garbage, to present valuable information in a clear way, so it’s accessible, useful and easily digested. This still may not be an easy undertaking though, and we can understand that — especially considering the complexity and interconnectedness of the topics, as well as the crossing over of sources; but also for the fact that the information here can be incomplete, sometimes contradictory or even controversial. But this is the point. It’s all part of what we’re trying to do: provoke critical thinking, questioning… and doing.

We’ve fundamentally built this resource to inform and inspire action — and no, we’re not talking about clicking the stupid ‘Like’ button on Facebook, signing online petitions or letter writing — we mean informing and inspiring real-world action; taking this information away from the computer to rejuvenate the strong networks with the people around you in the real world, to discuss, plan, act. This is not a symbolic action or clicktivism website, nor is it a simple collection of popular content, like the other websites available. It’s a resource that aims to inform, inspire and provoke action; to generate a multitude of responses and reactions. This is just some of what is needed to break paradigms, subservience, acquiescence, and to cultivate inspiration to continue work on the plethora of puzzles and problems addressed in the information published here.”

adam curtis documentaries

Situation Room

From the comments; “…the benefit of living in an urban environment are the social discrepant events that propel society forward – these “collisions” between disparate power structures and groups that shape our cultures and social innovations – this proposal effectively wants to eradicate this necessarily messy conflict and “negate authorship” – which is extremely alarming – because then it becomes impossible to pinpoint who is really behind the green curtain.”

via Whos Your Data? Urban Design in the New Soft City: Places: Design Observer.

Taps Aff

The culturally aware weather site for Glasgow ‘Taps Aff’ has just 2 settings.
TAPS AFF and TAPS OAN dependent on the temperature and weather.

Social Networking With The Living Dead

“Dedbullets is a software construct. A generative identity. He reads my blog, and my twitter feed, and any other textual content we point him at. He munches it, remixes it and spits it back out in the form of tweets. For extra authenticity he has, at times, been allowed access to posts I haven’t made public, so occasionally quotes content I’ve never before shared. If his tweets sound like the kind of thing I’d say, it’s because they are the kind of thing I’d say.”

via Social Networking With The Living Dead – Matt Pearson (@zenbullets).

Immaterial Labour Isn’t Working

This event looks really interesting, and er… … what’s this … hang on …. looks like viscomdes person Kieran Startup is presenting at it?

James Bridle, The New Aesthetic, Etc.

Kimberley asked me to post this months ago, in relation to a project that has long since passed. I’ve only just got round to it. Awful.

(This project by James Bridle is also amusing: #rorschmap: Street View Edition )

Aaron Swartz

Cory Doctorow writes a thoughtful and insightful article in relation to the sad news about Aaron Swartz, and his important and inspiring work.

Attention! Criticism and its Distractions

This article on, and the accompanying audio discussion, may be interesting. I don’t know, I simply haven’t had time to read or listen to it. It may well relate to a lot of the other stuff we have about ‘attention‘. Possibly.

Spime Weapons

Defense distributed raise an interesting spectre of the point (in the not too distant future) when we will be able to access (any) object as data and fabricate it ourselves as a 3D printed object. In this case, their focus in the gun, (or as they call it the ‘personal defence system’). The project, as I’m sure it’s intended to do, raises a number of ethical and social issues, and while I personally feel that their libertarian manifesto is a bit muddled (not seeming to recognise individual and collective rights as being connected in any way), its interesting to think about whether we feel any different were we to contextualise this technology in the arab spring, or other recent uprisings, and how this makes us feel about the more traditional methods of arms manufacturing, distribution and control.

Thanks to the person from 2nd year who raised this in a discussion group (and whose name unfortunately I don’t have to hand), as i think it raises some really interesting questions.

Office-based rollerblades (despite lack of practical application) remain popular as social signifier amongst 25–45 year old man-child demographic

In this image, only two people are looking at each other. The others are failing to connect, and looking somewhere in to the middle distance. Perhaps they are contemplating the significance of the vaguely retro ‘letterpressed’ poster invocation that ‘fortune favours the bold’, and wondering how they can inject some of this faux-authenticity into facebooks offering. The image is used (and it’s good to speak to Edwin on this point, as he has a lot of interesting research about the use of ‘nostalgic’ design/typography by contemporary corporations and organisations) as an attempt to illustrate a point in an article; Designing Delight: Behind the Scenes at Facebook, on Core 77, (which is written by Facebook’s Director of Design, Kate Aronowitz, and is therefore technically an advert, rather than an article).

‘Social Design’ is Facebook’s current buzz-phrase, and the article does absolutely nothing to illuminate in any detail what exactly social design might mean, other than some vague references to all interaction design being more to do with the human than the machine, and some of the usual stuff about open-plan offices, open-plan innovation, and open-etc-etc.

What the article perhaps inadvertently highlights is a possible recent shift in the meaning of the word ‘social’, from one that was quite politically charged and value-laden (social security, social welfare etc) to one that has, in a web 2.0 context, become quite neutral, describing instead a technical function (of share, ‘like’, re-post etc). I first came across this idea, via Geert Lovink and Networks without a Cause.

Meanwhile back in Facebook-land, the unrelenting wheels of progress continue to turn and the weekly meetings with ‘mark’ grind on. But maybe they’re still not quite as entrenched in the work/life/office of the future, as googlers at the google-plex:

On the New Aesthetic, and Laziness

Will Wiles offers some salient observations on the ‘New Aesthetic‘, countering some of the more short-sighted and blunt critiques (generally from art and architecture directions) that the New Aesthetic’s role was just as a collection of glitchy tech-artifacts, and that *yawn* we’d seen it all before in the late 90’s and early 00’s.

Talking about Bruce Sterling, and helping define what role the ‘New Aesthetic’ might serve, this passage perhaps best sums up its potential value: “He called it a ‘gaudy, networked heap’, and better than that, a wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities — geodes, two-headed lambs, bits of coral — that were assembled by hungry minds in Enlightenment Europe. The wunderkammer is part of the first act of modern science — astonishment at the oddities of the natural world, which whets the appetite for inquiry. ‘A heap of eye-catching curiosities don’t constitute a compelling world-view,’ Sterling wrote. Perhaps not, but it’s a start.”

Mariuz Watz, in the video below, does a good job of addressing this issue. He also rather succinctly addresses algorithmic laziness, but what I think is useful is that this critique could be applied to any creative technique or tool, applied unthinkingly. The same goes for assuming that the New Aesthetic’s only value is as a sort of visual amalgam of modern digital ephemera, rather than as a signpost for a way of processing the world that has further to run and far greater depths to be investigated. All these tools, collections and observations offer us a lot, but only if we thinkingly engage with them, use them as a starting point, and make up the distance ourselves.

Eyeo2012 – Marius Watz from Eyeo Festival on Vimeo.

Vis Com 12 Degree Show

Vis Com 12 is the website of this years graduating 4th year students. And representing as it does, a fantastically diverse body of works, has the most tags of any post on the vis-com blog ever.

How do you go inside a bookshop without actually going inside a bookshop?

Mrs Tsk* has the answers.

Launch event: How can design help communicate science?

Live debate between Imperial College graduates and Central Saint Martins.

Monday 28 November 2011
Hunterian Museum at The Royal College of Surgeons
35–43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields London WC2A 3PE

The Googlization of Everything: Zooming into the Nightwatchman’s Eye

The Art Project, (powered by Google) is on one level, fantastically done, and on another level, unsettling.