Howard Rheingold Lecture @ Netpublics

The countdown to the Networked Publics Media Festival and Conference continues. Along the way I've been busy putting our remaining lectures online. The first of these is Howard Rheingold's lecture on Technologies of Cooperation.

Power Mapping

Even as network culture displaces postmodernism, Jameson's aesthetic of cognitive mapping is flourishing. Critical spatial practice has gathered a huge collection of critical mapping projects and essays about mapping today. And if you haven't seen it, of course you should visit the essay that Marc Tuters (one of the coiners of the term 'locative media') and I wrote for the Networked Publics group, Beyond Locative Media.

Geert Lovink on Blogging and Nihilism

This past Friday, Geert Lovink came to the Annenberg Center to present his essay on blogging and nihilism. It isn't fully on line yet, but this taste is. I find a lot to agree with in Geert's reading although unfortunately at the presentation a lot of people seemed to misunderstand nihilism, which is a long philosophical tradition.

You'll have to wait until the essay appears in longer form on the net to appreciate the subtleties, but one observation that I made after reading it is that for those of us somewhere in the matrix between the academy, architecture, and the Internet, there is a fatal trajectory from post-structuralism to identity politics to Deleuzeanism to blogging.

I'd like to suggest that this isn't merely a conflation of unlike terms but rather that there is a steady evolution here. There is a desire in each of the subsequent movements to affirm the individual (through subject position, through productive agency, and through an active DIY voice), but instead each one actually does a more thorough job of wiping out individual subjectivity than the previous iteration (please slot the blob under Deleuzeanism... a million 20-40 year old students, all being original, all making nearly identical shapes).

On the whole, the discipline is, as usual, woefully behind. It's about twelve years since I first imagined an architecture blog (but succeed in launching it), ten years after I first suggested that SCI_Arc build an architecture blog to replace its static portal, nine years after the start of archinect, which eventually accomplished that task, and six years since I've been running this blog (with time off from 2003-2005 for my daughter and for AUDC). In the last year or so, however, architecture blogs seem to be springing up like weeds as the list on the lowere left of my blog affirms.

Obviously, I'm a blogger and, unless I'm mistaken, this is the longest-running personal blog in the field. And Lovink's essay has nothing to do with the reduced frequency of my postings which is the product of lots of work toward the the Networked Publics conference and a bit less work toward World of Warcraft, which seems to claim bloggers left and right and together with other MMORPGs may well come after blogs in this timeline. But, like Geert, what I am observing is not only the massification of the Internet but a more generalized cultural move toward nothingness that expresses itself through the medium of the blog. Through the blog, we attain a complete and fatal condition, making our comments into the void, thereby affirming our existence while we also emphatically assert our distance from any situation we might act in.

the ruins of baikonur

Explore the ruins of the Baikonur cosmodrome, along with a some images of a Soyuz launch, at this site.

the scariest condos in the world

Just to prove that the real estate bubble is truly mad, Danvers State Hospital is being converted into condos, reports CNN. The infamous Octagon Tower, long a ruin on Roosevelt Island has been rebuilt and turned into an architectural feature for The Octagon Apartments.

Madhouses indeed.

visual complexity

Looking for visualizations of networks? Manuel Lima's Visual Complexity collects a huge number of them in an elegantly presented format.

Remembering Philip Johnson

Somehow, a google search on the interior of the AT&T corporate headquarters (anybody have info they might email my way?) led to this: incredible memorial site

Networked Publics Conference and Media Festival April 28 + 29

Networked Publics, the research group that I've been leading, together with Mimi Ito, will be holding an end of the academic year conference this April as a milestone toward the production of a collaboratively written book on the topic.

Annenberg Center for Communication
University of Southern California
April 28-29, 2006

This two-day event will bring together new media scholars and practitioners to exhibit and discuss the roles of audiences, activists, and producers in maturing networked media ecologies. The event is organized by the Networked Publics fellowship program ( at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communication.

The conference includes a media festival and an academic program.
”¬¢ “Do-It-Yourself: Emergent Networked Culture,” is an experimental news and entertainment media festival featuring new kinds of viral, remixed, and amateur media works enabled by current networked ecologies. Categories of curated work include: political remix videos, the digital handmade, anime music videos, machinima, alternative news, network hacks and hacked networks.
”¬¢ The academic program is dedicated to three topics: Politics, Infrastructure and Place. For each of these topics, netpublics fellows will convene a session to interrogate current issues and controversies related to emergent networked ecologies.

The format of the event is designed to promote interaction and dialog across a diverse set of participants. Our goal is to facilitate conversation on topics of shared concern and a mixture of formats that include screenings, debates, and interaction around computer kiosks.

[read more]

Los Angeles River, Concrete Utopia

Geoff Manaugh, normally of BLDGBLOG has a piece at on the Los Angeles River as a concrete utopia. Where other cities are content to put their errant rivers underground, for the most part Los Angeles displays its watercourse on the surface but encases it in concrete, like so much of the city's terrain. As we gaze on the images Geoff has collected and visit the web sites he recommends, we are led to ask, ass he does: is the river something dreamt up (retroactively) by Superstudio?

Death and Taxes

Last night I ran across a graphic, titled Death and Taxes, a thoroughly-researched visual explanation of where our tax dollars go. I think Edward Tufte would be impressed.

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