Art belongs to the infrastructure of society

– The Beach Beneath The Street , McKenzie Wark

‘Emergence from infrastructure into public space… ‘

– Explore Everything, Bradley Garrett

‘Todays infrastructure sustains the paranoid and waning civilization that will be tomorrow’s ruin’ – Alan Rapp, Architect

– Explore Everything, Bradley Garrett

‘Security Entertainment Complex’ Nigel Thrift

– Explore Everything, Bradley Garrett

week notes – (2/12)

Hardware vs Software.

The end of last week I had my kitchen table like this:

Tuesday I dropped into ThingMonk, and spoke with Matt Webb of Berg briefly, about, amongst other things the split between electronics and web technology. BergCloud and their dev kit is trying to move things back to web technology.

That said, by thursday my desk looked like this:

Thats a raspberry Pi with the camera module attached. Its not doing what I want yet, but I am trying to work through the steps here, to get OpenCV and the Camera module working, with some face recognition.

Wednesday I was down at Lighthouse but then ruches back into town to the Open Data Institute, who kindly allowed James Smith and I to host the first UnParty UnConference. The evening was, I think a great success and I will be posting the notes from the meeting here on geekyoto later this weekend. Outcomes from the meeting include the wish to try and disrupt the political party model, try to encourage more evidence based policy making and for me to work out some kind of paper on the subject.

Whilst at the ODI I did spot one of the drone/googlemap instagram magnets that I had given to Gavin.

The images were made a few months ago, just by holding my plastic drone model over the laptop screen showing google maps.

The three images I made initially are below:

I made them into a set of magnets from Stickygram:

During the week I have been reading more about the Situationists as well as some more about sound and fear, finding this book whilst in Shoreditch:

Sadly we had to cancel Lily’s talk at CSM and hope to re-schedule this in the new year. If you haven’t already do check out Impossible.

Week Notes – 25/11 – 01/12

(Sorry these are late and I need to do a report for the last week as well)

A very mixed week, Jimmy and I tool the Little Printer over to Kensington & Chelsea’s council offices to try and get it connecting in their cafe space.

The idea here is to install LP for a week and allow people to print out small snippets of stories from the local area.

We have developed the relevant kit to get LP up and running in places, its a little bit convoluted but it works:

* Little Printer
* The Berg Bridge
* A travel router. This can connect to Wifi, 3G dongles and has an ethernet port.
* 3G Mifi. (We don’t have a 3G dongle but a MiFi, so we are setting up the mifi and using the travel router to connect to that via wifi and share the connection).
* A powered USB hub, to be able to run the router, mifi and the Raspberry Pi.
* A Raspberry Pi – This is what we currently have to trigger the printing of the information.

The current set up involves pressing a button the the Raspberry Pi, which triggers and event out on the internet, which then sends a direct print message, via Berg Cloud back to the Little Printer.

It’s not ideal, Little Printer is not designed for this situation, so there is a delay from pressing the button to getting the output but it does demonstrate how it all could work, being able to get such information in a physical form.

Jimmy came back over on Thursday where we tried the set up again a few times, this time from within my kitchen, but we had and end to end solution up and running. We also learnt a fair bit more about how Berg Cloud works and how we might tweak and improve what we want it to do.

We do need to migrate away from the direct print ‘API’ to use the official push API on the Berg Cloud, which is something I have known about for a while but now really need to get done. Whilst the direct print route was fine for a quick demo, to make anything more robust we do need to use the push API.

Monday evening was also fun as I went along to the Regent Street Apple Store to see Lily talk about impossible.

Tuesday and Wednesday was filled with meetings about work at CSM and other potential work in the new year.

Sunday, after battling some of the London Transport Infrastructure I got back down to Brighton to attend some of the first Brighton Crypto Festival, held at Lighthouse and organised by my fellow resident Chris.

Friday I was over at Lighthouse and was thinking again about the Emotional Infrastructure project, I am planning a show and tell for a weeks time and starting to join up some thematic points into some kind of narrative.

Re-reading the situationsists as well as the recent book by Bradley Garret ‘Explore Everything’.

In fact delving back into the discussions on stacktivism and infrastructure fiction in an attempt to try to explain and justify what I am trying to do with the Emotional Infrastructure diaries.

tooling and talking about policy – the UnParty UnConference

We are getting close to hosting a first, test UnParty UnConference, as space to meet up and spend a few hours talking policy, ideas and how to talk about policy.

To help this along I have started ‘designing’ a policy notebook, once again using bookleteer.

Policy Notebook #lazygov #bookleteer

Its still in alpha, so if you have any feedback then let me know, but it is just a tool to note down a policy ‘idea’ and has prompts through the booklet to help you start to think about it.

An interesting idea was suggested by Chris Thorpe, write a user story for your policy. If you can’t do that then there is probably something wrong.

Frankie Roberto also has an interesting site, Policy Positions, which he wrote up on his blog. It lists the policies from the UK.Gov site and allows you to declare your support or opposition to the policy.

So, please have a look at Frankie’s site and also the notebook, and share your thoughts and feedback on them.

When I have the date confirmed I shall post about the first meet up.

weeknotes – 08/11/13 (week 2)

Another week really leaping between lots of different things, each very interesting. Between London and Brighton, helping Pupak with her photography projects and other family stuff.

So, importantly the Lighthouse studio project has been properly announced. I am working on the idea of ‘Emotional Infrastructure‘ and working up a couple of small proposals for ideas in developing the ideas around the diaries and other tools to gather an emotional response to the infrastructure around us.

In thinking about this today I was reminded of a quote that I stumbled across whilst on the train to Brighton a couple of weeks ago.

‘In most sci-fi movies it’s usually the elite who are on the cutting edge of whatever’s going on, but I think it’s going to be quite the contrary. It’s going to be a grassroots- type movement. Those are the ones who are not fighting it, not analyzing it, not organizing it. They’re just experiencing it.’

This is David Cronenberg, in the introduction to the published screenplay of Crash. I found the reference to it in an article ‘From Videodrome to Virtual Light: David Cronenberg and William Gibson’ by Dominick M. Grace.

It is that last sentence that in fact encapsulates what I am trying to explore with the idea of ‘Emotional Infrastructure’ to look at, most people do not get the opportunity to chose the infrastructure that surrounds them, that allows them to operate in the social construct of a city for example but they experience it every day, some elements of it every minute. What we can learn from examining these experiences I do not yet know, that is my goal for this residency at Lighthouse, to develop this idea into the start of a decent conversation about this.

In other news though, I have been trying to throw myself deeper into the world of MediaWiki as a tool and noting how I need to improve my own digital toolkit/chain so that I can get from idea and notes on paper to prototype a bit quicker. In fact that is my goal for the coming weekend, to sort out such a toolkit so I can quickly start a project with a framework which has a lot of the common elements I want in place from the get go.

I have also been identifying possible places to think about submitting papers and conferences from my work over at CSM. Plus doing a bit more background on Open Access Journals and how to set one up, something on Critical Infrastructure Studies is in a pipeline, somewhere near the Tehran/Belfast border.

Next week I hope to have more realised in code and hardware for Heresay as well as Emotional Infrastructure.

weeknotes – 01/11/13 (week 1)

A first stab at keeping week notes.

It was half term this week, so it was filled with a lot of running about with the children as well as work. This meant that I didn’t get into Central Saint Martins this week, though phone calls and shared emails with colleagues meant that some projects were progressed.

Monday was a day of experimenting with Little Printer quite a bit, and discovering a lot of components for possible future projects which I hope to blog about more next week. I was trying to get a useful Heresay feed running for the printer, which worked eventually, but needs a lot more work to be robust.

Tuesday I met up with Nathan, who was over from Boston and with Lily, Kate and Richard from impossible. A meeting of minds which is always a pleasure and one where I leave with notes on lots of ideas to follow up on.

Wednesday was a day of running workshops at DACS.

Thursday and Friday was down to Brighton, to work at the Lighthouse Studio. It has been so far a lot of bits and pieces, chatting about lots of ideas and scribbling down notes to follow up on as well as getting small things done to make everything else work.

I did go visit a big CCTV camera though


and people at the Lighthouse have been doing Surveillance Diaries.

The Surveillance Diaries - would you complete one? #thewatchfulstate @bookleteer

I have finished reading ‘Ground Control’ by Anna Minton


and have been flicking through this small book on Critical Spatial Practice.


Both of which are feeding into my thoughts and ideas around ‘Emotional Infrastructure‘ and Critical Infrastructural Thinking. The latter is leading to a discussion about creating an open journal on the subject, so I started off a landscape review on the existing publications that either cover or fringe the topic.

I have been setting up and using a number of wikis and trying to get a single install that will deliver all the requirements from myself and various clients. I have used a number of commercial wiki solutions before but really want to get my head around MediaWiki properly and find a set of extensions that make it a rich experience for the audiences that I am presenting it to as a solution.

That said, there are lots of problems, hoops and work arounds to get things working how I would imagine it. It can be slightly confusing to a client when you describe the software as that which runs Wikipedia but the ‘out of box’ experience is not quite the same. Still I’m getting there and hope to have something useful in a number of cases.

Emotional Infrastructure

I am working on this small project, its called Emotional Infrastructure and lives over at the Friendly Crowds site.

A set of paper diaries, produced using Bookleteer.

Record your thoughts on that piece of infrastructure as you interact with it in your everyday life and when you have finished a diary send it back to join the archive.

The first was called ‘The Surveillance Diaries’ but I have added ones on power, water and communications.

A few people are currently filling in some of these early prototypes, including me.

It is whilst I am at the Lighthouse as a part of their beta residency studio project that I am working on evolving these diaries into something more formed.

Please do make and complete a diary and feedback your ideas on the structure of the diaries and concept as well.

A Further UnParty UnConference Idea

In the film Sunshine the crew of the ship have to make a decision:

Mace: It’s a lot of assumptions.
Searle: It is. It’s a risk assessment. The question is: does the risk of a detour outweigh the benefits of an extra payload?
Mace: We’ll have a vote.
Searle: No. No, we won’t. We are not a democracy. We’re a collection of astronauts and scientists, so we’re gonna make the most informed decision available to us.
Mace: Made by you, by any chance?
Kaneda: Made by the person best qualified to understand the complexities of payload delivery: our physicist.

And whilst I do not with to dwell on the line ‘We are not a democracy’ I think the idea that those most qualified to understand the complexities of an issue, or a policy should at least be able to discuss it and give their informed response in a public forum.

So, I would like to suggest that expert organisations hold UpParty UnConferences, discuss the ideas that their domain of expertise touches up and shares their insight with everyone else.

So if you are in such an organisation and feel that this kind of discussion would be good to participate in, take part.

Central Saint Martins and Lighthouse Gallery

Just a quick note, about some of the things I am up to at the moment, I am now no longer acting in the role of research fellow in digital design at Central Saint Martins Design Against Crime research centre. I have been working out how to work in academia, investigating research calls, publishing routes and the likes.

Today I am also visiting the Lighthouse gallery in Brighton, where I am starting a two month residency as part of their new studio programme. This is a prototype stage where a small group of us have been invited in to work here, on projects that should feed into the Lighthouse’s future programme.

Both are very exciting and lots of learnings and experiences to be shared. So, sorry if I go on about things here :)

The Open Journal of Critical Infrastructure Studies

An awful lot of us live lives wrapped in infrastructure, its what keeps many parts of the world functioning in a modern way.

A number of people have started writing, producing work that attempts to examine this infrastructure with the same critical eye that we cast over other components of our lives and the development of such a critical thinking framework is rapidly and increasingly becoming vital as the new infrastructure of the digital, communications network increasingly affects so many aspect of our lives.

Yet this infrastructure is increasingly invisible, from the fact that it uses electromagnetic radiation to transmit information through to the strategic agendas of corporations who wish to mask the underlying operational methods behind their productised solutions to modern life.

‘It Just Works’ being the mantra from Apple and you as the user of the apple product, do not have to understand how it works, just know that it does. Except that often it doesn’t or doesn’t quite and you won’t know why.

@thejaymo is concept curator at @stacktivism and Paul Graham Raven has created ‘Infrastructure Fiction‘.

Vinay Gupta (@leashless) has created Simple Critical Infrastructure Maps and written extensively on the infrastructure that keeps us alive.

We want to create an open access journal to disseminate the new ideas and thinking in this space. This is a blog post on starting the process and I will keep these going until we have one up and running or have decided that the area is already well served.

To this end we need to:

1. Check the landscape, what are the existing journals on infrastructure (critical or otherwise) and what is their approach? Are they papers on the latest implementation techniques for X technology or are they discussions on the implication of installing such a technology with such and environment and what could be the impact on the population of that environment.
2. Decide a domain to cover, is it about critical infrastructure, or is is critical thinking about infrastructure? Is it urban in scope? What does it encompass and what is outside of its remit?
3. Find a name.
4. Define an editorial process. Who will edit, how will review take place, how often will it publish, will it be online only or print and online?
5. Then launch journal.

(Somewhere in there we will attempt to find funding as well).

Since these discussions are already collaborative, if you have any thoughts on scope or ideas or name or anything, then please take part.

design for everyday life