mac online apple blackjack

HSS8121: Media Archaeology

 What is Media Archaeology

According to Jussi Parikka and Erkki Huhtamo,

It investigates “alternate histories of suppressed, neglected, and forgotten media that do not point teleologically to the present media-cultural condition…” (Huhtamo & Parikka,Media Archaeology, 2011 ).

And Geert Lovink says,

‘Media archaeology is first and foremost a methodology, a hermeneutic reading of the “new” against the grain of the past, rather than a telling of the history of technologies from past to present. No comprehensive overview of the media archaeology approach is yet available, but we could mention a few scholars, such as Friedrich Kittler, Siegfried Zielinski, Werner Nekes, Jona- than Crary, Katherine Hayles, Werner Künzel, Avital Ronell, Christoph Asendorf, Erkki Huhtamo, Paul Virilio and others.’
(Lovink, My First Recession – Critical Internet Culture in Transition, 2003)

’In his Archaeology of the Cinema C. W. Ceram states: “What matters history is not whether certain chance discov- eries take place, but whether they take effect.”4 When Hertz experimented with electromagnetic waves he meant to prove Maxwell’s mathematical calcu- lations of the electromagnetic field; almost by accident he thereby practically invented radio transmission technology.5 How can we write media history when media systems create their Eigenzeit?’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p57)

We can say that Media Archaeology is not a single methodology, but an orientation – a direction which is common to a loose group of researchers (a lot of whom are German and related to a particular kind of german media theory and philosophy) and a particular flavour of research. If methodology is ‘a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity’ (OED) then really Media Archaeology exists at a level of abstraction above this. It is an associated set of theories, methods, methodologies and skills which emphasise a close reading of technology itself, not just in its ability to be a cultural phenomenon. As Friedrich Kittler says:

‘History is not a list of, “directors, stars, studios and celebrities, which in the end remains organised around a series of titles” ‘ (Kittler, Optical Media, p. 26).

As Ernst summarises,

‘Equally close to disciplines that analyze material (hard- ware) culture and to the Foucauldian notion of the “archive” as the set of rules governing the range of what can be verbally, audiovisually, or alphanumeri- cally expressed at all, media archaeology is both a method and an aesthetics of practicing media criticism, a kind of epistemological reverse engineering, and an awareness of moments when media themselves, not exclusively humans anymore, become active “archaeologists” of knowledge.’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p55)

In practice

Although he is not usually referred to in the ‘canon’ of MA, we could look at Matthew Kirschenbaum’s archival practice with electronic literature as an example of MA in practice.

Meanwhile Wolfgang Ernst frequently uses the spatial and temporal specifics of technological kinds of writing to discuss and problematise the way we understand time and in particular historical narrative.

‘…the historical mode of describing temporal processes has been confronted with alternative modelings of time, When it comes to describing media in time, this aporia becomes crucial, since one can no longer simply subject media processes to a literary narrative without fundamentally misreading and misrepresenting their Eigenzeit. Historical media narratives take place in imaginary time. Storage technologies, on the other hand, take place in the symbolic temporal order…’ (Ernst, Huhtamo and Parikka, Media Archaeology, 2011, p. 242)

‘But is radio, when playing, ever in a historical state? Is it not in fact always in a present state? The medium only appears to conform to the logic of historical epochal concepts; in actuality, it undermines this logic and sets a different temporal economy. For example, an original record- ing resonating today from an old tube radio, provided it can still run on 220 volts, hardly makes history audible. A tube radio thus practices compressed time with respect to our sensory perception, as long as this is not overlaid with “historical meaning,” which corresponds not to the actual media work- ings of radio but rather to the logic of inscribed historiography.’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p159)

Ernst makes the point that our language and methods of discussing, and modelling time in terms of historical narratives just aren’t up to the task of considering what technological (particularly electronic and computational) media actually do.

He also has a lot of interesting things to say about counting,

‘The numerical order, the basis of digital technologies, has always already been performed as a cultural practice before becoming technically materialized.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p147)

To tell, we learn, as a transitive verb, means not only “to give a live account in speech or writing of events or facts” (that is, to tell a story) but also “to count things” (to tell a rosary, for example). The very nature of digital operations and telling thus coincide.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p147-8)

The conjunction between telling stories and counting time is more than just a word game: verbs like conter, contar, raccontare, erzählen, and to tell are testimonies to a way of perceiving realities that oscillates between narrative and statistics.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p149)

I found this work (actually earlier published versions of this work) extremely compelling during the early stages of making this piece, Mark Inscriber.

Ernst also maintains the Medienarchäologischer ‘fundus‘.

In Art Practice

Often this work takes the past as a point for a future imaginary.

Jamie Allen’s ‘The Lie Machine

Pablo Garcia’s ‘Profilography

Imaginary Magnitude, By Stanislaw Lem

And (though he doesn’t use this term himself) we could think of our own Diego Trujillo-Pisanty’s most excellent ‘This Tape Will Self-destruct‘.

In Pedagogy

We’ve previously talked about Julian Oliver’s work. He and Danja Vasiliev have a series of workshops around understanding network fundamentals. Jussi Parka points out that,

‘We can speculate that such ideas and practices as Weise7- group’s are an indirect response to what Geert Lovink (2012: 22) has called the need for ‘materialist (read: hardware- and software- focused) and affect-related theory.’ In this case, theory is not executed only in the normal written format but as engineered situations: the other material infrastructures and modes of expression in which power operates, from code to networks.’ Parikka (critically engineered wireless politics, 2013)

He notes that,

‘In real time computing systems, however, the collection, organization and storage of information leads directly to action, to integrated surveillance and control over the object environment. This dynamic marriage of information and control in real time systems is a fusion of knowledge and action, and, through directed action in real time, information is expressed as power. (Sackman, 1968: 1492) (in Parikka,critically engineered wireless politics, 2013)

These workshops (and others like them) are oriented towards a kind of techno-politics based on hacking intervention and self-enablement (however genuine this ends up being). There’s a like-spirited endeavour in this paper which I saw present in Xcoax – a symposium you should all make yourselves aware of.


What does the Sack piece tell us about the way that memory has been conceived of in the history of computer science?

Warren Sack in: Fuller, Matthew. Software studies: A lexicon. Mit Press, 2008.

Electronic Memory in Practice

In this section we are going to have an archaeological look, a dig in fact, at electronic memory. To do this properly there are a certain number of things we need to understand first.


how does binary work?

1 bit – 2 possible states
2 bit – 4 possible states
3 bit – 8 possible states
4 bit – 16 possible states
5 bit – 32 possible states
6 bit – 64 possible states
7 bit – 128 possible states
8 bit (a byte) – 256 possible states

Here’s a way of working out the value:

(image cc wikivisual 2015)

(then add the results : 32+8+2=42)

And here’s another way:

how to read binary

(image cc wikivisual 2015)

(then, again, add the results : 32+8+2=42)

This is how we combine single bits to create more and more memory. But what we are interested in is how, on a the level of both logic and components, this works.

Latches and Flip flops

Latches and flip flops (we can talk about the difference – it depends who you ask) are an essential part of computer memory. Some version of this circuit is inside the most fundamental aspects of computer memory. They are therefore massively significant in thinking about what we mean when we say ‘computer memory’. We are going to build a state saving circuit ( a flip flop) and use it to explore what we do and don’t know about digital memory and how we can use that as part of a research and creative methodology.

History and archaeology of the flip flop.

Here’s the original patent, designed with vacuum tubes.

And what do vacuum tubes do?

How does it work?

Let’s hear a nice (rather slow) explanation.  To understand what flipflops are and why they are important we first need to know a few things.

Like what is boolean logic?

How can we combine two NOR gates into an OR gate? Simple (ish)! We invert it! See a bunch of examples here. Take one and explain it to your partner!

Step one: Building a NOR gate

This circuit uses transistors

Transistors are manufactured in different shapes but they have three leads (legs).
The BASE – which is the lead responsible for activating the transistor.
The COLLECTOR – which is the positive lead.
The EMITTER – which is the negative lead.



Here’s our circuit diagram. (and below obviously)

Step Two: Combine two NOR gates into a flip flop.

Look at the diagram below. How should we wire up our NORs to make a flip flop?

2 NORs making a flip flop. CC wikimedia


It works, what next?

A flip flop gives us a single bit, held in memory (as long as there is power). Here are somethings I want us to discuss:

  • what is the significance of holding one piece of memory – what can that memory mean? What can it do? Wittgenstein asks of a man given a piece of paper which asks for 5 apples, the following ‘But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word ‘red’ and what he is to do with the word ‘five’?” Well, I assume that he acts as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere.—But what is the meaning of the word ‘five’? No such thing was in question here, only how the word ‘five’ is used.’ What do we mean when we say a bit ‘means’?
  • Now imagine we have an encoding system for that bit. e.g. 0 = ‘apple’, 1=’pear’. How does that affect the above?
  • Stepping outside this question for a moment – how many real-world applications for the storage of one bit of information can you think of? How about for 2 or 3 bits?
  • If we all combined our individual bits into a large register – what could we store? How could we act?

But Why? Let’s talk about that

  • What elements of media archaeology (if any) do you identify in your work?
  • What would be the impact of this method?
  • Returning to our project, how could you take this exploration of digital memory further, how would you develop it?


Suggested readings

What is Media Archaeology? Parikka, 2012, Polity

Media Archaeology, Huhtamo & Parikka (eds), 2010

Digital Memory and the Archive, Ernst, 2012, University of Minnesota Press

Deep Time of the Media, Zielinkski, 2008, MIT Press


DMS8013: Serial Communication. “Down the wire”


Here’s a zip of all today’s sketches

HSS8123 – Public Data

Links from the session

Open Public Data

Visualizar 09

The Open Data Foundation

Home – Office for National Statistics

Crime In My Area – Interactive UK Crime Map | ADT

Open Cultural Data

Flickr: The Commons

Europeana Collections

Choose a License

ArtsAPI: Now Live » FutureEverything

Arts API: Artwork

And lets not forget music for programming!

musicForProgramming(“03: Datassette”);

All examples can be found in the zip here

Your task is to make a public data dashboard.

This will

1. use real public data in the form of text, images or other media
2. remix this data by combining it with other data sources or presenting them together
3. intervene in this data by using it as the basis of some process


HSS8121 Session one: Walking in Public


  • To talk about walking methods in different kinds of research and consider how they might be relevant for us
  • To focus within that on sound practices with walking as an in depth example
  • To explore public space differently through sound walking
  • To use recording to attend to public space in new ways


Research and walking

The interest in walking as part of research methods is, of course, varied among disciplines but among the many concerns are the ways that walking configures our relationship between the body, space and time in ways that make us think some of the suppositions of research methods. People may talk, act and think different when walking and this makes researchers excited and go away and write research papers about it.

Ethnographies of walking and what they tell us

In anthropology and ethnography there has been a recognition that walking practices are a worthy object of study in their own right, that in fact the way we walk is subject to and productive of cultural norms. This has led to an interest in using walking itself as an ethnographic technique for understanding space through people’s motion.

Ingold and Lee present an edited volume combining some fascinating studies of this including with some hunter-gather societies and with so called “confluencers”

Some other examples

Rhythm and the passeggiata.

Vergunst, J. (2010). Rhythms of Walking: History and Presence in a City Street. Space and Culture, 13(4), 376–388.

Jo Vergunst explores the walking of busy city streets as an affair of rhythm and connects this to Lefebvre’s “The Production of Space” in which he (Lefebvre) notes how our sense of time is subject to capitalist and industrial senses of control (Engels makes related points).

“A walker entering the street becomes immersed in the movement and the sounds of the time of the day, week, and year and in the changing patterns of activity as the street and the city develop. The street itself is a place of rhythms and interactions. From this perspective, it is the sensing of rhythms in the street (be they coherent or chaotic) that enables it to be understood as a place and indeed form it as place. This is the essence of Henri Lefebvre’s concept of rhythm as evident in The Production of Space (Lefebvre, 1991) and extended in Rhythmanalysis (Lefebvre, 2004). Rhythm contributes to Lefebvre’s analysis of everyday life particularly in the conceptualization of time. In The Production of Space, time is configured as the result of capitalist control over space: “As for time, dominated by repetition and circularity, overwhelmed by the establishment of an immobile space which is the locus and environment of realized Reason, it loses all mean- ing” (Lefebvre, 1991, p. 21).” p378

His main point is that walking by virtues of its continuity blends time in a way that counters industrial divisions of it.
“In most walking, past, present, and future seem more blended and indistinct—we do not have a “moment,” as such, as we walk. This relates to the English verb form of the continuous present: “I am walking,” English-speakers say or think to themselves as they actually do it, not the merely general “I walk.” Walking as an activity implies a continuity rather than a moment.” p381

Yi’En, C. (2014). Telling Stories of the City:Walking Ethnography, Affective Materialities, and Mobile Encounters. Space and Culture, 17(3), 211–223.

In this paper En suggests walking as a way of differently encountering the materials of everyday urban existence as a kind of continuing collage of experience.

“I mobilize two aspects of urban life that are only beginning to attract scholarly attention in extant literature—urban materialities as affective materials for organizing mundane experience and urban mobilities as heterogeneous and rhythmic to demonstrate how “walking” is a practice that orientates the “walker” through different dimensions of “ordinary” and “everyday” urban life.” p2

Interviewing and walking

Including efforts to locate this on GIS maps (emphasis added)

Evans, J., & Jones, P. (2011). The walking interview: Methodology, mobility and place. Applied Geography, 31(2), 849–858.

“…a major advantage of walking interviews is their capacity to access people’s attitudes and knowledge about the surrounding environment. Walking has long been considered a more intimate way to engage with landscape that can offer privileged insights into both place and self (Solnit, 2001). Ingold and Lee (2008) suggest that walking with inter- viewees encourages a sense of connection with the environment, which allows researchers to understand how, for example, places are created by the routes people take”

“Representing qualitative data in map form makes them instantly more appealing to decision- makers. They offer an opportunity to make people’s values and local histories count more within a range of development processes. But the power of maps is well documented within geography (Wood & Fels, 1993), and care is required when using them to represent qualitative data. Maps simultaneously increase the potential damage that can be caused by misinterpretation and over-simplification. Further work exploring the potential to apply this technique in real-world decision-making scenarios is needed to understand the most effective ways in which to analyse and represent data.” p857

Soundwalks and acoustic ecologies

…could be a degree programme all to themselves but for the moment I’ll constrain myself to a couple of points. Historically they have a relationship with the notion of acoustic ecologies as described by Murray Shaeffer. There’s a bibliography here for those interested.

Hildegard Westerkamp speaks of the “disruptive nature of listening.” in terms which have a lot in common with some of the temporal points made by Vergunst and others about walking. It’s unsurprising therefore that some creative research methods involve doing both. We’re going to try some of this together.

“When I speak of the disruptive nature of listening, I agree with Michael Stocker who writes: ‘Our experience with sound unfolds as a continuous now.’ If we open our ears to this experience of sound unfolding as a continuous now it inevitably includes an opening to surprises, to the unexpected, to the difficult and uncomfortable, to noise or potential discomforts with silence. It means staying with the sound for a time no matter what reactions it may elicit in us.”

Westerkamp offers a long history of soundwalks available online like this one.

Discussion point: how does her narration affect our understanding of space throughout the recording.



Instructions for sound recording

1. Listen to a sound from up-close, try to position yourself so that this sound the only one you can hear, record it.
2. Record multiple sounds intersecting, see if you can move through the intersection.
3. Find the quietest place you can, stay there and record it for a while.

DMS8013: 1. Physical Computing: I wish to God these calculations had been made by steam!


Session Aims:

  1. To talk about what Physical Computing is and why that matters
  2. To provide some historical contextual background in and out of art practice
  3. To make a start with learning some physical computing



How many computers did you touch today?

Which computer has the strongest claim to be the first?

 What is Physical Computing? Tally sticks to abascus to difference engine to Von Neuman architecture

  • A recognition that computers are ‘out there’ or ‘in there’
  • A way of thinking about relationships between people (and particularly bodies) and computers
  • A means of getting away from screens


Some History and Context

Ubiquitous Computing (UBICOMP)

  • Mark Weiser and ‘Calm Technology’
  • Adam Greenfield, ‘Everyware’

“Everywhere produces a wide belt of circumstance where human agency, judgement, and will are progressively supplanted by compliance with external, frequently algorithmically-applied standards and norms” Greenfield, Adam. Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing. New Riders, 2010.

Tangible and Embedded Interaction

“Long before the invention of personal computers, our ancestors developed a variety of specialized physical artifacts to measure the passage of time, to predict the movement of planets, to draw geometric shapes, and to compute [10]. We can find these beautiful artifacts made of oak and brass in museums such as the Collection of Historic Scientific Instruments at Harvard University.

We were inspired by the aesthetics and rich affordances of these historical scientific instruments, most of which have disappeared from schools, laboratories, and design studios and have been replaced with the most general of appliances: personal computers. Through grasping and manipulating these instruments, users of the past must have developed rich languages and cultures which valued haptic interaction with real physical objects. Alas, much of this richness has been lost to the rapid flood of digital technologies.” Ishii, Hiroshi, and Brygg Ullmer. “Tangible bits: towards seamless interfaces between people, bits and atoms.” Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, 1997.



Tatsuo Miyajima, Clock for 300 Thousand Years, 1987

Jenny Holzer, Truisms, 1984

Which of the two works above has the stronger claim to be ‘physical computing’? In what ways do they embody different ideas of

  • the computer

  • physicality

  • relationships to technology

  • role of the artist


In Art

‘Wearables’ and performance

Atsuko Tanaka, Electric Dress, 1957

New forms of Interactivity

Daniel Rozin, Wooden Mirror, 1999 (this version)

Exploring the Materiality of Computers

Addie Wagenknech,, 2014


Is this affordance?

Why are we talking about affordance? One of the interesting things about physical computing is the way it can make us think about the way that we ‘fit in’ to the world and how we understand action.

Let’s contrast Norman’s view of ‘perceived affordance’ with Suchman’s ideas below. Norman asks,

“When you first see something you have never seen before, how do you know what to do? The answer, I decided, was that the required information was in the world: the appearance of the device could provide the critical clues required for its proper operation.”

But what does he mean by ‘something you have never seen before’. Norman seems to believe that there is an underlying schema to the way the world works. A set of rules that people follow. Suchman however proposes that,

“…the contingency of action on a complex world of objects, artifacts, and other actors, located in space and time, is no longer treated as an extraneous problem with which the individual actor must contend but rather is seen as the essential resource that makes knowledge possible and gives action its sense. […] A basic research goal for studies of situated action, therefore, is to explicate the relationship between structures of action and the resources and constraints afforded by material and social circumstances.” (Suchman, L. 2007, Human Machine Reconfigurations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 177)

 Doing Physical Computing



HSS8120 : Scraping


This session is intended to introduce scraping as a cultural paradigm and as an artistic (and research) activity. We will look at some examples of scraping in art, music, visualisation and performance and learn about some tools and approaches used. From there we will think about what it means to use scraped data in our own creative work. The key point is that scraping (for me) signifies an approach to gathering data that emphasises activity, effort, non linearity and contingency. It is, in some senses the opposite of ‘fake news’ whose main feature is that it is provided to us.


SECTION 1:A completely selective and loosely structured overview of scraping: 

Unstructured Data

Neurotic Armageddon Indicator a wall clock for the end of the world.

  • web data and conventions of use
  • figurative statistics
  • qualitative and quantitative research

Daily Paywall Paolo Cirio

  • Hacking newspaper paywalls and scraping content

Structured Culture

Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek Using semi-structured data to frame and use culture.

  • aggregating culture
  • vagaries of scale

My own work on the Bloodaxe archive.

  • audiences for new hybrid objects


Including Detektors by Martyn Howse and Shintaro Miyazaki, their maps include JR Shinjuku station, Tokyo

  • scrying
  • divining


Audio scraping as mapping a layer. The Quiet Walk (Alessandro Altavilla, Tom Schofield)


Bloodaxe Archive scrapings

  • As a contemporary form of scraping to make a mark. See William Blake.

As An Industry

Data ‘sifting’ is now a substantial industry.


What does scraping get you? What does the term do?

  • It suggests an active mode of data gathering
  • It carries with it associated activities : filtering, ordering, saving – all of which can structure your work in culturally-situated ways. Thoughts about these activities as a site of work can inform your practice.
  • It provides a series of productive metaphors which can, in turn, become practices – digging, uncovering, sifting.
  • It can provide kinds of gesture – think burins, trowels, fingernails.

When can you scrape?

For instance on you can’t:

copy, harvest, crawl, index, scrape, spider, mine, gather, extract, compile, obtain, aggregate, capture, or store any Content, including without limitation photos, images, text, music, audio, videos, podcasts, data, software, source or object code, algorithms, statistics, analysis, formulas, indexes, registries, repositories, or any other information available on or through the Service, including by an automated or manual process or otherwise, if we have taken steps to forbid, prohibit, or prevent you from doing so;

Don’t forget to read the robots.txt such as this one.

SECTION 2: To Work!

First we’ll need python 2.7

And also pip

And it helps to have Sublime Text 2

Task 1.

Writing a real python scraper with Python looking at seismic activity. This data is in a semi-structured state. How can we make it useful for instance to make this.

Task 2.

Scrying for wifi with an android phone or an iPhone. Is this Hertzian Space?

Explore and:

  • look for features of interest
  • find secrets
  • look for things you can use
  • think about the way you move through a building

For instance SSID 1-line ascii art.

Task 3.

Using an API. Many of them need you to register and receive a KEY.

Using the mediawiki api what can we find on our subject. How could this be used computationally to tell us something that we couldn’t simply read? What does this mean for the humanities – for humanism?

For instance we can programmatically generate a list of images for a given subject. Like Earthquakes.

Look at the tutorial here. What else can you find of use?

SECTION 3: To Play!

Write a scraper (in Python) that turns unusable public data into something useful.

Writing a scraper.

  • identify a changing data source on web (there’s a cool one here )
  • check for a robots.txt file to see if what you want to do is allowed. The site above has one here.
  • check any licensing information that will tell you what you can and can’t do with the data.
  • look at the HTML and see what we can identify that uniquely identifies the thing that we want
  • adapt the earthquake scraper to get it



HSS8123: Documenting your work


  • to recognise good documentation when we see it
  • to think about why we document
  • to promote good ongoing documentation as part of practice

Some initial questions

  • why do we document?
  • who is the audience?
  • what are the important elements and how do they shift depending on the above to questions?

Dangers of Documentation

  • The documentation may not be the work (particularly in performance work)

‘Adorno once wrote about the dangers of recording classical music. He was concerned with the way in which a recording ironed out the tensions of a live performance. For him it meant losing that sense of contingency and chance that made life life.’

  • Starting late
  • Trusting someone else
  • Money
  • Lack of clarity over purpose
  • Not doing it
  • Not paying attention to community norms


Auslander, Philip. Liveness: Performance in a mediatized culture. Routledge, 2008.
Hook, Jonathan, et al. “Exploring HCI’s relationship with liveness.” CHI’12 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2012.
Hook, Jonathan, et al. “Waves: exploring idiographic design for live performance.” Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2013.
Schofield, T., Kirk, D., Amaral, T., Dörk, M., Whitelaw, M., Schofield, G., & Ploetz, T. (2015). Archival Liveness: Designing with Collections Before and During Cataloguing and Digitization. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 9(3).
Taylor, Robyn, et al. “Crafting interactive systems: learning from digital art practice.” CHI’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2013.

Some Types of Video Documentation

How would you categorise these?

  • Technical Breakdown
  • (Family Rituals)
  • Trigger Shift (Modular Projects)
  • War Workings / Sound Mirrors – Tim Shaw & John Bowers
  • Decoded
  • Antiphonal
  • Data Elements
  • Coin Operated Wetland – Tega Brain

Our turn

Have a look at the showreel from two years previously. There’s some great work here and somethings which you might do differently. What do you think?

Task 1

Look at the cards I’ve given you. Describe some of the things you’d need to think about in terms of (for example)

  • locations
  • shots
  • production (style)

Task 2

Produce a documentation plan for your forthcoming HSS8120 assignments. Some of you will be further along in thinking about this than others but think about the performance for instance. How can  you plan to document this work and what purpose will it server (aside from the assessment itself).

You should think about

  • equipment
  • formats
  • audience
  • skills you need (we can discuss scheduling sessions)
  • purpose



Objects and object-orientation


to discuss objects in technology and philosophy
to learn about why grounding computing in objects brought about a revolution in the way that we use computers
to learn about objects in programming

In Computing

In the early 60s the development of Object Oriented Programming languages (of which Smalltalk is arguably the first) was a significant step towards what we would consider a contemporary interaction with a computer interface. Fascinatingly its development was closely tied in with the idea of graphical representations of objects. This binding of programmatic and visual objects was one of the things that then and now made programming tractable enough to bring it into the reach of non specialists. It’s interesting that then and now Kay was interested in how children learn about the world around him as a source of inspiration for his programming language.

‘Smalltalk’s design–and existence–is due to the insight that everything we can describe can be represented by the recursive composition of a single kind of behavioral building block that hides its combination of state and process inside itself and can be dealt with only through the exchange of messages. Philosophically, Smalltalk’s objects have much in common with the monads of Leibniz and the notions of 20th century physics and biology. Its way of making objects is quite Platonic in that some of them act as idealisations of concepts–Ideas–from which manifestations can be created. That the Ideas are themselves manifestations (of the Idea-Idea) and that the Idea-Idea is a-kind-of Manifestation-Idea–which is a-kind-of itself, so that the system is completely self-describing– would have been appreciated by Plato as an extremely practical joke [Plato].’

Kay, A. C., & C., A. (1996). The early history of Smalltalk. In History of programming languages—II (pp. 511–598). New York: ACM.


‘The graphic objects in a sketch are embedded with layers of topological intelligence’, Ivan Sutherland Sketchpad


Ubicomp (Ubiquitous Computing)

A view of seeing programming languages as more deeply related to the world around us through their increasingly expressive power to be representational was wound up in the development of ubicomp the Internet of Things avant la lettre.

‘The arcane aura that surrounds personal computers is not just a “user interface” problem. My colleagues and I at PARC think that the idea of a “personal” computer itself is misplaced, and that the vision of laptop machines, dynabooks and “knowledge navigators” is only a transitional step toward achieving the real potential of information technology. Such machines cannot truly make computing an integral, invisible part of the way people live their lives. Therefore we are trying to conceive a new way of thinking about computers in the world, one that takes into account the natural human environment and allows the computers themselves to vanish into the background.

Such a disappearance is a fundamental consequence not of technology, but of human psychology. Whenever people learn something sufficiently well, they cease to be aware of it. When you look at a street sign, for example, you absorb its information without consciously performing the act of reading.. Computer scientist, economist, and Nobelist Herb Simon calls this phenomenon “compiling”; philosopher Michael Polanyi calls it the “tacit dimension”; psychologist TK Gibson calls it “visual invariants”; philosophers Georg Gadamer and Martin Heidegger call it “the horizon” and the “ready-to-hand”, John Seely Brown at PARC calls it the “periphery”. All say, in essence, that only when things disappear in this way are we freed to use them without thinking and so to focus beyond them on new goals.’

Weiser, M. (1991). The Computer for the 21st Century. Scientific American, 265(3), 94–104. Magazine Article.


In Philosophy

Philosophy (phenomenology)

Edmund Husserl -> Martin Heidegger, vorhanden vs zuhanden
objects vs things

It is some of Heidegger’s ideas that perhaps had the most distinct Influence on HCI particularly as they encouraged theories of embodiment e.g. Winograd and Flores, Paul Dourish (Section 5.1)

In Both

Strange Ontologies, Mitchell Whitelaw

‘For philosophy, ontology is a reflective pro- cess, an ongoing questioning of how to think about what is. For the information sciences, ontology is applied, contextual, and specific; the question is how best to model what is for some computational system in some specific domain with some specific purposes. With that practical imperative, the open, reflective position of philosophy is impossible to sustain. An answer is required. If philosophical ontology asks what is?, computational ontology answers, this is—or at least, for our purposes, in this context, for this system, this is. ‘

Whitelaw, M., Guglielmetti, M., & Innocent, T. (2009). Strange ontologies in digital culture. Computers in Entertainment, 7(1), 1.


“My central thesis is that computation became a medium when the concepts of medium and interface were implicitly embedded in computation at the material level of the programming language itself, an event I locate in the emergence of object-oriented programming. In doing so, I will argue the strong case: object orientation is not merely a way of thinking about computation that just happens to lend itself to viewing computation as a medium; rather, it is the medialization of computation. That is, it is both historically and conceptually impossible to conceive object orientation and computational mediality apart from each other, as they are in fact only different perspectives on the same phenomenon.”

Alt, C. (2011). Object of Our Affection: How Object Orientation Made Computers a Medium. In E. Huhtamo  Parikka, Jussi (Ed.), Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications (pp. 278–301). Book Section, University of California Press.






  • To think about maps as a broader analogy for other forms of mathematical representation (such as visualisation)
  • To think about how power finds its expression in maps
  • To experiment with mapping technologies

…In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province. In the course of Time, these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting, and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and that coincided with it point for point. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography, succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome, and, not without Irreverence, they abandoned it to the Rigours of sun and Rain. In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in the whole Nation, no other relic is left of the Discipline of Geography.
Jorge. L. Borges, A Universal History of Infamy, London, Penguin Books, 1975.

Why Maps

A point where visual cultural, technology, politics and social life combine in a particularly visible way.

Lying with Maps

‘Not only is it easy to lie with maps, it’s essential. To portray meaningful relationships for a complex, three-dimensional world on a flat sheet of paper or a video screen, a map must distort reality.’ Monmonier, M. S. (1996). How to lie with maps. University of Chicago Press.

Monmonier identifies among other things scale, projection, symbols, geometry, content, mistakes, printing errors, time, abstraction (think of the tube), elision, propaganda, aggregation and colour all as ways that lies are told with maps.

Julian Oliver’s Cartofictions:

Owning The Map, Maps as a Site of (political, social, aesthetic) Action

‘Although other nations might have intentionally distorted their maps, the Soviet Union’s systematic falsification of geo- graphic location is now a well-known part of the recent history of cartography. In the late 1930s, after the NKVD, or security police, assumed control of mapmaking, the Soviet cartographic bureaucracy began to deliberately distort the position and form of villages, coastlines, rivers, highways, railroads, buildings, boundaries, and other features shown on maps and atlases sold for public use.’ Monmonier, M. S. (1996). How to lie with maps. University of Chicago Press. (pp115-116)

  • Post colonialism (and map projections), technocracy (and elision) and mapping
  • Selfie city (used mechanical turk)
  • Technocracy and mapping – community alternatives, in Garbage
  • New mappings e.g. drones lidar

In opposition we might consider the notion of ‘thick mapping’.

‘Instead of positing another depth model or yet another celebration of postmodern hyperspace, the HyperCities proj- ect strives for “thickness.” Thickness means extensibility and polyvocality: diachronic and synchronic, temporally layered, and polyvalent ways of authoring, knowing, and making meaning. Not unlike the notion of “thick description” made famous by anthropologist Clifford Geertz, thickness connotes a kind of cultural analysis trained on the political, economic, linguistic, social, and other stratificatory and contextual realities in which human beings act and create. By eschewing any kind of universalism, it is a kind of analysis that is intrinsi- cally incomplete, always under contestation, and never reaching any kind of final, underlying truth. […] Thick maps are not simply “more data” on maps, but interrogations of the very possibility of data, mapping, and cartographic representational practices. In this sense, “thickness” arises from the never-ending friction between maps and counter-maps, constructions and de-constructions, mappings and counter-mappings.’ Presner, T. S., Shepard, D., & Kawano, Y. (2014). HyperCities : thick mapping in the digital humanities.(pp18-19)

Communication Maps

‘In Ersilia,to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass between them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.’ Calvino, Italo. Invisible cities. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1978.

The topography of the contemporary internet mirrors one from 150 years previously. They suffer from the same topological problems.

The abstraction of the system to a map is actually it’s weakness.

Optical communciation – Chappe telegraph. Maps as bringers of speed, shrinkers of worlds. I wrote about this here.


Political Maps

Geometry Vs Geography in the Antarctic.

Mapping Knowledge

From Lullian Wheels

To the contemporary equivalents.

Many more here.

Techniques of Mapping

Body Mapping

For instance with FACEOSC

Or maps on the web

Like static maps.

And now to work.


Approaching invisible maps

First download Processing here

Get resources here

All about the google street view API here

Here’s a tool for finding the latitude longitude of a point

DMS8013: 7. Data Wrangling: Hackathons are Emancipatory



  • To look at ways that public data is used for art, activism and development
  • To examine some of the claims that hackathons make and the problems they have
  • To learn more about how to get data, what it looks like inside and what we can do with it


Art Hack Day Berlin /// + Going Dark + from LEAP on Vimeo.

Hacking -> Hack / Hackathon

Joeli Brearley of Future Everything has produced a contemporary guide to the hack here. It’s fair to say that hacks/hackathons have become popularised in a way that some people cite as a triumph of inclusion, diversity and heterogeneity while others lament the decline of the radical character of some earlier hacks and discussions of hacking (see Wark’s Hacker manifesto here for an example).

The time is past due when hackers must come together with all of the producing classes of the world – to liberate productive and inventive resources from the myth of scarcity.’ McKenzie Wark, A Hacker Manifesto 4.0

Meanwhile Jaromil (who you may have seen talk at Transmediale) has this to say

‘Hacking is a way out of consumerism: it values local production and empowers people to adapt and appro- priate objects, rather than taking them as finite products. Hackers emphasize on open access to knowledge and shared development of understanding of systems in use, so that they can be repaired and improved rather than disposing them after usage.’ (workshop description found here).

One aspect of this is the increasing institutionalisation of the hack with universities, companies, the government and others organising, defining and hosting hacks.

Some Hack outputs:


Visualizar ’09

Interactivos ’14

What they say about themselves

To get some kind of sense of where we are, lets examine some of the descriptions that various hacks offer about themselves. Read the below place the corresponding label on your version of this grid

Visualizar (Medialab Prado, Madrid)

‘We live in the digital era of big data: smart cities, computation and “cloud” services, the Internet of Things… These are concepts that are more and more present in our daily life. The amount of data produced by scientific research grows exponentially, infrastructures and commerce generate traceable information which can also be represented, online social media have turned millions of citizens into information producers.

This data explosion promises a world of efficiency, innovation and personalization. but at the same time it rises critical questions on security and data control, privacy and people’s intimacy, good governance nof infrastructures and access to information.

In this context, both civil society and public administration, the academic environment and the bussiness world have created movements which promote the access to data and its reutilisation in open innovation ideas or citizen science.

But the idea of Big Data also poses new questions: Who generates the data and how? What social benefit -for the common good-can we obtain from its production and analysis? This way we see emerge -against the idea of accumulating vast quantities of data and analyzing and co-relating them at tremendous speed- ideas like slow data or small data, which highlight the potential of small open connected databases and the care of an artisan (in a similar approach to the slow food movement) in the production, analysis and creation of stories with data.

Also, confronted against large commercial services which extract value and monetize big data groups, in many cases generated by the citizens themselves, many voices highlight the idea of the need for rich “data commons” available to everybody. Understanding data infrastructures as commons means incorporating the users as co-producers and co-responsible of their management. The example of Openstreetmap, a large repository of geographic data which has turned into a useful alternative to commercial services, is an inspiration for many other areas in which we need data without limitations of use and ethically produced.

This perspective emphasizes the growing capacity we have for collaboration in an effective way by sharing a connected database ecosystem, whether they are big, small of medium-sized, which can help us analyze andgive support to the specific and local problems which we face.’


(in particular see video from 2:18)

‘Interactivos? is a research and production platform for the creative and educational uses of technology. Its main goal is to expand on the use of electronic and software tools for artists, designers and educators, thus contributing to the development of local communities of cultural producers in this field.

Interactivos? events are a hybrid between a production workshop, a seminar and a showcase. A space for reflection, research, and collaborative work is created, in which proposals selected by an international open call are developed, completed and displayed. The process is open to the public from beginning to end.’

Hack the City

‘Hack the City is about using open data for a better urban and civic experience.It’s a hands-on event to use public data to test and prototype ideas, apps and products that can reveal something different about your city, or help people find out and engage more easily with the events, incidents and decisions that affects them. There’ll be a room full of smart folk to collaborate on ideas with and plenty of food to keep you going, whether you want to prototype a data-driven startup concept, knock together an urban or civic hack or simply experiment with the data.’

Future Makers

‘Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums has teamed up with FutureEverything to deliver an exciting new programme of creative technology workshops at museums and galleries across Tyneside. The Future Makers programme is a series of exciting events that will enable children – and adults – to use new technologies for design and making. From Minecraft sessions at Arbeia Roman Fort to a coders’ ‘hackathon’ at Stephenson Railway Museum, Future Makers seeks to inspire a new breed of creatives whilst challenging preconceptions of what museums and their collections mean in the digital age.’

Culture Shift
see video at 3:00 ish!

‘One of the key elements of FutureEverything’s work is to apply bespoke design methodologies and practices to cross sector creativity, interfacing with science, technology and research, i.e the grey areas in between. We believe the fringes are where innovation happens, and that the UK’s creative sector is extremely well placed to play a leading role going forward in the modern, digital economy.’

Inhabiting the Hack including Rewriting the Hack

‘Rewriting the Hack (RTH) is a Women Only Hackathon exploring the theme, Industrial and Post Industrial North East. The two day event will; examine the Hackathon format as a site for producing collaborative, interdisciplinary art strategies and explore issues surrounding diversity an increasingly popular model of creative production.

Participants will gather to access and create with archival materials relating to the NE regions industrial heritage and current, open data sets, which represent our post industrial present. Challenging perceptions that Hackaton events as well as histories of our industrial past and our scientific and technological present are male dominated.’

(scroll to sponsors!)

‘HackMIT is MIT’s largest hackathon. Over a 24-hour period in early fall, 1,000 hackers from around the world gather on MIT’s campus to experiment and innovate on software and hardware projects. This is your weekend to dust off old ideas or try something completely new. Imagine the craziest projects possible, and work on the hack of your dreams!’

Working with Data

In the practical part of this session we’re going to work with the Twitter API using Python and a library called Tweepy. We’re going to build on a basic example available on the github source repo for Tweepy here.

Pre task

Before the class there are a few things you need to do.

  • First, if you don’t have a Twitter account make one. (let me know if you object to this well before the class and we’ll work around it).
  • Create an application on Twitter in order to generate your authentication credentials (This has 4 parts, consumer key and secret; access token and secret).
  • Copy the basic example here, save it as ‘’ and run it either from the Terminal (using the command ‘python’ ) or using the IDLE editor that comes with Python. You should see a bunch of raw tweet data stream in the terminal.

If you can’t get even a single little bit of the above working you need to come and see me as soon as possible – I don’t want to spend the whole class time fixing people’s Python install! I want to hack!

And also

Please read Wark’s Hacker manifesto here.