Pontificial Lateral University Library – Italy

( via the coolhunter )
Libraries aren’t generally known for amazing architecture but this incredible one in Italy has us dying to get there amongst the books. Pictured below, it’s actually an extension on the existing library at the Pontificial Lateran University, which houses new reading rooms and an Auditorium. The incredibly stylish space was designed by Rome firm King Roselli, who took totally fresh approach to the project by employing features not usually seen in these types of spaces, such as a curved ceiling, angular stair-casing and vast glass paneling.


The university holds an outstanding collection of books numbering around 600,000 volumes, some of which date back to the 16th century, whose subjects for the most part coincide with the principal academic courses: philosophy, theology and law. The bulk of them are now deposited in the newly restored compartmentalized underground vaults equipped with an adequate fire extinguisher system and humidity and temperature control. Learning has never been so glamorous.

By Laura Demasi

Filed under: academic, architecture, design

What’s the safest way to push a heavy object?

( via collision detection )

Everyone knows that if you don’t want to screw up your back, you should lift heavy objects by bending your knees, not your back. But 20 per cent of all workplace back injuries in North America are caused not by lifting — but by pushing and pulling heavy weights. So what’s the correct way to pull or push?

For years, scientists assumed that the forces at play in your body when you push or pull never spin out of control they way they do with lifting. Whenever they measured these forces, they didn’t seem big enough to cause serious damage.

But recently, two biomechanists — Kevin Granata of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Bradford Bennett of the University of Virginia — realized the previous experiments had left something out: The “cocontraction” of muscles, which is the body’s use of opposing muscle groups to stabilize the body. So they wired up a bunch of experimental subjects with gonimeters to measure muscle activity, and had them push levers at various force levels: 15 per cent of their body mass, 30 per cent, or as hard as they could push. The results? As Cognitive Daily reports:

… when cocontraction was factored in, the force on the spine increased by as much as 400 percent, depending on the height of the handle and the amount of force applied. Cocontraction was greatest when participants bent lower to push on the handle, as they would when pushing the heaviest loads. In these cases, stress on the spine matches stress in lifting tasks and may be what leads to the most injuries. They also note that as the amount of pushing force increases, the vertical component of the pushing force also increases, because the volunteers need the corresponding downward force on their feet to gain traction. This makes a pushing action more like a lifting action, again potentially increasing the chance of injury.

Ow. I don’t think their study formally concludes the best way to push or pull, but it’s a cool area to study. It also makes me feel sore just reading about it, because I’ve had a hair-trigger back ever since grade 13 in high school, when I worked at a lighting store and screwed myself up ferociously by lifting superheavy chandeliers with one hand while wiring them into the ceiling with the other. I had been an otherwise perfectly healthy 18 years old, but a year of that sort of work left me so bent over with pain that I had to lie in bed for four days recovering. “If I’d known you were a cripple,” my boss told me as I limped home, “I wouldn’t have hired you.” Nice.

A really sad note: Granata, a co-author of this study, was one of the professors who died in the recent Virginia Tech shootings.

: Posted by Clive Thompson

Filed under: academic

New Network Theory

(text via the website)

Introduction : Rethinking Network Theory
International Conference
Dates: 28-30 June 2007
Location: University of Amsterdam
Click here to register.
Click here for the conference program.

Organized by: Institute of Network Cultures (Interactive Media, Amsterdam Polytechnic, HvA), Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, and Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis.

The object of study has shifted from the virtual community and the space of flows to the smart mob. When the object of study changes, so may the distinctions that dominate, particularly the schism between place-based space and place-less space, both organised and given life by networks. We would like to exploit the potential of writing contemporary network theory that suits and reflects the changes to the objects of study that come to define our understandings of network culture – a post-Castellsian network theory, if you will, that takes technical media seriously.
It is time to look for elements that can make up a network theory outside of post-modern cultural studies (which marvelled at the place-less place) and ethnographic social sciences (which reminded us of the ground). What network culture studies needs is a ‘language of new media,’ perhaps even signage, to speak in terms of Lev Manovich; what it currently has is a science-centered ‘unified network theory,’ to paraphrase the language of Albert-László Barabási.

Whilst it may come as no surprise to critical Internet scholars, the notion that networks are not random but have underlying structures remains the key insight for network scientists. Instead of posing new questions, the work that follows from that insight often seeks to confirm that structure and its accompanying patterns, across more and more network-like objects. The question remains which specific contribution critical Internet scholars and practitioners can make to opening up network thought. Such is the purpose of the network theory conference. How must we rethink network culture with a renewed emphasis on technical media and social software?

Click here to read the New Network Theory program.

Filed under: academic, conferences, design, locative, new media, research, social, space/place, technology

Dilemmas of the Self and the Internet

( via Charlene Croft’s blog )

This is taken from a paper I wrote in 2005 which compared the relation of the self to the Internet through both symbolic interactionist theory (Goffman) and structuration theory (Giddens).   The section below deals specifically with Anthony Giddens concepts of the ”dilemmas of the self” (as discussed in his “Modernity and Self Identity”) and Internet use. 

In structuration theory, the self is denoted as an “agent” that can not be separated from the “structures” of society.  Agents are viewed as beings that “continuously monitor their own thoughts and activities as well as their physical and social contexts.”  Agents are continually rationalizing their interactions with the world around them as a means of making sense of, justifying and efficiently managing their social lives.  The self is a “project” which requires continuous work and “reflexivity”; it is not based on a specific set of traits or observable characteristics (Gauntlett, 2002). Reflexivity in Giddens refers to “direct feedback from knowledge to action” (Beck; Giddens et al., 1992).  Giddens states that the self “must continually integrate events which occur in the external world, and sort them into the ongoing story about the self” (Giddens as quoted in Gauntlett, 2002).  Giddens proposes that the relationship between the agent and structure is one that is symbiotic and self-perpetuating.  In expressing themselves through the processes of rationalization and reflexivity, agents engage in social practice, which in turn produces consciousness and structure.

Giddens analogizes the self in terms of literary approaches such as “narratives”, “fictions” and “biographies”; “a person’s identity is not to be found in behavior nor… in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going” (ibid). Giddens believes that “roles” no longer exist; the individual can manipulate his identity to accommodate for whatever lifestyle he chooses (Gauntlett, 2002). The self has continuity and is only a product of his reflexive beliefs about his own biography.  By “living in the world” of late modernity, humans are faced with a variety of tensions and difficulties that manifest as “dilemmas of the self” (Giddens, 1991).  He states that these dilemmas must be resolved “in order to preserve a coherent narrative of self-identity” (ibid).  These dilemmas present themselves in forms of: “unification versus fragmentation,” “powerlessness versus appropriation,” “authority versus uncertainty,” and “personalised versus commodified experience.”

Fragmentation of the self occurs with the individual’s realization of an indeterminate amount of possibilities.  As social contexts become more diversified, traditional social ties are spread out in the ‘empty’ dimensions of time and space.

Continue reading >

Filed under: academic, new media, social, space/place, technology

Future Of Learning Is Informal And Mobile

( via smartmobs )

What does the future of learning look like? Robin Good met Teemu Arina in Rome and made an impressing video interview about the future of learning. The video Robin added to YouTube and integrated the chapers creatively in the transcript.

Photo credit: Lotta Viitaniemi
Video chapters: Informal learning, Informal learning inside organizations. Tools to facilitate informal learning. Mobile learning. Mobile learning in the near future. Learning in normal life. Stay ahead of the wave? What is connectivism. What would you change in the world of learning? What is a teacher? Other types of teachers. World beyond learning,

Personally I met Teemu on November 11 2005 in Tampere Talo in Finland at Open Mind 2005. While talking to Teemu I forgot the time and missed the bus of our group to the airport. Believe me, I rather had missed that flight home for the opportunity to be inspired by meeting Teemu Arina.

I fully agree with Robin, when he introduces Teemu as “a young Finnish educational scholar, with lots of good ideas, a fully working brain and a vision for the future as only a few are able to crystallize”.

Master NewMedia Robin Good: “I found Teemu to be a true thinker, and one that does like to stretch the definitions of what is possible and what’s not. Open-minded and capable of evaluating viewpoints different than his, he is also a pragmatical individual understanding the true limits and restrictions we impose on ourselves via the working and social infrastructures we build around ourselves.

Our interaction focus, in this first part of our video interview, is on the future of learning, and on the relevance that terms like “informal learning” and “mobile learning” will come to have in the near future”.

Teemu Arina: Along with social software, wikis and blogs are very often considered informal learning tools by educational technology experts. When I look inside organizations I see these tools as something that counter taylorist technologies like groupware and intranets, where the control is mainly on the management side (for example the IT department).

Teemu Arina continues: It is kind of connecting the virtual and the physical spaces, and that is where I think informal learning is currently failing in the educational technology field: we are not giving enough importance to the meaning of physical spaces and piazzas for meeting. When we see mobile technologies, social technologies and physical spaces intersecting very well, I think that is when we see what true learning is all about.

For more of Teemu’s ‘reflections on networked learning, knowledge and collaboration in organizations’ go to Tarina presentations and writings.

Full article / interview with videos over here >

Filed under: academic, applications, mobility, new media, research, social, space/place, technology

Tattoo-me boots

( originally by twenty1f )

( via her portfolio page )

“We rub our culture into our skins.” – The Kayapo Tribe

The inspiration for this project came from tattoos, There are various elements of tattoos that interest me these being the almost coded language that is transpired thought it, rituals and the definition of beauty within our culture and others, also the ideas of social positioning that is often a implication of the way that are body image is perceived by others, also can tattoos capture a moment a memory or sum up a period of time that has meaning or worth to us more than an object? With theses interests in mind I wanted to create a product that would incorporate these areas.

Through exploring tattoos in great detail I have developed a way of tattooing oneself without the use of inks and needles. The tattoo-me boots have changeable linings each of the linings have a different pattern on, when worn they will eventually leave an imprint on the legs, thus creating a temporary tattoo. Each lining depicts a rite of passage, the cherry symbolises losing your virginity, and it can also be used to allow your partner to know that you are ready for a sexual relationship. The butterfly symbolises coming of age and the doves symbolise new beginning.

Filed under: academic, fashion, space/place

Storytelling Wearables: An Alternative Autobiography

 ( via twenty1f )

Xiao Li Tan ’s Storytelling Wearables: An Alternative Autobiography explore storytelling and enable people to discover Xiao’s relatives and birth city through looking at the movie bag, examining the shell necklace, and by lifting the hidden pieces on the skirt.

The Portable Movie Bag shows images of Taishan in China. People can also learn about the stories of the artist’s relatives by lifting some fabric on the Peekaboo Portrait Skirt, and they can experience her childhood memory of shells through the glowing Mood Shell Necklace.

All the pieces are either powered by 3v battery, or self charged battery. They are portable and meant to be worn.

More pictures.

Filed under: academic, art, design, fashion, new media, physical computing, technology


via land + living

Architorture” — this term has been the lament of countless aspiring architects for years… who knows, perhaps for generations. It is a simple slang word which embodies a range of emotions, experiences and tribulations faced in the course of an architectural education… and career.

And now “Architorture” is a documentary being created by architects David Krantz and Ian Harris (et. al.) that follows five students through the process of developing their thesis projects.

Content is currently evolving with occasional uploads. Current features are “The Confessionals” where different people explain what Architecture is about in their experience.

via their site >

Architorture is a documentary that captures five diverse students in a single studio at one university throughout the entirety of their thesis project. The film will convey a mere sliver of time, wholly representative of the experience to create a student’s paramount work. The footage will illustrate the range of emotions and process of this extremely intense period at the conclusion of an academic career. It is our goal for the documentary to possess educational, entertaining, realistic and inspiring qualities in response to the dynamic world these students cross.

Check back with us often to watch our concept evolve.

-The Team

Filed under: academic, architecture, art, films

Sabine Seymour: Introducing Fashionable Technology


Sabine Seymour: sabine@moondial.com

Sabine Seymour focuses on ‚the next generation wearables‘ and the intertwining of aesthetics and function. She introduced the course ‘Fashionable Technology’ at Parsons, joined the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz/Austria, and consults on the ‘wearable initiative’ at Academy of Arts in Tallinn/Estonia.

Moondial Inc is the commercial entity that resulted from Sabine’s research and her role as an educator. Projects include prototypes for intelligent clothing, strategies for the integration of wireless technologies in clothing and equipment, and wearable HCI for healthcare and sport. Moondial Inc is now based in Vienna with an office in New York.

Sabine was a member of the International Programming Committee for the Wearable Experience section at ISEA2004. She publishes and presents for instance at Ars Electronica, Cooper Hewitt, and Viper. Selected press appeared in Financial Times, MSN Mobile Momentum, Advertising Age, De:bug, and Rhizome.

Sabine is currently writing her PhD dissertation dealing with creativity, innovation, and economics in smart clothing/wearables due to be finished in 2007. She received a Master of Social and Economic Sciences from the University of Economics in Vienna and Columbia University’s MBA program in New York and an MPS in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU’S Tisch School of the Arts.

Filed under: academic, art, DIY, fashion, new media, physical computing, research, technology

Carole Collet’s talk at Luminous Green

via wmna


Design & Sustainablity – How to get textile designers on the case?

Carole Collet is Course Director of the MA Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins, College of Art & Design which is part of the University of Art in London. Although it is the biggest university in the world, its programs deal very little with sustainablity. She explained how her message wasn’t really heard when she first proposed the College to integrate sustainability issues into the course. She just went ahead with her idea without really waiting for an official blessing from the institution. I then realized once again that i tour design and art school and still strive to meet lecturers or students who acknowledge the importance of being more eco-conscious. There are exceptions here and there of course. Tom Igoe recently told me about his scheme to push a sustainability discourse at the ITP School of the Arts in New York. With success as the list of student projects to be presented at the ITP Spring show demonstrates: the projects developed with sustainability in mind are clearly tagged with a green label.

Why should we be particularly interested in textiles? Because we wear them, live in them, sit on them, they are used in design, architecture, they surround us. If you look at the bigger picture, you realize that textile has dramatic environmental impacts on the world. Within 40 years there will be 3 billions more people living on the planet. Textile is a very polluting industry. An increased world demand of textile, especially of polyester, can have appalling consequences. Problems range from the use of textile chemicals, pollution to waste water problems, conventional cotton culture is damaging (workers have to wear protective clothing, etc.) But there are alternatives: organic, recycled, more naturally coloured cotton.

Full article here >

Filed under: academic, art, conferences, fashion, new media, physical computing, technology

Dialog table

via interactive architecture

Dialog Table is a shared interface where you use hand gestures to discover more about any dynamic information. Several people can gather around and together explore the table’s movies, narratives and 3D journeys. The table provides an opportunity for people to discuss with each other their thoughts on what they have seen, whether it be an artwork. a game or a service. The first Dialog Table was commissioned by the Walker Art Center as a permanent installation in their museum. The table won an international design competition to promote social interactions among visitors, to provide access to the Walker’s multidisciplinary collections, and to facilitate learning about art.

Filed under: academic, architecture, art, new media, physical computing, social, technology

Teaching the Bigger Picture

via metropolismag

Design schools need to shift focus from the form of objects to understanding the systems that produce them.

By Peter Hall

Posted April 18, 2007

In late 2005 I gave a little talk at Art Center College of Design about mapping as a means of bringing design disciplines together—a very little talk. It was an exciting time at the school: Bruce Sterling had just concluded his year as Visionary in Residence and published his seminal book Shaping Things, posing the challenges of designing for a sustainable society in the information age. But my presentation was planned on the day when the school’s corporate sponsors came in to see what the students have been doing with all that industry money, and students were frantically pinning up renderings and polishing models for the visitors. So I presented to a packed house of five, one of whom yawned conspicuously throughout.

I might have foreseen that a lecture on mapping wasn’t going to tear the house down. Mapping is a good way of exposing the agendas that lead to a design decision, such as, say, Israel’s placement of settlements in the West Bank or General Motors’ decision to kill the EV1. It’s also a good way to see, without disciplinary bias, what the design problems or opportunities are in a defined field—say, a university campus, the prison system, or the house of the future. But if you think that product design is either a compromised version of fine art or form-making in the service of industry, this kind of big-picture thinking won’t strike any chords. Before my talk, during a guided tour of Art Center’s gorgeous hillside campus, I was surprised to find students working on clay models and 3-D digital renderings of cars. It seemed horribly reminiscent of old-school product design, when the profession could still happily see itself in the Raymond Loewy mold, styling next year’s models after most of the work had already been done by engineers. Granted, schools still have to teach undergrads how to make beautiful objects, but if they really think design is an important part of societal change, then they’ll have to shift the emphasis from portfolios to problems. (..)

Filed under: academic, research

Dimensional graffiti

via woostercollective

Yale Wolf’s project for his junior industrial design class at Western Washington University.

“From the head, to the spray can, to the wall, to digital photo, to traced outlines, to 3D surfaces, to STL file, to FDM part. His final part is about 12 inches long, limited by the working envelope of the machine.”


Filed under: academic, art, technology

Creating from Scratch: New software from the MIT Media Lab unleashes kids’ creativity online

via MIT news

Stephanie Schorow, News Office Correspondent

May 14, 2007

A new programming language developed at the MIT Media Lab turns kids from media consumers into media producers, enabling them to create their own interactive stories, games, music, and animation for the Web.

With this new software, called Scratch, kids can program interactive creations by simply snapping together graphical blocks, much like LEGO® bricks, without any of the obscure punctuation and syntax of traditional programming languages. Children can then share their interactive stories and games on the Web, the same way they share videos on YouTube, engaging with other kids in an online community that provides inspiration and feedback.

“Until now, only expert programmers could make interactive creations for the Web. Scratch opens the gates for everyone,” said Mitchel Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab and head of the Scratch development team.

Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten research group previously developed the “programmable bricks” that inspired the award-winning LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robotics kits. Just as MINDSTORMS allows kids to control LEGO creations in the physical world, Scratch allows them to control media-rich creations on the Web.

“As kids work on Scratch projects, they learn to think creatively and solve problems systematically — skills that are critical to success in the 21st century,” said Resnick.

Designed for ages 8 and up, Scratch is available by free download from the Scratch website (http://scratch.mit.edu). The software runs on both PCs and Macs. The MIT Media Lab is now collaborating with other organizations — including Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, BT, the LEGO Group, Motorola, and One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) – to create other versions and applications of Scratch, including versions for mobile phones.

The name Scratch comes from the technique used by hip-hop disc jockeys, who spin vinyl records to mix music clips together in creative ways. Similarly, Scratch lets kids mix together a wide variety of media: graphics, photos, music, and sounds.

A glance at the Scratch website (http://scratch.mit.edu) reveals a kaleidoscope of projects created by kids: a story about a polar bear school, space attack games, and a break-dancing performance. Some creations are goofy and fun; some reveal serious social themes. Children are constantly modifying and extending one another’s projects on the website – and learning from one another in the process. “It’s exciting to wake up each morning and see what’s new on the site,” said Resnick.

Scratch was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten research group in collaboration with UCLA educational researchers, with financial support from the National Science Foundation and the Intel Foundation. Throughout the development process, the design team received feedback from children and teens at Intel Computer Clubhouses and school classrooms.

“There is a buzz in the room when the kids get going on Scratch projects,” said Karen Randall, a teacher at the Expo Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Students set design goals for their projects and problem-solve to fix program bugs. They collaborate, cooperate, co-teach. They appreciate the power that Scratch gives them to create their own versions of games and animations.”

For more information about Scratch, see http://scratch.mit.edu/about.

LEGO and MINDSTORMS are trademarks of the LEGO Group.
Used here with special permission. ©2007 The LEGO Group.

Filed under: academic, applications, technology

Intimate game controllers

via wmna

Intimate Game Controllers, by Jennifer Chowdhury (she of The Cell Atlantic CellBooth!) and Mehmet Sinan Ascioglu, is a platform where game controllers are built into undergarments so that players must physically touch one another to play.

Jenny started her research by crafting a pong controller made from a bra. Touching the left breast made the pong paddle go left and the right breast made the paddle go right. I then found out about a phenomenon called gamer widowhood where men essentially abandoned their wives to play video games night and day. I wanted to create a type of video game play that would center around a couple’s intimacy and where two people would touch each other in order to play the game.

The woman’s controller is a bra with 6 sensors. The man’s controller has 6 sensors as well but in a pair of shorts. Man stands being woman and each has access to others sensors. The project will be presented at the ITP show on May 8 and 9, but with mannequins so visitors can try the interface out without having a partner with them.

Loads of videos on the project website.

Related: The Pong Dress or the little black dress as erotic playground for pong.

Filed under: academic, art, new media, physical computing, technology