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Publications

The Spectacle of Data: A Century of Fiches, Fairs and Fantasies

The Spectacle of Data: A Century of Fiches, Fairs, and Fantasies,” Theory, Culture & Society, special issue edited by Ryan Bishop and John Phillips (2020) [I presented part of this work as a keynote; you can find my copious slides here

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Deep Mapping the Media City

Deep Mapping the Media City (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press [Forerunners Series], March 2015) [pdf]

Going beyond current scholarship on the “media city” and the “smart city,” Shannon Mattern argues that our global cities have been mediated and intelligent for millennia. Deep Mapping the Media City advocates for urban media archaeology, a multisensory approach to investigating the material history of networked cities. Mattern explores the material assemblages and infrastructures that have shaped the media city by taking archaeology literally—using techniques like excavation and mapping to discover the modern city’s roots in time.

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Wikipedia + Feminist Epistemology (2015)

In early March 2015 I was invited to take part in the Art + Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon at Babycastles by stopping by, “mid-thon,” to offer a little food for thought, a little epistemological interjection. I have no particular expertise in Wikipedia, but I do research and teach classes on knowledge institutions and structures: libraries, archives, exhibitions, communications infrastructures, filing systems, classification systems, etc. So the intellectual and political concerns that likely inform Wikipedians’ work also inspire my own. Thanks to some scheduling snafus, that presentation on March 9 didn’t happen as planned, so Ari Spool, from Babycastles (she also happens to be a former student and my current TA), invited me to join the April WikiWednesdays Wikipedia meet-up at at the gallery to share some of the ideas I would’ve shared back in March. Here’s my script.

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Presentations

Critiquing Platform Thinking (2014)

In December 2014, at the Genres of Scholarly Knowledge Production conference. at HUMLab, Umeå University, Sweden, I presented a short paper on “Critiquing Platform Thinking.” You can find the text here. Many of the workshop participants were invited to reflect on the even in a collection of Medium postshere’s mine.

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Presentations

(You Can’t)-Do-It-Yourself Publishing (2014)

On September 25, 2014, I was invited to join Tara McPherson from USC + the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture; Alberto Pepe, co-founder of Authorea; and Gregg Gordon, President of the Social Science Research Network, for a panel discussion at Columbia University on DIY publishing. I argued that DIY is, for the most part, a hubristic myth — and I offered instead “5 Lessons [about Publishing] on a Gradient of DIY-ness.” Here are my slides.

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Ear to the Wire: Listening to Historic Urban Infrastructures

Ear to the Wire: Listening to Historic Urban Infrastructures,” Amodern 2, “Network Archaeologies” Special Issue (October 2013)

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Presentations

Dirty Media Archaeology (2012)

At the wonderful Network Archaeology conference organized by the fabulous Nicole Starosielski and cris cheek at Miami University in Ohio in April 2012, I presented “Digging Through Archives and Dirt,” which addresses what media archaeology, especially one concerned with the “deep time” of media, can learn from archaeology-proper and architectural history. You can find my text and slides here.

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SCMS Mapping Workshop (2011)

We received word last week that our “Urban Informatics, Geographic Data, and the Media of Mapping” workshop has been accepted for the 2011 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in New Orleans. I’m chairing, and Germaine Halegoua (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Brendan Kredell (Northwestern University), Daniel Makagon (DePaul University), Jesse Shapins (Harvard University), and Nicole Starosielski (University of California, Santa Barbara) are contributing. Should be awesome.

The past several years have seen increasing corporate and educational interest in and major funding for projects that make urban histories, knowledges, data, etc., accessible, visible/audible/tangible, and, ideally, intelligible to urban publics. This workshop, supported by the Cinema, Media and Urban Studies SIG, will examine several such projects, critically addressing their rhetorical and aesthetic strategies and examining their utility as platforms for research, as pedagogical resources, and as political tools for civic engagement. Acknowledging the widespread commitment among these projects to “making the invisible, visible” (and sometimes collapsing “the urban” into “the visible”), panelists will pay particular attention to the media and sensory modes of mapping.

Brendan Kredell will critically reflect on how he’s using tools borrowed from urban and cultural geography—maps, census data, GIS—in his research on the relationships between gentrification and the growth of “sophisticated” cinema venues, like the Landmark Theatres. Germaine Halegoua will examine projects that use RFID, GPS, and other coding protocols to track, annotate, and map information about urban objects—from park benches to trash. Fusing urban informatics with “the Internet of Things,” these maps have the potential to “encourage novel styles of learning the city [and] aid in creating more stable policy initiatives.”

Daniel Makagon will discuss his own and others’ sound-mapping projects, which provide alternatives to traditional sight-centric modes of mapping and serve to represent the complexity of urban sensory experience. Both Makagon and fellow presenter Jesse Shapins pay particular attention to the politics embodied in their projects’ “base maps”: Makagon makes use of wiki-style OpenStreetMaps, while Shapins is developing an open-source toolkit for the creation of “cross-platform, interactive narratives” about urban places. Shapins’ software allows users to remix photos, videos, text, audio, maps, etc., into “database documentaries” that are then tied to places on a map. Finally, Nicole Starosielski will demonstrate a digital mapping project she has created in collaboration with USC’s VECTORS journal. Her “counter-map” uses digital media’s networked capabilities to portray transoceanic cables not as static material infrastructure, as they are presented in traditional cartography, but as “vectors” revealing the “complexity, historicity, and locality” of global media networks.