Human-ities · Performativity · Social/Politics · Technology

Revolutionary Invention: Hip-Hop and the PC

What do hip-hop music and personal computers have in common? They were both children of the turbulent 1970s, born to innovative people who, building on inventive skills and technologies, nurtured them through creativity, collaboration, risk taking, problem solving, flexibility, and hard work. As with all inventions, their parents created them using some existing technologies. Hip-hop music evolved from adaptations of sound recording and playback equipment, while personal computers were built on integrated circuits, or “microchips,” co-invented in 1959 by Robert Noyce of Silicon Valley.

Imagine the social, cultural, economic, and political upheavals in America during the 1960s and 1970s. Picture the urban decay happening in inner-city areas of many major metropolises. Then picture the suburban communities that had burgeoned after World War II, representing the American Dream of where and how to live. Within these vastly different contexts, the Bronx, New York, and Silicon Valley, California, became places of invention—for hip-hop music and personal computers, respectively.

Excerpt from an article written by Steve Wozniak. Continue HERE

Image above: G Man and his crew DJ-ing at a park Bronx, New York, 1984 © Henry Chalfant/Silicon Valley East. Flickr photo by Andrei Z.

Human-ities · Science · Vital-Edible-Health

Doctors back circumcision

On 27 August, a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concludes for the first time that, overall, boys will be healthier if circumcised1. The report says that although the choice is ultimately up to parents, medical insurance should pay for the procedure. The recommendation, coming from such an influential body, could boost US circumcision rates, which, at 55%, are already higher than much of the developed world (see ‘Cuts by country’). “This time around, we could say that the medical benefits outweigh the risks of the procedure,” says Douglas Diekema, a paediatrician and ethicist at the University of Washington, Seattle, who served on the circumcision task force for the AAP, headquartered in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

The recommendation is also sure to stir up debate. The practice of circumcision cuts deeper than the body, tapping into religious rituals and cultural identities. What is a harmless snip to some signifies mutilation to others. And in the developing world, many see it as an essential life-saving measure. Condoms are more effective at preventing disease, but are not used consistently.

Excerpt of an article written by Monya Baker, Nature. Continue HERE

Digital Media · Human-ities · Technology

I’m wired, therefore I exist

Today if you are not often wired, you do not exist. Like radio and television in other times, the internet has become not only an indispensable tool but also a vital component of our life. It has become so useful, significant, and meaningful for variety of administrative, cultural, and political reasons that a life without it seems unimaginable in the twenty-first century. But the ownership of this interactive life is troubled: when you start seeing interesting advertising on your Gmail banner, personalised ads aimed just at you, your existence has begun to belong to others.

At last count, there are now 2,267,233,742 users of the internet, that is, 32.7 per cent of the world population. While these numbers refer primarily to North America, Asia, and Europe, in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East its use is growing rapidly. However, there is a big difference between being online and being wired. This is not a simple semantic difference, but rather an existential distinction that determines our roles, tasks, and possibilities in the world today. Without suggesting a return to twentieth century existentialism (which arose as a reaction against scientific systems threatening humans beings uniqueness) philosophy must stress the vital danger that being wired can pose for our lives.

Excerpt of an article written by Santiago Zabala, New Statesman. Continue HERE

Architectonic · Design · Education · Projects · Public Space · Technology

The Institute of Urbanology

The Institute of Urbanology learns from its environment while contributing to its improvement. Its research is intended to be directly relevant to the localities where it works as well as anyone interested in urban development and neighborhood life.

Urbanology is defined as the understanding of incremental developmental processes and daily practices in any given locality through direct engagement with people and places. The institute contributes to the debate on urban development by engaging with local community groups, creating new concepts, implementing projects and recommending strategies and policies.

The Institute sharpened its methodology through years of fieldwork in New York, Bogota, Tokyo, Istanbul, New Delhi, Goa and Mumbai. It has offices in Dharavi, Mumbai and Aldona, Goa. In Dharavi, the Institute studies homegrown practices in the fields of housing, artisanship and trade, and physical and theoretical spaces where these fields converge. In Goa, it looks at the transforming role of villages within larger economic, cultural, ecological and urban systems.

The Institute of Urbanology regularly organizes seminars and workshops that bring together local actors, activists, artists, architects and urbanists. It uses art, architecture, story telling, and other creative means of expression to stimulate debates and intervention in the urban realm. It uses the web as well as live events to document, convene, produce and diffuse diverse modes of development.

The Institute of Urbanology is a registered Trust in the State of Goa. Its trustees are James Ferreira, Frederick Noronha and Abhay Sardesai. Its advisors include Amitav Ghosh and Yehuda E. Safran.

The Institute of Urbanology signed research partnerships with the Laboratory for Urban Sociology (LASUR) at the Swiss Intitute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and the Max Plank Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in German.

Text via The Institute of Urbanology

Bio · Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Vital-Edible-Health

Your Breasts Are Trying To Kill You

Lindy West: I don’t have any children yet, so my breasts are still more aesthetic than functional. I mostly use them as a food shelf, a cellphone case, and an in-flight pillow. When I was young and single and had less self-esteem, I used to joke that my breasts were “all I had” (good one, unhappy baby self!), but now that I’m older, I don’t have to rely on them to feel beautiful—for the time being, they’re just parts of me that fill my clothes and make my back hurt and, sure, make me feel pretty sometimes. I just don’t think about them that much anymore. Thanks to Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, a surprisingly emotional book by Florence Williams, though, that’s all changing. All of a sudden I can’t stop thinking about my breasts. Because it turns out they are total jerks.

In Breasts, Williams, a contributing editor for Outside magazine, attempts to offer a comprehensive social, cultural, medical, and scientific history of the human breast, a la single-word-titled best-sellers like Cod or Salt or Stiff—though not, alas, Balls. (In an act of one-word-wonder solidarity, Stiff author Mary Roach blurbed Breasts, citing Williams’ “double-D talents.”) Though that genre of sweeping, single-topic histories can wind up feeling hasty and reductive (it’s hard to write the history of one thing without touching on the history of all other things), Williams’ writing is scientifically detailed yet warm and accessible. She also stays firmly away from the juvenile (BOOOOOOOOO!!!) and isn’t afraid to delve into her personal life, making Breasts a smart and relatable, if occasionally dry, read.

Excerpt of an article written by Lindy West, at Slate. Continue HERE

Architectonic · Book-Text-Read-Zines · Education · Events · Social/Politics · Technology

BRACKET [at extremes] Issue #3: Call for Submissions


Bracket 3 invites the submission of critical articles and unpublished design projects that investigate the potentials when situations extend beyond norms – into the extremities. We are conditioned, as designers of the built environment, towards the organization of people, programs and movement. Indeed the history of modern urbanism, architecture and building science has been predicated on an anti-entropic notion of programmatic and social order. But are there scenarios in which a state of extremity or imbalance is productive?

Ulrick Beck, in “Risk Society’s Cosmopolitan Moment” suggests that being at risk is the human condition at the beginning of the twenty-first century. While risk produces inequality and destabilization, he argues, it can be the catalyst for the construction of new institutions. The term extreme is defined as outermost, utmost, farthest, last or frontier. Bracket [at Extremes] seeks to understand what new spatial orders emerge in this liminal space. How might it be leveraged as an opportunity for invention? What are the limits of wilderness and control, of the natural and artificial, the real and the virtual? What new landscapes, networks, and urban models might emerge in the wake of destabilized economic, social and environmental conditions?

Bracket [at Extremes]
will examine architecture, infrastructure and technology as they operate in conditions of imbalance, negotiate tipping points and test limit states. In such conditions, the status quo is no longer possible; systems must extend performance and accommodate unpredictability. As new protocols emerge, new opportunities present themselves. Bracket [at Extremes] seeks innovative contributions interrogating extreme processes (technologies, operations) and extreme contexts (cultural, climatic). What is the breaking point of architecture at extremes?