Category Archives: Ideas

Beyond ebooks: playful interventions in publishing paradigms

Asked to contribute to the recent Digital Book Summit at Olin College, metaLAB struggled to come up with something novel to offer. Held on a brisk fall day at Olin’s Needham campus, hosted by Olin library director Dianna Magnoni, the summit convened librarians, technologists, and publishers to reflect on publishing ventures that offer ebook technologies […]

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The place of sound: listening to nature and networks

On Thursday night, a small audience gathered in Boylston Hall to take in an unusual call-and-response performance: legendary musician and field recordist Bernie Krause joined poet and ecocritic Jonathan Skinner in a kind of motet of verse and natural sounds. The event was produced by Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab and Film Study Center in conjunction […]

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Paths to Arborescent Object Teaching, Then and Now

At first glance one might doubt that metaLAB’s collaboration with the Arnold Arboretum finds much harmony with the ambitions of the Arboretum’s founder and first director, Charles Sprague Sargent. But we get a different story when we read Sargent in his own words. Take his 1879 appeal to Boston’s Board of Park Commissioner to build […]

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Networks & Natures

As the newest principal of metaLAB, I bring my own set of preoccupations to the group. My splintered interests in ethnography, computing, and architecture often converge in questions about changing human-machine-environment relationships. For instance, in my recent book, Co-Designers: Cultures of Computer Simulation in Architecture, I ask how professional roles and relationships in design are […]

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Wikipedia and the sum of human knowledge

We’re only a couple of hours into Wikimania 2012, the global gathering of Wikipedians, and fascinating questions are already swirling around the online encyclopedia’s mission “to make the sum of human knowledge accessible to everyone on Earth.” It’s a bracing call—and yet as the community struggles with questions of diversity and global reach, seeking purchase […]

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Beta Release of the Digital Archive of Japan’s 2011 Disasters: One Week

For over a year metaLAB and Zeega have been two of many partners in and outside of Japan working with Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies (RIJS) to build the Digital Archive of Japan’s 2011 Disasters. Other partners in this effort, each with their own complementary projects centered on the unprecedented cascade of disasters of March […]

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Tree rings: primal sounds from the ambient archive

You may recall Bartholomäus Traubeck‘s project Years, which received a nice amount of attention a few months ago: the Austrian artist rigged a turntable with a lens in place of a stylus, and programmed a microcontroller to translate the patterns of tree cross-sections into musical notes. I’m finding my way back to it now in […]

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Digital Ecologies at the Arnold Arboretum!

We’re getting the word out on unique design and research opportunities available this summer and into the coming year for our budding collaboration with the Arnold Arboretum. Conceptually situated at the intersection of nature and networks, landscape and media design, and science and aesthetics, Digital Ecologies weaves together the teaching of an experimental, project-based seminar […]

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But it moves: the New Aesthetic & emergent virtual taste

In the wake of South-by-Southwest, Bruce Sterling has posted a grand, thorough, ruminative essay about the New Aesthetic. If you don’t know the New Aesthetic, you should go and have a look at the tumblr that serves as both its wonder cabinet and its manifesto. Hosted by technologist, impresario, and publishing artist James Bridle, the […]

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Of dead trees, living networks, and encyclopedic ambition

At The New Republic, David A. Bell offers a wistful threnody for the paper edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, which the eponymous publishing house announced it would cease publishing after 244 years. “With the disappearance of paper encyclopedias, a part of the Western intellectual tradition is disappearing as well,” argues Bell, the Sidney and Ruth […]

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