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These Cities Are Made For Watchin’

Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs, by Ubisoft, has finally come out. In this game, you play an urban hacker in Chicago, who can hack into the operating system of the city and turn the very built environment into a weapon. We have talked about the game earlier in the context of how data-driven urban infrastructures create new possibilities of looking at the city and acting in it — for governments, citizens and hackers.

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Locating Urban History And ‘Piercing Time’

'Piercing Time: Paris after Marville and Atget'

‘Piercing Time: Paris after Marville and Atget’ curates a visual conversation between the historical and the contemporary city of Paris. Peter Sramek, Chair of Photography in OCAD University, Canada, led a group of researchers to study photographs taken of Paris in 1860s-70s (by Charles Marville) and in early 1900s (by Eugène Atget), locate the exact spots where these photographs were taken and capture their present urban form. As Marville was commissioned by Baron Hausmann for photographic documentation of old Paris neighbourhoods before their destruction to make way for the famous boulevard, the project brings together insightful visuals to revisit the history of the city. The group is now working on producing the printed copy of the documentation, as well as a mobile app for geo-tagged exhibition of the historical and contemporary photographs. They have created a campaign to support the project through the production phase.

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A Recipe Book For DIY Urban Farming

ELIOOO

Antonio Scarponi likes to cook. But only if it does not take more than 20 minutes. Surely, he understands the value of a great recipe book that does not only have great recipes but also explain the process in clear terms. Now being an architect, information designer and a passionate activist for urban farming, he produces the obvious recipe book that was missing from the shelves — a book for building your own micro-infrastructures for urban farming in easy steps using readily available IKEA components. The project, named ELIOOO, plans to develop an instruction book for building and configuring indoor (can be kept outside too) hydroponic systems for growing herbs, vegetables etc. Scarponi and his team also plans to build some of the systems described in the book and make them ready-to-order in case some urban farmers are in real hurry. The project is on display at Indiegogo and looking forward to crowdsource sufficient funds to begin developing the book and devices.

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  • Data-Driven Urban Citizenship

    Sketches of the Meta-City

    With networked infrastructures mixing with physical fabric of the cities (check out iPavement, paving tiles with embedded microcomputer), there is a gradually growing body of urban data. Often this data is not collected or not stored. Often it is stored without being shared. A steady trickling out of this urban data, however, is taking place through open data platforms and various public-private data partnerships. While there emerges a political demand for rights regarding networked objects (see Adam Greenfield and Bruno Latour and Near Future Laboratory), a range of products, services and platforms are coming up that offer to enrich citizenship with accessible and visualised data.

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    Living With Urban Drones

    In the last months, we lived through DARPA engaging MAKE Magazine and Otherlab to teach high school students how to “build robots, drones and other low- and medium-tech gadgets” and DARPA Director Regina Dugan (see this video about her work at DARPA) deciding to move to Google. Meanwhile the National Security Agency, USA, resurrected a…

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    The Yellow Sublime Of Post-Its

    This is the second of a series of two posts reflecting on current design practices in India. The first post talked about how these design initiatives re-create divisions between people who design and people who are designed-for. The exhibition ‘Design with the Other 90%: Cities’ is going on in the United Nations building, New York…

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  • The Publics That Design Built

    Design!publiC

    Last week a design/innovation conclave titled ‘Design!publiC’ was organised in Bangalore by a multi-disciplinary conglomeration of design and architectural practices, legal and technological research organisations and investment andmedia firms. The first Design!publiC conclave, held early this year, addressed how design thinking can spearhead innovations in governmental processes and service deliveries in India. One major finding of that previous meet was that government in India is generally slow to accept and adapt to innovative suggestions, so what if the might of design thinking is focused instead on directly providing the desired ends (efficient and adequate delivery of basic services — drinking water, health and sanitation, education etc.), without depending on approval of government.

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    Urbanism Is Plenty, Thanks (And YES WE CAMP)

    The fantastic Kevin Slavin has recently spoken at MOMO in Amsterdam and at TED Global in Edinburgh. While the latter talk was provocative, the former was simply prophetic (in a brilliant way). At the TED Global event, Slavin talked about the algorithms that inform and direct movement of international financial flows. He spoke about the…

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    Studying The (Ruling) Urban Operating Systems

    There is an old Bengali tale (there might exist similar tales elsewhere too) of how the shoe got invented. Long long time ago, before shoe was invented, there was a king who got sick of his feet getting dirty everytime he goes somewhere. So he ordered his ministers to wrap the whole earth with cloth,…

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