Mex­i­can artists and broth­ers Ivan Puig and Andrés Padil­la Domene decid­ed to tra­verse the near­ly 9,000 km of rail­way in Mex­i­co and Ecuador that, in 1995, was aban­doned and left to decay […] in a strik­ing sil­ver road-rail vehi­cle called SEFT-1, which they designed and built them­selves

A nice exam­ple of appro­pri­at­ing infra­struc­ture for crit­i­cal ends.

(via Mod­ern Ruins: An Artist’s Vehi­cle Designed to Tra­verse 9,000 Kilo­me­ters of Aban­doned Rail­ways in Mex­i­co | Colos­sal)

At the root of this cru­el­ty, which treats the dis­pos­sessed like a pigeon infes­ta­tion – fed crumbs by the kind­ly mis­guid­ed, shooed away by the thought­less­ly indif­fer­ent and spiked by the inhu­man­ly prac­ti­cal – are wil­ful mis­con­cep­tions about home­less­ness: that it is a lifestyle choice, which odd­ly becomes more pop­u­lar dur­ing peri­ods of nation­wide eco­nom­ic ruin; that pover­ty is down to per­son­al fail­ure; that kind­ness per­pet­u­ates it; and, more than any mis­con­cep­tion, that good shel­ter is read­i­ly avail­able.

Pow­er­ful com­men­tary on “defen­sive archi­tec­ture” and home­less­ness. Also pos­si­bly a case where a design­er delib­er­ate­ly chose to pro­duce some­thing dehu­man­is­ing.

(via Spikes keep the home­less away, push­ing them fur­ther out of sight | Alex Andreou | Com­ment is free |

He enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly cites Bernie Dekoven’s def­i­n­i­tion of that illu­mi­nat­ing moment in coop­er­a­tive play, where a “you and I” is vis­i­bly trans­formed into a “we.” When Bounden’s dancers have fin­ished fum­bling around their shared pur­pose, when, hand-in-phone-in-hand, they begin those first halt­ing steps toward phys­i­cal flu­en­cy togeth­er.

Bound­en is de Jongh’s most col­lab­o­ra­tive and expres­sive game yet. In con­trast to pre­vi­ous Game Oven games it does not use awk­ward­ness as a crutch.

(via Gama­su­tra — You and me become we: Danc­ing with Bound­en)

And this is where sports tech­nol­o­gy begins to illu­mi­nate larg­er issues around human and tech­no­log­i­cal agency.

Like sport itself, these debates are end­less. No tech­nol­o­gy will ever be infal­li­ble, but it may cer­tain­ly be more accu­rate than human ref­er­ees, umpires, com­men­ta­tors and arm­chair crit­ics. What’s real­ly inter­est­ing about hav­ing this debate at the TMS lev­el is that it’s fun­da­men­tal­ly and vis­i­bly embed­ded in a larg­er sys­tem: that of the game and his­to­ry of crick­et, a rule-based struc­ture which leaves plen­ty of wig­gle room for human fal­li­bil­i­ty, and human pas­sions. This means the debate is not about the tech­nol­o­gy itself, but about its wider impli­ca­tions for the sys­tem it’s embed­ded in. The graph­ics are pret­ty but we care about the out­come a lot more.

But when such debates hap­pen in wider soci­ety – anoth­er rule-based struc­ture with a degree of wig­gle room – this isn’t always the case. The same argu­ments around human and tech­no­log­i­cal agency are occur­ring all around us, but we don’t seem to be debat­ing them in the same way.

There’s an idea for an inter­est­ing game—a phys­i­cal game with a dig­i­tal arbiter, where play­ers get to adjust the lev­el of tech­no­log­i­cal inter­fer­ence. This could pos­si­bly be a very edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence about tech­nol­o­gy and human agency.

(via Test Match Spe­cial and Tech­no­log­i­cal Agency |

Peo­ple who do work with sym­bols and lan­guage to make a liv­ing orga­nize their thoughts into the con­tain­ers and sys­tems that Office pro­vides. Office is not so much a soft­ware prod­uct as a dialect that we all speak as we pro­ceed about our labors.”

An enjoy­able overview of some clas­sic pieces of soft­ware and their influ­ence on cul­ture.

(via The Great Works of Soft­ware — The Mes­sage — Medi­um)

The Euro­pean dream appears quite sta­ble. Chi­na may be head­ing for a bump in the road if its pop­u­la­tion ever demands democ­ra­cy. Rus­sia had a peri­od of fast growth (with pre­cious lit­tle ben­e­fit for most Rus­sians) but what hap­pens if Vladimir Putin is becom­ing a mil­i­tary adven­tur­er? Europe looks to have those trau­mas behind it. Nor has it become an Amer­i­can-style plu­toc­ra­cy.”

Europe still has lots to learn. A French friend recent­ly attend­ed a Cal­i­forn­ian recep­tion packed with bril­liant French engi­neers work­ing in Sil­i­con Val­ley. He came home think­ing: “What would it take to bring those peo­ple back to France?” That’s the sort of ques­tion Euro­peans need to ask: how to con­vert their won­der­ful idea net­works into Apples and Googles? Lon­don, Europe’s de fac­to busi­ness cap­i­tal, with its bud­ding tech sec­tor, may be find­ing an answer. If it does, the rest of the con­ti­nent will try to copy it, because non­stop cross-bor­der learn­ing is still the secret of Europe’s suc­cess.”

The first para­graph and the sec­ond here are odd­ly dis­so­nant to me. Isn’t the finan­cial­i­sa­tion of Sil­i­con Val­ley (and for that mat­ter, London’s Tech City) a sure sign plu­toc­ra­cy comes rid­ing in on the back of “Apples and Googles”?

(via Why Europe works —

Nobody does thor­ough­ly argued pre­sen­ta­tions quite like Sebas­t­ian. This is good stuff on ethics and design.

I decid­ed to share some thoughts it sparked via Twit­ter and end­ed up rant­i­ng a bit:

I recent­ly talked about ethics to a bunch of “behav­ior design­ers” and found myself con­clud­ing that any designed sys­tem that does not allow for user appro­pri­a­tion is fun­da­men­tal­ly uneth­i­cal because as you right­ly point out what is the good life is a per­son­al mat­ter. Impos­ing it is an inher­ent­ly vio­lent act. A lot of design is a form of tech­no­log­i­cal­ly medi­at­ed vio­lence. Get­ting peo­ple to do your bid­ding, how­ev­er well intend­ed. Which giv­en my own voca­tion and work in the past is a kind of trou­bling thought to arrive at… Help?

Sebas­t­ian makes his best point on slides 113–114. Eth­i­cal design isn’t about doing the least harm, but about doing the most good. And, to come back to my Twit­ter rant, for me the ulti­mate good is for oth­ers to be free. Hence non-pre­scrip­tive design.

(via Design­ing the Good Life: Ethics and User Expe­ri­ence Design)

Mak­ing a game com­bines every­thing that’s hard about build­ing a bridge with every­thing that’s hard about com­pos­ing an opera,” he said. “Games are basi­cal­ly operas made out of bridges.”

Part of the prob­lem with this urge to ele­vate games is that they also become domes­ti­cat­ed,” Mr. Lantz said. “Now that we’ve got­ten them in the muse­um and the uni­ver­si­ty, keep­ing games weird and scary is maybe the next prob­lem to solve.”

I got to vis­it NYU Game Cen­ter dur­ing Prac­tice last year, and I am con­vinced it is basi­cal­ly the best games pro­gram in the world today because it is (1) explic­it­ly focused on mak­ing, and (2) does not pan­der to what­ev­er is “hot” in the indus­try at any moment, but tries to active­ly shape it in stead.

With regards to weird­ness (or illeg­i­bil­i­ty), this is a con­cern if mine too for some time and I tried to talk about how I see this work­ing at Hide & Seek back in 2012.

(via Tal­ent­ed Design­ers Stream Into M.F.A. Video Game Pro­grams —