Age of Everyware

Open Street Map

A very curious piece of the Big Bang Data exhibition was the OpenStreet Map’s Contributor Community Visualised – Individual by Individual by Eric Fisher. It is a world map with colours that identifies locations and structures according to thousands of citizens’ submissions. This was claimed to be an alternative to the more commercial Google Maps. Interesting was analysing the darker, denser marks on the map compared to the blurry white parts of it. Subsequent assumptions regard the big white presence (or non-presence) of China in the map: is this exclusion due to an Internet block from the country? Very likely yes.


Using location apps opens the world of code/space to the everyday life. Bus/metro/train routes app and any kind of maps-directions app, mediate the physical transition of people. The use of code is becoming a routine in order to solve various everyday tasks. Hence having an always-present map to provide the right and fastest directions is essential. As noted by Berry in Public Space, Media Space, these new media (apps, sites as others) are reshaping the urban public space and it becomes a subjective experience on how individuals use them. Moreover they are in a constant change due to the rapid consumption of media technologies.


For instance an article from Wired UK reports that in 2016 Helsinki would allow you “to buy a ‘mobility’ ticket to your destination via text message or app” (, and the service will do the rest, as for available checking public transports, on-demand services and private vehicles as well.


Kitchin and Dodge in fact remind the idea that “computation should be available wherever it is needed” (p.215) by people in everyday life. Even better if the accessibility of the resource is immediate (i.e. smartphone in the pocket); therefore the strength of the wireless connection allows the creation of any type of space as a code/space one. Using your phone with a wireless connection in a café, makes the coffee shop a coded space, a productive digital space. One can be online 24/7 or access whenever necessary, no matter where: “everyware”.




Wired UK, 2016. Smart cities will be necessary for our survival [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 February 2016].


Berry, C., Harbord, J. & Moore, R.O., 2013. Public space, media space, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 1-15 (Introduction).


Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., 2011. Code/space software and everyday life, Cambridge, Mass.: MITPress: ix-xi (Preface) 3-22 (Introduction), 23-44 (Chapter 2: The Nature of Software), 215-244 (Chapter 10: Everyware)


Art work

Open Street Map’s Contributor Community Visualised – Individual by Individual (Eric Fisher, 2013) at Somerset House for the Big Bang Data Ehxibition, London 2016

Even Your Cat Can’t Hide…

The boundary between public and private, while never having been fixed is further blurred by the mediation of space by digital technology. The process of media object mutation (Berry et al, 2013, p2) is explained through the example of the camera a device used for representation combining with the phone, a device for transmission, allowing for a new creative response, but one that can have unforeseen consequences.

A work that demonstrates the consequences is Owen Mundy’s I Know Where Your Cat Lives (2014). By collecting images of cats from social networking sites, Mundy has used public data (that the user probably considered to be private) to extrapolate a new dataset and create a map showing the location the image was taken. That many users were unaware they were giving away such detailed information was demonstrated by the removal of some of the images (through the changing of privacy settings) after the work was published.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 15.29.53

I Know Where Your Cat Lives – the website.

This work was possible due to the ability to combine capta, creating a dataset (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011, p5) of everything possible to know about a person, (or their cat) from the information available, taking physical addresses from the virtual world. Another example comes from a Vice (2012) magazine interview, accompanied by a photograph, with John McAfee who was then on the run. Unfortunately the photograph came complete with exif data, thus revealing his whereabouts.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 15.32.26

The photo that got McAfee caught?

That privacy is given so little thought when using technology is one of the discussions on the Programmable City (2016) blog that considers the consequences of the internet of things, when the software that runs the ‘things‘ can so easily be hacked.

The fact that the undervaluing of privacy, and hacking is so prevalent is not that surprising considering that many of the functions of software are seen as extensions of already existing systems (previously un-networked so with fewer privacy implications) and the way coding is written – impossible to separate from the skills, background, political and cultural environment in which is it created (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011, pp6-20).

Berry, C, Harbord, J & Moore, R.O, (2013). Public Space, Media Space, p2. Palgrave Macmillan.

Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., 2011, p5 Code/Space Software and Everyday Life, MITPress.

Mundy, O. (2014). I Know Where Your Cat Lives. [accessed 28 February 2016].

Programmable City, The, (2016). Privacy is an Afterthought when Convenience is King [accessed 28 February 2016].

Vice, (2012). We are with John McAfee Right Now Suckers. [accessed 28 February 2016].

Wired, (2012). How Trusting in Vice Led to John McAfee’s Downfall. [accessed 28 February 2016].

Data as part of our public space..

2016-01-28 14.25.01Image: Internet Machine Timo Arnell Big Bang Data Exhibition 2016

To give a sense of how digital ‘space’ has been ‘challenged and re-defined by media (pg 5 Berry et al 2013) Timo Arnell’s vast installation depicting a data processing plant whirring away with huge quantities of data within it is a good example. This relatively (for the impact it has) small physical space that is imbedded with vast amounts of data from probably hundreds of thousands of peoples lives, illustrates the physical reality of the way in which data is being processed. Arnell talks about how viewing the ‘materiality of these cold, hard digital spaces refutes the idea that they are intangible’. The abstract space of data, code and software becomes real.

The ‘profound influence of software’ (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011:x) and the reality of how data is impacting on our lives is no more apparent than in our digital cities – living, breathing examples of how we are shaped by software and algorithms. The once private domestic space of our lives has now become public, creating a continuous public space in our cities filled with our multitude of digital devices.

The public digital space our cities now inhabit blends into one with our once domestic space. With our ‘boundariless media’ Berry et all talk about how public space functions as a connection between the virtual and the real, between public and private, between work and leisure. Our private space has definitely become public with the access to our data and this can make us and our smart cities vulnerable. Smart cities are built on software and if this software becomes hacked or damaged the city would stop, no traffic control, no public transportation, no city management systems, no smart grids,… (Priya Anand 2016)

With the private becoming public the vulnerabilities of our smart cities are all to apparent, all that vital data that supports us and our cities enormous infrastructures whirring away in these warehouse like spaces.


Berry, C., Harbord, J. & Moore, R.O., 2013. Public space, media space, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 1-15 (Introduction). Berry et al (2013) public space, media space

Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., 2011. Code/space software and everyday life, Cambridge, Mass.: MITPress: ix-xi (Preface) 3-22 (Introduction), 23-44 (Chapter 2: The Nature of Software

Priya Anand January 2016 faces-from-cyber-attackers-2016-01-04

How will I know?

Wk 4 Blog How will I know?

The Big Bang Data exhibit ‘IF’ looks at governance, ownership and control relating to recording and storage of personal data.

Imagined licensing involved placing a personal card on a reader, with selection of disclosure levels allowing individual control of how and by whom data is shared. Card information as part of access to transport infrastructure, demonstrates software becoming ‘spatially active’. For example, purchase of travel tickets using a card places the person in a particular geographic location identifiable through spatial analysis. For digital cities ‘service oriented’ computing infrastructure is a key part of of how management for health, education, local governance and business is implemented.

Problematic security of data is something acknowledged in a report from IBM ‘Democracy of Devices, Saving the future of the Internet of Things’ (IBM 2015). The authors look at problems and solutions for a future where there are upwards of 25 billion connected devices by 2020. The scale of this and potential for formal and informal intrusion cannot realistically be controlled. Integration of privacy and anonymity into design is necessary to give people an opportunity to control usage and privacy. Initially developed as part of Bitcoin, blockchain is a universal digital ledger which enables functioning of decentralised financial systems. Developed through open source commons, the system is considered less vulnerable.

A ‘Scoop it’ post reviewing the Dhanjani book ‘Abusing the Internet of Things: Blackouts, Freakouts, and Stakeouts’ (2015) gives practical examples of where security of the Internet of Things (IoT) has been compromised with relative ease. In practical case studies including code, the author highlights issues for debate regarding implications for security as device connectivity develops. Code is the basis of all the software running IoT, which means management of our living systems is increasingly dependent on the code/space dyadic concept explored by Kitchen and Dodge in Code/Space(2011).

Public space can refer to that which is accessible under localised governance and societal norms. Berry et al suggest ‘no one person or company can unequivocally own or control it’. The edges of what is defined as public space are considered increasingly contested through privatised regulation and ownership and will be significant to the development of digital cities.
Berry, C., Harbord, J., Moore, R. eds., 2013 Public Space, Media Space. Hampshire Palgrave Macmillan

Dhanjani, N. 2015 Abusing the Internet of Things Blackouts, Freakouts, and Stakeouts’ in Doctorow, C. Boing Boing 2016
available from:
accessed: 26.2.16

Purshwaren, V. 2015 Device Democracy, Saving the future of the Internet of Things
Executive Report IBM New York
Available from:
accessed on 26.2.16

Sassen, S. 2012 Urbanising Technology LSE Cities
available from:
accessed: 26.2.16

Smart Thinking for Smarter Cities

What are smart cities? It is most likely a concept that carries different meanings to different people, despite all fitting into a larger umbrella with a mostly positive note. Anthony M. Townsend attempts to describe the term ‘smart cities’ as “places where information technology is combined with infrastructure, architecture, everyday objects, and even our bodies to address social, economic and environmental problems” (p.15).

Different places will have different issues, priorities, advantages and shortcomings. For example, while bike-sharing took off almost globally in just a few years after its 2007 debut in Paris, it quickly became a problem in Rome. In some neighbourhood, bicycles started ‘disappearing’, never returning to any station, being effectively stolen; in other areas, they remained completely untouched, as almost all Romans own a car or a moped. A combination of factors turned this supposedly ecological transformation of the city into a massive failure. There has recently been an attempt at setting up a car sharing programme, which would fit more into the patterns of Roman life, but still does not address probably one of the biggest issues of traffic in Rome – parking.


So one size most definitely does not fit all, and we cannot go about making our cities smarter via an industrial cookie-cutter formula.

In the preface of his book Smart cities: big data, civic hackers, and the quest for a new utopia (2013), Anthony M. Townsend, when discussing the everyday use of the smartphone, the author writes “Every day, all across the globe, people are solving local problems using this increasingly cheap consumer technology.” (p.xiv). With smartphones now being out of big-budget monopoly and more affordable options being made available, having a lower income does not necessarily mean having less access to things such as apps. Almost everyone now can check their bank accounts, check-in on Foursquare and send text and voice messages for zero cost beyond their monthly mobile data plan – real time and on the go.

A great example of how apps can not only help make cities smarter but also be a ‘call to action’ to its inhabitants is “Geo Estrela”. Designed by the parish council of Estrela, one of Lisbon’s most beautiful historical neighbourhoods, it allows people who live in the area to instantly report any problems they notice in the area, sending, along with a description and the type of problem, it’s exact location via GPS. The application can be accessed on a computer as well but only by inhabitants of the area, who are given a username and a password, to ensure efficiency of the service. Reports range from excess rubbish on the streets to holes in pavements or roads, and citizens have gone on record to state that once a problem is reported through the app, depending in its scale, it is usually fixed within hours or just a couple of days.

Although it is limited to a neighbourhood, it is certainly a way to make the council aware of issues as they occur, keeping the area safe and clean, and in TV interviews regarding the app, people have even commented on how caring for the state of their neighbourhood has even helped them learn how to use their smartphones better.

In order to properly analyse the effects and consequences of this app on both the physical space of the neighbourhood and people’s use of media in that location, and possibly devise smarter solutions for smarter cities, we would need the framework that Tarantino and Tosoni ask us to conceive – somewhere between the study of urban spaces and the study of media, where none of the two takes a central role.



Townsend, A (2013). Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, ppxii-xiii. WW Norton & Company.

Tarantino, M. & Tosoni, S., 2013. Introduction: Beyond the centrality of media and the centrality of space. First Monday, 18(11). Available at:

Migliaccio, A., June 11th 2014. Rome Shows the World How Not to Run Bike-Sharing Program[online] Available at: <>

Martin, C., February 2nd 2016. Best budget smartphones 2016: What’s the best budget phone? [online] Available at: <>

November 28th 2014. Freguesia lisboeta lança ‘app’ para reportar ocorrências [online] Available at: <>


Visual, Virtual and Embodied

My presence at the Big Bang Data exhibition translates in an embodied experience through such immersive elements of digital media as telepresence, virtuality and simulation (Miller, 2011, p.31). Such an experience plays a fundamental role in direct relationship with the nature of the exhibition itself, wherein the Internet and real-time data is explored by a number of artists, designers, journalists and visionaries.

Data gives us new ways of doing things, of immersing oneself in different environments, new forms of social interaction: what Miller refers to as the “immersive relationship between media and user” (Miller, 2011, p.31). From previous modules on the MA Creative Media, my main concern has been with the Internet of Bodies – (dis)embodiment in the networked society. Furthermore, my interest in last week’s reading’s reference to embodiment in digital cities and the use of dating sites such as Tinder and Grindr (Tarantino and Tosoni, 2013) points to the same direction. Such a topic is well tackled in this week’s reading by Miller (2011) Key Elements of Digital Media, which systematically describes how communication technologies have the potential to alter our feelings of presence. Such an “altered sense of presence” allows us to exist in the “physical environment in which our body is located and the conceptual or interactional ‘space’ we are presented with through the use of the medium” (Steuer, 1992 cited in Miller, 2011, p.31). Thus as Miller (2011) proposes, I shall “exist as an abstraction” (p.33) at the Big Bang Data exhibition. Through telepresence, I shall experience presence in a foreign environment by means of a communication medium (Steuer, 1992 cited in Miller, 2011, p.31).

As the title of this Blog post implies, I am most fascinated by the visual, virtual and embodied aspects of data. Thus, in relation to digital cities, Lev Manovich and Moritz Stefaner’s Selfiecity, which reflects data generated by the public through selfies in six main cities, and shared on social media, reflects body representations and digital visualisations. Such a work links to other works by artists who have explored the embodied representations through selfies in the visual and performance arts. Body by Body (2014), a collaboration by Melissa Sachs and Cameron Soren, as well as Kate Durbin’s performance art project Hello Selfie (2014). Furthermore such themes of representation and simulacra are touched on in Miller’s account on virtuality and embodiment.


Kate Durbin’s performance art project Hello Selfie (2014)


Body by Body (2014)


Julie Freeman’s use of data as an art material in her work We Need Us, is also highly influential and inspirational to me, work which is realized by the use of data visualization to data art. Such a work explores humanity in the network, thus the embodied and emotional experience of data is once again prominent. Finally, the immersion into live data at the London Situation Room, involves a real-time data experience of interaction and human data in cities that also brings to the forefront the theme of embodiment in digital cities.




Askinazi, J., 2014. Kate Durbin on her Performance Art Project ‘Hello Selfie’ [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 3 January 2016].

Big Bang Data Exhibition in Somerset House, London [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 February 2016].

Dismagazine., 2014. Body by Body [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 3 January 2016].

Miller, V., 2011. Key Elements of Digital Media. [pdf] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 February 2016].

Tarantino, M. & Tosoni, S., 2013. Introduction: Beyond the Centrality of Media and the Centrality of Space [online] Available at: < > [Accessed 10 February 2016].

Ines in the Digital City

(Yes, my post is coming quite late in the game but I had to introduce myself!)

My name is Ines (plus four surnames). I’m from Portugal, I’ve lived in Italy where I completed my BA in Fashion Communication and have recently moved to the UK to study and find work.

When I was a small child in the early 90s we had one of the first black-and-white Apple computers in the study of our small apartment. As soon as my father received a Windows 95 (in full colour!) to work with, that powerful tool with a monochrome display went to the hands of a four-year-old who only saw it as a visually fascinating new toy where she could draw with black and white patterns and play Solitaire. Little did I know that was my first step into a new world, or rather a different way of experiencing and seeing the world that children before me could only have dreamt of.

I am very visually inclined; I am an amateur freelance photographer – I do digital fashion editorials and analog travel photography on my website, (shameless plugging). I dabble in graphic design, having created the prototype issue of my own magazine all by myself (cue the eponymous song) where I wrote the articles, produced the photographs and did all the layouts, etc. Now I work as photographer and graphic designer for a concept store in Rome, but I also did stints in Social Media Management and Digital PR & Events.

I am fascinated by the modern city, and I don’t mean just ‘futuristic’ experiments; I mean the everyday elements. Traffic cameras and speed sensors and the fact that you can get a traffic ticket even when there’s no policeman physically watching you. Automatic doors in Sainsbury’s, mobile and internet banking and paying your bills online. Sitting down at a café and being almost appalled when they say they don’t have Wi-Fi because “that’s why I sat down in the first place, to save my 4G”. These technologies are ubiquitous, they enhance and control our lives in a myriad of tiny ways that we don’t even realise it sometimes. We rely on mobile data to tell us where we are on Google Maps, see what pharmacies are open when we get a headache at 7pm on a Sunday, and text friends without paying 50p per text.

These things have become so mundane and almost taken for granted that I am curious to see where we go next. What will be the next step in the evolution of the digital city? What innovations will make our cities even smarter? What else can be done for us? And what could be the consequences of that?

I realised recently that having permanent access to the Internet everywhere I am is taking a toll on my studies and ability to concentrate. Whenever I have a lot of reading to go, I head down to my local Costa so I’m not distracted by my laptop and a constant need to stay updated. But without access to their website, I wouldn’t even have known they were there and that they closed at 7h30pm.

Quid pro quo?

Our Data Driven Society

Miller (2011, p20) describes how databases are the source of much digital information and their ability to pull together data from many datasets allows the creation of something unique. Unique, rather than original; the information set matches the specific requirements of the individual but is created out of existing data.

But data was used long before the structured datasets that drive today’s information society. Several of the exhibits in the Big Bang Data Exhibition examine the role of data in improving health. Nurse, Florence Nightingale (1858) was a data pioneer, using data visualisation to show how many deaths amongst soldiers were the result, not of war wounds, but of sickness thus making her case for better nursing.

Florence Nightingale Museum Trust, London

Florence Nightingale Museum Trust, London

Data has a strong role to play in health today, according to NESTA’s John Loder, (2016) the amount of data we collect about ourselves – from smartphones, fitbits and health records – will help medical experts understand individual reactions to treatment, which can vary widely, thus creating a unique response to an illness or condition.

The sheer volume of data generated is demonstrated in the London Situation Room, which uses data for and by Londoners to give a sense of ‘the pulse’ of the city. Creative Producer, Ana Tiquia (2016) explains that the room was created to give Londoners the chance to explore the data, to ask what kind of stories they could tell and what the data tells us about how we live. One of the exhibits, Future Cities Catapult, gives visitors the chance to use data modeling techniques to make decisions on how the London of 2036 will look.

But while the gathering and usage of data offers many benefits, it is not without its downside as filmmaker Laura Poitras’s shows in her profile of NSA whistleblower William Binney, who – long before Snowden – revealed the US government’s top-secret programme to collect the personal data of US citizens, raising questions about privacy and surveillance.

NSA Whistleblower, William Binney, talks at the CIJ Summer School 2014


CIJ Summer School (2014). NSA Whistleblower, William Binney. Interview. [Accessed 22 February 2016]

Future Cities Catapult (2016). Exhibit [Accessed 22 February 2016]

Loder, J (2016) Interview. [Accessed 22 February 2016]

Miller, V. (2011). Understanding Digital Culture, p20. Sage.

Nightingale, F. (1858). Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of British Army

Poitrs, L. (2016). Interview. [Accessed 22 February 2016]

Tiquia, A. (2016) Interview. [Accessed 22 February 2016]

Data, Space and People

As part of the Big Bang Data exhibition, Ingrid Burrington and Dan Williams created a map that shows the overlooked elements of the Internet that can be physically found in London as for antennae or cabinets. They have tracked down a small area close to Somerset House, exactly where the exhibition takes place.


It is interesting to see how virtual space still needs real and concrete infrastructures in order to function. In fact, Burrington and Williams investigate the importance of the “place in history, authenticity, ties to place of exhibition”. (pg.23, Miller, 2011)

This is a starting point that could help architects, designers, tactical urbanists and creative technologies to collaborate in order to “design and built technological tools to support citizen empowerment and high-impact engagement in cities”. (Haque, 2016) The basic notion of maps is still central to the everyday life in a smart city (Google Maps and compass on smart phones to name the most famous ones) as much as it was before with paper maps.

Moreover, two artists Thomson and Graighead created a wall full of tweets sent via Twitter during two specific weeks near the Somerset House area. The idea is the one of a collaborative wall that – as they say – functions as an “attempt to show ourselves to ourselves” even though tweeters are not fully aware of it. (video here) It is an example of an “horizontal network of relations” (pg. 26, Miller,2011) like the concept of the rhizome formulated by Deleuse and Guattari (1988); all tweets are on the same level; there is no hierarchical structure involved.

The wall is the expression of citizens; it is their words and their public thoughts. Is it possible to use this social network to study the feelings of people towards a city? Can tweets, as much as pictures posted on Instagram, really define whether an area makes people more satisfied and positive than another? Tekja is working with this idea, trying to use social networks to do a “sentiment analysis” in order to let people and companies understand the “cultural value”. ( The London’s results are very informative.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: A staff member interacts with a live social media map of London at the Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House on December 2, 2015 in London, England. The show highlights the data explosion that's radically transforming our lives. It opens on December 3, 2015 and runs until February 28, 2016 at Somerset House. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House)

(Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House)



Usman Haque, Who controls our data? Usman Haque debates the implications of the data explosion, Feb 2016 Talk [Accessed: 22 February 2016]

Miller, V. (2011) Understanding Digital Culture. In: Miller, V. Key Elements of Digital Media. Sage: pp 12-21.

Tekja: London Data Findings 2016, [Accessed: 17 February 2016]

Thomson & Craighead on ‘London Wall: WC2’ [Accessed: 17 February 2016]

Somerset House, 2016, Big Bang Data: Thomson & Craighead,, [Accessed: 17 February 2016]

Networks of London, [Accessed: 17 February 2016]

Somerset Map,

Big Data As Everyday Life



It’s like when you walk in the street and our faces, bodies, movements, actions and behaviours are constantly captured and transformed into digital data, even if we don’t realise it.’ (Persona Non Data 2016).

The sheer volume of data that is produced in a city such as London is difficult to comprehend and it this vast amount of digital information that is created everyday  that is one of the major themes explored within the Big Bang Data exhibition. Tekja’s London social media data stream represents ‘live’ data visually as it is created throughout the city and Persona Non Data takes our data live throughout the exhibition and attempts to visualise it – a data generator within the exhibit.

This vast amount of data created raises questions regarding how it is used, who uses it and how it can be democratised. Miller (2011 Pg 15)  talks about how data can be manipulated far more than traditional forms of media like broadcast as  it can be ‘compressed and decompressed’, and easily copied. This subjectivity relating to how data can be used is explored in Persona Non Data’s interview regarding their installation where they discuss the importance within their work in encouraging people to question how, why and where their data is being used and raising the question of ‘can I have a say in the process?’

In Usman Haques talk (2016) he raises this concern with the example of the data from a device measuring air pollution that was installed near a device which limits air pollutants within a certain area – Data is controlled and manipulated and cannot be simply ‘read’ Miller talks about how the ‘model of communication’ here is a ‘hierarchical one’ with those in positions of power ‘creating hegemony through the ownership and distribution of a popular culture’ (Miller 2011 Pg 13)- the way our data is controlled can be seen in this way.

Data has revolutionised our experience as humans to such an extent that we are are only at the start of how it will shape our lives. Persona Non Data sums up the sheer volume of data that we are continually creating ‘Data is part of everyday life. You turn on a light on in your flat, you buy a tomato at the supermarkets, you walk along a sidewalk and, somewhere, a line in a database changes’ (2016).


Miller, V. (2011) Understanding Digital Culture. In: Miller, V. Key Elements of Digital Media. Sage: pp 12-21.

Persona Non Data Interview Feb 2016

Tekja Video Feb 2016

Usman Haques Feb 2016 Talk