Sunday, May 28, 2017

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] art-science discussion

Dear Annick and Jacqueline

i wanted to follow up on this:

A question inspired by Annick last remark: 'Oh, and I don't believe there
> is such a thing as "raw" data, because to get "data" you need a "collecting
> tool" and this is already a bias' , as this has been the main topic of my
> art/ research practice. I create Models of Observation.
this is an important part in our practice

at a conference on information visualization at our university in florence
we prepared a contribution which was called "Data is an Opinion".

You can find a part of it here (sorry, in Italian for now, but you can get
a sense of the discussion until we prepare an English version):

Of course this is a provocative title, and it should not be taken
literally, but it leads to exploring several phenomena which are common in
today's world of information spectacularization.

Also worth exploring are the phenomena in which forms of algorithmic
governance loose touch with "reality" (which I put in quotes as it is a
delicate term, given the subject matter). For example there is this
wonderful article by Francesca Musiani:

She ends her article with:

"the extent to which we live in a world ruled by algorithms has to be
assessed. We need to research not only the extent to which, given the
ubiquity of algorithms, they regulate us in a sense, but also "what it
would mean to resist them". (Barocas et al., 2013)"

if we think about the fact that decisions made or suggested by algorithms
are derived from data, the notion that it is problematic to understand how
data is collected and what are the "biopolitics of data, interfaces and
algorithms" is central.

We have started our effort in suggesting ways in which Interface and Data
Biopolitics approach can be integrated, for example, in design education
This is one publication in which we speak about it:

It is a really complex matter. For example, imagine web or interaction
design courses. They are completely occupied by tools, texts, APIs,
instruments, tutorials etc which come from Google, Microsoft, Facebook,
etc, implying that the students will use Google's, Microsoft's,Facebook's
etc tools. While it is really nice of them to make all of these software
and storage and computation and applicative resources available for free
for education purposes, we must realize that this also goes in the
direction of attributing enormous power to these subjects. Progressively,
"reality" may become "Google's opinion" about reality, as it is captured
through Google's strategies, philosophy, culture etc.
It is potentially an enormous power. Which we are attributing to them each
day, using Google's maps when our students have to make a prototype of a
geo-referenced App, and similar things, as we prepare them to make them in
the same ways for their clients.

This, for example, is another space in which a "Mediterranean" option would
be precious, in my opinion.

The EU already is having to deal with these kinds of problems in a number
of ways (see the lack of BigData storage facilities in Europe, for example,
but also the fundamental lack of alternatives to Googles, Facebooks etc).

The possibility to come up with ways to confront with these same issues in
the Mediterranean would not only be precious for these reasons, but also
because it would be a shared effort which combines Mediterranean cultures
in creating/appropriating a space for cultural diversity which is (and will
be) potentially in danger, in collaborative, participatory ways.

This is one of the main reasons why I was a little sad that this
conversation was somewhat pushed away from these fundamental topics (as
indicated by Pier Luigi's introduction) and pushed towards the rather
uninteresting discussion about me or other people. It seemed like worrying
about the flowery curtains on the window, while the house is on fire.

More positivity, inclusion, participation, openness and desire to help and
support is needed to even think about being able to start confronting with
these issues. And less walled gardens and desires to defend positions.

"Cultural Heritage" – in times of hyperconnectivity, of ubiquitous
technologies and networks, of nervous systems and bodies extended through
social networks, devices and massive, continuous, complex data and
information flows – can (and will) become an thing which is substantially
different from the one we experienced up to now.

> The question: Higher level computer code and scripting, has become
> predominately english based. What would happen if code was based in
> languages other than English, would this make a difference in how we work
> with the code and what could that mean for diversity, nuance, and ethical
> choices when it comes to writing tools for, collecting, selecting, and
> preserving digitally?

Have you tried Monicelli?

There are a number of experiments in this sense. Some are beautiful and
poetic (such as Monicelli), some try to experiment in different forms of
structures and flows.

And there is also all the areas of symbolic, procedural, declarative and
logical programming which explores changes in structure, organization,
flow, control etc.

For example, programming in Wolfram, LISP, Prolog (which are symbolic),
SQL, or regular expressions (which are declarative), all are very different
experiences than with imperative programming languages. And they are also
more open to defining alternative syntaxes.

Or there is all the meta-languages, all of those things which find in
software products like YAPP (Yet Another Compiler Compiler) the tools which
can be used to create other languages, to achieve a variety of purposes.

Both these languages and meta-languages enable and allow experimenting.

Current initiatives (for example in schools, with the "coding hour" type of
initiatives) are more oriented to more directly professionalizing
approaches, but initiatives in this direction could be explored in a
multiplicity of ways.


*[**MUTATION**]* *Art is Open Source *-
*[**CITIES**]* *Human Ecosystems Relazioni* - http://he-r.i
*[**NEAR FUTURE DESIGN**]* *Nefula Ltd* -
*[**RIGHTS**]* *Ubiquitous Commons *-
Professor of Near Future and Transmedia Design at ISIA Design Florence:
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