Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin

First published in 1999, this celebrated history of San Francisco traces the exploitation of both local and distant regions by prominent families—the Hearsts, de Youngs, Spreckelses, and others—who gained power through mining, ranching, water and energy, transportation, real estate, weapons, and the mass media. The story uncovered by Gray Brechin is one of greed and ambition on an epic scale. Brechin arrives at a new way of understanding urban history as he traces the connections between environment, economy, and technology and discovers links that led, ultimately, to the creation of the atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race. In a new preface, Brechin considers the vulnerability of cities in the post-9/11 twenty-first century. Via UCPress

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Metropolitan encounters (Excerpt)

An excerpt found in the chapter “Micro-Spaces of the every day” from the book “On Spiders, Cyborgs, and Being Scared: The Feminine and the Sublime” by Joanna Zylinska. Unfortunately, this book is out of print so we can no longer hold it in our hands. However, you can download a free copy (pdf download) by going to Joanna Zylinska’s website HERE.

Initial Thoughts Fall 2015

These are some recommended texts:


The Burnout Society by BYUNG-CHUL HAN.

Chapter 1 is entitled “The Neuronal Power” and sets out with the claim that frames the entire essay: “Every age has its main maladies.” Han differentiates the bacterial age that ended (at the latest) with the discovery of antibiotics, the viral age that ended with the advance of immunology, and finally the present age: the neuronal age. Its dominant maladies are neurological illnesses like depression, ADHD, borderline personality syndrome and burnout syndrome. The crucial difference between maladies of the viral age and the neuronal age is that between infection and infarction. An infection is caused by the negativity of the immunological other, whereas an infarct is the result of an excess of positivity. Unlike a virus, neuronal illnesses cannot simply be warded off like an outside attacker. Text Via axylus


Ubiquitous Photography by Martin Hand. 1st Edition.

Ubiquitous Photography provides a critical examination of the technologies, practices, and cultural significance of digital photography, placing the phenomenon in historical, social, and political-economic context. It examines shifts in image-making, storage, commodification, and interpretation as highly significant processes of digitally mediated communication in an increasingly image-rich culture. It covers debates in social and cultural theory, the history and politics of image-making and manipulation, the current explosion in amateur photography, tagging and sharing via social networking, and citizen journalism. The book engages with key contemporary theoretical issues about memory and mobility, authorship and authenticity, immediacy and preservation, and the increased visibility of ordinary social life.


The Anthrobscene by Jussi Parikka.

Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and e-readers all at one time held the promise of a more environmentally healthy world not dependent on paper and deforestation. The result of our ubiquitous digital lives is, as we see in The Anthrobscene, actually quite the opposite: not ecological health but an environmental wasteland, where media never die. Jussi Parikka critiques corporate and human desires as a geophysical force, analyzing the material side of the earth as essential for the existence of media and introducing the notion of an alternative deep time in which media live on in the layer of toxic waste we will leave behind as our geological legacy.

Read THE GEOLOGY OF MEDIA, an article by Jussi Parikka.

Watch “Erased Landscape” HERE.
HERE 5: Erased Landscape – the making of flat land in central San Francisco.

Watch the episodes of Saving the Bay

Optional Reading:
The Really Big One. An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.

Cartographies of Disaster

The Japanese earthquake changed our relationship to place, and post-disaster social media changed it again.

“Natural disasters are fundamentally experiences of place: The epicenter was here. It was this many miles from this other place. It affected here and here and here. Place is understood through position and relationship, through contact and distance.

Geography determines terrestrial points of contact. These change, but usually at a rate barely perceptible to the human eye. Politics and language anchor societal points of contact, through alliance, ideological similarity, and shared knowledge. These change more quickly than continents, but stay stable long enough to fill history textbooks. Communication technologies scaffold personal points of contact. These change quickly indeed.”

Cartographies of Disaster

Cognitive Cartography

This selection (texts, images, videos) was shared in the Relational Cartographies class and it doesn’t reflect the long list of books and studies written on the subject.

BrasiliaBrasilia’s Monumental Axis

Brasilia Walking LinesBrasilia’s Monumental Axis with walking paths illustrated

RocinhaSao Paulo, Favela de Paraisopolis, photo Tuca Vieira

Mexico BorderTijuana, Baja California and San Diego, California

AtlantaAtlanta, Giorgia

Hurricane KatrinaHurricane Katrina, 2005

Hurricane SandyHurricane Sandy, 2012

Textbooks:

Environmental Psychology by Paul A. Bell

Environmental Psychology by Robert Gifford

Books:

The Image of the city by Kevin Lynch

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

Wrestling with Moses by Anthony Flint

Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed by James C. Scott

Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal

Robert MosesRobert Moses

Jane JacobsJane Jacobs

Links:

Did Robert Moses Ruin New York City?

[Legibility] RibbonFarm: Experiments in Refactored Perception by Venkatesh Rao

The Truth About Photographic Memory

Ten-Year Forecast by Kathi Vian

Videos:

More than Honey (00:14:20)

Automatic Google Car: Self-Driving Car on City Streets

Chimpanzee Memory Test

Stephen Wiltshire draws NYC

Building Maker Tutorial

AiAi being tested by Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a primatologist at Kyoto University. Via