Architecture that builds values

 The Economist 1843 Magazine ‘s  article, ” Versailles in the Valley”, frames quite well the current trend of digital corporations – like Facebook, Google and Apple – in building headquarters which represent the brand values. Versailles was the palace that Louis XIV built to centralise his power through parties and events that entertained Parisian aristocracy; the Versailles in the Valley symbolises a similar status. Facebook, Google and Apple campuses are palaces, which make tangible the politics of the brand. Whether sustainability, sharability, “open source”, etc brand palaces look after the physicality of the images that makes them real (it’s a kind of skeuomorphism). If in the past values were represented by statues carrying specific symbols (snake, flames, mirrors), nowadays building are asked such role. The way the building is experienced from a human perspective, materials and human interactions are factors that represent the company. They are not random; they come from society. However there is nothing new in this methodology; building monuments had been a political strategy that leaders from the past knew very well; if in the V century BCE Pericles gave shape to democracy by building Athens, Mussolini designed Fascisms through Rome urban planning, which extended to the whole Italian peninsula. Apple, Facebook and Google campuses (the word campus is already controversial in this specific context) are media that gather users’ imagination. They are tangible outcomes that shape digital intangible interactions. As drivers of people’s imagination, they enable transferability of something universal (as values are) to something specific to the company. Will community be understood as Facebook? There is also another effect; values can buy people’s trust if the message reaches the audience. If one of those values, which I believe in, becomes the company’s one I trust the company as we share the same values. As consequence I trust what the company does, without questions, which is a risk for my criticism and ability to make choices.

I guess the challenge we need is to keep universal words as universal, and avoid any specific identification that might lead to an even more constrained world of thinking and find our own solution, credo and ability to articulate our thought independently. We need to handle our trust carefully. We design our lives through our choices. Our actions and decisions make a huge difference in society; being responsible of those is our own priority.

On the Future of our Streets and Possible Speculation of Urban Space

The car industry is gradually constructing what can be defined the new urban revolution. Revolution for the shake it will bring to physical infrastructure, such as streets and freeways.

The driverless car is a mobile system based on learning machines. By storing data of the immediate surrounding, the driverless car behaves accordingly. Google and Apple are looking into it. Google  launched the Project Fi, which basically will trains form the whole physical real in a big search engine that  performs according to “search” queries.

Will we still need streets? Will we still be capable of enjoying public space?

If looking back at the car revolution, it introduced the concept of street, as we know it. Before streets were long piazza that people used to stroll around.

I am quite struggling to imagine what the future of our streets will be. Are we encountering another Modernist utopia, where pedestrian streets are divided from cars?

Are we going to make street as underground tunnel? As it already exists in Masda smart city?

The kind of economical shift  driverless cars will create at the scale of the city and territory will be probably a domino one, which will unfold consequences that might be heading to a plethora of effects. Nevertheless I reckon would be good to spend time to understand routes that divert from private funding and speculation and lead towards the construction of the 2.0 space.

Right to be remembered

 

It has been around for a while the fact that in Europe you are entitled to be forgotten by asking Google to delete the link in its index, which allows to perform any kind of search. The actual web page is not deleted, but the link that allows any user to find the information is.

Is it censorship?

As reported in The Guardian this is censorship for a simple reason: to suppress the system by which we access information equals to suppress the information. Because of how 2.0 society works, which is basically based on web search that gives anybody the access to information in a tree like structure, deleting the link is deleting information.

I am surprised how such action has not been carefully investigated by Google, as each case needs individual understanding. I am surprised how much zealously naive such action has been taken. If on one hand the European law pursued the protection of individual citizens’ privacy , it looks that it is more defending the interests of those in need to be remembered.

I hope that from this case onwards the concept of privacy against “right to know” will be taken more carefully.

Material Design

Materials from earth are one of the most reproduced patterns that are available in vinyl, wallpaper, laminate, plastic and so on. If marble is too expensive it is possible to replaced it either in sophisticated plastic or perfectly “stickable” vinyl. Through digital interfaces materiality slowly lost its sensorial experience, given by its surface quality, for its visual one, given by its images, to the extent that Digital Materiality is a more appropriate concept that applies to out age.
In its I/O conference Google openly talked about Material Design as a pixel with its own material qualities, which in my view, trespassed the threshold of a new kind of sensorial experience of matter, by adding a fourth dimensional is described as: “What if pixels didn’t just have color, but also depth?” he asked. “What if there was a material that was as simple as paper but could transform and change shape in response to touch?” To that end, Material Design will allow designers to define an elevation for every pixel. In turn, those elevations will trigger shadows that let multiple cards to layer over one another in an easy-to-intuit way 

Surface is no longer the least and last property any kind of material has; your 4D personal experience will assign any material its own property.

On Democracy

The crisis of current economy struggling with a political lack of control (and understanding) of new emerging systems from the Third Industrial Revolution seems to make the point that democracy is merely a concept not a reality.

Politics is now made by those, like Google, that invest on understanding the new hybrid real by producing ‘learning machines‘, that can trigger controlled random data.

To open a Facebook page or use Twitter is not the point of the 2.0 society.

It seems to me that we are constrained within a space created by those that pretend to entertain us through technology – triggering consumerist culture, desire and interests (TED for instance) and those that need these forms of entertainment to define a bottom up control society, isn’t it an inverted form of politics?