AL David Meresman

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Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order

In the article Goffman talks about the explicit and implicit rules that we follow in various situations. He specifically talked about laws of movement in relation to people and in relation to vehicles. The idea is that there have to be various types of rules traffic is able to function. Just like this there are unspoken rules both real and not that regulate behaviour in the library. I asked a few people about what they thought were the rules of behavior in the library and they said:

Talk at a reasonable sound based on where you are in the library
Return books/DVDs so that other people can use them
Be Quiet
Be curtious with reserve materials

I think it would be interesting to expand this survey as well as observing people's activity in the library to better understand the way that spoken and unspoken rules control the behavior in the library


In reading the article about Robert Smithson's Non-Sites series I became intrigued by the idea of the relationship between the works and their location. In particular I was interested in how the works were able to make you see and think about not only what was there but also that what was there once was somewhere else. Additionally it made you think about how there is now something missing in the place that there once was something there. I found this aspect most effective in his piece 'A Non-Site, Franklin New Jersey'
In that piece I can in some way imagine where those rocks are from and see identical box shaped holes where there used to be rocks. In thinking of this in relation to a library it is like looking at the books in the book return and thinking about the shelves they are no longer on.

The Library of Babel:

In The Library of Babel, Jorge Luis Borges presents the ides of an infinite library with infinite books holding infinite information. The one issue is that this library is in essence unusable due to its lack of organizational system. It is an interesting idea. Without a method of finding the information you are looking for, the infinite amount of books are useless. In fact without an organizational system, the more volumes you have in the library the less useful the library becomes. This is why organizational systems are so important to a well functioning library whether they are card catalogues, computer databases or something else, because without them a library is entirely useless. This can also be taken to mean that a library should not only be organized but be organized well. Because the better the organizational method, the more readily available the information in the library is, making it a more effective library.

Everyware Part 1

The idea of “everyware” is brought up in the article as a point of conern. The idea of people no longer realizing how they are interfacing with computers is somewhat thought of as a move in a big brother type direction. This is not uncalled for, in the article the author brings up a good point that “we will be presented the option of trading away access to the most intimate details of our lives in return for increased convenience, and that many of us will accept.” (p2). I find no ethical problem with this as long as people are giving away their information knowing the consequences and benefits and are able to consider them themselves. There is a great potential that when computing gets to the point where we cannot see it happening that it can do things that we do not want it to do. What is important about this is that there can be things going on that we have no awareness of. There can be a good aspect of this as well. Through computing that cannot be seen you can allow people to interact with things in different ways than they were able to before. And when we think about how this technology can effect the functionality of the library there are amazing opportunities.

Everyware Part 2

When I was reading the part of the Everyware article about new user interfaces I was reminded of a technology that I read about a while ago called Surface being made by Microsoft. Surface has no keyboard or mouse but is a 30 inch touch screen table that users can with by dragging objects on the screen. It is essentially its own platform that Microsoft hopes will become ubiquitous. One of its major uses is that it allows people to easily interface various personal electronics. When objects are placed on it, Surface detects them and connects to them via wifi and allows you to interact with them. Surface can also recognize certain objects if they have barcodes on them. For instance you could transfer a photo between two devices by dragging it from one device to the other. In the context of a library it could be made so that when you put a book on it it could give you information about the book, other books you might be interested in and allow you to check the books out.

Some videos about Microsoft Surface:

Tracking Everything Everywhere

For the most part the article about RFID hinges on the secrecy of its use. They make it seem as if there are certain inevitable outcomes from its use. It seems to me that this for the most part can be dealt with in consumer goods by requiring companies to inform people of the fact that there are RFID chips in the products and the implications of those chips. If people are worried enough about the chips they will demand products that do not have those chips. While there is a real risk of consumer apathy towards the issue I think there are enough people who are either informed on the issue and take issue with the potential uses of RFID or are technophobic enough that they would be apprehensive of the idea of the use of RFID chips. The issue of required usage of RFID chips in devices such as how they are used in passports is a separate issue which has less of an easy solution.

And on a lighter note, since the article mentioned the theremin, here's a video of a robot playing a theremin version of Crazy by Gnarles Barkley [[4]]

Hertzian Space

In reading the article about hertzian space I was intrigued by the discussion of privacy in relation to thermal imaging and x-rays. I personally could not see the difference between the two. While I can understand to a certain extent when it says that "by using a cordless phone he had ' no reasonable expectation of privacy'" becaue that is a choice and even though you might not realize all the implications of the choice it is still a choice. Thermal cameras on the other hand are able to gain information on you without you doing anything actively to let them do so other than not wearing a cooling suit. While I understand that the logic is that both your cordless phone and your heat "radiates into the street", I am much less convinced about the heat than about the cordless phone. That is not to say that think that it is good that evidence gained from listening on cordless phones can be admissable in court, but that it seems a little more logical than the heat argument.

Seattle Public Library

I talked with one of my friends from Seattle about the public library and these are my notes from that conversation:

Art installation pieces
• Building is work of art
• Video installation
• Fit in with theme of library

• “dead silent”
• Silence not enforced

mix of homeless people and people researching

Computers are hard to figure out what is used for what changes paradigm of library too much

Book Spiral
• Only way to find way through it is to use computers to search
• Books themselves are easy to navigate because of escalator that runs up whole thing and every three floors there is a stop.
• When walking down through stacks they have subjects listed and he has seen things that he finds interesting
• As you go up escalator all the paneling is made of glass and you can glance as you go by at what is there

• Coloring is pretty cool
• One of the escalators is hard to find

Social Aspects
• 2 cafes and gift shop
o people use them
o gift shop is pretty awesome
• not seattle public library stuff
• local artist stuff
• bouncy balls, artsy pens, notebooks…

Handout Questions

How do we want to augment the library?
We want to augment the library in such a way that it allows people to still use the library in ways that they have before but at the same time add new ways that people can relate to the library. Possibly by making the library more social without preventing people from using it as the quiet study space that it is now.

What do we want to create?
We want to create a way for people to interact with the library in a more social way. Possibly allow people to recommend books to other people and other things along those lines. We want to implement this through some form of relatively intuitive technology such as a touch screen interface.

What experience do we want to provide for library users?
We want to provide a more social experience for how people can relate to what is in the library. We want to provide an experience which augments their experience, not changes the way that they must use the library, similar to the way that computers did not make it impossible for people to use card catalogues.

What is the space in-between and what opportunities are present?
In my view, the space in-between is the digital space. There are great opportunities in it. There are opportunities for easier access to the information in the library through digitization. There are opportunities for increasing the social aspects of the library through people recommending books to eachother.

What is the most outrageous idea you have for the library?
The most outrageous idea I have for the library is to digitize all of the books, DVDs, tapes, and anything else that might be in the library. The media would then be accessed from either student’s computers in their rooms, or anywhere else on campus including in the library itself. The interface for how to navigate the books should be something that people would be used to dealing with so a netflix or google books type interface would make sense.

What is the simplest idea you have for shifting our expectations of or engagement with the library?
The simplest idea I have for shifting our engagement with the library is to enable the ratings system that exists in the library system already.

Experience Prototyping

In reading the article on experience prototyping it became clear how important prototyping will be to our process. I had been thinking for a while about how moving furniture around in the library might be an interesting way to experiment with how the set up of the furniture effects the ways we use the library. One idea that I liked in the reading that I think could be applied well to our work in the library was the physical prototyping of spaces. One way that this could be useful is in the idea of changing spaces in the library and their functions. Ever since we started talking about withs and singles in the library I've been interested in the idea of modifying spaces in the library and seeing what would happen if we changed the arrangement of the furniture. This could be prototyped fairly easily in any space by setting up a similar space and running experience tests.

The Poetics of Augmented Space

When I was reading this I began thinking about the idea of augmentation of a space and how one can augment different spaces in different ways based on how good different methods will work in any particular situation. For instance Lev Manovich brings up the idea of 'noise' in relation to the amount of data that can be used at any time. For instance if we were augmenting the Jennings library instead of Crossett library we would have an entirely different set of concerns in relation to the issue of noise. Because Jennings is a large stone building, it is less optimal for various wireless data methods such as cell phones and WiFi. This would limit the types of digital augmentation that we could do based on the restrictions that the site creates. In this sense it is good to try to think of what the strengths are for Crossett library in its ability to be augmented. Specifically in relation to Jennings it is much easier to add wireless data technologies to, but what other aspects are there to Crossett that can be leveraged in augmenting it?

Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art

Chapter 1

When I read this article I tried to think of how to relate it to the project we are trying to create with the library. Early in the article Kester brings up two different art pieces, House and West Meets East and then compares certain aspects of them. Specifically and most important to our project he looks at how unlike with house where "[the artist's] choice had relatively little to do with the specific conditions of Bow or the concerns of its residents", Kester argues that this method does not work in most cases but instead that it is typically better for the starting point of a piece to be "a dialogue with the community within which the work will be produced" I think that this is something that we have been doing but should make sure that we continue do to given how profound an impact what we create could have on the functioning of the library. If we do not take into consideration the needs of the patrons of the library our project could be a disaster. If we do focus on their needs though, we can potentially create something that has a strong positive influence on the way people use and think about the library.


The introduction to the book helped me gain a framing for the first chapter which I had already read, as well as give me more of a context in which to put the work we are doing in the class. In the introduction, Kester explains the idea of conversation pieces and their place in the art world. He explains that their idea is to make people think about things differently, not through an individual reaction created by a visual but instead through a conversation. As he puts it, the pieces achieve their goals "through a cumulative process of exchange and dialogue rather than a single, instantaneous shock of insight precipitated by an image or object" (12). This is a good thing to take into consideration when we are coming up with ideas for the augmentation of the library.

While many of our ideas have aesthetic components none of them have the aesthetic existing for its own sake. For example in my group we decided that the bookmarks should have an alluring quality and we talked about the idea of having a three floor tall docking wall going in the staircase. We loved the idea of how it would look, but for the most part we thought of it in the context of how it would draw people to use the book marks. We also discussed the visual of looking down an aisle of the library and seeing a few of the glowing bookmarks in different books. While we very much liked the aesthetic idea, it was largely appealing because we could imagine people walking around the library, seeing something glowing, and feeling compelled to walk over to look at it. While I am not trying to say that aesthetic aspects of the project are unimportant, because they are, I am saying that the aesthetic components of the project are most important in how they help encourage interaction.

Public Space in a Private Time

"In order for public space to be a gathering place, where all the people are gathered together as a public, it needs a gathering point. To be seen and read as public, to act and/or be used as a public, the dots have to form a circle, as if around a point; or they have to forma line; as if toward a point; or they have to blend together so that they form a point themselves, which blots and spreads out to cover the piazza floor."

I like this quote as a way of thinking about how we are trying to have people gather in the library. While we are not necessarily trying to have people all be in the same physical space at the same time, they are both in the same physical space at different times and possibly in the same digital space at the same time. The gathering point which people are gathering around would be either the books themselves or the information that we would store about them depending on how you look at it. I think it is important to think about what we want that point or aspect of the library which we will have people gathering around to be.

Data Is Not Information

As we work on the bookmarks project and think about what data we do and do not want, as well as how to represent the data in a way that turns it into useful information for the purposes that we want people to use the bookmarks for. While in some ways the more data we can gather with the bookmarks the better, at the same time, if it is not cohesive and is not organized in a useful way than it will not achieve any of our goals. The trick is to take the raw data and turn it into meaningful information and represent it in a way that is engaging and intuitive. Some good examples that I brought up in one of the out of class group meetings were the new digg visualizers. They all treat stories as the central piece of information, much like we will likely treat books as the central pieces of information. Some of them deal with the connections between the stories by showing which stories are being dugg by the same people.

[[5]] [[6]] [[7]] [[8]]

Surrender Control

Surrender Control #1

For my first person I bumped into him in the DVD section at which point he asked me if the DVDs were in any particular order. I told him that they were organized in the order they were acquired, by genre. (although at that point I looked at them more closely and realized that they didn't even seem to be put in by call number which for DVDs is based on when the library acquired them) him and his friend continued looking at DVDs while I asked him questions. He said his name was Greg and he was from Santa Fe New Mexico. At this point he and his friend had decided on a DVD and checked it out and left the library.

The second person I talked to, I found by the copy machine making copies. I started a conversation by asking her what she was making copies for. She said they were something she was looking into for her senior project. I asked her what she was studying and she said she studies philosophy and math. I asked her what her project was on and she said it was comparing Greek and Roman ideas of truth. We talked about what classes we are taking this term and about the risk involved with taking courses from visiting faculty, namely that they might not be very good at teaching. We also talked about how it is annoying when copy machines do not work


Random Number Guessing

<source lang="ruby"> print "I'm thinking of a number from 1 to 100.\n" my_number = rand(100) + 1

loop do print "Okay, what do you think it is? " your_guess = gets.to_i

if your_guess == my_number print "correct" end if your_guess > my_number print "lower" end if your_guess < my_number print "higher" end end </source>

First Sentance of Wikipedia Page

This program was not entirely successful. What it ends up doing is pulling characters 3979-4379 from a random wikipedia page. This will show the first sentence in there somewhere for a lot of wikipedia pages albeit with a lot of html. Although for the page on the New Order song 'Age of Consent' the first sentance should show up at the beginning of the text.

<source lang=ruby> require 'open-uri' sentence = open('').read(10000) puts sentence.slice(3978,600)

  1. this is calibrated to the wikipedia page for the New Order song "Age of Consent"

  1. require 'open-uri'
  1. example = open('')
  1. html =
  2. plain_text = html.sub(%r{<body.*?>(.*?)</body>}mi, '\1').gsub(/<.*?>/m, ' ').gsub(%r{(\n\s*){2}}, "\n\n")
  1. require 'cgi'
  2. plain_text = CGI.unescapeHTML(plain_text)
  3. puts plain_text.slice(2,400)
    1. this isn't the accurate area of text
    2. this didn't work and we were sad</source>