Queer Urban Geographies


We are hosting a one day conference this April 6th to explore the social dimensions of urban space as it relates to identity, sexuality, perception and community. Themes of mapping, memory, sensing and embodiment will be interrogated in order to reveal new perspectives and afford emerging possibilities.

This conference will inspire a group of students we will be working with at Parsons the New School for Design that will produce collaborative and psychogeographic maps and representations along a series of design probes.

Speakers will include: Alysia Abbott, Shana Agid, Pasqualina Azzarello, Jen Jack Geiseking, Lisa Maya Knauer, Brian McGrath & Tony Whitfield.

View the project page for a full schedule and times. This is open to the public – bring your friends!


Research Trip: Everyday Religion in Kathmandu

Curious kids with Shem

Our team here at XYZlab has received a sub-grant from the India China Institute at The New School, for a project they are working on titled “Everyday Religion and Sustainable Environments in the Himalayas“. Our role is to provide a visual and spatial view of the research happening in Kathmandu, one of seven sites they have across the Himalaya region. Jane and I decided to focus the project as in important prototype for “Urban Research Toolkit” (URT), the online tool for collaborative mapping of urban research that we are developing.

As our first major prototype, our job was to gather as much media and documentation as possible, which we will spatialize on URT for the India China Institute (ICI). We have three fantastic students on our team, who helped document our journeys, and will also work on the programming/video/interface of the project.

Kathmandu has experienced 12% population growth over the last few decades, and is now a very polluted, congested city lacking some pretty basic infrastructure. The roads are pretty insane – both physically and experientially. This was our first major culture shock – being driven from the airport in the ubiquitous suzuki taxi’s that feel like they are made out of tin, but can really take a beating on the roads there. No one bothers to slow down for much of anything – pedestrians, bikes, motorcycles or the stray cow here and there.

Our first four days was something of a ‘information download’ with our project leader at ICI, Georgina Drew, who is extremely knowledgeable about all things religion / Himalayas. Our main guide / sherpa was Kashish Shrestha, Kathmandu native and effortless ambassador to all things happening. We spent most of our time further documenting water sites, doing several ‘balloon mapping’ sessions, interviewing several of the researchers and subjects and seeing the major highlights of the area. Balloon mapping is a ‘do it yourself’ method of arial mapping, where you send a camera on continuous shot mode up in a balloon to get hi-res images of neglected, changing or under-documented spaces.

We never saw the Himalayas, but the monsoon did arrive a few days into our trip – a mercy given the blistering heat and dust that greeted us. Things that stay with me from the trip: Nepalis are beautiful, both physically and socially. The many elders and kids we met were very open, affectionate and curious. The term ‘everyday religion’ really means something there. Every religious site – large or small, old or new, is completely alive. Historic sites like Dubar Square were filled with people, just handing out – talking, eating, weaving, whatever. I think any comparable site here would certainly be roped off or put behind plexiglass, but there they were all fully absorbed into everyday life. It is a place full of mystery, hard for a westerner to fully absorb in a short 10 days. We’d love to return, preferably when the weather permits us to see the fully majestic landscape.

Festival Exhibition: Public Space Interface


As part of the 2012 Parsons Festival, we are exhibiting the proposals developed by our fabulous student teams from our spring workshop Public Space Interface, supported by IBM. The works will be on display from May 12- 25h on the 12th floor of 6 e. 16th St. NYC

The proposals were developed in response to four different intersections of the city, along Broadway: 125th, 37th, Canal and Wall St. Themes of public engagement, play, surveillance and information were collaboratively developed by our student teams within the short period of one week, over the spring holiday.

Student Participants:

Lola (Jane) Ye
MFA Design and Technology, Parsons
Interactivity, critical design, post-optimal objects, graphics design, hypernature

Catalina Cortázar
MFA Design and Technology, Parsons
education, social Mmedia, data visualization, interactive design, urban design

Yeong Ran Kim
MA Media Studies, New School for Public Engagement
non-fiction media, multimodal scholarship, sonic media, urbanism, social justice

Christo de Klerk
MA Media Studies, New School for Public Engagement
open data, visualization, locative media, the city, media and memory

Jane Friedhoff
MFA Design and Technology, Parsons
Interactivity, playful environments, data visualization, communication design, narrative

Mehdi Salehi
MFA Design and Technology, Parsons The New School for Design
architecture, interactive design, digital art, short movies

Steven J Dale
MFA Transdisciplinary Design
aural architecture, systems, informal learning, networks, public space
Sherry Xuan Yang
Master of Architecture, Columbia University
interactivity, public collaborations, ludic designs, cinematic space, fabrication

Richard Angus Duff
Masters of Architecture: Columbia University
play, comfort city, connect!, integrate, design the Future 

Aldo Cherdabayev
Master of Architecture, Columbia University
information design, parametric automation, cybernetics, emergence, derivatives trading

Madeeha Merchant
Master of Architecture, Columbia University
topological surfaces, parametricism, spatial interactivity, infrastructure, innovation

Discussing URT at Mobility Shifts Conference


We were thrilled to be able to discuss the possibilities of URT (Urban Research Toolkit) at the Mobility Shifts Conference, organized by our colleague Trebor Sholtz, at The New School. “Comprised of a conference, exhibition, workshops, project demos and a theater performance, the summit will add an international layer to the existing debate about digital learning.”

Beyond presenting the scope and vision for URT, we were able to showcase the first iteration of the URT mobile app, and discuss the role of collaborative mapping with our colleagues across the University: Victoria Marshall, Shannon Mattern, Vyjayanthi Rao and developer Rory Solomon.

Check out the sound recording of the panel via SoundCloud:


DataMyne Update 02/14/2011

DataMyne System

There is much underway in the development and expansion of DataMyne!

First some stats. We now have 1339 active faculty logins, with 770 offering bios, 388 showing pictures and tags. In total, there are over 2,000 different tags, which is a wonderful, easy way to better understand the diversity of our creative community. Congrats to Robert Rabinovitz for having the title of ‘most syllabi uploaded’ Good sharing! If you didn’t know, faculty have several privacy settings they can elect, which you will see as you edit your profile.

We are currently working on two major developments which will expedite our ability to take DataMyne across the New School. First, we are integrating the login system with my.newschool, so you will only have one password to remember. Second, we are developing a live link to Banner, which will allow a daily update to faculty records, to ensure our data is timely and accurate. Both will maintain the high level of security present on my.newschool.

New features that are underway include a student profile, comprehensive course profiles, program profiles and visualizations, as well as the ability to form groups. Anyone will have the ability to form a group, though we will have guidelines for this available after our first focus group with students, this March. We have just finalized the interface for various people to edit courses and set up program profiles. Each school’s Operations and Academic Affairs Director will soon have next steps on this important feature. Lastly, there is excited development related to the integration of Parsons Critteur, a mobile app developed by MFA DT students to showcase and provide feedback amongst students.

DataMyne seeks to easily connect faculty, students, courses and projects, thereby offering a dynamic and evolving understanding of who we are and what we are doing. We’ve launched Datamyne.org, which will describe ongoing feature developments, as well as provide support for DataMyne as an open source release to other schools.

Please let us know if you have feedback, ideas, or questions. Thanks to everyone for your participation!

Jess Irish & Jane Pirone
FTF project directors

Mike Edwards
FTF lead developer

Dong Yoon Park
mobile developer & visual designer

Minhao Yu
framework programmer

DataMyne presented at ICITTE in Paris

ICITTE cover

Jess Irish presented DataMyne at the International Conference on Communication and Information Technologies in Education (ICCITE) in Paris, France on June 30th, 2010. The project was the only social media presentation of it’s kind in the conference, and generated a lot of enthusiasm in this global context. The paper “DataMyne: Connecting and Visualizing an Academic Community” was concurrently published in a special issue of the journal “Advances in Communication and Information Technologies in Education.”

Sponsored by the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, ICCITE “aims to bring together academic scientists, leading engineers, industry researchers and scholar students to exchange and share their experiences and research results about all aspects of Communication and Information Technologies in Education, and discuss the practical challenges encountered and the solutions adopted.”

DataMyne wishes to thank the Provost’s Office for this opportunity.