Recent Posts by Nicolas Nova

Maps of data center localizations

Although data centers are unevenly distributed, but it’s intriguing to observe the way they’re located spatially. It’s difficult to find world maps but here are some examples I found interesting, but it’s totally not exhaustive (lots of them are not documented). Also note that any queries on image search engine about data center geography leads to weather-related visualizations (which generally influence energy/water consumption for this infrastructure).

The largest US data-centers (by Nicolas Rapp, data by Dave Drazen at Geo-Tel)


I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD: UI proposals

As a follow-up to the scenarios produced in our second workshop, we decided to specify the type of user interfaces that could emerge from the projects proposed by the participants. More specifically, we took each of the context they worked on and created a set of graphical user interfaces to show how the cloud computing service might appear. They are not meant to be exclusive but they illustrate the functions and possible usage discussed during the workshop. To some extent, they summarize the findings in a pragmatic way. Each of the contextual category features 2 or 3 interfaces that reflect on different types of target groups: user, system administrator, priest, sport coach, etc.



I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD: Design Implications

Based on the concepts and scenarios produced in our second workshop, we decided to work on the design implications of such projects. More specifically, we realized the set of contexts (religion, music, etc.) the workshop participants worked on share common traits: the needs for a cloud infrastructure was fairly similar and let to the idea of a basic “data unit”. Such a mobile system would act as a mini-data center.


I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD: output > “Cloudified” Scenarios

Note: the post I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD, brief: “Cloudy” presents the objectives and brief for this workshop.


After last week’s workshop at HEAD – Genève, we learnt that addressing Cloud Computing from a design perspective requires to take a detour. Instead of looking at data centers and cloud computing directly, we asked students to choose a domain of everyday life (religion, cooking, communication, etc.) and work on how this technology may influence it, the kinds of practices that may emerge and what kind of implications would surface. The projects reflect this diversity and we also push the student to adopt both a critical and speculative angle. Such requirements mean that the output of the workshop largely consists in a set of short scenarios/usage strategies exemplified by sketches and pictures. Each of them provides a subtle perspective on cloud computing by showing that the limits and the opportunities of these technologies are entangled.


Cloudified Scenarios – a workshop with James Auger at HEAD – Genève on Vimeo.


Two posts have been added later as follow-ups to this one that propose an update to the direct results of the workshop:




I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD: ongoing work

Workshop day 2, we’re working on the various contexts in which cloud computing and data centers can be deployed in the near future. Each group started exploring domains such as religious objects/ambiance, local communities, illegal content smuggling, urban animals and music playing.



I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD, brief: “Cloudy”

At HEAD – Genève today, we started the first workshop of the research project with James Auger (from Auger-Loizeau design studio and the Royal College of Arts in London). We’re going to spend this week with the first year students of the Media Design MA exploring cloud computing, personal cloud systems, objects and user interfaces.

In order to address this, the workshop started with a background description of the project’s purposes, the evolution of computers and network infrastructures, as well as an introduction to the current state of design objects and architectures related to cloud Computing: NAS systems, servers combined with heater, speculative projects related to such technologies. From this broad list of material we wondered about the lack of artefacts that go beyond purely functionalists goals. Cloud computing systems, especially in the context of people’s context is generally a commodity… hence a need for design interventions to re-open this black box.

Following Eames’ quote “A plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose” (as a definition of design), we asked students to start with a basic activity: to create a map of “elements” related to cloud computing. They had to choose a domain of everyday life (cooking, communication, etc.), begin by compiling “their” elements (material scale, cultural, historical, list people’s motivations, objects used to achieve it, situations, behaviors, etc.), sub-themes.

From this we discussed this ecology of elements and what aspects or user contexts they could focus on. Interestingly, students chose very broad topics: religion, communication, cooking, art performances, animal-computer relationships or music-making.   Based on this map, we then asked students to explore the role of cloud computing into these elements by looking at these questions:

  • How elements of the diagram might work with the cloud? How the cloud may influence each of these elements/the relationships between two of these elements?
  • How relationships between the elements on these maps may evolve with cloud computing?
  • What are the new situations/problems that may arise with the cloud? Implications?
  • What kind of objects will be linked to the cloud? Why? (From products to the role of the product and situations that arise)

The (many) answers to these questions led the groups to highlighting design opportunities to be discussed tomorrow.

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