Cloud of Cards. The (coming) book

A sneak peek into the coming book that will present and discuss the design process as well as  its results, sorted out from this documentary blog. Design EUROSTANDARD with a new font by NORM.


As announced a few times already, two books in print-on-demand will summarize the overall research Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s), at the term of the design and ethnographic process we went through during almost three years.

Bratton H. B. (2016). The Stack, On Software and Sovereignty


(…). In an account that is both theoretical and technical, drawing on political philosophy, architectural theory, and software studies, Bratton explores six layers of The Stack: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, User.

Each is mapped on its own terms and understood as a component within the larger whole built from hard and soft systems intermingling — not only computational forms but also social, human and physical forces. This model, informed by the logic of the multilayered structure of protocol “stacks”, in which network technologies operate within a modular and vertical order, offers a comprehensive image of our emerging infrastructure and a platform for its ongoing reinvention. (…).


Note: recently published by the MIT Press — as well as quoted as a work in progress by Lucien Langton in a post back in 2015 — comes this book by Prof. Benjamin H. Bratton.

It consists in a comprehensive analysis, both technical and phylosophical of what we could call “The Cloud”, yet what Bratton describes as a world scale “stack” consisting in 6 layers: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, User (and which interestingly is not so distant to our own approach considering the user, the interface, the infrastructure and the territory).

Hu T.-H. (2015). A Prehistory of The Cloud


We may imagine the digital cloud as placeless, mute, ethereal, and unmediated. Yet the reality of the cloud is embodied in thousands of data centers, any one of which can use as much electricity as a midsized town. Even all these data centers are only one small part of the cloud. Behind that cloud-shaped icon on our screens is a whole universe of technologies and cultural norms, all working to keep us from noticing their existence. In this book, Tung-Hui Hu examines the gap between the real and the virtual (sic) in our understanding of the cloud. (…)


Note: while we do not necessarily follow Mr. Hu in all is assertions, we found it very interesting to digg into the potential past of this physical and digital construct (the cloud), even so it obviously mingles its own past with the one of the Internet, and previously with telegraph/telephone lines and railways that served as the initial paths for these “lines”.

Very interesting is also the part that presents the invention of the “user”, coming from an initial idea of sharing a common resource. It indeed seems that the “user” emerged from the ideas and technologies of “time-sharing”, then “multiprocessing”, when a single mainframe computer could remain stuck by a single user’s computations for hours or even days, sometimes for no results (error in the code).

Poetics and Politics of Data, the publication

Note: we’re pleased to see that the publication related to the exhibition and symposium Poetics & Politics of Data, curated by Sabine Himmelsbach at the H3K in Basel, has been released later this summer. The publication, with the same title as the exhibition, was first distributed in the context of the conference Data Traces. Big Data in the Context of Culture and Society that also took place at H3K on the 3rd andf 4th of July. 

The book contains texts by Nicolas Nova (Me, My cloud and I) and myself (Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s). An ongoing Design Research), but also and mainly contributions by speakers of the conference (which include the american theorician Lev Manovitch, curator Sabine Himmelsbach and Prof. researcher from HGK Basel Claudia Mareis) and exhibiting artists (Moniker, Aram Bartholl, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Jennifer Lyn Morone, etc.)



The book serves both as the catalogue of the exhibition and the conference proceedings. Due to its close relation to our subject of research (the book speaks about data, we’re interested in the infrastructure –both physical and digital– that host them), we’re integrating the book to our list of relevant books. The article A short history of Clouds, by Orit Halpern is obviously of direct signifiance to our work.

Clog (2012). Data Space



Note: we mentioned this “bookazine”, Clog, in our bibliography (Clog, (2012). Data Space, Clog online), at the very early stages of our design-research project. It is undoubtedly one of the key references for this project, mostly related to thinking, territory, space and therefore rather oriented toward the architecture field. It will certainly serve in the context of our workshop with the architects (in collaboration with ALICE) next week, but not only, as it states some important stakes related to data in general. This very good and inspiring magazine is driven by a pool of editors that are Kyle May (editor in chief, we invited him as a jury member when we –fabric | ch with Tsinghua University– organized a call during 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale, curtated by Beatrice Galilee), Julia van den Hout, Jacob Reidel, Archie Lee Coates, Jeff Franklin.

The edition is unfortunately sold out. Reason why I assembled several images from the bookazine (for the research sake) in a pdf that can be downloaded here (60mb).

Mejias, U. A. (2013). Off the Network, The University of Minnesota Press.



Note: Off the Network, a book by Ulises Ali Mejias that is interesting to read when it comes to objectify and question the network paradigm. Beyond the praise about participation and inclusiveness that was widely used by network advocates and now also by marketing companies, Off the Network brings a critical voice and addresses the centralization, or in some other cases the “nodocentrism” that is at work through many global online services, so as the commodification of many aspects of our lives that comes with them.

While we are looking for alternative “architectures” for cloud infrastructure, nodes and services, this is a “dissonant” point of view to take into account and a book that we are integrating into the I&IC bibliography.