[iDC] Introduction

Jonah Brucker-Cohen jonah at coin-operated.com
Sat Jul 1 19:42:40 EDT 2006

Hi all -

I just wanted to write and introduce myself, although from the 
archive it appears that I already know a few people on this list. 
Still, Trebor asked me to write in and say a few words about my 
background, work, etc. as it relates to the "urban context" so 
hopefully I can add to the ongoing discussion here.

I'm currently finishing up my PHD dissertation in the Networking and 
Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG) at Trinity College Dublin on 
the topic of "Deconstructing Networks". I'm interested in networks in 
both their metaphorical and contextual relationship to popular 
culture and every day use/experience.  My work attempts to critically 
challenge and subvert accepted perceptions of network interaction and 

The primary research done in our research group is on developing new 
network protocols - such as 4G or "Ad-Hoc" networking systems that 
allow for dynamically reconfigurable networks to exist within densely 
populated urban centers. Basically, the protocols treat each 
individual device as a routing physical layer, thus these types of 
networks (in opposition to traditional cell phone systems for 
instance) alleviate the need for a centralized broadcast "tower" 
controlled by Telecom corporations.

This 'decentralized' approach to the infrastructure puts the control 
back into the individual device / and its owner and thus "disrupts" 
the typical commerce model of telecommunications control. So for 
instance, if I wanted to make a call to someone who was outside of my 
"radio range" (a typical 802.11 radio range would be about 30 meters 
with an "off the shelf" consumer model router), a 4G system would 
route my call through people's devices (otherwise known as "hops") 
until the call reached its final destination. Thus in an urban center 
this would work the best since for this type of network to work, it 
requires a high population density.

In my own work, I've been developing projects over the past few years 
that examine annd challenge how networks are used and disseminated 
across multiple technological platforms, communities, and modes of 
social engagement. In particular, I'm interested in how challenging 
these accepted uses and protocols can result in profound, 
interesting, and different ways of communicating between people in 
both local and disparate communities.

A collaborative project utilizing this 4G ad-hoc networking 
technology that I worked on with Katherine Moriwaki is called 
"Umbrella_net". This project examines how these networks can be 
linked to "chance", "coincidental", and situated occurances in urban 

UMBRELLA.net is a project exploring transitory or ad-hoc networks and 
their potential for causing sudden, striking, and unexpected 
connections between people in public and urban space. The project 
focuses on the theme of "networks of coincidence", or how shared, yet 
disconnected activities can be harnessed into collective experiences. 
UMBRELLA.net examines how the haphazard and unpredictable patterns of 
weather and crowd formation can act as an impetus to examine 
coincidence of need networks. In particular, when umbrellas are 
opened and closed in public space. The project will attempt to 
highlight these informal relationships by creating a system of ad-hoc 
network nodes that can spontaneously form and dissipate based on 
weather conditions.

URL:  http://www.undertheumbrella.net


Another example of a project of mine that directly relates to the 
connection between architectural space and its "virtual" counterpart 
or web space is "Alerting Infrastructure!" .


 From the project description:

"The project is a physical hit counter that translated hits to the 
website of an arts center into interior damage of the physical 
building. The focus of the piece is to amplify the concern that 
physical spaces are slowly losing ground to their virtual 
counterparts. The amount of structural damage to the building 
directly correlates to the amount of exposure and attention the 
website gets, thus exposing the physical structure's temporal 
existence. With each new virtual hit, the jackhammer slowly destroys 
the walls of the physical building. Since websites and virtual 
interfaces can garner an almost unlimited amount of "virtual hits" 
without showing any visible signs of decay or extended use, the 
project attempts to illustrate a fundamental reversal in role of 
physical spaces losing importance and relevance to their virtual 

More of my projects can be seen here:


Anyways, I just wanted to write in and introduce myself and my work. 
I'm looking forward to the discussions that follow.



blog:  http://www.coin-operated.com
projects and work: http://www.coin-operated.com/projects

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