The Medium is the Metropolis

Oakland Crimespotting by Stamen

Oakland Crimespotting by Stamen

“The age of ubiquitous computation is condensing around us even as you read this.  The various systems throughout a modern city that you probably interact with everyday are beginning to maintain persistent memories of their own use, communicate with each other about their status, and even reconfigure themselves based on your dynamic needs.”

This is the opening statement of VURB, a European framework for policy and design research concerning urban computational systems. VURB was founded in July 2009 by our friend Ben Cerveny, design strategist and data visualization theorist, in collaboration with James Burke (Roomware, Narb) and Non-fiction’s Juha van ‘t Zelfde.

“In the same way that social networks and digital representation have had profound consequences on the cultures of print, music, and video, so too will the urban fabric of the city itself be transformed into an information layered, collaboratively shapable medium.”

The VURB foundation, based in Amsterdam in the Non-fiction office at Museumplein, provides direction and resources to a portfolio of projects investigating how our cultures might come to use networked digital resources to change the way we understand, build, and inhabit cities.

“The modern city is built not just upon physical infrastructure, but also patterns and flows of information that are always growing and transforming. We are only now beginning to develop the tools that allow us to see these patterns of information over huge spans of time and space, or in any local context in realtime.

Just as the industrial age transformed cities with the addition of towers to the skyline and far-reaching transit networks, the digital age will bring new urban-scale infrastructure into  everyday experience.  Where the products of industrial urban evolution were huge physical manifestations that celebrated the magnitude of urban culture, the digital era is instead producing equally impressive manifestations that live in the cloud.”

For more information on VURB, visit .

By Juha — Posted September 6, 2009 — 4,152 Comments

Data as architecture

In the Air is a visualisation of microscopic and invisible agents in Madrid´s air

In the Air is a visualisation of microscopic and invisible agents in Madrid´s air (

With only 6 entries in Google at time of writing, ‘data as architecture’ is either a mistake of my tourist-mind, or it opens a new way of thinking about the convergence of the physical and the virtual. Now that the field of data visualisation is rapidly taking over the world (have a look at the New York Times’ VizLab, Stamen and Visualizar), it is possible to add layers of information to spaces that interact with its occupants.

For De Verdieping, the cultural addon of Trouw, Non-fiction is looking for brave new ideas for data visualisations in the context of architecture, media, art and politics.

Please get in touch with juha at, or just post a comment. Thank you very much in advance.

By Juha — Posted March 2, 2009 — 4,048 Comments