Ambient Commons

Ambient Commons

Attention in the Age of Embodied Information

Malcolm McCullough

ISBN 9780262313476
368 pp.
April 2013

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Ambient Commons

Attention in the Age of Embodied Information

The world is filling with ever more kinds of media, in ever more contexts and formats. Glowing rectangles have become part of the scene; screens, large and small, appear everywhere. Physical locations are increasingly tagged and digitally augmented. Amid this flood, your attention practices matter more than ever. You might not be able to tune this world out. So it is worth remembering that underneath all these augmentations and data flows, fixed forms persist, and that to notice them can improve other sensibilities. In Ambient Commons, Malcolm McCullough explores the workings of attention through a rediscovery of surroundings.

McCullough describes what he calls the Ambient: an increasing tendency to perceive information superabundance whole, where individual signals matter less and at least some mediation assumes inhabitable form. He explores how the fixed forms of architecture and the city play a cognitive role in the flow of ambient information. As a persistently inhabited world, can the Ambient be understood as a shared cultural resource, to be socially curated, voluntarily limited, and self-governed as if a commons? Ambient Commons invites you to look past current obsessions with smart phones to rethink attention itself, to care for more situated, often inescapable forms of information.

Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. Prologue: Street Level
  4. 1. Ambient
  5. 2. Information
  6. 3. Attention
  7. 4. Embodiment
  8. 5. Fixity
  9. 6. Tagging the Commons
  10. 7. Frames and Facades
  11. 8. Architectural Atmospheres
  12. 9. Megacity Resources
  13. 10. Environmental History
  14. 11. Governing the Ambient
  15. 12. Peak Distraction
  16. Epilogue: Silent Commons
  17. Notes
  18. Name Index
  19. Subject Index