Evil Media Distribution Centre
51 people were invited to choose a so-called grey medium and to write a short text about it. This text was then presented together with the object in a cabinet of curiosities that at the same time evoked associations with a distribution centre. Evil Media Distribution Centre is a response to the book Evil Media (2012) by Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey. In that book the authors argue for a broader notion of media and a deeper, more complex understanding of how these grey media influence the way we behave, think and perceive.
This project has been installed at Transmediale 2013 in Berlin and The Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam. Assisted by Tom Keene & Anna Blumenkranz.
All text contributions can be viewed below these images, or in a new window at http://yoha.co.uk//sites/yoha.co.uk/evilmedia/.
All text contributions can be viewed below or in a new window at http://yoha.co.uk//sites/yoha.co.uk/evilmedia/.
Ansell HYFLEX Work Glove Date of origin:
Ansell, specialist in protection solutions for the following areas: Military, Industrial, Medical, Specialty Markets and Sexual Wellness.
Using the strongest fibre in the world – micro particles; made from a unique polymer-cross section; at EN388 cut level 3 of the European standard – 40% lighter than other ﬁbre; with 440 million sold; this work glove was made to keep hands ergonomically comfortable, especially dexterous and efﬁciently protected for maximum performance. The now mechanical hands can work for hours in places such as supermarkets, and with the glove’s long use in the military, ensure the management structures needed, no matter the individual hands, to stock, sell, stock, repeatedly, the frozen peas lining the refrigerators–the gloves are (exposingly) off.
ASCII Character Set Date of origin:
American National Standards Institute, proposal submitted by Robert William "Bob" Bemer.
The ASCII Character Set is the earliest character/glyph mapping table and internal code page aimed at communication between different data processing equipment and their parts/peripherals. It was one of the earliest "digital commons" because it regulates every party, from software to hardware, system to component, through the requirement to adhere to the same (meta-)language. It has special features like the "escape" character to include different alphabets or control code, which create the ﬂexibility to use various forms of communication within the limitations of a simple basic infrastructure.
Shih-Chieh Ilya Li
Bernays, Propaganda Date of origin:
Disguised as a defence of propaganda, Propaganda (published in 1927) was in fact an ingenious advertisement for public relations by gifted persuader Edward Bernays. Inﬂuenced by Walter Lippman’s ‘engineering of consent’ and the research of Ivan Pavlov, Bernays argues that corporations and governments can shape and manipulate public opinion by appealing to people’s hidden emotional life. Applying the theories of Freud for commercial and political ends, Bernays catalogues his techniques such as PR stunts that become news, celebrity endorsement or the apparently ‘independent study’ that makes ‘groundbreaking research’ to prove a product is good for you. Bernay’s legacy includes the skill of justifying war on the grounds of making the world safe for democracy and making popular the idea of fried bacon for breakfast.
HeHe (Helen Evans, Heiko Hansen)
Bimetallic Strip Date of origin:
John Harrison, for his ﬁrst successful marine chronometers
The bimetallic strip is a thermo-mechanical component used to convert a temperature change into mechanical displacement. Afﬁxed to the balance wheel of early marine chronometers, the bimetallic strip increased the precision of such clocks by compensating for ﬂuctuating temperature and humidity conditions at sea. This solved the long-standing problem of how to accurately determine a ship’s longitudinal position, profoundly inﬂuencing navigation, cartography, the age of sea-borne “discovery” and increasing the predictability and frequency of trans-oceanic trading routes, with over half of the trans-Atlantic slave trade occurring in the 18th Century. Its success also prompted the insurance industry to require the bimetallic strip as a standard speciﬁcation on a ship’s clock for obtaining maritime insurance coverage. It is now commonly used as a switch in thermostats.
Birth Record Date of origin:
Throughout human civilisation human births have been both formally and informally documented.
“PHBF RECORDLAYOUT 2002-2009 Apr 2009 to Mar 2010.xls” is an empty coded ﬁle that uses embedded intelligence to act as a record of births. It must be read in conjunction with records produced by the Ofﬁce of National Statistics during '2002-2009 Apr 2009 to Mar 2010' in order to be properly integrated into Public Health Intelligence in the UK. It is a ﬂat ﬁeld consisting of a single string of 445 characters containing 35 separate ﬁelds. The ﬁle is the mouth of the world for the Ofﬁce of National Statistics' authoritative view of birth and populations.
Clipboard Date of origin:
Similar objects start to appear in the USA patent record in late 19th century. Author/inventor/context:
A clipboard is constructed from a ﬂat board with a spring clip. It is designed to hold paper fast and be hung on a wall. It takes management processes to the workspace. The name ‘clipboard’ emerged in the early 20th Century at the same time as scientiﬁc management. A clipboard implies an authority or governance over a set of related processes allowing data to be collected and passed along the organs of administration. It also acts as a temporary memory in the governance of machines. In some operating systems' Graphics User Interface, the ‘clipboard’ creates short-term data storage between different application processes allowing proprietary software to exchange data.
Compiler, Interpreter Date of origin:
Compilers and interpreters are software that perform a one way encoding of human-readable (source) code into machine executable (binary) code. This process was original purposed with removing the congenital link between the assembly language machine instructions used to deﬁne a piece of software and a single hardware architecture. The compiler’s position within a technical infrastructure enables the abstraction and positioning of code as an operational object. In doing so it creates the conditions for high-level programming languages to become pervasive, which encourage collaborative practices and code sharing, whilst also commodifying code and labour by, amongst other processes, obfuscating and optimising code into portable binary packages.
Copper Wire Date of origin:
9000 BC Author/inventor/context:
Unique to copper is its long mean free path, around 100 atomic spacings at room temperature. This efﬁciency is what makes the transmission of electrical signals possible. In 1913 the level of conductivity of copper became the measure by which the conduction of all metals is compared. Williams Sturgeon proved the conductivity of copper with his Electromagnet of 1824, yet its ability to conduct wealth and empire came with the boom in the copper market, after Michael Faraday created his electrical dynamo in 1831 with its promise of multi-faceted unlimited power. 80% of the copper ever mined is still in circulation, channeling our thoughts and transactions around the earth.
Death Record Date of origin:
Throughout civilisation human deaths have been both formally and informally documented.
The Ofﬁce for National Statistics (ONS) Public Health Mortality File Death Record. From parish registers pre-1837, to centralised paper-based death certiﬁcates, to electronic death records imported into immense relational databases, as an object the death record may be the ﬁnal piece of information about who you were. The electronic death record contains remnants of the romance of the more personal parish register (place of birth, maiden name, occupation, and parents’ occupation). However, the legal requirement to register a death becomes (in the health and social care arena) a depersonalised electronic administrative coding system to monitor population size, scrutinize geographical variation in causes of premature mortality and allocate costs.
Dictionary of Typewriting Date of origin:
The ﬁrst edition of the book was published in 1919. Author/inventor/context:
Maxwell Crooks, Frederick Dawson
The Dictionary of Typewriting provides a system for teaching oneself certain requirements needed for drafting correspondence. The typist of the communication is advised to follow correct etiquette in their letter writing. One part of this is ensuring that the full name and address of the 'addressee' is given without error in order to result in a successful delivery. In arranging this information one should use either the 'block' method or the 'indented method' depending on the length of text. Post Ofﬁce regulations should be noted and complied with such as leaving a clear space for postage stamps. The dictionary covers these points and others considered important in the modern ofﬁce environment.
Dolland Telescope Date of origin:
John Dolland, Peter Dolland
Before the mid-18th Century, Telescopes were very long to overcome the non-uniform refractive properties of the lense glass. This made the telescopes difﬁcult to move and limited their use. The Dolland telescope of 1757 overcame the problem of chromatic aberration, eventually introducing the triple objective, a combination of two convex lenses of crown glass with a concave ﬂint lens between them. Dolland's invention created the market in portable telescopes, the spy satellite of the 18th Century. It radicalised warfare and was fundamental to the visual telegraphs created in post revolutionary France. This telegraph changed the speed of message delivery from 100 miles a day to 400 miles an hour, paving the way for the electric telegraph.
Electrical Substation Date of origin:
1887-1889, Bond Street, London Author/inventor/context:
Sebastien Ziani de Ferranti, Sir Coutts Lindsay, Earl of Crawford, Lord Wantage, the London Electric Supply Corporation (LESCo)
The ﬁrst transforming station was an outhouse at Grosvenor Gallery receiving alternating current (based on Nikola Tesla’s design) from the world’s ﬁrst power station in Deptford. It was destroyed by ﬁre in 1890. Substations enabled mass production and capital growth, routing and distributing power to far-reaching places. The grounded infrastructure assemblage varies in size, housing the switching arrangements of connected hardware and software which control and monitor power consumption. Protected from attack they are entombed within fenced enclosures or purpose-built buildings, or are underground, from where their electric ﬁelds can be faintly detected. Substations are interconnectors within the largest machine, the oldest networked system: ‘the power grid’.
Empson, The Seven Types of Ambiguity Date of origin:
circa 1930 Author/inventor/context:
A book that establishes a pliable typology of forms of ambiguity through the close reading of canonical literary texts. Empson's approach to ambiguity established him as an inﬂuential precursor to various schools of literary criticism and an advocate of the nuanced verbal analysis of writing, necessitated in an era rich in "mental conﬂict" (a second edition was published in 1949). Exploring and exploiting manifestations of such mental conﬂict was of crucial strategic interest to a keen reader of Empson, Jesus James Angleton, head of counter-intelligence at the CIA. Angleton’s interest in the possibilities of ambiguity was less playful.
Etienne-Jules Marey, Sphygmograph Date of origin:
The pulse made visible: the basic technique performed by the sphygmograph, ﬁrst invented as a sphygmometer by Jules Herisson in 1831, improved upon in 1854 by Karl Vierordt adding a paper recording mechanism, and in 1860 by Etienne-Jules Marey, making the device portable. Laced onto the wrist, the instrument consists of an ivory plate placed on the radial artery, a ﬂexible steel spring, and a wooden recording arm that transcribes the pulse onto a moving strip of paper. The pulse as originally detected through touch, an intimate if wayward sensation, was transformed into an empirical and uniform visual record. From the pulse to movement studies to motion pictures, Marey’s work presents a genealogy of organismal life mapped in iterative bits, sensed and reconstituted within the logic of animating mechanisms.
Fingerprint Date of origin:
9000 BC Author/inventor/context:
First explored in the correspondence between William Herschel, then posted in Bengal, and Francis Galton, eugenicist, London in the early 1860s. 'Scientiﬁc' identiﬁcation scheme developed in 1897 by Edward Henry, with Azizul Haque and Hem Chandra Bose of the Calcutta Police.
The ﬁngerprint is by far the most durable and ﬂexible technology of identiﬁcation-control. By indexing an easily recordable and manageable trace of the body to the notion of unique identity, the ﬁngerprint enables any powerful information processing agency (usually a form of state power) to locate, track and verify any individual on the basis of a votive digit. Francis Galton, who pioneered the cult and study of ﬁngerprinting thought of each ﬁngerprint as containing a little world unto itself. These little worlds, labyrinths of whorls and ridges, each contain their inner minotaur, who eats and shits secrets.
RAQS Media Collective
Forms Date of origin:
Ancient times, circa 1662, 1821 Author/inventor/context:
Primitive forms can be traced to ancient times. Later, forms may be identiﬁed with the emergence of statistics in the work of John Gaunt (c.1662). Modern forms appeared in the 19th century to simplify the drafting of legal pleadings. The mechanised production of form documents started in 1821 when Charles Babbage began work on actuarial tables. He is credited with the invention of the modern form document. Electronic forms (see HTML Forms) are a crucial way to post data to webservers and from there to databases. This data capturing exercise traps a signiﬁcant amount of agency as it implies human discipline, bureaucratic control or the redistribution of responsibilities.
Form Validation Rules Date of origin:
Early to mid 1990’s Author/inventor/context:
Validation rules are syntactic and semantic criteria applied to the data in form ﬁelds. These rules are used to police data input to ensure its uniformity and compliance with underlying database formats and constraints. In the case of electronic forms the automated validation subroutines are also designed as a defence mechanism against accidental or malicious user action. These circumventions or failures in code execution have the potential of revealing otherwise hidden attributes of encoded data with its relational structure, embedded assertions or judgements.
Genomic Binary Assignment Map Date of origin:
Heng Li, Bob Handsaker, Alec Wysoker, Tim Fennell, Jue Ruan, Nils Homer, Gabor Marth, Goncalo Abecasis, Richard Durbin, and 1000 Genome Project Data Processing Subgroup
The Binary Assignment Map (BAM) is a highly compressed ﬁle format for storing genomic sequence data, the need for which was prompted by exponential decreases in sequencing time and cost following the 2003 completion of the Human Genome Project. BAM ﬁles store nucleotide values tagged with metadata including nucleic acid fragment of origin and genomic reference site assignment as well as scores for raw data quality and assignment conﬁdence. A binary archive of the human-readable ASCII is then constructed and indexed enabling portions of the alignment map to be selectively expanded in computer memory as needed.
Gurley Flynn, Sabotage, the conscious withdrawal of the workers’ industrial efﬁciency Date of origin:
Published October, 1916, by the IWW publishing bureau, in Cleveland, Ohio. Author/inventor/context:
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World union and wrote this pamphlet in defence of a silk worker who advocated sabotage in a strike. The text is cunning, suggesting that workers simply explicitly do what their bosses do – adulterate food or add chemicals to silks in order to make them heavier or more fragile. Other stratagems include: work to rule; withdrawal of efﬁciency; reproduction strikes; removal of key pieces of machinery; slow work for low pay. Control procedures, the greed and self-interest of capital and the duplicitous reliance on workers are all means that can be turned at the appropriate moment.
Gutta Percha Date of origin:
Primarily introduced to the west in 1843 Author/inventor/context:
Used in various forms by the natives of the Malay Archipelago. John Tradescant brought it from Asia in 1656, though Dr. William Montogmerie was the first to appreciate its potential.
Gutta Percha was a Victorian analogue for plastic. It was used for household items like inkstands and animal ﬁgures after introduction at the 1851 Great Exhibition. In 1845 the Gutta Percha Company was established to trafﬁc in this commodity. Forty years later, Gutta Percha laid the foundation of transcontinental communications as the material insulating the ﬁrst trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. This largely unseen material made the fantasy of a global telegraph network possible. Vestiges of The Gutta Percha Co. exist today. Vodafone acquired a descendent of the company, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, in Aug 2012.
Joon Ian Wong
Hardware Dongle Date of origin:
A hardware dongle is the materialized instruction component of a software program which is attached to a computer to limit, extend, or modulate the functions and features of a certain program. Proprietary software such as anti-virus or graphic design programs often used dongles to identify authorized licenses via the hardware dongle. Later, when the need for authorization lessens, the dongle become a means for storage or alternative communication methods, like radio.
Shih-Chieh Ilya Li
Hilbert Space-Filling Curve Date of origin:
David Hilbert deﬁned this fractal object in 1891, one year after Giuseppe Peano discovered the remarkable existence of space-ﬁlling curves that visit every point of a plane. The Hilbert curve is one such entity: it wiggles and twists, yet never intersects with itself; through iteration, it maps all the points of a line onto all the points of a space. The curve’s space-ﬁlling properties permit the miniaturisation of electronic components (for example, mobile phone antennas). Its mapping from one to more dimensions also preserves locality. This characteristic favours the successful application of the curve to computing, e.g. to database analysis, data compression and image processing. The Hilbert Curve constructs a fractal order that generally guarantees the spatial proximity of data, while also preserving their one-dimensional sequentiality.
M. Beatrice Fazi
Hollerith Punch Card Date of origin:
A data storage medium used in 19th and 20th Centuries. Punch cards were made of thin cardboard with holes punched manually or mechanically. A 96 column punch card developed by IBM in the 1970s stored up to 64 bytes of data and weighed 2.4g. Thus, 1GB of data would weigh 40.265 tons. When deployed for the US census in 1890, punch cards reduced the length of data evaluation to one year instead of ten. Ever since, an entire nation could be ﬁtted into holes. Throughout the 1930s IBM supplied Hitler's regime with punch cards and tabulation equipment, ensuring that Jews could be traced and eliminated by the Nazis.
HTML Forms Date of origin:
First iterations 1993/5 Author/inventor/context:
“HTML 2.0” by the HTML Working Group (1995)
A form is a section of a document that has form controls, such as text ﬁelds, buttons, checkboxes, range controls, or ﬁle selectors. A user generally "completes" a form by modifying its controls and by providing data that can then be sent to the server for further processing (e.g. returning the results of a search or calculation). Forms can perform login tasks, upload ﬁles, autocomplete search queries based on a dictionary or database, and are widely used on social networking platforms for logging user performance and activity. As web forms interface both access and input mechanisms to digital databases, they are prone to various types of malicious usage and exploits.
ISO Shipping Container Corner Date of origin:
Keith W. Tantlinger / Malcolm McLean
Patents for shipping containers with reinforced corners, which McLean made available to the ISO through the issue of a royalty-free lease, enabled modularised cargo with a considerable reduction in a ship’s load and unload time, leading directly to a global decline in the need for longshoreman. Corner castings (ISO 1161:1984) combined with the Twistlock system meant that crane operators could open and close stacked containers automatically at a distance. What had cost around $6 a ton to load, with the introduction of modularised containers, cost only 16 cents a ton. McLean also invented a way to lift patients from stretchers on to hospital beds, though his opinion of hospital corners is unknown.
Konica U-BIX 170Z Date of origin:
The photocopier allows for quick and cheap reproduction of documents and visual material and is widely used in governmental and educational institutions as well as in businesses. As such it is quintessential to the principles of ease and efﬁciency characterising the post-modern workplace. Operating the machine can however imply monotonous work reminiscent of the industrial age and is often done by interns and secretaries in spaces that isolate its sound and fumes from the rest of the workplace, manifesting a division of labour thought to have been abolished by the electronic age. In public places access to photocopiers tends to be limited by a code to prevent excessive use.
Koseki Family Register Date of origin:
Initial traces in Fifth Century. The nationwide Koseki system, kogo nenjaku started just after taika no kaishin (646). Author/inventor/context:
The family register, known as Koseki () in Japan, is a system of documents in which all members of nation states or communities register by family units. This is a uniquely East Asian system and can be found at different times in China, Japan and Korea. Koseki started in Japan in the seventh century to keep all family records of birth, death, marriage and expatriation in order to impose a tax, military service and other civic services. The family register system is still active in Japan as a central state apparatus for maintaining patriarchal society based on family genealogies.
LEO Algorithm (Lyon’s Electronic Ofﬁce) Date of origin:
J. Lyon & Co, English Catering Firm, John Simmons
In the early 20th Century, women poured into the centrally supplied, 250 strong shops of the Lyon's & Co. Tea company. They were safe houses, where liberated women could sit in the vicinity of strange men and eat cake and sip tea. With 64 tubes of mercury and 5,000 thermionic valves, the Lyons Electronic Ofﬁce became the world's ﬁrst business computer, automating the consumption of confectionery from Thursday, November 29th 1951 when a ﬂock of clerks, the order processors and fact checkers handling the data before calculation, received their ﬁnal pay packet. The LEO algorithm recites, comprises and scales these practices as they are recorded, stored and processed.
Alexandra Soﬁe Jönsson
Lions' Commentary on UNIX 6th Edition, with Source Code Date of origin:
John Lions, photocopied book
In 1969 Bell Labs employees including Thompson, Ritchie, Kernighan, McIlroy, Lesk and Ossanna wrote the Unix operating system in assembly language. By 1973 it had been recoded in 'C' by Kernighan and Ritchie. Lions' Commentary was the Unix kernel documentation approved for use outside Bell Labs. The 6th Edition Unix source code was permitted for classroom use, but when Unix Version 7 was announced in 1979, the license for classroom use of the book was withdrawn. Thousands of computer science students then made and reviewed photocopies, meeting after hours to discuss the commentary. Duplicates spread across the world.
Derek Shaw (Southend-on-sea Linux Users Group)
Logical Framework Date of origin:
Leon J. Rosenberg for the United States Agency for International Development
This is a management tool originally used in the design, monitoring and evaluation of international development projects. It now pervades as a system of planning and control across the NGO sector. Simply represented within a matrix made up of programme speciﬁcs coupled with indicators of success. It treats events as static and closed systems, framing the analysis through a linear structure of cause and effect. It is best used in conjunction with ﬁnancial systems where all input can be accounted for. Logical Framework impacts on the capacity to understand social change by claiming that the future corresponds to that which was planned.
Matrix Manipulation Date of origin:
China ~ 300BC, Germany 1693 Author/inventor/context:
Unknown, Leibniz; basic to most scientiﬁc ﬁelds
A matrix is a table of numbers or mathematical expressions arranged in rows and columns. Manipulations, of adjacency matrices, are basic to graph theory (as used in social networks), of sparse matrices to data mining, and of stochastic matrices to PageRank. Amenable to direct or iterative computation, their ﬁnite elements describe a manipulable world. Relationships and their transformations expressed in matrix mathematics drive computer graphics, weather prediction and futures trading. The ﬁrst form of quantum mechanics (Heisenberg) used matrices to describe combinations of states. While matrix manipulation is now a grey middle layer, it can kill since drone warfare is driven by a disposition matrix.
Microwave Date of origin:
1864 predicted - James Clerk Maxwell 1888 produced - Heinrich Hertz 1894 demonstrated - Jagadish Chandra Bose 1897 waveguide predicted - Lord Rayleigh 1920 propagated - George Southgate 1939 microwave radar - Harry Boot and John Randall 1945 microwave oven - Percy Spencer Author/inventor/context:
Cellular structures such as humans act as antennas to microwaves. As the waves hit, small electrical currents are excited and go to ground through any possible path, with a magnitude in inverse proportion to the path's impedance. Hormones, antibodies, and neurotransmitters work along electrochemical pathways through ion exchanges, regulating synaptic voltage potentials and neuron ﬁrings. The grounding of extraneous microwavegenerated currents disrupt the 86 billion sites of such millivolt activity in the human body and accumulate as system noise.
Mobile Phone Tracker Date of origin:
Not known Author/inventor/context:
Shenzhen LIDA Science & Technology Company of China
The mobile phone tracker is a SIM card device based on GPRS and SIM compatible communications software. This card is a large capacity (8GB) SIM chip, equipped with a fast decoder program working on data directly in its memory space. When this card is inserted into a cellphone, 5-8 minutes after inputting the tracked one's phone number, it can decode their contacts' pass codes and PIN codes, automatically saving them in the phone. All conversations and SMS can be intercepted, listened to or recorded. The advantages of this device is to make full use of mobile phones, adding a needed function, whilst remaining easy to carry and being safe to use.
Hu Jie Ming
Modaﬁnil Date of origin:
Neurophysiologist Michel Jouvet at the Lafon Laboratories in France
Initially designed to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, sleep apnea and shift work sleep disorder, Modaﬁnil's "off-label" use as a cognitive stimulant, and widespread use by soldiers and students alike, make it one of the most popular nootropic (performance enhancing) drugs purchased from internet pharmacies. The neurochemical substrates of modaﬁnil are unresolved, but it works by modulating certain monoamine neurotransmitters. Modaﬁnil assists in meeting the requirement to grasp the next window of opportunity, stay alert, be attentive, and memorize more and more sensory data.
Tony David Sampson
Network Diagram Date of origin:
Historically, this diagram came out of military research on the survivability of communications under simulated attack. Subsequently, it was widely used to promote distributed organisations from businesses to activist networks. Politically, it mapped a movement from patriarchy/royalty to peer-to-peer. Poetically, it prophesised stretched-thin bodies and hive minds, but also a silence about all that white space in there. Formally, these lines and dots were similar enough to banal, mostly-functioning networks such as roads and electricity, that they obscured how much work all this was, and that we could think of each link as radically unique, just as each node is.
Oracle 11g Date of origin:
The Oracle 11g relational database, the latest version of the relational databases produced by Oracle Corporation since 1977, pervades commercial, business and government life. The device aggregates business logics, physical and organisational architectures, and practices of security, transaction, identity, sharing and management, amidst an opulent array of options, adds-ons, interfaces and modules. Perhaps more than any of the 100 or so currently available relational databases, Oracle 11g sprawls across media, corporations and bureaucracies, queuing events, reports, decisions and value chains into pools of writing and reading processes.
Organisation Chart Date of origin:
Mid 1750’s Author/inventor/context:
Scott Daniel Craig McCallum, though the French Encyclopédie published one of the ﬁrst organizational charts between 1751 and 1772.
The organisation chart is a diagram visually depicting the structure of an organization and the hierarchical relationships between its parts. As a managerial aid, it was ﬁrst developed in the USA at the end of the nineteenth century by Scott Daniel Craig McCallum, a carpenter, designer, engineer and manager. Born at the onset of management thought, the organisation chart changes with the changing structure of organizations to encompass teams, networks, and various other newer formations.
Pallet Date of origin:
Second half of Twentieth Century Author/inventor/context:
Pallets come in many dimensions and form of construction according to territory, type of load, transport system, standards setting body and the machinery with which they are handled. They may be made of both treated and untreated hard and soft wood as well as of plastics and metals. Deriving from US Navy Logistics technologies in WWII they are fundamental to the global modularisation of transport and handling. Due to their construction materials wooden pallets are also able to carry pathogens such as e.coli or to release the chemicals used to cleanse them into the goods, such as foodstuffs, that they may be carrying, suggesting that in order for something to act predictably as a standard object it requires constant work of stabilization.
Paper Shredder Date of origin:
Adolf Ehinger, Germany
The paper shredder was supposedly developed to destroy anti-Nazi materials, and it was modelled on a hand-cranked pasta maker. After the war, institutions started buying the device, and it has ﬁgured prominently in scandals such as Iran-Contra and Enron. Shredding is today promoted as a remedy against information fraud, and as such may be grouped among the paranoia-inducing devices that proliferate in information societies. The shredder also testiﬁes to the futility of deletion in the current context: most data can not be destroyed with the aid of a shredder, as it lives on inaccessible machines in unknown locations. When used as a footrest, the shredder may eat your shoelace, returning a modicum of physicality to a screen-centred life.
Pedestrian Barrier Date of origin:
Not known Author/inventor/context:
Qingdao Yongchang Suye Co., Ltd.
The Pedestrian Barrier, like other portable security fences, is used for general crowd control and demarcation and can be ﬁnished in several ways: painted and hot dipped galvanized or hot galvanized only. It has a ﬁxed leg that can be delivered to site and assembled without any additional fastenings, and arguably typiﬁes the “solid mid-sized objects” that philosopher Ray Brassier sees as deﬁned by our common sense understanding of the world. Once deployed, it produces both isolation and kinship in other objects depending on which side of the barrier those objects lie. Its manufacturers also provide an OEM service.
Personal Identiﬁcation Number (PIN) Date of origin:
James Goodfellow, UK Patent No.1,197,183 – 2 May 1966. John Shepherd-Barron, inventor of the Automated Telling Machine, 1966.
First used at the Enﬁeld branch of Barclay’s Bank in 1967, with mildly radioactive cheques, serving the purpose that would later be ﬁlled by a bank card, the PIN is characterized in terms of its four-digit length by being that of the numbers that could, in an experimentally signiﬁcant sense, be reliably remembered by Mrs Shepherd-Barron.
Post Code Date of origin:
Evolved from postal districts ﬁrst created in the 1850s into a machine-readable code, its origins are located in the history of postal mechanisation and automation.
A series of alphanumeric characters included in a postal address to help increase the speed and reduce the cost of mail delivery. Such codes are also used for proﬁling of housing price and area trends and to designate destinations in route planning software, as well as being used by gangs to delineate territory and as the lowest level of aggregation in census records. In the UK, post code data is stored, maintained and periodically updated in the Post Code Address File database, along with others used for commercial purposes.
Post-It Date of origin:
April 6, 1980 Author/inventor/context:
The glue on Post-it notes was discovered accidentally by 3M chemist Spencer Silver in 1968. The product was developed and marketed by Silver’s colleague, Arthur Fry. Found on ofﬁce and document surfaces, Post-it notes are paper rectangles of assorted sizes and colours with a modest strip of low-tack adhesive across the top of the back of the sheet. Half thoughts, soft commands, document amendments, and bits of data unworthy of inclusion in digital ﬁles are the typical communicative content. Post-it notes exist in a grey area between the delivery of meaning and the redundant clutter decorating the objects of human frustration and boredom.
Critical Art Ensemble (CAE)
Project MAC – Time Sharing Computer Date of origin:
circa 1930 Author/inventor/context:
Christopher Strachey, John McCarthy
In 1961 Project MAC turned a batch-processing IBM 709 into a time-sharing computer. This is a technique where a single machine procedurally serves many people and processes. It reinvented the relationship between user and computer, turning batch-processing machines into a communications medium for the ﬁrst time. Robert Fano, director at the time, said this technique could create an intellectual assistant for everyone and envisioned large computing stations, like those that generate electricity holding vast libraries of shared code. Computing would become a utility like electricity, water, gas, ﬂowing into every home and workplace, forming the glue that sticks us together in the 21st Century.
Project Management Date of origin:
Henry Gantt, DuPont Corporation, UK government and others
Project Management is a set of tools to structure decision-making within a time-limited activity towards a speciﬁc goal. It was recognized as a discipline in the 1950s, alongside the rise of management theory. Pioneered in the construction, engineering and defence ﬁelds, it is now a staple of ofﬁce and government life, and an industry in its own right. Methods like PRINCE2 and the Critical Path Method come complete with training courses and guidebooks, while software projects have spawned new approaches like Agile Project Management and Scrum. Qualiﬁcations in these are requisite for certain jobs. In a professionalized culture, all activities repackaged as projects can be announced, controlled and measured according to project management principles.
Prozac Date of origin:
1974 (approved for public use in 1987) Author/inventor/context:
Eli Lilly and Company
Prozac is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. It was marketed as a means to help the alienated and the marginalized sculpt their less than desirable personalities, habits, and dispositions into socially acceptable ones designed for maximum strength linkage to work and family. With prior drugs, a user could control depression and anxiety, but the same inept and unappealing self remained in place. With pharmacological engineering à la Prozac, it was claimed that the client would be “better” in every sense of the term.
Critical Art Ensemble (CAE)
Ptrace( ) Date of origin:
Seventh Edition Unix, Bell Laboratories
An operating system call, ﬁrst implemented in Version 7 of AT&T UNIX in 1979, which allows one piece of software (the parent) to observe, control, examine and alter any aspect of another process running on the same operating system. The ptrace call is commonly used to debug running code and can be considered as an active language, inﬁltrating and interrogating, snooping on and injecting code into living, running processes; an active language projecting a potential process promiscuity within the machine. Ptrace shifts the site of execution and is nowadays commonly viewed as an unnecessary security risk.
Radio Wave Date of origin:
Big Bang Author/inventor/context:
Waves underpin information society as an invisible and under-theorised force. Radio waves are as invisible as they are ubiquitous. Maxwell's equations form the basis of much of science and technology, describing thermodynamic laws, optics, electric circuity. The radio wave also occupies the gap between the singular wave and the ﬁeld, since there can be no wave without ﬁelds and vice versa. The ﬁeld as a relation over distance through invisible forces has become a basic epistemological assumption. Vilém Flusser once said 'electromagnetism equals Bolshevism', yet this potential of unlimited ﬂows and communications is always held back by regrettable social relations.
Random Numbers Date of origin:
More than a 1000 years ago Author/inventor/context:
Random numbers are the product of computational mechanisms aiming to generate patternless integers (whole numbers without successive correlation between them) or indeterminate outputs. From the throwing of dice in ancient Sumeria and Egypt and the use of yarrow stalks in the I Ching, and the methods of tossing coins, shufﬂing and picking cards out of hats, and from the construction of tables of random numbers since 1927 to computer-generated random sequences or pseudorandom numbers and quantum (or indeterminately) generated random sequences, these computational mechanisms are the generalized operators of economic, political and social decision-making in our programming culture. As John von Neumann said, “Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits, is in a state of sin”.
Regular Expressions Date of origin:
1950s, 1960s Author/inventor/context:
Stephen implemented it within the QE editor. Cole Kleene. Ken Thompson.
Regular Expressions (regex) are programming language tools for parsing text through a user-determined pattern. They developed from automata-based methods of classifying formal languages and are present in all programming languages and many text editors & IDEs. From the perspective of a regex any corpus of characters in unicode or ASCII can be searched as 'text'. The deﬁnition of 'text' is legitimately expanded to encompass material from literature, to genomes, to compiler code. Knowledge of such a corpus's entirety is rendered unnecessary given the brute-force manner with which a regex determines matches and relations.
Resonant Circuits Date of origin:
Felix Savary in 1826. Early 1890s practical applications.
In the presence of an electromagnetic wave, a resonant circuit converts between magnetic and potential energy in a pendulum-like motion. If the wave happens to oscillate at the natural frequency of vibration of the circuit, it starts a vicious cycle of exponential increase. Such vicious cycles are present in the shattering of a glass by an opera singer or the collapsing of a bridge by a particular earthquake vibration. Sonic, seismic and electromagnetic waves whose frequency is in syntony with the receiving body put escalating forces in motion. Such is the magic behind a tuning dial: a tiny body, adjusting its resonant frequency to one particular radio wave to vibrate in tune, allowing it to escalate beyond all other frequencies.
Olga Panadés Massanet
Roomba Date of origin:
Introduced in 2002 Author/inventor/context:
A 13” diameter, 3.5" high, autonomous vacuum cleaner equipped with sensors that detect obstacles, dirt, recharging points, airﬂow, malfunction and impassable staircases. A central processing unit controls power to fans, brushes, an audio speaker, motors, and wheels. It employs an algorithmic cleaning pattern that spirals, follows walls and randomly selects direction. If a Roomba gets stuck, humans are instructed to “Lift and move Roomba to a new location” by a ﬁrm yet comforting female robot voice. Designed to ﬁght dirt and grime, they are built by iRobot, one of the largest manufacturers of military robotics in the US.
Shift Register - 7400 Series Date of origin:
The Shift Register is an early form of computer memory that dates back to the Colossus computer of the 1940s. In the 1960s they were popularized by the Texas Instruments 7400 series of logic chips which introduced the familiar ‘black box’ Integrated Circuit to the electronics industry. Set by a timed sequence of electrical pulse, Shift Registers are simultaneously a mathematical concept, algorithm and hardware chip entangled within computational systems. A core component of digital logic, they control arrays of actuators, encode and decode signals, act as glue between parallel and serial transmissions, multiplex and delay output, reduce wire count in circuits, and store and distribute data to peripheral devices or individual sections of a Central Processing Unit.
Signiﬁcance Tests Date of origin:
Ronald Aylmer Fisher
A statistical method to assess the likelihood of the results of an experiment being due to chance. Fisher proposed it as an informal index for use as part of non-quantiﬁable processes of drawing conclusions from observations. It calculates the probability of obtaining the experimental results under the assumption that the item tested, for example a new treatment, has no effect. Results within the arbitrary but now widely standard 5% cut-off are typically considered statistically signiﬁcant opening doors for publication. A review found 95% of articles in psychology journals claim statistical signiﬁcance. Such publication behaviour is statistically improbable and, as meta-analysis conﬁrms, generates signiﬁcant levels of false positives, i.e. the claim that a new treatment works when in fact it doesn't.
Social Media Analytics Tools Date of origin:
Social Media Analytics Tools are measurement services that provide user data to social media marketers, government institutions, and corporate brands. In 2006, Radian6 was the ﬁrst social listening tool to track mention of brands across the web and in 2007 it became standard practice for Facebook Insights to allow brand pages to access the data of its users. Key data points available to these organizations include: location, email, age, race, birthplace, current location, frequency of use of a particular social channel (where and when) and identity of followers. All of this information is monitored in real-time.
Stanley Milgram, Postal Experiments Date of origin:
An attempt to ﬁnd patterns of social connection between people by asking them to forward a letter to a named person. Participants passed the letters on to others known to them bearing geographic, familial or professional proximity to the addressee. It lead to the conclusion of a six degree separation between two strangers. This experiment reconﬁrmed the sociometry of Jacob Moreno in the 1930s and subtends social network analysis today. Its signiﬁcance is that: 1) it conﬂates human relations with communication channels, postal in the experiment, and internet in today's context; 2) it shows that there is a pattern one can follow to understand social relations, and by which people can predict and engineer certain social phenomenon.
State Transition Diagrams Date of origin:
1949, amongst others Author/inventor/context:
Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver
State transition diagrams are a visual formalism for representing all possible states for computational systems (and the rules for transition between such states). Originally devised in relation to ﬁnite state machines, a variety of automaton, they facilitate the modeling of problems as computational issues. By translating actions into ﬁnite sets of steps (or states) with a condition for the transition to the next step (or state), the simple tasks of everyday life can more easily be turned into complex algorithms that encourage people to think like computers and the contingencies of interaction transformed into an issue of interface design.
Strowger Automatic Telephone Switch Date of origin:
10th March 1891 Author/inventor/context:
Almon Brown Strowger
Almon Brown Strowger was born in Penﬁeld near Rochester, New York. An undertaker by profession, he invented the world’s ﬁrst automatic telephone exchange and, on the 10th March 1891, patented a device in which the on-off current is pulsed corresponding to the digits 0-9. The Strowger or step-by-step switch made it possible to call someone directly instead of going through a listening human operator and thus gave rise to the conceptualization of modern telephone networks. He ﬁrst invented the device to reroute calls from his competitor’s wife who ran the local exchange putting all the business of the dead through to her husband. His switches were in service until the 1990s when they were replaced by digital technologies.
System for the Conveyance of Speedy Intelligence Date of origin:
Demonstrated to the Royal Society in 1684 Author/inventor/context:
Hooke's system is an early instance of telegraphy, that is, writing at a distance. An apparatus of poles and hooks allowed special characters to be hung and revealed, which could be observed over many miles using another 17th century invention, the telescope. In principle, a series of stations could convey messages over hundreds of miles at an unheard of speed. This optical telegraphy required not just clear and unobstructed line of sight, but a disciplined and attentive chain of observer/operators. It was never implemented by Hooke or his contemporaries; instead, the ﬁrst functioning optical telegraph system was created in the ﬁrst French Republic in 1794.
Tampon Date of origin:
Digital tampon: developed late 1940s, w/ applicator: Patent ﬁled Nov. 19th 1931 Author/inventor/context:
Dr. Judith Esser Mittag, DE/o.b, Dr. Earle Haas, USA/Tampax
The contemporary tampon was put into mass production during the mid-19th century and approved by the American Medical Association in 1945. All tampons have a cord for removal. Some have an additional outer cover to aid insertion and withdrawal (the applicator). Production materials are mainly rayon or rayon/cotton blend, with an applicator in plastic or cardboard with a design similar to a syringe. The outward appearance of tampons is similar between brands with absorbency ratings ranging from 6 to 18 grams. The main difference between brands lies in either axial or radial direction of expansion. Tampons are sold individually-packed for hygienic reasons and should be changed every 4-6 hours once inserted.
Virus Date of origin:
A very long time ago. Author/inventor/context:
First detected and described for biological systems in 1892 by Dmitri Ivanovsky.
A virus is an infectious agent that can only replicate inside a host. Viruses can infect all types of organisms and are found in almost every ecosystem on Earth. Unlike all other biological systems, viruses do not have cells that divide but replicate via infected host cells. Viruses play a fundamental role in evolution - the ability to resist viral attack has sculpted the genomes of all known organisms, from bacteria to humans. Since 1984 the term “virus” is also used to describe a malicious or unwanted computer programme used to gain access to, explore or damage computer systems.
White Shadow Date of origin:
All 3D scanning equipment
In recent years scans started supplementing photography as a means of forensic documentation of crime scenes in the context of criminal cases or those of war crimes and human rights violations. The scans of crime scenes are meant to be viewed digitally, allowing investigators, juries, judges and lawyers to undertake walk and ﬂy-through studies of the relations between objects in space. When printed (in 3D) the results are three-dimensional snapshots whose relation to sculpture is similar to photography’s relation to painting. They are in short: “documentary sculptures”. White shadows are the name for those areas outside the vision capacity of the machine. The bodies of the people in such scenes are rendered as empty shells, constructed from one side due to the perspective of the machine.
X-Ray Date of origin:
November 22 1895 Author/inventor/context:
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
The “X” in X-ray is the semiotic placeholder that its inventor, Röntgen, gave to a new form of technical vision that could pass through the atmosphere and pierce the body to generate shadowy photographic tracings from a distance. The unknown source of this radiant energy was likened to a divine light that comes from the beyond, erasing boundaries between internal and external worlds. However the name stuck and this transcendent visuality was quickly transformed into a technology for the management and control of internal ﬂaws and external threats. Today its penetrating rays have been re-directed to uncover malignancy in ﬂesh, defects in nuclear reactor rods, and terrorists, via airport security screening.
Zero Hour Contract Date of origin:
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (“ACAS”)
Flexibility is the key to survival in these competitive times and the Zero Hour Contract has been developed by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (“ACAS”) for special clients like McDonalds but can be customized for all organizations including the public sector. The Zero Hour contract provides you with the ability to hire and pay employees strictly on an as-needed basis and no more. Designed to maximize the efﬁciency and happiness of employers and employees, the ZHC erases all those empty periods of time when workers twiddle their thumbs on payroll, thereby reducing the risks of lethargy and obesity.
- By tomkeene at 19 Jun 2013 - 3:32pm