Category Archives: publications & research


Indexical Design Conference

Symposium curated at Northeastern University. Indexical Design addresses the difference between data and evidence. The symposium explores the physical trace and its role for making sense of the world. We will investigate the different scientific, aesthetic, and rhetoric techniques for making traces “speak.” Information visualization is traditionally concerned with the symbolic languages of charts, maps, and diagrams. Its underlying data are also symbolic representations: the results of processes encoding traces and events. At the same time, traces such as tree rings, fingerprints, or ice core…

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Cryptographic Heritage 

Figure 1: the number on the lower edge is the public bitcoin address, which is connected to an unique, publicly accessible, but immutable entry in the Bitcoin blockchain. Design: Azra Aksamija The following is paraphrased from a recent medium article on the subject: The cryptographic heritage project, led by Dietmar Offenhuber, explores best practices how to use Bitcoin and blockchain technology to store evidence of cultural heritage under threat in ethnic and nationalistic conflicts. To give an example — in nationalistic conflicts, cultural heritage such as libraries,…

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Manila Improstructure

The project investigates and documents the social and creative practices around the electricity grid and the street lighting system of Manila, Philippines. Dietmar Offenhuber, Katja Schechtner, Julia Nebrija In cooperation with TU Vienna, Urban Design Institute Students: Anna Giffinger, Antonella Amesberger, Julius Alexander Fink, Konstantin Jagsch, Lisa Jindra, Matthias Dorfstetter, Michael Egger, Michael Wallinger, Sophie Wuerzer; Faculty advisors: Markus Tomaselli, Michael Surböck Video: Antonia Amesberger, Michael Egger, Konstantin Jagsch, Dietmar Offenhuber Manila Improstructure is part of the the third instance of the sensing place /…

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Decoding the City

an edited volume on data-driven urbanism together with Senseable City Lab Director Carlo Ratti, has just reached the printshop and will be published in German in the prestigious Swiss architecture theory series “Bauwelt Fundamente,” which has includes the German translations of iconic texts from the likes of Le Corbusier, Venturi & Scott Brown, or Jane Jacobs. The book focuses on research approach of the Senseable City Lab and includes essays from guest authors including Fabien Girardin, Luis Betttencourt (Santa Fe Institute), Andres Sevtsuk (City Form…

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Infrastructure legibility

After one year in review, the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society has published my recent study of design issues in citizen feedback systems. The full text of the paper can be found here: Offenhuber, D. 2014. “Infrastructure Legibility–a Comparative Analysis of open311-Based Citizen Feedback Systems.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, March. doi:10.1093/cjres/rsu001. During the past decade, most large US cities have implemented non-emergency incident reporting systems via telephone helplines, websites and more recently, mobile applications. Using data from systems operating in…

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Accountability Technologies

Tools for Asking Hard Questions “The basic need of civil society to live in responsibly planned and managed cities, to be involved in the planning process, or to at least be informed about it, has become a renewed focal point of debate in the past years. While the incipient criticism of the institutionalized and oft-unquestioned decision- making chain of urban planning was accompanied by a basic struggle for more say and participation in the 1970s, the varieties of participation, the technical possibili- ties of knowledge…

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Inscribing a Square: Urban Data as Public Space

After several months of work, we finally made it. The book on our last year’s Symposium, Sensing Place / Placing Sense has been published and is available from Springer. In his1965 movie Alphaville, Jean-Luc Godard takes us to a city regulated and controlled by the omniscient computer “Alpha 60” based on principles of logic and reason. Allegedly, Godard originally intended to name his movie Tarzan versus IBM (Darke, 2005). As of 2012, this working title seems more pertinent than ever. The past year was marked by…

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Collection activity of the Cooperative, orange: collection with handcart, blue: collection with truck

forage tracking

The Forage Tracking project is mapping the tacit knowledge and spatial organization of informal recyclers in downtown Saõ Paulo. We used location-detecting hardware and software to investigate how the Catadores, informal recyclers, find and collect material in the city. We are also developing participatory platforms that will help them to organize their activities and connect the cooperative to the citizens. In our work with the recycling cooperative COOPAMARE, we try to increase visibility and understanding of the service they provide to the city. Project homepage…

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Mapping the Archive

Evelyn Münster, Jaume Nualart, Dietmar Offenhuber, Moritz Stefaner, Gerhard Dirmoser This project presents the results of an interdisciplinary investigation of the Prix Ars Electronica archive in the form of interactive and static visualizations of information. The archive is examined on three levels: total submissions since 1987 as a quantitative analysis, the jury process as a social network analysis, and the winning projects and their context in accordance with art scholarship. The project is a collaboration between the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. and Ars Electronica. More…

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