November 10, 2018 fkirschner

It’s a historical weekend for this country.  It also marks the end of our two-week long social architecture seminar. Let’s take the opportunity to compile some reading on architectural infrastructure and political implications.

We’ll start with Dietmar Offenhuber’s talk from the 2016 Design and the City symposium in Amsterdam (via titled A Case for Accountability-Oriented Design:

For an economist, a public good is defined as “non-rivalrous” and “non-excludable,” meaning, respectively, that one can consume it without reducing its value to others and that nobody can be excluded from its consumption. While public roads were never truly non-rivalrous (think of traffic jams and potholes), sensor networks and algorithmic settlement systems such as the Bitcoin blockchain provide the tools that can make physical roads excludable by measuring and billing the distance driven, and if necessary enforcing violations, as Scott Rosenberg notes.


The Retune festival has started to make their talks available online. Here’s Evan Roth talking about Landscape, Signal and Empire, and here are his slides.

Something that came up as part of our discussion of what to build was the concept of tiny houses. Here’s Dylan Matthews with a case against tiny houses (on

And not only do tiny houses not make land cheaper, they're a really inefficient use of it. If you have a given piece of land and want to produce the most affordable housing possible out of it, you don't stick a tiny house on there. You build a many-stories-tall residential skyscraper with hundreds of apartments inside it.


It’s not just infrastructure, but the new ways of building infrastructure that is a frequent point of discussion related to new political and social utopia. A lot of it projected on the maker movement. Xue Yuije writes about The Boom and Bust of Makerspaces in China (via bestest Denisa Kera on

After the government’s maker push, the previously quiet makerspaces were flooded with unfamiliar new faces, says Xia, the Mushroom Cloud co-founder. “A lot of investors showed up either to look for projects that they could monetize, or to build their own makerspaces. It was quite weird and overwhelming, because we’re not incubators.” Xia points to a model solar system made out of a shoebox and an electric harp. “Why would investors want to commercialize that? We just made it for fun.”


And finally, let’s look at software development infrastructure, and its governance models (via the 4th chapter of Karl Fogel’s book “Producing  Open Source Software”):

Only when it is clear that no consensus can be reached, and that most of the group wants someone to guide the decision so that development can move on, does she put her foot down and say "This is the way it's going to be." Reluctance to make decisions by fiat is a trait shared by almost all successful benevolent dictators; it is one of the reasons they manage to keep the role.

That’s all for this weekend. Enjoy.