thinking about and working on

  • working with my collaborators Matthew Battles, Jeff Goldenson, Shannon Mattern, and Jessica Yurkofsky, on The Library Test Kitchen Cookbook: a massively multi-authored recipe book for library experimentation and innovation, The cookbook seeks to be a state-of-the-art 21st century Whole Earth Catalogue for the world of libraries and learning spaces that inventories emerging practices, surveys new policies and tools, documents stories of success and failure, and spearheads a new era of experimentation in the design of knowledge and learning spaces.
  • gathering materials and working out aspects of the argument of a large-scale book on the artist/designer/design educator BRUNO MUNARI; I’m way behind on this, but still chipping away at it with pleasure.
  • working on a cultural history of the 20th century approached from the standpoint of the careers of new materials.  Chapters: “Rayon/Marinetti” (The Fabrics of Modern Times), “Glass/Terragni” (The Strange Tale of the Man of Glass [Who Was Made of Plastic]); “Luminous Aluminum” (A Biography of the Moka); “Cement/Gladkov” (Poesie Concrete); “Asphalt” (The Romance of the Tarmac); “Styrene Song/Queneau” (Plasticity); “Cardboard/Fuller” (The Dream of Paper Furniture).

unpublished manuscripts, other writing in progress

  • gathering materials on the history of public address systems and their impact upon the design of public spaces from the 1930s through the present as part of a broader inquiry into the prehistory of the electronic public sphere.
  • Quickening (an anthropology of speed).  Slowest book that I’ve ever written (ergo, still in progress after a decade and a half). I’ve published snippets here and there, in West 86th Street, among other places, but have hundreds of pages begging for attention in my desk’s top drawer.
  • “Sweat,” essay on sudor in medieval moral philosophy, medicine, and literature.
  • “Rubber Sole,” article on Ferragamo shoes and the Autarchy campaign of the 1930’s.


topics on which I’m gathering materials

  • looking for interesting materials about the history of CARDBOARD, especially cardboard housing and furniture, not to mention poetry and stories about cardboard; ditto for a couple of other materials: VULCANIZED RUBBER, SILICON, TITANIUM, STAINLESS STEEL, CARBON FIBER
  • the history and design of DISCOTHEQUES and light shows
  • quantitative notions of selfhood: biography as lab experiment (from Jules Michelet’s Journals to Piero Portaluppi and Bucky Fuller’s self-archiving practices to the Quantified Self movement

 other websites that I’ve been known to post on

Carbon Fiber