weeknote 12

Finally another weeknote…

First, I finished my dissertation proposal. If you’re interested in reading it, you can find it here. They are tricky beasts, proposals are — they are arguments for something you have yet to write and research. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, every time I’d sit down to write the proposal, I’d start trying to write the whole dissertation in miniature. Finally, though, it came together (as noted, thanks to Ms. Vertesi’s help).

I presented and defended the proposal before my committee– Christine Boyer, Ed Eigen, and Axel Kilian — and another professor I’ve worked closely with over the last several years, Spyros Papapetros. Also in the room: 10 or so students from my PhD program, two from art history, and another professor in the architecture school, Miles Ritter, who shares my love for technology. The critique was really solid. I know what the holes are in the proposal and was happy that the committee and other audience members found them all.

Critique is an excellent thing. It’s scary, yes, but it’s an honor to have good people engage with your work in an intense manner. I learn so much from the dialogue about it, whether in a defense (such as with my general exams or as in Thursday’s presentation of the proposal), or in conversations with the people in and around my PhD program. It’s also been important to learn how not to be defensive in a critical situation.

Some of the questions and suggested approaches that came out of it: looking closely at the rhetoric that Nicholas Negroponte, Cedric Price & Christopher Alexander used; considering a number of figures around MIT & the Media Lab; looking at the influence of Noam Chomsky and linguistics; probing the difference between computation and the computer and how that affects architectural practice.

Wow. I guess I’ve been busy. Also in the last week or so, I:

  • Spoke at the Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University on a panel discussion about Infrastructure — it was part of the Networked Publics lecture series
  • Wrote a piece for the catalogue of the  HABITAR exhibition Laboral in Spain on the 1970 Software exhibition, 1840s telegraphy and the annihilation of space and time through distributed intelligence
  • Worked with a friend who graduated from Ivrea on the copy for her company’s product concepts
  • Spoke in the lecture series at the University of Chicago in the History of Science department, thanks to a kind invitation from department chair Adrian Johns. (My subject: Poste Pneumatique.) Okay, so that was three weeks ago. Afterwards I was in LA for a few days to visit my boyfriend.

What’s ahead? My brother gets married on Grand Cayman Island next weekend: a week from today, I will be scuba diving with sting rays. (How I love diving! And I never really go.) Thereafter, a visit to San Francisco for the first time in a painfully long time to attend the Institute for the Future Tech Horizons conference, plus a few days in LA.