writing

I write about AI, architecture, design, and ethics — and how their systems are applied to our worlds, past, present, and future. This work takes the form of books, essays, and creative nonfiction.

BOOKS

Architectural Intelligence: How Designers & Architects Created the Digital Landscape (MIT Press, 2017)

Bauhaus Futures, edited by Laura Forlano, Molly Wright Steenson, and Mike Ananny (MIT Press, 2019)

ESSAYS
  • A Series of Tubes,“ Missouri Review, Winter 2020/21.
  • The Problem with Christopher Alexander,“ Volume 57, 2020.
  • “Vying for the Vernacular,” The New Normal, ed. Benjamin Bratton, Moscow: Strelka, 2020.
  • “Looking Differently: CAD on Architecture, Architecture on CAD,” The Architecture Machine: The Role of the Computer in Architecture, eds. Teresa Fankhänel and Andres Lepik. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2020.
  • “AI, Ethics, and Design: Revisiting the Trolley Problem.” In Handbook of Global Media Ethics, edited by Stephen Ward and Cliff Christians. Berlin: Springer Verlag, in press.
  • “Augmentation and Interface: Tracing a Spectrum.” In Computer Architectures, eds. Olga Touloumi and Theodora Vardoulis. London: Routledge, 2020.
  • “Virtually Material: Architecture, Media, and the New Economy, 1997–2003,” Perspecta 51: Media, Yale School of Architecture Journal (2018).
  • “Information Archaeologies, or: ‘Occasionally, Jumps Happen.” When is the Digital in Architecture? Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2017, 191–209.
  • “Processing the Library.” MCHAP Book One, The Americas: The Inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize Book, Barcelona: Actar, 2016.
  • “Architecture Machine Group.” The Other Architect/Another Way of Building Architecture, Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2016.
  • “The Idea of Architecture, The User As Inhabitant: Design through a Christopher Alexander Lens” in: Peter Lloyd & Erik Bohemia, eds., Proceedings of DRS2016: Design + Research + Society- Future-Focused Thinking, Volume 1 (2016), 31–41.
  • Architecture Machines and the Internet of Things, or: The Costs of Convergence” in New Geographies 7, 2015.
  • Microworld and Mesoscale,” in interactions, July–August 2015.
  • We Were Bricoleurs: An Interview with Nicholas Negroponte.” In A Second Modernism: MIT and Architecture in the PostWar, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014.
  • “From Computer-Aided Design to the Foundations of Interactivity.” In Architecture School: 300 Years of Educating Architects in North America, edited by Joan Ockman. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.
  • Interfaces to the Subterranean,” Cabinet, Summer 2011.
  • Urban Software: The Long View,” published in the catalog for HABITAR: Bending the Urban Frame, an exhibition at laboral, Gijón, Spain, 2010.
  • Problems before Patterns: A Different Look at Christopher Alexander and Pattern Languages,” interactions, March/April 2009.
  • Translated excerpt from German of Eine Stunde Architektur (One Hour Architecture) by Adolf Behne, afterword by Spyros Papapetros. pidgin 6, Princeton University School of Architecture, winter 2009.
  • Beyond the Personal and Private: Modes of Mobile Phone Sharing in India,” Molly Steenson and Jonathan Donner. In The Reconstruction of Space and Time: Mobile Communication Practices (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction), 2008.
  • Express Yourself” and ”Stay Together”: The Middle‐Class Indian Family,” Jonathan Donner, Nimmi Rangaswamy Molly Wright Steenson and Carolyn Wei, Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), 2008.
  • “Retrofitting Suburbia,” Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century,” (New York: Harry N. Abrams), 2006.
  • “Designing for Social Networks,” Spark! Design and Locality, University of Art and Design Helsinki, (Helsinki: University of Art and Design), 2004.
  • Co-editor: The Elements of User Experience: User- Centered Design for the Web, by Jesse James Garrett (Indianapolis: New Riders), 2003.
  • “Structure and Strategy: The Joy of Being Frugal” in 72 dpi, edited by Robert Klanten, Hendrik Hellige, Michael Mischler, Vicky Tiegelkamp, and Jan Rikus Hillman (Cologne: Gestalten Verlag), 2000.

Back in the 90s, a music and tech writer since 1990, my writing has appeared in The Onion (AV Club), Wired News, Netscape, I.D., The Fray, College Music Journal, Business 2.0 and as the former “What is Burning Man” text for the Burning Man website.