Media Studies Faculty Member Shannon Mattern Publishes New Book on Urban Media History

Media Studies Faculty Member Shannon Mattern Publishes New Book on Urban Media History

How were the media experienced in urban spaces before the digital technological revolution? Many people assume that the advent of digital media is where the story started. But as media studies Faculty member Shannon Mattern reveals in her new book that cities have been sites of mediated communication for thousands of years.

Mattern acts as a media archaeologist with Code and clay, data and dirt: five thousand years of urban media (University of Minnesota Press).

Going beyond historical concepts of origins, development, revolutions and the achievements of an elite, Mattern guides readers through a wide range of historical and geographical stories and takes media archeology to the streets of the city, revealing new ways of writing our urban, media and cultural stories.

“I have always been interested in how our intellectual architectures – our ways of thinking or organizing concepts and classifying things – are manifested in our built world: in media objects, furniture, buildings, cities and infrastructure. we design and design,” Mattern says. “Today we hear a lot about ‘smart’ objects, artificial intelligence and sensible cities, but we don’t always stop to consider the epistemologies implicit in these labels. I wanted to extend this line of questioning to other cultural contexts and time periods – to show that cities around the world, and throughout history, have long embodied networked “intelligences” and forms of ambient intelligence.

Mattern is an associate professor of media studies at the New School for Public Engagement. In addition to Code and clay, data and dirt: five thousand years of urban media, she is also the author of The new downtown library: designing with communities, and In-depth mapping of the media city.