About Speedbird

“Speedbird” has been the callsign for aircraft belonging to BOAC and its various predecessors and descendants since 1939.

To me the Speedbird symbolizes many things: the lost glamour of travel, the high Modernist moment in design and architecture, and above all, a time when Western culture still believed in a future.

Who writes Speedbird?

My name is Adam Greenfield. Over the last decade, I’ve written and consulted pretty widely on issues at the intersection of design, technology and culture, with an increasing focus on how these things interact in (and condition our experience of) cities. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore these issues from a variety of angles:

– As an information architect for notorious Internet consultancies marchFIRST and Razorfish in Tokyo, and later as Nokia’s head of design direction for service and user-interface design (say that three times fast), I helped build systems that have been used by millions of people — and saw for myself just how the world’s largest corporations understand the technology all around us.

– My first book, Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing (2006), offers a humanist take on the colonization of everyday life by information technology, and I like to think it stands up pretty well. It can be purchased from Amazon.

– With Mark Shepard, I co-authored the first pamphlet in the Architectural League of New York’s splendid Situated Technologies series, a sweet little number we called Urban Computing and its Discontents. (Buy here, or download the free PDF. Be sure to check out the other pamphlets in the series, too.)

– My pamphlet “Against the smart city,” named by Verso as one of the best books of 2013, can be purchased for Kindle here or as a physical POD book here.

– During 2006 and 2007, with the inestimable Kevin Slavin, I co-taught Urban Computing at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. (This was a rough experience for me; I don’t mind admitting that I have neither Kevin’s empathic gifts, nor the light touch I cherished in my own favorite instructors. All that said, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.) I returned to ITP in 2010-2012 to teach the similar Urban Experience in the Network Age solo.

– With my wife, Nurri Kim, I co-founded the undisciplinary design collective Do projects, which publishes books, pamphlets, and editions, and otherwise underwrites explorations into space and experience. Over the past five years, through Do, Nurri and I have conducted “walkshops” in cities around the world: participatory walking tours in which we look for and try to understand the physical appearances of networked informatics in urban space. These are generally a lot of fun, and we invariably learn something about the place we’re visiting.

– Just on the off chance I could successfully jump back across the gap separating theory and practice, in 2010 I founded Urbanscale, a New York-based firm dedicated to “design for networked cities and citizens.” Urbanscale is on hold while I finish writing The City Is Here For You To Use (forthcoming from Verso in 2016) — but I do mean just that, i.e. “on hold” is not a euphemism for “shut down.”

– I occasionally contribute pieces on questions of city life and urban design to the Guardian. I also present on these and related topics fairly often, and all over the planet; if you’re interested in having me speak at a conference or other event, please do get in touch.

— Finally, if you’re really curious about the trivial events of my everyday life, what I’ve been reading and so on, you can subscribe to my weekly newsletter. (I’m no longer on either Twitter or Facebook, so don’t bother looking for me thereabouts.) Thanks for your interest in my work, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Londonized and loving it

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