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GIANTS! Episode#2
Photo Credit: Adam Smith

Malcolm McCullough

“is professor of architecture at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, where he teaches architecture and media arts. McCullough is the author of three widely read books on digital design: Digital Ground (2004), Abstracting Craft (1996), and Digital Design Media (1991, with William Mitchell). He latest book, Ambient Commons – Attention in the Age of Embodied Information, was published in spring of 2013. Prior to joining Taubman College in 2001, McCullough taught at Carnegie Mellon University, and for ten years at Harvard Graduate School of Design. As his writings are often used in design teaching, McCullough has given invited lectures in more than 15 countries.” – Taubman College

In our second episode of GIANTS! Jono spends the afternoon with Malcolm McCullough in the studios of University of Michigan’s Taubman College. Throughout the talk Malcolm reveals his intrepid thoughts on the world of information superabundance, how we perceive the world around us, the role of education in forming critical thinkers, and narrowly avoids an in-depth discussion regarding the implications of arctic methane burps.

Malcom notes his own meaningful life resources that expand beyond SC’s usual logic of discrete items, to include practices such as travel and long form reading. He provides a few explicit resources as well, which you’ll find organized below.

Given the immediacy and magnitude of implications based on Malcolm’s poignant observations, you’ll want to spend some time with this one, you may even want to listen twice. Enjoy!
#1 The Craft of Research

by: Wayne Booth

“If there’s no long form, there isn’t a chance for our arguments to develop in a more nuanced way. Certainly, it’s possible to hear laments that there is no middle ground on arguments anymore – that there is no subtlety or grey areas.

We use a book around here that explains how you have to find a domain to work and choose your topic – to develop a body of evidence, to explain why it is warranted. In which circumstance is this worth doing? What are the objections and how do I qualify my position according to these objections? How does your research become more warranted?”

– Malcolm McCullough

#2 Against the Smart City

by: Adam Greenfield

“Looking for resources about bottom up versus top down urbanism? Against the Smart City is well written. Adam if you’re listening [or reading]… it’s smokin’!”

– Malcolm McCullough

#3 Smart Cities
by: Anthony Townsend

“Anthony Townsend’s Smart Cities got him a debate gig on a lesser known rag called the Economist. I like what he wrote about the path from Vindigo to dodgeball to four-square… I believe he called that chapter Tinkering Towards Utopia…”

– Malcolm McCullough

#4 The Alphabet and The Algorithm
by: Mario Carpo

“Around the studio I tend to see that it’s the little thoughtful asides that don’t try to remake an entire architecture, but that are very mindful about where things are now. There’s an interest here (Detroit) in the question of mass customization. Mario Carpo’s little book is pretty good on that one, right?!”

– Malcolm McCullough

#5 Thermal Delight
by: Lisa Heshong

“In undergrad studio – where I am just trying to get people who may not have ‘gone outside’ as children to recognize that part of being educated is the sensibility to surroundings – we’re reading this little old classic. I’ve given Thermal Delight to people from other fields – for example in History of Medicine – who have thanked me quite profusely…”

– Malcolm McCullough

#6 Common As Air
by: Lewis Hyde

“Related to my work on commons, the best read I found was from the literary scholar Lewis Hyde, who some people might know from a lovely little book called Tricksters (a favorite of mine once upon a time). Hyde did a book called ‘Common As Air” that answers this question of no – commons isn’t a tragedy, isn’t for communists, isn’t a nostalgia. It’s about practices… in which micro-transactions really help!”

– Malcolm McCullough

#7 Metaphysical Club
by: Louis Menand

“For a very long form read that I enjoyed while I was writing, I distinctly remember one that explained universities. The Metaphysical Club is a book about the origins of pragmatism, and how the work of people like John Dewey, William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, Oliver Wendell Holmes (the younger) led to what universities were like in the 20th century – particularly here in the mid-west. Menand was nothing less than the senior editor of the New York Review of Books. The man knows his sentences, and to me that matters. I wouldn’t mind some university discourses being more concise and having a bit more room to them…”

– Malcolm McCullough

#8 Rebecca Solnit
by: Tomdispatch

“For shorter form reads found online, I’m not alone in being a fan-boy of the diaries of Rebecca Solnit posted on TomDispatch or on London Review. I particularly liked her work on the Gulf oil spill, Fukushima, the fate of the Colorado River – there’s a recent one we’re reading in my seminar about what it was like when the mail came just twice a day. Rebecca Solnit is so good at writing that the rest of us might as well quit…”

– Malcolm McCullough

Original Titles by Malcolm McCullough:
Thanks again so much to our second GIANT, Malcolm McCullough for the truly enlightening interview. Any comments on the conversation? What other figures qualify as GIANTS! to you?
Let us know below…
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