Mark Shepard

Mark Shepard is Associate Professor of Architecture and Media Study at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, where he directs the Media Arts and Architecture Program (MAAP) and the Center for Architecture and Situated Technologies (CAST). He is the editor of Sentient City (MIT Press). His work has been exhibited at museums, galleries and festivals internationally..

  • There Are No Facts

    Attentive Algorithms, Extractive Data Practices, and the Quantification of Everyday Life

    Mark Shepard

    The entanglements of people and data, code and space, knowledge and power: how data and algorithms shape the world—and shape us within that world.

    With the emergence of a post-truth world, we have witnessed the dissolution of the common ground on which truth claims were negotiated, individual agency enacted, and public spheres shaped. What happens when, as Nietzsche claimed, there are no facts, but only interpretations? In this book, Mark Shepard examines the entanglements of people and data, code and space, knowledge and power that have produced an uncommon ground—a disaggregated public sphere where the extraction of behavioral data and their subsequent processing and sale have led to the emergence of micropublics of ever-finer granularity.

    Shepard explores how these new post-truth territories are propagated through machine learning systems and social networks, which shape the public and private spaces of everyday life. He traces the balkanization and proliferation of online news and the targeted distribution of carefully crafted information through social media. He examines post-truth practices, showing how truth claims are embedded in techniques by which the world is observed, recorded, documented, and measured. Finally, he shows how these practices play out, at scales from the translocality of the home to the planetary reach of the COVID-19 pandemic—with stops along the way at an urban minimarket, an upscale neighborhood for the one percent, a Toronto waterfront district, and a national election.

    • Hardcover $24.95
  • Sentient City

    Sentient City

    Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space

    Mark Shepard

    Alternative ideas for a “smart” city, from a park bench that enforces time limits by ejecting the sitter to “electronically assisted” plants that encourage conservation.

    Our cities are “smart” and getting smarter as information processing capability is embedded throughout more and more of our urban infrastructure. Few of us object to traffic light control systems that respond to the ebbs and flows of city traffic; but we might be taken aback when discount coupons for our favorite espresso drink are beamed to our mobile phones as we walk past a Starbucks. Sentient City explores the experience of living in a city that can remember, correlate, and anticipate. Five teams of architects, artists, and technologists imagine a variety of future interactions that take place as computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets, and public spaces of the city. “Too Smart City” employs city furniture as enforcers: a bench ejects a sitter who sits too long, a sign displays the latest legal codes and warns passersby against transgression, and a trashcan throws back the wrong kind of trash. “Amphibious Architecture” uses underwater sensors and lights to create a human-fish-environment feedback loop; “Natural Fuse” uses a network of “electronically assisted” plants to encourage energy conservation; “Trash Track” follows smart-tagged garbage on its journey through the city's waste-management system; and “Breakout” uses wireless technology and portable infrastructure to make the entire city a collaborative workplace. These projects are described, documented, and illustrated by 100 images, most in color. Essays by prominent thinkers put the idea of the sentient city in theoretical context.

    • Paperback $26.95