• There Are No Facts: Attentive Algorithms, Extractive Data Practices, and the Quantification of Everyday Life
    Mark Shepard
    MIT Press, 2022
    Mark Shepard

Comparison of inauguration crowd size for Barack Obama in 2009 (left) and Donald Trump in 2017 (right). Courtesy the National Park Service

This book examines the uncommon ground we share in a post-truth world. It unpacks how attentive algorithms and extractive data practices are shaping space, influencing behavior, and colonizing everyday life. Articulating post-truth territory as an architectural and infrastructural condition, it shows how these spatial architectures of attention and data mining are in turn situated within broader histories of empiricism, objectivity, science, colonialism, and perception. These entanglements of people and data, code and space, knowledge and power are considered across scales ranging from the trans-locality of the home to the planetary extent of the COVID–19 pandemic, with stops at the corner bodega, a neighborhood for the proverbial 1%, a waterfront district in Toronto, and a national election. The book probes how these socio-technical systems bracket what we know about the world, how they construe our agency to act within it, and how they shape these spaces that, in turn, shape us.

Mark Shepard is an associate professor of architecture and media study at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. He is an editor of the Situated Technologies Pamphlets Series (The Architectural League of New York, 2007–12) and Sentient City: ubiquitous computing, architecture and the future of urban space (The Architectural League of New York and MIT Press, 2011). His work has been exhibited at the Venice International Architecture Biennial; the Prix Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria; Transmediale, Berlin, Germany; and the International Architecture Biennial Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His work has been supported by fellowships from MacDowell, Eyebeam, and the US Department of Education, and by grants from Creative Capital, The New York State Council of the Arts, and the Architectural League of New York. Shepard received a BArch from Cornell University, an MS in advanced architectural design from Columbia University, and a master’s in fine arts from Hunter College, the City University of New York.