Ambient Commons

Evgeny Morozov, The New Yorker (paywall)
“Only Disconnect”
Ambient Commons, the most rewarding and politically literate of the recent books on distraction and attention.” . . .
Ambient Commons sizzles with provocative ideas: attention theft, right to undisrupted attention, peak distraction. It’s a call for a responsible urbanism.” . . .
[Picked up by Carolyne Gregoire, Huffington Post]
“Proof That Boredom Isn’t As Bad As Your Parents Always Told You”
“Information deserves its own environmental movement…”
[yes, but: I do not argue for places without connectivity. There are not very many of those!]

Henry Grabar, Dream City, in Salon

“Smartphones are killing us and destroying public_life”
“McCullough sees ambient information, from advertisements to the music in shops to Taxi TV, as an assault on our attention. But he’s no Luddite, and he’s not oblivious to the powerful ideas that spring from the shared ground of technology and urbanism, like Citizen Science, SeeClickFix or “Smart Cities.” What he’s calling for, in Ambient Commons, is “information environmentalism,” the idea that the proliferation of embedded information deserves attention and study, from planners, architects, politicians and especially from you and me.”
[yes, but: it's always wise to ignore Salon's exaggerated headline style]

Tara Brabazon, [London] Times Higher Education
Ambient Commons: Attention in the Age of Embodied Information by Malcolm McCullough. Tara Brabazon on a rare and evocative exploration of how to cope with digital overload.
“Ambient Commons: Attention in the Age of Embodied Information,” is quiet, patient and profound; through 12 pithy chapters, it asks us to ponder information contexts.”   . . .
“This is a book to feel with, reflect on, and use to develop new modes and models of thinking and learning. It may just change the scholarly world, through silence, reflection and respectful attention to contextualised information.”
[this was the first column-length review of the book]

Utne Reader
(in its set of ten leader stories for the August 2013 issue)
“Ambient Awareness: Learning to Pay Attention Again”
[yes, but: I do not assume that attention is something you have to "pay"; there are also more effortless sensibilities to cultivate. ]

David Bollier, News and perspectives on the commons
“How will we reclaim and shape an ambient commons”
“When I pump gas in my car these days, there is a video screen on the pump that abruptly turns on and starts shouting an annoying advertisement in my face. It is so loud and obnoxious that it takes great restraint to not smash the damn screen with my car keys… Thanks to architecture professor Malcolm McCullough of the University of Michigan, I now have a vocabulary for talking about such vandalism against our shared mental environment. It is a desecration of the ambient commons.”

Dan Hill, City of Sound
Journal: Notes on Ambient Commons, by Malcolm McCullough
“Despite being the “wake up call” I describe below, it’s also a very peaceful book, a learned book that’s a good read, a poetic book which has a pleasurable calm about it.”
[Disclosure: at the request of the publisher, Dan Hill kindly provided an endorsement for the book jacket, but then later on his own blog volunteered this extended testimonial and selection of  excepts.]

Joe Bugenthal, UX–User Experience Magazine:
“The book is both a delight to read and a call to action…”

Ella-Mae Hubbard, Ergonomics:
(requires subscription)
“Actually, this book is more than thought provoking. As well as making me very reflective, it also made me very conscious of my surroundings.”

Gillian Rose, Cultural Geographies:
(requires subscription)
“The tone of the argument is leisurely, reasonable, and erudite.”

Patricia Phillips, Public Art Dialogue:
(requires subscription)
“The book resonates with intelligent and urgent ideas for artists, designers, theorists, and activists engaged with the public realm.”  …
“McCullough summons an intelligent citizenship…”

Paul McFedries,IEEE Spectrum:
“[a] terrific book”