MAICgregator is a Firefox extension that aggregates information about colleges and universities embedded in the military-academic-industrial complex (MAIC). It searches government funding databases, private news sources, private press releases, and public information about trustees to try and produce a radical cartography of the modern university via the replacement or overlay of this information on academic websites. This is a necessary activity in light of the contemporary financial "crisis".
The MAICgregator extension must be downloaded and installed; it works on Firefox browsers version 3 and up.
Read the statement about MAICgregator
You can read an extensive statement about the project that links it to discussions about net.art, the political economy of universities, and critiques of data mining. Here are a few excerpts:
"…Part of our intent is, yes, to provide carefully selected 'facts' about the relationships between universities, the military, and the corporate world. But just as equally our goal is to perform an alternative, to show how so-called 'news' sources can be recombined in new ways to create novel connections. This is a performance that additionally re-opens the consideration of exactly what the 'web' is, given its continued atrophy into staid configurations of a media-controlled semiotics. And it is finally a performance of what we might call a 'poetic austerity': the use of whatever means are available to us—absent the possibility of funding through traditional sources, given their decrease in this time of focusing on the 'essentials'—to respond to power on our own terms. While it might be feeble, while it might seem utopian, it is certainly necessary nevertheless to do what we can, with what we have, against that which oppresses, by creating that which we want."
"…Nevertheless, we can consider an alternative form of data mining, one we might want to call alter-data mining. Taking into account all of the caveats that we have already mentioned, as well as the conceptual issues with data mining in and of itself, we might be able to turn data mining techniques on the powerful themselves, using the results to being to form one alternative mapping of the situation, while in the process commenting on the role of data mining in society. This is the main conceptual foundation of the MAICgregator project: that perhaps we might be able to aggregate some of this data and through direct and poetic presentations of it, turn it into actionable information."
"…Yet what we need instead is movement, the proverbial (by now) 'lines of flight' that, yes, make these links visible, but additionally break them open through acts of resistance, of the unexpected link to an alternative network. We need the playful-serious, the '-' ever more important as the link we make ourselves between that-which-we-must-find-out and that-which-we-want-instead. This is our own version of Guattari’s ethico-aesthetic paradigm, the development and growing of our own individual and collective subjectivities that do not deny the gravity of the situation but do deny the ability of the situation to have complete hold over us.…"
About the artist
Nicholas Knouf is a PhD student in information science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. His research explores the interstitial spaces between information science, critical theory, digital art, and science and technology studies.
Ongoing work includes Fluid Nexus, a mobile phone messaging application designed for activists and relief workers that operates independent of a centralized network, robotic puppetry projects that engage with psycho-socio-political imaginaries, and sound works that encourage the expression of the unspeakable.
Past and current work has been recognized by a number awards, including an Honorary Mention by Prix Ars Electronica in [the next idea] category (2005), the Leonardo Abstracts Service (LABS) for his master's thesis (2008), a memefest Award of Distinction (2008), and a special transmediale "Online Highlight" (2009). Additionally, his work has been discussed in print and online media, including ID Magazine, the Boston Globe, CNN, Slashdot, and Afterimage.
His complete research and artistic CV is available.
More information can be seen at his website, zeitkunst.org.