Shannon Mattern is a non-anthropologist Professor of Anthropology at The New School in New York. In January 2023 she’ll start a new position as the Penn Presidential Compact Professor of Media Studies and Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. She served previously, for roughly 15 years, as a faculty member in The New School’s School of Media Studies. Across her 18 years at The New School, she directed the graduate program in media studies, the undergraduate major and minor in anthropology, and the graduate certificate in Anthropology + Design.
Her writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructures; spatial epistemologies; and mediated sensation and exhibition. She’s the author of four books: The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities; Deep Mapping the Media City; and Code and Clay, Dirt and Data: 5000 Years of Urban Media, all published by University of Minnesota Press; and A City Is Not a Computer published by Princeton University Press in 2021. She has also written articles and book chapters, including a regular long-form column about urban data and mediated infrastructures for Places, an open-access journal focusing on architecture, urbanism, and landscape. She is the president of the board of the Metropolitan New York Library Council, and she contributes to public design and interactive projects and exhibitions.
She currently teaches courses on maps, information infrastructures, urban intelligence, mediated cities, field methods, and the connections between anthropology and design. (2022)
- The New Downtown Library, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007, 193 pp. Publisher. Review: Kruszewski (TSB, PL).
- Deep Mapping the Media City, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2015, xvi+51 pp.
- Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017, 288 pp. Publisher. Reviews: Kane (Afterimage), Jackson (Tech & Cult), Umney (J Cult Econ).
- editor, Urban Omnibus: "Digital Frictions", New York: Architectural League of New York, Sep 2019-Jan 2020.
- co-editor, How to Run a City Like Amazon, and Other Fables, London: Meatspace Press, Oct 2019.
- A City Is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences, New York: Princeton University Press, Aug 2021, 200 pp. Interview. Publisher.
Book chapters, papers, essays
- "Marginalia: Little Libraries in the Urban Margins", Places, 22 May 2012.
- "Paju Bookcity: The Next Chapter", Places, Jan 2013.
- "Infrastructural Tourism", Places, 1 Jul 2013.
- "Ear to the Wire: Listening to Historic Urban Infrastructures", Amodern 2: "Network Archaeologies", Oct 2013.
- "Bureaucracy’s Playthings", Reanimation Library’s Word Processor, 28 Oct 2013.
- "Methodolatry and the Art of Measure: The New Wave of Urban Data Science", Places, 5 Nov 2013.
- "Preserving Yesterday's Tech to Get a Better Gasp on Today's", Nautilus, 22 Nov 2013.
- "Interfacing Urban Intelligence", Places, 28 Apr 2014.
- "Animated Spaces: Experience and Context in Interaction and Architectural Design Exhibitions", Senses & Society 9:2, Spring 2014, pp 131-150.
- "Library as Infrastructure", Places, 9 Jun 2014.
- "Intellectual Furnishings", Medium, 19 Oct 2014.
- "Speculative Archaeology", Places, 12 Dec 2014.
- "Un-conventionalizing Convention", Medium, 11 Jan 2015.
- "Mission Control: A History of the Urban Dashboard", Places, Mar 2015.
- "Deep Time of Media Infrastructure", in Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures, eds. Lisa Parks and Nicole Starosielski, Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2015.
- "El tiempo profundo de la infraestructura mediática", trans. Nicolás Llano Linares, InMediaciones de la Comunicación 14:2, Dec 2019, pp 211-232. (Spanish)
- "Middlewhere: The Landscape of Library Logistics", Urban Omnibus, Jun 2015; repr. as "Behind New York’s Library Network", Motherboard, 21 Jul 2015.
- "Indexing the World of Tomorrow", Places, Feb 2016.
- "Instrumental City: The View from Hudson Yards, circa 2019", Places, Apr 2016.
- "Cloud and Field", Places, Aug 2016.
- "Animated Aberrations, Rebellious Objects", Volume 49, Sep 2016, pp 39-43. On Zoe Beloff.
- "Public In/Formation", Places, Nov 2016.
- "Equipment for Redemptive Living", in Correctional Collections, ed. Joel Stoehr, New York: Parsons School of Design, 2016.
- "Of Mud, Media, and the Metropolis: Aggregating Histories of Writing and Urbanization", Cultural Politics 12(3): "Geological Media", ed. Jussi Parikka, Fall 2016, pp 310-331.
- "Before BILLY: A Brief History of the Bookcase", Harvard Design Magazine 43: "Shelf Life", Fall/Winter 2016.
- "A City Is Not a Computer", Places, Feb 2017; repr. in Historic Cities: Issues in Urban Conservation, eds. Jeff Cody and Francesco Siravo, Los Angeles: J. P. Getty Museum, 2019.
- "Closet Archive: A stuffed history of the closet, where the “past becomes space”", Places, Jul 2017.
- "Sonic Archaeologies", in The Routledge Companion to Sound Studies, ed. Michael Bull, New York: Routledge, Oct 2018. Proofs. Publisher. 
- "Mapping's Intelligent Agents", Places, Sep 2017; repr. in Mapping and Politics in the Digital Age, eds. Pol Bargués-Pedreny, David Chandler, and Elena Simon, Routledge, Nov 2018. Publisher.
- "The Big Data of Ice, Rocks, Soils, and Sediments: Inside the material archives of climate science", Places, Nov 2017.
- "Extract and Preserve: Underground Repositories for a Posthuman Future?", New Geographies 9: "Posthuman", eds. Mariano Gomez Luque and Ghazal Jafari, Harvard University Press, and Actar, Jan 2018, pp 52-59. Publisher.  
- "Databodies in Codespace: As the bioengineering of people and cities converges, where do we locate the public sphere?", Places, Apr 2018.
- "Scaffolding, Hard and Soft: Media Infrastructures as Critical and Generative Structures", in The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities, ed. Jentery Sayers, Routledge, May 2018. Publisher. 
- "Community Plumbing: How the hardware store orders things, neighborhoods, and material worlds", Places, Jul 2018.
- "All Eyes on the Border: In Trump’s America, the politics of recognition are changing", Places, Sep 2018.
- "Maintenance and Care: A working guide to the repair of rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code in our cities, our homes, and our social relations", Places, Nov 2018.
- "Local Codes: Forms of Spatial Knowledge", Public Knowledge, San Francisco: SFMOMA & San Francisco Public Library, 18 Jan 2019.
- with Urban Intelligence, "Auditing Urban Intelligence: Interfacing Place-Based Knowledge", Leonardo Electronic Almanac 22:4, Mar 2019.
- "Networked Dream Worlds: Is 5G solving real, pressing problems or merely creating new ones?", Real Life, 8 Jul 2019.
- "Minimal Maintenance", Lapsus Lima, 2 Oct 2019.
- "Fugitive Libraries", Places, Oct 2019.
- "The Gentle Wind Doth Move Visibly", in I Stand in My Place with My Own Day Here: Site-Specific Art at The New School, ed. Frances Richard, Duke University Press, Oct 2019. Publisher.
- "Ether and Ore: An Archaeology of Urban Intelligences", in Ways of Knowing Cities, eds. Laura Kurgan and Dare Brawley, Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, Dec 2019, pp 120-130, PDF. Publisher.
- "Fluttering Code: A Cultural and Aesthetic History of the Split-flap Display", Modes of Criticism 5: "Design Systems", Eindhoven: Onomatopee, Dec 2019, pp 49-63.  
- "Auto-Advance: The Art of the Slide Deck", Art in America 108:2, Feb 2020, pp 64-69; posted as "Using PowerPoint, Artists Ask How Performative Presentations Shape Our Thinking", Art in America, 5 Feb 2020.
- "Post-It Note City", Places, Feb 2020.
- "Encrypted Repositories: Techniques of Secret Storage, From Desks to Databases", Amodern 9, Apr 2020.
- "Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 Briefings Draw on the Persuasive Authority of Powerpoint", Art in America, 13 Apr 2020.
- "Urban Auscultation; or, Perceiving the Action of the Heart", Places, Apr 2020.
- "Auscultação urbana: ou percebendo a ação do coração", trans. Eduardo Harry Luersen, RUA 26:2, Campinas: LABEURB, Nov 2020, pp 385-409. (Brazilian Portuguese)
- with Emily Bowe and Erin Simmons, "Learning from Lines: Critical COVID Visualizations and the Quarantine Quotidian", Big Data & Society, Jul 2020.
- "Calculative Composition: The Ethics of Automating Design", in The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI, eds. Markus Dubber, Frank Pasquale, and Sunit Das, Oxford University Press, Jul 2020. 
- "The Spectacle of Data: A Century of Fairs, Fiches, and Fantasies", Theory, Culture & Society 37:7-8, Oct 2020, pp 133-155. 
- "Shannon Mattern", in Ein Medium namens McLuhan. 37 Befragungen eines Klassikers, eds. Peter Bexte and Martina Leeker, Lüneburg: meson press, 2020, pp 52-53.
- "Purity and Security: Towards A Cultural History of Plexiglass", Places, Dec 2020.
- "Afterword", in Crowdsourcing, Constructing and Collaborating Methods and Social Impacts of Mapping the World Today, eds. Siddharth Peter deSouza, Nida Rehman, and Saba Sharma, Bloomsbury India, Dec 2020.
- "How to Map Nothing", Places, Mar 2021.
- "The Pulse of Global Passage: Listening to Logistics", in Assembly Codes: The Logistics of Media, eds. Matthew Curtis Hockenberry, Nicole Starosielski, and Susan Marjorie Zieger, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, Sep 2021. 
- "Tree Thinking", Places, Sep 2021.
- "Concealment and Compassion", Places, Nov 2021.
- "The Long Goodbye", Words in Space, Nov 2022.
- Gina Conley, "Shannon Mattern", Figure/Ground Communication, Aug 2012.
- Trevor Owens, "Preservation Aesthetics: An interview with Shannon Mattern", The Signal: Digital Preservation, The Library of Congress, 9 Jun 2014.
- Christine Mitchell, "Media Archaeology of Poetry and Sound: A Conversation with Shannon Mattern", Amodern 4: "The Poetry Series", Mar 2015.
- "Woven Circuits: An Interview with Taeyoon Choi", in Bauhaus Futures, eds. Mike Ananny, Laura Forlano, and Molly Wright Steenson, MIT Press, Oct 2019, pp 215-223.
- Hannah Zeavin, "'At the End of Everything': Talking with Shannon Mattern", Public Books, Sep 2022.