Daily Diigo Public Link 02/01/2008

January 31, 2008 at 5:40 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 02/01/2008

Research Groups Boom in Washington – New York Times

tags: elizabeth_bumiller, nyt, politics, research, richard_florida, think_tanks, washington_dc

Think tanks are apparently a booming industry, as Elizabeth Bumiller’s article shows. Richard Florida (“Tanked,” see http://tinyurl.com/35apn9) observes: “A DC insider once told me these so-called think tanks don’t so much create new intellectual capital as repackage and recycle it – or as he put it, they run it down. Candidly, I was shockingly disappointed during my time in DC by the inability of most think tanks to tackle big questions in an open-minded, globally-oriented (that is not American-centric) way. And while there always are individual exceptions, I was also dismayed by the quality of much of the work. My hunch is the increased giving is being fueled by partisan agendas – actually, I have been told many time this is the way think tanks increasingly are funded – as political actors seek to lend credibility and legitimacy to desired actions.” Bumiller closes her article with this: “‘Institutions like this don’t possess power,’ said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. ‘You’re one of many voices in the political marketplace. It’s up to those in the marketplace who possess power — congressmen, people in the executive branch — to run with one of your ideas.’” That’s something to think about for everyone in every local context, too.

Imaginary Forces: “Pro Sessions: Design Remixed” Annotated

tags: architecture, design, imaginary_forces, tali_krakowsky, userinterface

– brief description of an event at the Apple Store, Santa Monica, 1/30/08: Tali Krakowsky (Imaginary Forces’ Director of Experience Design) talking about current trends in the fusion of design, technology and architecture. How I’d love to be able to attend this!

Daily Diigo Public Link 01/31/2008

January 30, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In innovation, links | 1 Comment

Is the Tipping Point Toast? — Duncan Watts — Trendsetting Annotated

tags: business, duncan_watts, economic_anthropology, fast_company, influentials, malcolm_gladwell, network_theory, tipping_point, trendsetting

Article by FC’s Clive Thompson on the latest work by Duncan Watts, who argues against the idea the trends are created by “influentials” who bring matters to a tipping point.

Influentials On The Web Are People With The Power To Link – Publishing 2.0 Annotated

tags: blogs, influentials, links, publishing, scott_karp, web_2.0

Scott Karp’s article is a useful recap of what makes links so powerful, and why traditional media have to get over fears around losing what they think is an edge they have, namely being able to contain the user. And on making money, Karp writes: “Whenever I give talks to traditional publishers who have been afraid to link to other sites because it will “send people away” instead of keeping them trapped in the publisher’s own content, my now standard response is to say that there’s a site that does nothing but link to other sites — all it does is send people away. And yet remarkably, people keep coming back. So much so, that this strategy has translated into $10 billion+ in advertising revenue. (Yes, Google of course.)” …There you go.

Cool Hunting: Three New Stadiums Annotated

tags: architecture, reference, stadiums, starchitecture

Description/ links to 3 new stadiums, introduced thus: “In the era of starchitecture, few projects pose more of a challenge to renowned architects than the scale and complexity of a city’s crown jewel, the stadium.” The 3 projects are Camp Nou (Spain), Beijing National Stadium (China), and Wembley Stadium (UK). Camp Nou’s exterior in particular sounds fascinating — it could be a terrific public art work or an annoying visual nuisance, depending on articulation…

Daily Diigo Public Link 01/30/2008

January 29, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 01/30/2008

Lettering Grows in Brooklyn: Voice: AIGA Journal of Design: Writing: AIGA Annotated

tags: brooklyn, design, lettering, place_making, reference, typeface

– fascinating project about documenting various typefaces in Brooklyn

It’s time to overhaul copyright law | Technology | guardian.co.uk Annotated

tags: copyfight, copyright, cory_doctorow, law, socialjustice

Excellent points by Cory Doctorow on how “folk” copyright usage get eroded (sodded, more like) by corporate copyright law, and why that doesn’t make sense: it’s “a genuinely radical idea: [that] individuals should hire lawyers to negotiate their personal use of cultural material, or at least refrain from sharing their cultural activities with others (except it’s not’s really culture if you’re not sharing it, is it?). It’s also a dumb idea. People aren’t going to hire lawyers to bless the singalong or Timmy’s comic book. They’re also not going to stop doing culture.”

my dad’s architecture photos – a photoset on Flickr

tags: architecture, brutalism, built_environment, flickr, photo_gallery, reference

A fascinating collection of grim-looking buildings, captured mostly in black & white, exemplifying the brutalist style of architecture. They were taken in the late 60s, early 70s, by someone studying to be an architect. Just the other day I re-read somewhere that loss breeds resentment, and one wonders how seethingly full of resentment society must have been to allow these structures, which show nothing but contempt for the people who inhabit or visit or circulate around them, to be built. Were they a misdirected expression of loss? You really have to wonder…

Creating better McJobs gives food for thought (Toronto Star) Annotated

tags: employment, mcjobs, richard_florida, service_sector, service_summit, toronto

Suggestion by Richard Florida: that we need to figure out how to make “McJobs” have dignity (and wages that one can live on); for several reasons: service is biggest job growth sector; service allows flexibility for “creatives” to work in one industry (for pay) while pursuing their vocation (where pay is unstable or minimal). In other words, if service sector jobs have more dignity and better wages and more respect, and are seen as a viable alternative (short-term, long-term) for employment, they can contribute to a climate of creativity, too.

Daily Diigo Public Link 01/29/2008

January 28, 2008 at 5:40 pm | In addiction, crime, links, social_critique, street_life | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 01/29/2008

Boogie: Bleak Street Lifes (PingMag – The Tokyo-based magazine about “Design and Making Things”) Annotated

tags: boogie, brooklyn, drug_addiction, gangs, interview, nyc, photography, ping_mag, street_life

Interview with “Serbian photographer Boogie [who] grew up in the war-torn region of former Yugoslavia, documenting protests and the disturbing portraits of skinheads. After moving from Belgrade to Brooklyn in 1998, he started observing New York’s bleak street side of life with monochrome shots. Distinctively, his work isn’t emphatic. He doesn’t judge. He is more reporting on a not so distant universe with a fine eye for detail – and a lot of guts. He showed PingMag his depiction of Brooklyn gang life and junkies.” Boogie notes: “‘This whole life is a bunch of choices you make and they just made a couple of wrong ones,’ says photographer Boogie about his series on junkies in Brooklyn.”

About consequences

January 27, 2008 at 11:24 pm | In just_so, social_critique, writing | Comments Off on About consequences

A slight departure from matters of urbanism, if you will.

When the spouse & I became a parents, we were compelled to re-examine all sorts of ideological beliefs, opting instead for principles and for what works (vs. principles and what we’d like to have work, or should work, or would be nice if it worked… etc.). I realize this makes us sound like perfect jerks, but that’s what biology will do to a body. The spouse even took a parenting workshop called “Redirecting your child’s behavior,” which at its core was all about natural consequences and how to implement them.

I sometimes joke that I’m a “permissive parent,” but that’s just a way of differentiating myself from a mainstream that seems to me increasingly suspect: I’m not permissive, because for starters I don’t believe that I’m in control of everything, which leads to two fundamental insights. First, I do not tolerate being treated like a doormat or made responsible for things beyond my control. Second, that first insight lends focus to the things I can control, including not overprotecting my kids from natural consequences. I permit natural consequences to take place. I have discovered that this is becoming a rare principle in the increasingly professionalized world of managed parenting.

Let’s take that as a sort of preamble to this: an editorial in our daily newspaper, which prompted me to write a letter to the editor (which actually got published, with relatively minor editing). First, the editorial:

Freedom rests on responsibility
Times Colonist

Sunday, January 13, 2008
We pride ourselves on being a tolerant and liberated society. And certainly we enjoy a degree of freedom unknown in earlier times. But has our sense of personal latitude come too far?Let’s start with the notion of a responsible adult. Increasingly, it’s hard to find anyone, at least in public life, who fills that description. In government, senior officials used to resign if errors were committed on their watch. Now we have buck-passing and displays of contrition. In the last few months, there have been three major events where resignations would once have been likely.

There was the Taser incident at Vancouver airport, in which Polish passenger Robert Dziekanski died. The RCMP inflicted more harm on Canada’s international image in a few minutes than anyone has caused in decades. But no one has stepped forward to shoulder the blame.

Then came the admission by Premier Gordon Campbell that the Vancouver convention centre is massively over budget. No minister has accepted responsibility.

On the heels of those two blunders came the medical isotopes fiasco. In November the Chalk River nuclear reactor in Ontario closed after failing to meet licensing standards. The plant produces two-thirds of the world’s supply of radioactive materials for medical imaging. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. gave no warning of the shutdown. Hospitals around the globe were scrambling and the affair blackened Canada’s other eye. Yet the minister in charge, Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Gary Lunn, has not accepted responsibility. Instead, he’s threatening to fire the nuclear regulator.

It’s not just in politics that personal responsibility is becoming a rarity. In sports, serious doping allegations have been made against some of the best-known athletes. None have left the game and fans still turn out in record numbers. In the celebrity world, scarcely a week goes by without some outrageous antics. But a few days in rehab clinic, a talk-show apology and all is forgiven.

Even in the workplace, employees are excused for egregious misconduct. Here in Victoria, a few members of the Liquor Distribution Branch staff became falling-down drunk at a Government House ceremony. One had to crawl up the stairs to receive his award; another tried to steal the cutlery; and a third heckled then Lt.-Gov. Iona Campagnolo. But no one lost his job.

While we’re increasingly unwilling to accept responsibility for our own actions, we’re quick to force our sensitivities on other people’s ideas. Four students at Ontario’s Osgoode Hall law school have launched a complaint against Maclean’s. They charge that an article in the magazine was offensive to Muslims. Three human rights commissions across the country, including B.C.’s, have agreed to hear this complaint. A plainer attack on freedom of speech would be hard to imagine. The magazine must now hire lawyers and defend itself in three separate tribunals.

In 2006, when the Calgary-based Western Standard printed cartoons that had provoked outrage in Denmark, it was summoned before the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Many Canadian universities have adopted harassment policies that impose sweeping limitations on freedom of speech. The University of British Columbia, for example, prohibits statements of opinion that “burden” anyone on the basis of “age, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, and unrelated criminal convictions.” The “burdening” doesn’t even have to be intentional.

Civic life requires responsibility. Hiding from it, or waiting for someone else to impose it, is self-indulgent. So is turning a difference of opinion into a legal confrontation.

When the complaint was filed against Maclean’s, civil libertarians who had pressed for the appointment of human rights commissions were aghast. “During the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create such commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech,” said Alan Borovoy, who was general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

We need to restore some measure of self-restraint, personal responsibility and accountability in our daily lives.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

Next, my letter to the editor, in response:

Use your judgment and think critically
Times Colonist

Published: Monday, January 21, 2008

Re: “Freedom rests on responsibility,” Jan. 13.

Thank you for an important, thought-provoking editorial. To understand why Canadians can get away with “buck-passing and displays of contrition,” look at how you or your neighbours raise children. If there are no natural consequences for bad behaviour, and missteps are ignored because criticism allegedly inhibits “self-esteem,” is it any wonder that personal responsibility shrivels or that narcissism is normal?

The 30-something Cobble Hill real-estate agent currently facing charges in Colorado for drunkenness and sexual harassment on a plane would probably have avoided the prospect of a $500,000 fine and years in prison had he learned earlier there are significant consequences for gross misbehaviour.

Why should union officials or people in government take responsibility when it’s easy to avoid consequences, provided you say the right words of contrition, versus going to jail or paying biting fines?

If you substitute groupthink for consequences, you’ll dig an even deeper hole, which the example of Maclean’s being charged for offensiveness to Muslims illustrates well. Robert Latimer isn’t “contrite,” so the Orwellian parole board denies him parole (as if he would ever reoffend by murdering another’s daughter). But drunk drivers who kill cyclists practically walk away unpunished. Why? Their “displays of contrition” appease the thought police.

Collectively, our obligation to be “non-judgmental” overrides critical thinking. The latter is a far bigger human right and duty than not offending anyone or mouthing mealy words of contrition.

My only gripe is that the paper edited my second to last sentence, which read “Collectively, we are dumbing ourselves down into sheep whose obligation to be ‘non-judgmental’ overrides critical thinking,” and the edited version fails to convey that meaning.

Hand-made links (for a change)

January 26, 2008 at 12:03 am | In cities, free_press, ideas, innovation, links, newspapers, resources, social_critique, urbanism, web | Comments Off on Hand-made links (for a change)

Why is it that some of the most salient material presents itself — and in the greatest quantities — when one already has a mountain of mental meal on one’s plate, with nary a cranial cranny remaining into which the new material may be stuffed?

I’m at the point where even bookmarking to Diigo isn’t good enough, because I can’t summon the energy to write a cogent annotation!

Therefore, in no particular order, some links of prime importance (in my world, anyway):
Regine at We Make Money Not Art posts two entries (Part I and Part II) on the DLD (Digital, Life, Design) conference held last month in Munich. Not only that, she includes specific references to other bloggers (Ulrike Reinhard, for example) who have posted more information (more than what’s already on DLD’s websites? Muss das sein?! …sigh…) and projects (like 192021) that I definitely need to follow up.

Part II includes way too much stuff for me to process right now — just this little picture/ diagram from one of the pages she references has me spinning:

Alert, alert: I’m thinking local local local, which starts to sound like “loco loco loco” after a while….

…Gawd, and don’t even get me started on Regine’s references to Patrick Schumacher (just a taste from WMMNA:

Patrik Schumacher mentioned that the challenge today for architects is to be able to comprehend and reflect in their work the increase in society complexity. Order and lack of complexity bring disorientation. A quick look at the way urban areas were built in the 50s brought us makes the case clearer.

“Order and lack of complexity bring disorientation.” Vraiment! It’s fatal to confuse order with “un-complex” organization. What our brains want is “ordered complexity” or “complex order,” which appeals to every person’s innate sense of pattern recognition (which, pace, is more than only “a subtopic of machine learning”).

…All this, and I haven’t even touched on several entries that rocked my world yesterday — outside.in‘s announcement of a brilliant win-win deal with the Washington Post, or their VC’s most interesting blog post, Rethinking The Local Paper

…All this, and this being the mere tip of the iceberg. Let’s not forget the links my husband sends — he tells me I have to watch Paulo Coelho (brilliant, from what I’ve heard, absolutely paradigm shifting) as well as Edward Tufte (ditto), and more… My inbox is overflowing…

Daily Diigo Public Link 01/26/2008

January 25, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | 1 Comment

Gawker and the Rage of the Creative Underclass — New York Magazine

tags: creatives, psychology, reference, schadenfreude, vanessa_grigoriadis, victoria

References to a “creative underclass” and “roiling Schadenfreude” of course set off bells for anyone familiar with the Victoria BC scene, which has long sustained itself on highly creative (often volatile) people living on substandard wages. True, that might be the only thing Victoria and NYC have in common, but the socially determined psychology suggested by the author’s intro makes me want to read this with an eye on our local scene. We have in this city “a huge cheering section for failure,” as a local commentator once put it, and maybe Grigoriadis’s article will shed light on how that happens.

My Other Car is a Bright Green City – WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future

tags: alex_steffen, cars, cities, environment, green_strategies, sustainability, urbanism, worldchanging

via CEOs for Cities, an article by Alex Steffen, which argues for dense, urban communities that will help curb (literally) car use. \n\nFrom his intro preamble: “This is a rough draft of a long essay about why I believe building compact communities should be one of America’s highest environmental priorities, and why, in fact, our obsession with building greener cars may be obscuring some fundamental aspects of the problem and some of the benefits of using land-use change as a primary sustainability solution.”

Daily Diigo Public Link 01/24/2008

January 23, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links, urbanism | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 01/24/2008

The Mobile City – TV glasses – watching video in private Annotated

tags: anonymity, cities, privacy, public_space, technology

Mobile City asks all the right questions (in this case, about video glasses, a visual sort of iPod or Walkman device). Eg.: “…it’s another addition to the array of media to shield off private media consumption in public places. Just like the Walkman/iPod earbuds privatized personal music listening, these glasses may do something similar for watching video/TV. The same ol’ question arises again: what does this mean for publicness of places?”

What does it mean for the publicness of places? Or, alternately, what does it mean for polite anonymity, for protective anonymity? At what point does privacy become just a bit too …aggressive and impolite for civic intercourse?

A Daily Dose of Architecture: Half Dose #43: Tile for Yu-un Annotated

tags: courtyard, embodiment, frank_lloyd_wright, materiality, tadao_ando, tokyo

This I love. It reminds me of a really cool and timely update of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas about texture, and how the appropriate emphasis on surface texture will relate to your bodily experiences, will make you experience time differently (perhaps more slowly — note the knobby quality of the highly polished “bon-bons” vs the smooth glass of the entry, not to mention the strict geometry of the stairs (see esp’y the 3rd picture).

Sure footing on Jarvis slip by Christopher Hume (Toronto Star) Annotated

tags: christopher_hume, jarvis_slip, public_space, toronto, waterfront

This is the article that accompanies the video (also linked to today). It’s about the three finalists in the competition to redesign T.O. waterfront along the Jarvis Slip. Best quote: “Though the three finalists are all quite different, in their own way each takes conventional notions of public space and carefully turns it upside down. This is exactly what Toronto’s waterfront needs.”

Enhancing the Jarvis Slip by Christopher Hume (TheStar.com – Video Viewer)

tags: architecture, christopher_hume, jarvis_slip, public_space, toronto, video, waterfront

The Toronto Star put up a video of Christopher Hume explaining the 3 finalist contenders for re-making Jarvis Slip, a T.O. d/t lakefront public area.

This makes me think of how important speech (vs. the word as read) is when thinking about any issues, and of how important the speaker is (his/her manner/ abilities at conversation). Hume has done an excellent job on other videos posted to the Toronto Star, explaining the city’s architecture for downloadable walking tours.

Radiant City :: A Documentary About Urban Sprawl

tags: angst, anomie, sprawl, suburban_style, suburbs

This seems kind of apropos in view of Victoria’s development in the so-called Western Communities, called “Bear Mountain” (perhaps more appropriately, “bare mountain”).

Daily Diigo Public Link 01/22/2008

January 21, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 01/22/2008

How to make housing affordable (The Toronto Star) Annotated

tags: affordability, canada, cities, development, socialjustice, toronto

“By relying on donations from suppliers, a Brampton developer has managed to build high-quality abodes for low-income families.
When the 16-storey “Chapelview” project, on John St. in downtown Brampton, is finished next year, it will provide 200 apartments for seniors and low-income singles as well as people with disabilities, and if all goes according to plan, it will earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

If he’s successful, D’Angelo believes the Chapelview project, which includes a six-storey garage for municipal and tenant parking, will be the first high-rise social-housing project in North America to receive the LEED platinum rating, the highest benchmark for green building and design.”

And then you wonder why this can’t be done in more cities across Canada…?

“I am eternally optimistic; I am Chinese” – The Art Newspaper Annotated

tags: art, cai_guo_qiang, gunpowder, ideas, sculpture

First time I’ve tagged something under “gunpowder,” but Cai Guo Qiang’s art deserves its own tag and niche. I love this guy’s work (although, admittedly, I haven’t had a chance to see it in person, even though it was displayed at the Seattle Art Museum). Just to give an idea of this man’s thinking:
“Gunpowder is a spontaneous, unpredictable and uncontrollable medium. The more you learn to control it, the more obsessed you become with the material. It is like making love with your husband or wife. The outcome is unpredictable and the same results are never guaranteed. Furthermore, in using gunpowder I can explore all my concerns: the relation to notions of spirituality as well as an interest in spectacle and entertainment, and the transformation of certain energies—such as violent explosions—into beauty and a kind of poetry. An artist should be like an alchemist using poison against poison, which is very much a philosophy from Chinese medicine. Turning something bad into something good…countering the force. It’s the whole idea of the alchemist, using dirt, dust, and getting gold out of it. From gunpowder, from its very essence, you can see so much of the power of the universe—how we came to be. You can express these grand ideas about the cosmos.”

This is philosophy and art, not just tired old ideology and art. Brilliant stuff, truly.

On the Olympics — a salient topic for us, in BC, given that next-door Vancouver will host the Winter Games in 2010 — Cai Guo Qiang notes:
“The Olympics combine the entire country’s efforts, and can do a lot of previously unimaginable things. You can display your work in front of an audience of billions, but at the same time it can feel like you’re making the work for yourself. Through this event, one can contemplate and better understand what “Chinese culture” is. One needs to think about the past, present, and future of China and its relationship with the world.”

That makes me think it’s the most significant statement yet (for the non-athlete) on the Olympics: time to step beyond petty “me me me” memes, and really think in bigger terms…

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