It’s starting to get all buzzy: DemoCampVictoria coming up soon

March 17, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, innovation, victoria, web | 2 Comments

I’ve let quite a few days go by without posting anything — let’s just say I got myself into a bit of mess around yet another local issue (memo to self: stop it with the letters to the editor!) and stuff demanded attention.

But I need to jump back into my blog today: I’m psyched that Better Web Posse blogged the upcoming April 3 DemoCampVictoria, from whence I followed several other links, including Tris Hussey’s post today, and also Aidan Henry’s post, Local Victoria Tech Scene Heating Up, from March 13. I’m really looking forward to this, and appreciate that Mark Lise and Brij Charan are pulling it together!

DemoCamp should be a lot of fun, and I’m thrilled that David Chard, the developer of several downtown Victoria condominium projects, was willing to help make it happen. He is providing the space at his 834 Johnson showroom and sales centre for the Juliet condominium currently under construction at the corner of Johnson and Blanshard. I think it’s a nice bit of synergy to see a developer of buildings hosting a group of developers of ideas. …Of course, there was that initial comical moment where we had to explain that the “demo” in DemoCamp refers to demonstration, and not to what might ominously spring to mind if you’re in the business of building things up, namely, demolition… 🙂

Last year, while the Gaining Ground summit was in session, David offered his showroom at 834 Johnson to host Vancouver-based urban planner, writer, and blogger Gordon Price, who gave a presentation on urban development. Gordon grew up in Victoria and provided a really thoughtful assessment of where we’ve been, with some sage advice on where we’re going.

In that same spirit of community participation, David has agreed to host Victoria’s first-ever DemoCamp. I hope it’s a trend in terms of participatory relations between all the local sectors that have an interest in seeing Victoria thrive as a vibrant, creative (artistic and technological/ entrepreneurial) city (and that’s a hint to others in downtown Victoria who might be able to offer space for subsequent DemoCamps!). It doesn’t matter if we’re developers, technologists, educators, artists in various fields, business people, or academics: we’re in this together (literally), on this little peninsula, which in turn is part of a larger regional network.

For more info, see the wiki page, DemoCampVictoria, and the Facebook page.

Daily Diigo Public Link 03/12/2008

March 11, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 03/12/2008

Gamers Get Their Kicks From Dying – Wired Magazine Annotated

tags: clive_thompson, death, gamers, gaming, violence, wired_magazine

Via Regine (WMMNA), an article in Wired Magazine by Clive Thompson, “Gamers Get Their Kicks From Dying.”

He writes: “In The Psychophysiology of James Bond: Phasic Emotional Responses to Violent Video Game Events — published in this month’s edition of the journal Emotion — [Niklas] Ravaja [a scientist who has done pioneering research into the emotions of gamers as they play] reaches an amazingly counterintuitive conclusion: Gamers don’t like shooting their opponents, but they’re suffused with pleasure when they themselves are shot dead.”

What’s also interesting is that this presents some alternative evidence that one doesn’t become desensitized to violence just because one plays violent online or computer games.

How to marry a Canadian – Crosscut Seattle –

tags: breast_cancer, canada, cancer, crosscut, health, health_care, jeanne_sather, seattle, usa

“When a Seattle writer tried to recruit some north-of-the-border help in her fight against cancer, she learned how different our countries really are.” Seattle cancer blogger Jeanne Sather writes about the differences between Canadian and American health care (including, especially, cost, and access to). Her blog, The Assertive Cancer Patient provides real time details and updates.

A Daily Dose of Architecture: AE2: Highway Noise Barrier Annotated

tags: daily_dose_of_architecture, highway_noise, john_hill, noise_barriers, sprawl

John Hill has an excellent entry on highway noise barriers, those typically uninspired, unattractive, fake brick walls that are supposed to address a particular problem of sprawl, “dispersed living patterns and the high-speed roads that allow access to them” (as he puts it). Mercifully, there are attractive alternatives, …and alternate solutions: “…the best case for raising the bar on the design of these barriers is to make them part of a building; in other words bring the architecture to the road, don’t use the barrier to separate the two.” Brilliant!

Downtown to be painted with digital light Annotated

tags: downtown, grafitti, light_art, neograf, neografik_project, nomlg, public_art, vancouver

Downtown Vancouver’s corporate buildings will be “grafitti-ed” with laser art, as part of Cultural Olympiad. See the New Form Festival for more info.

Wish we had something comparable in Victoria (hint, hint!)…

Daily Diigo Public Link 03/11/2008

March 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 03/11/2008

Why daylight saving time is bad for the environment (Toronto Star) Annotated

tags: daylight_savings_time, dst, energy, environment

“The annual time change has long been sold as a way to save energy, but the opposite might be true.” I wouldn’t mind if we stayed on one time all year round, although I admit liking daylight savings for the longer evenings. But then I don’t live in an area that uses air conditioning — the main reason why electricity use goes way up in DST and therefore there’s a net increase in fuel / energy consumption (vs any sort of energy saving).

I dislike changing from standard time to daylight saving time and vice versa, the silly business of spring forward or falling back — it feels like jet lag without any of the benefits of actual travel.

Daily Diigo Public Link 03/08/2008

March 7, 2008 at 5:40 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 03/08/2008

Why Are Men Who Build Skyscrapers Afraid of This Woman? – Philly Mag Annotated

tags: architecture, critics, inga_saffron, journalists, magazine, philadelphia, skyscrapers

Nice article by Richard Rys about architecture critic Inga Saffron in Philadelphia. Ok, I know I can’t be her, but I loved the article, if only because I wish I had the energy to dress like her — my perennial jeans & t-shirt thing is wearing thin (literally). (Although I DO have a Pashmina shawl EXACTLY like the one she’s wearing. Hmmm, maybe there’s hope — if only sartorial? — for me yet!)

3-D Modeling Advance – MIT Technology Review

tags: 3-d_modeling, mit_techreview, visualization

– Interesting report on Make3D, a (new) web service “that lets users turn a single two-dimensional image of an outdoor scene into an immersive 3-D model.” What I’m especially interested in is how this could be used for an idea I had around a retail application (more on that some other time!), which stalled because the “magic juice” or “potion” was missing. This could well be one key ingredient of same, though…

Daily Diigo Public Link 03/07/2008

March 6, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 03/07/2008

etech08: Information Visualization is a Medium, by Stamen Design – we make money not art

tags: apps, data, data_visualization, eric_rodenbeck, etech08, gis, mapping_apps, o’reilly, regine, wmmna

Intriguing summing up by Regine from We Make Money Not Art of Eric Rodenbeck’s presentation at etech08, “Information Visualization is a Medium.” I especially liked this, on the Crime Spotting app:

“…interactive map of crimes in Oakland was developed with the idea of offering a tool for understanding crime in cities.

“You can get a precise overview of what is happening in your neighbourhood (or the one where you plan to rent a house) over time, you can select the crimes you want to see and if you like that sort of thrill, crime alerts can be delivered to you in almost real time via RSS or email.

“Crimespotting helps people explore public information, draw connections, see pattern emerge and find new possibilities for questioning.

The website says: We believe that civic data should be exposed to the public in a more open way. With these maps, we hope to inspire local governments to use this data visualization model for the public release of many different kinds of data: tree plantings, new schools, applications for liquor licenses, and any other information that matters to people who live in neighborhoods.”

Yes, data should be “exposed to the public in a more open way.”

Cool Hunting: Thomas Heatherwick East Beach Cafe Annotated

tags: architecture, beach_cafe, coolhunting, thomas_heatherwick

Wow, this is interesting… And a great point made by Coolhunting’s author(s): that “one can’t help but think that this is a woefully under-explored area of building design.” Looking at Heatherwick’s design, I’d have to agree. The combination of sculpture and flotsam-jetsam washed-ashore appearance is compelling. It’s very modern/ new, but also ancient-looking (looks a bit like the spine bones from a giant whale or something)…

Placemaking « Stephen Rees’s blog Annotated

tags: jan_gehl, lectures, place_making, reference, stephen_rees, urbanism

Stephen Rees blogs Jan Gehl’s talk at the Gateway Theatre, Richmond February 28, 2008. Found via Gordon Price (“Pricetags”), otherwise I would have missed this excellent summary (and a great comments thread, too). Coincidentally, I also watched Andres Duany’s very engaging talk, “On the Edge,” from January 16/08 on the SFU “City Program” site (video here). It’s a bit disconcerting to think that but for a fluke, I could have missed both these items. I don’t remember seeing Gehl’s lecture announced, and I didn’t see any media follow-ups anywhere else. Duany’s lecture I knew about, but missed that a video of same was available. Well, better late than never, I guess…

A case of loose cannon remorse

March 5, 2008 at 6:03 pm | In arts, newspapers, victoria, writing | Comments Off on A case of loose cannon remorse

Well, that’s it: I will in future refrain from using a feature called “sound off,” which is appended to some online articles in our local paper (The Times-Colonist, part of the Asper media conglomerate). The “sound off” acts as a kind of comments board, but it doesn’t seem to allow for any sort of formatting, previewing, or immediacy. Unlike Crosscut, which allows readers to comment instantly, a submitted “sound off” is held for hours — sometimes days, it seems — before an editor approves it. This means that you can’t really follow a conversation, because everything is so slowed down and filtered.

The other issue is that, should you criticize (in however a politic — or in my case: impolitic) fashion some flaw in the article, the article might be edited to fix that flaw, but your comment stays — which might magnify an apparent irrationality on the part of the commenter.

I submitted a most impolitic sound off last Saturday evening. It was already fairly late in the day when I read the article, Giant canoe will hang over Bastion Square, by Carolyn Heiman (a very good reporter), about a public art piece that apparently was just approved by …”the city,” although it beats me what the process was by which (and by whom) the decision was made.

Aside from that, Heiman’s article mentioned a well-known city councilor, yet didn’t introduce her as such, and simply quoted her (…’We just announce the winner in consideration of the privacy of the other artists, [sic] said XYZ.), seemingly out of the blue.

I bet the New York Times, when quoting a well-known city politician (let’s say the mayor?), would do it like this: “Blah, blah blah,” said Mayor Bloomberg. At least then you know, ah, he’s the mayor: you’re informed as to who (or what) he is. If only his last name is mentioned, and the reader doesn’t have the entire council and mayor roster of names at his or her mental fingertips, the reader might be left in the dark. But if the reader is literate enough to read the paper, he or she will know what a mayor or a councilor is. The rest is deduction, of a relatively easy sort.

I’m no Lynn Truss, but I have certain issues that really push my buttons, and one of them is clarity in newspaper articles. I know Heiman is a good reporter, but I also suspect that there are many sloppy editors who get careless when they cut the reporters’ submitted texts to fit the column space available. I’d bet that the article originally did identify the speaker as a city councilor, but that this was edited out (for space reasons?). So I first commented on that, impolitically because I charged the editors with not doing their job.

(As an aside: nothing drives me up the wall faster than the colloquial use of the “is” contraction to replace “has,” as in “It’s been a while since he attended.” It is been a while…? What does that mean? It seems that newspapers are constantly bleating about the evil bloggers diluting standards, yet they’re in the front ranks of offenders themselves. When a blogger blogs colloquially, it’s one thing — but when the “official” and usually printed media get all sloppy like that, it’s not ok. And still it happens all over every newspaper, and all the time. “She’s got the experience to make it work.” She is got the experience…? That might work in conversation, but can we keep it off the written page, please? Where are the editors? I think the reporters/writers are doing it to cut their word count. “It has” is two words, “It’s” is just one. Use contractions of all sorts often enough and you can really shave the word count, which I suppose might be important when you know editors are going to whack your pieces to fit the space.)

But, to return to Carolyn Heiman’s otherwise excellent report, what has also really infuriated me for well over a year is this: it is impossible to find out anything online about some of the city’s boards or committees. There’s an Advisory Design Panel — who is on it?, when does it meet?, why are its minutes and agendas so out of date? There’s an Advisory Planning Council — again, same questions. There is also a Public Art Project Advisory Committee, which seems to be dormant and whose domain (according to the city website) “is currently under review.” So who made decisions regarding the winning public art proposal which has been chosen for installation in Victoria’s Bastion Square?

Well, that was the other button. The night before, I managed to catch a short video clip posted to the same newspaper’s website, from CHEK-TV, which showed an interview with a local artist who appears to be part of some committee — one that has done the jurying. He just talked about the winning artist, but said nothing about the committee or the process.

Furthermore, Heiman reports that the two runner-up candidates will remain anonymous:

A seven-member jury trimmed the 21 submissions to three finalists who where given $1,000 to create maquettes to show in more detail how their art would look. Gallant’s maquette is now on display at the B.C. Maritime Museum in Bastion Square.

The city will not disclose who the other two finalists were or describe what their work was like. [emphasis added]

But if these two runner-ups were also each paid $1000 of taxpayer monies to produce maquettes — which the public won’t see — shouldn’t the public have a right to know who they were? (* See “Edit” addendum, below.*)

Why the shroud of secrecy? Why does the city create this fundamentally undemocratic, secretive climate?

And so, while I regret my tone — holy cow, I was incensed when I wrote the “sound off” — I stand by my basic questions.

Yesterday I submitted a second comment to the same “sound off” board — but the editors don’t seem to want to publish this one — at least it’s not up yet, well over 18 hours after I submitted it. It read:

At the risk of digging myself a deeper hole here after my somewhat vehement comment above: I know that in the first version I read, Mrs. Madoff was NOT introduced as a Victoria councilor (otherwise my quoted text, in my first comment above, would have shown this). That suggests that the article was edited *after* I commented. I still maintain that bringing someone into an article without a proper introduction is a breach of standards, even as I’m appreciative of the fact that the TC must have fixed this initial error. Also to clarify: my criticism was directed at the TC editors, not at Carolyn Heiman, who I think is a very good reporter. Finally, I’m still totally in the dark however as to what or who this “city of Victoria selection committee” is (which clearly involves Mr. Porteous, as per the CHEK-TV video clip — see above — but which isn’t in any other way identified). That’s not the reporter’s fault, if it’s a case of the city making the information nearly impossible to track down. I’m still annoyed that the City of Victoria’s website doesn’t have up-to-date information on many of its committees, including the ADP (Advisory Design Panel), APC (Advisory Planning Committee), or the apparently dormant (or not?) Public Art Project Advisory Committee. I don’t think that transparency should be so difficult to achieve in our digital age. Put the information online and put it out in *real time*, not with a delay of months. Many City of Victoria committee websites are inexcusably out of date.

Perhaps they’re not comfortable letting this one through because I claim that they can edit articles after the fact. Or perhaps it’ll magically appear later?

Whatever, but I’m done with this silly method of “reader interaction.” The invitation to “sound off” isn’t an invitation to conversation. It’s really just noise, in my case of cannons going off. And while I hate being a loose cannon, being a cannon shaped to the restrictions of a media conglomerate’s “sound off” is even worse.

**Update** Sometime between my blog post from late this afternoon and now (it’s 10pm), that second “sound off” comment of mine made it through the filters and is up on the website.

Now, let’s see… How else can I tick the city off? Hmm, how about by asking why people who live in the municipalities of Oak Bay, Saanich, Esquimalt, or elsewhere in the CRD, who can’t vote in City of Victoria elections, can nonetheless run for and be elected either to council or even as mayor of the City of Victoria? Does this mean that someone from Langford could become mayor of Victoria, …and vice versa? If that’s the case, why not let those folks vote in City of Victoria elections?

If memory serves, in Boston you can’t even work for the city as staff — never mind be a city councilor or mayor — if you don’t live in Boston.

Why does the City of Victoria staff its city hall with staff bureaucrats and elect politicians and officials who don’t actually live in the city, yet simultaneously have political elections that exclude those folks?

(Edit, March 6: the chosen art work itself will be paid for by funds raised by the Bastion Square Revitalization Association, which means taxpayers aren’t paying for this. Presumably the $1000 paid to each of the 3 finalists was also provided by the BSRA fund. However, my point that public — and publicly appointed — committees should be transparent, their roster readily available, their meetings posted and open: that still stands.  Furthermore, the sculpture will occupy public space, and therefore it’s the public’s business.)

Daily Diigo Public Link 03/05/2008

March 4, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 03/05/2008

Libraries as ‘urban hangouts’ Crosscut Seattle

tags: crosscut, libraries, slate_magazine, witold_rybczynski

Nice commentary on Witold Rybczynski’s popular slide essay on Slate. Good to see a native give some feedback on Rybczynski’s take on Seattle library, too. I have to agree with David Brewster that the Salt Lake City Library is a knock-out: really gorgeous.

Excusado Printsystem: Street Art in Colombia – PingMag – The Tokyo-based magazine about “Design and Making Things” Annotated

tags: bogota, colombia, excusado_printsystem, grafitti, interview, ping_mag, street_art

Feast your eyes…! Ping Mag does it again: the street art featured here is Manet for today, is Courbet for contemporaries, is Beckmann for boys (and girls), is Frans Hals and Velasquez for very heavy kids of all persuasions, is just fantastic.

Huh? As fortune declines, newspaper readership rises – Crosscut Seattle Annotated

tags: crosscut, newspapers, seattle

Great article by Douglas McLennan (of Arts Journal). I’ve had this open in a browser tab since the end of February — postponing bookmarking it because I felt I needed to annotate it / comment on it appropriately. But now I’m bookmarking it with just one bit of advice: just read the article, especially if you’re interested in newspapers and news media.

The issue McLennan addresses? From the lead-in to the article: “More people are reading newspapers than ever before — on the Web. Yet publishers in Seattle and elsewhere continue to lament their decline. Why are they failing to capitalize on all these new eyeballs?”

Figure it out, Mr or Ms Newspaperperson.

» Das erste siebengeschossige Mehrfamilienhaus in Holzkonstruktion – Neuer Film bei architekturclips.de – architekturvideo.de – Das Video-Blog für Architektur, Stadtplanung und Immobilien Annotated

tags: architecture, architekturvideo.de, berlin, video, wood_frame_construction

Architektur Video dot DE links to a film from Kaden & Klingbeil Architects who are building the first 7-story multifamily apartment block constructed from wood (i.e., NOT concrete).

As you can see from the still photos included here, the construction system includes lots of steel I-beams and rivets, and overall looks *very* different from the usual 4-story and lower wood-frame construction one finds in North America. Overall, the method represents energy savings and environmental advantages, too. As for wood as fire hazard, everything is clad in thick fire-resistant material — I bet this insulates against sound, too.

Fascinating. The video is narrated by Tom Kaden, architect, in German.

Daily Diigo Public Link 03/03/2008

March 2, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 03/03/2008

Richard Florida and The Creative Class Exchange: Real Education Annotated

tags: education, finland, finnish_schooling, kids, oecd, oecd_pisa, richard_florida

Richard Florida quotes from a WSJ article that describes how successful Finnish high schoolers are compared to other students in other countries. I left a very long comment on this entry, as it’s a topic obviously close to my area of concerns.

Click through to read Florida’s post, and the numerous comments this one generated.

Daily Diigo Public Link 03/02/2008

March 1, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 03/02/2008

City, developer race to approve Portrait Gallery project Annotated

tags: art_museum, arts_funding, development, ottawa, portrait_gallery

This is an example of what should have happened in Victoria in regard to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s plans to move into a purpose-built gallery (designed by James Cheng), which would have been part of a single-tower residential redevelopment called Crystal Court, planned by Westbank Corp. The project was supposed to get built on Belleville Street in the heart of the Tourist District, in downtown Victoria. But it was essentially nixed from the start by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA), which claims that block as part of its precinct. Consequently, city planners declined to support the developer’s application for rezoning, and the project was still-born.

In Ottawa, meanwhile, forward-thinking city politicians are supporting a two 26-story residential tower development that will include a free-standing 2-story national portrait gallery.

Too bad the Federal government can’t put any pressure to bear on the JBNA — their idea to auction off the national portrait gallery certainly put the fires under Ottawa’s seats, but hey-ho, here in Victoria we can resist all change. Boy oh boy, the city of Victoria really dropped the ball on the Crystal Court Development.

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