The Monday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

December 24, 2012 at 9:49 am | In links | 1 Comment
  • The body (and its many-splendored sensorium) isn’t dead yet. We want to touch, not just watch.
    The past decade has seen a non-stop discussion about the rise of online and virtual channels that are replacing physical storefronts. Now, it seems some e-tailers are getting into having a physical presence as well.

    tags: shopping smartplanet etail retail online_shopping storefronts economy

  • So many great points in this interview with David Hemenway, but this one really stood out. It’s in response to the question, “What are the next steps to take to reduce gun violence when we already own nearly 300 million guns?”
    It may sound hard, but it’s not like we have to throw up our hands. In Boston, how do inner-city gang members get guns? They weren’t born with them. Their parents didn’t have them. They can’t burglarize houses and find many guns. The answer is, adults bring guns into the inner city and sell them, from western Mass., from New Hampshire and Vermont, from down South, where it’s easier to get guns. We just have to figure out a way to stop the trafficking, so that rather than always pointing at the individual who did something wrong — which typically doesn’t help anything — we can figure out a way to make it hard to behave inappropriately, rather than easy. When it’s easy to behave inappropriately, people will.

    tags: harvard_gazette david_hemenway guns social_disorder health public_health violence usa

  • A fascinating must-read on the Second Amendment’s travels through 1970s and 80s America.
    Does the Second Amendment prevent Congress from passing gun-control laws? The question, which is suddenly pressing, in light of the reaction to the school massacre in Newtown, is rooted in politics as much as law.

    tags: second_amendment newyorker guns

  • Love this article, and also Tali Sharot’s talk.
    “To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities, and not just any old reality but a better one.”

    tags: brainpickings maria_popova tali_sharot optimism happiness video

  • Oh, how I wish my little downtown on the North Shore had an urban, walkable grocery store. (While I lived in Portland OR, I shopped at the 2 stores mentioned in the article. The New Seasons store isn’t downtown – it’s in a dense neighborhood – while the Safeway in the Pearl is indeed right downtown. Both stores work really well. For the New Seasons / not-quite-righ-downtown store, it’s always a question of appeasing the shoppers who drive. But it can be done: they put parking on the roof. PS I really dislike the 2 Safeways just outside of downtown here: they’re surrounded by ACRES of asphalt parking lot, and they’re too huge and incredibly sterile, really soulless. For the same reason, I dislike Shaw’s – the other supermarket on the suburban northern edge of town.)
    With a split between customers arriving on foot or by car, a key for the design of the store was to get one entrance to face the parking structure and the other to be an attractive pedestrian entrance off the street. Parking was reduced 40 percent versus a conventional suburban store, and the ratio is just 2.9 spaces per 1,000 square feet of store space. This works in a dense urban environment, not only with the 685 residential units within Cityvista itself but thousands of additional housing units providing substantial customers within walking distance. Moreover, the urban lifestyle that Safeway understands is that the urban shopper is more likely to shop once a day rather than once a week, and thus places a bigger emphasis on prepared foods and produce.

    tags: grocery_stores food parking urban_food cities

  • An intriguing local project (Salem, Greater Boston, North Shore) that deserves attention.
    Salem Public Space Project
    Past Stories, Present Narratives, Future Possibilities

    tags: salem public_space citizen_journalism

  • Intriguing visuals, via an exhibition “Grand Reductions,” by SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association), excerpted in this article:
    The exhibition’s title – Grand Reductions – suggests the simple illustration’s power to encapsulate complex ideas. And for that reason the medium has always been suited to the city, an intricate organism that has been re-imagined (with satellite towns! in rural grids! in megaregions!) by generations of architects, planners and idealists. In the urban context, diagrams can be powerful precisely because they make weighty questions of land use and design digestible in a single sweep of the eye. But as Le Corbusier’s plan illustrates, they can also seductively oversimplify the problems of cities. These 10 diagrams have been tremendously influential – not always for the good.

    tags: emily_badger atlantic_cities urbanplanning maps cities

  • Evgeny Morozov nails it with this question:
    What is “objective” about such algorithmic “truths”?

    Quaint prudishness, excessive enforcement of copyright, unneeded damage to our reputations: algorithmic gatekeeping is exacting a high toll on our public life. Instead of treating algorithms as a natural, objective reflection of reality, we must take them apart and closely examine each line of code.

    tags: nyt evgeny_morozov morality silicon_valley internet censorship

  • Every city (at least any city that has allowed developer variances in exchange for publicly accessible private space) should have a tool like San Francisco’s, which allows the public to learn about where these POPOS are. Props to San Francisco.
    As for the public, the city unveiled on Friday a new web tool that will for the first time catalog the dozens of POPOS downtown and the amenities at each one (845 Market Street’s ninth-floor rooftop space has 59 chairs and welcomes food but doesn’t sell any; 301 Mission Street’s indoor atrium features extensive artwork and service from a bar and restaurant on-premises). The city’s legislative affairs office has mapped and photographed each space and linked to the original Planning Commission motion spelling out the individual property’s requirements under the city regulation. The updated ordinance, requiring clearer signs (both outdoors and indoors for those spaces accessed past security guards and up elevators) went into effect last week.

    tags: san_francisco public_space popos maps access atlantic_cities

  • An example of over-engineering, and forcing nature to adapt to human use, vs. making human use meet nature at least half way? Please don’t let them drain the Missouri for the sake of Mississippi barge traffic (while starving those dependent on the Missouri)…
    The engineers are constantly dredging the river’s sandy bottom or building levees to keep barges moving. Those efforts to confine the river to a deep and narrow channel are believed to have made surrounding areas more vulnerable to extreme floods – as in 2011, when thousands were forced to flee their homes.

    Such measures may also not make sense in the long-term use of the river.

    Criss argues the long barge trains floating on the Mississippi are just too big for the upper reaches of the river anyway, and that the industry is unfairly subsidised compared with other transport providers such as rail.

    “The whole system around here has been entirely reconfigured to accommodate these monstrous barges,” he said.

    “This is the whole problem. We want to run boats on the river with 9ft drafts that are almost a quarter of a mile long. They are too big for the size of the river up here.”

    tags: environment rivers mississippi missouri atlantic_cities economy ecology drought climate

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

December 17, 2012 at 8:05 pm | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Right on.
    Not being able to share photos seamlessly from one social network to another may be the epitome of a “first world problem;” getting lost in the Australian outback because your smartphone manufacturer replaced a bulletproof mapping app with its inferior homemade version is a bit more serious. But in either case, the essential value of these information technologies–their ability to seamlessly interface with each other as only bits, rather than atoms, can–is being purposely eroded. The vision is almost comically retrograde: Twitter, Google, Apple, and Facebook each seem to think that they can provide every conceivable digital functionality to the user all on their own at each other’s expense, much like GM’s “kitchen of tomorrow” at the 1964 World’s Fair promised to meet every need of a 20th-century housewife with one brand. Fifty years later, nobody has (or wants) a kitchen built solely out of General Motors products. So why do Twitter and Facebook act like there is a personal information-technology equivalent?

    tags: mit_techreview internet apps silos john_pavlus

  • Key point re. the dedicated once-a-week big grocery shop, versus the ability to pop into the neighborhood grocery store (or cafe or pub) for that quick, daily stock-up…
    But for all of the other business types examined, bikers actually out-consumed drivers over the course of a month. True, they often spent less per visit. But cyclists and pedestrians in particular made more frequent trips (by their own estimation) to these restaurants, bars and convenience stores, and those receipts added up. This finding is logical: It’s a lot easier to make an impulse pizza stop if you’re passing by an aromatic restaurant on foot or bike instead of in a passing car at 35 miles an hour. Such frequent visits are part of the walkable culture. Compare European communities – where it’s common to hit the bakery, butcher and fish market on the way home from work – to U.S. communities where the weekly drive to Walmart’s supermarket requires an hour of dedicated planning.

    tags: atlantic_cities emily_badger bicycles cycling economies cities walkability

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

December 9, 2012 at 4:30 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Time to re-purpose prisons.
    From the 1920s through the 1960s, the U.S. incarceration rate remained remarkably stable. It wasn’t until the ’70s that all of this changed, that we started both imprisoning more people and holding them in prison longer for the same crimes. Today, as the commonly quoted stat puts it, America has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its prisoners. The trend ultimately gave way to what researchers have called the “million dollar block” phenomenon. America has spent so much money incarcerating people, often from single blocks of particular urban neighborhoods, that we’ve made the criminal justice system “the predominant government institution” in these communities. What if we spent that money directly in these neighborhoods, Sperry asks, and not on imprisoning their residents elsewhere?

    tags: atlantic_cities prison emily_badger usa repurposing

  • Need to check out/ read Alex Marshall’s new book, The Surprising Design of Market Economies…
    What we think of as markets don’t emerge unless government first creates property. More complex markets emerge only after government lays down roads, water lines, and take on the responsibility of educating their citizens. Then governments do things like create corporations, and intellectual property such as patents and copyrights. Governments create the web of international law that allows and directs world trade.

    Politicians talk about the free enterprise system, and the free market, but neither exists without government. The recent campaign rhetoric of now Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren, and President Barack Obama, about how successful businesses depend on a network of things that they didn’t make, comes close to what I’m talking about.

    tags: jjacobs atlantic_cities allison_arieff alex_marshall economic_development markets cities development

  • Totally agree with the criticism that traffic engineers have been given too free a rein when it comes to “designing” our streets. Fits in with Gordon Price’s critique of Motordom.
    Colville-Andersen has been one of the most visible and vocal members of what is sometimes called the “livable streets” movement, which has its roots in the last decades of the 20th century but has really gained ground in the 21st. In a recent TEDx talk in Zurich, he framed the problem we face on our city’s streets as a failure of engineering, which has dominated the planning process for generations. The result, he says, has been the rise of an autocentric model – “the greatest paradigm shift in the history of our cities” — that kills millions of people around the globe every year and degrades the quality of life for everyone.

    tags: traffic engineering atlantic_cities motordom

  • A catalog of video presentations at Be Open, founded by Elena Baturina, everything on design thinking and the like (plus a dollop of self-convinced elitism…).
    …we must formulate an agenda for the future in all areas of human pursuit, based on a thoroughgoing review of the past and weaving the best practices of our legacy into the fabric of tomorrow. In times when many traditional economies and political systems are experiencing great difficulties, the intellectual elite and the aristocracy of creative talent are becoming a chief driving force.

    BE OPEN is a free space communication network, a bridge between intellectual elites, including young minds, representing Europe and Russia, that is designed to provide and promote perfect conditions for their joint endeavors while attracting gifted individuals and innovators from around the world.

    BE OPEN is a long-term multidisciplinary project, a system incorporating multiple elements – conferences, competitions, exhibitions, master classes, cultural, arts, and sports events attended by talented and gifted individuals from diverse spheres, who can now offer their ideas and vision of the future advancement.

    The Internet portal will be a platform for sharing ideas and outlooks, featuring the most exciting lectures, interviews, reviews with a focus on design, architecture, cutting-edge technologies and progressive social projects.

    BE OPEN draws on an absolutely original approach – design thinking: an inspiring philosophy underlined by such values as freedom and a disregard for convention, with no restrictions imposed on ingenuity.

    Design thinking is of crucial importance to our project, which is targeted towards applying this approach to handling major problems in social and economic areas. Design is a universal language of modernity that has long ceased to be an exclusive domain of a very limited circle of dedicated professionals. In a joint effort with the innovators and prominent representatives of the business world, we will be looking for and selecting the most promising high-impact inventive ideas: ways in which design thinking can be delivered. As soon as such projects are well-defined and sufficiently mature, we will present them to leaders in the design community and the general public.

    To give a new lease of life to the ideas expressed by a great thinker – If you want to see a change in the future, make this change now – to personify such a change and make all the difference in the world: that is the global challenge for BE OPEN.

    Let’s OPEN the future now!

    tags: be_open video reference think_tanks design_thinking elena_baturina

  • Richard Florida comments and expands on the recent NYT series on what essentially amounts to “corporate welfare,” namely incentive programs to lure corporations to a state/ community. In effect, these incentives amount to a kind of corporate welfare that depletes local coffers. The practice should be stopped. Florida and his Martin Prosperity Institute colleagues look at some other data and compile additional maps here.
    All told, states, cities, and counties give away some $80 billion to companies each year, including both expenditures and tax abatements, according to the Times’ estimates. There are 48 companies which have received more than $100 million in incentives since 2007, led by General Motors, which took in a whopping $1.77 billion in incentives. Other companies that are part of the $100 million incentive club include: Ford, Chrysler, Daimler, General Electric, Shell, Dow, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Caterpillar, Procter & Gamble, Sears, Boeing, Airbus, Panasonic, and Electrolux. More than 5,000 companies received one million dollars or more in incentives, according to the Times’ estimates.

    tags: richard_florida nyt corporate_welfare finance municipal_politics development economy atlantic_cities

  • This is such a good article. Should be required reading:
    For years, too many American companies have treated the actual manufacturing of their products as incidental—a generic, interchangeable, relatively low-value part of their business. If you spec’d the item closely enough—if you created a good design, and your drawings had precision; if you hired a cheap factory and inspected for quality—who cared what language the factory workers spoke?

    This sounded good in theory. In practice, it was like writing a cookbook without ever cooking.

    Lou Lenzi now heads design for all GE appliances, with a team of 25. But for years he worked for Thomson Consumer Electronics, which made small appliances—TVs, DVD players, telephones—with the GE logo on them. Thomson was an outsource shop. It designed stuff, then hired factories to make much of that stuff. Price was what mattered.

    “What we had wrong was the idea that anybody can screw together a dishwasher,” says Lenzi. “We thought, ‘We’ll do the engineering, we’ll do the marketing, and the manufacturing becomes a black box.’ But there is an inherent understanding that moves out when you move the manufacturing out. And you never get it back.”

    It happens slowly. When you first send the toaster or the water heater to an overseas factory, you know how it’s made. You were just making it—yesterday, last month, last quarter. But as products change, as technologies evolve, as years pass, as you change factories to chase lower labor costs, the gap between the people imagining the products and the people making them becomes as wide as the Pacific.

    What is only now dawning on the smart American companies, says Lenzi, is that when you outsource the making of the products, “your whole business goes with the outsourcing.” Which raises a troubling but also thrilling prospect: the offshoring rush of the past decade or more—one of the signature economic events of our times—may have been a mistake.

    tags: atlantic_monthly charles_fishman outsourcing china manufacturing insourcing economy usa

  • Of the Ten, I like Nr. Eight:
    8. Plant trees. (“It’s best not to pick favorites in the walkability discussion— every individual point counts— but the humble American street tree might win my vote.”) Even though street trees correlate with fewer automobile accidents, many public transportation agencies seek to limit them because they believe they interfere with visibility. But Jeff points out that, in addition to contributing to auto safety, trees provide myriad public benefits, including natural cooling, reduced emissions and energy demand for air conditioning, and reduced stormwater pollution.

    tags: atlantic_cities kaid_benfield walking urban_design

  • Craig Mod’s excellent article (except for ONE THING) on rethinking digital magazines. The one thing? You have to get married to iOs’s Newsstand. Hmmm…. Otherwise, very good points:
    I propose Subcompact Publishing tools and editorial ethos begin (but not end) with the following qualities:

    Small issue sizes (3-7 articles / issue)
    Small file sizes
    Digital-aware subscription prices
    Fluid publishing schedule
    Scroll (don’t paginate)
    Clear navigation
    HTML(ish) based
    Touching the open web

    tags: craigmod publishing magazines

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

“Save your kisses” – must-read multimedia post.

December 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm | In politics | Comments Off on “Save your kisses” – must-read multimedia post.


It’s very much worth a read.

Also, from a strictly formal perspective, I was intrigued by Adam Curtis’s insertion of vintage film and video footage, which made his text come alive. (I do wish he’d nail down the difference between “it’s” and “its,” though…)

Things I learned/ hadn’t thought about before:

  • that Tel Aviv was modeled in some ways on Herzl’s Alt Neuland as well as on Bauhaus-style notions of progressive housing and urbanism;
  • that Hannah Arendt’s trenchant insights on “the banality of evil” contributed to destabilizing Israel’s attachment to progress and progressive politics (the belief that politicians could fix things, that we really can do better);
  • that early in the state’s history, Israelis were not entirely dissimilar to post-WWII Germans who also preferred not to rake over the immediate Nazi past (and that the Eichmann trial very vividly thrust that past into 1960s Israel, much to the eventual detriment of progressive politics – this is Curtis’s thesis, and it’s fascinating);
  • that Rabin’s game (to deal with Arafat and the PLO in a bid to …well, what?, marginalize and neutralize Hamas?) backfired in the worst way (Hamas won out over the PLO and Rabin lost to Bibi – who, I didn’t know till reading this article, had lost his older brother at Entebbe);
  • and that as a result (again, Curtis’s thesis), the Israeli right wing and Hamas are locked in a deadly, escalating, embrace.

I could go on, but it’s such a loaded topic that I think I better not.

I’ll just say that Hamas’s position is a disaster, and that any religious leader who advocates treating one’s enemies the same way as they have treated you (that is, it’s ok to kill their women and children and defenseless citizens because at some point they killed yours – never mind that on occasion you deliberately put your defenseless ones in harm’s way) is not representative of any kind of worthy religion. And any “religion” that teaches little children, daily, to hate and hate, and hate again day in and day out, deserves to go to hell. Prospects of peace with people who follow a religion like this are very dim indeed.

Regarding western hangers-on of the above, think again. As one of the German Revolutionary Cells terrorists who’s sorting Jews from non-Jews at Entebbe puts it, “I’m no Nazi – I’m an idealist.” My ass you’re an idealist. You’re an idiot and a tool.

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