Recently in Places

From November 2017, Shannon Mattern on the material archives of climate science.

As she explains “In the geosciences, there’s a long tradition of regarding the Earth itself, the terrestrial field, as an archive. Talk about big data…Over the next century, this metaphor multiplied across layers of abstraction. First there was the Earth as archive; then fossil records and specimen collections, visual representations of those collections, textual catalogs, and, eventually, databases…In classifying and indexing samples of ice, rock, soil, and sediment, we acknowledge the Earth as a vast geo-informatic construct. It is both geology and data, ontology and epistemology.

From December 2017, Amelia Taylor-Hochberg on Frank Pick, the London Tube and how as “chief administrator of the London Passenger Transport Board” he leveraged art and architecture to advance the “progressive ideal that public transport ought to be more than a means of getting around and that the ever expanding network was an unparalleled opportunity to enhance the lives of London’s citizens.

Also from December 2017, John David Rose on The house in American cinema, from the plantation to Chavez Ravine. Therein he reflects on Gone with the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird

When we see a house onscreen, the property relations implicit in the seemingly simple activity of moviegoing proliferate into confusion. And yet there is a kind of clarity in what is at stake here. In purchasing a movie ticket we pay for the right to occupy a space in order to gaze up at a space we can never occupy.

This is the story cinema has been mutely telling all along — a story about the house, the security and ease it promises, and the horrible anxieties produced when we try to force the house to deliver on those promises.

From Jan 2018, Douglas Murphy on The Modern Urbanism of Cook’s Camden.


review of Drosscape by Alan Berger

Just came across this old book review on Amazon.

From back in 2007. I think I posted a version of this to Archinect’s old Book Review section as well. Which vaporized with the Nect 3.0 launch.

This book is a natural extension of the direction Alan Berger took in his first book Reclaiming the American West. While in his first book he examined the “leftover” space, of human industrial development in the American West in his new book he examines the range of wasted spaces which are created by current urban development patterns. Although specifically about the American urban landscape, his work can be at least loosely applied anywhere where sprawl or horizontal urbanity has become the norm. A key aim of his book is to go beyond the partisan debate of pro-or anti sprawl activists. Instead, Berger sets out to initiate a conversation and to develop a vocabulary through which this phenomenon of “inevitable” horizontal development can be understood and critiqued. However, this is arguably one weakness of the book. Although he develops a wonderful analysis of the phenomenon, his acceptance of it’s inevitably, especially in the face of the efforts of many to change the game, can come off as defeatist. Yet, his focus on the liminal nature of the typologies he outlines does open up many fascinating areas of discussion. For inspiration he draws on everything from William Gibson’s Neuromancer to Lars Lerups’ concept of Stim & Dross. Ultimately, his approach is hopeful though. He concludes that because of the large scale nature of the problem, any solution must draw on abilities and knowledge of all the design disciplines from landscape architecture to urban planning. Berger suggests a paradigm shift, asking “designers to consider working in the margins rather than at the center.


Has the poet always been a sort of hacker?

I’m not sure how far back you can go in literary history and make this work, but there’s no question in my mind that poets such as Emily Dickinson, Stéphane Mallarmé, and of course a whole host of experimental early twentieth century poets were pushing up against the limits of what the media of their time could and could not do for/with writing. And to the extent that these poets are engaged in a continuous cycling of tinkering with the limits and possibilities of writing media of their time which in turn re-enlivens our language, it does seem like poetry [defined as such] could be seen as hacking” …

Against the Frictionless Interface! – Monty Cantsin interviews Lori Emerson

The decline of blogging…and rise of ‘social’ curation

“Enthusiasm is encouraged, but introspection is suspect. Minimalist sites like Tumblr are gaining the upper hand on classic blogs partly because they discourage all that soul-searching. How weird it can be spending time on a stranger’s Tumblr, trying to figure out what sensibility is grouping all these things together “without commentary,” as the internet’s favorite current descriptor goes.

More in Is Obsessive “Curation” Ruining Brooklyn? (here)

The focus is Brooklyn obviously but I think the questioning of the rise of the curator/editor artist/creative is a worthy target of analysis.

But, not sure i agree with the first sentence, the rest rings true to me, if a bit alarmist in tone. Say what you want about the death of blogging, I think no dead-media is ever truly dead. Or at least that it’s use can linger on indefinitely, in a retro-haze. I know/read a few Tumblr (rs) but it isn’t for me. Although Javierest‘s recent exploration with Storify seems interesting..

In terms of curation in general, I think the major potential for failure is in the personalization of format that this can take in current social/media forms… There is something to be said for mass-culture(s). For a shared general awareness. Pop, I don’t think though will ever go away. Even with the existence of the long-tail. If there is going to be a “helper” of sorts to filter/direct the gaze, i would rather have a person not machine/algorithm be the responsible curator. It seems more authentic somehow.

Sunday Roundup-NYT Edition

Antitrust Chief hits resistance in crackdown: by Stephen Labaton, (here)

Examines Christine Varney’s efforts to employ a more muscular approach to antitrust enforcement.

Specifically for instance:

The antitrust division under Ms. Varney scrapped the Bush administration’s monopoly guidelines, which had sharply limited the government’s ability to prosecute large corporations that used their market dominance to elbow out competitors.

Now the division has opened inquiries in the financial services and wireless phone industries. The division’s wireless inquiry is looking at, among other things, whether it is legal for phone makers to offer a particular model, like the iPhone or the Palm Pre, exclusively to one phone carrier. It is examining the sharp increase in text-messaging rates at several phone companies. And it is scrutinizing obstacles imposed by the phone companies on low-price rivals like Skype.

So You want to be a Teacher for America?: by Cecelia Simon, (here)

Teach for America isn’t only for post-undergraduate young adults in their 20s. NYT profiles the story of Paula Crespin who retired from a high-salaried banking career to teach in a gang riddled highschool in Denver. What is interesting is that in her case the inspiration came from visiting her daughter’s classroom. Initially opposed to her daughter’s own application to the Teach for America program, she herself became a convert. Teach for America is now specifically focusing it’s own recruiting efforts towards the older caareer change professionals in the hope that it may help to improve their retention rate. Currently about 40 percent of all Teach for America alums leave education as a career.

The choice of a career change into education, mid-life, is not one to be taken lightly however, as the article makes clear;

When interviewed midyear, Ms. Crespin was upbeat about her classroom. By the end of the year, she sounded wearier. She struggles with absenteeism, uninvolved parents and poverty. She takes breakfast bars to feed students who are “ravenous.” These realities make it difficult to reach academic benchmarks. But she says her students’ problems make her “more protective” of them, and more committed. For her, teaching is an “emotional investment.”

Given her age and where she is in her life, with her son about to leave for college and a husband who shares her values, it is one she can manage. She cautions those with competing life demands or romantic notions about urban teaching as a second career.

“This is beyond what you get paid for,” she says. “You have to really want to make change, or you’ll regret it ​quickly.”

Marseille Sways to a Maghreb Rhythm: by Seth Sherwood (here)

Is Marseille’s North African creolized culture the key to it’s lack of #banlieu‘s and race-riots?

Radovan Karadzic’s New-Age Adventure.: by Jack Hitt, (here)

Examines how the Serbian war criminal hide from the world as a bioenergy-channeling, alternative-medicine-peddling, bearded and, well, nutty guru?

The New Joblessness: by Roger Lowenstein, (here)

Although, rising unemployment was/is a given in the economy of the lats year the real concern amongst policy makers and economists is that the contraction in employment seems way too high. Companies are not hoarding labor nor are they increasing hiring.

One key factor;

Traditionally, it was a mark of Americans’ resiliency that, when times were tough, they relocated from state to state and region to region. Now, according to the Census Bureau, mobility is at an all-time recorded low.
An Amazon Culture Withers as Food Dries Up.: by Elisabeth Rosenthal (here)

Explores how climatic changes, deforestation and globalization/development impacting the culture, social structures and even historical tools of indigenous peoples in the Amazon region as well as across the globe? Makes me think of Bruce Sterling’s tracking of the Dead Media Beat.