I’ve recently accepted an invitation to join the board of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Graphics Arts (AIGA). For 30 years, the organization has been at the center of professional design practice and it’s an honor to participate at this stage. Led by Board Chair, Willy Wong and in esteemed company, I’m thankful to the team who elected us newcomers. Over the coming year, I look forward to contributing and to steering some of the ideas, issues and inspiration Turnstone has been gathering here, towards to new and familiar audiences.
Category Archives: Think tanks
Happy 2012. In 2011, Turnstone got the most out of
Tweeting more than blog posting. Follow @TurnstoneTweets.
Postcards from Penguin, 100 classic book covers
Sol Le Witt at Mass MoCA
The drawings of Kelsey Dake
Fifteen minutes listening to Nobel prize-winner, Leymah Gbowee
Symeon Brown‘s take on the riots at the London Policy Conference.
The Power of Making at the Victoria & Albert Museum
Christina Stampfli joining Turnstone
Graphic Details, female graphic novelists and cartoonists, exhibiting in NYC, touring in 2012
Steve Jobs, and many more, RIP
Ryoji Ikeda’s The Transfinite at The Armory on the Park, NYC (above)
In June, as the oil splurge seeped on, global engineering firm, Arup, began – quite coincidentally – a round of international workshops on the future of oceans, for their Drivers of Change program. Turnstone was privileged to participate in the New York session and delighted to recommend Liam Young’s architectural perspective for the London roundtable. After all, the discussion pivoted on exactly what he does everyday, pondering Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today.
Famous for explaining plagues and exploding spaceships in pictures, and railing against the ills of Powerpoint, Yale statistician and info design evangelist, Edward Tufte, has been appointed by Obama to the Independent Recovery Advisory Panel. To misquote Tufte himself, this may represent an exercise in making (un)clear, as well as clear, thinking visible, no snark intended. It’s awesome, as one friend suggested, that the White House gets it. And as Ben Fry said at Columbia the other week, “We’ll never have less data. [We'll just need] better ways of hiding it and learn how to ignore the right things”. Power to the picture.
The Open Planning Project hosted New Technology for Participatory Planning – an ‘unconference’ last Friday, and what a grade A way to spend a grey day at the end of the week. The crowd was a pretty even split of techies and planners – the Regional Planning Association co-hosted. So the room was full of smarty-pants (is the plural smarties-pants?).
Lightning presentations – following the 5-minute pdf slam Pecha Kucha model – showcased All Our Ideas from Princeton University’s Sociology department; Robert Lane from the RPA reverently quoting (bow down for the second time this week) Kevin Lynch and Laura Kurgan; a data orgy of dynamic maps of possibly the most mapped city – from DoITT, including the GIS NY City Map and others, like the urban research maps, exploring open public data sets.
Then, between insights-ever-so-constrained-by-140-characters tweets, Turnstone waded into a couple of fascinating break out sessions, one on (and I paraphrase heavily from the question that the NYC Transit specialist, Sarah Kaufman posed) the input monster that civic agencies create when they invite the public’s participation, the other on what’s wrong with the Request for Proposal process. To summarize a lot of intelligent, interdisciplinary, carpe diem discussion in these groups, here are some references, questions raised and other highlights:
- Five Things We Need To Know About Technological Change by Neil Postman
- Community as functionality, a technology to understand itself (quoting from Lynch’s Image of the City)
- What’s the difference between drawing and mapping?
- What is civic engagement for? When is participation appropriate? What role, what value? To validate? Legitimate?
- What impact does the ubiquity of mobile devices have – on narrowing the digital divide? On recording public processes? On capturing site-specific participation (that is, enabling just-in-time input – comments or uploads – about something in a particular location)?
- Place still has primacy, as much as we like to run about with glee in information space
- Innovation in public policy and planning process is as crucial to the success of gov2.0/public data apps as any tech innovation
- The goals, culture, workflows and vocabulary of bureaucratic organizations is different from that of tech start ups. We need to recognize, celebrate, enhance or overcome these differences. Empathizing with the end user is a good way to unite them. Bring on the empathic user-experience design process into the mix…sure, call us the tile grout. It’s not glamorous or the thing you notice, but you sure as hell would have problems without it.
- Needs of gov agencies are not the same as wants of the public.
- Tech-mediated applications might work best (ie serve the public best) when situated in bigger experience ecologies, where other forms of media also form part of an integrated service experience. Jargon for: Beware tech-determinism and don’t separate analog from digital where both are appropriate.
Many of the rest of the big ideas are captured on here.
Er, we’re back. Getting a new computer is not unlike moving house. The boxes are all organized but in the wrong rooms, some crockery gets broken, any kind of normal day-to-day admin – including the odd blog post – seems like a luxury. But we’re here, surrounded by the online equivalent of popped bubble wrap, to report in:
This week we’ll give a full run down on the Open Planning Project’s most excellent Tech For Participatory Planning Unconference last Friday, which you can follow on Twitter if you look for #planningtech.
Meantime, if you don’t mind Turnstone returning to our geographer roots: Get to the last day of the Ten Days for Oppositional Architecture this Saturday – David Harvey (bow down, po-mo geographers) is giving the keynote lecture at noon, at the Gair Building, No 6, 81 Front St in Dumbo (Brooklyn NY 11201 for those who are info-spatially-sensitive). If you want to blog about this here, let’s hear from you.
From grass-roots to ski-slopes, we’re shifting seamlessly from posts about London’s Bigger Picture to skip off to the New York Public Library Live event this evening (Tuesday 7pm): The Aspen Institute presents Capitalism and the Future, a light pre-dinner aperitif from the Institute’s President, Walter Isaacson, Black Swan author, Nassim Taleb, Harvard economist, Niall Ferguson, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.
Here’s the third and final installment of Ben Reizenstein‘s round up from The Bigger Picture, part of nef’s Day of Interdependence, which took place last weekend in London:
I don’t catch the name of the woman who is suddenly standing next to the queue, talking to us, her captive audience, about local currencies in the Welsh Valleys.
An hour of time spent ‘volunteering’ gets you a Time Credit note, which you can trade for an hour of someone else’s time, or – and this is the science part – an hour of bingo or opera. In fact, the purchase of bingo and opera, two crucial fibres in the social fabric of rural South Wales, seems to provide a centre of gravity for the local currency and its economy.
Kids who might not be into bingo and opera (philistines) can spend their time credits on an hour of web access at the internet café, so if they want to read this blog, they’ll have to earn credits by helping out at the youth club. And so the local economy and the local community seem to be mutually reinforcing, with the local currency acting as a centripetal force.
As part of the regeneration of deprived post-industrial towns, it’s an exciting, and the experiments in urban areas are also worth keeping an eye on. In the UK, the rather beautiful Brixton Pound and the long-lived Lewes Pound have both faced the problem that they can summon more than face value when sold on ebay. If any major investors are reading this and looking for a new reserve currency…Before I can get carried away by thoughts of major capital inflows to South London’s hippest neighbourhood, another session comes to visit us in the queue.
This time the star speaker is Oliver James, British psychologist and author of the influential Affluenza, which makes the case that the Anglo-American relentless pursuit of wealth is making our societies mentally unwell. I resolve not to try to make a fortune selling local currencies on ebay.
Oliver James is joined by Stewart Wallis, Executive Director of nef, and together they try to persuade the queue that the recession is a hopeful moment, in which the absurdities and cruelties of a generation are being exposed. It can’t be too long, the speakers agree, before people start to stand up to the vested interests already trying to re-inflate the bubble economy.
I don’t mean to complain, but given that I’ve been standing up since the early morning, and it’s nearly 6pm, and given that we’re all here ready and willing to overthrow the old guard, it’s slightly disappointing that we’re not being incited to revolt here and now, in a queue in the rain under the OXO tower – a vignette almost worthy of V for Vendetta. Instead, we get the deferred promise of inevitable, significant, society-wide change. It sits uneasily with the localism agendas that have formed the largest part of The Bigger Picture so far. If anything, I realise, that has been the lesson of today’s festival – if we want a big change, we may have to start out small.