December 11, 2006

Prompt 8 - The Readings (Last Required Prompt!)

Ladies and gentlemen (assuming anyone reads this), this is the last blog prompt. Yes, I ave returned to my ways of finishing it right before it is due, but nonetheless, it is here.

As far as the FAB reading goes, I consider it the best reading so far. I was deeply intrigues by the idea of personal fabricators that could make and personalize anything. This class at MIT sounds very unique and exciting, and I hope that this idea continues to grow.

When i discussed this with a friend, we immediately thought about the potential pitfalls. How would ideas be copyrighted in this new future? Would companies sell schematics, or consumer goods? Could these machines potentially create deadly weapons? How could this be controlled? While the idea seems fun and downright idealistic, these problems would have to be solved.

Turning to the other reading, Space and Light, it seems like an interesting take on viewing the world. While I am unhappy with the author's grammer, which was atrocious, he presented a unique world view. Light is indeed the creator of all things, for without it, we would have no way of interacting with the world. I too understand the deep desire of humans to fill space - the seeming voids in the landscape that could be polished by human hands. The idea of light interacting with space to produce the emotion of desire to build - now that seems like a cool world view.

I'll be honest, I put far too much time into the last blog prompt to really dive into this one. However, that is not to say my blogging days are over. A blog that chronicles my days at the University seems like a good thing to keep up with, even if no one reads it.

So, until I create my own next blog prompt, I bid thee all good evening.

December 1, 2006

Prompt 7 - Technopolies pt. 5 (Images of Technopolies)

Case Study Images:
Monopoly: Teach'em to Sell Themselves While They're Young

A message about Capitalism: "Capitalism stole my virginity!"

This Tag is Seen Around the World...

Other Technopolies:
Cell Phones: Taking Over Communications

November 28, 2006


I hope you enjoy this photo of me, taken by my girlfriend at a local Target that I choose to buy supplies for an arch project.

I think it says a lot.

Prompt 7 - Technopolies pt. 4 (Natural or Not?)

As the case study with capitalism shows, technopolies can seem natural when they are truly controlled situations. The question then arises, are there any "natural" technopolies? Surely there must be some technologies that would have arisen even if there was no one around to create the propaganda. Yet, without human interaction it can be seen that no technology would arise that could monopolize human culture. Even the technologies we take for granted needed someone to back them and force them onto the world. The best example of this is language.

Language is the most useful technology in human existence. Without it, humans would not be able to communicate well enough to orchestrate the other technologies inherant to their lives. Language serves as protection (as in, "watch out for that sabertoothed tiger over there!"), as a vehicle for ideas, and as a medium for exchange. However, this is only when both parties in a conversation understand each other. It is nearly impossible to understand a person who speaks another language. It must then be asked for each language: How did it propagate? How did a nation/race/region decide to use a particular vocabulary and grammer structure? It seems that the nation/race/region had to agree on one language, thus leading to the assumption that someone must have argued for that way of speaking and won.

English is a good modern example. With Americans increasingly hostile to foreigners, English has become a staple for belonging in America. If one doesn't speak it, then one does not belong in America. This is a result of particular lobbyists who have used their power to bring this relatively minor issue to the front page. Now everyone must take a side in the situation. In the end, it can be assumed that the side with the most members will win - again, seemingly natural, given America's democratic society, but truly driven by those with the power to lobby. Can this truly be considered a "natural" phenomena?

In the end, it is up to the individual to decide if the technopoly is worth fighting for or against. Those with the power will win - they always do. Yet, at least the individual can be content with knowing that they made their choice. Technoplies are neither bad nor good, in a sense. They are merely evolutionary responses to how humans think. If a technology isn't worth fighting for, then it is not worth the time of humans with other concerns. Thus, technopolies will not be taken out fo the picture readily...

...But I can still avoid buying an Ipod.

November 25, 2006

Prompt 7 - Technopolies pt. 3 (Case Study - Could We Change?)

However, like any technopoly, capitalism will one day have to compete with newer technologies. Eventually, it may even turn out that these terrible problems will have to be solved, or else another technology will replace capitalism. After all, evolution has always led to another ladder rung… a deeper hole dug into the Earth where the new animal, idea, or technology must either survive, or be carried away. There is always hope, and while this paper may err on the side of skepticism, this may be the best way to view the world.

Prompt 7 - Technopolies pt.2 (Case Study - Capitalism as The Ultimate Technopoly)

Capitalism has been one of America's strongest selling points to its residents. The idea that one good idea can turn a man from rags to riches is the quintessential American dream. Devised by humans, and implemented completely in this country, capitalism has become America’s number one technology. It has gone on to replace many other forms of trade and economic thought - serfdoms, barter economies, communism – making it a monopoly in all forms. However, it has surpassed even the most influent technologies in taking a hold on American culture. American’s think in a capitalist way, always asking “how will this help me?? or “How can I make money from this?? Thus, capitalism is the ultimate technopoly – it has beat out not only other economies, but other forms of thought.
From this, capitalism creates other technopolies. In essence, capitalism is the mother of all new technopolies, much in the same way evolution is the mother of all new species. Those technologies that thrive in a market economy are those that become technopolies in today’s society. To most, this seems natural – people pick the best technologies and spend money on them, which means that only the technologies that truly help will be prosperous… right? Not exactly…

The unfortunate fact of capitalism is that there are the winners, and there are the losers. It is easy to see the winners in these situations – those multi-billionaires that are able to throw money at whatever they want. This leads to a sticky situation… Those with the cash get to put money wherever they want. This ensures that the technopolies that they are invested in – whether financially or emotionally – are the ones that prosper. This leads to the losers – those Americans who are forced to accept the technopolies fed to them.

The other unfortunate news is that there are far more losers than winners in capitalism. Everyone has heard the statistics – the disproportionate amount of money “earned? by CEOs, the high poverty rate, etc. Firm believers in capitalism will simply say that those losers are losers for a reason. They either don’t try to work harder, or simply cannot compete, and therefore are earning what they deserve. However, it is not as simple as this. Some are simply unable to make it in the American system – minorities, women, and the disabled, to name a few. Others have been destroyed by drugs or violence, and cannot even begin to make it in American society without help. This is where capitalism loses its grounding. It may be the ultimate technopoly, but not because it is the best technopoly.

Prompt 7 - Technopolies pt. 1 (Case Study - Choosing a Technopoly)

It is very difficult to pick one technology to discuss as a major technopoly. Yes, there are the easy choices - television, computers, the internet - yet those are far too obvious. Television trumps the printed word. The internet trumps the telephone and mail. Computers trump the human brain. While few may question these monopolies in our generation, all can recognize their influence on society. Devoting an entire blog project to technologies that all understand seems pointless in this light. Another easy solution would be to choose a technology that could be considered "unnecessary," but still popular. The greatest example of this is the Ipod (I refuse to this day to buy one, by the way). However, these technologies are evidence of something deeper. One must think for a moment - how did all these technologies thrive? Some force worked behind these ideas, bringing them to fruition in America, yet it seems unrecognizable. What could possibly allow certain ideas to gain ground, and others to drop off the radar? The answer, it seems, lies in the very fabric of American society. Imbedded within our culture are perhaps the greatest - and by far the most dangerous - technologies currently applied to humanity. These technologies are capitalism and competition.

November 4, 2006

Prompt 6 - Mathematical Design pt. 1 (Math and design)

Math and design seem like a no brainer. Every possible new invention, new building, or new idea has to be documented, and often this is done with the mathematical language. In this way, mathematics shapes our understanding of an idea - much like how different languanges can change our expression of the same concept. When a design is first described, it most likely begins with the language of the designer. The designer may say, "I want to design a glass building," or, "I think I need a red stool." This begins the qualitative process, one where a concept is argued to those listening. Conversations such as, "The glass building will give beautiful reflections and blend into the urban landscape" are the way of getting a point across. However, this is not where the design ends.

Eventually, in all new designs the invention/building/whatever must be documented. Sizes must be decided, materials selected, and proportions finalized. This is where the math comes into play. Even if the design is purely in the head of the designer, s/he figures out all the sizes, where the doors will be placed, how much weight it must support, etc. Once this design is built, or even just patented, mathematical thinking is used to diagram and eventually claim the piece as the work of the designer. Math becomes the key to expressing the idea to a wide audience. A person cannot necessarily patent or claim ownership of a "red chair that has many circles," but they could perhaps claim a "red chair with a seat diameter of ten inches, rising to a height of three feet...etc."

Because of this, math often finds its way into the design itself. Designs will conform to geometric shapes, conic sections, or even trigonometric graphs. The pentagon, the geodesic dome, and even the plate can all be considered examples of regular, "pleasing" mathematical shapes incorporated into design. Why is it that most plates are circular, rectangular, or square? A squiggly, irregular shape would work just as fine, but those designs are few, or limited to children. Even the newer, more abstract architectual buildings, such as the Weisman museum on our own campus can be shown to follow regular curves and angles. Thus, math becomes the language of the designer, progressively working its way into his/her vocabulary until a new floorplan is described both qualitatively, and mathematically, like this:

"The red complex is comprised of three 10' x 25' rectangles side-by-side, at a 23 degree angle from North. Placed twenty-five feet from the south-western edge of the map. The roof is arched, with a radius extending 6' from the center of each rectangle. The main window is 3' tall and parabolic, with the directrix as ground level, and the foci located two feet from the ground on center."

Paints a better picture than a "red, boxy building," huh?

October 24, 2006

Prompt 5 - Oppositions pt. 1 (The Human Opposition)

The Human Opposition:

One of the greatest and perhaps oldest opposition is that of human opposition. Humans don't always get along great... Whether through misunderstandings, differences or outright hatred, often humans come into extreme conflict with one another. Wars, murders, genocides - this concept is readily apparent to anyone who has ever watched the news. Design does play a role in this conflict... Bridges bring whole continents together - walls keep entire races out. There are many examples:

The England->France "Chunnel" - bringing people together...

The Berlin Wall - keeping people apart...

In this way, design plays a role in this opposition... While it may be poeple that dislike each other, it is the products that we design that do the dirty work. Bombs, guns, and other instruments of hate all had to be designed at one point - and good money is made in this field of harming fellow human beings.

But design doesn't have to end at making bombs. Design is a great power, and can be used for good as well as evil. To design something that brings peole together - the internet, global news feeds, etc. - that is the best use of design. But what can be done about the overall problem? Bombs and guns will always be in demand, as long as there is a market for killing. To eliminate this market would be the greatest feat of design... but how?

Maybe I can think of something... I just need more time...

October 9, 2006

Prompt 4 - Phenomena pt. 2 (Documenting Phenomena)

The Deep Fundamental Connection...

...Maybe I picked it because it is unexplainable. Regardless, if you choose to accept this theory (which, for some of those reading this, may be difficult), it fulfills all the requirements given in class. The "things" are us... people - or even all matter, depending on how far you want to go with this. We exist in a framework - society, interaction... any manner of communication creates a framework with other human beings. Information is shared, and with each passing exchange, the exchangers come away with a new understanding of the world (remember the reading "The Image" by Kenneth Boulding? It's funny how different fields can all come together - theology, architecture, physics, etc.)

The clockwork is a little more... tricky. This framework of society doesn't necessarily operate with strict timing... but hold on. Maybe it does. People are born, grow up, and die. There's one right there. But let's look deeper. In Waking Life a movie by Richard Linklater (See it... now!), he points out in a segment the leaps forward by scientists that seems to happen at the same time... that the consciousness of humanity works in waves. On the surface, it simply looks like coincidence. But if the human mind follows even this regular pattern, then perhaps there is Clockwork afterall.

Which brings us to the phenomenon of interconnection. The pay it forward concept, slang words, and memes all point to a connection that spreads through us all. It's a truly beautiful concept to imagine as well... a world in which everything you do matters, a world where you have control over your own destiny (as cliche as it sounds). Your ideas, beliefs, mannerisms, thoughts, actions - all can permeate thoughout the entire human collective.

Yes... I write these late at night... The grammer is atrocious, and I'm pretty sure my laptop's keyboard is slightly out of whack. But I am part of the collective too. When you read this, you pick up any facts that are important to you. These get spread to the next person you see... maybe not directly, but maybe you throw a new word in (atrocious, maybe?) that you would not have before. This is the connection... as best as I can explain.

And maybe I'll get some pics here too...

Prompt 4 - Phenomena pt. 1 (Choosing a Phenomenon)

I am sitting at my computer right now, the night before this will be looked at (I procrastinate sometimes... its bad), trying to decide what to write this entry about. A whirl of images pass behind my eyes - black holes, quantum mechanics, the auroras, The Beatles, Reality TV - a bunch of spontaneous, huge events that took place for only a short time. Yet, nothing seems to be proper... I mean, how much thought should be put behind phenomena? Part of the fact that they are such an intriguing topic is that they are mysterious, and often happen for seemingly no reason... so why try to take that all away? Does understanding a phenomenon completely make it less of a phenomenon?

...But this seems like an excuse. An excuse for not doing this blog prompt quickly - for not "blogging promptly" (tee hee). It is not, however... It really is hard to think this through. After I pick a topic, and run through it in my head, it seems like less of a phenomenon... I can understand it, see it for what it is, and then determine why it occurs...

This does not seem like phenomena to me.

So I'll pick a topic that I have much interest in... One that I'm writing about in my Quantum Mechanics freshman seminar... The phenomenon of interconnection.

I feel the world is inherantly interconnected, and that this extends beyond our powers to test, see and explain. Yet I believe we can understand it, because we feel it. And in the subsequent entry (for organization purposes only... I am obviously writing this all in one night), I will attempt to document the undocumentable - to show the unshowable.

Oh... You'll see...

October 4, 2006

Project 1 - Final Review Drafts

For this project, we were required to design two postcards, front and back, one depicting a design problem in Minneapolis, and one depicting a solution. I dedcided to cover the issue of (sub)urban sprawl, and explain how increasing density in the urban center (ie. high-rises) can help solve the issues of urban sprawl.

For my visual style, I took inspiration from old WWI and WWII posters, in some cases even editing existing prints. I then applied exaggerated slogans to grab the viewer's attention. On the back, I kept it simple - only a couple of lines of text and an intricate stamp meant to depict the "rebellious" designer. Here they are:

Problem Card - Front

Project 1 - Roughidea2text.PNG

Problem Card - Back


Solution Card - Front

Project 1 - Roughidea2text2.PNG

Solution Card - Back


End Note: i was excited to see my cards presented in class as good examples. However, there are still a few things to correct before these are portfolio-worthy, and I will post any changes I make here.

October 2, 2006

Prompt 3 - Genius Loci pt. 2 (The Genius Loci)

Now that we've got a sense of the North Shore... it's time to get a feel for it. That's right, folks... I'm referring to that elusive "Genius Loci." But what is "Genius Loci?" From what I can grasp, it is the sum of a place - a totality of all features. This includes the physical (explored in the last blog), as well as the emotional, the abstract... the personality of a location. And the North Shore has personality...

Think it over. You live in the city. You love it, but sometimes it all goes too fast. Work, school, relationships both personal and professional... You have to get away. This tension builds, eating at your sinew, your bones. You grow restless, weary, and bored all at once. You may even feel it now. Things seem to pass you by, and the ones you can get a grasp on seem to let you down. And then you book a vacation...

To get away...

The tension mounts, now coupled with excitement at the thought of new experiences. You are going to the North Shore for the first time. You've heard about it, and contemplated going before. But now is the time. You've rented a cabin, stocked the trunk full of goodies for relaxation - books, Cds, maybe an instrument or two. You take the time off work. And you just go, man... The Open Road, Kerouac's dream, is now yours...

And you arrive...

That's when the "Genius Loci" comes into play. You get a feeling right away - the fresh air, the lap of the waves, the smell of pine and earth - all invade the senses and transform into a thought, an emotion. Relaxation sets in... muscles begin to relax on their own. Your mind is filled with simple thoughts - where can I grab a walleye to cook up? Should I try kayaking, or start a fire in the fireplace? Your heartbeat slows, your breathing calms. This space has transformed you... and all without any technology, and medicine.

But that isn't the end.

Night falls. You sit next to a camp fire (you started it all by yourself!). The stars begin to come out... one by one at first, but soon the whole galaxy appears overhead. So that's what the Milky Way looks like! The moon has risen, and forms a walkway over the lake, beckoning you to attempt to cross the expanse on foot. This is when the other side of this space has taken you. Now relaxed, you begin to feel awe. The open water stretches before you, the dense forest behind. Rocks, formed by billions of years of Earth clockwork are beneath you. Nature's immense everywhere-ness fills you with new emotions. You begin to sense your place in it all, you begin to think introspectively in an unplanned meditation that fills your entire mind. This space not only has transformed you physically, but now has taken hold of your brain. The beauty of it all can change you, the thought of nature and your soul combined at one point, on a rock, next to a giant lake. You cease to wonder and just know...

Back to reality, back to the concrete. Back to (better) grammar. A location that can create a unique impression on you, one that cannot be felt anywhere else... that is true Genius Loci. Yes, this entry is full of abstract ideas, with seemingly no linkage, or even a coherent thought. However, this seems to make the most sense. When at Lake Superior, or any space with a unique aura, thoughts come and go. All these thoughts become altered by the physical world - designed or natural. And when you finally leave, you pack up your car and drive away a changed person. All because of a location...

And that is where architecture and design begin to make a difference.

October 1, 2006

Prompt 3 - Genius Loci pt. 1 (The Physical)

Let's call this a lack of flow->As we attempt to find the Genius Loci.

Lake Superior:


I associate a lot of things with Lake Superior - Camp fires, Toby's donuts, cold water, and the cry of gulls. It is this place where I spent almost every summer between the ages of five and sixteen, basking in the sun on sharp rocks like the lazy lizard I am. My mother, sister and I would pack up the car, drive six hours to a small cabin on the shore and just be, in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Yes, the physical has real meaning on the North Shore:


It's mainly the little things. The colorful moss on the rocks, the abrupt ending of the treeline on the shore, and the moon's reflection on the water. In the evening time, my family and I would start a fire on the rocks, and wait until it was the only light left in sight. At night, when I would go to bed, I would leave the window open so as to hear the waves pound the rocks. And that smell - wet and forest-y, with hints of berries and pine. Yes, the sights and smells have real meaning there...


And boats pass by. And gulls eat from your hand. And your neighbors actually say hello. And rainy days are actually fun. And the TV is neither on nor even present. And the firewood lasts for hours. And the lack of car noises. And the picnic tables. And the deer. And the nature...

And the greens:

And the blues:


And the earth tones:


And... I'm rambling. The physical is impossible to detail without rambling. There is so much to the North Shore...

But the physical is not all, and I suppose the location holds more. Which is why we will next delve into the Genius Loci...

Image Credits

September 25, 2006

Prompt 2 - Social design Issue pt. 2 (Advocation)

Yes, I may bash the public transportation system in Minnesota, but only because I see great potential. Our city is growing, and with it traffic, pollution and commuting length. Fixing some of the problems of our transit system would encourage new riders, as well as show old riders that the system really works. Each of the problems I outlined is solvable. More bus stops could be built, with electronic heaters and better wind shielding. Seats could be recusioned, and positioned for comfort (a few buses are already outfitted with tour bus-like seats, and are quite comfortable). Electronic signs could be used to show upcoming stops (these are already used in some cities, such as San Francisco). These problems are unlike most in the sense that they are easily solvable.

Personally, I advocate that more attention be paid to public transit. Not only because I am a rider, but because soon enough many more of us may have to be. By spending the time and the money to upgrade our system, we make our city competitive in yet another way, and help all of our citizens. Now, we only need to figure out how to act...