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Comments Posted 10.01.06 | PERMALINK | PRINT

John Thackara

Juice, Fat, and Homeland Security [October 2006]


This free monthly newsletter starts conversations on issues to do with design for resilience — and thereby reveals opportunities for action. It also brings you news of Doors of Perception events and encounters. Back issues are now archived on Design Observer. To subscribe to future newletters by John Thackara click here.

FAT, CITIES, AND HOMELAND INSECURITY
Fat-clogged sewers are not the only threat facing modern cities. Hunger is another one. Some governments appear to believe that growing food is an old-fashioned activity that is inconsistent with a shiny knowledge-based economy. Read more at:
http://www.doorsofperception.com/archives/2006/09/fat_city_revisi.php

.000001 % SOLUTION
Yes, Doors 9 is about an important security issue: energy and food. We seek funding to the tune of .000001% of America's Homeland Security budget to pay for scholarships so that project leaders may come to New Delhi from different parts of India and elsewhere in South Asia. If you are able to fund a scholarship or two, please contact:
desk@doorsofperception.com

DOTT07 SCHOOLS PROJECT
More than 200 UK schools have been invited to measure the ecological and carbon footprints of their school day. They will record everything from how far their food has travelled before it hits their plates, to how they get to school, and how much energy and water is used to heat and clean their classrooms. The Dott07 project includes characters who are named after the core themes: Aqua, Recycle, Energiser, Eco and Consumer. Next year the best 50 schools will design ways to make their footprint smaller.
http://www.dott07.com/go/dott-blog

SCHOOL OUT OF SCHOOL
What are the design challenges in schooling apart from the buildings? A lot of attention has been given to design and architecture aspects (such as the UK's huge Building Schools for the Future (BSF) rebuilding programme). What other aspects of learning might be enhanced by design? This month's Dott 07 Explorers Club features Joe Heapy, author (with Sophia Parker) of the recent book "Journey to the Interface". There will also be a special presentation by Juha Huuskonen, director of Pixelache, one of the world's most interesting festivals for electronic art and subcultures. 10 October, Newcastle (UK).
http://www.dott07.com/go/events/explorers-club

STUFF-O-METER
The amount of waste matter generated in the manufacture of a single laptop computer is close to four thousand times its weight on your lap. A key information design challenge is this: How to make this aggregate waste of materials in everyday products visible. Designs of the time (Dott07) has sponsored a student design competition with D&AD with the brief: "Take one household product and design a visual representation of its lifecycle, cradle to grave".
http://www.dandad.org/studentawards07/briefs/05.html

DOORS/CKS IN LILLE
Doors of Perception's India partners - Aditya, Karthikeya, and Sayalee from Centre for Knowledge Societies in Bangalore - are participating in Lille3,000 from 10-16 October. If you'd like to connect up, drop them a line at: aditya@cks.in
http://www.lille3000.com/

BIG MAC: A GOOD READ?
About three minutes after we launched our design competition about food information systems (with Dott and the Royal Society of Arts) I learned via SmartMobs that McDonald's is placing codes on the packaging of many foods. Eaters may scan the package with their cell phones to obtain nutritional information. So young designers seeking to win a trip to Doors 9 - the prize for winning the competition - don't have to invent a QR food application because McDonald's has done that. Take that as your starting point - and amaze us with how much further it could go.
http://www.smartmobs.com/archive/2006/07/07/qr_code_hyperl.html
http://www.dott07.com/go/education/dott-rsa-design-directions

THE NOISE MADE BY FOOD
At 7am the roads were empty except for a large white truck. Its driver was unloading packaged food into a shop. An incredible, raw-edged roar of noise came from the refrigeration unit on top of his cab. In the railway station cafeteria, two refrigerated drinks machines were roaring away so loudly that the sales assistant had to shout to tell me the price of a coffee. Read more at:
http://www.doorsofperception.com/archives/2006/09/noisy_food.php

TINY STEPS TO CHANGE THE WORLD
50 simple, everyday actions that can improve our environment, our health, and our communities are in a book called We Are What We Do. Author David Robinson will talk about it on Tuesday 24 October 2006, 6.30pm, Conway Hall, London. To reserve a place please email Sandra Deeble: sandra.deeble@wearewhatwedo.org
http://www.wearewhatwedo.org/

BATTLE OF IDEAS ABOUT TECH
"We promise more trenchant debate than Westminster has seen in years", say the organisers of Battle of Ideas. Among 200 speakers from politics, business, media and academia, I will debate with Matt Locke, head of innovation, BBC Future Media & Technology, and futurist James Woudhuysen. Our topic: 'Putting design and technology to good use'. Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October. Tickets can be booked online.
http://www.instituteofideas.com/tickets/battleofideas2006.html

RE-DESIGN PROSPERITY
Many indicators show that economic growth has not added to people's perceived quality of life. Speakers asked to consider alternatives to money as the only measure of value include Jeremy Rifkin, Derrick de Kerckhove, Lucy Orta, Raimon Pannikar, and me. 7 November, Boras, Sweden.
http://www.thedesignofprosperity.se/

DESIGN AND MONEY
Idcast, the monthly webzine, interviewed a bunch of people about issues that bridge design, culture and technology, such as money.
http://www.interactiondesign-lab.com/cgi-bin/moin.cgi

WHICH ARE THE TOP D-SCHOOLS?
"Desperate to innovate, companies are turning to design schools for nimble, creative thinkers". Business Week has published a special feature and league table that tells corporate desperados where to look first. It's remarkable how quickly BW's Bruce Nussbaum has turned design into a mainstream business issue in the US.
http://www.businessweek.com/innovate
/dschoolindex.html?chan=innovation_innovation+%2B+design_top+stories

INSANE DEMAND BY D-SCHOOL TEACHER
"Place insane demands. Then double them". Allan Chochinov, founder of Core77, has written a thousand words of wise advice for design teachers (of which he is also one). Read more at:
http://www.core77.com/reactor/09.06_chochinov.asp

CAN WE AFFORD THE FUTURE?
As products and systems become smarter, and more technologically imbued, the mandate of the designer is thrown into question. If we can make anything, what should we make? Busy Allan Chochinov (see above) talks with John Maeda (MIT MediaLab), Natalie Jeremijenko (UCSD), Bill Cockayne (Change Research) and Jason Pearson (GreenBlue) in Boston on 15 November.
http://www.core77.com/design2.0/

MOO-TIFUL
Stefan Magdalinski's new project involves "no politics, no data activism, none of that worthy stuff. We're printing pretty little cards from your pictures". Moo is a sublime, fabulous and world-beating service which will make these guys deservedly rich subject to one small modification: They have to make Moo cards the same size as standard visiting cards so that they don't fall out of my visiting card ring binder onto the floor of a tram as they do now.
http://www.moo.com

UN-BLINKING
Camera and video technology are changing who we watch, what we watch, when we are watched. And why we watch.vIn a rapidly evolving environment of unblinking eyes, technologically perfected recollections, and permanent visual records, what will it mean to have privacy? How will the introduction of unblinking eyes alter how we experience and behave in public and private spaces? Find out on 3-4 November, Berkelely.
https://www.law.berkeley.edu/institutes/bclt/events/unblinking/unblink.html

CANUTE AGAINST CREATIVE CLUSTERS (1)
King Canute is best remembered because he commanded the waves to go back. When one sycophant gushed that the king could even command the obedience of the sea, Canute proved him wrong by practical demonstration. At the Creative Clusters conference, in November, I will propose, Canute-like, that bottom-up social innovation is a better way to revive cities than setting up ghettos filled with PR consultants. 5-8 November, Newcastle-Gateshead, North-East England.
http://www.creativeclusters.com/modules/eventsystem/?fct=viewprogsummary&eventsid=8

CANUTE AGAINST CREATIVE CLUSTERS (2)
Two steps forward, one step back. In 2003 I gave a lecture called 'The post-spectacular city' at a conference in Amsterdam. I argued that today's creative class, having optimised the society of the spectacle, will be remembered for leaving behind narcissistic but meaningless cities. The talk was published in a book (Creativity and the City) published by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi). Did my devastating critique change the course of urban design and development? Not exactly. A new show called "The Spectacular City" has opened at....theNAi.
http://www.doorsofperception.com/archives/2003/09/the_postspectac_1.php
http://www.nai.nl/e/calendar/activities/spect_city_e.html

TECHNOLOGY AND NAKEDNESS
“To climb without shoes or chalk, to sleep beneath the stars, to travel without burden into a vanishing distance. But what is nakedness in
an often toxic urban environment?”. A pressing question indeed. Find the answer, maybe, at this International Symposium on Emerging Techniques. SportArtCalla dOr, Majorca, 12-16 October 2006.
irational@irational.org

SUSTAINABLE CITY LECTURES
The Leeds, UK, Schumacher Lectures 2006 feature Susan Roaf on Solar Cities, Herbert Girardet on Cities of the Future, Ezio Manzini on The Sustainable Everyday, Peter Harper on Building Sustainable Communities.
http://www.schumacher.org.uk/lsl06.htm

CLIMATE FORUM
This European seminar is about social participation in the promotion of energy saving and energy efficiency in response to climate change. 25-27th October, Pamplona, Spain.
http://www.crana.org

PERFORMING PLACES
Researchers, artists and developers who want to augment experiential, affective and political qualities of urban and technological space should attend this seminar in Helsinki. Minna Tarkka: minna tarkka [at] m-cult [dot] org

WHAT THE TERRORISTS WANT
The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act. Sometimes it seems like the people in charge of homeland security spend too much time watching action movies. Before long, we're envisioning an entire movie plot - without Bruce Willis saving the day. More good stuff is in Bruce Schneier's newsletter:
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0609.html
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram.html

KIM SOOJA
In Stockholm the Korean artist Kimsooja has parked a truck from 1938 with the back piled with 'bottaris' - "cloth bundles used for storing personal belongings. A similar truck appears in the video work 'Cities on the Move' 2727 Kilometers Bottari Truck". Sitting on the pile of bundles, she travels to all the places in Korea where she has lived and which hold memories for her. To the accompaniment of Tibetan monk chant, visitors can wander between the rows of bedclothes in the installation "A Laundry Woman"
http://www.magasin3.com

BUBBLE: PRETTY PLEASE
Please inform anyone you know in South Asia that Prentice Hall India have issued an Eastern Economic Edition of "In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World". This enables readers in that region to purchase the book for 250 rupees.
http://www.phindia.com/bookdetail.php?isbn=81-203-2828-0

DOORS OF PERCEPTION AT FLICKR
We've tried our best, over the years, to collect your pix of Doors events and post them on the Doors site. But we have missed an awful lot. Aditya Dev Sood has started a group photo pool at Flickr. Please fill it up!
http://www.flickr.com/groups/97089260@N00/

RANDOM
Random.org, run by Mads Haahr, offers true random numbers to anyone on the internet. One Danish TV station runs an online backgammon server which generates more than 300,000 dice rolls per day. A dice roll is a random number between 1 and 6, so a Java program accesses a web interface. Another user is Ian Pitcher, from the American band Technician. He uses numbers from Random.org to generate unique covers for the band's CDs. According to Ian, their music is "loosely inspired by the work of Konstantin Raudive ... [who] ... believed he had discovered a way to communicate with the dead by recording white noise on magnetic tape." Aaah: So now I know why teenagers used the word "random" so often last year.
http://www.random.org/users.html

LAST DAYS OF ROME (ONGOING)
I was told recently that 250 new five and seven star hotels, 1,000 major new restaurants, and a second indoors ski slope three times bigger than the one that just opened, will be completed in Dubai over the next next five to seven years. The good news is that three feet wide cracks are rumoured to have appeared in the gin palace houses built recently by slebs on those floating reclaimed islands.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Thackara is a writer, speaker and design producer, and director of Doors of Perception. In addition to this blog, he is the author of twelve books including In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World and Wouldn't It Be Great If….
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