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Comments Posted 09.01.04 | PERMALINK | PRINT

John Thackara

The Time Thief [September 2004]


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.

MICHIEL VAN ROOZENDAAL, TIME THIEF
One reason this newsletter is late this month is a time thief called Michiel van Roozendaal. Van Roozendaal, director of the Duch international train service, NS International, has sacked 250 people from sales desks around the country, and threatens to sack the rest (200-plus people) by 2005. These human experts have 4,000+ years of accumulated expertise as interfaces to Europe's otherwise incomprehensible ticketing systems. In the fantasy world inhabited by van Roozendaal, these people will be replaced by ticket machines located in "luxury business waiting rooms" and an "SMS-as-train ticket" service. Reality check: it took us four-and-a-half hours to buy a one-way ticket from Amsterdam to Montpellier at the station today. That's time theft, Mr. van Roozendaal. The thief's boss is Aad Veenman, whose telephone number is: 00 30 235 7130.

DOORS OF PERCEPTION 8: NEW DELHI
Doors of Perception 8 will be take place in New Delhi, India, during the week 21-26 March 2005. Our theme is 'infra': Designers and entrepreneurs from different parts of the world will discuss platforms for social innovation, and how to design them.
http://doors8delhi.doorsofperception.com/

CONVERSATION PARTNERS
Doors 8 will involve conversations with and among:
Tilly Blyth (Curator of Computing, Science Museum London)
Jan Chipchase (Nokia, Tokyo)
Natalie Jeremijenko (ooz & onetrees)
Lavrans Lovlie & Chris Downs (Live|Work, London)
Ezio Manzini (Industrial Ecologist, Milan)
Jogi Panghaal (Doors of Perception, New Delhi))
Howard Rheingold (Smart Mobs, USA)
Aditya dev Sood (Centre for Knowledge Societies, Bangalore)
Debra Solomon (Culiblog)
Marco Susani (Motorola Advanced Concepts, Boston)
John Thackara & Kristi van Riet (Doors of Perception, Occitania)
Esme Vos (editor, muniwireless.com)
Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia)

DOORS 8 IN DELHI: TELL YOUR BOSS ABOUT THE $13 TRILLION
In your memo on the reasons you have to go to (and/or sponsor) Doors 8 in Delhi, mention that "serving the world's five billion or so poorest people is a $13 trillion a year opportunity". Management guru C K Prahalad quotes this number in The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits. (Pittsburgh, Wharton School Publishing, 2004). There are many things to argue about in CKP's proposition (and we will) but the priority now is to get your trip authorized.

THROUGH THE EYES OF A PIGEON
The high rise building was made possible by elevators and, less obviously, by the telephone. (The latter enabled a large organization to occupy several floors efficiently, as Malcolm McCullough explains in his book Digital Ground). So what impact will mediascapes - the mobile phone and wireless networks - have on the ways we inhabit localities? Some pointers are to be found among the just-announced winners of Fused Space, a design competition which Doors supported. Ulrika Wachtmeister won with a project called Transitions about commemoration and mourning. Joes Koppers and Susann Lekás came second with Optional Time - a mirror that turns into a movie. And Marcus Kirsch and Jussi Angesleva (also winner of Open Doors at Doors 7) came third with Urban Eyes - a birdís eye view, literally, of the city.
http://www.fusedspace.org

MONTREAL NOUVEAU
Here is a final mention of the 'New Design Cities' symposium. Your correspondent will present a new version of 'The Post-Spectacular City'. October 6 and 7, 2004, Montreal.
http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/colloquedesign/index_eng.shtm

FINE FINNISH FISH
http://www.paetau.com/downloads/Re-Institutionalize/NetshedEnglish.html

STATE OF EMERGENCY
Lieven de Cauter, author of forthcoming book The City in the Age of Fear, moderates a conference in Amsterdam with the title, State of Emergency: Territorial Identity in the Post-Political Age. The event is organized by the Jan van Eyck Academy and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
23 September 2004
http://www.stedelijk.nl

STEDELIJK CHOOSES BENTHEM CROUWEL
The Stedelijk (pronounced stayed-a-lick) Museum has chosen Benthem Crouwel architects to design its new building. Benthem Crouwel also design Schiphol Airport (continuously) and also designed Doorsí erstwhile home, the Netherlands Design Institute. The museum, known to us as Prozac House, announces a determination to be radical and fresh in the only press picture weíve seen of the new edifice: it features the word 'SHOP' in huge letters.
http://www.stedelijk.nl/content/interieur_300_largex.jpg

JOSEPH PLATEAU
A happy fifteenth anniversary to Joseph Plateau, a team of the Netherlandsí best graphic designers. (They've designed Doors' printed matter more-or-less from the beginning). JP are famous designers but - amazingly in this age of designer narcissism - they donít have a website. They donít even have a book. So you'll have to search them out.

FAT CITY
Two geographers, Simon Marvin and Will Medd, have published a quease-inducing paper about fat in cities: ìClogging up the City: Flows of Fat in Bodies and Sewersî. The number of sewer blockages and overflows across cities in the United States is growing, they say, as restaurants and fast food chains pour cooking residue into drains. Local governments lack the resources to monitor grease disposal or to enforce the relevant regulations. Yuk.
http://www.surf.salford.ac.uk/Events/UrbanVulnerabilityAbstracts.htm

TALL STORIES
If they reduce horizontal resource flows, dense high-rise buildings can be surprisingly green. Carol Willis, Director of the Skyscraper Museum, has invited several high-rise architects to discuss tall buildings at this symposium in New York: Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Caroline Bos from UN Studio, and bioclimatic architect Ken Yeang.17 & 18 September 2004. New School University, New York.
http://www.moma.org

POP! GOES THE RENAISSANCE
A breathless missive arrives from Andrew Zolli, organizer of Pop!Tech.ìThe Next Hot Zones: After Iraq, what next? Where are the world's next wars going to be fought? How will we fight them? And what will it take to win?î. Zolli answers his own question: ìThe New Human Body: We can rebuild you. Better. Stronger. Faster. We have the technologyî. If youíre a cyborg, or wannabe, head for Camden, Maine, 20-24 October.
http://www.poptech.org/index.cfm?friend=3wr85yZ

HYPER-RUNT
Now hereís a coincidence. Not far from Camden,ìuneasy questions pertaining to the nature of art in the realm of artificial life-forms, media viruses, robot psychology, and inter-species culturesî feature in Hyper-Runt. Its artists ìflirt with the possibility of a post-human future in which the paradigm of art and civilization gives way to a hyper-biology of emergent processesî. HYPER-RUNT's installation will be the last event to take place at Philadelphiaís National Products Building. October 8-14, 2004, Philly.

GONE TO GOING
ìGoingî is less tech-crazed than ìPop!î and wonít help win the next war, but it does propose to redesign the American Way of Life by looking for solutions to North Americaís transportation morass. Going is about segways, car sharing, electric bikes, neighborhood electric vehicles, e-delivery, and dynamic ride sharing. September 10 & 11, Chautauqua Hall, Boulder, Colorado.
http://www.goingconference.com

GAGGING ON GIGATONS
Global carbon dioxide emissions could double by 2050 if energy-saving measures are not universally introduced. ìEnergy and Climate Changeî, a report released by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development at the World Energy Congress in Sydney, reports energy trends for the next 46 years (to 2050). "To give figures, in 2000 the world emitted around eight gigatons of carbon," a spokewoman said.î Under a business as usual scenario, in 2050, emissions could double to reach around 16 gigatons ... so if we don't act now, our future may become out of control."
http://www.wbcsd.ch/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&DocId=NzE1OQ

LONDON INVADED
For 70 years London has succumbed to the car and has become an ìinvaded city. The car has disrupted what used to be lively market space, where the natural interaction of people could take place without hindrance. ìPeople have been pushed into undignified movementsî concludes an angry Danish architect, Jan Gehl, who has written a strong report (with a twee title) called "Towards a Fine City for People" for the Mayor of London.
http://www.riba.org/go/RIBA/About/RIBALondon_3935.html

IS THIS YOU?
Are a young designer or manager with a hankering to work on the problems of management of innovation? Are you open-minded and curious and creative and cosmopolitan? Are you competent in languages and interested in new communication technologies? Well, lucky you. And by the way, check out the Masters In Strategic Design at Milanís Polytechnic University.
http://www.polidesign.net/mds

ECO-EFFICIENT PRODUCT SERVICE SYSTEMS
Product-services create immaterial value. This one-day event shows you how. Brussels, Wednesday 13 October 2004.
http://www.suspronet.org/
(PS is this newsletter am immaterial product-service? Weíre not sure).

INTERACTION DESIGN GROUP
Ixdg's new website explains what itís for.
http://www.ixdg.org

THE LATEST ISSUE OF DESIGN PHILOSOPHY
Is on the theme of design ethics.
http://www.desphilosophy.com

POCKET SIZED FILMS
Nesta has challenged film directors to create short films which can be viewed on mobile phones.
http://www.nesta.org.uk/mediaroom/newsreleases/4429/index.html

PERIPHERAL EPICENTRES
ìEpicentres at the periphery represent architectural flashpointsî. The German contribution to the Venice Biennale features an intriguing selection of architectural projects that ìundertake to reactivate spaces within the urban sprawl of suburban and de-industrialised zones - the featureless and aesthetically ambivalent landscapes of the urban margins and provincial towns.
http://www.deutschlandscape.de

DIGITAL CRAFT USA
The damage to national economies caused by the more than 90,000 viruses that have already appeared world-wide runs into many billions. The independent US research institute Computer Economics puts the damage in the case of ìI love youî in 2001 alone at 8.75 billion US $. But not all computer viruses are harmful. Computer viruses can also result from experimentation with (programming) language. ìI love you [rev.eng]î is the first exhibition dedicated to the phenomena of computer security and computer viruses. September 11 to October 4, Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, October 7 to November 14, Museum for Communication in Copenhagen, Denmark.
http://www.digitalcraft.org/Iloveyou

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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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