Tag Archives: technology

The City of the Future?

We humans love to plot our existence on time lines. Make the world linear. Everything has a beginning, a middle, an end. The universe in vectors. But how often does reality comply? It seems to me that no geometric figure can accurately represent the dynamism of civilization. Sometimes a vector may well be appropriate. Other times, a triangle or a step pyramid. The closest model to my mind, however, is a helix, or rather multiple helices. Some are bent, some wrap around others, some are vertical, some aren’t. All, however, are roughly orbital. A new development (such as the automobile) creates a new ring, the course of action spurred on by that development plays out, and eventually things come back around to a new approximation of where they began.
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Posted in architecture, Culture, History, human scale, Josh Grigsby, Rants, technology, thinking, Uncategorized, urban design, urban planning, vernacular architecture, walkable, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why We Need Innovation, Not Insulation

Conservation and behavior change alone will not get us to the dramatically lower levels of CO2 emissions needed to make a real difference. We also need to focus on developing innovative technologies that produce energy without generating any CO2 emissions at all.
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Beauty Kills—A Self-Rebuttal: Or, Why Joel Kotkin isn’t Always Wrong

In my recent post, Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities, I argued that beauty is an essential element of urbanism. Forget all of that for a moment; here’s the other side of the coin: beauty kills. It can turn cities into lifeless museums animated only by tourists, inhibiting creativity and innovation while exacerbating segregation and homogenization. Look at any interior design magazine spread; room upon room of artful still-life orchestration. These are rooms that pose, not rooms that are lived in. Look at fashion models, their faces inscrutable and eyes vacant. True, this is not the sort of beauty I was advocating, but an emphasis on beauty can quickly lead one astray if untempered. Beauty is essential, yes, but it can be as intoxicating as drugs, and potentially as destructive.
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Sigur Ros, Mass Extinction, and the Future of Recess

The end of a year is always a pensive time. We look back, we look forward. We make promises to ourselves and to others. We renew our optimism, justifiably or not, and we convince ourselves that this will be the year. The cyclical renewal of our faith in possibility is, in fact, the very thing that creates possibility. But sometimes we turn the page without comprehending the one we’ve just written. The past hundred eighty years or so has seen the pace of our composition quicken, the time allotted for reflection diminish. Speeding may move us rapidly from point A to point B, but it reduces our ability to turn, to brake. Our vision tunnels and the landscape blurs. The odds of a collision multiply. Continue reading

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Literary Theme Parks

The affront to our more cultivated sensibilities aside, are literary theme parks really signs of the apocalypse? Do they cheapen the written word or testify to its durability? Cormac McCarthy has said that he doesn’t think film adaptations of his books have any effect on the books themselves, that the books are the books and nothing can change them. Even with the thousands of professional and amateur adaptations and reinterpretations of A Christmas Carol, and even since the opening of Dickens World, the book itself remains a great read. Continue reading

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