Reality re-structured

Mass media entertainment gives the word “reality” a real hammering. Hammering provides a useful metaphor. One of the ways the empirically minded commonly assert the incontrovertible reality of the world is to thump on something solid. Catching up with just 15 minutes of the BAFTA winning “structured reality” tv show The Only Way is Essex…More

Computer-supported collaborative distraction

Communicating with others via laptop, mobile phone or tablet computer while I’m supposed to be listening to a lecture, contributing to a meeting, or socialising face-to-face can be desperately unproductive, and profoundly anti-social. The cure for a wandering mind is to unplug according to recent reports (THE). But social media can nudge the architectural design studio…More

All watched over by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand fascinates architects. It’s one of the few novels (and films) with an architect as the central character. Loosely modelled on the heroic figure of Frank Lloyd Wright, it elevates and glamorises architects and buildings, or at least supposedly original and authentic highly creative iconic architects … and architecture.More

I am Spartacus

The perennial tussle between the right to free speech and the right to privacy has a spatial dimension of relevance to any designer. Architects, geographers and planners are acutely aware of the relationships between public and private spaces. Free speech roughly equates to the right of access to a place (eg a city square, the…More

Against understanding

Is it just me, or is everyone losing the plot? I think stories in popular fiction, especially in film and television, are becoming increasingly complicated. There’s still heroism, personalised villainy, archetypes, sentimentality, the triumphant ending, and fidelity to genre and type, but the means of getting to the predictable ending seem ever more convoluted.More

Being practical

The recent raid at Abbottabad has shown President Obama to be a leader capable of decisive action after all, as opposed to just an academic (ie a “dithering nerd-in-chief”), at least according to critical commentators (The Guardian, 7 May 2011, p.21). Having read Obama’s The Audacity of Hope, I’m hard-pressed to think of Obama as an intellectual…More

This is not a hideout

After matching the aerial view of the compound published in Tuesday’s Guardian against Google Maps I soon discovered that the site was already labelled helpfully “Osama Bin Laden’s Hideout Compound.” Presumably, this is a recent annotation.More

Digital metaphors and the baroque

I’ve at last caught up with the philosopher-historian Giambattista Vico’s (1668-1744) unusual work the New Science, as an e-book, purchased, downloaded and read on an iPad while travelling from Sopron in northern Hungary to the UK by train, a baroque odyssey of sorts. Amidst homage to the ancient Egyptians, obsessions about race and lineage, forced…More

No-thing as it seems

You can treat things as “mere objects,” but things can’t be “mere things.” Thing already carries connotations of significance, history, meaning, memory.More

Now is the winter of our disconnect

We live in a connected world, ie everything is, or has the potential to be, connected to everything else. The Internet makes this connectivity palpable. But the web of all things is hardly a new view of the universe.More