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Month November 2012

Friday Link Fest {November 9-16, 2012}

 

ARTICLES

Soft Cars and Living Homes: How Biologically-Based Architecture May be the Key to Greening Our Cities ~ Fascinating interview with with Mitchell Joachim, an associate professor at NYU and Co-President of Terreform ONE, a nonprofit design organization based in Brooklyn that champions green design in urban areas. via The Culture-ist, published November 9, 2012.

3 Big Insights From Today’s Top Design Thinkers ~ A few weeks ago, at the Fast Company offices, we convened an all-star panel of designers and design leaders to talk about the problems that they found most vexing in the past year, and what they were trying to do to solve them. via FastCo.Design, published November 16, 2012

A Design Lens on Education ~ Ideo’s Tim Brown on learning & design thinking. via Design Thinking: Thoughts by Tim Brown, published November 13, 2012

Place Capital: Re-connecting Economy With Community ~ on rethinking…* public spaces. via Projects for Public Place, published October 28, 2012.

Impact 15: 15 Education Innovators ~ These 15 education innovators are harnessing a slew of disruptive technologies to change everything from the way we teach grade school math to how we train the next generation of teachers.via Forbes, published November 8, 2012.

What Schools Can Learn From Google, IDEO, and Pixar  ~  The country’s strongest innovators embrace creativity, play, and collaboration–values that also inform their physical spaces. A community about to build or rehab a school often creates checklists of best practices, looks for furniture that matches its mascot, and orders shiny new lockers to line its corridors. These are all fine steps, but the process of planning and designing a new school requires both looking outward (to the future, to the community, to innovative corporate powerhouses) as well as inward (to the playfulness and creativity that are at the core of learning). via FastCo.Design, published August 26, 2010.

 

TALKS & VIDEOS 

What is psychology? ~ via BigThink, published November 11, 2012.

(via BigThink on YouTube, published October 24, 2012)

 

10 talks about the beauty — and difficulty — of being creative ~ includes: Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative geniusDavid Kelley: How to build your creative confidenceIsaac Mizrahi on fashion and creativityAmy Tan: Where does creativity hideSteven Johnson: Where good ideas come fromJanet Echelman: Taking imagination seriouslyKirby Ferguson: Embrace the remixMalcolm McLaren: Authentic creativity vs. karaoke cultureTim Brown: Tales of creativity and play; Julie Burstein: Four Lessons on Creativity. via TED, published November 12, 2012.

 

IMAGES

100,000 Stars ~An interactive 3D visualization of the stellar neighborhood, including over 100000 nearby stars. via Chrome Experiments, published November 15, 2012.

Sweet Portraits of Dogs Least Likely to Be Adopted ~The dogs in photographer Lanola Stone’s images — which we first saw in her Behance portfolio — were some of the longest in residence at her local shelter, struggling to find a forever home due to their frequently misunderstood breed, age, and shabby appearance. Stone requested to assist in their adoption process, asking to photograph the “least likely to be adopted” group of pooches. Many of them had been living at the shelter for over six months. She wanted to capture each dog’s unique, loving personality and other quirks in their character to help them get noticed. The dogs pictured in our gallery after the break were eventually adopted thanks to her efforts. via Flavorwire, published November 12, 2012.

Animated El Bocho: Berlin Street Art Comes to Life ~ Berlin based artist Nicolas Molès has created animated work based on local street artist El Bocho’s playful work.These re-imagined pieces – which primarily focus around Bocho’s sweet yet cat hating character Lucy – are interesting in the way they build upon another artists work. Like sampling music to create another song, these images raise the still current question: how much do you need to change an idea to call it your own? As the venerable filmmaker Kirby Ferguson would quickly point out, there’s really nothing to worry about here: everything, after all, is a Remix. via The Visual News, published November 12, 2012.

An Electron Microscope Reveals The Hidden Horrors Of Processed Foods ~  Photographer Caren Alpert wants you to take a good, hard look at what you eat. via FastCo.Design, published November 9, 2012.

Metaphysics of an Urban Landscape: New York City Filled with Shadows ~ Metaphysics of an Urban Landscape is an ongoing series of photographs by Milan-based photographer Gabriele Croppi that features high-contrast, black-and-white photographs of major cities around the world. His images often feature a single subject illuminated by a slice of sunlight in front of a background filled with shadows and negative space. via Peta Pixel, published November 9, 2012.

A Homemade Autochrome Camera Made with Lego, Cardboard, and Duct Tape ~ Photographer Dominique Vankan wanted to play around with the old Autochrome Lumière process from the early 1900s, so he built himself a custom large format camera using LEGO pieces, cardboard, and duct tape. via Peta Pixel, published November 12, 2012.

RESOURCES

Collective Action Toolkit ~ The Collective Action Toolkit (CAT) is a package of resources and activities that enable groups of people anywhere to organize, build trust, and collaboratively create solutions for problems impacting their community. The toolkit provides a dynamic framework that integrates knowledge and action to solve challenges. Designed to harness the benefits of group action and the power of open sharing, the activities draw on each participant’s strengths and perspectives as the group works to accomplish a common goal. via Frog Design, published November 15, 2012.

How to Start Your Own Hackerspace ~ Since a hackerspace is essentially a non-profit meeting place it’s a difficult process to start your own. Adafruit’s guide deals out all the information you’ll need, starting with a quick rundown of what a hackerspace is, and moving on to space requirements, finding locations, members, resources, and everything else. The seven part series is currently only on the second part, but over the next few days you’ll get all the information you need. via Lifehacker, published November 13, 2012.

Great Big Ideas: Free Course Features Top Thinkers Tackling the World’s Most Important Ideas ~ The purpose of The Floating University, according to its site, is to “democratize access to the world’s best thinkers” by providing free, approximately one hour-long courses on a wide range of topics, taught at a university level by experts and professors in the various fields. The inaugural course, the most favored at the three universities, is Great Big Ideas, and it more or less does what it says: tackles some of the largest, most perplexing questions in digestible introductions that also manage to be rigorous, informative, and thought-provoking. via Open Culture, published November 14, 2012.

 

What Is Design?

“You can think of the tacit knowledge that’s harnessed by design and process—the learning by doing part of it—as a little bit like an iceberg. And if you think about the human mind, most of what we do is subconscious. The power that we learn to be explicit with, in academic environments in particular—the conscious mind—is a very small proportion of what we really can use: our intuition, our ability to feel, our ability to understand without being able to explain—all of those things are relatively subjective and subconscious. And what design does is to harness those attributes in the process. It’s a little like the bit of the iceberg that sticks out of the water being the conscious mind, whereas that huge mass underneath the water is the equivalent of the subconscious mind. And we want to use the whole thing.”  – Bill Moggridge

The late Bill Moggridge speaking to K-12 Educators from New York and across the country, addresses the question of ‘What is Design?’


(via CooperHewitt on YouTube, published Aug 4, 2010)

 

 

 

Continue your exploration of design with this new, open-source, design thinking (although you won’t see it described as such) toolkit, made available today by Frog DesignThe Collective Action Toolkit (CAT) ~ A resource for Changemakers:

“The Collective Action Toolkit (CAT) is a package of resources and activities that enable groups of people anywhere to organize, build trust, and collaboratively create solutions for problems impacting their community. The toolkit provides a dynamic framework that integrates knowledge and action to solve challenges. Designed to harness the benefits of group action and the power of open sharing, the activities draw on each participant’s strengths and perspectives as the group works to accomplish a common goal.”

The 72 page toolkit can be downloaded free of charge here.

Education Takes a Stand: Teaching and Learning Driving Technology Innovation

But in the arts anything goes; the imperative is to create a powerful experience for the audience. That is not true for teaching; it must do more than that. It also has a formally defined goal. The imperative for teaching is that learners develop their personal knowledge and capabilities.

– Diana Laurillard

Diana Laurillard in her book Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology explores the way the principles coming out of design science are relevant and applicable to teaching, students, and schools.

In her introduction Laurillard develops a thesis that there is an art to teaching, but there is also a science. That is, teaching involves not just artistry but also method, research, and outcome. Teaching, she argues, “is closer to the kind of science, like engineering, computer science, or architecture, whose imperative it is to make the world a better place: a design science” (1). She explores how, if we take teaching as a design science and approach teaching and learning through this lens, we can build better learning communities.

The book moves on to emphasize the role technology in particular can play in changing the educational landscape. She writes that technology is a “flawed and misunderstood anti-hero who ought to come to good in the end” (2). She explains that historically education has not driven technological innovation, but most recently it has been greatly affecting the educational world. Laurillard argues that instead of passively receiving, the field of education must shape, design, and drive technological innovation. “To do that,” she writes, “we have to be clear about where education is driving itself—what is its role and purpose in twenty-first century society?” (2) Here is where education vision and overarching philosophy become central. As we design the educational technology we must do so in light in of shared educational aims. As Laurillard points out, with technology, “what is learned by changing how it is learned” (3).

With the influx of technology, she sees the teacher’s position as becoming more valued. She sees the importance of teaching the process of learning, questioning, and exploration as heightened with technology. This is opposite to the encouraging results coming out of the One Laptop Per Child movement bringing  tablets to students in Ethiopia which have shown that students can learn effectively without teachers and learn to manipulate technology to their needs. I would argue that teachers also hold a crucial position as role model in teaching character, social norms, culture and customs–something technology cannot do. In any case, for Laurillard, the heightened importance of the teacher in this new landscape means there is a need to focus on how teachers learn. There is a very delicate and intricate relationship between the student and teacher. Laurillard, saying the relationship between student and teacher is more complex than rocket science, writes “rocket science is about moving atoms from a to b, teaching is about moving minds. And the whole point is to change those minds into independent thinkers who will not necessarily bend to the will of the teacher” (5). Laurillard cites a lofty “whole point,” which most certainly seems an educational goal worth holding onto in the process of building future citizens. The point of education should be not just to teach what to think, but how to think, and to think critically and self-reflectively.

Laurillard argues that in order for the shift to occur and for teachers to use design science in their work, teachers need to be empowered to do the research, and their own experience as teachers must be validated as an expertise. She writes that teachers must “be able to articulate and share their pedagogic practice, the outcomes they achieved and how those outcomes related to the elements of their design” (9). As teachers design their curriculum, she writes, it is important for teachers to keep the balance between learning outcomes specific to the discipline and outcomes shared across disciplines: “specific knowledge will be peculiar to the discipline, but the generic skills needed for twenty-first century employment and citizenship are widely applicable across the disciplines”(18). In summary, learning to be thinkers as well as knowledgeable about the specifics of disciplines is a calling both for teachers and students.

Laurillard brings an important perspective to the way we think about teaching and learning. The bulk of the book goes into detailed ideas for how to incorporate technology and design science into teaching and student learning. She illuminates ways design science can have application for the education community, even if the book as whole gives the impression that technology is the chief and central way all education should be administered when in fact it seems a healthy mix of different types of educational experiences, some outdoors, more classical expository types, would also be good as well. That is to say, obviously education is an important tool that can be leveraged in learning experiences, but it is also important to highlight when a tech free experience, such as in outdoor education or perhaps some (not all) art and music education experiences. Put another way, a learning experienced could be greatly improved both with the addition of technology and also with the removal of it and having the option of both is essential to keep in mind.  She is on point when she says that education needs to drive the development of technology used in classrooms. And her strong push for teacher’s autonomy in classroom lesson planning and cross-disciplinary collaboration moves the educational conversation in the right direction. Education Takes a Stand: Teaching and Learning Driving Technology Innovation

 

À la recherche du Brontosaurus ~ In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin

In my grandmother’s dining-room there was a glass-fronted cabinet and in the cabinet a piece of skin. It was a small piece only, but thick and leathery, with strands of coarse, reddish hair.  It was stuck to a card with a rusty pin. On the card was some writing in faded black ink, but I was too young then to read.

“What’s that?”

“A piece of brontosaurus.”

{…}

Never in my life have I wanted anything as I wanted that piece of skin. My grandmother said I should have it one day, perhaps. And when she died I said: ‘Now I can have the piece of brontosaurus,’ but my mother said: ‘Oh, that thing! I’m afraid we threw it away.’

So begins Bruce Chatwin’s novel In Patagonia (1977)–the somewhat fictionalized account of his journey to Patagonia where he set off to replace his grandmother’s misplaced bit of dinosaur. Thanks to this glorious two-part documentary, written and narrated by Chatwin’s biographer–Nicholas Shakespeare–and produced by the BBC (1999), Chatwin, writing, travel and dinosaur fans can follow in the footsteps of the brilliant, controversial author around the world—from Patagonia to Africa.

A delightful mediation on writing, art, nomadism, journeys, and wonder, In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin, is filled with interviews with the author as well as with his friends, family members, and the people he met on his travels who eventually became characters in his novels. A must for fans and all those interested in writing, living, or in search of something–be it meaning or a furry piece of prehistoric skin.

Episode I

(via  on YouTube, published Dec 12, 2011)

 

Episode II

(via  on YouTube, published Dec 12, 2011)

Henri Cartier-Bresson on The Mind’s Eye & The Decisive Moment…*

In photography there is a new kind of plasticity, the product of instantaneous lines made by movements of the subject. We work in unison with movement as though it were a presentiment of the way in which life itself unfolds.

Our conversation about the essence of photography began yesterday with excerpts from Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. While Barthes is interested in the essence of photography itself, his methodology for uncovering and articulating this essence is driven by his own experiences of photography, most often as spectator. To round out the conversation, I thought it would be nice to hear from Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer, one of 5 founding members of Magnum Photos, and the father of the decisive moment– “the moment at which the elements in motion are in balance. Photography must seize upon this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it.” Here is Cartier-Bresson’s 1976 essay, The Mind’s Eye, transcribed in full as well as numerous (but each so glorious) excerpts from The Decisive Moment (1952). Because photography, like most other art forms, is about looking, subjectivity and experience, Cartier-Bresson’s reflections on the profession and medium, like Barthes’s, are about much more than the technicalities of photography and perspective and touch on the essence of being human. Enjoy & rethink…*

 

 (photo via The Guardian)

 

THE MIND’S EYE 

Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not a major concern.

Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is their instrument. What emerges from this recording machine does not escape the economic constraints of a world of waste, of tensions that become increasingly intense and of insane ecological consequences.

“Manufactured” or staged photography does not concern me. And if I make a judgment it can only be on a psychological or sociological level. There are those who take photographs arranged beforehand and those who go out to discover the image and seize it. For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry–it is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression. One must always take photographs with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself.

To take photographs is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.

To take photographs means to recognize–simultaneously and within a fraction of a second–both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis.

As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other means of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one’s originality. It is a way of life.

Anarchy is an ethic.

Buddhism is neither a religion nor a philosophy, but a medium that consists in controlling the spirit in order to attain harmony and, through compassion, to offer it to others.

*

 

from THE DECISIVE MOMENT  

 

THE PICTURE-STORY

I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, determined to “trap” life—to preserve life in the act of living. Above all, I craved to seize, in the confines of one single photograph, the whole essence of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.

I have traveled a good deal, though I don’t really know how to travel. I like to take my time about it. Leaving between one country and the next an interval in which to digest what I’ve seen. Once I had arrived in a new country, I feel almost like settling down there, so as to live on proper terms with the country, I could never be a globetrotter.

Twenty-five years have passed since I started to look through my view-finder. But I regard myself still as an amateur, though I am still no longer a dilettante.

Sometimes a single event can be so rich in itself and its facets that it is necessary to move all around it in your search for the solution to the problem it poses—for the world is movement, and you cannot be stationary in your attitude toward something that is moving.

Things-As-They-Are offer such an abundance of material that a photographer must guard against the temptation of trying to do everything. It is essential to cut from the raw material of life—to cut and cut, but to cut with discrimination. While working, a photographer must reach a precise awareness of what he is trying to do. Sometimes you have the feeling that you have already taken the strongest possible picture of a particular situation or scene; nevertheless, you find yourself compulsively shooting, because you cannot be sure in advance exactly how the situation, the scene, is going to unfold. You must stay with the scene, just in case the elements of the situation shoot off from the core again. At the same time, it’s essential to avoid shooting like a machine-gunner and burdening yourself with useless recordings which clutter your memory and spoil the exactness of the reportage as a whole.

Memory is very important, particularly in respect to the recollection of every picture you’ve taken while you’ve been galloping at the speed of the scene itself. The photographer must make sure, while he is still in the presence of the unfolding scene, that he hasn’t left any gaps, that he has really given expression to the meaning of the scene in its entirety, for afterward it is too late. He is never able to wind the scene backward in order to photograph it all over again.

For photographers, there are two kinds of selection to be made, and either of them can lead to eventual regrets. There is the selection we make when we look through the view-finder at the subject; and there is the one we make after the films have been developed and printed. After developing and printing, you must go about separating the pictures which, though they are all right, aren’t the strongest. When it’s too late, then you know with a terrible clarity exactly where you failed; and at this point you often recall the telltale feeling you had while you were actually making the pictures. Was it a feeling of hesitation due to uncertainty? Was it because of some physical gulf between yourself and the unfolding events? Was it simply that you did not take into account a certain detail in relation to the whole setup? Or was it (and this is more frequent) that your glance became vague, your eye wandered off?

For each of us space begins and slants off from our own eyes, and from there enlarges itself progressively toward infinity. Space, in the present, strikes us with greater or lesser intensity and then leaves us, visually, to be closed in our memory and to modify itself there. Of all the means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes forever the precise and transitory instant. We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory. The writer has time to reflect. He can accept and reject, accept again; and before committing his thoughts to paper he is able to tie the several relevant elements together. There is also a period when his brain “forgets,” and his subconscious works on classifying his thoughts.  But for photographers, what has gone is gone forever. Form that fact stem the anxieties and strength of our profession. We cannot do our story over again once we’ve got back to our hotel. Our task is to perceive reality, almost simultaneously recording it in the sketchbook which is our camera. We must neither try to manipulate reality while we are shooting, nor manipulate the results in a darkroom. These tricks are patently discernible to those who have eyes to see.

In whatever picture-story we try to do, we are bound to arrive as intruders. It is essential, therefore, to approach the subject on tiptoe—even if the subject is still-life. A velvet hand, a hawk’s eye—these we should all have. It’s no good jostling or elbowing. And no photographs taken with the aid of flashlight either, if only out of respect for the actual light—even when there isn’t any of it. Unless a photographer observes such conditions as these, he may become an intolerably aggressive character.

The profession depends so much upon the relations the photographer establishes with the people he’s photographing, that a false relationship, a wrong word or attitude, can ruin everything. When the subject is in any way uneasy, the personality goes away where the camera can’t reach it. There are no system, for each case is individual and demands that we be unobtrusive, though we must be at close range. Reactions of people differ much from country to country, and from one social group to another.

 

THE SUBJECT

There is subject in all that takes place in the world, as well as in our personal universe. We cannot negate subject. It is everywhere So we must be lucid toward what is going on in the world, and honest about what we feel.

Subject does not consist of a collection of facts, for facts in themselves offer little interest. Through facts, however, we can reach an understanding of the laws that govern them, and be better able to select the essential ones which communicate reality.

In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, human detail can become a leitmotiv. We see and show the world around us, but it is an even itself which provokes the organic rhythm of forms.

There are thousands of ways to distill the essence of something that captivates us; let’s not catalogue them. We will, instead, leave it in all its freshness…

One kind of subject matter greatly derided by present day painters is the portrait. The frock coat, the soldier’s cap, the horse now repel even the most academic of painters. They feel suffocated by all the gaiter buttons of the Victorian portrait makers. For photographers—perhaps because we are reaching for something much less lasting in value than the painters—this is not so much irritating as amusing, because we accept life in all its reality.

People have an urge to perpetuate themselves by means of a portrait, and they put their best profiles forward for posterity. Mingled with this urge, though, is a certain fear of black magic; a feeling that by sitting for a camera portrait they are exposing themselves to the workings of witchcraft of a sort.

One of the fascinating things about portraits is the way they enable us to trace the sameness of man. Man’s continuity somehow comes through all the external things that constitute him—even if it is only to the extent of someone’s mistaking Uncle for Little Nephew in the family album. If the photographer is to have a change of achieving a true reflection of a person’s world—which is as much outside him as inside him—it is necessary that the subject of the portrait should be in a situation normal to him. We must respect the atmosphere which surrounds the human being, and integrate into the portrait the individual’s habitat—for man, no less than animals, has his habitat. Above all, the sitter must be made to forget about the camera and the photographer who is handling it. Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out.

What is there more figurative and transitory than the expression on a human face? The first impression given by a particular face is often the right one; but the photographer should try always to substantiate the first impression by “living” with the person concerned. The decisive moment and psychology, no less than camera position, are the principal factors in the making of a good portrait.

The sitter is suspicious of the objectivity of the camera, while the photographer is after an acute psychological study of the sitter.

It is true, too, that a certain identity is manifest in all the portraits taken by one photographer. The photographer is searching for identity of his sitter, and also trying to fulfill and expression of himself. The true portrait emphasizes neither the suave nor the grotesque, but reflects the personality.

 

COMPOSITION

Photography implies the recognition of a rhythm in the world of real things. What the eye does is to find and focus on the particular subject within the mass of reality; what the camera does is simply to register upon film the decision made by the eye. We look at and perceive a photograph, as we do a painting, in its entirety and all in one glance. In a photograph, composition is the result of a simultaneous coalition, the organic coordination of elements seen by the eye. One does not add composition as though it were an afterthought superimposed on the basic subject material, since it is impossible to separate content from form. Composition must have its own inevitability about it.

In photography there is a new kind of plasticity, the product of instantaneous lines made by movements of the subject. We work in unison with movement as though it were a presentiment of the way in which life itself unfolds.

But inside movement there is one moment at which the elements in motion are in balance. Photography must seize upon this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it.

The photographer’s eye is perpetually evaluating. A photographer can bring coincidence of line simply by moving his head a fraction of a millimeter. He can modify perspectives in a slight bending of the knees. By placing the camera closer to or farther from the subject, he draws a detail—and it can be subordinated, or he can be tyrannized by it. But he composes a picture in very nearly the same amount of time it takes to click the shutter, at the speed of a reflect action.

[…] if the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless.

Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move. In applying the Golden Rule, the only pair of compasses at the photographer’s disposal is his own pair of eyes. Any geometrical analysis, any reducing of the picture to a schema, can be done only (because of its very nature) after the photograph has been taken, developed and printed—and then it can be used only for a post-mortem examination of the picture.

 

COLOR

In talking about composition we have been so far thinking only in terms of that symbolic color called black. Black-and-white photography is a deformation, that is to say, an abstraction. In it, all the values are transposed; and this leaves the possibility of choice.

The operation of bringing the color of nature in space to a printed surface poses a series of extremely complex problems. To the eye, certain colors advance, others recede. So we would have to be able to adjust the relations of the color one to the other, for colors, which in nature place themselves in the depths of space, claim a different placing on a plane surface—whether it is the flat surface or a painting or a photograph.

 

TECHNIQUE

Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see. Your own personal technique has to be created and adapted solely in order to make your vision effective on film. But only the results count, and the conclusive evidence is the finished photographic print; otherwise there would be no end to the number of tales photographers would tell about pictures which they ever-so-nearly got—but which are merely a memory in the eye of the nostalgia.

In any case, people think far too much about techniques and not enough about seeing.

During the process of enlarging, it is essential to re-create the values and mood of the time the picture was taken; or even to modify the print so as to bring it into line with the intentions of the photographer at the moment he shot it. It is necessary also to re-establish the balance which the eye is continually establishing between light and shadow. And it is for these reasons that the final act of creating in photography takes place in the darkroom.

 

THE CUSTOMER

We photo-reporters are people who supply information to a world in a hurry, a world weighted down with preoccupations, prone to cacophony, and full of beings with a hunger for information and needing the companionship of images. We photographers, in the course of taking pictures inevitably make a judgment on what we see, and that implies a great responsibility.

I have talked at some length, but of only one kind of photography. There are many kinds. Certainly the fading snapshot carried in the back of a wallet, the glossy advertising catalog, and the great range of things in between are photography. I don’t attempt to define it for everyone. I only attempt to define it for myself.

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that even its proper expression.

I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, which can mold us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between these two worlds—the one inside us and the one outside us. As the result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate.

For me, content cannot be separated from form. By form, I mean a rigorous organization of the interplay of surfaces, lines, and values. It is in this organization alone that our conceptions and emotions become concrete and communicable. In photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed instinct.

Source: Cartier-Bresson, Henri. The Mind’s Eye: Writings on photography and photographers. New York: Aperture, 1999. Print.

*

While were on the topics of glory & photography:  A Homemade Autochrome Camera Made with Lego, Cardboard, and Duct Tape ~ via Peta Pixel, published November 2, 2012. Photographer Dominique Vankan wanted to play around with the old Autochrome Lumière process from the early 1900s, so he built himself a custom large format camera using LEGO pieces, cardboard, and duct tape. Head over to Peta Pixel to find out more about the process & results. Delight guaranteed.

Using Technology to Further Dialogue

With my day nearly complete, I stepped off the 242nd street platform and onto the awaiting 1 train. But two questions continued to swirl around in my head. During my daylong visit, I enjoyed connecting with members of the math and technology integration departments at RCS. I was thankful for the opportunity to observe experienced and capable educators performing their craft.

Yet I was most grateful for those two circling questions. The first question is how might students show themselves and their teachers what they know and don’t know? The second question is how might teachers converse amongst themselves about pedagogy given their packed and varied schedules? The former focuses on developing metacognitive awareness, which provides students with the ability to drive their own learning and maximize the resources provided by their teachers. The later focuses on the important task of making time for substantive and thoughtful collaboration with colleagues during busy schools days filled with teaching demands and the inevitable daily emergencies that routinely steal away a teacher’s attention.

I do not believe that computer-based technologies need to be the only quiver from which to pull solutions for these problems, but my conversations today brought the following solutions to light. Explain Everything, Show Me, and Educreation are three iPad apps that allow students to record their written and verbal work. These apps create opportunities for students and their teachers to retroactively see and reflect on what students were thinking. These accurate documentations of reasoning  can be completed for a homework assignment done at the kitchen table, or coursework completed in class.

VoiceThread provides a platform for asynchronous communications. By agreeing on a an acceptable window of time for responses, users of the software can submit their comments at their leisure. Teachers can use this tool to write, speak, or video record their responses or their thoughts on a professional development topic. Participants can return and review new post or the virtual conversation can be the basis of subsequent in-person meetings. The pre-work completed in the initial virtual meetings could increase the productivity of live meetings.

At their core I believe these two sets of tools could enhance academic dialogue both in the virtual and in-person setting. They provide accurate documentation of thoughts and an opportunity for multiple individuals to digest the documented material at their own pace. I am excited to start playing around with these different applications and would love to hear your feedback if you have any experience with these tools.

On Looking: Roland Barthes on the Difficulties of Naming the Essence of Photography

Roland Barthes‘ last book, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, published posthumously, was born out of his grieving the death of his mother. It was while sorting and looking at pictures of his mother, that this touching rumination on the essence of photography, affect, the self, perception and memory emerged. Barthes’ reflections on photography and perception are thought-provoking and essential to our understanding and appreciation of making the familiar unknown. Celebrate what would have been Barthes’ 97th birthday today with these excerpts from Camera Lucida.

  

(Roland Barthes, via TracesOfTheReal.com)

 

First of all, I did not escape, or try to escape, from a paradox: on the one hand the desire to give a name to Photography’s essence and then to sketch an eidetic science of the Photograph; and on the other the intractable feeling that Photography is essentially (a contradiction in terms) only contingency, singularity, risk: my photographs would always participate, as Lyotard says, in “something or other”: is it not the very weakness of Photography, this difficulty in existing which we call banality? Next, my phenomenology agreed to compromise with a power, affect; affect was what I didn’t want to reduce, being irreducible, it was thereby what I wanted, what I ought to reduce the Photograph to; but could I retain an affective intentionality, a view of the objects which was immediately steeped in desire, repulsion, nostalgia, euphoria? Classical phenomenology, the kind I had known in my adolescence (and there has not been any other since), had never, so far as I could remember, spoken of desire or of mourning. Of course I could make out in Photography, in a very orthodox manner, a whole network of essences: material essences (necessitating the physical, chemical, optical study of the Photograph), and regional essences (deriving, for instance, from aesthetics, from History, from sociology); but at the moment of reaching the essence of Photography in general, I branched off; instead of following the path of a formal ontology (of a Logic), I stopped, keeping with me, like a treasure, my desire or my grief, the anticipated essence of the Photograph could not, in my mind, be separated from the “pathos” of which, from the first glance, it consists. I was like that friend who had turned to Photography only because it allowed him to photograph his son. As Spectator I was interested in Photography only for “sentimental” reasons; I wanted to explore it not as a question (a theme) but as a wound: I see, I feel, hence I notice, I observe, and I think.

 

(Photograph by Koen Wessing: Nicaragua. 1979 via Stanford.edu )

 

My rule was plausible enough for me to try to name (as I would need to do) these two elements whose co-presence established, it seemed, the particular interest I took in these photographs.

The first, obviously, is an extent, it has the extension of a field, which I perceive quite familiarly as a consequence of my knowledge, my culture; this field can be more or less stylized, more or less successful, depending on the photographer’s skill or luck, but it always refers to a classical body of information: rebellion, Nicaragua, and all the signs of both: wretched uniformed soldiers, ruined streets, corpses, grief, the sun, and the heavy-lidded Indian eyes. Thousands of photographs consist of this field, and in these photographs I can, of course, take a kind of general interest, one that is even stirred sometimes, but in regard to them my emotion requires the rational intermediary of an ethical and political culture. What I feel about these photographs derives from an average affect, almost from a certain training. I did not know a French word which might account for this kind of human interest, but I believe this word exists in Latin: it is studium, which doesn’t mean, at least not immediately “study,” but application to a thing, taste for someone, a kind of general enthusiastic commitment, of course, but without special acuity. It is by studium that I am interested in so many photographs, whether I receive them as political testimony or enjoy them as good historical scenes: for it is culturally (this connotation is present in studium) that I participate in the figures, the faces, the gestures, the settings, the actions.

The second element will break (or punctuate) the studium. This time it is not I who seeks it out (as I invest the field of the studium with my sovereign consciousness), it is this element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me. A Latin word exists to designate this wound, this prick, this mark made by a pointed instrument: the word suits me all the better in that it also refers to the notion of punctuation, and because the photographs I am speaking of are in effect punctuated, sometimes even speckled with these sensitive points; precisely, these marks, these wounds are so many points. This second element which will disturb the studium I shall therefore call punctum; for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole—and also a cast of the dice. A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).

 

Since the Photograph is pure contingency and can be nothing else (it is always something that is represented)–contrary to the text which, by the sudden action of a single word, can shift a sentence from description to reflection–it immediately yields up to those “details” which constitute the very raw material of ethnological knowledge.

 

What I can name cannot really prick me. The incapacity to name is a good symptom of disturbance.

 

Nothing surprising, then, if sometimes, despite its clarity, the punctum should be revealed only after the fact, when the photograph is no longer in front of me and I think back on it. I may know better a photograph I remember than a photograph I am looking at, as if direct vision oriented its language wrongly,  engaging it in an effort of description which will always miss its point of effect, the punctum.

 

Ultimately–or at the limit–in order to see a photograph well, it is best to look away or close your eyes. “The necessary condition for an image is sight,” Janouch told Kafka; and Kafka smiled and replied: “We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.” The photograph must be silent (there are blustering photographs, and I don’t like them): this is not a question of discretion but of music. Absolute subjectivity is achieved only in a state, an effort, of silence (shutting your eyes is to make the image speak in silence). The photograph touches me if I withdraw it from its usual blah-blah: “Technique,” “Reality,” “Reportage,” “Art,” etc.: to say nothing, to shut my eyes, to allow the detail to rise of its own accord into affective consciousness.

*

 

For the Roland Barthes buffs among you, head on over to UBU web for audio recordings of his lectures: Comment vivre ensemble” (“How to live together“), Lectures at the Collège de France, (1977); “Le Neutre” (“The Neutral“), Lectures at the Collège de France, (1978) and a free version of Barthes’ 1967 essay, The Death of the Author. Enjoy & Rethink…

Kurt Vonnegut Link Fest to Celebrate His Birthday…*

 

There are no telegrams on Tralfamadore. But you’re right: each clump of symbols is a brief, urgent message–describing a situation, a scene, We Trafalmadorians read them all at once, not one after the other. There isn’t any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of so many marvelous moments seen all at one time. –Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Today would have been Kurt Vonnegut’s 90th birthday ~ join us in celebrating his life & work…*

 

2 Free eBooks (Spotted on Open Culture): 

  1. 2 B R O 2 B  ~ iPad/iPhone – Kindle + Other Formats
  2. The Big Trip Up Yonder  ~ iPad/iPhone – Kindle + Other Formats

 

Kurt Vonnegut’s Daily Routine ~ Maria Popova gives us a taste of a new book filled with Vonnegut’s correspondence, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield. via Brainpickings, published November 5, 2012.

 

I Am Very Real ~ In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. The next month, on November 7th, the head of the school board, Charles McCarthy, demanded that all 32 copies be burned in the school’s furnace as a result of its “obscene language.” Other books soon met with the same fate. On the 16th of November, Kurt Vonnegut sent McCarthy the following letter. He didn’t receive a reply. via Letters of Note, published March 30, 2012.

 

If I’m Not a Writer Then I’m Nothing ~ In October of 1949, while working in public relations at General Electric, 27-year-old aspiring writer Kurt Vonnegut sold his first story to Collier’s; just over a year later, he quit said job and began life as a freelance writer. The following two letters, both from Vonnegut, offer an intriguing glimpse into his mind during that period — the earliest sent to his father immediately after that first story was bought; the next to his friend, Miller Harris, not long after escaping General Electric in 1951, at which point he was avoiding writing for publications such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker and instead collecting “fat checks” from the “slicks” (glossy, well-paying magazines, e.g. Collier’s,Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan). via Letters of Note, published June 14, 2012.

 

Hand written letter from Kurt Vonnegut to pen pal David Breithaupt ~ via Flavorwire, published October 18, 2012.

 

Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Tips on How to Write a Good Short Story ~ via Open Culture, published June 20th, 2012.

(Uploaded by  on YouTube, published July 3, 2010)

Kurt Vonnegut: “How To Get A Job Like Mine” (2002) ~ via OpenCulture, published June 8, 2012.

(Uploaded by  on YouTube, published June 6, 2011)

What Do We Assume About School and Learning?

One of the trickiest things about coming up with creative solutions is the tendency to pass over things we assume to be true. Those hidden, taken-for-granted views that might offer opportunities for rethinking and reinventing our practice, if we just recognized them and contemplated them. Personally, I find that  uncovering my assumptions is the most challenging aspect of the Design Thinking and Integrative Thinking models. The world is a busy place, and we can’t always be thinking about all the information coming our way. That’s why we create assumptions. They make our everyday life more manageable because they make our thinking less effortful. But assumptions also limit our thinking by closing off opportunities for deeper reflection.

To aid our own rethinking, the rethinkED team has compiled a list of assumptions about school and asked others to contribute as well.

Readers, please add your own assumptions–or assumptions you know others have–to the comments section! Our hope is that articulating assumptions will cause us to question them and offer opportunities to reframe our thinking. What aspects of school and learning do you never really think about and just accept as the way things are? What things do all schools have in common simply because they are all schools? What do we reward in education? What do we punish? What assumptions can you uncover? We’d love to hear them.

DISCLAIMER: These assumptions are not necessarily held by the members of the rethinkED team. Many of these assumptions are simply widely held beliefs that we know other people hold or assumptions that we solicited from others. All assumptions deserve attention if we are really committed to rethinking…*

  • Students should be compared to each other.
  • Kids need grades.
  • Tests should last a whole period.
  • Kids need tests, quizzes, and sometimes “quests.”
  • Schools need departments for distinct areas of learning.
  • All students should be graded on the same criteria.
  • Learning at school requires a specific set of tools: pens, notebooks, books, rulers, calculators, protractors, etc.
  • School learning occurs separately from “real-life” (homework, “summer” reading, etc.).
  • Learning occurs within contained spaces (i.e. the classroom).
  • There are “good” students and “bad” students.
  • Schools are not equal–there are “good” schools and “bad” schools. (But is that determined by the perception of schools’ curricula or the perception of the students who attend them?)
  • Students need expert teachers to impart knowledge to them.
  • Education is content-oriented and content-organized.
  • Learning is quantifiable through grades and test scores.
  • Some things are more worth learning than others.
  • Students who cannot perform at the expected level should be “remediated” or medicated.
  • A student who can work or learn more quickly is a better student than those who work or learn more slowly.
  • Routine is conducive to learning (schedules, periods, semesters, etc.).
  • Learning needs to occur within hierarchies (first grade, middle school, high school, college, grad school, etc.).
  • Students need to sit during classes.
  • Lectures are an efficient way of getting students to learn.
  • Organization, accountability, and attention to detail matter more than creativity.
  • Students are consumers.
  • Education level is often confused with intelligence.
  • Schools teach social interactions.
  • Education needs to be reformed.
  • School is really screwed up.
  • School is boring.
  • School is like Las Vegas–what happens in school, stays in school.
  • Education is based on the factory system of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Grades are the biggest motivator for kids.
  • Boys are naturally better at some classes and girls are naturally better at some classes.
  • Grades don’t matter until freshman year, and especially junior year and senior fall.
  • Junior year is the hardest year of high school.
  • If you screw up in high school it “ruins your life.”
  • The smartest students get the best grades.
  • Where you go to college is a reflection of your intelligence.
  • Incorporating technology into the curriculum will help our students learn.
  • Rigorous courses require lots of homework.
  • Private schools do a better job of educating students.
  • If a student isn’t learning, it’s the teacher’s fault.
  • If a student isn’t learning, it’s the student’s fault.
  • School should primarily be about academics.
  • Desks and chairs in a classroom are the best furniture for a learning environment.
  • Students benefit from a class where questions are asked and there is a rapid fire session of answers. (i.e., silence represents a learning vacuum)
  • Staff members are not required to intervene in conversations, regardless of what is said, where small groups of kids are standing at lockers, in between classes. Kids need time to just be kids and figure it out.
  • Decisions by committee take longer and are not necessarily better.
  • Calculators and other technology are distracting and do not further learning.
  • Kids need feedback in the form of grades; they don’t pay attention to written comments.
  • Middle School teachers are not qualified to teach High School. Lower school teachers are not qualified to teach in middle/upper divisions.
  • Homework at the middle level should be appropriate 30-45 minutes per subject.
  • Parents are meddlesome; they create more work.
  • New students struggling with adjustment need to give it time and work harder.
  • Teachers who have experience do not need to mentoring. Teachers who are brand new will need sufficient amounts of mentoring.
  • The best classroom management approach is to be kind but firm.
  • A disciplined environment produces more respectful students.
  • Standards have fallen since I went to school.
  • Those who can’t do, teach.
  • Students retain information when they can connect it to prior knowledge.
  • Everybody at school cares about kids.
  • Everyone in a school community is a person of good will.
  • Students have too much homework today.
  • Socialization is as important as curriculum in the early years.
  • Students don’t like to learn new things.
  • Students don’t use free time well.
  • Students don’t like school.

Friday Link Fest {November 2-9, 2012}

ARTICLES

What Does It Mean to Be Simple? ~ All designers say simplicity is important, but what does it really mean to make something simple? Most of the time we think it means less, that by removing stuff we achieve simplicity. We think by keeping content above the fold we’re helping people focus, or by using bullets instead of paragraphs more people will read it, or by cutting text in half it becomes more clear. But simple doesn’t mean “less”. A better definition would be “just enough”. via 52 Weeks UX, published December 22, 2011.

How to recognize Design Thinkers ~ Since Roger Martin and others hijacked the term ‘designthinking’, there is an ongoing dispute. Two thought worlds exist and possibly these can be united by laying bare the essential characteristics of a ‘design thinker’. via Team Cognition, published October 30, 2012.

Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves ~ via MIT Tech Review, published October 29, 2012.

Pinterest’s Founding Designer Shares His Dead-Simple Design Philosophy ~ Sahil Lavingia on why design shouldn’t be designated a specific function or industry. The discipline is just as fundamental as technology and profit are to a business that it doesn’t need to be isolated to a single role. It should be considered part of every role. via FastCo.Design, published March 7, 2012.

Design Firms Go Beyond Gadgets As Portfolios Expand~ On the rise and ubiquity of design thinking: Bay Area design firms behind iconic technology products like the mouse and the Macintosh computer are broadening their portfolios. Health-care companies, nonprofits and industrial giants are among those tapping these and other designers to conceive not just gadgets but new software, business strategies and even school systems. The expansion has happened gradually but is accelerating as firms seek to connect with design-savvy customers. via The Wall Street Journal, published October 31, 2012.

The High Line Effect: Top 10 Urban Transformation Projects ~ When it comes to urban transformation, size does not matter, per se. The subtleties of thoughtful urban projects shine through at every level, and sometime outperform their more ostentatious contemporaries. The Architizer Plus: Urban Transformation Award will reward the best architectural project that spurs new occupation and lively places. via Good, published October 31, 2012.

Design Thinking Starts At The Top ~ Even though design thinking requires participation from many different sectors of a business, there is no question that this is an initiative that has to be led and implemented from the very top by a management committed to the process. Unless there is a strong figure there to properly determine what shape design thinking will ultimate take, there will be no firm direction and there will be no significant follow-through. via Fast Company, published November 2, 2012.

Learning to Bounce Back ~ via The New York Times, published November 2, 2012.

Van Bo Le-Mentzel: Rethinking Everything ~ “It was like my reset button had been pressed,” Le-Mentzel said of his childhood. “Other kids had parents who were doctors, teachers, grocers or lawyers to follow, and I was starting at zero. No one told me what to be – and that turned out to be an advantage. via Smart Planet, published November 1, 2012.

 

TALKS & VIDEOS

Watch A Great Short Film On The Future Of Technology And Education ~ We’re still teaching our kids using a 20th-century paradigm, but many visionaries–like the ones in this video–have plans to take our advances in computing and technology and use them to explode the idea of what education can be. via FastCo.Exist, published October 22, 2012.

 

Open Source Architecture Manifesto Movie ~ Istanbul Design Biennial 2012: this movie shows how a custom printer continually updates a copy of the Open Source Architecture Manifesto Wikipedia entry, written on a wall in the entrance to the Adhocracy exhibition at the Istanbul Design Biennial. via Dezeen, published November 7, 2012.

 

A 3-D Printed House That Grows Like Human Bone ~ London design studio Softkill paints a far-out picture of what 3-D printed architecture could eventually look like. At last week’s 3D Printshow, the team of Architectural Association grads presented a concept called ProtoHouse, which imagines a radical new mode of construction based on the strengths of 3-D printing. Their design is in stark contrast to other 3-D printed home schemes, which are either markedly utilitarian or oddly traditional. via FastCo.Design, published November 2, 2012.

(Softkill Algorithm from Sophia Tang on Vimeo.)

 

Design the New Business ~ Design and business can no longer be thought of as distinct activities with individual goals. Design the New Business is a film dedicated to investigating how designers and businesspeople are working together in new ways to solve the wicked problems facing business today. The short documentary examines how they are joining forces by bringing together an international collection of design service providers, education experts and businesses that have incorporated design as a part of their core approach. Design the New Business features inspiring case studies and insightful discussions, helping to illustrate the state of the relationship and how it needs to continue evolving to meet tomorrow’s challenges.via  dthenewb on Vimeo, published November 2011.

(Design the New Business – English subtitles from dthenewb on Vimeo.)

 

Rethinked’s…* Dominic Randolph on Design Thinking for Educators: Short Documentary on His Collaboration with Ideo ~ Dominic Randolphrethinker…* extraordinaire and Head of Riverdale Country School, won a grant in 2012 from the E. Ford Foundation to teach Design Thinking to Educators and to spread its adaption and implementation across the country. This seven-minute film documents Dominic’s collaboration with legendary design firm, Ideo. via Rethinked, published November 8, 2012. (Video Design Thinking for Educators – Dominic Randolph from paul dewey onVimeo, published November 6, 2012.)

 

Urbanus: Argitecture / Archiculture – Future Cities, Beijing ~ Wang Hui of Urbanus presents his recent works which are dealing with the development of the urban landscape in China. Understanding that eliminating farmland in favor of high rise structures is not a sustainable model, Hui presents a new system which brings together the two worlds instead of isolating them. By taking the words ‘architecture’ and ‘agriculture’ and hybridizing them to spell the terms ‘agritecture’ and ‘archiculture’ new meanings are created and from that dynamic proposals can be established.via Design Boom, published November 7, 2012.

 

IMAGES

Invisible Street Art by Cayetano Ferrer ~ Los Angeles-based video, photography and sculptural/installation artist Cayetano Ferrer has re-interpreted the discipline of graffiti through his artistic interrogation of urban objects. Through his projects ‘City of Chicago‘ and ‘Western Imports‘ he camouflages street signs and ordinary cardboard boxes to mimic the surrounding scenery – rendering them ‘invisible street art’. Ferrer creates the work by pasting high-quality photographs reflecting the relevant environment printed onto stickers and fixing them to various urban debris around the city. By photographing these pieces in situ, the resulting images articulate an illusion of transparency, prompting the viewer to look twice. via Design Boom, published November 2, 2012.

Flying Houses, Spotted In Paris ~ Paris-based art director-turn-photographer Laurent Chéhère has created a series of whimsical photographs featuring buildings that appear to be flying. via Design Taxi, published October 30, 2012.

Brilliant 3D pencil drawings by Nagai Hideyuki ~ Who knew that pencil art could be so multi-dimensional and layered? These incredible illustrations by young Japanese artist Nagai Hideyuki are created using the projection technique, Anamorphosis, which gives the images a three-dimensional appearance when viewed from certain angles. via Lost At E Minor, published July 19, 2012.

How Children Learn: Portraits of Classrooms Around the World ~ A revealing lens on a system-phenomenon both global in reach and strikingly local in degree of diversity. via Brainpickings, published August 20, 2012.

Disruptive wonder from French artist Rero ~The artist simply known as “Rero” works exceedingly simply – but all the better to get his point across. Recently, he has been making challenging through contradiction, posting fliers with phrases like “I hate graffiti” and “I don’t really like people who stick bills on walls,” as well as questioning our perception of public art. via Beautiful Decay, published August 10, 2010.

Rain-Activated Street Art ~ Poland-born, US-based mixed media artist Adam Niklewicz has created a stunning water mural on a red brick wall of a historical building in Hartford, Connecticut. Only appearing when rain falls on it or if water is sprayed on it, this public art project features an image of Charles DeWolf Brownell’s “The Charter Oak”, a reference to American freedom and independence.via Design Taxi, published November 5, 2012.

Our Differences Unite Us ~Just last week, 10-year-old Sophia Bailey-Klugh wrote and illustrated an endearing letter to U. S. President Barack Obama and, as the daughter of a gay couple, thanked him for supporting same-sex marriage. She then asked for advice on how to respond to those who saw such a thing as “gross and weird.” Her letter, and the reply she soon received, can be seen here. via Letters of Note, published November 6, 2012.

RESOURCES

Top 7 Websites for Creating the Future City ~ seven websites that harness the power, wisdom and knowledge of the crowds to cultivate smarter future cities. via Goodnet, published September 26, 2012.

The History of Western Architecture in 39 Free Video Lectures ~  The History of Architecture, a free course that recently debuted on iTunes. Taught by Jacqueline Gargus at Ohio State, the course features 39 video lectures that collectively offer a classic survey of Western architecture. via Open Culture, published November 8, 2012.

Ways to help affected communities after Hurricane Sandy ~ via Architizer, published November 2, 2012.

16 Free Lectures by “The Great Courses” (in a Sea of Free Courses) ~ You have got to hand it to The Great Courses (previously called The Teaching Company). Based in Chantilly, VA, the company has traveled across America, recording professors lecturing on great topics. They have roughly 390 courses in their catalog, market them aggressively with millions of print materials and emails, and generate $110 million in annual sales (as of 2010).And it just so happens that we’ve dug up 16 free lectures sponsored by the company. (Most are individual lectures taken from longer courses available for purchase online.) via Open Culture, published November 2, 2012.

Take First-Class Philosophy Lectures Anywhere with Free Oxford Podcasts ~ Conveniently podcast lecture courses from the University of Oxford. via open Culture, published November 6, 2012.

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