Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Steven Johnson (stevenjohnson) Thu 21 Feb 02 09:32
As far as stress and the Well goes, perhaps we could transport the Well community to a remote island in the south pacific for a month, and see what leadership strategies emerged... :) Howard, I did read, and enjoyed, Nonzero -- in a way, there are some interesting overlaps between Wright's book and Emergence. (I talk a bit about his "global brain" theory and the net in one of the chapters.) I'm not sure my new urbanism observations were all that interesting, which may be one reason I didn't expand on them in the book. I thought it was relevant because there's a risk with this book that it will be interpreted as an anti-planning argument, since there's so much emphasis on bottom-up structures and systems. But there is such a thing as planned bottom-up behavior -- i.e., you construct an environment in which bottom-up organization can flourish. Designing a game like SimCity or Black and White is one example of this. (This is one of the things that I talked about in the Wired piece.) The new urbanism is another. On some level, if you're going to be building new settlements, you're going to have to do some kind of planning. So the idea is to plan environments that encourage the kind of sidewalk-centric self-organization that Jacobs celebrated. Even if those sidewalks are being built outside of dense urban centers. That element of the new urbanism -- it's relationship to the public, pedestrian space of the street -- is pretty fascinating, and encouraging, I think. It's too bad that so much of the popular debate over it has focused on the architectural homogeneity/consistency that the New Urbanists have advocated in many of their projects and writings... By the way, I'm having two wisdom teeth removed in about an hour, so I may be silent for a day or so. Or I may be posting Percodan-addled nonsensical prose poems in this thread. If it's the latter, I hope everyone will at least notice the difference...
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 21 Feb 02 10:17
E-mail from Bill Seitz: While most of Christopher Alexander's site requires paid membership, he does have a section on Town Planning which discovers lots of things, including New Urbanism. http://www.patternlanguage.com/townplanning/townplanning.htm Aside: Steven, what are you up to these days, in terms of online activities/organizations?
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Thu 21 Feb 02 10:31
Oops. Sorry, Steven. I did actually read your book when it first came out.
Derek M. Powazek (dmpowazek) Fri 22 Feb 02 12:31
Hey gang! Well, today is officially the last day of our interview with Steven Johnson. I'd like to take a moment to thank Steven for his participation, as well as all of you for your excellent questions and comments. This was fun! This topic will remain open, so if anyone wants to continue, feel free. And, Steven, your Percodan-addled prose is always welcome! Thanks again, everyone.
David Gans (tnf) Fri 22 Feb 02 14:27
Thanks so much for being here, Steven and Derek! And yes, please feel free to continue the discussion.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 22 Feb 02 16:37
Right, and see what emerges...!
democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Fri 22 Feb 02 17:15
Very interesting thread. I hope you guys stay it it for a while.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 23 Feb 02 00:03
Thanks Steven and Derek!
Steven Johnson (stevenjohnson) Mon 25 Feb 02 14:44
Hey, that went by so quickly. Very fun -- and now that I'm recovered (mostly) from my wisdom tooth extraction, I'm happy to stay around longer and keep talking... In answer to Bill's question about what I'm doing these days -- I'm mostly enjoying being a full-time writer for the first time in my life, which has been a total blast. (I'm also a new dad, so that takes up quite a bit of time as well.) As far as online projects go, I've been teaching at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program -- mostly the software and city material from the book -- and thinking about setting up some kind of personal blog-like site. I'm still hoping that FEED will be revived in some fashion, and I spend a lot of time visiting Plastic.com, though I'm not formally involved with them in any way now. I've had a few conversations here and there with folks about getting more involved with some sort of online venture, but I'm really not eager to get a real day job right now -- I'm liking the writer/dad life too much for that...
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 25 Feb 02 20:17
Steven, check out this piece if you haven't already seen it: http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/jenkins0302.asp It's by Henry Jenkins... he's feeling pretty good about weblogs: "It may seem strange to imagine the blogging community as a force that will shape the information environment almost as powerfully as corporate media. We learn in the history books about Samuel Morses invention of the telegraph but not about the thousands of operators who shaped the circulation of messages, about Thomas Paines Common Sense but less about the committees of correspondence through which citizens copied and redistributed letters across the colonies, about the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowes abolitionist blockbuster Uncle Toms Cabin but not about the teenagers who used toy printing presses to publish nationally circulated newsletters debating the pros and cons of slavery. In practice, the evolution of most media has been shaped through the interactions between the distributed power of grass-roots participatory media and the concentrated power of corporate/governmental media."
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