urban life

Experience or Judgement?

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Are our personal characters shaped by experience, or shaped by our own judgements? Both are powerful engines that push us to new chapters in our lives.

In our romantic relationships, our judgements are about who to date, what to say and how to behave. These judgements slowly become a set of experiences that in turn inform our future judgements. Even the experience of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ Through actual experiences, perhaps we learn not to judge quite so strongly at first glance. But still believe love at first sight is possible.

In our professional lives, people hire us for the quality of our judgements and rate us on the quality of our experiences. Skills of course, also play an important part in our professional development.

As parents, should we concentrate on teaching our children to make great judgements? Or to have a lifetime of great experiences instead?

As voters, what kind of politicians do we want governing our country? Honest ones definitely. Hard working ones too. Ones who can caution us, based on their past experience? Or ones who can make the perfect judgement call on our security forces, when the very defence of the nation is under threat?

Bright lights, big city

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Big cities show survival of the fittest in action.

The fittest don’t have to be fittest in body. Just fittest in mind.

If you come to the Big City naïve, stubborn, vain, or showing poor judgement,

The city will smile its grim smile, encircle you and slowly but surely take wealth and hope off you.

 

If you come to the Big City with a survivor’s mentality, hungry to learn, hungry to succeed,

The city will take you under its wing. As one of its own.

 

Does this make the Big City harsh and cruel?

Or a good judge of character, with judgements made at big-city speed.

 

Big cities house the most charities and some of the grandest public structures,

Big cities are where the congregation of high talent assemble,

Where the future of humanity is discussed, agreed and governed from.

Big cities are indeed the bright lights.

The green planet that keeps turning…

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Cycle to work,

Cycle some cool ideas on-route,

Recycle at work,

Recycle your ideas at work,

Cycle home,

Recycle at home…

Social transitions

Banking isn’t supposed to be completely self-serving. That’s *anking.

Modern is like modern art – it means different things to different people. If you want others to embrace modern, make sure it’s a big leap forward, not one leap forward (healthcare, connectivity, UN resolutions) and one leap back on others (pollution, inequality, injustice).

How do we go from a few super-models that everyone aspires to look like, to a World full of people who are super-models on the inside?

The quiet dignity of old people should be the quiet dignity of everyone.

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Would the amount the World spends on vanity products each day cure World hunger for a week? Would the amount the World spends on defence each day prevent child suffering for a week?

Clash of the titans – Big Data and the Internet of Things

Forecasting & trading models appear to become ever-more capable. They crunch ever-bigger datasets (the age of big data), manage market trades and even shape data-driven public policy.

Meanwhile the Internet of Things is computerising evermore devices, to control the timing of service provision to us, often where the how of the service remains a mystery to us.

At some point, will human choices be sacrificed between these two complexifying forces, as they progressively control our World for us?

Even without the rise of high performance computing, the age of big data and the Internet of Things, coalition politics (both at the UK and EU level) appear to be putting the brakes on implementing effective change. So as parliamentary change management slows down while digital action speeds up, where are these changes taking us, as a society?

Will voter apathy rise further and will we escape on-masse, to the World of mall shopping, computer games, reality TV, You Tube home videos and sport on the terraces?

Lastly, the irony of the social network, might be when people start using it to help make sense of the device-social network (The Internet of Things), as its sociability quickly overtakes our own…

Transformation of the Silicon Roundabout

I recently read an interesting Guardian article ‘The slow death of Silicon Roundabout’ by journalist Cory Doctorow. http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/mar/10/slow-death-of-silicon-roundabout

The article and some follow-on comments, neatly highlight some issues tech start-ups and wannabe start-ups face in large urban cities. In spite of central government desire for tech SME’s to proliferate, create jobs, boost overseas earnings and boost the tax receipts flowing back to government, at the local government level (below city level), the priorities are different.

Local government (below city level) might argue that, as its funding from central government diminishes, it’s forced to turn to large property developers to build new, high-density property, to replace near derelict properties in its jurisdiction.  Urban renewal, particularly if on brownfield sites, is desirable and helps cities rejuvenate. Likewise increasing the supply of inner city space helps to offset rental price rises (eventually). However, in my view, there’s an important role for local government to ensure that replacement property plans allow flexible use and include park space to offset higher-density effects.

On the park space point, Central Park in New York is a good example of consolidated park space co-existing with high rise, in (relatively) close proximity. London’s approach on park space has been to scatter large parks all around the city, which also works well. In the London of the future, is there scope to create elongated ‘strip’ parks in Eastern London, to offset future high-rise while incorporating cycleways, to separate cycle lanes from existing road users?

Returning to the Silicon Roundabout/Tech City article, a final thought. If the local government institution (Hackney Council in this case), want long-term occupants (workers, property renters and live-in property owners) occupying as much of its jurisdiction as possible, to contribute Council taxes and reduce the social costs (crime, fly tipping etc) associated with derelict areas, then why encourage purpose-built student accommodation development at the expense of tech city accommodation? As the journalist quite rightly points out, tech city is a diverse community of start-up services and organisations. Encourage a critical mass and it will spawn ongoing replacement (successful start ups move on and are replace by new ones starting out), in a similar way to market traders. In contrast, in allowing developers to build (overseas) student accommodation en masse in the inner city, the Council risks putting too many eggs in one basket, if the educational institution occupants aren’t themselves of top quality and since education institutions don’t appear to benefit from clustering together physically* (Eton & Harrow, Oxford & Cambridge, the US Ivy Leagues, excepting MIT & Harvard).

Best case, if elite higher education institutions move in and then attract successful companies to relocate alongside them, the Council plan will pay off handsomely. However, worst case, the Council will find itself surrounded by empty new build space, purpose-built for the education sector, vacated by non viable education institutions. And therefore reliant on other educational institutions to move to the area.

*In contrast, there are mutual advantages for commercial organisations locating physically next to research-led higher education institutions.

Self Improvement

I’d rather have a design challenge in front of me, than a depressed economy.

Life isn’t about finding Nemo. It’s about creating yourself.

Problems in your neighbourhood cry out for design ideas from your head and courage in your heart.

The creative process – more Picasso, Dali and Pollock. The dependency process – more still life and pointillist.

Creativity; On switch, expresso shot, file create, discuss, argue, kiss and make up, file save, email samples to client. Cycle home and mental edit tomorrow’s revision, while dodging other commuters doing the same.

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