Book Club
Tales of the City
Urban Design


What are we to do with this then?
Russell Degnan

With first year now nothing but a memory, rapidly diminishing in a fog of alcohol, I thought it would also be a good idea to assess the website. And to tidy up a few things that I should have mentioned (mostly nice people linking to us).

Some personal observations you may want to comment on... I'm not entirely sure what people want to use the site for, and what they want to get out of it. My original intention (and like any design, no website in history has ever quite matched the designers intentions), was to have a public face, and a private face.

On the public side are the groups visible before you login, where we can discuss Planning Urban Design and Environment issues - as an aside though, the Environment students were interested in their own site, so we might combine forces on that front - and other things that are related, or you just feel like adding. Since then, Aaron has added the sadly underused "Tales of the City" and I (just now) added "Book Club" to talk about books you've read that you found interesting and wanted to share. Because this is read by the outside world - and don't decieve yourself, quite a few people read the site from time to time - the public face is (and has been) like any other blog. And I think it has had some good stuff on it as well.

On the private side, after you login - and where I think the site is underused, probably because of time constraints - I intended people to discuss some of the readings, or subject material, perhaps post essay drafts for comments, and coordinate social things. I have also added the Urban Game Group for those interested in getting something going when Uni goes back next year; more info on that will follow.

So, some questions. Is this the best way? Does anyone think it should be more public, or more private? Has anyone been using the assignment, and timetable stuff? Are there any improvements to be made or bugs that need fixing? (I'm sure there are)

One other thing. A couple of people, mentioned at one stage or another that they don't feel confident posting, and writing analysis, or what- have-you. I think you are missing a great opportunity if you feel that way. There is no pressure writing here. You aren't assessed, there are no word limits, or referencing requirements, and you can change things even after you've submitted it. Basically, you can write complete bollocks, and be told you're writing complete bollocks without fear or persecution. And so two things follow from that. One, you can use the web to work out what you want to say elsewhere, more formally, and perhaps, get good advice and comments from other people. It clears the head. And two, if you aren't confident in your writing, the best - nay, only - way to become better is to practise, and this is good practise.

Personally, I am going to try and write one thing a week. So I'd love to see other people do the same. If we had 8 or 10 people doing that we'd have a very busy little site going.

On a different note, if you've been paying attention you'd have noted the steady increase in links to the right-hand side. I am also pleased to note that quite a few of the blogs listed read their referrer logs, and have linked to us in the last few months, which for various reasons I hadn't acknowledged - mostly extreme slackness.

First, was David Sucher at City Comforts. Probably the best urban planning and design blog on the web. His recent post on the Gehry designed Disney Hall in Los Angeles is a good example of the sort of analysis that should be applied to urban spaces (and too often isn't).

Michael Jennings also hello a while ago now (and looks at another famous Gehry building in a post below that one). He was also going to write a post on how container shipping has shaped the structure of cities, but has left us waiting.

More recently, back40 over at Crumb Trail linked to us, and was a contributor to our discussion on renewable energy. If you are interested in the environment, I highly recommend reading this, and his newer blog Muck and Mystery. They take a very realist approach from the human perspective. I particularly liked this highly relevant recent comment:

"If we want to survive it will be useful to gain some understanding of our species, perhaps even come to like it. We need to mature a bit, to overcome puerile fastidiousness and aversion to muck and mystery since that is the human condition. We are animals participating in continuously changing natural systems, coevolving with all of the other members of those systems. Our individual wills to persist and grow, the quickening, are not optional and are not a problem to be solved. We continually evolve new techniques that allow an increase in the scope and productivity of our aggregate efforts. We coevolve with these cultural inventions. But collective intelligence, planning and enduring organizations are the dead end failures of the past. Repeated failures as cultures rise and fall."

And, lastly, just today we were mentioned on butterpaper which has a number of good architecture and planning links. The letter that was written to Mary Delahunty is a must-read!

If anyone has any other useful sites let me know. The more the better.

UPDATE: Okay, I know this post is almost a week old, but it's easier to update. Panchromatica linked to us as well. He has all sorts of interesting stuff here

General 28th October, 2003 22:38:44   [#] 


Thank You
..for the words and the link. It's good to feel useful, to think that someone finds value in your efforts.
back40  3rd November, 2003 09:13:09  

Excellent site!
Firstly, I'm quite happy with the site remaining as public as it already is. Good press you see, and if we get comments on our thoughts from out side the group of planners, then that can only be a good thing. Secondly, the mailing list is very useful. Perhaps we could have a weekly or fortnightly review of the site sent around just to remind people that the site is actually here, and functioning! I for one would be happy to do this as long as I got a bit of help from a few others.

I'll certainly try to get something up here at least once a week, in fact, I daresay there is an interesting piece in the local paper today, I'll get on it...

cheers Russ for the SO GOOD! site!
Tom  5th November, 2003 14:59:35  


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