Categories
Art and Design Future Building Reuse Technology

Retrocycling as entry to creative reuse

Replied to Field Notes: Why It’s Time for “Retrocycling” – Immerse by an author (Immerse)

Over the past decades, I have explored different approaches for repurposing outdated technologies, including video game consoles from the 1970s; TVs and slide projectors from the 1980s; CD players…

Loosely skimmed the article but love the idea of retrocycling as a way of thinking about reuse and product lifecycles.

Could you host a workshop/ course to encourage hacking old tech?

An interactive event / pop-up space with old games and equipment?

A photography / documentary project where people could celebrate hand-me-downs by sharing their stories? Or a website where people could post their stories?

Categories
Future Building Places Society

Interrogating gentrification

Liked Gentrification is Inevitable (and Other Lies) by Anne Helen Petersen (Culture Study)

“Unfortunately, these kinds of changes are often portrayed as a natural evolution of city space, rather than as the result of deliberate policy making and sets of choices by powerful actors. We conflate the idea that cities change (of course they do!) with the idea that neighborhoods are inevitably taken over by wealthier, whiter residents.”

Gentrification today is often faster, more radically transformative, and directed by powerful state and corporate actors.

Queering asks us to question the normative values that fuel gentrification: ideas about the home and family, the relationship between property and social acceptance, and what is required for liberation and empowerment. Queering also pushes an anti-gentrification politics to interrogate its own normative assumptions. These could include the unquestioned valorization of working-class identities and spaces, the notion of community, and the foundations of the right to the city.

Categories
Activism Future Building Personal Growth Relationships

Allow room for allies to make mistakes — because we all make them

Replied to we will not cancel us by AdrienneAdrienne (adriennemareebrown.net)

We hurt people.

Of course we did, we are human. We were traumatized/socialized away from interdependence. We learned to hide everything real, everything messy, weak, complex. We learned that fake shit hurts, but it’s acceptable…

Canceling is punishment, and punishment doesn’t stop the cycle of harm, not long term.

We will be accountable, rigorous in our accountability, all of us unlearning, all of us crawling towards dignity. We will learn to set and hold boundaries, communicate without manipulation, give and receive consent, ask for help, love our shadows without letting them rule our relationships…

Shaming and condemning mistakes simply makes others less willing to try or speak up, and less willing to admit their mistakes. This has a chilling effect to keep people in line with what the loudest have decided is right, even when there are valid arguments for other perspectives, and hardly encourages relationship building across identities and ideals. Righteousness is just as unhelpful from the liberal corner as it is from the conservative.

You can hold people accountable without being a dick about it. Not to tone police, but sometimes people on social media talk about others as if they aren’t a person too, and the intensity of condemnation feels greater than the sin. “Nice” is bullshit, but you can be kind and critical.

I guess I’m pretty sympathetic to the choices workers feel they have to make to survive under capitalism. I’m thinking of a disabled person who was cancelled (I think in 2022) when it came out they worked at a military research company for the health insurance and flexible work conditions. Some of the cancelling might have been because they had cancelled others in the past? But that’s just perpetuating the cycle. I’d rather see the conversation “and this is why you shouldn’t cancel people folks” than a dog pile of shame.

We talk about how there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, and I wonder how much that extends to our lives too. It very much becomes a judgment call of what crosses the line to be part of the progressive tribe: ok, working at military companies is out, how about tech companies? Is it only bad if you work on Google’s military contracting projects, or is the whole company tainted? What about working for social media companies that sell our data, if you’re in another department? Is working in anything involving marketing out? How about owning a house, knowing the land was stolen from indigenous people and our treaties with them not honored? How about owning an iPhone knowing that conditions are so bad workers commit suicide on shift? Is catching an Uber home from the airport ok? Is flying ok? Shopping at Amazon?

It is easy to judge others’ choices but defend our own hypocrisies and compromises, instead of helping people recognize the harm they are causing, acknowledging and making up for ours, and working to change the systems that force people into hard choices (like advocating for universal health care and fixing our disability qualifications). I’m not naming or excusing any choices here, and also not supporting social punishment.

The lines I draw for myself are different from everyone else’s, and may change over time with my perspective and circumstances. I have the privilege of owning a home, being married to someone whose job gives me health care, and having a good savings and no student loans; that gives me the ability to make choices others cannot. Physical ability, wealth, family support, obligations and debts, and mental health all shape our decisions.

Maybe some of my perspective here comes from years of being a vegetarian. Many people took my personal calculus to be a judgment on their choice to eat meat, but it really was a personal decision; all I wanted from others was for there to be literally anything I could eat if they hosted (I usually just brought something). Now, for a variety of reasons I’ve become pescetarian. Maybe one day I’ll go veg again, or maybe someday I’ll start eating meat 🤷‍♀️ We can’t necessarily predict how our circumstances will change our choices.

Systems of oppression and those in power acting unjustly should be the main targets of action, while we offer solidarity to workers doing their best to get by, even if sometimes they screw up. It’s easier to attack or ostracize a nobody than to speak truth to power — but it’s a poor outlet for emotional pain and frustration. Purity and ideological perfection are dangerous social concepts, and I would rather have people feel safe enough to make mistakes than withdraw from community for fear.

See also:

The addictive nature of Twitter

Cancel Culture

Categories
Future Building

Embracing authoritarianism to keep power and quash change

Liked 44 thoughts about the future by Ben WerdmullerBen Werdmuller (werd.io)

Two. I think the (re-)rise of authoritarianism and the increasing importance of the climate crisis are linked. It’s not an accident that Bolsonaro was in favor of felling the Amazon or that Trump had such a strong fossil fuels agenda. If a wealthy industry feels like it might be politically under threat, it’s going to do everything it can to change the politics and create a context where it is protected.

Eleven. In a world based on profiling, probabilistic prediction models, corpus-based decision-making, and near-ubiquitous surveillance, only people who don’t conform to the models anticipated by the people who built and designed the systems and therefore aren’t tracked as closely can really be free.

Emphasis mine.

Categories
Future Building Lifestyle Personal Growth

Learning to live in community

Liked Themes of a Year (2022) by Anne Helen Petersen (Culture Study)

You’re trying to shore up your own life raft. Putting on your own oxygen mask and worrying about others’ later. But there is no such thing, not in this moment, as amassing enough capital to actually feel secure. You reach one foothold and start scrambling for the next, always focused on you and yours, forgetting that what you really need is a safety net. You need community that won’t immediately use you as a footstool and bitterly and violently sack all you’ve diligently amassed…

It’s so annoying, isn’t it, that the weightlessness and safety we crave requires more work. That to remember we are beloved, we must also do the labor of loving. It is particularly annoying to those of us obsessed with conceptions of fairness that there is no scoreboard to community, either, and that reciprocity is never straightforward, and rarely takes place within a designed period of time. We’re not talking about Giving Tree self-abnegation here, we’re talking about the real difficulty, when you’ve spent your life trying to get ahead, with letting go of keeping score.

Emphasis mine.

See also:

Gifting art

We Should Get Together

Categories
Activism Culture Future Building The Internet

Defending against abuse, violence, and viewpoints of hatred

(I’m still working through this. There are good arguments on both sides.)

Tools and social norms shape the conversations and interactions people have online and on different platforms. But those inclined towards abusive behavior are less likely to either follow the rules of social norms or to allow themselves to be limited by tools; those motivated towards abuse will find ways to do harm. By limiting tools that can be used for good in hopes of quelling harmful behavior, is the damper put on positive uses greater than the reduction of harmful behavior? How much does depriving fascists of tools for virality also impact our ability to fight fascism?

I imagine there is a balance specific to every tool and platform that should be evaluated — and an argument towards greater or lesser protection depending on the community’s values.

The QT — functionality to natively quote another’s post in a new thread — is currently under debate in the Twitter to Mastodon exodus. It’s interesting to see this case study in how differently people use the internet.

For me, adding context or commentary is nearly universally helpful when sharing information. I add my own notes to almost everything I save here besides basic bookmarks. In my experience on Twitter, RTs (re-sharing without comment), which are allowed) are often obnoxious because they are effortless — QTing to add context or commentary requires more effort. On Twitter, I usually wouldn’t follow people whose feed was filled with RTs instead of QTs, which I read as symptomatic of an uncritical viewpoint or someone with nothing of their own to say. (That was probably too harsh of me, because it can be a kindness to boost attention to some things or people.)

From a discussion on micro.blog, Mike Hall says:

My “keep Twitter useful for me” recipe included a timeline filter in Tweetbot that weeded out RTs. I initially had QTs in the filter, too, but found they were actually useful most of the time. RTs felt like the real poison to me, less from a “this is harmful to one specific person” vantage and more from a “this is just a delivery vehicle for thought-terminating clichés, most extreme examples, and safest way to say ‘yeah, that'” point of view.

So at least n= more than one in my “RTs are worse than QTs” viewpoint 😂

But. I haven’t been attacked online. Maybe taking away as many opportunities for abuse is worthwhile, even if abusers will find another avenue for attack, and it sacrifices a tool that can be used for good.

Annalee Newitz describes the “nonconsensual virality” that removes quotes from context and attacks character:

Let me put a phrase into your mind: nonconsensual virality. It’s why quote-posts on Twitter led to harassment. People’s words stolen, taken out of context, used purely to incite a mob of griefers. The answer is to give #Mastodon users control over whether someone else can quote-post them, with a simple “quote or not” setting that can be set before or after the post goes up. We should be allowed to stop people from taking our posts viral without our consent.

Here’s where I struggle, because personally I have derived a lot of value from others using QTs as a teaching tool, and I also think there is value in having means to critique, but in other areas my stance has been to default to protection.

On a Mastodon thread, Katherine Alejandra Cross makes the point that the harm may exceed the good regardless of the numbers:

There is every possibility that if we were to count up every QT and were able to objectively label them as harassment or neutral or positive in tone, we might find harassing QTs outnumbered. But then we get into quality over quantity.

What if the abusive QTs just matter more? What if they loom larger in the public consciousness? What if they generate more engagement? What if that engagement is itself largely abusive? (And this is the heart of the problem, by the way.)

The other related stance I was discussing with a friend is the “punch Nazis” thing. I’m hardline ‘a tolerant society requires intolerance of the intolerant’ BUT also am not convinced personal violence is the answer here. What does it accomplish besides personal satisfaction?

Is the idea that fascists are so insecure they will be so embarrassed by being punched/ a public repudiation of their views that they will slink away into silence? …but isn’t that how we got here, for decades making it uncouth to express racist views in public, but they still lived on behind closed doors? Does driving the fascists into cloistered circles protect us from them?

I am also scared of this approach because 1) fascists tend to be conservative and pro-gun and all too willing to kill, and 2) police and people in power are often drawn to the continued power and status quo of fascism, and it’s easier for them to apply violence to the marginalized, especially if they have the excuse of “they started it!”, and 3) might =/= right.

If we normalize violence as a form of critique in our society, will that make it easier for protofascists to increase their use of violence without public pushback? Or does it not make a difference what we do because fascists are violent fuckers inherently, and they will always find an excuse for violence, so may as well get a few shots in?

This tension is part of what I love about Batman: he’s positioned in his stories as the hero, yet vigilantism is Not Good. He has “his line” that he will not kill, but seems ok with everything up to it. The horror of the self-ordained savior is why we love Watchmen. The “actually society’s problems can’t all be solved by punching and to what extent does relying on my physical power condone and reinforce our government’s reliance on violence” is what could be interesting about Superman. Because the mob rule of social media is vigilantism — sometimes just, and sometimes not.

The nonviolent protests of the Civil Rights movement turned the oppressors’ use of violence against them, enduring harm when it could be televised and publicized to turn public opinion.

Defending against fascists is America’s biggest problem right now, so it’s valuable to interrogate the methods we use. How do we balance the use of these tools to regulate power and abuse against the certainty those same tactics will be turned back against us?

I suspect the tools are less important than the cultural context of moral righteousness for behavior that is legal but not socially acceptable. Judging others reinforces our view of ourselves as good. Social media is The Lottery, with that day’s Main Character the victim; when we participate in mob justice, we accept it as a tool in our collective arsenal.

Categories
Future Building Society Technology

People will keep dying to cars until we decide their safety is more important than cars’ convenience

Replied to The Urbanist’s Ryan Packer Discusses Worsening Traffic Safety Crisis on KUOW by Doug Trumm (The Urbanist)

The pedestrian safety crisis has been worsening in Washington State and across the United States, even as most other industrialized nations have taken strides to reduce their traffic fatality rate in recent years.

Last year, the state saw nearly 150 people walking lose their lives on our streets, a 31.8% increase in one year and the highest figure seen in at least several decades. That trend is not showing any signs of slowing in 2022.

Graph showing a 30% leap in pedestrian fatalities from 2020 to 2021 in Washington State, after a slow increase over a decade

This is a choice we make when we put efficiency and convenience above all else. The design of our roads, the investments we choose to make in infrastructure for people walking and biking, the timing of our traffic signals, the laws we enact, the driver training we require, the penalty for vehicular manslaughter — these all shape how many people die needlessly on our streets.

One of the people killed was an elderly woman in my city who was hit walking in her own neighborhood by someone backing out of their driveway. Since that day, I always back into my driveway so I have a clear view pulling out.

Traffic deaths should be so rare as to be a shocking tragedy, not an everyday occurrence. It infuriates me when people dismiss Vision Zero as unachievable because there will always be one or two people who die in totally random accidents, using pedancy to avoid confronting a real cost of our time-obsessed capitalist society.

These conversations are vital to have now, before self driving cars become common and accepted — what norms of pedestrian deaths will we accept as our cost of convenience? Especially since self driving cars so far cannot accurately identify a person on a bike.

Categories
Future Building House

Designing a future based on the biases of the past

Liked Why the ‘Kitchen of the Future’ Always Fails Us by Rose Eveleth (Eater)

In a world full of incredible technology, why can we still not imagine anything more interesting than a woman making dinner alone?

Writing off all these hypothetical kitchens as nonsense ignores how powerful the effect of their messaging can be.

Gender role stereotypes are so obnoxious — even though in my household I am the one who cooks. We went to an open house in the fancy part of our neighborhood once just to see what it looked like inside. The realtor chatted with us, and as we’re walking out the door, he points at my husband and tells him, “She wants a new kitchen, and you’re gonna pay for it!”

😶

[Engineers and designers] operate on the premise that people don’t know what they need until it’s built for them. This is a useful principle in some ways, but when it comes to reconsidering how people interact with spaces and appliances they use every day with fluency, it results in an approach to innovation that only calls for talking, never listening.

The result is an array of potential futures that are strangely both unaware of the culture from which they spring, and at the same time constrained by it.

A “we know better” perspective? Here’s another opportunity for co-design.

Solving for problems with technology is exciting / venture capital-izable, while the more common “boring” problems that make a kitchen easier to use probably involve: improved storage, simpler / easier cleaning, and lower maintenance.

What would my dream kitchen have that I don’t have now?

  • A counter depth fridge with freezer on the bottom, not the side –> stop food from getting lost in the back of our fridge
  • An induction stovetop (currently have electric coil 😢) –> easy to clean stovetop that I won’t burn myself on
  • A hood range that actually vents outside –> healthier indoor air quality while I’m cooking
  • More counter space, especially next to the stovetop –> more room for mise en place / less stressful cooking
  • An easy-to-clean, low-maintenance countertop (currently have tile 😭) –> cleaner countertops that don’t always look grimy like tile grout
  • An easier-to-use pantry (ours has wire shelves that stuff falls through, and the shelves are too deep to see everything) –> less annoyance, easier access
  • Storage that’s easier for a short person like me to reach and use (I can’t reach half of the cabinet where we keep cups) –> less annoyance from lugging my stepstool around
  • Appliance storage so I don’t have to heft my heavy stand mixer up from floor level –> would use my appliances more often
  • Somewhere to store cat food (right now it’s in overflow storage under the stairs) –> save myself a trip down the hall

I could currently buy any of these things, if I had the money. No new inventions required.

New kitchen inventions I would like:

  • A blender that’s not a pain in the ass to wash.
  • Dishwashable non-stick pans.
  • Knives that hold their edge like carbon steel but don’t rust or react with red veggies.
  • Storage for tupperware — an apparently impossible problem 🤣

We’ve now lived in our house ten years without remodeling the 1988 kitchen 😂 Sure, a new kitchen would probably work a little better and be prettier. Yeah, I have a Pinterest inspo board, but I can admire pretty things without buying them. And how many hours of my and my husband’s lives do I really want to trade for a fancier kitchen?

See also: The Politics of Kitchen Design

Categories
Future Building Political Commentary

We need our politicians to commit to change if we’re gonna get through climate change

Replied to Add Dedicated Bus Lanes for Every Route by Ryan DiRaimo (The Urbanist)

Paint is cheap. Results are bold. Carbon savings are forever.

Wild idea: Give EVERY bus their own lane
Any bus route currently on a road that has two or more lanes in each direction should immediately paint that far right lane red.

Hell yeah! Just GET. IT. DONE. All of our transit and pedestrian and bike improvements take forever to build but we’re still subsidizing the shit out of driving, making it seem cheaper than it really is to drive.

And a commitment like giving buses priority literally everywhere is what it takes to actually get people to change their behavior. You need to make the desirable behavior way more attractive than the default — which sometimes means also making the (socially and environmentally harmful) default activity less desirable.* Trade a moderate increase in traffic for a drastic increase in bus reliability and reduction in travel times. Reward people doing the right thing, instead of our current punishment (it takes me 20 minutes to drive to Seattle (without traffic) and 10 to park, compared to 40-60 minutes to bus, plus a 10 minute drive or 40 minute walk to the transit center (yay transit-less suburbs!).

Right now we enjoy personal externalities for driving, with society and the environment bearing the brunt of our choice to drive. I don’t think it unreasonable to make people internalize some of the drawbacks of that choice so they can make a truly informed decision while bearing responsibility for it.**

My city’s considering a $20/year car tab to pay for installing bike and sidewalk infrastructure in seven years — which will otherwise take THIRTY FUCKING YEARS to build at current funding levels. EXCUSE ME? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of my laughing. Or is that sobbing. You’re telling me that, in the midst of a climate crisis, you’re OK with our city remaining unsafe to walk and bike through till I’m retired? 🤣🤣🤣

Sometimes we need our leaders to just lead. See what needs to happen, have a vision, and acknowledge that you’re making everyone’s life better in the long run even if individuals will need to adapt to some changes.

I’d love to see a politician willing to only serve one term so they didn’t have to care about pissing people off. Because people hate change, but we need BIG change, NOW. Either we choose some changes to make ourselves — more than we want, faster than we want — or the changing climate will make us change, and that way ain’t gonna be fun for anyone 😳

* I live in the suburbs and I drive 🙋 I’d rather ride my bike but I don’t want to die. I’d rather take the bus but I don’t have time for it to take three times as long to get somewhere. We can’t *only* make things worse for drivers; we also need to invest in our transit system and bike infrastructure so it’s safe and convenient to make the right choice, not just inconvenient to keep making the wrong one.

** Likewise, society needs to make it easier for people to escape the poor choices they’ve locked themselves into. Building as much housing as fucking possible — affordable and comfortable housing (both for individuals and families) — can let people who currently live in the boonies move closer in and escape those carbon spewing commutes. Part of that means lifting restrictions on development, part is imposing more restrictions on what gets built so it’s not all luxury condos or cheapo junk with no soundproofing. ALSO we could incentivize telecommuting instead of forcing people to come back to the office 😠

Categories
Entrepreneurship Future Building The Internet

Podcasts to listen to

Welcome to the intellectual dark web

The 20 hour rule

A Matter of Degrees

Added 11/22:

Fort Nisqually: Indigenous Voices

Articles of Interest: American Ivy

Fated Mates14.5: Space Romance Interstitial – There Are No Wallflowers in Space!

Left/Right: I give you permission

Added 12/22:

Getting the Big Picture on Book Revisions

Added 1/23:

The Politics of Civility