Monday 18 March 2019

Pace Layering: How Complex Systems Learn and Keep Learning (2018)

Here is a short piece by Stewart Brand on pace layers - an idea he developed in his book How Buildings Learn. He proposes six layers - all of which have a distinctive tick rate. The image above is a re-drawn illustration of the six layers and their relationships. His summary;
Fast learns, slow remembers.  Fast proposes, slow disposes.  Fast is discontinuous, slow is continuous.  Fast and small instructs slow and big by accrued innovation and by occasional revolution.  Slow and big controls small and fast by constraint and constancy.  Fast gets all our attention, slow has all the power.


Wednesday 13 March 2019

Hummingbirds and flowers are quick, redwood trees are slow... (1986)

Hummingbirds and flowers are quick, redwood trees are slow, and whole redwood forests are even slower. 

Most interaction is within the same pace level  - hummingbirds and flowers pay attention to each other, oblivious to redwoods, who are oblivious to them.

A Hierarchical Concept of Ecosystems (1986).

Robert V. O'Neill, Donald Lee Deangelis, J. B. Waide & Timothy F. H. Allen

Friday 8 March 2019

So It Goes (1969)

It is fifty years since Kurt Vonnegut Jr wrote Slaughterhouse Five. It is one of the most outstanding books I have ever read. Part novel, part memoir, part Science Fiction. It is unique. 

HERE is an exceptional essay by Kevin Powers in the New York Times on the 'Moral Clarity' of Slaughterhouse Five

Thursday 7 March 2019

Staying Awake. Notes on the alleged decline of reading (2002)

Happy World Book Day!
The book itself is a curious artifact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.

This is crucial, the fact that a book is a thing, physically there, durable, indefinitely reusable, an object of value.

From Staying Awake Notes on the alleged decline of reading - an essay by Ursula Le Guin from Harpers (HERE).

Image from Alphabet by Benjamin Rabier (HERE).

Monday 4 March 2019

Orbis Typographicus (1970)

Orbis Typographicus is a set of twenty-nine letterpress broadsides, designed by Hermann Zapf and printed by Philip Metzger. The texts chosen by Zapf feature quotations on art, science, nature, and faith. It is an example of the highest of typographic arts.

Joshua Langman created a high-quality digital facsimile of Orbis Typographicus in 2013. It is excellent and includes a number of good explanatory essays. HERE

Sunday 3 March 2019

3 Feet High and Rising (1989)

De La Soul is one of the most lyrically and musically creative hip-hop groups ever. The formed in 1987, and launched their debut studio album, 3 Feet High and Rising, 30 years ago today. Macy Gray likened them to the Beatles of hip-hop. 

The samples were mixed with simple technology, and great creativity. On the track Me Myself and I were samples from the following:

Funkadelic: (Not Just) Knee Deep (1979)
Ohio Players: Funky Worm (1972)
Edwin Birdsong: Rapper Dapper Snapper (1980)
Loose Ends: Gonna Make You Mine (1986)
Doug E. Fresh: The Original Human Beat Box (1984)

HERE is how they made it, and a full track listing can be found HERE on Discogs. 

Book of Kells (c. 800 AD)

The Book of Kells is a masterpiece of western calligraphy. It is written in a beautiful insular majuscule script, and is the work of at least three different scribes. The lettering is written in iron gall ink, and the colours used for the illumination use a wide range of substances, many of which were imported into Ireland.

The book has been scanned in its entirety and has been made available online by Trinity College Dublin. HERE