A random collection of things that inspire, interest and trouble me
from the world of design, politics, art and culture.

A break in transmission

Posted: January 18th, 2010 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Blog, events, information design, user experience | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Apologies for the severe lack of posting. I have started a new job and just can’t seem to find the time to blog. I hope this will settle down in the next couple of weeks.

I am also enjoying attending design events in London, something I didn’t have the chance to do when living in Reading. Last week I went to St. Bride’s Library to listen to Paul Stiff and colleagues talk of their research into 19th century information design. They are looking at how people used to read information for action, a difficult task as it is not the kind of reading that many people have written about. There is a related exhibition at the library full of timetables, maps, tables and forms.

The ‘indicator’ map below is part of the exhibition. I saw this in a class given by Michael Twyman at Reading University last year. The tape measure is used to find any street with accuracy. Note the numbers along the sides of the map and the lines that would be used to line up the tape. Lining up a set of numbers listed after a street in the index would allow users to find the street.

map

Next week some UX folks from Google are speaking at a UX UPA event at the Truman Brewery. Very much looking forward to that. You can read more about that event on the UX UPA Eventbrite page.


The Bigger Picture

Posted: October 27th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: activism, environment, events, food, future | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I was lucky enough to attend the morning sessions of The Bigger Picture Festival of Interdependence in London over the weekend. Unfortunately we couldn’t get back in for the afternoon sessions as the queue for the event was, by this time, around the block. A great pity, but at least that meant that other people got to see it, not just the early birds like us!

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The queue

The festival was put on (for free) by the New Economics Foundation. The festival was part conference, part workshop, part skill-share, and part exhibition all devoted to exploring the future of sustainability.

NEF’s choice of venue was inspired. Bargehouse is an 4-storey, gritty old warehouse space at the OXO Tower on the south side of the river. It was so lovely to be inside such a ‘human’ building instead of the usual polished concrete conference venue. It lent a really DIY activist vibe to the day.

I saw three talks. The first was a presentation from three speakers on the topic of food security and was introduced by NEF’s Andrew Simms. Of note was Tim Lang questioning what a sustainable diet looks like and how this fits in with our desire for a healthy diet. Lang asked can we have both? Lang says that it’s a fantasy that we have the right to choose what we eat, especially when it involves unsustainable transport and production processes (strawberries in winter, tropical fruit in the UK, etc).

Lang also introduced the audience to a new word deracination, which means lacking roots, to describe how the west has become so urbanized that we have lost touch with how to independently sustain ourselves through growing our own food. Another new term of Lang’s was the BINGO, that is a business that creates an NGO (non-government organisation).

Lang kept talking about a book by Tim Jackson called Prosperity without Growth that I will have to try and find at a library.

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Tim Lang

Next up was the very interesting Professor Richard Wilkinson from Nottingham University talking about inequality. I could have listened to more of what he had to say, but unfortunately his presentation was brief. He showed by way of data graphics how countries that have a larger gap between the rich and  poor have more social problems than countries where there is a more equality. Loss of trust, increased crime, and larger incarceration levels are some of the indicators of an unhappy and unequal society.

Wilkinson says that without trust a community loses the social cohesion that is fundamental to solving the problems of climate change. For, if we have no trust and no empathy for our fellow citizens, why would we bother doing something for them? The UK and Australia are at the top of the unequal scale so we have the most work to do in order to bring back the common good and stand any chance of solving the problem of climate change.

The last talk I saw was a discussion about the value of storytelling. My favourite speaker from this session was Lucy Neil, a theatre producer and an initiator of the Transition Town Tooting project. Neil told the story of her great great aunt Mary Neil. Mary started the Espérance Club in the late nineteenth-century for poor girls from the dressmaking trade. At the club she taught traditional English dances such as Morris dancing which were popular at the time. The girls were then able to travel throughout England teaching these dances and thereby earn a new income. Mary Neil saw dancing as an inclusive rather than exclusive past time. Lucy quoted her great great (and wise) aunt to finish the talk: “isolation is death, only in union is there life”, a great mantra for a sustainable future.

More photos on Flickr

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Lucy Neil

Greengaged

Posted: September 14th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: behaviour, environment, events | Tags: , , | No Comments »

If you are in London or surrounds and interested in issues of sustainability, check out these two events staged as part of the 2009 London Design Festival. You need to register to attend these events put on by Greengaged.

greengaged

Design for life: barriers to behaviour change (curated by Ed Gillespie)
September 21, 2009. 8.30am to 10pm (includes a Swishing clothes swapping event after 7pm)
Why is change happening so slowly? What are the barriers to change, both behaviourally and in the context of design? Where can great design interventions really make a difference? This will be a day of challenges, questions and opportunities around the role of design in what we wear, what we eat, where we live and how we get around

Co-oportunity: a day for world builders (curated by John Grant)
September 22. 9am-6pm

Co-opportunity is about how co-operative, community systems have the potential to build a more sustainable, resilient, prosperous society at all levels – working for the common good. In John’s engaging approach to workshops you will learn about co-operative systems by actually creating solution – starting with the world’s financial banking system – as an example of the power of systems redesign.