Typical Los Angeles “food desert” photo along Figueroa Corridor. Getty Images/David McNew

Walking through the Figueroa Corridor in South Central, Los Angeles, it is difficult to overlook the wave of urban developments. If you haven’t visited the area, you may have already seen it through popularized photos of fast food chains between Jefferson Blvd and Adams Blvd used as an icon for “food deserts.” These so-called deserts are short on healthy food options and high on fatty foods, and the commercial zoning of the Figueroa Corridor coupled by a large mix-used inner-city/university population has lead to a proliferation of prefabricated options. Though the restaurants are iconic of the area, due to a number of factors including the expansion of nearby University of Southern California, the re-emergence of Downtown LA as a cultural and economic center, and the relatively cheap land value of strip-malls, the northwest end of South Central is losing its fast food chains in favor of multi-story housing facilities. Re-enforcing the trend away from the strip-mall towards a more fashionable aesthetic is the style of the new developments: marble-looking columns meet archways at entrances, statues line the walkways, and brick is mixed with stucco.
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3d Printed gunA rundown of stuff you can now make with 3d printers includes eagle’s beaks (there’s an eagle wearing one now), Escher buildings, the world’s fastest shoe, iPhone cases, and yes, pistols.

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Valve Handbook  02If you worked at Valve, the videogame company that brought you Half-Life and Portal, you wouldn’t get a title, a boss, or a pre-defined department (or even team). What you would get is a job with perhaps the most innovative company in the industry today.

Studies suggest 3 million jobs are still open if you have the skills, and some companies are even willing to train you on the job. This sneak peak at Valve’s employee handbook tells you what they expect of their employees, from peer reviews to T-shaped people.

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Keep losing your iPhone? You can now dock it in your bra, toaster, kettle, prosthetic arm, or yes, under your skin.

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Recruit Talent illNow that one of the world’s foremost authorities on economic development declares capitalism “superseded by creativity and the ability to innovate,” it’s a good time for designers to find work. Here are some recommendations for getting seen and getting paid.

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Windstalk 825x 525New Media alumnus Rob Hussey points to this story about a proposal to tap the wind’s energy with “windstalks” rather than windmills. The idea is to harness the ability of a column made of piezoelectric material to convert the stress of bending with the wind into fossil-free electricity. Unlike a battery of conventional wind turbines, this artificial prairie would produce no friction and minimal noise. And look a mite prettier than a giant metal turbine.

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How long before the Occupy line of cosmetics hits Bloomingdales?

This project reminds me of a Heath Bunting proposal to paint anamorphic pictures of people on the ground in front of security cameras to confuse their operators.

“A New York-based designer has created a camouflage technique that makes it much harder for computer based facial recognition. Along with the growth of closed circuit television (CCTV) , this has become quite a concern for many around the world, especially in the UK where being on camera is simply a part of city life. Being recognized automatically by computer is something that hearkens back to 1984 or A Scanner Darkly. As we move further into the 21st century, this futuristic techno-horror fiction is seeming more and more accurate. Never fear though people, CV Dazzle has some styling and makeup ideas that will make you invisible to facial recognition cameras. Why the ‘fabulous’ name? It comes from World War I warship paint that used stark geometric patterning to help break up the obvious outline of the vessel. Apparently it all began as a thesis at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. It addressed the problems with traditional techniques of hiding the face, like masks and sunglasses and looked into more socially and legally acceptable ways of styling that could prevent a computer from recognizing your face. Fans of Assassin’s Creed might feel a bit at home with this, as it’s all about hiding in plain sight.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/01/04/2017215/avoiding-facial-recognition-of-the-future

Meanwhile, for those times when you want to get your face out on your terms, protestors have taken to occupying the sky.

Meet the Occu-Copter. The live-streaming media stars of the Occupy movement are using cheap technology to provide streaming coverage of protest events from the air – challenging the big budgets of mainstream TV news stations.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/lUTUeCDb9O4/

Basically Skeleton is a really elegant boilerplate setup done through JS + CSS to scale a website from a desktop size to mobile resolutions. I’m currently using it on my own projects, it’s a great framework to get going if you want mobile usability.

Source: http://getskeleton.com/

Philips Microbe House 5Imagine an apartment where kitchen waste provides electricity, your interactive bathroom mirror helps prevent disease, and mushrooms in your composter devour plastic bags.

If you call yourself a twenty-first century design student, you should be studying this.

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This is a pretty cool product that allows users to very quickly create website and moblile phone mockups.  It uses a very simple drag-and-drop interface.  The actual product is $79, but I used this free demo to create the mockups I wanted, then I took screen shots of them.

http://builds.balsamiq.com/b/mockups-web-demo/

http://www.yankodesign.com/2011/03/24/more-than-a-cyber-cafe/

 

I think this is a fantastic idea, really useful and would be utilized effectively by so many people.

 

Enjoy!

if you are interested in any of these jobs, contact these folks directly or via New Media Department chair Larry Latour or Jon Ippolito.

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On the occasion of his retiring, Apple’s CEO is being hailed as the “recombinant mash-up” innovator par excellence.

The New York Times quotes innovation consultant John Kao as summing up the essence of Steve Jobs’ creative achievements as “recombinant mash-ups”–products like the iPhone that remix elements of existing technologies in new ways.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/technology/steve-jobs-and-the-rewards-of-risk-taking.html

Wired, meanwhile, contrasts Jobs’ artsy inclinations with the engineering bent of his rivals Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

What is the secret to Apple’s success? After introducing the iPad 2 in March, Steve Jobs gave one answer:

“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing — and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices….”

Without Jobs, Apple’s only missing piece is the role he unofficially filled for years: Chief Advocate for Media, Humanities and Liberal Arts. If that sounds trivial, remember this: at several key points in its history, Jobs’ skill in this role saved and transformed the company.

Jobs famously isn’t a trained programmer, engineer or MBA, or even a wünderkind dropout steeped in any of those fields like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. (The New York Times even did a discussion panel earlier this year titled “Career Counselor: Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?” contrasting the two founders’ engineering vs liberal arts approach to education….)

Apple’s unique success with the iTunes store shows that “technology married with the liberal arts” is not just an issue of making devices that look pretty and are easy to use. User-centered design is a huge component of what Apple does and why it and other companies have been successful in the consumer market. But it’s also a question of being able to translate between technology, media and creative industries. This ability is what delivers key partnerships; this ability is what allows technology companies to build platforms.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/7H6z21Q3qwE/

Sustainable ecosystems reuse so-called waste in closed loop processes. Scientists are now applying this principle to human manufacturing: making flowers from shoes, meat from sewage, and on the space shuttle, water from pee.

NASA’s New Bag Turns Urine Into Sports Drink http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/07/07/1152221/NASAs-New-Bag-Turns-Urine-Into-Sports-Drink “NASA’s Atlantis shuttle is set to launch this Friday, and its crew will be testing an innovative device that can recycle human urine into a sugary sports drink. The bag uses forward osmosis technology and features a semi-permeable membrane capable of isolating water from virtually any liquid. Recycling urine in this way has a significant effect on a ship’s payload, and considering that a single pound adds $10,000 of cost, that slight weight difference can translate to serious savings.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 7:20 PM Japanese Scientist Creates Meat Substitute From Sewage http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/06/15/219200/Japanese-Scientist-Creates-Meat-Substitute-From-Sewage “Hold on to your hamburgers — Japanese scientist Mitsyuki Ikeda at the Environmental Assessment Center in Okayama has invented an artificial meat substitute made from human feces. The unseemly meal is made by extracting protein and lipids from ‘sewage mud.’ The lipids are then combined with a reaction enhancer and whipped into ‘meat’ in an exploder. Ikeda makes the ‘meat’ more palatable by adding things like soy protein.”

Biodegradable Sneakers Sprout Flowers When Planted http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/02/23/2133202/Biodegradable-Sneakers-Sprout-Flowers-When-Planted “People may joke about their dirty old sneakers turning into science projects or mini ecosystems, but once OAT Shoes’ compostable sneakers become commercially available within the next several weeks … let’s just say, those same people may no longer be joking when they make those kind of statements. Made using hemp, cork, bio-cotton, certified biodegradable plastics, chlorine-free bleach and other nontoxic materials, the shoes are designed to completely break down when buried in the ground – the first batch will even come with seeds in their tongues, so that wildflowers will sprout up in commemoration of users’ planted, expired kicks.”

  1. Graphic artist wanted for high-profile comic novel
  2. Logo needed for environmental research course
  3. French Web site looking for student artists

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Writing in the Atlantic, Dylan Tweney claims that online publishing is challenging designers to give up the control they were used to in print publications and even in the first decade of the Web. According to Tweney, software like Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript and platforms like the iPad are enabling the separation of form and content like never before.

At the same time, designers are increasingly in demand to find efficient ways to convey people and information, as some recent remarkable examples of design make clear. So who’s right?

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ElevatorTurns out the placebo effect isn’t just for drugs. It apparently works for elevators, thermostats, and walk buttons at intersections–most of which don’t work and aren’t even intended to! Oh, and turns out in addition to his other firsts, John Cage may have created the first placebo music.

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William Gibson’s last three novels (starting with Pattern Recognition back in 2003) are essential reading, in my opinion, for anybody who’s into New Media these days.  They’re all set in the modern day, though the characters are decidedly sci-fi– hackers, marketing execs (hackers of a sort), graphic designers, fashion designers, filmmakers, and so on–generally controllers and creators of information.

So, on one level these books (and I sincerely recommend you start with Pattern Recognition) serve as commentary on our jacked-in, post 9/11, etc., society, but on quite another, more immediate–and I think gratifying–level Gibson just uses these themes as an occasion to produce some incredibly focused, almost morbidly precise writing.  The density of his prose can be a little daunting at first, but once you get into the swing of things it’s quite good.  A little vacuous at times, definitely show-offish at others, but on the whole simply delightful.

A bit like wine-tasting perhaps–the kind where you have to spit out the wine after a few seconds.  It’s ridiculously good sometimes–the prose seems almost calibrated to induce a kind of lyrical hypersensitivity in the reader–but on the whole it lacks heart, and leaves one feeling not a little empty.

Reviews:

Av Club

NYTimes

P.S. If you’re into fashion, Gibson’s descriptions are basically candy.  Finely textured, gunmetal-black candy.

350.org has launched a glocal event–locally engaged, globally networked–to send a message to our political leaders that we want to work for positive life-affirming goals for our communities and families.

You can see two local Orono events as well as nearby events on the map
EVENT
9 October 2010 – 10:00am – 2:00pm
Learn sheet mulching techniques for both Apple Orchard guilds, and raised beds.

Hey all,

I’m writing from San Francisco, my home these days. San Francisco is at the forefront of an amazing urban gardening movement, and it is very exciting! I’ve been working very closely with one urban farm in particular, called Hayes Valley Farm. It’s a 2.3 acre food forest rising from a freeway that collapsed during the ’89 earthquake. I hold the title of Lead Researcher on the Biodiversity Team. Most recently for 350.org’s 10-10-10 global day of action to prevent climate change, we began an effort to research and steward what edible and medicinal plants do well in the multiple microclimates within the city. We gave away 150 permaculture kits to initiate healthy ecosystems in folks’ backyards, front yards, planter pots, or vertical wall gardens (we get creative in the city). Our ultimate question is “how many people can you feed on how little urban land?” I like to think it is possible to have sustainable cities, but I wonder too if they stay cities or become something new…. This teeters on an artistic and pedagogical piece I recently did for Mary Walling Blackburn’s Radical Citizenship: the Tutorials, called Root, City, Thorn.

Anyway, I’m also very involved in thinking about the human organizational models that encourage healthy ecosystems and healthy people. We are facing some very juicy challenges on the farm and are seeking answers from lots of different sources. To this end, and in the spirit of exchanging insight, I’ve just launched an email list called Chapter Fourteen. I hope all you UMaine alumns involved in permaculture and/or participatory models of communication will join this list and share what you’ve learned from your own communities, as well as stories about where you’re stuck.

Please join! http://lists.beforebefore.net/listinfo.cgi/chapter_fourteen-beforebefore.net Beginning on the new moon November 5th we’ll have roughly 2 week discussions around the topic a moderator initiates. Please let me know if you’re interested in facilitating a discussion, and I’ll sign you up!

Thanks Jon for getting NMDnet going!

xoxo

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