Archive for January, 2019

An Answer In Glass And Steel

31 Jan

When I was recently reading Robert Kunzig’s The City Solution, originally published for National Geographic, I was struck by an unexpected solution to a suspected problem. As a Vermonter born and raised, I was brought up to respect the environment and avoid urbanization, the latter being what my father called a “concrete hell.” Yet, Kunzig proposes a solution that would never have crossed my mind from one such as my background; The process of urbanization might not just be beneficial, but just might save us all. Sounds contradictory to my brain, but the author is great at addressing this conflict.

At the beginning of the piece, Kunzig sets up a great little primer to fill those in on a briefest of histories on urbanization in the last century. Then, he immediately dismissed those claims. “We are no longer primitives,” he seems to say, “those days are long behind us.” Instead, he makes a compelling statement instead, that the future of our race’s survival lies in the cities.

Moving on to support his point, he immediately utilizes a variety of sources to back up his audacious claim. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser espouses how metropolises create a system where individuals are interconnected than ever before. Ecological activists Stewart Brand and David Owen both claim that not only do cities consume less resources and take up less land, they also lead to lower emissions worldwide. A lesser article would be happy to rest its laurels on a few experts, but Kunzig strives farther to answer how cities will save us.

A common criticism of cities lies in the poor building management that results in the infamous sprawl. However, Kunzig notes that by no way needs to be the norm. Pointing at Seoul in South Korea, he demonstrates that a tightly planned city could defeat those criticisms. By going dense, rather than spilling ever outward, problems of consumption and travel would be firmly tackled.

I have to admit, this article changed my mind quite a bit. Again, Vermonter born and raised, one averse to the life in the city. Yet, Kunzig makes a compelling argument on the way to save our species. Global warming, overpopulation, isolation, all are serious threats faces the race. If what it takes is a gleaming metropolis to save us, then so be it.


A Preview Of An Upcoming Project

30 Jan


Psychopaths, raised or born?

24 Jan

Friedrich Nietzsche in his infamous essay On The Genealogy of Morality postulates that there are two types of morality; Slave, which values kindness and empathy, and that of the master, which places worth on power over their fellow man. It was this idea that was in the back of my mind when I recently read Yudhijit Bhattacharjee’s National Geographic article What Science Tells Us About Good And Evil.

Noting how acts of extreme horror and altruism play out in daily life, Bhattacharjee ask whether the extremes of master-slave morality come from the age old question of nature vs nurture.. Taking a range of scientific answers, with succinct pictures to dissect that information, suggest that several factors play in these outliers actions. It could be upbringing, purely genetic defects, or trauma. Anecdotal accounts from people on either ends of the slave-master spectrum either give or have their stories told about their incidents. This is what really seems to be more important to the paper.

As mentioned, the idea of the nature vs nurture argument is given early on, but with the narrative based pieces given out so frequently the audience becomes biased. Most individuals, as shown by one of the great demonstrative images, indicates that most of human trends in a decent level of empathy scores, with those at the slave extreme reaching far higher number in population than those of at the master end. By putting out the human experience stories, one will become connected to those aspects much more intimately than that of science. A reader such as I will be attracted to the ideas of human intimacy affecting one another, than yet one more work of dreary science.

I understand that that might be a strange one of interpreting Bhattacharjee’s intentions, but I see no other reason for him to include the interaction sections so prominently. He is aiming for us to connect, prove the empathy, the sense of the slave morality, linking it to the idea of human nature being more important in ones development, rather than cold science. Of course, I might just be overthinking this.


A Look At The Pentagram Website

20 Jan

While scouring the internet for a assignment for school, I came across a little site for Pentagram, a design company. According to them, they’re “the world’s largest independently-owned design studio.”  Taking a glance through their work it isn’t hard to see why they have been able to grow so large. More interestingly for my work, is just how excellent it is at communicating their presence. Follow this link to check them out:

When logging onto the site, you are greeted with a dizzying array of projects they have completed. Although it was initially a bit much, once I figured out the general structure, I was able to admire the purpose here. Projects the company viewed as high profile or of some worth are shown upfront, a way to easily sell themselves to the customer. Conglomerates like DC Entertainment and Rolls Royce jump out, and don’t fail to impress with a shifting display of photographs.

A quick purview of the “Work” section of the website is immediately impressive with the range of what they have worked on. Everything from small book covers and magazine graphics, to massive pop culture icons have collaborated with the company. Heck, they even managed to snag work with Saturday Night Live! All of this is elegantly demonstrated through several distinct rows of images, separated by theme. Easily scrollable, with little lag or image buffering, they have clearly put some time to make the website as easily navigable as it is pretty. It really does have a quite gorgeous layout too, something that carries onto the other pages of the site.

Their “About” tab has several dozen photographs of the smiling staff, which link to member’s biography and portfolio. If one wished to hire a specific member for work, I imagine this simplifies the process by some extent. The whole section have a smart black and gray overlay that signals a smart professionalism on their part, a old fashioned class of style.

If there as one complaint about the website that was more than just a nitpick, it’s that the “News” tab was laid out in a manner that impedes its purpose somewhat. Rather than a straightforward list of recent accomplishments or goals, it instead has a rather jumbled work of images in various sizes, locations, and movements (some are gifs, others aren’t), all of which is compounded by a timeline that doesn’t make much sense at a glance. This becomes problematic for potential customers who wish to discover what Pentagram has been up to. If I, a man who knows little to nothing about website design, was to rework this page, I would make it a much more straightforward column organized by a simplified chronology.

Thankfully, the final tab for the “Contact” section is a return to form for the rest of the website. A picture of of each of their offices, followed by how to contact that specific establishment greatly reduces the clutter found in the “News” tab. It is a page that makes it quick and easy for the customer to get in touch.

So, what is the overall statement of the site? Well, it is a bit messy, and could be overwhelming to many. However, once you get used to it I found it fun to scroll through, with it being a high energy and popping vibe zeitgeist. I think a fair score would be…8.5/10.

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