Web discipline: instructed skid marks

by Yule Heibel on June 30, 2008

It’s a day shy of July, and I had hoped that by now there would be a “finish” to some still-open “action items.”  But things are not quite yet falling into place.  It’s not entirely my “fault,” but I confess that I’m skidding into inefficiency myself.

At the same time, I’m reluctant to beat myself up in public (on this blog), so I won’t try, just now, to analyze why I have come to feel like such a drudge.

On a different note (but also, curiously, part and parcel of what contributes to my present discombobulation), here are a couple of items — trails, if you will — that I came across online and that I’ve scattered randoms thoughts into.

First, last night I read David Weinberger’s Government by these people, a brief pointer to an article by Matthew Burton.  Burton’s piece (Why I Help “The Man”, and Why You Should Too) inspired me to leave a long-ish comment on David’s blog.  It’s about government, especially local government.

But what was then more intriguing from my perspective was that I came across an article by the Toronto Star‘s Christopher Hume this morning, For fire trucks, bigger isn’t better, which I subsequently twittered (“Can’t you just see the burning babies already?”) and commented on in my Friendfeed:

The job of service providers (such as firefighters), says Hume, “is to serve Toronto, not alter the very fabric of the city to serve your needs.” The key clause is “not alter the very fabric of the city to serve your needs.”

That’s the key in the relationship between infrastructure (including services) and urban fabric (historical & living thing built up over time): too often, the service gets an “improvement” that destroys what was built over time — as though time, during which the embodied energy of past users accrued, doesn’t matter (is immaterial).

It’s not immaterial: in cities you can see time as matter.

Infrastructure as “embodied” money, cities as embodied time.

To see embodied money in totally new infrastructure, to the point of seeing capitalism’s astral body, go to Las Vegas (which provides a fabulous experience). (Comment to self: Q: why am I making blog/ book/ article notes to myself on Friendfeed? A: Because it’s there?…)

That comment in turn somehow connected with what I had written on David’s Hyperorg blog, as well as with something I’ve been thinking about ever since my first visit to Las Vegas last October.  The thought (then) was that Las Vegas makes capitalism’s astral body visible.  Somehow, in the triangulation between (1) Burton/my comment on Hyperorg and (2) Hume/my comment on Friendfeed and (3) my remnant impression of Vegas, a more firmly defined thought clicked into place.

I’m just a bit depressed by how distractedly it clicks, though.  I’m also worried that the distributed nature of its clicking will mean that it stays dispersed instead of being pulled into a reasoned, written article.

And so we (I?) am back to where I started at the outset of this blogpost: the nature of skidding into inefficiency, as embodied by my undisciplined ways.

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