The Monday (!) Diigo Links Post (weekly)

by Yule Heibel on December 27, 2010

Oops, forgot to post this yesterday!

  • Yes, university departments cranking out PhDs can be a racket.
    Many of those who embark on a PhD are the smartest in their class and will have been the best at everything they have done. They will have amassed awards and prizes. As this year’s new crop of graduate students bounce into their research, few will be willing to accept that the system they are entering could be designed for the benefit of others, that even hard work and brilliance may well not be enough to succeed, and that they would be better off doing something else. They might use their research skills to look harder at the lot of the disposable academic. Someone should write a thesis about that.

    tags: academia

  • Great article by Jonah Lehrer about Geoffrey West and urban metabolism(s).
    It’s when West switches the conversation from infrastructure to people that he brings up the work of Jane Jacobs, the urban activist and author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Jacobs was a fierce advocate for the preservation of small-scale neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village and the North End in Boston. The value of such urban areas, she said, is that they facilitate the free flow of information between city dwellers. To illustrate her point, Jacobs described her local stretch of Hudson Street in the Village. She compared the crowded sidewalk to a spontaneous “ballet,” filled with people from different walks of life. School kids on the stoops, gossiping homemakers, “business lunchers” on their way back to the office. While urban planners had long derided such neighborhoods for their inefficiencies — that’s why Robert Moses, the “master builder” of New York, wanted to build an eight-lane elevated highway through SoHo and the Village — Jacobs insisted that these casual exchanges were essential. She saw the city not as a mass of buildings but rather as a vessel of empty spaces, in which people interacted with other people. The city wasn’t a skyline — it was a dance.

    tags: socialtheory jonah_lehrer geoffrey_west santa_fe_institute urban_energy urbanization nyt

  • Great question, interesting speculative answer:
    Fleetwood believes that embracing play could have an enormous impact on our everyday, as well as cultural, lives. “We’ve spent huge sums of money on arts buildings over the last 15 years or so. What if we had put that money into creating games instead? So, rather than spending £60m on building a theatre, what if we had injected the same amount of money over 20 years into the town and its people, to enable them to become more playful and creative? I think it would have a huge impact on civic and social life. It could be transforming – a town in which playing is a way of life.”

    tags: hide_and_seek game_design gamers socialtheory

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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