Meatspace / cyberspace symbiosis

July 5, 2007

some moo cards

There’s an excellent article by Glyn Moody in the Guardian today about online companies set up to deal with the physical, analogue requirements of people in the physical, analogue world – print-on-demand companies like Moo, Blurb, MyPublisher or Lulu.

There’s something ironic about the rise of the analogue as the acme of digital cool. As Richard Moross, the twentysomething who came up with’s re-invention of the calling card, points out: “It’s 300 years old; and despite wireless and Bluetooth and mobile phones, it’s still here, because it’s the single most successful networking tool of all time.”

At first glance it might indeed seem ironic that web 2.0 companies can be based on something so analogue and physical, but actually it doesn’t surprise me at all. I don’t think cyberspace has ever intended to replace physical space, rather to enhance it. Moo cards are a lovely little product – I’ve ordered several myself – but without the rise of what we might call web2.0 they simply couldn’t exist – the effort involved would be too great. Happily, though, Moo lets Flickr do most of the work and Flickr are happy to do it. The same is true of Blurb – a company making individual tailer-made products based on content stored in a fairly universal archive. It’s a bonus for Flickr to be seen as such a useful service, and the other businesses could hardly exist without it – what a happy little economy we’re all creating!

Of course, such businesses are not just tied to Flickr. Back in the mid nineties Bernard Cache created a series of what he called ‘Objectiles‘. These were beautifully carved wooden creations, fashioned with milling machines and some rather natty software which not only allowed them to be ordered and manufactured from any workshop in the world, but could guarantee that each creation would be unique.


They didn’t catch on, unfortunately, but the idea shows that more distributed online organisational systems can not only be of huge benefit to the creation of physical-world businesses and artifacts, but also increase the individuality and variety of them. It’s not an ironic relationship at all- it’s a highly likely and highly useful one. As Moody concludes, “The interface between the web and the real world is alive and well and making money.”


Lebbeus Woods has clearly seen my project…

June 9, 2007

Actually that’s ridiculous. Of course it’s the other way around – I’ve been a huge fan of Woods since I first saw his work in 1999 – my second year at architecture school. Nevertheless, a few snippets lifted from his recent fascinating interview with the excellent Subtopia blog don’t half resonate with my project:

“Fortunately one of the reasons I am out here today are these blogs – your blogs in particular – but, generally, the internet is a place for some other view of architecture to emerge, and therefore it becomes incredibly important. ”

“I think the role of architecture – not all of it, because we’re still going to have the monuments, the big expensive buildings, that’s just the way it’s going to be – but, if there’s going to be another movement, another direction in architecture, it has to engage people differently. Other than saying, here, look at this, isn’t this amazing? It has to interactively involve them other than as spectators, or, as a ‘society of the spectacle.’ It has to engage them as creators.”

“…I believe people have to choose to do it. I don’t think this is something that should be imposed from the top down. They have to want to do it this way. They have to want to participate. “

…And finally, if we were just to change his choice of words from slum to suburb

“…if we can do something from the outside, for them who are inside the slum, it’s going to be to empower them somehow; to transform the slum from the inside. You’ve got to figure some methods to empower people in the slum to change their own environment. It can’t be us airlifting in ready-made solutions.”

Seriously, if only these quotes were around a little earlier in my project!

Drink beer – heat water

June 6, 2007

This fella linked together sixty six empty beer bottles on his roof, and now using nothing more but sunshine they heat enough water for all the people in his house to have a hot shower every day!

Better than recycling, of course, is re-use, and while this kind of thing has never been impossible, the fact that it’s so easy to share your ideas means it will only get more and more common. Brilliant stuff.

Another growth animation

March 14, 2007

…This time showing how the growth of a suburban shared space begins along the existing boundaries of the suburban property system. As these ‘fault-lines’ expand the grid of property itself breaks up and changes with the sharing space.

Link straight to the 700k mov file
…Or you can view a nasty flash video version on the Vimeo page where it is hosted, here.

I may finally have had an idea

February 20, 2007

moleskine sketch

An explanation, and maybe even justification, to follow shortly…