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Monday, November 30, 2009


An idea. We've noticed over the last year or so that more and more magazines are joining the sidebar with blogs that eschew the standalone, editorial-mimicking layout of early magazine websites and utilizing the traditional blog format (AJ, AR, Creative Review, Grafik, etc.). Granted, the thrust is from the creative community, where a steady drip of news and inviting imagery finds the perfect outlet online. There's also the sudden interest in print on demand, via a more curatorial, bespoke approach - with sites like The Newspaper Club (born out of the 'Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet 2008' project) and The Blog Paper, which promises to collate comments, photos and comments with 'the highest rated and most discussed content ... promoted to a printed paper published in London.'

What was once in print and paid for is now online and free. What was once confined online - the long-form blog - is now breaking back into print. There are some inversions at work. Traditionally, the most valuable commodity was imagery, yet now pictures seep online for nothing, given away like candy to entice people to actually do more than merely click around. Instead, long form journalism, whether in the form of the multi-thousand word piece of investigative writing or even the dense, multi-layered blog post, is the new in-demand media commodity. The challenge is to get people to pay for it.

The gradual proliferation of paywalls and rumblings that large media outlets are toying with moving online content away from the free model (if it ever was a model) suggest that someone needs to come up with a subscription system that just manages everything, from international publications to rural newspapers (Johnston Press websites start charging for news). Although there's apparently a move to creating an 'iTunes of the press' (Magazine publishers said to be 'very close' to digital distribution deal), we think a personal subscription service, a splice between a paperboy, rss and micropayments, would be far more attractive, providing a 'click to read button' on every pay-protected story that simply leeches a tiny micropayment - literally a few cents - from your online wallet.

This Paperboy project would be the Oystercard of the internet, preventing you from accumulating excess charges once you've reached a site's maximum charge, with usage, options and history all available through a web interface, app, widget, what have you, with credit that can be topped up, won, given away, earned or transferred. Something the Open Intelligence Agency would like to take on?

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Speaking of seeping imagery, there is an overwhelmingtendency for websites to mimic their print counterparts, particularly the women's lifestyle trope of offering 'XYZ Beautiful Things' as a cover line come-on to entice the reader into a purchase. Only there's no purchase, just the all-seeing eye of Google. Hence the success of aggregators like Alltop, which are rife with this kind of article, initally conjured up by picture blogs and link blogs and now adapted by popular newspapers with a high profile online presence (e.g. Dailys Mail and Telegraph). Sometimes the association is less tenuous than others (ten fantastic kitchen concepts, transportable homes), sometimes the collections are purely prurient (10 worst high speed crashes, 10 worst sporting injuries ever (can't even click on that one)), but they are all linkbait at heart. Occasionally, just occasionally, the list post offers a springboard into something with a little more sustenance: the 50 most interesting articles on wikipedia.

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Other things. Thiepval in August, at Continuity in Architecture / Dave Wyatt's photographs of Thames Town, Shanghai (via Conscientious) / Wide Area Network, panoramic photographs by Phil Wolstenhome (via David Thompson).

History is Made at Night stumbles upon the crepuscular ruins of BlobbyWorld, highlighted by the uk tabloids, as well as the Chard and Ilminster News. The original forum post, at the excellent 28 days later, seems to be missing its images. Related, maybe, Zombie Outbreak Simulator.

Genuinely perplexed by the Swiss decision to 'ban' minarets. From a country with such a fine tradition of modern church-building - often by entirely secular architects - the idea that you can a) dictate that a particular architecture form cannot exist and b) how it should look in the first place.

Illustration at top of post comes from the Project Gutenberg edition of A Short History of English Printing, 1476-1898, by Henry R. Plomer.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Fuego Fanzine, a new publication with a flying saucer theme / images from Design for the other 90%, plus associated review / Patricia - Vanishing Mother, a photo series by Ellen Jantzen / Grafik Magazine has a new website and blog / spun with spider silk / ride the Magic Highway (1958) / Where Warcraft and I began, and why Warcraft matters, Tom Chatfield on the fifth anniversary of the game /

Lego's advent calendar, like Muji's before it illustrate the growing fashion for using this seasonal device as a way of spooling out 25 days worth of product (even branching out onto magazine covers. See also Mighty Goods' advent calendar round-up from last year. The winner is undoubtedly Playmobil, which seems to have mastered the art of blending the religious iconography of the calendar with the strictly secular world of its toys.

Question Mark Question Mark Question Mark, via an especially cynical me-fi. Related, Found Sounds / all you need to know: How the H1N1 vaccine is made, Kottke gets all in-depth and ultra-informative / map: the UK's greatest driving roads / another fine blog post, This Means Something, Fantastic Journal on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (wikipedia).

Boars and Fury, a tumblr / inMexico, a weblog / Mikko Canini / The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to "The Office" / A Ravilious and Bawden Blog, part of the magnificent Mainstone Press / Y Mag, architecture magazine and weblog / SLAB Magazine, 'The Heuristic Journal for Gonzo Blurbanism' / Taschen's majestic Moon.

What Will Become of Brand Dubai?, 'The bubble burst and everything that Dubai stood for - overt displays of wealth and conspicuous consumption fell dramatically out of vogue.' / videos of Arcosanti (Arcosanti site) / Heuristic England, a weblog / Quiet Babylon, a weblog (especially the recent post 'Hacking with Pictures') / Nuits sans Nuit et Quelques Jours sans Jour, a weblog

We are independently wealthy, a weblog / Makeshift, 'an experimental fanzine about architecture and its alternatives' / 'What Do Presidential Libraries Say About Their Namesakes' Legacies?' / Grain of Salt, design, urbanism and architecture weblog.

All about The Peckham Experiment. See also our extracts from The Peckham Experiment: a study of the living structure of society / Voitures Presidentielles, a French car museum (via Jalopnik) / Copy©unts, on advertising copyism (via haddock). Combine with PhotoshopDisasters and Bad British Architecture for a strong dose of creative professional schadenfreude.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Are video games indistinguishable from just looking out of the window? These faux time lapse scenes in GTA IV - by no means up to the minute technology - illustrate a persistent, living world that embraces the mundane as well as the spectacular, from the play of dappled light coming through a canopy of trees to the flaneur-like pleasure derived from watching 'people' come and go. It's a hackneyed point, perhaps, but at what stage will people be literally unable to distinguish between game worlds and the real world? When the simulacra of reality accommodates not just the epic and the awe-inspiring, but the prosaic and quotidian? The hand-wringing that accompanies contemporary releases will be as nothing compared to the outpouring of indignance that will welcome each successive wave of immersion.

And yet. And yet there doesn't seem to be much writing or thinking about historic precedents for such escapism, play, and pretend. Russell Davies' recent musings on world building, being playful and why we pretend speculated that great swathes of our daily lives are consumed with pretence in any case, through the clothes we wear, products we buy, things we imagine just to keep us sane.

In The Unreal Deal, Will Wiles speculates that it is speculation itself that does a great deal of future-shaping; sci-fi visions inspire developers, coders and designers to replicate functionality that was once strictly fantasy, or 'the seeds of the future are planted in the stories that people grow up with', in Quiet Babylon's summary. Here's the disjunction between real and pretend. As the imaginary landscapes of video games approximates reality in all its degrees of interest and immersion, what, if any, visions will remain to inspire the designers of the future?

Cinema is arguably going the other direction, going beyond reality to sometimes ludicrous extremes (for example). Maybe even architecture is doing the same? The vision for Lords' unveiled today is cinematic in scope, a popular style of visualisation that gives proposed buildings a hyperreal gleam they cannot ever hope to fulfil.

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Workspace, a project by Joseph O.Holmes / photography by Alan Aubry, especially la Corniche, habitat provisoire and citadelle / Sine Lab Concepta, Dutch landscape photographs by Jan Koster.

Flora Thundercloud Funmaker / Vaguely live map of trains in the United Kingdom / Matandme, interviews (written and drawn) with contemporary designers / Me and Belle de Jour, the quiet machinations of a linkblog / the Association pour la Défense de l’Eglise de Royan, an epic slab of French ecclesiastical concrete.

Tulgey Wood, on Disney, mostly / I Heart Noise, the 'Illustrated Encyclopedia of Audio Terrorism', has a new URL / Postales Inventadas, making up (architectural) postcards / Hail the new puritanism, Dyckhoff on an emerging austerity in public buildings / Ordnance Survey maps to go online. Unsurprisingly development with OpenStreetMap gnawing at their heels.

Rather surprisingly, BD comes out as a climate change sceptic. The AJ offers a swift a riposte, while Leo Hickman in the Guardian also weighs in. The most level-headed comments are at the AJ, in particular this and this, both of which we heartily endorse.

aKun, a tumblr / Portavilion, park art, including The Wind House by Monika Sosnowska / loca London, 'Reviews of major exhibitions currently open in London'. Nice idea - a metacritic for culture / photography by Natalie Tkachuk, including posted and miscellaneous objects.

Ex Cathedra 'is by no means a religious literary magazine. In fact, it is much more of an unholy magazine, never traditional and always unique in its modernity.' / kill author, a literary journal 'for the mostly alive' / play The Police Officer's Dilemma / Baedeker's Old Guide Books,London and its Environs 1905 / Image Swirl from Google. Not seeing any useful application for this just yet.



Friday, November 13, 2009


Tim Abrahams on Tempelhof in Blueprint. The airport is now mothballed: 'The Mayor seems determined to build on Berlin’s reputation as a playground. It is ironic that he is closing airports given how vital he clearly thinks weekend trips are to Berlin’s future. It is hard not to visit Tempelhof and think what a great airport it would make.' Alternatively, how about The Berg, a frankly silly use for the large amount of empty urban space (via archinect). Shades of MVRDV's Serpentine Mountain, ultimately dismissed as unbuildable. More Berg at ArchDaily. Terraforming technology needs to speed up.

Equally unbelievable, perhaps, the world's second tallest building (and largest building by floorspace), the Abraj Al Bait Tower complex is nearing completion in Saudi Arabia. As it's not a classic spike-like tower (unlike Burj Dubai), the overall effect of height is minimised. Whereas Burj Dubai has topped out at an impressive 818m, the Al Bait Towers are projected to top 595m, making the gap between 1st and 2nd an impressive 223 metres, a shade taller than the Hoover Dam. It's a sprawling complex, built atop the site of the Ajyad Fortress, an 18th century Ottoman Fort (cue understandable outcry from Turkey) . From wikipedia: 'To accommodate worshipers who visit the Kaaba, the Abraj Al-Bait Towers will have a large prayer room capable of holding nearly ten thousand people. The tallest tower in the complex will also contain a seven-star hotel to help provide lodging for the over five million pilgrims who travel to Mecca annually to participate in hajj.

In addition, the Abraj Al-Bait Towers will have a four-story shopping mall and a parking garage capable of holding over a thousand vehicles. Residential towers will house permanent residents while two heliports and a conference center are to accommodate business travelers. In total, up to 100,000 people would be housed inside the towers. The project will use clock faces for each side of the Hotel tower. The clocks will be 80 meters high 80 meters wide. They will be located 530 meters high, which would make it the world's highest and largest clock.'

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Other things. Dugpa, a 'David Lynch electrical resource' / mythologie des lucioles, a photography blog / Hippolyte Bayard, a weblog / Arctic Visions, a journal on photography / The Witch Fire, a weblog / a fine John Portman Retrospective / illustration by Tymek Jezierski / art and sculptural installations by Miquel Navarro / Thomas Hirschhorn builds things and environments out of cardboard.

Enter The Cloud, a scalable monument to technology. This one has Dan Hill all over it, and so it proved. The idea of a floating, hovering thing that looms over the city, providing an injection of technology, information and visible futurism runs all the way from El Lissitzky's Cloud-Irons through to the quasi-inhabited airships of Blade Runner to recent works by Alsop and even contemporary speculative proposals (e.g. The Cloud by Atelier Hapsitus).

Notes on Brian Dillon's Unearthing the Ruin talk at the Barbican. Sad to miss this, particularly the hints at the 'Psychological links between ruin lust and nostalgia' / on the Edge, mass game re-naming / 3D art and games on the Ogre Forums / turning the Farnsworth House into a fetish object / the USA takes Halloween very seriously indeed / house-swaps and short-term rentals at Roomorama, pitched at the transient, youthful, responsibility free demographic (we say huffily), but interesting nonetheless / Voyeur Project / the London Screen Archive.

Mimoa is now on Layar / @issue, a journal of business and design / the Center for the Recycling and Reuse of Buildings / Plan 59, linked here for the nth time in order to help us find its blend of retro art, advertising and illustration / Bell Labs in the 1960s (via Plep). Every workplace should be documented like this. Related, the story of Jan Hendrik Schön, a researcher at Bell Laboratories with an apparent Midas touch.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
On momentum. A hard thing to sustain. At times this site seems to gather itself up and float out onto the internet on invisible wings. At other times, it's all too ready to gather dust and let everything pass it by. So apologies for not keeping everything up to date.

The internet's burgeoning museology has little in common with the museums of real life beyond metaphor. Whereas a collection - whether historic or simply - can gain aura through the accumulation of cobwebs and neglect, the website that simply dies becomes a dull thing of stasis almost instantly: there's little joy in stalking a series of abandoned virtual corridors. This is a very roundabout of way of apologising for the relative lack of new content here in recent days.

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Or something, a weblog. Absurdly in-depth musings on PC gaming culture. See also MPs row over Modern Warfare game / Cornebuse et cie, a comic from 1945 / Bear Alley, a blog with a focus on 'old British comics, books and magazines' / Unlikely Words, a weblog.

NHTSA study indicates hybrids have higher pedestrian crash rates, which will no doubt be seized upon by the hybrid sceptics / the Berlin Wall Then and Now (via tmn) / Pink Box: Inside Japan's Sex Clubs, a new book (clearly nsfw).

Photography by Tom Baker (not that one), including visual essays on Los Angeles without traffic and the LA Guardian Angels / The Donut Project chronicles stuff / Dove&Snake, a weblog with a print edition / JennyDraws, an illustrator's website / this, that, and also, etc., a weblog featuring 'art, vintage illustration, glamour, technology, pop, punk, psychedelia, cats, the idea of squirrels, etc...'.

Bombardier train future competition, now open / This'll Be On My Videotape, a tumblr / Amusement Magazine: 'The time has come for a landmark video game magazine. Transversal, curious, thoughtful : AMUSEMENT redefines the video game magazine with style and precision.' An Intersection of the console, if you like (French blog here) / Vintageous, vintage fashion resource. See also Fashion-Era / Where is the most bountiful font of 'hipster cribs' stories?

Slightly disbelieving review of Stephen Bayley's Woman as Design, a new monograph that is the reviewer's fish in barrel of choice, this month / photography by Andre Wagner / Taqwacore: the birth of punk Islam / Gorey back in print / Phlog, an evocative photolog.

Fifty 3D milestones in gaming / Top 10: List by Jon, a weblog / A drawing diary, a weblog / Filmwasters, who needs digital? / Crust Station, another inspiration blog / Between Treacherous Objects and Evidence of Everything Exploding, two net art projects by Jason Nelson.

The Mobile Office, by The Practice of Everyday Design, 'constructed from discarded materials within a one block radius from the site... the only purchased items were the hardware used to hold it together.' / Photopia and Architexture, a weblog / the Hu Huishan Earthquake Memorial, one life magnified as a reminder of a tragedy / Saatchi Online.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009


Home Movie Reconstructions 1974 / 2004, a project by Elliot Malkin / photography by Youngsuk Suh / skate photography at they call me osde / My Playground, a new firm about Parkour and Freerunning / Wild Particle, a weblog / 50 3D milestones in gaming / A Common Nomenclature for Lego Families. Superb evocation of domestic taxonomies / also at tmn, The Babysitter / m. gerwing architects notebook, a weblog.

Gimme Shiny pumps in 'popular images from Flickr and deviantART' (blog) / see also Dear Computer's image ripper / a demonstration of Sketchpad by Ivan Sutherland (via quiero tiempo y dinero / Jeff still likes buildings / the artblog / the tim brown, a weblog.

The acme of brand architecture, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. The architectural precedent here appears to be the big top / the Last Days of Gourmet. See also empty offices / cardboard office at CR Blog / offices and interiors photographed by Mep'Yuk / Merrell's new website is pretty much an archetypal representation of the modern blog template - big type, largish images, patterned background.

Art by Molly Crabapple, which is as bawdy as her name suggests / Platial News and Neogeography / spacesick, retro video games / an ambitious project collapsing, a weblog / Tisbuts, a weblog by photographer Robin Mellor.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009
A beautiful little animation exploring the world of scale / a timeline for Primer, the low-budget time travel film / Cloudy Weather, English Russia drags up some urban exploring images of Moscow's emerging new skyscraper cluster / A Million Years of Isolation: An Interview with Abraham Van Luik, BLDG BLOG on the challenges of architecture and design that will endure for all eternity. It beats archival cockroaches.

Leonardo Finotti's architectural photography blog celebrates its one year anniversary / Bank Notes, 'a collection of bank robbery notes' (via) / 2001: A Spiritualized Odyssey, a project by The Almighty Sound. Please dig out the torrent and speed things along a bit, because it is currently s.l.o.w.

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