The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog, a (deliberately) provocative piece from Kottke, who knows a thing or two about online longevity. It’s hard to disagree with the basic premise that ‘Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids’ when one sees how the world has moved on and evolved the way it consumes imagery, media, music, and all forms of information. We toyed with shuttering things this year, but were heartened by the response and also – in the brief absence – reminded of the reasons this site exists; a place to keep stuff that might otherwise be lost. And in keeping that stuff, we’re spurred on to find more things to keep it company. And it’s also true that no-one really sees tumblrs as blogs, despite the fact that’s exactly what they’d be called if they’d existed seven or eight years ago. Instead, they’re just … tumblrs, part of the relentless curatorialisation (if that’s a word) of every day life.
Almost Lost: London’s Buildings Loved and Loathed, a new exhibition from English Heritage (BBC report). See also Lost London 1870-1945 / ‘A Very Rare Book: The mystery surrounding a copy of Galileo’s pivotal treatise / the tumblr year in review, 2013 / How Boomboxes Got So Badass / a farewell to FAT / Cyan, a series by Imantas Selenis / the Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture.
Nicky Crane: The secret double life of a gay neo-Nazi, a good long-read about London’s subcultural life in the 70s and 80s. Follow up / 30 years of NOW / Vintage Houston / the Korg littleBits, a modular home-build synthesier kit / the Jeffrey Johns Story / Knitiffi, a knitting art blog / the 1963 Lightburn Zeta.
Architects’ Own Houses, filled with beautiful plans and illustrations / X-Ray Delta One, a flickr set stuffed full of over 11,000 vintage illustrations / however, the new British Library Flickr page has over 1,000,000 images… / the work of Fabian Oefner / on travel: A Moving Experience / Carbon, a new issue of uncube magazine / Tales for an accelerated age: things are better when they are Fifteen percent faster.
Soviet-era Disney translations (‘Tri porocenka’) and other gems at Bonhams’ Fine Books and Manuscripts auction / bizy li press, a (short-lived?) blog about book design / the tale of the The Enfield Poltergeist / the Dead Media Archive.
SSTL – Surrey Satellite Technology – is what one might describe as a ’boutique’ satellite builder, specialising in compact, low-cost multi-application satellites that can do everything from communications to scientific observation. SSTL launched the STRaND-1, a ‘satellite smartphone’, earlier this year as a way of exploring ultra-small ‘nano-satellites’. But although the company is at the forefront of small scale manufacturing and dealing with the complex route to space (‘Launch negotiation is an intensive process and the launch itself is a significant cost to the overall programme’), they’re dependent on one rather old piece of technology.
Small satellite firm seeks ‘old’ chipsets: ‘Surrey Satellite Technology uses 386 chipsets to run software to provide operational functionality on its micro-satellites’. It turns out that Intel’s 386 chipset, which date back to 1985, are ideally suited to space applications. “Ironically, the limited performance of the 386 chipsets means they are perfect for our needs. The chipsets create little heat and require little power. Modern processors require big fans, which are ruled out by the absence of convection in space.” Even a 386, however, would run rings around the Space Shuttle’s systems.
Any historical discussion of British railways has to include the Beeching Report, ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, now excoriated as ‘one of the most notorious government reports of the 20th century… The report often adopted an overly-simplistic analysis of the economics of the routes, failing to recognise how the branches contributed traffic to the core network. The Beeching closures failed in their attempt to eliminate BR’s losses, and led to the belated recognition that the railways serve a social role which should be financially acknowledged.’ (the network before Beeching). Much criticised now, and then, the report recommended the removal of about a third of the network, ‘amounting to 5,000 miles of track and 2,363 stations‘.
Less well known is the Serpell Report, issued in 1982 (and the full text of which can be found at the Railways Archive). Serpell’s findings were almost totally ignored, all for the sake of a single suggestion buried deep in his report. In looking at ‘new network options,’ Serpell proposed an ‘Option A’, a plan for cuts that would have made Beeching’s eyes water. In total, some 84% of the existing network would be scrapped, leaving a grand total of 1,630 miles of railway (less than 10% of the pre-Beeching total). A bit more background, including a mention of the polemical 1957 book, Twilight of the Railways – What Roads They’ll Make! and the machinations of the virulently anti-rail and pro-road Railway Conversion League.
Related, consulation on station change and overhaul at Peckham Rye, courtesy of the AOC / the above image is from A Practical Treatise on Rail-roads and Interior Communication in General… and Tables of the Comparitive Value of Canals and Rail-Roads, 1825.
Behind the Facade, Witold Rybczynski on Poundbury (via Providence Journal): ‘[T]here is a lot more to Poundbury than meets the modernist critic’s jaundiced eye. The place is neither anachronistic, nor utopian, nor elitist. Nor is it a middle-class ghetto. In fact, Poundbury embodies social, economic, and planning innovations that can only be called radical.’ / The Homewood: A Modernist Masterpiece by Patrick Gywnne, at MidCentury Magazine / T-R-E-M-O-R-S, an architecture magazine / the Evolution Sale at Summers Place Auctions is a treasure trove of depressing Victorian taxidermy / 1970 De Tomaso Mangusta Coupé.
After the Domino’s Drone, Amazon has seized the media initiative, ‘announcing’ Amazon Prime Air, the retail equivalent of a motor show concept car (looks great, sounds great, totally unavailable). Sure, start-ups exist, but cost, legislation and a host of other worries make this a good silly season story rather than a sure-fire future bet. More thoughts. Try also reading My week as an Amazon insider for a hefty dose of reality about the company’s pared-to-the-bone approach and the resulting human cost. We’re all complicit in this, in one way or another. Related, via tumblr, We attempted a drone delivery. See also introducing O.W.L.S (via).
‘The Mexican immigrant worker in New York is a perfect example of the hero who has gone unnoticed… The Mexican economy has quietly become dependent on the money sent from workers in the US.’ From Superheroes, a photographic series by Dulce Pinzon.
Other things. The subconscious overtones in The Tiger Who Came to Tea /old comics scrutinised and fetishized for their print quality at 4CP (Four colour process) / made on the Isle of Wight, the Enfield 8000 Thunderbolt, a forgotten electric car. See also the Zagato Zele / old images of abandoned Russian space shuttles / My Things (2001 – 2009), a dense photographic project by Hong Hao / art by Elizabeth Harbour / the Blank Tape Gallery / the above image comes from this superb flickr stream.
The Tape Recorder and Synthesizer Ensemble (via MeFi), a self-recorded album (made on largely self constructed equipment) that lay dormant for several decades. See also the great Bedroom Cassette Masters series, now on its fourth volume. BCM began as an archival project, compiling forgotten demo tapes, but subsequently evolved:
I began to be approached by people who wanted to have their music on the compilation but who had not even been alive in the eighties. They were contemporary bedroom musicians, usually with a small collection of vintage analogue instruments and equipment who were committed to producing work using authentic vintage methods. So I had an idea: let them produce their music in-the-style-of lo-fi, cassette-based, bedroom-recorded demos and provide a short biography suggesting they had in fact been produced between 1980-89. They had to carefully date their recordings based on the manufacture dates of the vintage synths they were using to avoid any anachronisms and think of artistic motivation based on age, sex and geography.
Historical Remedies make homeopathic ‘First Aids for Active Lifestyles & Modern Stress’, including things called Stress Mints, Moon Drops (a sleep aid), and the rather more self-explanatory Calm Drops and PickUp Drops. Yet somehow HR has found itself with a class action lawsuit on its hands, with plaintiffs complaining that the company ‘has misrepresented Calm Drops, Moon Drops, and/or PickUp Drops as an effective treatment for anxiety, sleeplessness, and lack of energy, respectively.’ It’s all part of California’s ongoing attack on homeopathy (link from the Alliance for Natural Health, hence the alarmist wording). What puzzles us is how one proves homeopathy works? Should be one to watch.