Some links to some things

Here are some links to some things that made me go “…huh.” at some point today.

First up, as something of a wannabe life-hoarder, this BBC piece about a guy who compulsively recorded all the conversations he had for three years was kind of interesting, if not alarming – particularly for his own conclusion that:

…I had to go back and listen to a lot of that old tape and it was awful. Most of it was mundane and it’s unclear why I thought any of it was worth committing to tape, though I did discover a few gems.

This really chimed with me because it reminds me of how I feel about so much of my own photographing and journaling habits: on reflection, a lot of it seems like a complete waste of time. But it’s usually worth it for the gems you uncover along the way.

Check out Why I secretly recorded my life by David Weinberg for the BBC.

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Secondly, James Wheare linked to this on Twitter and I’m glad I saw it. In A thing to think at, Tom Taylor talks about the lovely, somewhat surreal nature of the Olympic Broadcasting Service, which showed the Games on ambient streams with interstitial shots and sounds of the venues, only using commentary where necessary. Tom goes on to say that at one time he found it enjoyable to just set his web browser to Hawaiian traffic cameras, which struck a chord with me.

A lifetime ago I had the good fortune to visit wintry Tallinn, Estonia, and the place remains close to my heart. A few years ago, I took comfort in watching a high-quality feed of a webcam on one of the city’s main squares. I was partly enthralled by how smooth the video was, but how, consequently, I could make out individuals just wandering in and out of the frame as they went about their business. I’ve also had similar digital attachments to webcams in New Zealand (whilst I’m in the the UK – and, perplexingly, webcams in the UK whilst I’m in New Zealand…)

Point being, that I and others take comfort from these ambient windows on another section of humanity, and that’s just what Tom Taylor proposes:

I’d make it a law that all CCTV cameras pointing at a public place must have a publicly accessible live stream available online.

For a start, it’d be an amazing resource to build useful things with. Quite astounding — but that’s another post. But also it’d make it possible to invite a million street corners, parks, libraries, roads, railway stations into your life for a little while.

I like the sounds of that.

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Briefly, I was saddened to read Layton Duncan’s latest posting from Christchurch. He’s made some really interesting, eloquent and poignant-without-becoming-mawkish accounts of life in post-quake Chch.

Alas, the time has come for him to concede defeat on behalf of the city, and in his latest post, he explains why he’s leaving Christchurch.

It’s a bummer to read, and I only hope that where there are Layton Duncans around, there are others who will stay and make the city amazing again.

Ultimately you only have one life to live, you have to choose where your energy is best spent. For me the decision is that it’s not Christchurch.

Good luck to him – and I look forward to reading about his progress.

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I came across a thing on a construction information portal at work (don’t ask) from the Architects’ Journal, which I found interesting.

The piece discusses scarcity in architecture. For the sustainability column, Jon Goodbun (with Deljana Iossifova and Jeremy Till) writes:

In a conference in Barcelona last week, the brilliant architect Anne Lacaton of Lacaton & Vassal showed a picture of a pretty, if slightly rundown, provincial town square in France, which they had been asked to renovate. ‘The place is already rather nice,’ she says to the client, ‘why bother to embellish it?’ And with this walks away from the job.

This was just about the most radical thing we’ve heard said by an architect in the past few years. The so-called boom of recent decades got the profession addicted to the idea that adding more and more shiny artefacts to the world was the supreme act of the architect.

It’s not a long piece, but it is interesting, and worth the short registration process to get to the whole article if you’re interested.

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Finally, in the vein of Tom Taylor, above, flicking through endless public CCTV channels to the inevitable detriment of his mental health, we have the occasionally excellent NSFWcorp with You are listening to America: What happens when you mix sleep with police scanners and ambient music? Nothing sane. (NSFWcorp is behind a paywall: this link is good for 48 hours from the time this post is published.)

The disembodied voices of cops and operators calmly listing suspects’ distinguishing features and reeling off sequences of numbers while instruments not of woman born murmur soothingly in the background makes for an alluring, bewitching listen.

But what happens when you stick that kind of thing on while you sleep? Find out at the link above.