Writing

URBAN PLANNING

An Explanation of Housing in America

(written for Housing and Community Development in Winter 2012)

Housing in America is political and based in the larger values of battling factions of society.  The housing ethics that emerged in response to the Great Depression significantly shaped the two major concerns of housing policy in America: the promotion of single family home ownership and the means of providing acceptable living conditions for those who cannot afford to own (lower income members of society).  Both of these areas address the affordability of housing as a tenant of society’s stability.  How they are dealt with is debated politically between the liberals (in favor of social benefit) and the conservatives (in favor of capitalism) in power, with policy changing dramatically between administrations and political eras (Hays, 1995).

Full Text: An Explanation of Housing in America

Happiness vs. Capitalism

(written for Policy Analysis in Fall 2011)

The idea that money leads to happiness has been well established in the independence narrative of the United States.  The American Dream tells citizens that if they work hard, they can pull themselves up economically “by their bootstraps” and prosper.  Until 2008, this dream was perpetuated through American lending institutions, giving many Americans the illusion of happiness and stability in proliferating a homeowner market that was not based in sound financial practices.  In the economic and housing collapse of 2008 and the times since then, the country has been reeling in an economic downward spiral, one that we blindly seek to find a way out of.  The administration needs to look to innovative ways of solving problems, and perhaps it is increasingly important to bring happiness and satisfaction as a metric into the equation.

Full text: Happiness vs. Capitalism

How Global Cities Work

(written for The Social, Economic, and Environmental Context of Urban Planning  in Fall 2010)

In the past 15 years we have entered the process of establishing a new paradigm of world order, one dictated by large global cities functioning in a virtual capacity to compete against each other and make profits primarily for the sake of nurturing the spirit of capitalism. Contemporary global cities like New York and Tokyo use disassociated workers and specialist labor to perform information and communication transactions in virtual space that require little investment or overhead and result in great profit. Large global cities dominate, working over the heads of the non-technological world and dictate the future direction of everything from politics to industry to environmentalism.

Full Text: How Global Cities Work

The Development of Information Space and the Space of Flows:
Pioneering New Regions of Productivity in the Global Economy

(written for The Social, Economic, and Environmental Context of Urban Planning  in Fall 2010)

The current structure of information space and the space of flows described by Manuel Castells can be seen as a progression in history that involved the abstraction of capital and labor and the concurrent rise of the global city as information hub and world cultural node.  This Space has no relationship to traditional implications of time or the traverse of physical space, nor does it treat labor or social interests as they have been handled in the past. With the advancement of communication technology and the rise of the internet, the non-spaceness of this space is ever more real.  Castells quantifies two primary aspects of this information space: one, the power of networks, partnerships, agglomeration, and communication, and two, the power of identity found in branding, image, and abstract value (2003).  Global cities are now driven by values relating to the flow of their economies over any physical reality, and the effect on the lived city is one of social/labor alienation and a reformation of network bonds focused on the individualization of skill and the emergence of contracted work at both micro and macro scales.

Full Text: The Development of Information Space and the Space of Flows

LANDSCAPE

Musings on Landscape and Parallax View

(written as an exercise in response to photos in Winter 2009)

Topics noted, to be explored in future posts in further detail:

Patterns in science
Science fiction influenced landscape
Space-time, the Big Bang
Aerial Photography
Parallax View
Mental Oasis
My personal artist vision
Slavoj Zizek

Landscape and our world in general are all a matter of scale and perspective. From one view you see a perspective that can grow, shift, travel time and space, all by simply being viewed from a different place. Hence, one could say we are all looking at the same thing: existence, just from different perspectives. Approaching landscape as a universal entity, one directly tied to nature, existence, and human transcendence gives new life to the field, and inspires my visual aesthetic. As Slavoj Zizek observes in The Parallax View, “the explanation of a universal concept becomes ‘interesting’ when the particular cases evoked to exemplify it are in tension with their own universality…”

Full Text: Musings on Landscape and Parallax View

CULTURE

Robots at War

(written for Technology in Contemporary American Culture in Spring 2005)

Today, we live and breathe the conveniences of technology, and this is how we secure our power in the world.  Machines are our closest friends, without them, we would have to relearn all kinds of archaic processes of subsistence.  We build a world around us that can work without us, so that we can spend our time doing whatever we please.  Yet, in this way, work and play conflate into one activity, and this holds some implications for our future and the future of social systems.

I argue that technology is being used to militarize our society both subconsciously and in reality practices.  By creating an environment that challenges our attention to reality, placing us in a virtual world where we can let our desires take control and appealing to the human weakness for total control and outer-body agency, technology redraws the lines of our perception of what is here and what is other, what is real and fictional, what is safe and what is dangerous, and what is desirable and what is not.

Full Text: Robots At War

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