Friday, May 31, 2013

Fifteen Properties of Living Structures

Workshop on 15 Properties of Christopher Alexander
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Storgard på Hedemarken


Nes kirke i Akershus

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Kommentar hos Forskning om kvinners deltagelse i arbeidslivet

Les artikkelen her.

Min kommentar:

19682010  om noen sekunder
Sentralstatens nedgangstid, som for de fleste land allerede har startet, vil gi en retur til mer tradisjonelle samfunnsmodeller:http://www.kulturverk.com/2013...
Senest i forgårs så jeg en BBC-dokumentar som bekrefter at kvinner velger de beste jegerne, dette gjelder også i dag, forsøk viste at kvinnene vurderer menn etter de samme jegerkriteriene i dag som i tradisjonelle stammesamfunn, det er bare ikke like åpenbart.
Mennene drar ut på jobb for å jakte, i dag representert ved symbolviltet penger. Kvinnene holder seg hjemme i landsbyen, i grupper. Derfor, vil man satse på kvinnearbeidsplasser må disse finnes i nærmiljøet, hvor kvinnene kan finne sammen i grupper sammen med barna. Barnehagemodellen er en dårlig modell, barnehagene må integreres i kvinners arbeid, nærmiljø og kvinnegrupper. Dette er også utgangspunktet for økolandsbymodellen, en annen gren av feminismen som er så MYE mer konstruktiv enn LO-modellen.

Kommentar til Joacim Lund om kvinners deltidsarbeid

19682010  for noen sekunder siden

"Det er bra for deg selv, for alle andre damer og resten av samfunnet om du jobber full tid. Klipp håret og skaff deg en jobb! - Joacim Lund
Joacim, her snakker du mot bedre vitende. Terje Bongard skriver følgende:
"En arbeidsplass i dag innebærer i praksis en fare for etterkommerne, i stedet for å bygge trygghet for framtida."
Ved å tvinge kvinnene til å arbeide mer undergraver de sine barns framtid. Hvorfor vil LO-lederen at vi skal arbeide mer. Bongard gir det klare, men ubehagelige svaret også på dette:
"I denne settingen jobber forskning, private og offentlige institusjoner i alle land kortsiktig og enøyd med «verdiskaping, innovasjon og utvikling av nye markeder», med formål å produsere flere dingser, reiser, forbruk eller tjenester som skal konkurrere ut andre. Arbeidsplasser brukes som skalkeskjul. Bærekraftig industri blir aldri satset på om det ikke er profittgivende; målet for hele økonomien er å generere penger. Til dette forbrukes natur, de ekte verdiene som er framtidas mat, hus og klær. Det jaktes på mer energi, ressurser, mineraler, fiber, arealer og mat som omdannes i «markedet» til symboler. Pengesymboler som i børsene bare kan ses på dataskjermer og utskrifter."
LO-lederen har ikke oppskrifta på hvordan vi kan gjøre framtida trygg, slik at vi kan delta i arbeidslivet med god samvittighet. Jeg vet at Terje Bongard arbeider dag og natt inn mot LO og andre organisasjoner, for å få dem til å endre kurs. Med den nye LO-lederen øyner jeg ikke mye håp, her er det kun å gi full gass mot avgrunnen.
Kvinner, for deres barns framtid, arbeid så lite som mulig under gjeldende paradigme! For hva vi trenger er et paradigmeskifte. Foruten min egen artikkel om Bongards samfunnsmodell finnes det flere artikler og intervjuer med ham hos Kulturverk:http://www.kulturverk.com/2013...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

En kommentar fra meg om Lambda (Monsteret vender tilbake)

19682010  Morten Jensen  for 2 timer siden

Det er uvitenskapelig å hevde at alt er smak og meninger, dessverre er den relativistiske ånd høyst levende. Arkitektur er, eller rettere sagt skulle vært, vitenskap. Dagens arkitektur er ikke vitenskapelig fundert, dette er samtidens største tragedie, da arkitekturen er det fysiske utgangspunktet for utfoldensen av livet.
For de som ønsker en arkitektur for livet, og ikke for eliten, har det kommet ei splitter ny, tungt vitenskapelig fundamentert bok om temaet: http://www.math.utsa.edu/~yxk8...
Her er et sitat:
“‘Unified Architectural Theory’ is not theory at all. It is evidence. It lets us see how until recently we have always designed and built. We’ve built buildings and spaces and towns that reflect the order in our genes, in the biological world we’re part of. We’ve felt at home in them because their order makes space for our body and our soul. Now we rediscover how to build a world that does not alienate us from who we are, a world that gives us joy, a world that brings us home.” - Dr. Ir. Jaap Dawson. Technical University Delft
Bjørvika er allerede tapt, så om Lambda blir bygget betyr forsåvidt ikke så mye fra eller til. Men for meg personlig, som en beundrer av Munchs kunst, er det trist å vite at jeg ikke kan utsette meg for å ta innover meg hans storverk omringet av sådanne deprimerende omgivelser.
Ettersom vitenskapen gjør sitt inntog i arkitekturen og den generelle folkeopinion, kommer framtiden til å dømme oss hardt for dette!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spillemann med trekkspill

The Cities Will Fade Away, People Will Have to Return to the Basic Form, the Village

The model cottages at O’Connorville seems to be a kind of mass production, maybe a sort of that idea that for everyone to be equal, everyone should live in the same kind of home?

Christopher Alexander on the contrary stresses that to make living communities, every place, every house and every room needs to be unique, shaped accordingly to every individual's deep personal feeling and character.

Equality cannot be shaped through similarity, it can only be created through shared pattern languages.

We, in our time, have a special responsibility to create new pattern languages, supporting a movement or network of global villages: http://wealthofthecommons.org/essay/commoning-patterns-and-patterns-commoning-short-sketch

Today's information technology will go away:
Villager, computers don't build themselves, they don't power themselves, they don't mine the raw materials to make their own spare parts for themselves, and so on. They're simply the final hurrah of the age of cheap abundant energy, and will go away as the immensely complex and energy-hungry infrastructure needed to support them becomes too costly to keep running. Thus I don't think that the invention of computers is anything like a game-changer. - John Michael Greer
The same way as computers will be gone, we will see a return of the village as the basic form of community:
Ashley, I'd suggest a slight variation. Through most of history, the urban-civilization form of society supported itself on a foundation of decentralized villages; the latter is the basic form, the former an occasional blossoming, which runs its course and ends. Our current civilization, as I've argued in a couple of my books, is as brittle as it is precisely because it tried to replace the village system with factory farming powered by fossil fuels; as those run out, it's not going to last -- and then, as you suggest, we'll be reverting to a stabler form. - John Michael Greer
This is why I see GIVE, the Global Villages Movement, as the most important movement of the world today: http://www.globalvillages.info/wiki?GlobalVillages/GIVE

The cities will fade away, people will have to return to the basic form, the village. To create a network of villages, to be managed as commons, ruled by internationally but locally adapted pattern languages, is the future of humanity!

Russian Village on Tundras. Note the profound sheltering roofs.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The English Embankment in Saint Petersburg

View of the English Embankment in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photo: A. Savin

Før husmorvinduets inntreden

Canons at Fredriksten Fortress

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Stone Paved Path at Fredriksten Fortress

Halden Railroad Station

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Halden Town, Norway

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The Walking Street of Halden, Norway

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Fredriksten Fortress in Halden

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Herlig ornamentering

Svalestup, av Peder Aadnes

Utsnitt av veggmaleri av Peder Aadnes, en av norges første malere, fra prestestua på Eiktunet. Dessverre har maleriet blitt vanskjøttet og faktisk benyttet som underpanel, derav alle hakkene.

Gråtass

Bekkeblom

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Porten mot Iddefjorden

Halden havn sett fra Fredriksten festning

Friday, May 24, 2013

One of the Pervasive Bad Habits of Western Thought

Rita, it's one of the pervasive bad habits of Western thought to assume that all other societies are on a track that leads to us -- this is what's implied by claims, for example, that Afghanistan is "still in the Middle Ages" (our Middle Ages, of course) or that hunter-gatherer tribes are "still in the Stone Age." Thus the insistence by Western elites that everyone else ought to use the same political forms we have, whether they work or not. - John Michael Greer

The Village is the Basic Form, the City is an Occasional Blossoming

Ashley, I'd suggest a slight variation. Through most of history, the urban-civilization form of society supported itself on a foundation of decentralized villages; the latter is the basic form, the former an occasional blossoming, which runs its course and ends. Our current civilization, as I've argued in a couple of my books, is as brittle as it is precisely because it tried to replace the village system with factory farming powered by fossil fuels; as those run out, it's not going to last -- and then, as you suggest, we'll be reverting to a stabler form. John Michael Greer

Rita, no argument there! You'll notice that the people who most often romanticize village life can usually be found living in expensive condos in big cities, and wouldn't move to a farm town if someone paid them to do so. - John Michael Greer

Thursday, May 23, 2013

To "be Realistic"—that is, to Scrap any Serious Challenge to the Existing Order of Society and Focus on a Narrowly Defined Agenda Instead

Christian fundamentalism and the environmental movement had far more political clout even in their idealistic early phases, and so had to be bought off; in both cases this was done, as it’s usually done, by dangling the bait of money and influence in front of organizations and spokespersons in the movement who were willing to "be realistic"—that is, to scrap any serious challenge to the existing order of society and focus on a narrowly defined agenda instead. John Michael Greer

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Humanity’s Salvation Lies in the Correct Application of Scientific Theory to Architecture

I thank Maureen Mullarkey for these supporting and insightful comments on my latest essay with Michael Mehaffy.

This post raises profound points of disagreement on the possible solutions to our civilization’s decline, however.

I happen to be an architectural theorist as well as a scientist. My new book, “Unified Architectural Theory” (just being proofread), was written because I am convinced that humanity’s salvation lies in the correct application of scientific theory to architecture. Furthermore, I argue that the so-called “theory” used up until now is just cult doctrine and ideology, which is what has destroyed our culture.

Many of us agree on the urgency of the problem, and on the problem itself, but not on the solution. And I believe that people’s mistrust of theory is misplaced — the dominant discourse today in artistic circles is pseudo-theory, and should be condemned for its pretension.

For Robert: CAD programs used today are like loaded firearms: you can use one to protect your family from criminals; or to rob a convenience store. Its use depends on the user’s intention, not the capabilities of the tool itself.

Best wishes,
Nikos

Assumptions Lead to Trouble

In principle, there are three ways of knowing about something or someone: what we know, what we don't know, and what we think we know...and it's usually what we think we know that gets us in trouble. When we assume things, we gamble; the bigger the assumption, the bigger the risk.

In any endeavor based on assumptions we can absolutely count on some of them giving way, like support timbers under a house collapsing. Some assumptions may hold for a long time, some almost forever, but most will collapse at a bad time and cause damage. When we make decisions based on facts and when we acknowledge all that we do not know, the long-term outcomes are better.

Practical Tip:
When analyzing a situation write down what you know, what you don't know, and what you assume. Naming assumptions is key. Want to play it safe? Don't make assumptions. How? Catch yourself making assumptions. - Craig Freshley

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NEW EU-LAW: Illegal to grow, reproduce or trade any vegetable seed or tree that has not been tested and approved by a new “EU Plant Variety Agency.”

From The Corporate Enclosure of Seeds Intensifies:

"The enclosure of seeds took another nasty turn this week as ag-biotech companies sought to make it illegal to grow, reproduce or trade any vegetable seed or tree that has not been tested and approved by a new “EU Plant Variety Agency.” In effect, unauthorized gardening or farming would be prohibited. The noose of proprietary control over natural processes grows tighter!

The ostensible reason for the new EU law is to fix the “complexity and fragmentation” of existing legislation covering seeds. Different EU countries have different seed laws, causing “uncertainties and discrepancies” in market practices and regulatory enforcement. The new law is supposedly needed to “harmonize” the laws, and in so doing, “reduce cost and administrative burdens and support innovation.”

But the upshot of the new law is to squeeze out commons-based alternatives to proprietary seeds. Again, the commons is seen as a form of unwanted competition to the market. The new law, if enacted, could make it illegal for companies to grow and sell heirloom and rare varieties of vegetables and other plants. It would shrink the zone of legality now enjoyed by seed banks, organic growers, home gardeners and small-scale market farmers. (More about the proposed law can be found at the Real Seed Collection website.)

These types of growers would be put at a disadvantage because seeds would have to be tested and approved before they could be distributed and sold. Of course, this would favor large multinational corporations that have the resources and lawyers to game the system, shape the market and exclude competitors (including commoners).

The proposed EU law, “Plant Reproductive Material Law,” threw a few bones to amateur growers, who are allowed to save and swap “unapproved” seeds. And organizations can do so, too, so long as they have fewer than ten employees.

But the real point is that the future of seeds would be controlled by an EU bureaucracy and the major companies that dominate its policymaking. If your seeds aren’t on the “approved list,” well, you are a pirate….a scofflaw….a brigand.

That’s the whole point of enclosure, of course: to declare the commons illegal and shut it down as a source of subsistence and survival. And don’t go about thinking that generous concessions today amount to much – because they are likely to be attacked tomorrow.

I have heard of a proposal a few years ago to establish a General Public License for Plant Germplasm, in order to do for seeds what the GPL did for software. If you know of any efforts afoot on this front, please let us know. Update: Here's how US taxpayers are supporting US State Department efforts to promote Monsanto's biotech seeds around the world." - David Bollier

The Commons are Vital for Maintaining Ecosystems and Farmland

Kagan and the other justices proved what relics they truly are. They actually think that innovation only emerges from the incentives of private property rights and market exchange. They do not comprehend that commons are vital for maintaining ecosystems and farmland, and for giving farmers a responsible, interactive role with respect to land. It is no surprise that American agriculture has degenerated into a kind of “factory,” treating soil and seed as inert things, and ignoring the nasty market “externalities” that such a mentality invariably produces.

The Court didn’t address these issues, of course. Not legally germane. Nor did the Court address the fact that Monsanto will dominate the seed market even more, now that its patents extend from one generation of seeds to the next and the next. This ruling will entrench a monoculture of crops and Monsanto’s oligopoly powers.

The folly of “human law” is that nature’s law always has the last say. And as crops become less robust after years and years of an artificially restricted genetic base, and as the soil and ecosystems lose their vitality after years and years of pesticide and herbicide spraying – all to support the concentrated market power of Monsanto – nature will rebel. Too bad the rest of us are being held hostage to this destructive economic and agricultural regime. - David Bollier

Monday, May 20, 2013

Boredom & Behaviour

Not long ago at a conference I was asked whether I thought that boredom was an important cause of bad, and worse than bad, behaviour. I said that I thought that it probably was, though I could not positively prove it. At any rate, those who behave badly often claim to do so because they are bored, and no one claims to behave well because he is bored. Theodore Dalrymple

Er noen tonn plank og stein, håndtert av polakker i 2-3 måneder, verdt et liv som gjeldsslave?

Lurer på når Aftenposten skal begynne å skrive om noe annet enn bolig? Før eller siden skjønner folk at noen tonn plank og stein, håndtert at polakker i 2-3 måneder, ikke er verdt et liv som gjeldsslave. - CarlEd_Leve
Relatert:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Vandringsled

A Small but Definite Contribution

Unknown, helping soil recover is definitely a good step, but I'd encourage you to start with your own yard: tear out the grass, and put in a vegetable garden and plants that feed native pollinators, and you've made a small but definite contribution right there. - John Michael Greer

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Red Door

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Roughness is the odd shape, the quick brush stroke, the irregular column size or spacing, the change in pattern at the corner – it is adjusting to conditions as they present themselves with meaning, but without ego or contrived deliberation.

Though it may look superficially flawed, especially with human perception accustomed to mass-produced regularity and perfection as a goal, an object with roughness is often more precise because it comes about from paying attention to what matters most, and letting go of what matters less. - Tom Kubala

“Things which have real life always have a certain ease, a morphological roughness. This is not an accidental property”  
Christopher Alexander, Book One, The Nature of Order, p. 210
“It is certainly noticeable that all great buildings do have various small irregularities in them, even though they often conform to approximate overall symmetries and configurations. By contrast, buildings which are perfectly regular seem dead.”
Christopher Alexander, Book One, The Nature of Order, p. 214
“The seemingly rough arrangement is more precise because it comes from a much more careful guarding of the essential centers of the design.”
Christopher Alexander, Book One, The Nature of Order, p. 211

An Architect's Home (Not a Single Pattern to be Found)

A manifestation of the architectural elite's hatred to Alexander's A Pattern Language. No words can express this hatred better than this building!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Arkader på Gjøvik Gård

Vi er ikke akkurat bortskjemte med arkader her på Gjøvik, denne eldgamle og geniale oppfinnelsen, elsket fram til modernismen tok sitt jerngrep om vår hals på begynnelsen av forrige århundre, og frarøvet våre byer alt av liv

A portico is a fractal on the human scale

Non-fractal structure suppresses the human scale

Relatert:

Pavlovakake

Pavlovakake er oppkalt etter den russiske ballett-danserinnen Anna Pavlova.. Klikk på bildet for å ta den nærmere i øyensyn.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The complete Streets Movement

Recently, the concept of "complete streets" has gained some political ground. The complete street movement advocates that all streets should be safe and accessible for everyone - regardless of if you're a motorist, a cyclist, or a pedestrian. A complete street tries to encorporate as many features as possible - sidewalks, bicycle lanes, cross walks, and traffic lights - to accommodate every potential mode of transportation that could use that street. While I do agree with the underlying concept of making streets safe and accessible, I am somewhat doubtful that the complete street should be idolized as the ultimate form to base all streets off of. 
Read article:

Gjøvik High School with a Poor Information Environment

Gjøvik High School is not providing an enriching information environment, this doesn't prove good for the future of my region. Click on the image for a magnification.
But what does this mean, in human terms? Countless studies have established that the rearing environment dramatically impacts brain growth in children. In 1994 the Carnegie Task Force issued a report warning that children raised in experientially poor environments suffer permanent setbacks as compared to those raised in richer, more enhanced environments. This was in line with the Head Start program begun several decades earlier in the US. Turning to philosophy and robotics gives us a new insight into what might be going on. In 1998, A. Clark and D. Chalmers proposed the “extended mind” concept, where the workings of our mind actually extend beyond the brain and into our surroundings. An interplay takes place between our thoughts and internal memories, and knowledge and information stored outside yet within ready reach. Mobile robots do, in fact, use their environment as their memory — they have no stored internal memory, and thus save enormous computational overhead. Rodney Brooks’ Mars Explorer works in precisely this way. Its ability to navigate its environment comes from an “intelligence” that links internal processors with external information. This implies that the environment is crucial to the development of our brain: our mind is an integral part of our environment, and if we wish it to engage our intelligence, the environment should embody the same degree of organized complexity as our neurological processes themselves. Michael W. Mehaffy and Nikos A. Salingaros

Intelligence and the Information Environment


By Michael W. Mehaffy and Nikos A. Salingaros

Looked at in a certain way, the human environment is a kind of massive delivery system for critically useful information. It gives us information about obvious concerns, like where we are, where we need to go, where we might find food, where to look out for dangers (speeding cars, unsafe drop-offs, etc.) and many other things. And more subtly but importantly, it tells us where we will most likely feel safe and well. It now seems that when we find an environment beautiful, a form of integrated higher-level information telling us something important about the structure of the place, it is likely that it’s doing something positive for us. A grove of delicious ripe fruit is likely to be much more beautiful than one of diseased trees and rotted fruit — and that’s no coincidence. Our aesthetic discernments have evolved as sophisticated assessments of what is likely to be in our best interest as organisms. Put simply, we have a natural hunger for beauty — because we have a natural hunger for the deeper, biologically relevant characteristics of places and things that we find beautiful. This works through information input and our neurophysiological system, which developed to process and interpret information and to discern its relevant and often hidden meaning beneath the obvious.

There is also evidence that we strongly prefer information grouped into patterns that we can mentally manage most easily — as the psychologist George A. Miller showed, we seem to prefer “chunks” of two and three, and, combinations of these, up to about seven or so. We also seem to have a natural affinity for the complex patterns that plants and other natural structures exhibit. This is one reason that we have an instinctive affinity for certain biological patterns, termed biophilia (see our post “Frontiers of Design Science: Biophilia”). 

Research in environmental psychology reveals that we prefer information-rich environments, though we like them to be easily broken up into manageable higher-level informational “chunks”: buildings and spaces that have coherent relationships, that have identifiable pathways and entrances, that are layered in room-like sequences, that offer enticement, that form complex circuits and spatial relationships. The most attractive streets for pedestrians have these kinds of intricate, information-rich structures. And we prefer that the surfaces of buildings present us with rich information that we can “decompose” into manageable units that are still related among themselves and to the overall whole (they define a “system”). This means, among other things, that the structures at different scales do not have too abrupt a relationship to one another, but instead, have a coherent, proportional kind of relationship. Geometrical coherence, both on the same scale, and across different scales, seems to play a key role in what we perceive as beautiful and nourishing.

Image: Michael Mehaffy

Two buildings directly across from one another on Burnside Street in Portland, Oregon, presenting very different kinds and degrees of information to pedestrians: The building on the right offers information about time and aging, individual business activities, entrances, different room volumes inside, and much more. The building on the left has none of that information. Instead it has a series of panels devoid of information beyond color, and following a relentlessly repetitive pattern, but arranged in what the designers hope is an artistically pleasing way. We may or may not prefer the view on the left, over the more “old fashioned” view on the right, based upon our cultivated artistic tastes, our preference for cleanliness, etc. But when it comes to the brain’s hunger for stimulating information about its world, the view on the left offers only superficial and poorly nourishing information.

What about environmental art? Surely, as a cultural construct, art is a much more plastic phenomenon, shaped by creative expression rather than biological needs? Well, the answer is… yes and no. We can, indeed, distort the normal evolutionary relationships between people and their environments to create exciting, disturbing, provocative experiences of art — but such changes are not without consequence. In exchange for these short-term benefits, we may well create long-term negative consequences for human health and wellbeing. When we’re talking about gallery experiences, this is probably a limited risk. But at the scale of ordinary human environments, experienced hour after hour, day after day, there is growing evidence that the effect could be disastrous. 

One of the most fascinating and intriguing such impacts seems to be in the ability of the environment to stimulate our ability to learn. Incredibly, it seems, the environment can make you smarter — or dumber! Some of the evidence for this surprising finding comes from animal studies. In an experiment conducted by R. Kihsinger et al., some trout were bred in minimalist tanks while others were raised in a more naturalistic setting — a tank that included a floor of pebbles. The brain size of those fish was then measured (specifically, the region of the brain that is responsible for intelligence), and both compared to that of wild trout. It turns out that brain size for the three groups was markedly different: significantly larger for those raised in a more naturalistic environment than for trout raised in minimalist tanks. Yet when compared to trout caught in the wild that are exposed to a far richer visual and otherwise experiential environment, the wild trout’s brain was larger than even the laboratory trout raised in tanks lined with pebbles.

In related experiments by G. Kempermann et al., this time on mice, a significantly larger number of neurons were found in the region of the brain responsible for intelligence, in two similar groups, one raised in an architecturally enriched environment, and the other raised in featureless cages. In a separate study, A. Sale et al. found a vastly improved development of the visual system in the brains of mice raised in architecturally enhanced vs minimalist environments. Note that the portions of the brain responsible for visual acuity and intelligence are tightly interlinked. 

These experiments vindicate a central finding by the father of modern neuropsychology, Donald O. Hebb, who claimed, in the late 1940s, that an environment enriched with ordered complexity enhanced intelligence in a permanent manner. Hebb concluded that rich experience of all types (and not only ordered visual complexity) is necessary for the full development of animal intelligence. A scientific breakthrough came in the 1960s when M. Rosenzweig and his research group established beyond any doubt that enrichment of the environment leads to structural changes in the brain of animals. It seems that humans, and other animals before us, evolved what we now call “intelligence” as a tool to interpret the complexity — incoming information — of the natural environment. We eventually began to shape our own environment, and projected a similar complexity onto it — outgoing information — in the form of mural paintings, color, ornamentation, and fractal shapes. Since the beginning of our evolution into humans, characterized by our urge to build and to create art, we have been involved in a two-way mutual reinforcement of environmental complexity of a very particular kind. Damaging any piece of this interchange mechanism damages the entire system.

But what does this mean, in human terms? Countless studies have established that the rearing environment dramatically impacts brain growth in children. In 1994 the Carnegie Task Force issued a report warning that children raised in experientially poor environments suffer permanent setbacks as compared to those raised in richer, more enhanced environments. This was in line with the Head Start program begun several decades earlier in the US. Turning to philosophy and robotics gives us a new insight into what might be going on. In 1998, A. Clark and D. Chalmers proposed the “extended mind” concept, where the workings of our mind actually extend beyond the brain and into our surroundings. An interplay takes place between our thoughts and internal memories, and knowledge and information stored outside yet within ready reach. Mobile robots do, in fact, use their environment as their memory — they have no stored internal memory, and thus save enormous computational overhead. Rodney Brooks’ Mars Explorer works in precisely this way. Its ability to navigate its environment comes from an “intelligence” that links internal processors with external information. This implies that the environment is crucial to the development of our brain: our mind is an integral part of our environment, and if we wish it to engage our intelligence, the environment should embody the same degree of organized complexity as our neurological processes themselves.

Two possible connective scenarios are thus strikingly contrasted. 1. In an information-sparse, minimalist environment, our mind stops at the skull’s interior. 2. In a coherently complex environment, our mind can extend into and interact with the visual information stored outside. In the latter case, we are situated in a vastly richer information field that drives our brain’s growth in order to process and interpret this information.

Can Louis Sullivan make us smarter? Corner entrance to the Carson, Pirie, Scott & Company Store, Chicago, 1899. Image: Nikos Salingaros.

Our brains’ connections change — even in adults, but especially so in the forming child brain — in response to coherent complex inputs. Although data for the influence of architectural environments on humans is sketchy, it has been established that an activity certainly alters the brain’s connectivity. Actively playing music or performing a sport, for example, reinforces the wiring of the neurons responsible for that physical activity. Parents the world over encourage their children to take music lessons, if they are in a position to do so, not to make them into professional musicians, but because the ordered informational complexity of classical music is believed to help students perform better in school.

Three-way blending of complex information: the rhythm of Indian classical music, Bharatanatyam dance, and colorful folk art provide a rich learning environment for young persons. It’s intriguing to wonder whether India’s remarkably high production of future engineers, doctors, mathematicians, and scientists might have had a boost from this kind of rich cultural experience. Image: Sri Devi Nrithyalaya

Granted, it’s a leap from talking about mice and trout to suggesting that our everyday environment requires ordered complexity, and that this is not — as usually assumed — a simple matter of individual taste. If future experiments reveal influences on human beings, we expect to find that environmental factors do indeed shape our own intelligence. Most importantly, their effect on the developing intelligence of our children is bound to be even greater than on adults with fully-formed brains. So what are the lessons for designers of the human environment? The information content of our creations has a profound effect upon human life, and potentially, human wellbeing. 

We may decide to create minimalist environments because somebody finds them ideologically exciting, arresting, or fitting expressions of industrial technology. That’s essentially what the early Modernist architects did — and we’re slowly beginning to recognize the profoundly damaging consequences of that fateful approach. Or we may decide to impart other kinds of information — the dramatic expressions of new avant-garde art, the eye-catching advertising of products, or the packaging of exciting industrial forms — or perhaps some mesmerizing combination of these. But to the extent this information disrupts and displaces other kinds of information to which we are biologically attuned, the evidence suggests, it can do great harm. 

So it seems that if we truly want the wellbeing of our users — if we see ourselves as honored design professionals, with a duty of care — then we must work to imbue our environments with the kind of information richness that human beings actually need. This is a different way of looking at design, but perhaps a vitally needed one.

Michael Mehaffy is an urbanist and critical thinker in complexity and the built environment. He is a practicing planner and builder, and is known for his many projects as well as his writings. He has been a close associate of the architect and software pioneer Christopher Alexander. Currently he is a Sir David Anderson Fellow at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, a Visiting Faculty Associate at Arizona State University; a Research Associate with the Center for Environmental Structure, Chris Alexander’s research center founded in 1967; and a strategic consultant on international projects, currently in Europe, North America and South America. 

Nikos A. Salingaros is a mathematician and polymath known for his work on urban theory, architectural theory, complexity theory, and design philosophy. He has been a close collaborator of the architect and computer software pioneer Christopher Alexander. Salingaros published substantive research on Algebras, Mathematical Physics, Electromagnetic Fields, and Thermonuclear Fusion before turning his attention to Architecture and Urbanism. He still is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is also on the Architecture faculties of universities in Italy, Mexico, and The Netherlands.

Related Reading:

Industrial Civilization is Killing Our Future off and Yet We Cannot Walk Away

My internal answer seems impossible to live up to and I feel this is the same problem that everyone living INSIDE industrial civilization comes to. "It's too hard." "I can't. I have X responsibility." Industrial civilization is killing our future off and yet we cannot walk away, like addicts in full knowledge of their addiction, still helpless. - Nathan

Våningshus med gamle tuntrær

Kvitveisbakken

Raknehaugen

Raknehaugen er Nordens største gravhaug, den ligger i Ullensaker rett sør for Gardermoen. Tidligere var det mange gravhauger i området, men dessverre er de fleste jevnet med jorden. Heldigvis lot de Raknehaugen være i fred. Klikk på bildet for en forstørrelse.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sørum kirke

Klikk på bildet for forstørrelse

Alatskivi Castle

Alatskivi manor main building in Estonia. Built in 1880–1885 and modelled after the Balmoral castle in Scotland. Photo: Ivar Leidus

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Become Entrepreneurial. Work Locally. Be Productive. Network.

[Simone Cicero] : Are GenYrs and Millennials ready for this cultural leap forward (or backwards, depending on how do you see it)?

[John Robb] : Some. Many are constrained by old ways of thinking. For example: The idea that political action can actually change our trajectory. Or, the best way to ensure a uncertain future is to get a safe government or big company job. Both are wrong!

The best way forward is to become entrepreneurial. Work locally. Be productive. Network. The future will unfold before you. John Robb

How Far is the “Bright Future”?

[Simone Cicero] : Despite your theories are often referred as radically pessimistic you often evoke a “bright” future ahead of us: why should this future be so bright with the premises we all know? How far from us is this positive future really?

[John Robb] : There is definitely a group of people that can’t imagine a way to live other than how we’ve lived in the last 60 years. They like it and want it to continue as is. To them, a world that doesn’t work nearly the same as it does today must always result in a Zombie Apocalypse.

As a result, anybody that says the system is broken and needs replacement is a pessimist. It also restricts all positive views of the future to mere fixes to the current system (usually through behavioral or technological transformation).

However, I’m a pragmatist and an entrepreneur. I don’t have time to wishful thinking these people engage in. When I see something that’s broken and in decline, I see it as an opportunity to build something better. Something that meets the needs of time. To me, a willingness to recognize reality and build something new is real optimism. I do believe we can build something new and better. Something that works differently but delivers better results.

When will networked resilient communities become commonplace? I suspect we’ll see fully functional community networks with fifteen years. At that point, the quality and abundance of life inside resilient communities and the potential for improvement will greatly outshine what’s left of the “irreplaceable” system we live in today. John Robb

The Future Proof Enterprise: How to Create Resilient, Enduring and Meaningful Businesses

Monday, May 13, 2013

En historie fra Talmud

Jeg er overbevist om at Vårherre driver denne verden og at det finnes en Gud. Han venter at vi skal delta i hans fortsatte skaperverk og gjøre verden stadig bedre, sier Kahan, og illustrerer poenget med en historie fra Talmud.

En general kom til rabbi Akiva - en jødisk lærd som levde like etter Jesu tid - og spurte hvem som utrettet de beste ting på jorden, Gud eller mennesker. Rabbien sa han skulle svare når han hadde vært hjemme hos kona. Da han kom tilbake, hadde han med seg et fat der det på den ene siden var korn, og på den andre siden en kake kona hadde bakt. "Nå kan du smake hva som er best. Det ene har Gud skapt, det andre har kona skapt." - Herman Kahan, intervju i Vårt Land 4. mai 2013
Muffins fra min kones hender

New Free E-Book: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages

Book: The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages by Jean Gimpel: http://www.scribd.com/doc/84853370/Jean-Gimpel-The-Medieval-Machine-the-Industrial-Revolution-of-the-Middle-Ages

An important classic of technological history, now available in full text at Scribd:
The Middle Ages, writes French scholar Jean Gimpel, saw an extraordinary flourishing of technological development throughout Europe. With the era came waterwheels and clock towers, nearly uniform machine parts and improvements in public hygiene, vaulting cathedrals and towering city walls, and a notion of spiritual and earthly progress that promised better things to come. In analyzing the growth of precision in measurement and of the experimental sciences, and in considering the careers of medieval geniuses such as the architect-inventor Villard de Honnecourt, Gimpel clearly conveys the intellectual excitement of the time. Sadly, it was undone by religious intolerance, brutal warfare, and the arrival of the plague as quickly as it rose.
Old mill house. Photo: ANDY RAMMY

Friday, May 10, 2013

The World is Collapsing in Front of Our Eyes

Ouromboros, exactly! The decline that's already taking place around us doesn't have any big explosions or fireworks; that's why so many people are so terrified of it, and invent a flurry of imaginary catastrophes and utopias to distract themselves from the fact that we're already in the Long Descent -- that this is what collapse looks like. - John Michael Greer

GIVE, the Global Villages Movement

From P2P-Foundation.

GIVE aims for Globally Integrated Village Environments, and is an initiative by Franz Nahrada to promote the expansion of Global Villages

Here below, Franz explains its sevens strategic imperatives:

Our seven themes in detail:

(1) Global Villegiatura – Trans Market Economies
“In a time when fewer and fewer productive industries supply the global markets with the full range of industrial basic goods, we have to understand that it is not feasible any more to make it the general rule of behaviour to export and sell values, lifestyles, commodities and ideologies to survive. We are far too many and too productive to do business as usual and waste our wealth in warfare economies. (We see the historical example of Venice which was a maritime trader nation, but vigourously engaged in land cultivation when it lost its sea power. The term “Villegiatura” was coined for the rediscovery of the hinterland, a cultural revolution into beauty and thriving cultural landscapes, and serves as a reference model for a global change nowadays.

Rather than the further growth of already unliveable cities, we foresee the emergence of more and more inside-looking communities, who – with the help of decentralizing technologies – build their own self-sustaining microcosms. They seek to combine the best and most apposite buildings blocks available in the shared knowledge and experiences of humanity across the continents and ages. This turns into new experience for others. A fractal, holotopic world is emerging within the broad planetary land mass, heralded by the solar revolution, with more and more places that become the passion of people because their potential goes far beyond traditional boundaries. Within the virtual presence of the whole world and their cascading “paying forward” support, each place can overcome many of its limitations by climate, geography and historical factors. Global cultures offer an incredible array of choices for different development models, allowing people to develop collective individualities. It is in the best interest of all to make this a universal and inclusive development pathway. By filling needs of others, we enhance their capacities to contribute.

GIVE is active in developing global politics towards this type of “cooperative – individualistic” community development. We even work with large towns and large institutions to fractalize within and also acknowledge the opportunity for “mothercities” and “hubs” to thrive on the support requirements for the Global Villegiatura. Like the personal computer grew individual capacities, the next stage of the prosumer revolution lies in delivering tools and services to improve community capacities.”

(2) Global Village Learning Centers and Maker Spaces
Education is at the center of what we do, but it can be only defined meaningfully in a context of a community goal. On one side we study local education and resource centers with tools and content to join forces globally improving their local scope. On the other side these centers are also centers of community innovation, of meaningful encounters for locals and guests, they are places of self – definition and self – improvement.

We believe more and more technologies will increasingly mirror these values, allow us to turn the designs and schemes that we learned about and developed together in the “learning field” into tangible realities. Therefore it is important not to stay “bookworms”, but to know how we do best combine the power of learning and making; how spaces that realize dreams look like; what is their possible scope.

GIVE is therefore studying the many ways to boost the potential of local learning institutions, teach people to become entrepreneurial and cooperative, reclaim the skills that their grandfathers and grandmothers still had – and combine this with the latest in automation and production technologies. We study urban and rural models of different scope and specialisation. We even study historical examples of study and realisation like monasteries and see what might be retrieved and reactualized from these forms of learning spaces.

(3) High Tech Ecologies and Upcycling Economies
The goodbye to warfare economies means an increasing turn to local cycles, which requires interdisciplinary work with those who study the human societies metabolism with nature. The Metabolism of Global Villages is a complex one, requiring hundreds and thousands of processes, requiring new inventions and technologies and the revival of old knowledge.

GIVE is very interested in cradle to cradle schemes, renewable resources and the possibility to create technologies that use non-toxic materials – that even become digested by the metabolism itself. We see natures cycles and nodes as a model for high technology, and we embrace the embedding of natural principles by sophisticated and complex human artefacts.

We distinguish Global Villages from the broader movement of Ecovillages by the simple notion that we might need more, not less technology to enable humans to fully cooperate with nature. GIVE aims at jointly with others creating innovation centers for advanced village technologies to be used appropriated to local cirumstances.

(4) Virtual University of the Villages and Open Source Culture
The networking of learning villages will eventually create wealth and growth superior to what the industrial age has delivered by the sheer multiplication and miniaturisation of productive capacities. In our view, it cannot be built on so-called intellectual property, but by a culture of sharing and joining pieces and bits of disrupted knowledge to integrated and holistic “pattern poems”. Therefore our next research goal is to find out about effective knowledge cooperation.

GIVE has been a partner in calling for the first Village Innovation Talk, a virtual event simultaneously connecting six villages in 6 different states of 2 countries. We also initiated the first Vienna Open Source Hardware Summit in May 2013. We advocate shared tasks and division of specialised practise, when it comes to improvements and experiments. Villages can be theme villages and share their findings with others. Thus a virtual university of the villages will emerge, a shared learning platform that connects local learning places and will be their lifeblood.

(5) Community Observatory and Networking
The arrival of a new societal pattern never happens simultaneously; we see “islands of progress” where – mostly as a result of visionary individuals – social life starts to take a different direction. Today, we see the advent of Global Villages by many different types of local developments like Ecovillages, Cohousing, Coworking, Intergenerational Villages, Theme Villages, we see dedicated networks like Transition Towns and others emerging.

GIVE aims to build up a reference system of existing and planned projects, be it local or thematic, or at least have a good understanding of the best references available. We started a global community back in 1997 called the “Global Villages Network” that we want to become increasingly active in connecting good practises, developing strategic initiatives and publically advocating Global Villages ideas. The backbone is thorough research on the state of the Global Villegiatura.

(6) Community Architecture and Optimum Health
Maybe one of the greatest theoretical breakthroughs of our time is Christopher Alexanders “Pattern Language”. Patterns are recursive structures that we use in everyday life and which support and enable the vitality of everything we do. Patterns are the obvious or less obvious solutions to problems – which can be researched, identified and taught. Patterns bridge theory and practise, they allow us to include non – experts in shaping our world. Patterns span from architecture to computing, and yet pattern theory is still at the beginnings.

GIVE uses pattern theory and methodology to organize knowledge and guide research. Whilst Alexander was referring to cities, we seek for optimun patterns of smaller forms of settlement. We seek for helpful and balancing patterns in the relationship of man and nature; we seek for empowering patterns in social life. We are convinced that there are universal laws of optimization and yet a large degree of human freedom and inventiveness at the same time. The ultimate purpose of our work on villages is in achieving health and happiness. We think that finding the organic relations between man and environment is the key to both.

(7) Acting locally, thinking globally
Organizing our life more centered about the local as the stage where the global just appears as mutual support (and not as an empire) will require a lot of changes in human behaviour and values; on the other side, it will give people an unprecedented freedom to shape particular value systems that only need to work in particular local settings. Instead of homogenous industrial societies we will find a very colorful diversity of lifestyles and an environment fostering inventiveness and creativity. Yet this cultural diversity is embedded in a system of relations and the tendency to even manage global commons by dedicated communities.

GIVE is seeking to find patterns that foster at the same time global intercultural cooperation and local cultural intensification. We are not only working with scientists, but also with artists and activists who express and enable these complementing requirements. We do assume there are cultural universals, seek them out and include them in our work.
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