5th Germiest tourist attraction

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The Gum Wall in Seattle is a monument to human behaviour.

The wall is outside a theatre and this all began in 1993 when patrons would stick gum to the wall while waiting for a performance. Theater company workers said began to scrape the gum routinely, but eventually gave up. Slowly the gum amassed.

The Broken Escalator Phenomenon

We’ve all experienced it. The weird way our brain always assumes an escalator is moving, even when it’s stationary. Well trust it to science to investigate the reasons and psychology behind it:

“We investigated the physiological basis of the ‘broken escalator phenomenon’, namely the sensation that when walking onto an escalator which is stationary one experiences an odd sensation of imbalance, despite full awareness that the escalator is not going to move…The findings represent a motor aftereffect of walking onto a moving platform that occurs despite full knowledge of the changing context. As such, it demonstrates dissociation between the declarative and procedural systems in the CNS. Since gait velocity was raised before foot-sled contact, the findings are at least partly explained by open-loop, predictive behaviour. A cautious strategy of limb stiffness was not responsible for the aftereffect, as revealed by no increase in muscle cocontraction.”

from The broken escalator phenomenon. Aftereffect of walking onto a moving platform.

Personally, I rather like the feeling. However I think my quest to always “ride” a broken escalators has disappointingly educated my brain to understand that an escalator can have two states: moving and stationary.

The Urban Guide for Alternate Use

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Some other very similar investigations going on from Scott Burnham for the Exchange Radical Moments! Festival. Burnham is putting together a manual for urban hacking. It’s very much in tune with what I was talking about in a previous post about giving communities the tools and opportunity to try to re-imagine their surroundings. In this case Burnham’s key word is resourcefulness . From the Exchange Radical Moments Festival catalogue:

Resourcefulness has become one of the most important skills for people to develop today. What resources do you see being treated as waste in your city that could be used to benefit others?

The Urban Guide for Alternate Use is a catalogue of city-specific opportunities for resourcefulness within existing urban environments, compiled simply by asking the city’s residents to devise alternate uses for things already present in the city. It is a guide that acts as a catalyst for a new form of resourcefulness in the city, and as a communicative vehicle for exchange among residents.

For the festival Exchange Radical Moments, a guide will be created for one of the participating cities, filled with the ideas submitted by the city’s residents, as gestures of donation to their fellow citizens. The city guide will be written by the imagination and resourceful thinking of its residents, and can serve as an alternate guide to the city. Together the different submissions will form a powerful collection of insights into how people mentally and physically play with the urban landscape as a conglomeration of readymade objects ripe for intervention.

Took the words right out of my mouth. This alternative urban guide is so close to what this thesis project could become, that I’m definitely going to get on board when call for submissions arrives. In the meantime I aim to set up some workshops of my own.

Not a Number

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Taking on from my methodology research into computer errors translated into everyday life, I’ve started a flickr group pool to gather errors I, and others find.

If you have any evidence, please feel free to add them!

Aakash Nihalani and Nina Mrsnik

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Aakash Nihalani
Aakash Nihalani

Nina Mrsnik

What I like about these tape interventions is they’re so accessible – anyone could use tape and go round their city commenting on other ways to use their environment. It gives me an idea for a workshop I’m planning to do with some children in Stockholm – about re-imagining uses for their surroundings.

Designing Error

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Ingvild Stovring from the Oslo School of Architecture has produced something that is very much in tune with this thesis project. Stovring has produced a book, or more a form of error manual, on how errors can improve products and services. In her own words:

This project is about exploring unexpected outcomes. Is it possible to use errors as an inspiration and a generator for new, fresh ideas and design solutions? Instead of trying to avoid errors, I wanted to learn from them and explore how they could improve a service / design.

Today products are being produced by machinery that is so accurate and clever that mistakes seldom or never occur. This has lead to a homogenic appearance, where every product within its category looks almost the same. This can easily be described as a lack of “personality”.

Alot of the content look very much along the lines of my methodology into nonsense and computer errors in real life. I’m trying to get ahold of her book as I’m interested to see how’s she has categorised the errors and used them to create new designs.

Thanks to Stina for the link.

Grammer errors turns 60 year old man into ‘vandal’

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Frustrated by living in “St Johns Close”, in Turnbridge Wells, Mr Gatward decided to buy a can of black paint and a craft brush before correcting the name to “St John’s Close”.

The Mystery Town of Argleton

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Brilliant! I think this might just be a trap town. Argleton has so mislead users of Google Maps that online businesses have given it a postcode (L39), and if you google it you’ll find home, job and dating services as well as its nearest chiropractor.

via The Telegraph

Empathy + Signs

London Shibuya Crossing

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Photo via The Guardian
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Photo by Ookseer

London has launched their new crossing at Oxford Circusm based on the Shibuya ‘desire path’ model in Tokyo. It’s a brilliant piece of design thats has actual human behaviour at it’s heart, rather than a preconceived idea or persuasive approach. Basically this means that all those times you walked diagonally across a crossing, you can now do it in an environment specifically designed for this.

Click here for slideshow of Shibuya Crossing