Sunday, March 30, 2014

Technological Turn of Events!

In a fascinating turn of technological events...

cue the return of the Post-It note: back in full force and then some!

Hurricane Design Proposal

I love when your everyday artist becomes an architect.  I've always said that something many architects and designers lose is their ability to relate with real people and to create solutions that are outside of the proverbial "box."  So when I saw that Dionisio Gonzalez created an idea for hurricane-resistant homes on the shores of Dauphin Island, I was, needless to say, giddy.

These are unbuilt, hypothetical structures but they are a great theoretical project that begs a few important questions.  Why simply continue to rebuild temporary structures each year that become devastated at the first hurricane of the season?  Why waste time, materials, energy, and memories that these people lose forever, on a seasonal basis?  Why not think bigger?  Why not consider alternatives that could be a permanent addition to the lives of these people and the shores that they call home, live from, love, and respect?

I am no often one to say "build on the beach," or "try to be more permanent than nature" because neither of these are usually in line with the sustainable principles that I hold dear, but to design something permanent means less waste.

I don't know if Gonzalez's structures would work structurally.  I don't know if the transparent material could be protected from the wind and debri nor if the concrete and steel could withstand the rising tides and crushing waves.  But I do know that if no one ever tries then nothing will ever change.  These people who live from the sea will continue to build and will continue to lose cyclically.  So I sincerely appreciate Gonzalez's effort to open the conversation about designing for permanency that lasts beyond just the next sucker who will buy a property, or 'til the end of a season for a big box store.  T

his conversation isn't just about Dauphin's about the way we build all over the world.  Can we utilize our resources?  Can we build to respond to our environment?  Can we build things that last like the pyramids and the Parthenon?  Or will we continue to turn our nose up at nature, only to have her strike us back down?  When we design with the environment in mind, we design with ourselves in mind.  Maybe that's how we need to begin to re-focus the way that we propose the changes.  When most people realize it's about them, they are more likely to pay attention and to take some stake in an idea.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Young People: Changing the World with Brilliant Minds!

Suvir Mirchandani, a 6th grader just a year ago, didn't procrastinate his mandatory science fair project and then make his parents do most of it the way that I pretty much remember my science projects going.  Instead, Suvir chose to USE his brilliant mind.  He chose to really look at sustainability and everyday life and wondered how he could make the best of some daily resource.  In this case: ink.

Suvir's project, aside from winning the fair, calculated the amount of ink utilized by different text fonts, and proved that the typeface Garamond (which is not an option at present on Blogger or I'd be using it starting today), utilizes 30% less ink than Times New Roman.  He applied this information to figures he found regarding the yearly U.S. Government spending done on printing costs, to find that a simple switch between the two, similar, fonts, could save the government, and therefore the tax-payers not just a little bit, but MILLIONS of dollars each year.  He mentioned the fact that Chanel perfume costs approximately 1/2 of an equal amount of ink for printing.  Garamond, a thinner, lighter font than TNR, could, essentially also cut down on the paper use, given that it takes up less space horizontally per line.

Suvir didn't make that his science project this year in 7th grade, however.  Instead, having made a point (a multi-million-dollar point, at that!), he moved on to a project that allows disabled computer users to navigate the web solely with their eyesight and brain power, utilizing an electrode-based headset to measure "focus" and eye-tracking to gage which link the user would like to open in order to navigate.

And that's just one year in the life of a 15 year old who is already changing the world with his ability to design projects that give us real results.  Great work, Suvir!  You've inspired full-grown adults, and I hope we all can learn from you that our ability to change the world is stymied only by the glass ceilings that we build for ourselves.  Great work!

See the full story and video with this young genius here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Looping technology at your musical fingertips!

The first time I remember hearing about "looping" technology for music, I was in college.  A popular musical artist, at the time, was on stage in our university gymnasium and looped his voice to perform a song.  My fellow students had begun screaming at him calling him a lip-sync artist before he screamed profanities back at them and tried to show them how it worked.

Years later...what once seemed like either lip-syncing or black magic is now something everyone can do with just the tap of a finger (and some musical talent).  It brings a whole new meaning to the term "one man band."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Homelessness. Housing. RealTalk.

Granted...many of these are not currently in safe and habitable conditions...but they COULD be.
We have to re-evaluate waste.
We have to reuse and revitalize what we have.
We need to help those who have not.

The country has a wealth of people, information, opportunities, good...
we have to start utilizing these in smarter and more efficient and more positive ways.
Otherwise...what are we all doing here?

Wifi Trees...perspective.

We should probably plant some more trees.