Monthly Archives: May 2006

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This is great… A blog describing new acquisitions and goings-on at the library.

I have no idea if this is widespread now in libraries but it’s the first I’ve come across in my everyday life.


The NASA Ames Summer Studies of Space Habitats from the mid to late 1970s have recently been linked by BoingBoing and O’Reilly’s Make Blog, principly for the evocative, nostalgic images therein.

The text of the Summer Studies makes for fascinating read though. Here’s an extract from the 1975 study, suggesting that the future inhabitants of the L5 Lagrangian Libration point would be left to orginate their own forms of government and policing…

“Distance and isolation also affect the governance and social order. Whether space colonization is a unilateral effort on the part of the United States or a cross-national enterprise, it will most likely be sponsored by a public or quasipublic organization with a bureaucratic structure which permeates the early settlement. The sense of isolation may stimulate the organizational development of communities away from the organizational form of the sponsor as the interests and life circumstances of a rapidly growing population change and develop. The form of governance depends very much on the preferences of the settlers, in much the same way as allowances for individual choice have been emphasized in other considerations of life in space.

Maintenance of order and of internal as well as external security initially falls to the Earth-based sponsoring organizations and then to the organized community which is expected to rise early in the colony’s history. The small size of the settlement, combined with a rather precarious manufactured environment, may emphasize a concern for internal security. Any individual or small group could, in prospect, undertake to destroy the entire colony by opening the habitat to surrounding space, by disrupting the power supply, or by other actions which have few corresponding forms in Earth-based settings. Whatever organizational form the colonists evolve, it must be able to assure the physical security of the habitat and its supporting systems, and this need for security may infringe upon other desirable features of the colony and its operation.”

Surely there has to be a TV series or two here – Deadwood in Space? I guess a Russell T. Davies reboot of StarCops is out of the question…

My new favourite style of everything, as coined by Jonathan Glancey in his review of UN Studio’s Mercedes-Benz Museum:

What is difficult to grasp, until you have spent some time wandering around the building, is that this plan is far from being two-dimensional; instead, it curves and loops up and away from the floor in smooth concrete folds, twisting and turning in ways that makes floors become walls, and walls ceilings. The interior is, in fact, one fluid, continuously unfolding space.

More on computer-baroque soon, I hope.

Just part of a masterful rant about the state of architectural criticism from BLDGBLOG:

“The Archigram of today is not studying with Bernard Tschumi and openly imitating The Manhattan Transcripts. The Archigram of today works for Electronic Arts, has no idea who Walter Gropius is, and offers more insights about the future of urban design, space, and the built environment to more people, in more age groups, in more countries, than any practicing architectural critic will ever do, writing about Toyo Ito.
Videogames are the new architectural broadsides.”


* happens to be the title of a book about Archigram that I haven’t read yet…

I lost my ipod, so I am starting to lead a life outside of the Jobsian iHegemon for now – transfering MP3s to the memory card in my N70.

I wiped it and didn’t have time to put new ones on (although the ‘random fill’ feature in the new music manager app is proving quite good) so, for better or for worse, I have been listening over and over to Strictly Kev and Paul Morley’s “Raiding the 20th Century – Words and Music edition”.

As a result I am sitting in a room, and William Burroughs is reverberating around in my head:

“When you cut into the present, the future leaks out”

Pass the chainsaw, would you?

Over at Interactive Architecture Dot Org, a report of Stephen Gage and Will Thorne’s “Edge Monkeys”:

The UCL EdgeMonkey robot, picture from

Their function would be to patrol building facades, regulating energy usage and indoor conditions. Basic duties include closing unattended windows, checking thermostats, and adjusting blinds. But the machines would also “gesture meaningfully to internal occupants” when building users “are clearly wasting energy.” They are described as “intrinsically delightful and funny.”

I applaud the idea, and (for now) look forward to a world chock full of daemons and familiars helping us do the ecological-right-thing… but I think trying to make them “delightful and funny” would be a mistake.

Far better to make them slightly grumpy and world-weary – rather than have a insufferably jolly robot ask if you really want to leave that light on.

Who needs a planet of Clippy?