Cool Services

Just this Monday, during a brainstorming meeting for a new company, a friend of mine (Cody A. Ray) and I were paid one hell of a compliment (as we see it). See, the current team founding this company consists of five college-age guys, so I tend to think others my age are as up to date with the best of the software applications out in the market. Cody and I found out otherwise.

“How do you guys find all of these cool services?”

That was what all three of our teammates said when we began discussing (and demonstrating) our use of such applications as Remember the Milk (rmilk) and their integration with our igoogle and gmail. At the most basic level, these applications and their excellent user interfaces make for one hell of a project management system on the cheap. I personally look forward to the near future when we expand our “resume” to include the use of such services as those provided by lighthouse. I certainly find all of these to be lightyears better than the options of microsoft (though, I still love Office).

Anyways, our mutual answer to the question was that between the two of us we try almost every fancy (sometimes simple) shiny (sometimes rugged beta) new web service and/or application out there in addition to developing a few of our own.

Intellectual and Artistic Works

I stumbled upon a great statement while reading The Macintosh Way by Guy Kawaski.

“Macintosh software products are intellectual and artistic works. Like painting, sculpture, or music, they cannot be combined and remain either intellectual or artistic.”

This statement is exactly how I was thinking as I delivered my opinion during last year’s executive board review of Team A’s design development submission for the Drexel Smart House.
Although I do not generally group architecture with painting, sculpture, or art (believing it to be a higher evolution of all three forms) … I think in the future I will do so when referencing this statement in discussion of design and integrity.
Even better than this rather cut and dry statement is the situation that brought it about, that being the dilemma that developed between Apple and Ashton-Tate over the development of a database software for the Macintosh. When I read Guy’s narrative, I automatically find myself comparing it to the scene with the Drexel Smart House executive board as they were working through their decision. Put simply, certain members of the board perfectly fit the cast of Ashton-Tate’s Esber and Nussbaum.
Lastly, and a tad sadly, it should be pointed out that in architecture, unlike (or perhaps like) in software development, once a design is presented it is so very often mashed with other ideas … And if the designer is removed or replaced … Then the project will lose its spirit and no longer be intellectual or artistic (at least not as it once was).


“In high technology you never have enough data to make a completely informed decision, there are few precedents to copy, and the landscape changes as you try to paint it. It’s like shooting at a moving target from a moving platform in pitch-black darkness. Because of the rapid change, you need an organization that can quickly move, decide, change, and adapt.”

Philosophical Frameworks

There are many philosophers and theologians who seek to develop a suitable framework for their fellow man to operate within while seeking their particular answers to the following driving questions. At the heart of most of these systems are these questions …
  • Who am I? 
  • Why am I here? 
  • Where did I come from? 
  • Where am I going? 
  • What is the purpose of life?
How one answers the questions above will determine how we answer those below …
  • Why should I act? 
  • How should I act? 
  • What is good? 
  • What is to be sought?
Some argue that all men should answer similarly. Others, acknowledge the truth that though the people anywhere are truly the same as those here … we, as individuals will still find personal answers to these questions. How we answer will determine the quality and effectivenes of life.
How do you answer?

The Pressure of Progress

There is so much occuring. Many changes each day, like grains of sand moving through the hour glass. With fresh eyes we see the world as it is and as it is becoming.

Today, social media and tomorrow, the world. Our societies are fast merging, melding, coupling. In little time we will be one, brothers and sisters in our global community. As we progress we continue to adapt ourselves to our changing circumstances and to our changing technologies. Rarely do we regress.

As they change, so we change. For us to change smoothly we must recognize that our beliefs must now evolve in step with our changing behaviors.

What we know as the web, like most human inventions, is both a thing of good and a thing of evil. After all, it is a thing of human invention ripped from our common conscious. Still, most of us now know that as humans we will always be learning, it is one thing we do better than all others. We won’t stop.

Where we are now is powerful to think about. Where we are going is awe inspiring.

Small vs Big

This past week has been a cold one. Most days the temperature has been hovering between 0 and 15 degrees (with and without the wind-chill). My apartment has been without heat for a little over 3 weeks. This is the first week where it has become mildly annoying.

My current apartment has all wood floors. I have always loved this, as I prefer hard flooring to carpeting. That is, until tonight. Since getting home this afternoon I have had to twice hop into a steaming bath simply to regain some warmth. It is the oddest thing to have hot water at all of my taps but to have no hot water running to my hvac unit … sigh
Architecturally it is one of the oddest things to think about all of this. My apartment is loft style in a historic wood-structured building located in Philadelphia’s China Town. With ceilings nearing 14 feet, I imagine that the volume would be rather welcome should the air-conditioning unit ever break and be unable to cool the apartment during one of Philadelphia’s indian summers. Something to think about … poles.
In the summer, a condition (no hvac) can become a minor nuisance and perhaps a blessing as the electric bill will be less; this same condition (no hvac) in the winter months becomes more than a minor nuisance … of course, only after weeks of freezing weather.
So, is it better to have a smaller apartment or larger should the same problem occur?

Physical Determinism vs Cultural Difference

I need to thank my urban studio professors for somehow selecting me as the one student in our section to read Peter Calthorpe’s The Next American Metropolis in order to brief my peers.

The book is written by a practitioner and not a pure academic. It may just be me, but it appeals. I find it connecting with my interests exercised in Architecture and also those exercised in the Social Study of Science and Technology.

Here is an interesting selection for your reading pleasure:

The question of cultural and social determinism in relation to planning has been debated endlessly – to no conclusive result. Unfortunately, it is just as simplistic to claim that the form of communities has no impact on human behavior as it is to claim that we can prescribe behavior by physical design.


For example, a recent (1990’s) comparison study of ten-year olds in a small town in Vermont and a new suburb of Orange County showed that the Vermont kids had three times the mobility (distance and places they could get to on their own) while the Orange county kids watched four times as much TV.


Is this physical determinism or a cultural difference? The two come to be inseparable. Certainly the Orange County kids had fewer mobility alternatives given the physical structure of their neighborhoods, but their culture and peer group priorities may also have directed their behavior. Or perhaps the technology, cable TV, played the decisive role.

Source: Calthorpe, Peter. The Next American Metropolis. 1993. pp 9.