Historic Software

May 29, 2018

I have been viewing CGI movies of historical sites and periods with an eye to patterns of urban growth. In particular, this one that takes detailed looks at Paris through various periods within 2000 years of development.


I’m not in a position to argue for or against the historical truth of any of the images imagined, but they sure make the study interesting.  The highly mobile views create an exciting learning experience and just about enough time was spent on each chronological example to keep both the information and the visual activity flowing.

The wonders of super-fast processing would have little value without the content to make it worthwhile. And thanks to YouTube.


Ain’t That The Truth

May 14, 2018

Mo’ Bikes On The East Side

April 23, 2018

As previewed at the last GWAC meeting, we now have more details on the expansion of the MOBI bike sharing system to more of the East side.  The Vancouver Courier reports that:

“Fifteen new bike share stations have been installed in the Mount Pleasant and Commercial Drive area. It’s part of an overall expansion of the bike rental system into East Vancouver that will see another 35 stations in place by summer, for a total of about 50 new stations and 500 bikes being made available in that part of the city.”

In Grandview, the new stations are at:

  • Woodland and 10th
  • Commercial and 10th
  • Commercial and 8th
  • Grandview Hwy (near Commercial)
  • Commercial and 4th
  • Commercial and 2nd
  • Commercial and Grant
  • Commercial and Charles
  • Commercial and Napier

The Courier adds that two more stations will be installed in East Vancouver next week at these sites:

  • Commercial and Adanac (bike route)
  • Adanac and McLean (bike route)

The Mobi by Shaw Go service area now includes the Downtown Peninsula, roughly bounded by Victoria Drive, Arbutus Street, 16 Avenue, to the Burrard Inlet and into Stanley Park.  With the present expansion, they are clearly making sure they catch the influx of commuters at the ever-growing Broadway & Commercial transit nexus.

More importantly, I think it is a signal that this kind of integrated mobility system isn’t going away anytime soon, and will only get better as innovation and feedback drive the process forward.

Reason #232 NOT to use Facebook

April 4, 2018

After all the scandal and revelation over the last couple of weeks of bad governance at Facebook, I am shocked and amazed that anyone still has an account there.

I truly believe that people are mindlessly surrendering themselves to the corporation for a quick buzz and constant contact. It is sad. Sad mostly because these chickens WILL come home to roost for everyone concerned. This may all seem a little like some titanic battle over how elections are run and won (correct at one level), but it has very important aspects much closer to home to do with your personal identity, your ability to freely choose, and your possible futures.

I would have hoped that the shenanigans revealed this week would make these series of posts irrelevant.  But I haven’t seen the kind of mass move to leave FB that reasonably should have happened by now.  So, I guess, I’ll just keep count of the staggeringly large number reasons NOT to use Facebook.


Previous Reasons NOT to use Facebook

Reason #232 NOT To Use Facebook

March 26, 2018


Previous Reasons NOT to Use Facebook

Book Review: “Move Fast and Break Things”

March 21, 2018

Global headlines this week about the follies of Facebook provided the perfect backdrop for reading Jonathan Taplin’s “Move Fast and Break Things” in which he describes the damage to culture and society caused by Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

Taplin is well placed to tell this story, having begun his multiple careers working with the Band and Bob Dylan before moving on to become a film producer (“Mean Streets”, “The Last Waltz”, “Until the End of the World”, etc). He joined the University of Southern California faculty in 2004 and is now the Director Emeritus of the Innovation Lab at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The author is therefore well versed in the cultural aspects of his subject; however, early on, he notes that “[w]hat I mistook as only a culture war is an economic war … Monopoly, control of our data, and corporate lobbying are at the heart of this story.”

The Big Three (Facebook, Google/Alphabet, and Amazon) are rentiers of the classic type, with their monopolies of a scarce and valuable resource. Taplin notes that they have been allowed to become so powerful because “since the rise of the Internet, policy makers have acted as if the rules that apply to the rest of the economy do not apply to Internet monopolies.”  He explains this with an in-depth look at how the technology companies have mastered regulatory capture, which “is the process by which regulatory bodies eventually come to be dominated by the very industries they were charged with regulating.”

Mark Zuckerberg/Peter Thiel

Taplin spends some time discussing the Ayn Rand-style libertarianism of technology leaders such as Peter Theil, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerburg; and he provides a useful history of corporate dominance stretching from Hamilton’s victory over Madison and Jefferson through Robert Bork’s free market philosophy and on to the victory of the corporations in the Citizens United case. Noting that “the average citizen has voluntarily (though unknowingly) turned over to Google and Facebook far more personal information than the government will ever have,” he declares that the “tightening monopolization of US industry is rendering America an oligarchy” with profound and disturbing consequences for democracy.

Taplin quotes Robert McChesney: “many of the successful [Internet] giants … were begun by idealists who may have been uncertain whether they really wanted to be old-fashioned capitalists. The system in short order has whipped them into shape.”  And just this week, Roger B. McNamee, an early investor in Facebook, was quoted in the New York Times as saying: “I couldn’t believe these guys I once knew so well had gotten so far off track.”

Move Fast” is larded with interesting vignettes from the music, film, and computer industries, many of which are written with first-hand experience. Taplin is an excellent writer, moving fluently from one part of the story to the next, never getting bogged down in the details but ensuring we have the necessary information.

The book finishes with Taplin’s proposals for how this situation could be reversed. He suggests a local control model such as in Chattanooga which controls broadband as a local utility; or turning telecommunications into a “natural utility” regulated by federal government agencies; or using a co-op model for all content creation. However, sadly, he doesn’t really succeed in convincing us that any of these solutions will happen anytime soon.

Move Fast and Break Things” (2017, Little Brown & Co) is available at the People’s Coop Bookstore on Commercial Drive.

I Love Colour

March 14, 2018

I love colour. I try to show this is in my art work and photographs with varying degree of success. The always valuable Creative Report brings me news of a new book called “The Atlas of Rare and Familiar Colour” that really intrigues me.

The shelves of the Forbes Pigment Collection, based in Harvard University’s Art Museum buildings, are organised mostly by hue. The effect of this “curious chromatic ordering” ensures that the archive resembles “an installation exploring the very nature of painting”, as colour historian Victoria Finlay writes in the foreword to An Atlas of Rare & Familiar Colour, a new book that catalogues highlights from the collection. Published by Atelier Éditions, the Atlas features images by photographer Pascale Georgiev of a handful of the collection’s 2,500 rare pigments and examines their material composition, providence and application …

Violet de Cobalt

Many of the colours are rare and some are unlikely to be made ever again. Finlay writes that Indian Yellow, for example, originally came from the urine of cows that had been fed mango leaves, while Mummy Brown – as the name suggests – really was collected from the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptians (and was still available in London in the 1920s, courtesy of Roberson).

Wonderful stuff!