• Toby Shorin on how the internet has fueled a pirhanna-like feeding frenzy on new visual forms almost as soon as they pop up: "Cheap to produce, free to distribute, yet still impossible to meaningfully automate, aesthetic production is in a death spiral. The status associated with aesthetic novelty is eroding, and novelty itself has become increasingly difficult to eke out of a system in which everything is visible, accessible, and relativized." As he points out, the implications for the so-called creative class are huge, with fewer and fewer channels for achieving profit, and styles that might take months or years to develop getting absorbed and remixed over days and weeks. 

Engineering Communities:  



  • Redesigned trash bins are no match for the cleverness and dexterity of Toronto's raccoon population. Designers of cities and their systems have long sought to control nature, or keep it out of sight, but nature is persistent in its own iterations, and variable to the extreme over the long term. Eventually flood waters will surface the sewage beneath a city's streets, or clever pests draw out the trash we try to hide away. Try as we might, nature reminds us that we are part of it, and not the tidy technological machinery we invent to avoid it.

Material Culture: 

More next week.