Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Beauty of Reading (Books)

The lack of functioning monitor and wonder of summer have given me the opportunity to dive in and complete a few books that have been laying around unfinished. While I am intrigued by the Kindle and my sister espouses the merits of B&Ns' Nook - I still am drawn to the written word - on a page, collected in a binding with a cover. My summer reading has been varied - typically with multiple titles going at once. It's a wide range of titles from theory, planning, digital media, mapping, and food.

:: image via Jaunted

The release from constantly staying on top of the multitude of blogs out there (I have been subscribing to 100 or so...) which just become so much noise after a while. The web of information out there is great, but I'm less convinced of the usefulness of the digital media in landscape architecture - as the message is either: 1) aimed at a selective audience with feedback loops within that same audience, leading to some false concept of relevance; 2) exploring niche content with hyper-specificity that requires significant investment from a reader; 3) blogs regurgitating things from other blogs, etc. [or probably a combination of all of these]

It's amazing to see the explosion of new blogs out there focused on landscape and urbanism - which is a testament to the power of the media in allowing for a multitude of voices. Some have emerged and gone quickly away... others have grown in readership and voice. Whereas traditional media is often lacking (or at least less timely), the web allows easy startup, low-cost, and minimal editorial interference... making everyone their own publisher. While this is great, it's also created a somewhat disconnected conversation depending on your desires... and also creates significant work to maintain a wide net.

Ok, it's impossible - much as I described Twitter in the interview a few months back - a raging torrent of information that one dips their toe in occasionally - the blogosphere - or shall I say 'blogscape' has become similar - rather than a river (linear) it is an ocean that one must troll endlessly and sift through storms of content, vastness of space or more likely a garbage vortex littered with droppings from our day-to-day thought processes.

So this line of thinking (gleaning from the ocean of data) is probably going to change, as I feel less and less inclined to keep up with any of the blogs. Thus the blog (which holy crap is going on 3 years now) will undergo another iteration to be determined. It's always been a means to an end... and now the means perhaps are changing - evolving with a new business and a new focus. It's exciting, although difficult as I ponder what I leave behind in the old way of doing stuff. If reading a book is more exciting than reading a blog - I just have to go with it... productivity speaks for itself.

Anyway... back to summer reading of the physical sort, the good news is some upcoming book reviews/explorations on a few recent (and not so recent) volumes including:

Also on the docket is Topos 71 - Landscape Urbanism which should be a great read for the latest theoretical wanderings of some of the pioneers of the field along with some new voices. On that note, the transformation of LU to (fill in the blank) U continues with more review of the massive (Ecological Urbanism - aka 'The Brick')... building on part 1 and part 2 here...

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Now step away from the laptop, kindle, nook, blackberry, smartphone or whatever.


  1. I tend to agree books are more concentrated form of information about a subject and often better use of time. I have also recently found myself either reading more books or full length reports either in hard copy or ebook format rather than blogs. As you say blogs are often a feedback loop and why I am also looking at changing my blog WLA. I have found that more blogs are posting the same content (often with no source because its another landscape blog) I suspect many when die when the economy picks up.

    My blog was always about informing people about projects and giving LA's a platform but has morphed more into information loop. So, I have stopped posting so often and posting more quality content with images & videos which are better suited to the medium of blogs and the internet.
    Maybe the next iteration of your blog is podcast or videos? or a collection of your ideas in a book linked to your new company?

    Always enjoy your posts.

  2. Jason,

    If your still on the food and cities tip you should check out Tsukij: Fish Market at the Center of the World by Theodore Bestor. Really wonderful study on the organization and urbanism of one of the largest markets in the world.


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