Is Bauhaus relevant to 21st century design?

Is Bauhaus relevant to 21st century design?

The Bauhaus movement in Germany, roughly 1919-1933, marked a major turning point for design and its role in society. It exerted a powerful and influential role in the development of artist style. But today, for many designers, it is more of a historical curiosity than a role model. Why? What has changed?

The Bauhaus grew out of crafts and the fine arts. Its focus was style and form. Although it had a huge amount of influence, today that influence is muted by the heavy artistic emphasis. There was little emphasis upon the people for whom the objects were being designed, no discussion about practicality or everyday usage. Even in architecture, the emphasis was form, not the people who had to suffer living and working in the clean, sterile environment that the architects championed.

The Bauhaus movement provides an interesting paradox. Although it had a great cultural impact upon design as art, it failed to produce any single object that changed people’s lives in any fundamental way. Why didn't the Bauhaus rethink the nature of things, of the way that products impact people’s lives and activities? Today, designers relish the opportunity to invent entirely new ways of working, playing, and living. Instead, at the Bauhaus, the emphasis was on simplicity, which is fine as long as one is designing simple things, such as kitchen tools, tableware, and jewelry. But the world is complex, so too must be the things that enable us to work within this world (Norman, 2010). Complexity is a fact of life. Simplicity, on the other hand, is in the mind – it is the designer’s task to make the complex understandable and usable. And when a complex thing is easy to understand, we call it “simple.”

Read more (Don Norman, LinkedIn)

Invasion of the invasion: the most absurd and invasive tech screw-ups and contraventions of recent years

Invasion of the invasion: the most absurd and invasive tech screw-ups and contraventions of recent years

Chris Gilliard, a "professor and snowboarder" resident at Macomb Community College in Michigan, USA put an interesting question to Twitter over the Christmas period: "What’s the most absurd/invasive thing that tech platforms do or have done that sounds made-up but is actually true?". Our clear and present dystopia offered up hundreds of responses, to which we have summarised the best in this article.

All in all, it makes for some grim reading.

Continue reading

A city is not a computer

A city is not a computer

“What should a city optimize for?” Even in the age of peak Silicon Valley, that’s a hard question to take seriously. (Hecklers on Twitter had a few ideas, like “fish tacos” and “pez dispensers.”) 1 Look past the sarcasm, though, and you’ll find an ideology on the rise. The question was posed last summer by Y Combinator — the formidable tech accelerator that has hatched a thousand startups, from AirBnB and Dropbox to robotic greenhouses and wine-by-the-glass delivery — as the entrepreneurs announced a new research agenda: building cities from scratch. Wired’s verdict: “Not Actually Crazy.” 2

Which is not to say wise. For every reasonable question Y Combinator asked — “How can cities help more of their residents be happy and reach their potential?” — there was a preposterous one: “How should we measure the effectiveness of a city (what are its KPIs)?” That’s Key Performance Indicators, for those not steeped in business intelligence jargon. There was hardly any mention of the urban designers, planners, and scholars who have been asking the big questions for centuries: How do cities function, and how can they function better?

Of course, it’s possible that no city will be harmed in the making of this research. Half a year later, the public output of the New Cities project consists of two blog posts, one announcing the program and the other reporting the first hire. Still, the rhetoric deserves close attention, because, frankly, in this new political age, all rhetoric demands scrutiny. At the highest levels of government, we see evidence and quantitative data manipulated or manufactured to justify reckless orders, disrupting not only “politics as usual,” but also fundamental democratic principles. Much of the work in urban tech has the potential to play right into this new mode of governance.

Read more (Places Journal)

Why openness, not technology alone, must be the heart of the digital economy

Why openness, not technology alone, must be the heart of the digital economy

When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440 it was, just as the internet has been in our time, a revolutionary development. Before the printing press, it is estimated there were just 30,000 books in all of Europe. Fifty years later, there were more than ten million. Over the next 500 years Gutenberg’s invention would transform our ability to share knowledge and help create the modern world.

Continue reading

Web Curios 15/12/17

Another year done, then. Almost 12 months of getting up and sometimes going to work and coming home and eating and shitting and crying and what have I got to show for it?

Well, 33 Web Curios, approximately 230,000 words of prose, some 6,000-odd links and incipient carpal tunnel, as it happens, so IN YOUR FACE 2017!

So that was the year that was. No recap, no recriminations, certainly no predictions. I am DONE with this, and I hope you nearly are too. For those of you who don't make it to my heartfelt message at the bottom, let me deliver it once again up top - thanks for reading, and I hope you're all ok. 

Take care, happy holidays, and try not to let anything bad happen. This, as ever, will be Web Curios. Happy Holidays.

Continue reading

Web Curios 08/12/17

So, how was it for you? As you peeled the crusted lids from each other at the alarm's insistence this morning, gingerly ran the cracked, dried sponge of your dessicated tongue over the crenellated horrors that your lips seemed to have become, tentatively explored your nostrils to dislodge the lignocaine rocks obstructing the airflow, and took the first, sweet sup of the foul soup that was your morning breath, was it with a sense of fear and regret? WHAT DID YOU DO? WHO WITH? WHO SAW?

Yes, that's right, it is OFFICE PARTY SEASON! Last night was, as far as I can tell, the BIG ONE when it came to friends and acquaintances of mine having their annual ethanol celebration, so how was it for you? What tales, what gossip, what larks

I don't tend to go to office parties (this will no doubt shock you - "surely", I imagine you thinking, "surely someone with Matt's sunny demeanour and effervescent outlook on life is simply FIGHTING off the invites of a December?" well, readers, let me disabuse you of that notion) which is probably for the best; the first one I ever attended, in my second ever week of proper, full-time employment, ended with me drunkenly telling the MD of the company I'd joined that the whole industry was utterly vile and disgusting, potentially even morally  wrong, and I didn't think I could keep doing it (I lasted three years).

Anyway, I hope YOURS was fun, whatever you got up to. As we bask happily in the glory of a Brexit deal achieved (you know that Churchillian "This is not the end; this is not even the beginning of the end..." spiel? Yes, well, exactly), let me apply the following stinking poultice of words and links and images to your sweating brow - or, alternatively, maybe just head to the pub for lunch and DON'T COME BACK. 

THIS, AS EVER, IS WEB CURIOS!

Continue reading

Most of the code on GitHub is non-original

Most of the code on GitHub is non-original

If GitHub has a mission, it would be to act as the world's repository for open source code. While that's an honourable position, it brings with it an element of exploitation. This has been proven, albeit indirectly, by a team of university researchers based in the Czech Republic and the USA.

Continue reading

Web Curios 01/12/17

So, as we roll into the final month of 2017, punch-drunk and reeling and with the very real sense that whilst it's been a tough one this is not the final round, oh no siree, let's take a moment to consider that in 11 short months we've gone from a position of vague hope that it couldn't possibly be as bad as 2016 and maybe all the doom mongering is a bit much to a world in which the President of the US can actively endorse the message of a fringe bunch of racist lunatics and doesn't even have to justify himself. Meanwhile Bitcoin's wobbling like a fat trapeze artist and everyone's a wanker or a rapist - it's fair to say that things haven't panned out quite as we might have wished.

But! What is that light I see yonder? Is that the Christmas star, bringing joy and light and hope to all who bask in its nighttime glow? Or is the light at the end of the tunnel merely the headlamp of yet another train, careening towards us at unconscionable pace? WHO KNOWS? NOT I! All I know that this is the THIRD-LAST CURIOS OF THE YEAR, and as such is full of even more bile, spleen, fear and uncertainty than usual. The penny in your pudding, the cloves in your mulled wine, the coal in your stocking, the unwanted present under your tree, the knowledge that all of the material goods in the world won't compensate for that very real feeling that assails you in that weird hinterland time between Christmas and New Year that this, frankly, is it, this strange interregnum of drunkenness and indigestion, this is all you really want because it's the closest thing to being able to turn it all OFF that you will ever get...WEB CURIOS IS ALL OF THIS AND MORE!

Sorry, I'm a touch tired this week, I'm sure it'll pass. NOW TO THE LINKS!

Continue reading

Talking about my graduation: a journey into the heart of the dark ages with the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

Talking about my graduation: a journey into the heart of the dark ages with the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

 

The JAMs were my first love.

Long before they became The KLF, and had massive worldwide hits with What Time Is Love?, 3AM Eternal and the rest, I fell in love with The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu through the pages of the weekly music press. Their records were impossible to find when you'd just turned 16 in a West Yorkshire village, but on Janice Long's Radio 1 evening show they sounded as funny, exciting and inspiring as those interviews with Rockman Rock and King Boy D in Sounds and Melody Maker would suggest. They were primitive sonic smash & grabs, blatant cut-ups that didn't so much use samples as huge raw chunks of other peoples' songs, mashed up and welded into lumbering impossible new beasts that should never have been born. They stole only from the best: The Beatles, Abba, Samantha Fox. The resulting crush collisions were shocking, irreverent, hilarious and simultaneously very dumb and very clever, like all great art should be. They were sound collages, making their points and creating new realities through juxtaposition: colliding different ideas to see what would happen.

Continue reading

Web Curios 24/11/17

Gah! So much to do, so little time! This intro is necessarily going to be on the short side as I have STUFF to be getting on with and to be honest I imagine that most of you are going to be far too busy buying VAST QUANTITIES OF STUFF to be bothered with links today. 

Amidst the babble, clamour and NOISE of Black Friday, then, take a moment to lie back and let the soothing waves of webspaff wash over your beetled brow and troubled countenance - it's apparently great for the complexion. Web Curios!

Continue reading

British emerging artists wanted for Brazil residency

British emerging artists wanted for Brazil residency

The British Council Brazil and People’s Palace Projects are offering a residency for emerging UK artists in Brazil.

Continue reading

Web Curios 17/11/17

Russia! Sexpests! Brexit! Mugabe! And that's just the past 6 hours I've been writing this damn thing. Web Curios may take a week off but the world certainly doesn't, as evidenced by the absolute tsunami of links about to engulf you. 

I am tired, you are tired, we are ALL tired. As we limp towards the end of 2017, I can't be the only one whose general sense of 'well, that was the year that was' reflection that used to accompany the the imminence of December has been replaced by a sense of trepidation and a very real fear about how much worse it's all going to get in 2018.

God, it's good to have me back, isn't it?

Anyway, with no further ado let us smear ourselves with clunkily metaphorical honey, stretch ourselves out in the infoforest and await the ravening maws of the WEBSPAFF BEARS (no, I know that doesn't work at all, but seriously, I have been typing for literally hours and I am somewhat enervated) - THIS, AS EVER, IS WEB CURIOS!

Continue reading

The KLF want you to burn the Shard

The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu aka The KLF aka Rockman Rock and KingBoy D aka The Timelords aka Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty have invited all comers to do one thing in November: Burn the Shard.

Continue reading

Something is wrong on the internet

Something is wrong on the internet

As someone who grew up on the internet, I credit it as one of the most important influences on who I am today. I had a computer with internet access in my bedroom from the age of 13. It gave me access to a lot of things which were totally inappropriate for a young teenager, but it was OK. The culture, politics, and interpersonal relationships which I consider to be central to my identity were shaped by the internet, in ways that I have always considered to be beneficial to me personally. I have always been a critical proponent of the internet and everything it has brought, and broadly considered it to be emancipatory and beneficial. I state this at the outset because thinking through the implications of the problem I am going to describe troubles my own assumptions and prejudices in significant ways.

One of so-far hypothetical questions I ask myself frequently is how I would feel about my own children having the same kind of access to the internet today. And I find the question increasingly difficult to answer. I understand that this is a natural evolution of attitudes which happens with age, and at some point this question might be a lot less hypothetical. I don’t want to be a hypocrite about it. I would want my kids to have the same opportunities to explore and grow and express themselves as I did. I would like them to have that choice. And this belief broadens into attitudes about the role of the internet in public life as whole.

I’ve also been aware for some time of the increasingly symbiotic relationship between younger children and YouTube. I see kids engrossed in screens all the time, in pushchairs and in restaurants, and there’s always a bit of a Luddite twinge there, but I am not a parent, and I’m not making parental judgments for or on anyone else. I’ve seen family members and friend’s children plugged into Peppa Pig and nursery rhyme videos, and it makes them happy and gives everyone a break, so OK.

But I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down.

Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level. Much of what I am going to describe next has been covered elsewhere, although none of the mainstream coverage I’ve seen has really grasped the implications of what seems to be occurring.

Continue reading

Web Curios 03/11/17

Whilst the vast majority of me is gladdened at the shining of the LIGHT OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE which is being shone on the Palace of Westminster, another, smaller part of me is also enjoying the absolute bemusement being displayed in some sections of the Italian media at this; "he touched her knee?" is the general tone amongst much of the commentariat, "You mean there weren't even any sex parties? AMATEURS!"

Anyway, we certainly shouldn't look to Italy for guidance on any of this (witness, if you're unaware, the country's recent charming reaction to its daughter Asia Argento being at the centre of some of the Weinstein revelations); instead, let's all instead take bets on who the urolagniaphile is (also, I was asking the BIG QUESTIONS about this on Twitter should you care or indeed have any answers).  Not that there's actually anything wrong with that - shall we instead focus on the actual issues of power and control at the heart of all this Westminster gossip? No? Oh, fine, please yourselves. 

Anyway, Curios is early this week as I have a genuinely terrifying meeting at 2pm before which I need to spend a good hour or so sweating nervously in a corner, so on that note I am going to GET RIGHT ON WITH IT. Get into the tub, make yourself comfortable and prepare to bathed in the warm, fresh infostreams - you can choose to imbibe if you so desire, but bear in mind it does get awfully cold if you wallow in it. THIS, AS EVER, IS WEB CURIOS!

Continue reading

Brexit, the slap across the face

Brexit, the slap across the face

As a 25-year-old entrepreneur living in London, I am aware that Brexit will have the biggest impact on my generation, whether this is for better or for worse. We will be the ones forced to live the entirety of our lives with the decisions made by the government and any implications that may accompany this. Brexit will be a gamble… one that we did not want then or now.

Continue reading

Chump change: decrypting Bitcoin and Blockchain

Chump change: decrypting Bitcoin and Blockchain

At the 9th Berlin Biennale, artists Simon Denny and Linda Kantchev presented Blockchain Visionaries (2016), an exploration and celebration of the blockchain phenomena. Denny, a self-professed enthusiast described the blockchain as, "a great model for dreaming dreams and telling a diverse and divergent set of new (and not so new) stories about how the world might organize in the future". Similarly, in his New York show Blockchain Future States (2016) Denny set out to investigate ‘three financial companies at the forefront of Bitcoin’: Ethereum, 21 Inc. and Digital Asset. In the press release his gallery stated: "At a moment when public debate spotlights a global governance system that seems to ignore the needs of many of its participants, starkly contrasting visions for alternative political systems are emerging. What would a world look like where the collusion of an elite few would be rendered technically impossible? Can a truly inclusive global future exist?"

Whilst expressing a political vision familiar from any article on cryptocurrency, the bland inferences about a tech fix for ‘elite’ power read as a bromide. On closer inspection some of these assertions have a lineage that is far from emancipatory, however.

The art world is ardently advocating for Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies. For instance, it has recently been suggested that the blockchain might ensure a system by which artworks are provided with trustable provenance (‘a spreadsheet in the sky’); or used to enforce contractual obligations; or to establish a ledger so that artists are paid any royalties due. There is even a scheme to encourage small investors to acquire tiny portions of famous masterpieces – a form of fractional ownership that is clearly derived from the Bitcoin paradigm. Behind the digital dreaming much of this ‘utopianism’ appears as an effort to shore up value in the art market, which has been sagging ever since the 2008 crisis. None of this is particularly surprising given that art has long been a form of speculative investment, but this indicates how Bitcoin and blockchain boosterism regularly disguise baser imperatives (whether the boosters are themselves aware of it).

Read more (Mute)

Web Curios 27/10/17

I had to actually do some work yesterday - some ACTUAL THINKING - for the first time in what might actually have been months; it was hard, how do you people do it? This edition of Curios, then, is dedicated to YOU - whoever you are, whatever you do, I admire and appreciate your toil (this doesn't, of course, apply to the advermarketingpr drones - I know all about what you do, and you should feel ashamed) (as do I). 

It's also dedicated to all those of you who this week have succumbed to the first illnesses of the season and are reading this sat at home, surrounded by tissues, with red-rimmed eyes and an entirely unjustified sense of self-pity. DRINK YOUR CALPOL.

Anyway, another week of BAD MAN revelations this week culminated yesterday in what must be up there in the top 10 of 'wow, you really fcuked that up' non-apologies in the course of human history. If you haven't yet had the opportunity to check out Scoble's...extraordinary post, take a moment to read it and then marvel at exactly how intellectually deficient one would have to be to imagine that THAT is going to help you in any way. Leaving aside his status as a repellent lecher - one who, by all accounts, is being largely forgiven by the (male) upper echelons of the tech community for his excesses what with being a 'lovable rogue', so nice work, there, techbros, keep it up you awful self-optimising cancers, you - it's the language, the hubris, the sales pitch...seriously, it's amazing. Now let's sit back and see who other than cuddly Lord Rennard is going to be outed as a serial groper - FUN TIMES IN WESTMINSTER!

But we're not here to talk about any of that! We're here to delve deep into the freshly exhumed corpse of last week's web, burrowing through layers of faintly rotting epidermis, fat, flesh and muscle to the tasty, tasty marrow within. Come, my charming infomaggots, let's see if we can fatten up enough to make beautiful iridescent flies of ourselves - this, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!

Continue reading

Is efficiency killing brands?

Is efficiency killing brands?

Digital marketing has unleashed an obsession with efficiency and short-termism, one that's trading long-term brand-building for short-term ROI. We've put the golden goose in a battery farm of scientific efficiency, and it's killing the brand, business growth and profit.

Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Motorola, for example, have raised the issue recently. This past summer, the world's largest advertiser, P&G, announced it had slashed digital budgets by $140 million, and yet, sales still went up. In July, Motorola CMO Jan Huckfeldt went on the record saying, "If you want to revive a brand and you really want to build a brand quickly, if you bank on social and digital, it's not going to work."

Read more (Ad Age)

VW gets its brands in a twist

VW gets its brands in a twist

It's common knowledge that Volkswagen Group likes to mix its brands up. Easily the largest car company in Europe, its brands including Skoda, Seat, Audi and of course VW dominate our roads. Now, however, this family of brands is in trouble

Continue reading

EasyBlog - Search Blogs Module