Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Organization Man & Urban Spaces

This post is going to be a hodge podge of pictures, quotes and thoughts. Don't expect much.

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (Hat Tip teczno )

The strongest similarities are found among the world's largest cities. People in them tend to behave more like their counterparts in other world cities than like fellow nationals in smaller cities. Big-city people walk faster, for one thing, and they self-congest
Surely the Shared Context cause of this phenomena and it explains why Julia describes her short stay in Buenos Aires as San Francisco in Spanish.

Another work by , William Whyte is The Organization Man. More blockquotes from teczno:

We have, in sum, a man who is so completely involved in his work that he cannot distinguish between work and the rest of his life - and happy that he cannot. ... No dreams of Gothic castles or liveried footmen seize his imagination. His house will never be a monument, an end in itself. It is purely functional, a place to salve the wounds and store up energy for what's ahead. And that, he knows full well, is battle.

Pages 196-198, on strategies for personality tests:

When in doubt about the most beneficial answer to any question, repeat to yourself: I loved my father and my mother, but my father a little bit more. I like things pretty much the way they are. I never worry much about anything. I don't care for books or music much. I love my wife and children. I don't let them get in the way of company work.
I know this guy -- Organization Man. I've even been compelled to become this guy, but I can't. I'm not fit for that box but somehow... wish I was.

Pages 208-209, on pure vs. applied research:

The failure to recognize the value of purposelessness is the starting point of industry's problem. To the managers and engineers who set the dominant tone in industry, purposelessness is anathema, and all their impulses incline them to highly planned, systematized development in which the problem is clearly defined. ... In pure research, however, half the trick is finding out that there is a problem - that there is something to explain. The culture dish remained sterile when it shouldn't have.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has been making the same point while on his book tour for The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. He talks about how many medical breakthroughs were the result of accident while at the same time we poor scads of money into research that fails to deliver results.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I read on wikipedia that Whyte was a mentor of Jane Jacobs.


The term ChildFree is in the wikipedia but not in the Britannica encyclopedia. Talk about slow and stodgy. Evolve or die, folks.

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Fragments from the Pilgrimage of Yerma from the album "Lorca" by Enrique Morente

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