Category Archives for: Organization

My Workflow for Written Expression

03 June 2016

Continuing the thought from the self-note from the last post:

[self-note: this was published using markdown, and is a good for testing it. The original text is in a text file in Dropbox. Can either copy the HTML from the text file using an application (Writebox) or use the WordPress markdown plugin. It seems I may have been playing with the formatting of highlights and notes, using unordered lists (via markdown), which led to some cosmetic updates to the CSS. I don’t know how to write a non-html-list in markdown using “\n- text”. I really sure hope all this messing with digital bullshit will make expressing thoughts easier during more active times in life…

It might be helpful to write down the workflow, perhaps minimizing it.

Here is my current workflow:
1. experience
2. think
– non-verbal / skip to action, oral (in the mind or out loud)
3. decide to write
– written is a choice among infinite choices of actions
4. express via writing to nearest material
– paper, public computer, smartphone
– audio recording an alternative worth considering
if written on physical material:
– 4.5 transcribe to digital text file
5. publish to WordPress

Here is my current workflow with current technology:
if using phone:
write via a writing (likely markdown-supported) smartphone application (Writebox, Plaintext [2], Byword)
copy text or HTML to clipboard
paste into WordPress [web browser (because the WordPress application sucks)]
– possibility: can purchase an update for Byword to publish to WordPress
— this [Byword publishing feature] might be worth purchasing*
— is it worth looking at alternative writing smartphone applications for publishing feature?: iaWriter*, Elements: Design, nvALT and WriteRoom*, MarsEdit, Ulysses (and Daedelus Touch), Desk [PM], Nebulous Notes. No. Stick to the simply wonderful Byword*.

if not:
write directly via WordPress (if near / convenient; it never is convenient)
write to a text file using Writebox
– Writebox is multi-platform, including web browsers, making it simple to use from any personal computer. This is the closing thing to physical paper.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Humanities, Literature, Organization, Personal, Philosophy of Literature, Thoughts

The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas

22 May 2016

[related writings: What is Worth Reading?, Notes on Translations of Ancient Literature, Lessons in Research of a Past Time, The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas]

Why Read? To map words with ideas? To get ideas? To talk about a certain subject? To help me express myself? To argue against how reality works? To compare the theories of reality of others with mine? To understand others’ minds? To gain factual historical knowledge?

Whatever the reason, one enters the world of written word. It’s worse than the world of gossip, because it’s far less fun. But surely there must be an efficient way to get the texts one wants? Find ideas about the things one is interested in?

To begin, one must know the kinds of literature.

kinds of literature

(from basic to large)

– including Wikipedia!

dictionary/encyclopedia of selected words/concepts/ideas
– ex. Dino, Franco Felluga – Critical Theory_ The Key Concepts (Routledge, Key Guides, 2015)

a dictionary/encyclopedia of a history of selected words/concepts/ideas
to communicate in a human language, it sometimes helps to use the terms other people created, for mutual understanding. Though, of course, one can just make up words for ideas one desires to express. That’s way more creative.
– also quite cool to see how words have changed meaning over time
– ex. Williams, Raymond – Keywords_ A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1985)
– ex. Nealon, Jeffrey T._ Giroux, Susan Searlsb – The theory toolbox _ critical concepts for the humanities, arts, and social sciences (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012)

selected text/reading
– a piece of writing/work
Penguin Great Ideas series

– usually has an annoying intro and preface and quote and thanks, can almost always skip them

selected works
– selected (multiple pieces of complete) writings of a single category, usually a single author
– ex. Benjamin, Walter, Peter Demetz – Reflections_ Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (Schocken, 1986)

– selected writings of a single category, the category could be a single author, literature from a period of time, or a category of knowledge. Of them, [selected writings of] a category (could be vague) of knowledge is the most important kind [of reader].
– ideally a reader contains all of the source texts needed for a class. Otherwise, it’s usually up to the teacher to grab a pieces of text from all sorts of places and give out copies. This may be the most efficient way to read, as one doesn’t waste time to fetch and gather several source materials, neither physically nor digitally
– ex. Leach, Neil – Rethinking Architecture_ A Reader in Cultural Theory (Routledge, 1997)
– (the Viking Readers, such as The Portable Beat Reader, mentioned under anthology fit here too)

anthology/sourcebook/source book

– selected writings of a single period of time?
this may be the most efficient way to understand a period of time, or the social development of minds of the time
there seems to be two kinds: fiction (poetry, [fiction] prose, drama, etc.) and non-fiction (history, biography, philosophy, essay, jouurnal/diary, travelogue, speeches, dialogues, letters, communicative action: verbal utterances that matter). Of the two, the second kind is superior, because it tells of real communicative actions. To simply understand: People in the past may have read Homer, Epic of Gilgamesh, and Journey to the West, but that clearly doesn’t represent the social reality of the world, and often, doesn’t affect the social reality at all, just as media (entertainment) in contemporary society doesn’t. The main use of literature to a historian is for the information, and it’s up to the historian to decipher what is fictional and what isn’t. Even then, it is better to read a history or biography [than fiction] written in or around that time to obtain more information [about that time].


– ex. the Viking Portable Library series, the ones that have “Reader” in the title
— I have a bunch of these at home. Although an experience to read, it was probably a one-time experience: to see how language change over time, how minds change over time, what people write, what people were thinking about, history of literature aesthetic, etc. Although the format of the books are wonderfully basic, they are best left in in random locations in one’s dwelling. I don’t desire to read any fiction, just as I didn’t desire to when I first began to read.
– ex. Mair, Victor H. – The Columbia History of Chinese Literature (Columbia, 2001)
– ex. many editors – The Norton Anthology of World Literature (W. W. Norton & Company, 2012)
this seems like quite the feat, check out the contents
— alternative: Longman Anthology of World Literature
a Goodreads list of anthologies
— see the eurocentrism yet?


– the terms sourcebook and the less commonly “source book” seem to be used for anthologies that mainly have translated writings (fiction and non-fiction), usually of ancient writings (as in probably written on stone or bamboo). “Source book” seems to be more commonly used for odd things like mysticism, table-top role-playing games, and science writings (because they are rarely read, except for a history of science).
– ex. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, Charles A. Moore – A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (Princeton, 1957)
– ex. Chan, Wing-Tsit (Chen, Rongjie) – A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton, 1969)
ex. Internet History Sourcebooks Project
— this is a wildly ambitious project covering ancient, medieval, modern, and even, though comprehensively covered, African, East Asian, Global, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, and some special things, like history of science, women’s history, LGBT history


– As I mention in Lessons in Research of a Past Time, there are many kinds of history books, mainly, political (traditional), social (modern), and specific social (modern). Similarly, there are many kinds of sourcebooks, thankfully, they can be divided into the same categories: social (modern) and social topic (modern, specific). A source political history book is the political (traditional) sourcebook.

social sourcebook

these kinds of anthologies of sources of social/everday/daily life may be one of the best ways to understand the society/culture of the past time. This is documentation of reality. This is the equivalent of watching a documentary film. There’s real knowledge to be had here. This is more important than philosophy. This was reality.
– ex. Bagnall, Roger S., Peter Derow – The Hellenistic Period_ Historical Sources in Translation (Blackwell, Sourcebooks in Ancient History, 2003)
— “This book presents in translation 175 of the most revealing documents that have survived on stone and papyrus from the Hellenistic period.”, ex. chapter: Social Relations and Private Life
– ex. Parkin, Tim and Arthur Pomeroy – Roman Social History_ A Sourcebook (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 2007)
— “this excellent resource covers original translations from sources such as inscriptions, papyri, and legal texts. Topics include: social inequality and class; games, gladiators and attitudes to violence; the role of slaves in Roman society; economy and taxation; the Roman legal system; the Roman family and gender roles.”
– ex. Shelton, Jo-Ann – As the Romans Did: A Sourcebook in Roman Social History (Oxford, 1998)
– ex. Dillon, Matthew, Lynda Garland – Ancient Greece: Social and Historical Documents… (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 2010)
– ex. Dillon, Matthew, Lynda Garland – Ancient Rome (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 2010)
— an observed trend: it seems critical theory publishers such as Routledge and Blackwell are on to publishing social sourcebooks, social topic sourcebooks, social histories, and social topic histories

social topic sourcebook

– Again, just as there are histories of social topics, there are sourcebooks of social topics. But as one can see, as the information becomes more and more organized, it becomes more and more insular, showing the ugly insular choice of elite schools’ publications of solely Western civilizations. As one proceeds toward the particular in the order of the organization of sources (primary, sourcebook, social topic sourcebook), the world becomes smaller. There are many primary sources that haven’t been translated. There are even more primary sources that haven’t been compiled into a handy sourcebook. And there can be an infinite amount of social topic sourcebooks.
– ex. Yardley J.C., Iain Mcdougall, Mark Joyal – Greek and Roman Education: A Sourcebook (Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World)
– ex. Wiedemann, Thomas – Greek and Roman Slavery (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 1980)
– ex. Asmonti, Luca – Athenian Democracy: A Sourcebook (Bloomsbury Sources in Ancient History)
– let’s just use one social topic: women’s history:
by using one example, women in history, one can already the amount that has been and can be written, and one can see what people choosing to focus on / be socially aware about. People still read eurocentric sources, then write social histories about them! What a crazy insular world the world of physically printed material is. And most are published very recently! It seems, historians, stuck in the printed world, have perpetuated insulation as opposed to doing their sole job: to write new histories.
– ex. MacLachlan, Bonnie – Women in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook (Bloomsbury Sources in Ancient History, 2012)
– ex. MacLachlan, Bonnie – Women in Ancient Rome: A Sourcebook (Bloomsbury Sources in Ancient History, 2013)
– ex. Rowlandson, Jane – Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt: A Sourcebook (Cambridge, 1998)
– ex. Johnson, Marguerite, Terry Ryan – Sexuality in Greek and Roman Literature and Society: A Sourcebook (Routledge, Sourcebooks for the Ancient World, 2005)
and so the social problem of media [todo: link] continues. All other societies in any other space or time are ignored [excluded].

history of literature (or a kind of literature)
– selected writings of a period of time with writings to introduce the works
– in case one doesn’t feel like using Wikipedia while reading an anthology, this can be more or less efficient as reading an anthology, depending on the supplemental writing and formatting of the book
– ex. Lin, Yutang, many others – The Wisdom of China and India (arhive.org, 030122mbp)
– ex. Russell, Bertrand – History of Western Philosophy (Routledge, 1945)

other weird things:
history books written during the time one is investigating is a source, usually, the best source

school textbook, or simply, textbook
– some strange attempt at throwing a history of ideas within a category? Intellectual history?

academic/scientific paper
– forced writings?

academic journal

extraction of ideas

Now, that we have the kinds of literature, how to get the ideas? If one simply wants words, then a quick Google of an ideas with “Wikipedia” in the search will likely lead to it. That’s how I got most of my vocabulary/ideas. I’ll try Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society and The Theory Toolbox book soon. Otherwise, ideas can come from any experience. After Wikipedia, my first book was a History of Philosophy (by Bertrand Russell, then Anthony Kenny to fill in gaps). That probably wasn’t necessary, as it consists of the Western canon, but neither was it the worst place to begin in the written world. At my home I have a bunch of books from the Viking Portable Library series; Just finding that series in a bookstore could be heaven, as it consists solely of primary source texts from periods of time; Flipping through several Viking Readers was an experience. From my experience, essays or selected text (usually selected from an essay) seem to be the most concise formulation of the extracting and understanding of an idea via written communication. Essays or selected texts are usually given to students to read, as part of the syllabus. Without a syllabus, essays or selected works that contain ideas can be found in the excellent Penguin Great Ideas series; but it has no direction. Similarly, a reader, such as The Place, People, and Space Reader (by the CUNY environmental psychology department), is also excellent at transmitting ideas, and it has direction. The problem with readers, and all books, is that is it is not a real experience.

That may be as far as I’ve got in my experience of reading, and trying to extract ideas. Those are the best sources I know of: They are the best because the editors select the text [from a primary source] which best forms an idea in the mind. No extra garbage text is added. Furthermore, Secondary texts are usually unnecessary, and generally do not provide nearly as much thought as the primary, because when reading primary sources the mind tries to grasp the author’s mind. It’s comparable to watching a Hollywood film as opposed to a documentary.

Perhaps just reading a few Penguin Great Ideas books and a few readings (selected text) from a reader is enough. It’s 2016. It’s time to play some games, watch films, take the train, meetup, live it up. The ideas come tacitly, there’s not need to explicate them. Perhaps Wikipedia was enough after all. No need to read.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Communication, Essays, History, Humanities, Literature, Organization, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Literature

Thoughts, Highlights, Notes, and Dialectics with Media

11 April 2016

I was just thinking about the word dialectic and how I’ve inadvertently always engaged in dialectic with media in the past.

From the beginning, I always wrote down my thoughts and notes into a text file titled thoughts. Later, I created a knowledge and education text file to separate my notes from my thoughts; Mainly, because I read and “highlighted” (copy text) huge amounts of text from Wikipedia. During the beginning of my philosophic period, and likely because it began with the audio of a series of lectures, I began highlighting (from audio to text), taking notes, and engaging in dialectic (without knowing the word) in separate text files on my phone through Byword (now I more frequently use Writebox). Later, these text files went under a folder titled knowledge and education. Even later, my notes on other media — physical books, documentaries, films, real conversations, real experiences — were all created in their own separate text files. During the middle of my philosophic period, I discovered Voice Dream, and now my highlights and notes are stuck inside the application. Still, I use the knowledge and education text file and folder for all other kinds of media and real experiences.

Then I figured, there’s probably some useful things I said in my notes that I could scavenge. Alas, there’s never time to look back and organize it all, is there?

Leave a comment | Categories: Communication, Conversation, Humanities, Media, Organization, Personal, Philosophy, Thoughts

The Metropolis and Mental Life by Georg Simmel

25 December 2015

[todo: incomplete draft. Might as well complete the reading on my phone and copy the notes here later, although it doubles the work.]

This essay, particularly the second paragraph, pieces together so much of my early philosophy that I’m going to use it as a tool to link my philosophy together. For the moment, the entirety of the essay is posted here [without copyright, though Googling quickly resulted in three copies].

Georg Simmel
‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’

The deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life. This antagonism represents the most modern form of the conflict which primitive man must carry on with nature for his own bodily existence. The eighteenth century may have called for liberation from all the ties which grew up historically in politics, in religion, in morality and in economics in order to permit the original natural virtue of man, which is equal in everyone, to develop without inhibition; the nineteenth century may have sought to promote, in addition to man’s freedom, his individuality (which is connected with the division of labour) and his achievements which make him unique and indispensable but which at the same time make him so much the more dependent on the complementary activity of others; Nietzsche may have seen the relentless struggle of the individual as the prerequisite for his full development, while Socialism found the same thing in the suppression of all competition — but in each of these the same fundamental motive was at work, namely the resistance of the individual to being levelled, swallowed up in the social-technological mechanism. When one inquires about the products of the specifically modern aspects of contemporary life with reference to their inner meaning — when, so to speak, one examines the body of culture with reference to the soul, as I am to do concerning the metropolis today — the answer will require the investigation of the relationship which such a social structure promotes between the individual aspects of life and those which transcend the existence of single individuals. It will require the investigation of the adaptations made by the personality in its adjustment to the forces that lie outside of it.

The psychological foundation, upon which the metropolitan individuality is erected, is the intensification of emotional life due to the swift and continuous shift of external and internal stimuli [Creativity, External Stimuli, Cities, and Suburbs, Time, Social Life, and External Stimuli]. Man is a creature whose existence is dependent on differences, i.e., his mind is stimulated by the difference between present impressions and those which have preceded [Working Memory and Creativity]. Lasting impressions, the slightness in their differences, the habituated regularity of their course and contrasts between them, [Habit and Addiction] consume, so to speak, less mental energy than the rapid telescoping of changing images [Prose is Superfluous: Active Communication through Play and ArtThe Speed of IdeasInformation Organization, Mediums, Creativity, and ExperienceCity Experience and MediaForms of Consumption: Reality and Media], pronounced differences within what is grasped at a single glance, and the unexpectedness of violent stimuli [Lone Work and Depression, Hypomania, The Apex of Mania and Creativity in Taipei, Korea and the Apex of SPD, Hypomania and Creativity]. To the extent that the metropolis creates these psychological conditions — with every crossing of the street, with the tempo and multiplicity of economic, occupational and social life [Time, Social Life, and External Stimuli] — it creates in the sensory foundations of mental life, and in the degree of awareness [Awareness and Consciousness] necessitated by our organization as creatures dependent on differences, a deep contrast with the slower, more habitual, more smoothly flowing rhythm of the sensory-mental phase of small town and rural existence [Flexibility]. Thereby the essentially intellectualistic character of the mental life of the metropolis becomes intelligible as over against that of the small town which rests more on feelings and emotional relationships. These latter are rooted in the unconscious levels of the mind and develop most readily in the steady equilibrium of unbroken customs. The locus of reason, on the other hand, is in the lucid, conscious upper strata of the mind and it is the most adaptable of our inner forces [Flexibility and Learning]. In order to adjust itself to the shifts and contradictions in events, it does not require the disturbances and inner upheavals which are the only means whereby more conservative personalities are able to adapt themselves to the same rhythm of events. Thus the metropolitan type — which naturally takes on a thousand individual modifications — creates a protective organ for itself against the profound disruption with which the fluctuations and discontinuities of the external milieu threaten it [todo: I think I had a draft about creating rules in the mind, Chaos and Organization]. Instead of reacting emotionally, the metropolitan type reacts primarily in a rational manner, thus creating a mental predominance through the intensification of consciousness, which in turn is caused by it. Thus the reaction of the metropolitan person to those events is moved to a sphere of mental activity which is least sensitive and which is furthest removed from the depths of the personality.

This intellectualistic quality which is thus recognized as a protection of the inner life against the domination of the metropolis, becomes ramified into numerous specific phenomena. The metropolis has always been the seat of money economy because the many-sidedness and concentration of commercial activity have given the medium of exchange an importance which it could not have acquired in the commercial aspects of rural life [Free from Capitalism?]. But money economy and the domination of the intellect stand in the closest relationship to one another. They have in common a purely matter-of-fact attitude in the treatment of persons and things in which a formal justice is often combined with an unrelenting hardness. The purely intellectualistic person is indifferent to all things personal because, out of them, relationships and reactions develop which are not to be completely understood by purely rational methods — just as the unique element in events never enters into the principle of money. Money is concerned only with what is common to all, i.e., with the exchange value which reduces all quality and individuality to a purely quantitative level [Debt by David Graeber]. All emotional relationships between persons rest on their individuality, whereas intellectual relationships deal with persons as with numbers, that is, as with elements which, in themselves, are indifferent, but which are of interest only insofar as they offer something objectively perceivable. It is in this very manner that the inhabitant of the metropolis reckons with his merchant, his customer, and with his servant, and frequently with the persons with whom he is thrown into obligatory association. These relationships stand in distinct contrast with the nature of the smaller circle in which the inevitable knowledge of individual characteristics produces, with an equal inevitability, an emotional tone in conduct, a sphere which is beyond the mere objective weighting of tasks performed and payments made [tourism]. What is essential here as regards the economic-psychological aspect of the problem is that in less advanced cultures production was for the customer who ordered the product so that the producer and the purchaser knew one another [barter? gift economy?]. The modern city, however, is supplied almost exclusively by production for the market, that is, for entirely unknown purchasers who never appear in the actual field of vision of the producers themselves. Thereby, the interests of each party acquire a relentless matter-of- factness, and its rationally calculated economic egoism need not fear any divergence from its set path because of the imponderability of personal relationships. This is all the more the case in the money economy which dominates the metropolis in which the last remnants of domestic production and direct barter of goods have been eradicated and in which the amount of production on direct personal order is reduced daily [independent merchants vs manufactured products]. Furthermore, this psychological intellectualistic attitude and the money economy are in such close integration that no one is able to say whether it was the former that effected the latter or vice versa. What is certain is only that the form of life in the metropolis is the soil which nourishes this interaction most fruitfully, a point which I shall attempt to demonstrate only with the statement of the most outstanding English constitutional historian to the effect that through the entire course of English history London has never acted as the heart of England but often as its intellect and always as its money bag [ouch! London as past Silicon Valley and Capitalism].

In certain apparently insignificant characters or traits of the most external aspects of life are to be found a number of characteristic mental tendencies. The modern mind has become more and more a calculating one [todo: personal experience in the city, Marx-like economic eye]. The calculating exactness of practical life which has resulted from a money economy corresponds to the ideal of natural science, namely that of transforming the world into an arithmetical problem and of fixing every one of its parts in a mathematical formula [critique of old economic quantitative institutions]. It has been money economy which has thus filled the daily life of so many people with weighing, calculating, enumerating and the reduction of qualitative values to quantitative terms. Because of the character of calculability which money has there has come into the relationships of the elements of life a precision and a degree of certainty in the definition of the equalities and inequalities and an unambiguousness in agreements and arrangements, just as externally this precision has been brought about through the general diffusion of pocket watches [social time, in addition to money, is also quantitative: time is money]. It is, however, the conditions of the metropolis which are cause as well as effect for this essential characteristic. The relationships and concerns of the typical metropolitan resident are so manifold and complex that, especially as a result of the agglomeration of so many persons with such differentiated interests [diversity], their relationships and activities intertwine with one another into a many-membered organism [part of many communities]. In view of this fact, the lack of the most exact punctuality in promises and performances would cause the whole to break down into an inextricable chaos [hmmm]. If all the watches in Berlin suddenly went wrong in different ways even only as much as an hour, its entire economic and commercial life would be derailed for some time [true]. Even though this may seem more superficial in its significance, it transpires that the magnitude of distances results in making all waiting and the breaking of appointments an ill-afforded waste of time. For this reason the technique of metropolitan life in general is not conceivable without all of its activities and reciprocal relationships being organized and coordinated in the most punctual way into a firmly fixed framework of time which transcends all subjective elements. But here too there emerge those conclusions which are in general the whole task of this discussion, namely, that every event, however restricted to this superficial level it may appear, comes immediately into contact with the depths of the soul, and that the most banal externalities are, in the last analysis, bound up with the final decisions concerning the meaning and the style of life [quantitative city life affects the soul]. Punctuality, calculability, and exactness, which are required by the complications and extensiveness of metropolitan life are not only most intimately connected with its capitalistic and intellectualistic character but also colour the content of life and are conducive to the exclusion of those irrational, instinctive, sovereign human traits and impulses which originally seek to determine the form of life from within instead of receiving it from the outside in a general, schematically precise form [the city only allows overly quantitative, rational beings, no other ways in life — ascetic, aboriginal culture, anarchic societies, non-capitalist thoughts, philosophers, etc.]. Even though those lives which are autonomous and characterised by these vital impulses are not entirely impossible in the city, they are, none the less, opposed to it in abstracto [dominated by city social norm]. It is in the light of this that we can explain the passionate hatred of personalities like Ruskin and Nietzsche for the metropolis — personalities who found the value of life only in unschematized individual expressions which cannot be reduced to exact equivalents and in whom, on that account, there flowed from the same source as did that hatred, the hatred of the money economy and of the intellectualism of existence [New York and Taiwan].

The same factors which, in the exactness and the minute precision of the form of life, have coalesced into a structure of the highest impersonality [Okinawa is Inhospitable], have, on the other hand, an influence in a highly personal direction. There is perhaps no psychic phenomenon which is so unconditionally reserved to the city as the blasé outlook. It is at first the consequence of those rapidly shifting stimulations of the nerves which are thrown together in all their contrasts and from which it seems to us the intensification of metropolitan intellectuality seems to be derived. On that account it is not likely that stupid persons who have been hitherto intellectually dead will be blasé. Just as an immoderately sensuous life makes one blasé because it stimulates the nerves to their utmost reactivity until they finally can no longer produce any reaction at all, so, less harmful stimuli, through the rapidity and the contradictoriness of their shifts, force the nerves to make such violent responses, tear them about so brutally that they exhaust their last reserves of strength and, remaining in the same milieu, do not have time for new reserves to form. This incapacity to react to new stimulations with the required amount of energy [need time for thinking] constitutes in fact that blasé attitude which every child of a large city evinces when compared with the products of the more peaceful and more stable milieu.

Combined with this physiological source of the blasé metropolitan attitude there is another which derives from a money economy. The essence of the blasé attitude is an indifference toward the distinctions between things. Not in the sense that they are not perceived, as is the case of mental dullness, but rather that the meaning and the value of the distinctions between things, and therewith of the things themselves, are experienced as meaningless. They appear to the blasé person in a homogeneous, flat and gray colour with no one of them worthy of being preferred to another [hmm, I don’t think I’ve experienced this]. This psychic mood is the correct subjective reflection of a complete money economy to the extent that money takes the place of all the manifoldness of things and expresses all qualitative distinctions between them in the distinction of how much. To the extent that money, with its colourlessness and its indifferent quality, can become a common denominator of all values it becomes the frightful leveller — it hollows out the core of things, their peculiarities, their specific values and their uniqueness and incomparability in a way which is beyond repair. They all float with the same specific gravity in the constantly moving stream of money. They all rest on the same level and are distinguished only by their amounts. In individual cases this colouring, or rather this de-colouring of things, through their equation with money, may be imperceptibly small. In the relationship, however, which the wealthy person has to objects which can be bought for money, perhaps indeed in the total character which, for this reason, public opinion now recognizes in these objects, it takes on very considerable proportions [awareness directed toward extrinsic values?]. This is why the metropolis is the seat of commerce and it is in it that the purchasability of things appears in quite a different aspect than in simpler economies. It is also the peculiar seat of the blasé attitude. In it is brought to a peak, in a certain way, that achievement in the concentration of purchasable things which stimulates the individual to the highest degree of nervous energy. Through the mere quantitative intensification of the same conditions this achievement is transformed into its opposite, into this peculiar adaptive phenomenon — the blasé attitude — in which the nerves reveal their final possibility of adjusting themselves to the content and the form of metropolitan life by renouncing the response to them [definitely never felt this]. We see that the self-preservation of certain types of personalities is obtained at the cost of devaluing the entire objective world, ending inevitably in dragging the personality downward into a feeling of its own valuelessness.

Whereas the subject of this form of existence must come to terms with it for himself, his self-preservation in the face of the great city requires of him a no less negative type of social conduct. The mental attitude of the people of the metropolis to one another may be designated formally as one of reserve. If the unceasing external contact of numbers of persons in the city should be met by the same number of inner reactions as in the small town, in which one knows almost every person he meets and to each of whom he has a positive relationship, one would be completely atomized internally and would fall into an unthinkable mental condition [hence the need of small neighborhoods]. Partly this psychological circumstance and partly the privilege of suspicion which we have in the face of the elements of metropolitan life (which are constantly touching one another in fleeting contact) necessitates in us that reserve, in consequence of which we do not know by sight neighbours of years standing and which permits us to appear to small-town folk so often as cold and uncongenial. Indeed, if I am not mistaken, the inner side of this external reserve is not only indifference but more frequently than we believe, it is a slight aversion, a mutual strangeness and repulsion which, in a close contact which has arisen any way whatever, can break out into hatred and conflict [? maybe Georg is sympathizing with small towns, and hasn’t had a good experience in the city]. The entire inner organization of such a type of extended commercial life rests on an extremely varied structure of sympathies, indifferences and aversions of the briefest as well as of the most enduring sort. This sphere of indifference is, for this reason, not as great as it seems superficially. Our minds respond, with some definite feeling, to almost every impression emanating from another person. The unconsciousness, the transitoriness and the shift of these feelings seem to raise them only into indifference. Actually this latter would be as unnatural to us as immersion into a chaos of unwished-for suggestions would be unbearable. From these two typical dangers of metropolitan life we are saved by antipathy which is the latent adumbration of actual antagonism since it brings about the sort of distantiation and deflection without which this type of life could not be carried on at all. Its extent and its mixture, the rhythm of its emergence and disappearance, the forms in which it is adequate — these constitute, with the simplified motives (in the narrower sense) an inseparable totality of the form of metropolitan life. What appears here directly as dissociation is in reality only one of the elementary forms of socialization [The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Only Yesterday].

This reserve with its overtone of concealed aversion appears once more, however, as the form or the wrappings of a much more general psychic trait of the metropolis. It assures the individual of a type and degree of personal freedom to which there is no analogy in other circumstances. It has its roots in one of the great developmental tendencies of social life as a whole; in one of the few for which an approximately exhaustive formula can be discovered. The most elementary stage of social organization which is to be found historically, as well as in the present, is this: a relatively small circle almost entirely closed against neighbouring foreign or otherwise antagonistic groups but which has however within itself such a narrow cohesion that the individual member has only a very slight area for the development of his own qualities and for free activity for which he himself is responsible. Political and familial groups began in this way as do political and religious communities; the self-preservation of very young associations requires a rigourous setting of boundaries and a centripetal unity and for that reason it cannot give room to freedom and the peculiarities of inner and external development of the individual [physical and social space defines boundaries of development]. From this stage social evolution proceeds simultaneously in two divergent but none the less corresponding directions. In the measure that the group grows numerically, spatially, and in the meaningful content of life, its immediate inner unity and the definiteness of its original demarcation against others are weakened and rendered mild by reciprocal interactions and interconnections [more density more tolerance for diversity]. And at the same time the individual gains a freedom of movement far beyond the first jealous delimitation, and gains also a peculiarity and individuality to which the division of labour in groups, which have become larger, gives both occasion and necessity. However much the particular conditions and forces of the individual situation might modify the general scheme, the state and Christianity, guilds and political parties and innumerable other groups have developed in accord with this formula. This tendency seems to me, however, to be quite clearly recognizable also in the development of individuality within the framework of city life. Small town life in antiquity as well as in the Middle Ages imposed such limits upon the movements of the individual in his relationships with the outside world and on his inner independence and differentiation that the modern person could not even breathe under such conditions. Even today the city dweller who is placed in a small town feels a type of narrowness which is very similar [city vs suburb culture]. The smaller the circle which forms our environment [environment contains limiting culture] and the more limited the relationships which have the possibility of transcending the boundaries [relationships as transcendence of culture], the more anxiously the narrow community watches over the deeds, the conduct of life and the attitudes of the individual and the more will a quantitative and qualitative individuality tend to pass beyond the boundaries of such a community.

The ancient polis seems in this regard to have had a character of a small town. The incessant threat against its existence by enemies from near and far brought about that stern cohesion in political and military matters, that supervision of the citizen by other citizens, and that jealousy of the whole toward the individual whose own private life was repressed to such an extent that he could compensate himself only by acting as a despot in his own household [nationalism]. The tremendous agitation and excitement, and the unique colourfulness of Athenian life is perhaps explained by the fact that a people of incomparably individualized personalities were in constant struggle against the incessant inner and external oppression of a de-individualizing small town [Constant Action Ethics] . This created an atmosphere of tension in which the weaker were held down and the stronger were impelled to the most passionate type of self-protection. And with this there blossomed in Athens, what, without being able to define it exactly, must be designated as ‘the general human character’ in the intellectual development of our species [first recorded time humans developed fully, independent? Heck no.]. For the correlation, the factual as well as the historical validity of which we are here maintaining, is that the broadest and the most general contents and forms of life are intimately bound up with the most individual ones. Both have a common prehistory and also common enemies in the narrow formations and groupings, whose striving for self-preservation set them in conflict with the broad and general on the outside, as well as the freely mobile and individual on the inside [priority for individualism, individuals will always exist within and out, resisting any kind of normative culture]. Just as in feudal times the ‘free’ man was he who stood under the law of the land, that is, under the law of the largest social unit, but he was unfree who derived his legal rights only from the narrow circle of a feudal community — so today in an intellectualized and refined sense the citizen of the metropolis is ‘free’ in contrast with the trivialities and prejudices which bind the small town person. The mutual reserve and indifference, and the intellectual conditions of life in large social units are never more sharply appreciated in their significance for the independence of the individual than in the dense crowds of the metropolis because the bodily closeness and lack of space make intellectual distance really perceivable for the first time. It is obviously only the obverse of this freedom that, under certain circumstances, one never feels as lonely and as deserted as in this metropolitan crush of persons [city community, Large and Small Communities]. For here, as elsewhere, it is by no means necessary that the freedom of man reflect itself in his emotional life only as a pleasant experience.

It is not only the immediate size of the area and population which, on the basis of world-historical correlation between the increase in the size of the social unit and the degree of personal inner and outer freedom, makes the metropolis the locus of this condition. It is rather in transcending this purely tangible extensiveness that the metropolis also becomes the seat of cosmopolitanism. Comparable with the form of the development of wealth — (beyond a certain point property increases in ever more rapid progression as out of its own inner being) — the individual’s horizon is enlarged. In the same way, economic, personal and intellectual relations in the city (which are its ideal reflection), grow in a geometrical progression as soon as, for the first time, a certain limit has been passed. Every dynamic extension becomes a preparation not only for a similar extension but rather for a larger one and from every thread which is spun out of it there continue, growing as out of themselves, an endless number of others. This may be illustrated by the fact that within the city the ‘unearned increment’ of ground rent, through a mere increase in traffic, brings to the owner profits which are self-generating. At this point the quantitative aspects of life are transformed qualitatively. The sphere of life of the small town is, in the main, enclosed within itself. For the metropolis it is decisive that its inner life is extended in a wave-like motion over a broader national or international area. Weimar was no exception because its significance was dependent upon individual personalities and died with them, whereas the metropolis is characterised by its essential independence even of the most significant individual personalities; this is rather its antithesis and it is the price of independence which the individual living in it enjoys. The most significant aspect of the metropolis lies in this functional magnitude beyond its actual physical boundaries and this effectiveness reacts upon the latter and gives to it life, weight, importance and responsibility. A person does not end with limits of his physical body or with the area to which his physical activity is immediately confined but embraces, rather, the totality of meaningful effects which emanates from him temporally and spatially. In the same way the city exists only in the totality of the effects which transcend their immediate sphere. These really are the actual extent in which their existence is expressed. This is already expressed in the fact that individual freedom, which is the logical historical complement of such extension, is not only to be understood in the negative sense as mere freedom of movement and emancipation from prejudices and philistinism. Its essential characteristic is rather to be found in the fact that the particularity and incomparability which ultimately every person possesses in some way is actually expressed, giving form to life. That we follow the laws of our inner nature — and this is what freedom is — becomes perceptible and convincing to us and to others only when the expressions of this nature distinguish themselves from others; it is our irreplaceability by others which shows that our mode of existence is not imposed upon us from the outside.
Cities are above all the seat of the most advanced economic division of labour. They produce such extreme phenomena as the lucrative vocation of the quatorzieme in Paris. These are persons who may be recognized by shields on their houses and who hold themselves ready at the dinner hour in appropriate costumes so they can he called upon on short notice in case thirteen persons find themselves at the table. Exactly in the measure of its extension the city offers to an increasing degree the determining conditions for the division of labour. It is a unit which, because of its large size, is receptive to a highly diversified plurality of achievements while at the same time the agglomeration of individuals and their struggle for the customer forces the individual to a type of specialized accomplishment in which he cannot be so easily exterminated by the other. The decisive fact here is that in the life of a city, struggle with nature for the means of life is transformed into a conflict with human beings and the gain which is fought for is granted, not by nature, but by man. For here we find not only the previously mentioned source of specialization but rather the deeper one in which the seller must seek to produce in the person to whom he wishes to sell ever new and unique needs. The necessity to specialize one’s product in order to find a source of income which is not yet exhausted and also to specialize a function which cannot be easily supplanted is conducive to differentiation, refinement and enrichment of the needs of the public which obviously must lead to increasing personal variation within this public.

All this leads to the narrower type of intellectual individuation of mental qualities to which the city gives rise in proportion to its size. There is a whole series of causes for this. First of all there is the difficulty of giving one’s own personality a certain status within the framework of metropolitan life. Where quantitative increase of value and energy has reached its limits, one seizes on qualitative distinctions, so that, through taking advantage of the existing sensitivity to differences, the attention of the social world can, in some way, he won for oneself. This leads ultimately to the strangest eccentricities, to specifically metropolitan extravagances of self-distantiation, of caprice, of fastidiousness, the meaning of which is no longer to be found in the content of such activity itself but rather in its being a form of ‘being different’ — of making oneself noticeable. For many types of persons these are still the only means of saving for oneself, through the attention gained from others, some sort of self-esteem and the sense of filling a position. In the same sense there operates an apparently insignificant factor which in its effects however is perceptibly cumulative, namely, the brevity and rarity of meetings which are allotted to each individual as compared with social intercourse in a small city. For here we find the attempt to appear to-the-point, clear-cut and individual with extraordinarily greater frequency than where frequent and long association assures to each person an unambiguous conception of the other’s personality [whoa].

This appears to me to be the most profound cause of the fact that the metropolis places emphasis on striving for the most individual forms of personal existence — regardless of whether it is always correct or always successful. The development of modern culture is characterised by the predominance of what one can call the objective spirit over the subjective; that is, in language as well as in law, in the technique of production as well as in art, in science as well as in the objects of domestic environment, there is embodied a sort of spirit [Geist], the daily growth of which is followed only imperfectly and with an even greater lag by the intellectual development of the individual. If we survey for instance the vast culture which during the last century has been embodied in things and in knowledge, in institutions and comforts, and if we compare them with the cultural progress of the individual during the same period — at least in the upper classes — we would see a frightful difference in rate of growth between the two which represents, in many points, rather a regression of the culture of the individual with reference to spirituality, delicacy and idealism. This discrepancy is in essence the result of the success of the growing division of labour. For it is this which requires from the individual an ever more one-sided type of achievement which, at its highest point, often permits his personality as a whole to fall into neglect. In any case this overgrowlh of objective culture has been less and less satisfactory for the individual. Perhaps less conscious than in practical activity and in the obscure complex of feelings which flow from him, he is reduced to a negligible quantity. He becomes a single cog as over against the vast overwhelming organization of things and forces which gradually take out of his hands everything connected with progress, spirituality and value. The operation of these forces results in the transformation of the latter from a subjective form into one of purely objective existence. It need only be pointed out that the metropolis is the proper arena for this type of culture which has outgrown every personal element. Here in buildings and in educational institutions, in the wonders and comforts of space-conquering technique, in the formations of social life and in the concrete institutions of the State is to be found such a tremendous richness of crystallizing, depersonalized cultural accomplishments that the personality can, so to speak, scarcely maintain itself in the face of it. From one angle life is made infinitely more easy in the sense that stimulations, interests, and the taking up of time and attention, present themselves from all sides and carry it in a stream which scarcely requires any individual efforts for its ongoing. But from another angle, life is composed more and more of these impersonal cultural elements and existing goods and values which seek to suppress peculiar personal interests and incomparabilities. As a result, in order that this most personal element be saved, extremities and peculiarities and individualizations must be produced and they must be over- exaggerated merely to be brought into the awareness even of the individual himself. The atrophy of individual culture through the hypertrophy of objective culture lies at the root of the bitter hatred which the preachers of the most extreme individualism, in the footsteps of Nietzsche, directed against the metropolis. But it is also the explanation of why indeed they are so passionately loved in the metropolis and indeed appear to its residents as the saviours of their unsatisfied yearnings.

When both of these forms of individualism which are nourished by the quantitative relationships of the metropolis, i.e., individual independence and the elaboration of personal peculiarities, are examined with reference to their historical position, the metropolis attains an entirely new value and meaning in the world history of the spirit. The eighteenth century found the individual in the grip of powerful bonds which had become meaningless — bonds of a political, agrarian, guild and religious nature — delimitations which imposed upon the human being at the same time an unnatural form and for a long time an unjust inequality. In this situation arose the cry for freedom and equality — the belief in the full freedom of movement of the individual in all his social and intellectual relationships which would then permit the same noble essence to emerge equally from all individuals as Nature had placed it in them and as it had been distorted by social life and historical development [anarchism or liberalism?]. Alongside of this liberalistic ideal there grew up in the nineteenth century from Goethe and the Romantics, on the one hand, and from the economic division of labour on the other, the further tendency, namely, that individuals who had been liberated from their historical bonds sought now to distinguish themselves from one another [romanticism]. No longer was it the ‘general human quality’ in every individual hut rather his qualitative uniqueness and irreplaceability that now became the criteria of his value [creative economy]. In the conflict and shifting interpretations of these two ways of defining the position of the individual within the totality is to be found the external as well as the internal history of our time. It is the function of the metropolis to make a place for the conflict and for the attempts at unification of both of these in the sense that its own peculiar conditions have been revealed to us as the occasion and the stimulus for the development of both [todo: need to reread this more]. Thereby they attain a quite unique place, fruitful with an inexhaustible richness of meaning in the development of the mental life. They reveal themselves as one of those great historical structures in which conflicting life- embracing currents find themselves with equal legitimacy. Because of this, however, regardless of whether we are sympathetic or antipathetic with their individual expressions, they transcend the sphere in which a judge-like attitude on our part is appropriate. To the extent that such forces have been integrated, with the fleeting existence of a single cell, into the root as well as the crown of the totality of historical life to which we belong — it is our task not to complain or to condone but only to understand [ :) ].

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Communication, Experience, Humanities, Metaphysics, Mind and Matter, Organization, Personal, Philosophy, Psychology, Semiotics, Social Philosophy, Urban Philosophy

The Categorization of Knowledge

14 December 2015

The category hierarchy of this blog naturally grew and naturally organized itself as I created more posts. Because I often write philosophically, the categories of my posts reflect the categories of knowledge.

The blog started with categories such as “thoughts”, “travel”, “art”, “film reviews”. Then, after a some more lengthy writings, more catch-all knowledge categories were thrown, such as “philosophy”, “sociology”, “experience”, and “psychology”. I didn’t know the meaning of those terms, or even of science at that time. They just made good containers.

Later, I tried to use the general outline of knowledge, especially the social science portion, as a foundation for my categories. I had hierarchies such as human geography -> geography -> social science -> science. Things got weird when social sciences overlapped with philosophy, such as in critical theory -> social science -> science and philosophy -> critical theory. And again with media studies or communication. Then interdisciplinary branches appeared, like cultural studies, sociocultural anthropology, political anthropology, and so on. The hierarchy became messy, and with more posts, even more so.

I’m guessing as schools change from specialized departments to mixes of specialized departments (“interdisciplinary”), they create these non-sensical categories, which is more of a statement objective of a school department more than an actual category of knowledge. Unfortunately, I use Wikipedia as my reference for knowledge, and it had led me to adopt these terms.

Post-reorganization, I began to miss my old simple catch-all categories; It was an extra unnecessary step — classifying thoughts. Furthermore, I felt quite sick of looking at my thoughts under “social sciences”, itself a part of science, as I always felt they fit in philosophy.

Luckily, some old philosophical terms and Wikipedia pages still existed: philosophy of mind and social philosophy, before they turned into cognitive science, and the billion things social philosophy could be. So, I used those, then threw the wild academic “social sciences” disciplines such as critical theory, human geography, anthropology, area [studies], beneath that. Psychology now fits as an in-between of philosophy of mind and social philosophy (behavior). Communication now contains media [studies]. Even urban planning fits in there, which I’m very happy about. Well, it was either that or renaming it to philosophy of the city. Whoa, that sounds way better! Eventually, everything under “social sciences” disappeared, and reappeared under philosophy, where everything rightfully belongs.

Alas, the categorization of knowledge according to my mind, which is, simply, a set of large catch-all sub-philosophy categories.

I’m quite happy with that. It’s such a delight not to organize things.

Perhaps the categorization of my posts have another fruit: A rather striking result of it is that it seems that I’ve never thought about science. I’ve thought about the philosophy of science, as this post itself may be about the philosophy of social science, but never science. All of my posts fit under the humanities, at first art, then later philosophy, including social philosophy. That might be a good indicator that I simply am not interested in science, and that I should avoid it in my future.

Looking back, I also think that the things I specifically think and write about are actually philosophy, in the continental philosophy sense, that is, observational writings and theories, not social science. The scientific method is never applied. Everything I think about is based on my experiences. “Social sciences” seems to have now adapted qualitative methods in addition to their quantitative methods. My social philosophy doesn’t contain any quantitative methods at all, and really, I’m still skeptical about it. Furthermore, my social philosophy usually only cites works if I quote someone. I never rigorously search and cite primary sources; That sounds much more difficult and far less fun than having a real experience. I just simply enjoy talking and writing some bullshit philosophy, which hopefully, some of which, turns out to be less bullshit than social science. This attitude may not be helpful in the scientific enterprise, but that’s less important than the social progress enterprise, especially now.

I peeked at a few more Wikipedia articles:

The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element—as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences
Wikipedia, Humanities

I guess that makes me a humanist.

Previously, at this point, this post digressed after reading the Wikipedia article on humanism. That digression has now been moved to On Humanism.

It turns out that the term humanist refers to both, a scholar of the humanities and a person who agrees with humanism, so I guess that makes me a humanatee, a manatee of the humanities.

related resources:
Alan Watts talked about how science is merely a classification of reality into boxes

to read:
On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas published by MIT Press – “For two decades, the German edition of this classic has been a standard reference point for discussions of the social sciences.” Seems like a good place for further inquiry.
A Realist Theory of Science by Roy Bhasker by Verso Books – “In this analysis of the natural sciences, with a particular focus on the experimental process itself, Roy Bhaskar provides a definitive critique of the traditional, positivist conception of science and stakes out an alternative, realist position.”

Leave a comment | Categories: Humanities, Organization, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Social Science

Talking to Myself to Create a Statement Objective

14 November 2015

talking to myself
to create a
statement objective

talking to myself:

To make MIT’s environment more playful, encouraging interaction to all departments. To move MIT’s physical entity to the city?

Well, that’s probably what will go through my mind once I’m there.

But for now, let’s try to figure out some objectives here.

Wait, let me peer into a past application for a moment…

Hmm, looks like public and games. I’m guessing I was at a downtime then, in my parent’s bedroom in India, and wrote it, thinking fondly of my more game and new media oriented New York former self, and thinking less about the world around me at the time. Perhaps, wanting to escape to my childhood, playful, with less focus on society, and its infinite responsibilities.

But now my objectives are less game-oriented. Though using sensors and materials for design is still awesome, but civics seems to be where it’s at. It’s about developing communities. Public spaces, public policies, shifting people to make better decisions, sharing, walking, experiencing people and nature, creating a livable environment for all. Creating a better city. And I thought I could facilitate that by designing things for the city, to encourage interaction to further develop communities, to make better decisions, to make a positive impact.

Another objective, created during my downtime in isolation, as opposed to the uptime I’m engaged in a social networks of a city, I also felt tools for knowledge and organization could be useful. But in this case, I was influenced by the need of money, hoping to get an iOS gig to pay off debt quickly, and not hate myself while doing it. Most of these ideas should be left to people in San Francisco trying to create morally good tools under the influence of high land value rent slavery. How the fuck can people mold silicon atoms to transfer information, but not think about why they pay so much to be in the place they are? Hmmm…back to this… Though the tools for knowledge are useful in self-education, it’s the tools for organization of peoples that’s more needed.

Yes. Urban Planning at the Media Lab. Paradoxical? Media doesn’t affect people as real experiences do. One doesn’t understand another’s life by experiencing the media of another. One understands only by being in their position, at that space and time, which is, impossible.

…Sidetrained. List three faculty / research groups.
Two I know from past Google’ing:
1. Civic Media (current interest)
– maybe the dude who’s making Action Path
2. Responsive Environments (was divided from Tangible Objects?, a past interest)
– maybe the dude who made ma-key ma-key [now under Lifelong Kindergaten]

[These three go together. 1 for civics, 2 for applying tech to civics in the physical environment.

Maybe 3 should be living mobile for a continuation of being civic while being outside]

For the third, I have to look at the list. I probably shouldn’t look as it may distract me from what I want. But eh, I couldn’t resist… It seems there’s a huge overlap between my current interest of community-building / town planning (the term urban development sounds city-exclusive): Changing Places, Civic Media, and Social Computing. There’s also a lot of overlap for my interest in games and new media: Tangible Objects, Playful Systems, and Lifelong Kindergarten (stemming from games for education). [In fact, the entire department could be graphed with many past thoughts and ideas.]

3. have to look at the list… Hrmm..
– Changing Places, and its projects fails to recognize that people will create places to work for themselves. For myself, I enjoy working outside. That already defeats many of it’s projects. It also seems to fail take into consideration people of low income, the advent of public wifi (hopefully Boston has? lol.), and just generally the bare minimum a human needs to live and work. It shouldn’t be about creating places. It’s about modifying what exists to make it livable. A portable enclosed space, air conditioner, and battery seems enough. Then it becomes a social issue, of how the space affects the people nearby.
– Human Dynamics. Though I’m interested in mapping cities, I’m not so interested I seem to have an instinctual dislike of gathering human data and using it. I prefer the complexity of infinite data coming and and going out. Perhaps this data could be used to design better cities, but that that takes the fun out of organizing the mess. Again, this seems to be too cold, like economics.
– …!

Ah! That reminds me. I have a personal statement on my website! Perfect. Well, there’s no groups for empowerment (rescuing people from slavery — whichever slavery that may be), and the experience of being in such an environment will make it difficult for me to think about these issues, but I would have to think of my past, my past experiences, and constantly watch video of the rest of the world, then create designs on what I feel would work in any place in the world.

My first objective mentions creativity from materials (material science?). This I agree. It’s the basis of new media, the fun of my past time in New York with interactive art and all. But most importantly, it’s about having the knowledge of existing materials, and then letting the mind create forms out of that, to affect people, socially, interactively. The problem with most of the groups is that it is all data driven. Not physical. Where’s the fun in that? Therefore, one of the material-heavy research groups is necessary, just for the sake of having materials in working memory, and hopefully come in use in creative times. And in this case, it seems Responsive environments is similar to Parson’s Design and Technology, in that it uses sensors and public space. That’s perfect, because I don’t have the knowledge for Tangible Objects. But shouldn’t I try?

My second objective is community development, city development, and, in the context of Taiwan, national development. Which is Civic Media.

Hmmm…sidetraining to more groups:
Macro Connections – mentions a previous thought: all products should have a face. Which is absolutely important in decision-making in a globalized industrial age. Especially in wasteful post-modern societies. I am spoiled with Taiwan’s resourcefulness. Nothing goes to waste here, well, nothing materially, of human effort, a lot. Though the statement, transforming data into knowledge is great, the projects seem very data-driven.

…More wandering about their projects… It seems maybe one project from each group is of interest. Such as Spotz from Living Mobile or You are Here! from Social Computing. I guess I shouldn’t look at the projects, and stick to their group’s statement. And for that, Scalable Cooperation seems nice, though, I’m not interested in Kickstarter and the like. Rather, just Action Path. But that’s a part of Civic Media.

Playable Systems is something done on the side for fun. So is Design Fiction. Both seem to fall under art, not research. Save that for free time.

Which leaves two, maybe, I’ve got quite lost in all this junk: Living Mobile and Lifelong Kindergarten. Living mobile for my nomadic life and of course to educate people while they work (or vice versa, or simultaneously), and, Lifelong Kindergarten.

Hmmm yeah, forget it all and stick to my statement.


Re-read these thoughts and put them inside [square brackets].

ideal objectives:
I want to continue living in Taiwan, manage a public space in a city, collaborate with organizations here, be a part of my neighborhood, city, and country; I want to be a part of the civic decisions that goes on it, make it better by giving people methods to make civic decisions and methods to take action beyond the recent social media leveraged protests, organize reality to help decision-making; help communities maintain themselves by being aware of local problems, encourage people to socialize and collaborate with neighbors, encourage sharing; further autonomy with self-service housing, workspaces, and work; etc. all those ideals.

development of tools as the method toward ideal objectives:
To complete these objectives: there should be tools to help organize people physically and stay up to date with those people digitally, to allow people make civic decisions and take action, to allow people to educate themselves under the circumstances of the current lifestyle,tools to teach community leaders how to organize, to enable community leaders to organize urban data, to match the right solver to the problem; There should be a better designed city to calm people from moving and find people nearby to work with. Simple ideas should exist to facilitate sharing. There should be tools to have local discussion, to corrode corruption; Thanks to Taiwan’s solidarity, the autonomy of the country can be furthered with successful examples of the uses of spaces — housing, education, work, play, and mixes; etc. all those ideal, tools.

a note:
I am mostly thinking of Taiwan here because I cannot think of the scale of America — in size, development, and wealth. I am ignoring these things in the hope that tools will increase self-learning within self-interest, and when within a community, of the interest of others, as it worked for me.

two paths:
Continue living and working toward these ideals in Taiwan, starting with a space, as I normally do, but with the guidance of MIT Media Lab. This is less directional, but is constantly executed in reality and more pragmatic (bottom-up, agile, etc.).

If it is impossible to attend MIT Media Lab remotely, then, because of the physical restriction, my objectives will be far more tool development oriented, more exclusive, and far more influenced by the people, work, and materials in the space. This is further from reality, and I will have to simulate my past social construction of the world to think about what tools would be needed.

For community-based civics, the first path is better. For exposure to materials, ideas, and people, the second.

I’m going to assume only the second path is possible due to policy limits of the institution and simulate a civic-oriented public space to think of a few projects:

1. I want to create a tool to allow people (likely advanced urban peoples) to be able to create geopoints of interests to begin a forum for discussion, replacing the neighborhood town hall meeting with constant discussion (note: it would be up to the privileged smartphone-carrying generation to then communicate with non-tech people). A Civic Media project, Action Path, seemed close on paper, but far in presentation.

1. Further tools to enable people to take civil actions where it is beyond their own control. Enable people to be able to directly give real and current information to the right organization i.e. sending a picture. Facilitate the process of grant writing. Micro-grant writing and giving? How do civic-oriented people make money?

2. Use simple ideas, sensors, and simple DIY objects in the city to enhance community life, further civic decision-making, and incite action. How does the physical and digital match? DIY polling machines? How can I hire someone near me for a task, gig, or job? How can someone leave a task in a physical space (Taiwan loves physical signs, and I do too)? Spread the idea of sharing material within a community (starts with signs), and create tools for it.
*. How to enable people to transform local areas into an Exploratorium filled with current knowledge, yet avoid over-development or tourism.

2. Give community leaders tools to create maps from data, scrape data, and create data, though, it’s possible that the existing tools are enough.

3. Be in conversation with the crowdsourcing people. The digital distribution of wealth is not in my domain until it affects a physical location, to which there should be consent of the local people. Besides, it generally needs more checks.

*. Improve my current self-education toolset of mobile applications. This includes reading, writing, watching, sources, curriculums, social, and experience. Think about the fastest ways to record an idea digitally and convey it. Think about how curriculums can be individually created and crowdsourced, using real local examples and digital media organized by those autodidacts. Gather the learned information [with consent] such as highlights and notes of an eBook, and video clips and its annotations, for future educational use.

development of tools as the method toward objectives:
The tools are simple. Mobile and web applications. Maybe it gets a little fancy with sensors in public places, or games. Perhaps it’s the execution and spreading of ideas that is more important.

priority problem of tools development:
Being outside of the city and inside a lab, I believe it’s quite difficult determine which tool is needed more, and which needs more development. When does a physical sign, a bulletin board, a mother sitting on a porch suffice, and when does it not? The priorities depend on the individual or organization. The norms of how people interact change by society and area.

more public space experience as a bonus objective:
During my life I’ve been lucky to stumble upon great people and great groups of people in certain spaces: a public room of my college, a progressive K-12 school in Zhongli (Taiwan), an NGO in Thailand, a cafe / performance venue in Kuala Lumpur, an outdoor restaurant in Nepal, a co-working civic space in Taizhong (Taiwan), Taipei Fablab, and countless hostels (or other shared living situations).

Though they are all great, in my mind, Babycastles is the epitome of a public space. It has the civic values, diversity, technical knowledge, and energy.

MIT Media seems to be the only academic department I know that comes close to my ideals and my directions (at this moment).

I’m sure MIT Media Lab is similar to all those spaces I love: consensus decision-making, messy physical space, messy digital notes, impromptu city meetups, calls, messages, pictures, poor food decisions, and the sort. But I’m also sure there’s lot to learn in doing it under an academic umbrella, with the rigor of the best.

the takeaway / reverse brain drain:
When the program is complete, I hope to muster all of my experience toward creating spaces around Taiwan, and perhaps later, less developed countries nearby, to help people help themselves.


a comparison of my direction (statement and method) and MIT Media Lab’s direction:
My history is filled with games, media (mostly film) studies, living in cities, traveling and volunteering. In order, it was technology, media,

Over my life, it seems my ideas align with MIT Media Labs, so much so that a map could be created.

my ideal space and MIT Media Lab’s space:

These ideals seemingly fall under a categorial imperative, and to my surprise, from my experience, people in less developed societies (or ethnic enclaves of American cities) also act upon it, and I find solace within them.

I believe the organization (including public spaces) must be in the city because it is impossible to understand the complexity of a city.

I prefer to complete these objectives by wandering the masses of stimuli of the city, ‘thinking fast’ in the space and time where they are needed, creating with the efficacy of a politically influenced artist, with much awareness of the people’s minds, without decor, without human language.

Therefore, physically attending MIT Media Lab is paradoxical, but the execution of ideals are limited by time and the knowledge of people around me, and I again run into the familiar feeling of seeking like-minded people to be productive.

If I were paid to live and do these things here, I would. I will apply to Taiwan’s schools but I believe for the same reasons Parson’s (The New School) design and technology (D&T) program didn’t work for me, neither will Taiwan’s schools: their classes with real organizations encourage top-down data-driven models, their D&T student body lacked diversity in income, and their space has less tools than their fine arts department, which was exclusive. I often cannot handle such difference in values.

Though their government is very lenient, lawless, and giving, I still have to work with language barrier, self-finance (English tutor or whatever else capitalism values here), and a somewhat traditional government.

I believe it’s possible to educate within public spaces, guide people toward my interests, which are likely in the people’s interest. I found the hard way, that keeping such a space or community alive is more than a full-time job, but worth pursuing.



As much as I want accomplish all those objectives, even after lengths of time of doing others kinds of work and travel, I seem to fall into a habitual trap of doing something from my past self, organizing things on a computer.

It’s wrong. I should be in Nepal searching villages who haven’t received aid, and help organize the examination and earthquake-proofing of housing, or something else direly needed local to my current position.

I want to keep my body in the developing world for everyday experiences to affect me, and to maintain a nearly-purely functional (according to my social reality at that time) lifestyle because this is an audience my mind can make sense of (in my mind).



[todo: read it all!]
civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt/notes-on-monitory-democracy-and-a-networked-civil-society (todo: read it)


dusp.mit.edu/behavior-and-policies-2014 *****

statement objective:
“Statement Objective” for MIT Media Lab:
First, the questions, then some chit-chat.

The Questions:
Why you wish to attend graduate school:
To experience a great space (MIT Media Lab) again and apply it’s successful methods, ethics, and rigour to the ones I desire to create in Taiwan, and wherever else I may be. It’s also nice to experience all of the directions The Lab is going, so that when I am wondering about creatively and philosophically, within a social space or alone, I have some anchored directions to compare my own with.

What you would like to study:
[EDIT: My first research field interest, Civic Media group, has been removed, and many of the other group’s statements and projects have been moved around, altered, and or updated. Although unfortunate, I don’t think my statement requires much alteration. The groups that I have selected are the means to civil and social ends, of which pervade several groups within the lab.]

My most desired direction of work overlaps well with the Civic Media group’s statement: “…Transforming civic knowledge into civic action…” and “…experimenting with a variety of new civic media techniques, from technologies for protests and civil disobedience…”. I would like to re-experience current massively available technology (sensors, micro-controllers, etc.) and spend time playing with materials to have these things in working memory so that I (1) think of designs for civic tools. Ideally (more under Chit-Chat later) I prefer to consistently execute and innovate on direct social and urban interventions [/techniques?] to try to budge human behavior — in small steps toward collectively agreeable things like public safety, health, and sanitation — with a minimum amount of wealth. While experimenting, I would likely want to study anything related to that. The goal is to aid or enable people to make better decisions and actions and conversely to disorganize people from their habituated cultured actions to create more diverse social experiences, with the end being to improve society (non-material, culture) and urban (material),

I think as a kind of nomadic autodidact, creating (2) tools to facilitate self-education whilst physically moving will always naturally come to mind, and as a kind of people organizer so too will (3) tools to facilitate social organizing. These interests are auxiliary to the more civic-action-oriented interests, but it sure would be nice to have these groups around to interact with.

I think simply due to a long past of playing and even making games, I think as a counter my seriousness, (4) it would be nice to incept, design, and implement playful ideas again, even just for the sake of being actively making.

What you would precisely like study (optional reading, in case the above was too general):
The project that comes closest to my interests are the ideas (from the research paper) behind Action Path, not the actual product (from the powerpoint presentation), which seems to be far different. Here’s how I imagined it in an email to the creator of it: “I would love to subscribe to any changes in my neighborhood by the government, old-wealthy gangsters (Taiwan’s old private sector), and new-wealth gentrifiers. If the information is not transparent (very likely for all of Taiwan), then people (likely advanced urban peoples) should be able to create geopoints of interests to begin a forum for discussion (and then the new tech generation will hold a physical meeting for the old people).” Or perhaps there should be a small voting device that can be physically placed at locations, for the old generation and keeping votes within proximity.

Promise Tracker’s idea to “hold elected leaders accountable for political promises” is pretty good under a working representative democracy, but I feel the project’s actions are too lenient to make any meaningful political change. Promise Tracker’s method of gathering real data, tracking the status, and attracting attention, however, is a good one, and could be applied to any civic problem and institution. A kind of more abstract FixMyStreet, and better suited tool than creating a Facebook group. It would be more interesting as a simple tool for smaller self-governing communities, or neighborhoods, where it feels less like blaming a representative and more of a cooperative initiative with neighbors.

Perhaps my urge for more direct changes is from my experience in Taiwan, where law enforcement ideology is opposite of US: there is none. This allows people to take a lot more civil actions without worrying so much about laws and policies. Of course, this requires quite a good education and culture, but I also feel it creates a far more ideal social framework to design for.

A class from MIT Urban Planning department titled behavior and policies (dusp.mit.edu/behavior-and-policies-2014), though heavily referencing pop science books, is perhaps to the closest to my ideal direction of negating bad behavior. Though note, that class is limited to policy-making as its means of influencing, and transportation as its sole focus. I’m not interested in policy-making, I’m interesting in culture-making.

Though a part of my statement is to adopt better behaviors, especially the case in urban areas, the counterpart is to create tools to enhance simple communal life. Politically reworded: to reduce the adverse behavioral affects of capitalism and to increase the social organization of anarchic communal spaces.

Instead of what I want to study, it may help to list projects that I don’t care much about: projects that display crowd-sourced data-driven data, aggregate and order media, attempt to gather even more data from humans, projects that deals private housing, and projects that solely use data as the basis for its [instrumental] rationality. This is simply because I’m always skeptical about data and it’s oft pairing of top-down methodologies, especially of how urban material affects human minds and lives.

Despite my desire for reasonable behavior, I am a romantic and hope that everyone can walk and talk across the cities and countries they live in as opposed to gazing at data — People don’t change their behavior because data tells them, it’s because they’ve had certain life experiences, and then they become agents with the possibility to alter the culture people live in.

Any research experience:
Research requires too much time, so I’ve tend to skip to theory or practice and learn the hard way. This is a pretty consistent fault of my personality — think McCandless from Into the Wild —, and hence my interest in quicker solutions such as direct interventions and Banksy style art; I normally do not think systematically and I am not interested in writing about sociology into scientific journals; This may be another reason to attend a research graduate school: to experience research, especially at the top research institute. Though, I think I will always be skeptical.

Describe one or more accomplishments you are particularly proud of that suggest that you will succeed in your chosen area of research:
I’m particularly fond of my time in New York with the local game and new media scene which resulted in participating in game jams (includes Doodle Tangle prototype), making two games: Pinkies Up and Crystal Brawl, and spending time at Babycastles, an amazing public volunteer-based organization with what now seems incredible values and dreams, and set the bar for what a social organization can be and do.

The hope here is that my design and tech past will converge with my more civil-oriented motivations.

About the Quirkiness of my Application:
Though my application is playfully written, I confirm it is as accurate within the limits of the application form. Of Letters of Recommendation: I won’t ask friends for letters until I enter society and begin talking again so that one has the most recent references, but if needed, I can provide previous letters of recommendation written last year for The New School / Parson’s / Design and Technology program, which are written from my game friends in New York. Of Subjects Taken: I don’t remember much of college work and therefore did not list it. Much of my education during college came from films via the advent of Netflix. Of Financial Support: I currently have no money and how much I will have will depend on the future. It’s all true, though seemingly a joke.

Chit-Chat (extra reading):
What I Want and Why I Applied:
What I really desire is continue living in Taiwan, create a social organization here, not too far from what I feel MIT Center for Civic Media does, with less emphasis on the development of complex tools, and more on practice — using tools to create urban maps, using Action Path to geolocate discussions, using Promise Tracker to keep government in check, follow and use Taiwan’s kickstarter for civic projects, etc. — and for general community hall things for continuous local experience.

The Paradox (written during a more intense time):
I believe the organization (including public spaces) must be in the city because it is impossible to understand the complexity of a city outside of it.

I prefer to complete these objectives by wandering the masses of stimuli of the city, ‘thinking fast’ in the space and time where they are needed, creating with the efficacy of a politically influenced artist, with much awareness of the people’s minds, without decor, without human language.

Therefore, physically attending MIT Media Lab is paradoxical [because it is not in Taipei, and is private], yet the execution of ideals are limited by time and the knowledge of people around me, and I again run into the familiar feeling of seeking like-minded people to be productive.

Now and Next:
I took a break from Taipei and lodged myself in a nearby small town, to which I thought and wrote a lot, beginning with this application meandering to grants applications in which my statement sounds like the creation of a kind of ‘MIT social and urban innovation lab’ and back to this.

I’ve come to the conclusion that granting organizations, or anyone really, won’t fund wild individuals, so I’m just going to have to continue going around Taiwan on a scooter, hopping about social organizations, probably ending back in Taipei Fablab, which is where I will probably begin to organize again because that’s the most open organization I’ve run into here, and would help with obtaining grants.

I’ll also be applying to National Taiwan University’s urban planning program (Taiwan doesn’t have anything like the Media Lab) and scholarships for it, as a strategy to stick myself in Taipei, get funding, and gather local and national organization knowledge, at the cost of time.

Beyond Taiwan:
Though Taiwan is my ideal first area for creating such public spaces for these directions, it is not the limit. I’ve lived somewhat nomadically since college graduation and I try to make a positive social impact wherever I am. The hope is that after MIT I will be more efficient at creating impacts in the right directions in any human settlement.

My Online Portfolio:

Leave a comment | Categories: Civics, Conversation, Critical Theory, Organization, Personal, Philosophy, Self-assessment, Urban Philosophy

A Project Plan for an Urban Area

07 September 2015

First written to narrow down my interests for an application for MIT Media Lab, then formalized for the Democracy and Human Rights Service Fellowship by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, then rewritten for Open Society Fellowship, it is nearly entirely based on personal desires and ideals, and serves as a good snapshot of my desires and ideals at the time, which is quite different from two year ago.

written for OSF and TFD (newer):

2.1.1 My Perspective of Taiwan’s Issues:
Taiwan is a beautiful mess. The feeling of lack of government, enforcement, and social security continues. Even as the country unevenly advances to the most contemporary form of society, it still feels the people must survive on their own. It’s people have leveraged technology as exemplified in the prevalent use of technological knowledge to manufacture high quality products, accommodation and skill-share web services, social media as a primary source for national news, and social media to manage large-scale protests. The alacrity of their adaption to new technology and the strain of low income has resulted in a technological society with survival values.

Though the people have adapted, the government has not. Along with a little normative government ilk, Taiwan’s government has bare digital services for citizens, keeps non-harmful data private, and contains non-sensical policies that aren’t being enforced properly anyway. Thus, it is generally up to the people to manage themselves, which itself has become a common moral and ideology. Though I believe most of the people will be able to survive — have shelter, eat, obtain health services and an education — thanks to civil society, I believe their civic progress will remain scattered outcries without tools to help them direct conversation.

2.1.2 My Belief and Proposal:
I believe Taiwan’s civil society is active enough to adapt to civic tools, convert conversation to actions, and experiment with technology and methods of social actions, as a means of progress.

My proposal, defined by my personal background, is a civic technology center specialized in (1) the advocation and facilitation of civic technology, and (2) the creation of social and urban interventions.

1. It advocates the use of mobile digital tools, extracts and serves functional civic data in more meaningful forms, and helps organize the useful bits of the infinite civic dialog created through their peculiar digital communication mediums (BBS system and non-Facebook social media) to lead to more effective civic actions. Basically, a Taiwanese sister organization of MIT Center for Civic Media, without the development of technology — leave that to MIT.

2. It serves as a local community hall for the sake of constant personal civil experience, allotting time to solving local social and urban problems, and experimenting new forms of social intervention, urban intervention, and activism on a reoccurring basis.

written to narrow down thoughts for MIT Lab and then used for first draft of TFD (older):

In 2013, I volunteered, travelled and lived (any maybe protested) in Taiwan for periods of time. I had good experiences within the society of Taiwan, felt a strong sense of community and civil service, and decided that I will return, with intent to be a part of that positive force.

Past Thoughts:
The following Ideal Objectives and the Development towards them, were written in the past, but are fitting to see my mind:

Ideal Objectives:
I want to continue living in Taiwan, manage a public space in a city, collaborate with organizations here, be a part of my neighborhood, city, and country; I want to be a part of the civic decisions that goes on it, make it better by giving people methods to make civic decisions and methods to take action beyond the recent social media leveraged protests, organize reality to help decision-making; help communities maintain themselves by being aware of local problems, encourage people to socialize and collaborate with neighbors, encourage sharing; further autonomy with self-service housing, workspaces, and work; etc. all those ideals.

Development of tools as the method toward ideal objectives,:
To complete these objectives: there should be tools to help organize people physically and stay up to date with those people digitally, to allow people make civic decisions and take action, to allow people to educate themselves under the circumstances of the current lifestyle, tools to teach community leaders how to organize, to enable community leaders to organize urban data, to match the right solver to the problem; There should be a better designed city to calm people from moving and find people nearby to work with. Simple ideas should exist to facilitate sharing. There should be tools to have local discussion, to corrode corruption; Thanks to Taiwan’s solidarity, the autonomy of the country can be furthered with successful examples of the uses of spaces — housing, education, work, play, and mixes; etc. all those ideal, tools.

On Human Rights and Development:
From the few travels around Taiwan I am aware of social problems: rampant urban development projects, lack of policy, lack of care of policies, lack of enforcement (what do they do?), prostitution, lack of healthcare on the east coast, land conflicts with indigenous peoples, underpaid migrant workers, etc. I am also aware of current social processes: the accumulation of capital, consumerism, urbanization, globalization (migrant workers, language teachers), etc.

I am willing to make efforts toward many of these problems, but my focus is on organizing knowledge (awareness) and people (action), which reflects my experience in programming, design and technology, and knowledge in urban planning.

Outward Radiation of Work:
I have a very materialistic, urban-planning, anarchistic (direct democracy is okay!) philosophy that promotes autonomous societies, and so my Rough Outline of Actions radiates spatially outward, from a place to neighborhood to city to country.

Rough Outline of Actions:
0. See current organizations for experience and determine if any can be used as a public place.

1. Create a physical (and digital) public place. It may be possible to take over a current public space, such as TFD, FabLab or some kind of town hall. It must be accessible to a dense urban area, preferably in a working-class neighborhood.

2. Gather organizational information. Leveraging TFD contacts and my friends from the public realm (Hackerspaces, NTU landscape students, social spaces in Gongguan) quickly gather information about Taiwan’s hierarchy of organizations.

*. Hold workshops. There’s no time for teaching, but I think civic-oriented workshops may come to mind, as I have a need for creativity :) . Teach map-making, Wikipedia editing event, problem-solution design jams, protest tactics against government interventions, etc.

*. I will personally be able to detect local problems, social and material, have an experience (as opposed to relying purely on data, including news) and take action against them. For example, prevent automobile traffic from entering market streets, inform lack of walking and biking lanes for the working class, displace people in poor quality rooftop housing. The action could be from policy-making to direct intervention.

4. The public space also serves as a community hall for the neighborhood. It is a place for people to direct social problems to, and a physical (and digital) forum for discussion.

?. Neighborhood media. Social problems must disperse back to the neighborhood. I haven’t decided how (paper, digital, radio, etc.) yet.

5. Mapping of existing data. The first tool I believe that’s necessary are maps with data. Whatever the problem may be, the physical areas must be identified. In case the data is stuck in ugly government databases and websites, I can leverage friends from Hackerspaces to help here, or do it myself, putting it into a more modern mapping system, available for public use. There are several good existing technologies for this. Other organizations may benefit from learning how to do this. Maybe Taiwan has this, but I personally know of friends who are scraping data from poorly designed or outdated government websites because they are so bad.

6. Creation and mapping of new data. Next there must be a tool for people to create geopoints of interest to begin a forum of discussion, to centralize conversations.

Taiwanese citizens are often very civic-minded people. They talk about problems, but it is often through personal networks (LINE, Facebook, and BBS), private and unorganizable.

I realize that the stipulation of having a digital device will restrict access to residents, but I also believe it just has to be up to the younger generation to pass information to the non-digital users. (Maybe create a radio station for the non-digital?).

I am actually not sure if there is an existing technology for the first point. MIT’s Action Path is close to the idea, but still quite far in execution. But at the least, something can be done about the BBS.

7. Further tools to enable people to take civil actions where it is beyond their own control. Enable people to be able to directly give real and current information to the right organization i.e. sending a picture.

?. City media. Thanks to the political problems, I’m guessing there’s a non-corporate online media source already in place, but I wonder how that information can get to the non-digital audience, and furthermore, non-Chinese language audience.

*. Follow civic crowdsourcing. Can even try to pass the idea of campaigning for bike and motorcycle helmets, for public bike systems in dense urban areas, for laptops, for public libraries, etc.

8. What successful actions I take locally has a chance to propagate to other localities, and other cities. If they do not naturally propagate, then communication to organizations in other towns may be needed, but not forced.

Feasibility of tools:
All tools will use existing web and mobile applications. I highly doubt the need of designing anything new.

Direct interventions may not require tools at all, perhaps just a physical sign, or talking.

On Human Rights and Development again:
I notice that my outline is lacking in human rights. In a country where law enforcement is minimal, therefore rendering many laws useless, I believe working toward better self-governance, education, civil (and ecological) conduct, is better, especially in the case of Taiwan, where the ideology, form my experience, is quite well-natured. For example, if a migrant worker were to come to a clinic without health insurance, I believe it is up to the clinician to do the right thing, and from my experience, this is often positive. More likely the problem, I think, is the lack of resources in less developed areas, in this example, a professionally trained clinician with medicine in the area.

Comments Off on A Project Plan for an Urban Area | Categories: Design, Engineering, Organization, Personal, Self-assessment, Urban Philosophy

What is Worth Reading?

16 July 2014

[TODO: translate to Chinese, related to What is Worth Writing]

[related writings: What is Worth Reading?, Notes on Translations of Ancient Literature, Lessons in Research of a Past Time, The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas]

I’ve read less books than most elementary school children in my lifetime. I was never able to extract as much value per time with enjoyment factored in in books compared to other mediums, and empericism. Wikipedia was enough. Much recently, I listened to an audiobook of Great Ideas in Philosophy provided by the Great Courses; That was successful. After that, I figured out I had huge gaps in my knowledge, and proceeded to create a list of things I felt could be worth reading (or listening) to.


– For philosophy
For the organization of knowledge
For learning how to communicate using human language
ethics– ethical treatises by Aristotle, various essays by Bertrand Russell
politics – The Republic, Politics, The Prince (and other works), and something more modern
– thought-provoking philosophical writings – Philosophical Investigations
– Use audiobooks to consume slowly while simultaneously doing something

Natural Sciences:
– For knowledge of science
For understanding how research works
– prefer large historical or trans-discipline pieces that are up to date – Gödel, Escher, Bach; Thinking, Fast and Slow; A Brief[er] History in Time, Big History from The Great Courses, etc. These books compete with online lectures.

– Biographies of great people:
— For knowledge
— For fun, for experience (possibly my favorite reading material, possibly because it’s most humane; The same reason applies to coming-of-age films)
— Use Wikipedia
— Many of the online lectures cover biographies, to allow more insight on their decisions
— A single book with multiple biographies is best, to ease the comparison of lives

– Essays by great essayists, and possibly the short writings of other great writers
— Experience good writing to help develop one’s own writing style
For knowledge, and fun (same reasons as biographies of great people)

– Language books

[the following was added two years later]
– History
To understand how the world came to be, especially useful to see how cultures have developed
— Similar to biographies, a single book with multiple histories of societies is best, to ease the comparison of societies
— Can use Wikipedia

certain kinds of non-fiction literature:
– anthology
— Similar to a single book with multiple biographies or multiple histories, a single book with multiple writings is a much better experience than any single book
— Similar to History, to see how cultures have developed
— history of philosophical writings
— history of essays
— history of literature
— all of these should be encompass the world, not just the West

For ideas
Penguin Great Ideas series
— Readers for knowledge categories: The Media Studies Reader, etc.

– For art
– Contemporary masterpieces, including comics, especially those of Nobel Prize winners in
Literature. Although, I would likely choose other mediums over this, and empiricism over all all art

[the following was added two years later]
– Magical Realism
for thought-provocation
— Calvino, Borges, etc.

– Philosophical Fiction
for thought-provocation

– Travel Literature
For fun, for experience (similar to reading biographies)
— Travel Journals
— for experience and fun
— Travel Guides
— for history
— Travel Fiction
— for experience and fun


Leave a comment | Categories: Humanities, Literature, Organization, Personal, Philosophy

Organized Things I’ve Written

19 January 2014

[todo: rename philosophy to filosophy. Will it break anchors?]

This post started as a tool for gauging direction using past thoughts, but with some organization (to the discontent of WordPress’s organization), it now resembles a philosophical corpus of a child.

The asterisks (*) have nothing to do with the quality of the content or even the content of the post, rather, it is the importance of the idea to me, as a way of gauging future directions, spaces to explore, [spaces] worth exploring.

original post:
These are posts I felt either are aiming at ideals, are ongoing, or are worth thinking about some more, or pursuing. Nearly all of them were written during a period of isolation after a period of travel.

writings ordered by time (and difference in state of mind)

Final Philosophy 0

(posts between 2011/1/2 – 2014/3/22)
[todo: stopped re-reading (for idea extraction or judging quality by adding asterisks) somewhere in here]
[todo: maybe break this up into I, II, III…)
Why have a personal blog?
A thought about creative careers and the influence of money
Overcoming the internal conflicts of an artist

Film Socialisme
My Justification of Art in Video Games
a List of Game Ideas
What makes a game meaningful and how innovative mechanics aren’t enough

Home (between NY and SF pt. II):
The Choice between Career and Exploration
Inspired by Films (and everything else)

SF pt. II:
Designing Educational Games: The Indie Way
Universalism in Art*
Creative Programming**
Life and Technology

[todo: stopped here]
Creativity Derives from Nothing***
– Life and Education*
– Life and Technology**
– [todo: should finish travel observations series. Hong Kong and Seoul are published here.]
Creativity Derives from Nothing**
Flexibility and Immigration
Time and Value
Flexibility and Learning
a Self-assessment
Organized Things I’ve Written****
A Personal Statement for Design and Technology*
A Personal Statement for Game Design
A Critical Analysis of Super Smash Bros. Melee

Final Philosophy I

(posts between 2014/03/23 – 2014/8/3):
– in retrospect, because I was trying to write while thinking fast, the writings lack vocabulary or use other words to encompass other meanings. I think much of the content is still good, if not better, because they are a closer reflection of my experiences — in the duration of time between experience and thought (and writing), and in the distance between sensory experience and rationalizing.
– from An Attempt to Write Everything I Know and then on, I began writing some, blogging some, using and quoting my thoughts file to gain topics from very recent personal experiences, surprisingly similar to Montaigne. My thoughts file is endless, and it may be impossible to philosophize all of my experiences, but, for the time, I tried.
A Self-assessment II
The Effects of Weather*
Sleeping Problems*

A Foreigner Crashes at the Legislative Yuan’s Slumber Party**
– Nomadism, Culture, and The Playful Quest for Knowledge**
Lone Work and Depression

– The Apex of Mania and Creativity in Taipei*
– Creativity, External Stimuli, Cities, and Suburbs***
Taiwan and Japan: Active and Passive Lifestyles*
The Ideal Method of Learning**
Prose is Superfluous: Active Communication through Play and Art****
Books, Passive Media, and The Internet*
Island Nations and Globalization*
Okinawa is Inhospitable*
My Creative Process, Honing Theory, and Nomadism*
Methods of Sustaining Creativity in The Same Place*
Creativity and Exercise*
Two Phases in Life**
Lateral Thinking, External Stimuli, and Self-Control*
Learning via Empericism**
Game Philosophy
A Sequential List of Game Experiences that I Remember

Why I Love Tsai-Ming Liang’s Films*
Philosophy of Literature: What’s left?
Social Life as Lifetime
Extrovert and Introvert Learning
Hedonism and Wisdom
Hypomania and Creativity
Philosophy from Media versus Life; New York versus the World**
Inaction in a Bookshop in Taipei*
An Attempt to Write Everything I Know**

[todo: stopped reorganization here]
Autonomy of Taiwan***
The Home Fallacy or: Nomadism is Normal****
[todo: stopped cosmetic cleaning of blockquote tags (use cite tag, remove quotes) here]
Why read the Western philosophy canon?
Conciseness in Art**
The Obsolescence of Literature and the Future of Education
How and When to Write, and the Impossibility of a Solitary Life*
The Purpose of a Blog: A Medium for Essays and Self-Assessments
In Praise of Experimental Art Communities**

JRPGs Emulate Travel*

Final Philosophy II

– 2014/9/19 – 2015/1/22
Information Organization, Mediums, Creativity, and Experience*****
Information, Media, and Education***
No more writing****
Public Places***
A Design Strategy for Data****
A Liberal Arts Self Study Curriculum**
Life and Action*
A Few Design Ideas****
What makes a classic, classic?
Hippie Ethics**
The Ideal Public Space*****
Korea and the Apex of SPD**
A Project Plan for an Urban Area****
Happiness and Public Spaces***
My Education*
Wolf Children**
I Think of Dean Moriarty*
Teaching in Poor Places
Start from Nothing
The Ideal Household
The Ideal Neighborhood**
Social Life in Proximity**
The Most Powerful Forms of Art***
Searching for the Greatest Environment Ethics***
New York and Taiwan*****
Survival and Self-expression
Chaos and Organization*
Creativity as Organization from Chaos
Solitude and Depression
賈樟柯’s (Jia Zhangke) Trilogy***
The Limits of Digital Work
Epicureanism in the Suburbs*
The Distance between Humans******
Tools for Organizing***
Tools for Disorganizing**
Epicureanism and Media*
Mapping Grammar**
The Failures of Self-Expression as Charity***
Materials and Media**
Decision-making, Civics, and Technology****
Urban Planning for Solidarity***
DIY Ethics in Developing Countries***
Large and Small Communities
The Speed of Decision-making*
Oral Culture and the Speed of Decision-making****

Final Philosophy III

[todo: some of the posts may exist under a category but not listed here]
– The Ideology of Taiwan[*****]
– Space, Time, and People**
etching out autonomous ideals (Yilan, Taiwan 2015/7? – 2015/9?):
– Self-service Housing
– Self-service Work
– A Thought about Quality
– Awareness and Consciousness**
– The Speed of Ideas***[*]
– A Curriculum of Experience****
How the Material Came to Be[***** potential stars!]
The Revolution Will Not Be in the Bedroom***
– Tools for Autodidacts***
Is Continental Philosophy a Dead End?*
Will to Take Care of Locality**
A Project Plan for an Urban Area****
The Affects of Audio*
Why are [the] arts segregated?***
Working Memory and Community**
Working Memory and Creativity**
Material Organizations and Autonomy****

– pondering directions in Yilan, Taiwan, 2015/9/30 – 2015/12/6
Anchors, Famous Nomads, and The Ideal Nomadic Lifestyle***
Into the Wild
Talking to Myself to Create a Statement Objective***

Final Philosophy IV

criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality
– Yilan, Taiwan, 2015/11/18 – 2015/10/10:
Silicon Valley and Capitalism**
Talking to Myself During a Late Night from an Isolated Place**
Why did I Read?*****
Free from Capitalism****
Awareness and Communication*
Communication, Social Action, and Cities*[*]
Criticism of Innovative Urban Areas**
Communication and Rationality[*]
The Distance between Communication and Reality***
Why I Did What I Did***
I Can Almost See the Sun***
On Humanism***[*]

Final Philosophy V

towards sociology of space, human geography, and environmental psychology:
The Categorization of Knowledge***
Time and Space in Anthropology***
The Organization of the World*
Forms and Design**[***]
The Metropolis and Mental Life by Georg Simmel***[*]
The Practice of Life***[**]
An Interview with Chris Marker***[*]
The Constitution of Space by Martina Löw [draft]
Action and Determinism [draft]
Railroad Space and Railroad Time

Final Philosophy VI

(travel around Taiwan, see schools)
the values of women:
The Values of Good Women [draft]
Letters to Good Women I’ve Met [draft]
Critical Theory in Relationships [draft]
Girl Talk [draft, private]

culture (anarchy, psychology, ideologies) of Taiwan:
Action and Determinism [draft] (again)
Being Political and Not [draft]
Having an Experience and Not [draft]
Mental States and Determinism [draft]
Anarchy and Taiwan [draft]
A List of Ideologies in Taiwanese Culture [pre-draft][*****]
maybe a few more drafts

[todo: skipped many]

critical theory: inclusion / exclusion:
– at Gaoxiong and West Taiwan
A Study Plan*****
School vs City***
Creating Comfortable Spaces
The Way of Including****

media, dialectics, and action:
– at Xizhi
Thoughts, Highlights, Notes, and Dialectics with Media
Media and Action

politics and capitalism (a continuation of culture of Taiwan):
Language and Decision-making****
Capitalistic Behavior[*****]
The Ideal Work[*****]

urban planning, pattern languages:
– at Taida
Noisy Transportation Destroys [Social] Atmosphere***
Transportation Disrupts Sense of Space****
My Blog Contains a Pattern Language

The Boy and the Beast

meditations, being political in an apolitical society, ethics:
– at Taida in isolation
[a continuation of politics and capitalism, especially second part of Language and Decision-making and The Ideal Work]
On Stoicism***

Final Philosophy VII

history, historiography, what is worth reading, kinds of literature (book formats, publishers), the search for ideal societies in the past:
Translations of Laozi and Zuhangzi: A Translation Hell
Translations of Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans [Parallel Lives]
Notes on Translations of Ancient Literature
Lessons in Research of a Past Time
The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas
In Search of a Past Time
Reading Political History
Why Academia is Insular[***] [draft, physical paper]

Education and Communication [draft, physical paper]

My Workflow for Written Expression

Final Philosophy VIII

meditations (continued), society and action:
Philosophy of Music
Childhood and Media and This Recent Lonely Phase****
Action, Attention, and Space*****
Book-shops and Learning**

Final Philosophy IX

[todo: many of the film reviews are old, re-listed here, some re-watched and re-reviewed]
possible ways to live in the current world, anime:
おおかみこどもの雨と雪 (~Wolf Children Ame and Yuki)
おもひでぽろぽろ (~Memories Drip-drop)
幻の光 (~Will-o’-the-wisp)
蛍火の杜へ (~Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light)
– [todo: maybe content doesn’t fit category]
歸途列車 (Last Train Home)
A Japanese Ideal
Creativity, What Society Needs, and What Society Wants[****]
Culture and [Social?] Development[****]
The Ideal Way to Experience***
Sense Deprivation
[note: skipped a few posts]
Film Lists, Watching Life, and Letting the Beauty Emerge

Final Philosophy X


Final Philosophy n

– this is placeholder, scroll up!

writings categorized by a vague direction

Experiential (Ways of Learning)

The Categorization of Knowledge*** (from Philosophy V)
Time and Space in Anthropology*** (from Philosophy V)
School vs City*** (from Philosophy VI)
The Way of Including**** (from Philosophy VI)
Language and Decision-making**** (from Philosophy VI)
The Ideal Work***** (from Philosophy VI)
– Why Academia is Insular[***] (from Philosophy VI)
The Ideal Way to Experience*** (from Philosophy IX)

Practical (Technology, Intervention)

Lost Survival Values and a Proposal (from Philosophy II)
DIY Ethics in Developing Countries*** (from Philosophy II)
Materials and Media** (from Philosophy II)
A Design Strategy for Data**** (from Philosophy II)
Decision-making, Civics, and Technology**** (from Philosophy II)
Tools for Organizing*** (from Philosophy II)
Tools for Disorganizing** (from Philosophy II)
– Tools for Autodidacts*** (from Philosophy III)
Mapping Grammar** (from Philosophy II)
Talking to Myself to Create a Statement Objective***
A Project Plan for an Urban Area**** (from Philosophy III)
A Study Plan***** (from Philosophy VI)

Ideal (Society)

The Ideal Environment (from pre-Philosophy)
The Home Fallacy or: Nomadism is Normal**** (from Philosophy I)
Searching for the Greatest Environment Ethics*** (from Philosophy II)
Anchors, Famous Nomads, and The Ideal Nomadic Lifestyle*** (from Philosophy III)
The Distance between Humans****** (from Philosophy II)
New York and Taiwan***** (from Philosophy II)
Will to Take Care of Locality** (from Philosophy III)
Urban Planning for Solidarity*** (from Philosophy II)
Large and Small Communities (from Philosophy II)

The Ideal Public Space***** (from Philosophy II)
The Ideal Neighborhood** (from Philosophy II)
The Ideal Work***** (from Philosophy VI)
– The Ideal City

– The Ideal Economy
– The Ideal Society

Natural (Autonomous Ideal)

The Home Fallacy or: Nomadism is Normal**** (from Early Philosophy I)
– Autonomy of Taiwan*** (from Philosophy I)
– Self-service Housing (from Philosophy III)
– Self-service Work (from Philosophy III)
Material Organizations and Autonomy**** (from Philosophy III)
Creating Comfortable Spaces (from Philosophy VI)

complete writings (auto-generated)

[todo: the plugin only allows to list by month and year or year, can’t select between two exact dates]

Complete pre-Philosophy

(beginning – 2014/7)

Complete Philosophy I

(2014/3 – 2014/8)

    Complete Philosophy II

    (2014/9 – 2015/1)

    Complete Philosophy III

    (2015/2 – 2015/12)

          Complete Philosophy IV, V, VI, VII…

          (2016/1 – 2016/12)

          Complete Philosophy post-2016

          (2017/1 – 2017/12)

                  notes, highlights, and writings from my knowledge and education text file(s)

                  writings from my thoughts text file(s)

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                  thoughts about this post

                  Over time, this page has been quite useful in gauging importance and directing thought, so I organized it a little more, and added it to the top menu. It probably totally subverts the utility of WordPress’s organization, but it’s all I’ve got as of now!

                  [todo: should really clean this up, clean and finish all drafts, continue using my thoughts files to extract personal ideas and build on them.]

                  I ended up organizing nearly everything I’ve blogged! Hurray! It’s not nearly as exhaustive as my thoughts.txt, but, the hope is, the things I wrote were things that I thought were, at least at the moment of blogging, important.

                  This layout turns out to work really well. I can easily read old writings, remember what I was thinking of, and if I want, etch the thought out further. It also makes it easier to organize, for example, an earlier post titled the The Home Fallacy, clearly has ideas of autonomous ideals. It’s also fun just to play around with it, like a book, skipping to chapters, getting ideas, and creating new paths.

                  This has indeed slowly become my philosophical corpus.

                  But let’s hope I don’t spend much time here.

                  Hmm, can this organization further be automated, so that while I’m outside, using my phone to write thoughts directly here, I will never need to sit down and organize again? WordPress’s organization is indeed terrible. Over time, I’ve nearly created an outline of knowledge in the WordPress’s categories. It’s useless. I guess the list of posts by date is all I’ve got. It sure sucks not being able to generate a list of posts, then edit it, say, adding *’s. I think it’s okay to separate [writings by] periods of time, but perhaps I should avoid re-ordering them by categories.

                  Yeah, forget the organization of words, stick to the organization of people (and material)!

                  Leave a comment | Categories: Essays, Experience, Organization, Personal, Self-assessment, Thoughts

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