Exclusives

Blog post
Yesterday
This post offers a critique of claims that there is an ideal, "Goldilocks density."
Michael Lewyn
Blog post
August 25, 2004, 7pm PDT
Project GutenbergFor those Tech Talk readers who have not yet heard about Project Gutenberg, this is an amazing project that defines the future of the Internet.

Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books. They have published over 12,000 eBooks through the collective efforts of hundreds of volunteers. The Magna Carta was the project's 10,000 e-book, published in October, 2003.
Chris Steins
Feature
August 17, 2004, 12am PDT
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill that institutionalizes form-based zoning for the first time in California history.
Laura Hall and Paul Crawford
Blog post
August 12, 2004, 4pm PDT
AEC Cost Grid The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) commissioned a study to estimate the efficiency losses resulting from inadequate interoperability among computer-aided design, engineering, and software systems in the U.S. capital facilities industry (In 2002, the nation set in place $374 billion in new construction on capital facilities (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004b)).

Now there's apparently a precise measure of the waste caused by fragmentation of IT systems.
Chris Steins
Blog post
August 9, 2004, 11pm PDT
An article in the Los Angeles Times takes a look at how local and national government agencies around the world are increasing adopting Open Source Software (OSS). (See: "Developing Nations See Linux as a Savior From Microsoft's Grip" [Reg. reqd], Los Angeles Time, page A4, Aug 9th, 2004) . According to the article:

"Government-driven movements to shift to free or low-cost software � fed by security, economic and ideological concerns -- threaten to dent Microsoft's ambitions. In fact, government officials the world over, from local authorities in Austria's capital to high-ranking national bureaucrats in India, are increasingly moving from proprietary software such as Microsoft's to open-source products."
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
August 9, 2004, 9am PDT
Washington, DC - in our nation's capital, blogging about a New York Times article about Los Angeles. Isn't technology wonderful?

The Times almost never gets LA right. They cover it like an alien planet, populated by strange, non-New Yorkers who also seem kinda hip (so what's up with that?). Usually, every NYT story about LA begins with the same implicit lead sentence that their coverage of Japan used to: "These freakin' people, you wouldn't believe what they're up to now."

And then comes this
Blog post
August 6, 2004, 8am PDT
The Planning and Regulatory Services Online project [PARSOL], a local e-government initiative in the U.K. has developed a new XML schema for monitoring land use.

[The PARSOL schema] has been designed to provide a standard for planning application monitoring data (used to monitor land use against local and national plans and policies). This schema will be used for the exchange of data at a local, regional and national level...The information covers both residential (housing) and industrial (employment) information gathered from planning application, inspections and reviews.
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
August 4, 2004, 10am PDT
I missed this story in Variety this weekend. It's about movie theaters in downtown Los Angeles as the latest strategy to "revitalize" the neighborhood where my fellow blogger Chris and I used to drive late, late at night when we were kids, to view the postapocalyptic emptiness of it all.

A salient bit:

Almost a century has passed since Hollywood staged its biggest premieres in the urban heart of Los Angeles. But tonight's preem of DreamWorks and Paramount's "Collateral" at the 2,000-seat Orpheum Theater could be a turning point for the opulent movie palaces along South Broadway.
Blog post
August 1, 2004, 8am PDT
Although Zamora, Spain was the first city in the world to implement a true city-wide WiFI network, it appears that Grand Haven, Michigan has become the first city in the United States to implement a city-wide WiFi broadband network.

From the press release:

"As the first WiFi city in America, Grand Haven has truly lived up to its name in the Internet era, as we now allow anyone anywhere to connect to the Internet and roam the city and waterways in a completely secure computing environment," Mayor Bergman said. "The city-wide WiFi service provided by Ottawa Wireless is already enhancing the quality of life for residents and tourists and enabling the city to provide new services."
Chris Steins
Blog post
July 27, 2004, 6pm PDT
Thanks to my friend Noah Shachtman at Defense Tech, now I know about Transportation Futuristics, an ongoing exhibit up the street from me at the University of California at Berkeley. It's chock-full of pictures like this one:



All kinds of wacky transport concepts that never, you should pardon the expression, got anywhere.
Blog post
July 22, 2004, 7am PDT
Where can I buy one?

GM Anti-Sprawl Concept Car Bill Mitchell's Smart Cities group at the MIT's Media Lab has joined forces with architect Frank Gehry and General Motors to design and build a concept car that attempts to tackle urban sprawl.

The article is reported in this week's AutoWeek magazine "M.I.T. lab searches for intelligent life in the fast lane"
Chris Steins
Blog post
July 19, 2004, 3pm PDT
An article in the UK Guardian (via Arts & Letters Daily) takes a wonderfully suspicious look at the "Bilbao Effect," named after the explosion in interest and tourism Bilbao, Spain got when it build Frank Gehry's Guggenheim. Regular readers of this blog (all six of you) may have noted some slight skepticism on my part as to the fundamental aesthetic qualities of Mr.
Blog post
July 14, 2004, 6pm PDT
I don't really have anything to say about this CNN.com story except damn! It's gotta hurt to look out at all the bigger, more popular cities, having all the fun and getting all the hottest sister cities, hosting all the coolest awards shows.

Now officials in some cities and states are looking to reverse the trend -- by marketing themselves as hip places to live and giving college graduates a reason to stay.

In Michigan, [Governor Jennifer] Granholm has launched the "Cool Cities" initiative, a grants program that she insists is more about economic development than just bringing "lattes and bookstores and nightclubs" to her state.

Saugatuck, where residents are renovating an old pie factory into a center for the arts, was among the first to receive one of the state's $100,000 grants.
Feature
July 13, 2004, 12am PDT
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and Carpool Lanes promote congestion, while benefiting few commuters. Charging tolls rather than using HOV lanes will reduce traffic while bringing in much needed transportation funding.
C. Kenneth Orski
Blog post
July 9, 2004, 9pm PDT
I recently downloaded and played around with a neat 3D modeling tool called Sketchup. @Last Software's SketchUp is a 3D modeling package intended to be used by architects and designers who need to quickly outline 3D ideas, but don't care for the difficulty of a CAD program, or the advanced features of a high-end 3D modeler.

SketchUp's toolset is fairly simple, offering a Photoshop-like, two-column tool palette. SketchUp has also a very helpful grid guidance system, with multiple colors to guide you through the 3D orientation plans.
Ken Snyder
Blog post
July 9, 2004, 4pm PDT
On the subject of interesting uses for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), I ran across this fascinating site, Maps and Territories of Gangs in Los Angeles County, while doing some background reading for a new course I'll be teaching at USC on technology and planning.

Territory MapThe author, Alex Alonso, who is himself apparently a PhD candidate in USC's Geography department
Chris Steins
Blog post
July 9, 2004, 12pm PDT
Good story today in the New York Times on parks, new and old, in Manhattan (here's the link, reg. req'd).

City parks -- urban ecology -- is problematic for me. I'm not totally convinced that cities should have parks (yes, yes, you're yelling at me now: Central Park! Olmstead and Vaux! The Emerald Necklace! Golden Gate Park! Griffith Park! Just relax for a minute, cowboy).

Among many smart people, Anne Whiston Spirn
Blog post
July 6, 2004, 6pm PDT
Via SmartMobs, an interesting piece of forthcoming software called CivicSpace. According to the site, it's based on DeanSpace, one of the pieces of social networking software that the Dean for President campaign used as an organizing tool. Salient bits from the description:

CivicSpace is being built with the needs of distributed organizations in mind. It will give you and the supporters within your community a solid framework for organizing and engaging those around you in action. But it also will allow you to plug your community into a network of other communities where you can share your ideas, knowledge, relationships, and organizational information.
Blog post
July 6, 2004, 6pm PDT
I herewith draw your attention to the High Line, an unused, elevated railway that cuts through Manhattan's Meat Packing district. Some good, artsy pictures here, the official site of the organization that wants to redevelop the High Line here and a book with even better artsy pictures (and an essay by brilliant Harvard landscape/urban historian John Stilgoe) here.
Blog post
July 1, 2004, 6pm PDT
We have a Planning Markup Language. Adam Rogers proposed a "Real World Markup Language". Why stop at inanimate objects? Enter the "Human Markup Language".

<world> </world>
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
July 1, 2004, 4pm PDT
Chris has been flacking the idea of metadata specific to urban planning and related fields for a while now (and hey, if you go read that article from planning, ignore the lead -- I just re-read it and, well, what can I say except I was just a kid when I wrote it).

So the basic notion is pretty cool: all the data that an architect, planner, contractor, builder, etc.