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apolaine
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Thanks for that review. I had Black Swan in my hands just yesterday in the bookshop and had that "Oh, this is just Freakonomics/Tipping Point all over again" moment. Maybe I'll give it another chance.
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What a great project a write-up. I loved the sketches too - people seem to completely forget their bodies when engrossed in technology. I made a Lost in Text Flickr pool along similar lines: http://www.flickr.com/groups/lostintext/
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Sydney's transport infrastructure does indeed leave a lot to desired and I never really get the feeling that it's separate cultural centres are all that joined. It's seems to me to be a much more either/or scenario on an evening out in Sydney than the kind of one place for a show. another for food, another for a drink chain that you'd maybe do in London or Berlin. I'd love to see Sydney grow more of a heart (in both senses of the word) - pedestrianising Oxford Street would be a good start. Now, just to defend my tiny town a little. I would still argue it's culturally rich *for a small town*. It's obviously not London or Berlin, but compared to, say Ipswich in the UK, that's nearly double the size, it's much richer. And more pleasant. Now, I would agree it's probably not as diverse culturally, but that's what all those other countries nearby in Europe are for ;-). I'm 20 minutes from Strasbourg in France, 45 minutes from Switzerland and about 3 hours from Austria and Italy. There's that transport infrastructure aspect again. Germany is big, but feels small because you can anywhere quite quickly and comfortably. England is small, but going from London to Newcastle feels like an expedition, albeit one equipped with jumbo packets of Walkers crisps and a manky cheeseburger. I don't find Australian cities all that diverse really - in that sense I find Australia geographically way out of proportion with it's cultural 'size' (which I find small and often stiflingly so, much as I love Australia). I think the live event is the thing to focus on here, maybe. We have lots of live stuff here in Offenburg, which is maybe why I find it 'rich' compared to some places in the UK (where, I would suggest, there is a much greater TV watching culture - maybe because TV is a lot better there). But whilst broadcast media haven't died, the way they make their casting broad, as it were, has, er, broadened, and is time-shifted. Of course any of those other media can be a national or international shared experience - YouTube memes are just that. But really the live event is about the liveness of it, if that makes sense. Not just being there (because you might be watching/listening to it on TV/Internet/Radio), but the fact that it could all go wrong at any time. That, at least, is always my experience of theatre. I find theatre actually quite a private experience, unlike say a music gig, but it's the fact that there are real people on stage pretending to be other people pretending there's nobody watching that is the 'liveness'. Music, on the other hand, which is where this all started, really does benefit from the live audience. Even if you're right at the back and essentially watching the live act on big telly, the experience is very, very different to watching it on TV. But I think that has a everything to do with the make-up of music and the way musicians play and respond to an audience. Another thought is to do with the little brother Syndrome, which both Brisbane and Melbourne (less so) have. That is, they have to try that little bit harder to out-do their bigger sibling(s), but on the other hand are a lot cooler and more relaxed. This kind of competition only really happens with cities over a certain size doesn't it? I think that affects the creative cultural scene. These aren't really terribly coherent steps of an argument I'm putting forward here, more rambling thoughts now... sorry.
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And another thing... Something else that just crossed my mind is that most Australian cities, being coastal, cheat in terms of being urban. Being able to take walk, take a quick bus or bike ride to the beach at the start or end of the day – plus all that sunshine – really puts them in a different category from, say, London or Manchester. There's less reason to want to live in a smaller city (and 'telecommute') if the one you're in has a built-in, free, holiday destination.
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"Suggesting that ICT might enable decentralisation instead is focusing on technology at the expense of understanding what people do with it" is the key point here, I agree. It's important to remember the corollary, which is that people leave cities for other reasons too. What is different, though, is that some people (like me, working in mainly digital industries) are really able to leave a big city and still benefit from work coming out of them. That wouldn't have been possible without a decent ICT infrastructure in the small town in Germany in which I live. Being near to an airport and being able to use Germany's excellent rail network also helps. Australia's problem is that everything outside of the cities is so damn far away and the infrastructure drops off very quickly, like a technological continental shelf. I think the other thing is that your looking at this with a very British/Australian view, countries in which much is centralised around one or two cities. That's not necessarily true in other countries (not in Germany at least). Now, my case is not that I'm telecommuting from a remote urban place – I still live in a town, just a smaller, much more pleasant one than London (or Sydney for that matter - though I still miss the beaches and food). That drop-off I mentioned doesn't really happen so much here, whereas in the UK and Australia there's a real shift as soon as you get out of the major cities. Here, smaller towns often have very good infrastructure and really are a viable alternative - the best of both worlds if you like. I agree that remote-working (let's say that rather than telecommuting) won't decentralise cities. People come to cities for other reasons, not just work, but they leave them for plenty of other reasons too – one of which is that they're just too crowded. But as it becomes less weird to be working with people over the interweb, I think there is the possibility that smaller towns become less dead because they have the possibility to set themselves up as one of those best-of-both-worlds places. Incidentally, what stifled the music scene in Australia was the introduction of another technology: Poker machines. They stripped pubs and bars of their live music.
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I've been there often (my PhD supervisor is at UTS, even though I'm in Germany now) and I like the building too. Inside. It's still too much of a monolith for me outside, although I share some of your thoughts on the staircase. But the sense of space inside is great. Macquarie Uni (especially the library) has a bit of that brutalism going on too. You might want to check out Surry Hills Police Station too. There's some good photos here.
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You're right. the views are good. But they're pretty good all over Australia because the sky seems, well, just a lot higher than in the UK or Europe. The thing about living in Australia for a while is that you love it at first, hate it a bit later, love it some more and then become accustomed to it and then realise that it really is a foreign country, you were just tricked into thinking it wasn't by the language. The other thing is that if you leave your own country long enough you realise you're a foreigner everywhere, including your home country. It was a weird moment when I realised I didn't get any of the cultural references my friends and family in the UK were making.
Toggle Commented Sep 5, 2007 on The View at cityofsound
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Wow that's bonkers. And I thought the rain here in the south of Germany in mid summer was weird.
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I'm really glad to hear that was the case at HTTP. It wasn't meant to be a pop at them at all, for the record. From my correspondence with the Game / Play curators I realised they were planning something more playful than the usual white box. I was sad that I couldn't go to the opening and see it for myself.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2006 on The Implicate Game at The Play Ethic
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