This weekend I was at Alterconf Paris, where I talked to a fiercely smart young man about all matter of things. I kept mentioning books and talks and articles he should read and watch. This is a summary of them.
Architecture and Society
The books of Christopher Alexander, in particular A Pattern Language series (this site is terrible, and yes, that’s the official site;) have had a great influence on how I approach cities and communities. Perhaps just as much as Kropotkin‘s essays on the state.
Design and Social Justice
Design is an act of social (in)justice. On a global level, Victor Papanek explores this in a way that can be felt viscerally in his (second) edition of Design for the Real World. For a slightly smaller than global scale, I recommend Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. It also makes for a good introduction into design thinking. Perhaps a tangent, but it’s interesting that the Papanek Foundation’s Archive is not openly accessible, despite Papanek being a fierce critic of the concept of copyright and patents. Design of Systems and the resulting social (ir)responsibilities are Maciej Cegłowski‘s forte. Pretty much all of his talks are very watchable or readable. In one of my favourite ones he tries to give the Internet a Human face
Education and Politics
A lot of my education is self-inflicted. Even before showing interest in works of Anarchism, I was strongly anti-authoritarian. Sir Ken Robinson TED Talk (perhaps the TED Talk) Do Schools kill creativity makes for a good summary of what (I think) is wrong with schools. This doesn’t quite answer why that is, and where it will move in the future, where more and broader parts of education are influenced by technology and its creators and facilitators.
Media and Critique
Every piece of art can be read in any number of ways. Some of those may be more correct than others. Others might make for a more interesting viewing of the same piece. An excellent (short) example of that is this remix of a Ferris Bueller trailer. A slightly longer one is this exploration of Nolan’s Inception as a Homage to Filmmaking. Perhaps one of the best angles of criticism I’ve read is Sam Keeper’s comparison of Madoka Magica with Ursula Le Guin’s The Ones who walk away from Omelas.