weeknote 16

What. A. Week.

I’ve packed five weeks into the last five days. My head is reeling and I’m exhausted, but what an amazing week.

This week has involved LA, San Francisco and Scottsdale, the pneumatic tubes Ignite talk, a 30 person meeting with an organization I’m working with through Institute for the Future, and the opportunity to give a talk about Cedric Price. I’ve submitted a paper to a conference and turned out an article draft for Design Observer’s Places Journal.

Some highlights:

I got lost in some bushes trying to find the grand dinner at Google Zeitgeist at a resort in Scottsdale and accosted someone for directions. When he responded, I had a moment of oh-my-God-I-know-that-voice: it turned out to be Tom Brokaw. I had lunch with the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, discussed conduits and pneumatic tubes with Larry Page, went swimming at 3 a.m., and gave the pneumatic tubes talk to the greatest concentration of fame and leadership that I’ll probably ever meet.

Talking to 30 or 40 people at Adaptive Path about my research was awesome– I’m so grateful to Kate Rutter and Laura Kirkwood-Datta for organizing it and to everyone for turning up! I’ve wanted to share the research I’m doing about Cedric Price with information architects and interaction designers because it seems so similar. I talked about one of the projects I researched this summer: the Oxford Corner House Feasibility Study (1966), an urban information hub for central London built into a massive former restaurant. Price used information as his central material for the building — a very contemporary idea (consider Mike Kuniavsky’s recent talk at Device Design Day, “Information is a Material.”) I never set out to work on a history of information architecture — a term that Richard Saul Wurman coined in 1976 at the AIA Conference –but Price’s work really is an architecture of information. In any case, there will be articles and papers to publish soon. We videotaped the talk and will make it available as well.

We did a great kickoff meeting with Anthony Townsend, Jake Dunagan and Jim Dator for a project at Institute for the Future. I’ve long admired Anthony’s work (I sent him fanmail on his dissertation) and have wanted to work with IFTF for some time. It’s a promising project and great team. Jim founded the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies — and also wrote for one of the issues of Archigram back when. He’s a central figure in the field of futures studies. (Futures Studies even ties into Price’s work: he considered himself a futurist and was listed in the Futures Directory in 1975.)

Tonight, I’ll see most of the people I’m close to in San Francisco. Tomorrow, I hurtle back to LA, starting my position as a writing advisor at Art Center in the graduate Media Design Program. Then finally, finally back to Princeton on Thursday to start off the school year, to focus and formalize the research into a dissertation chapter and get my apartment set up. I’m only midway through September and already, October is brimming over. I’ll return to the West Coast in October for IFTF and Art Center, attend a symposium on place at IBM’s Center for Social Software in Boston, and put on a seminar in Shanghai with Princeton’s Center for Architecture, Urbanism and Infrastructure.

And sleep. Maybe somewhere in there I’ll get some sleep.

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