[ Ø ] Harsh Prakash

Quiet Musings on Cloud, Machine Learning, Big Data, Health, Disaster, et al.

Archive for the ‘Social’ Category

How much does the humanitarian sector have to do to invest into innovation to produce effective results?

without comments

In response to this question at Invest in Humanity – Aid & Trade London:

I think a lot i.e. the humanitarian sector has to invest a lot in order to produce effective innovation because that is the price of good innovation. If that was not the case, good innovation would be easier to come by, and that is why you see in the private sector – where you find arguably the most effective innovation – a lot of money put towards research and development.

Basically, the higher the risk, the more the reward. Conversely, the more the results from innovation, the more the risk or stakes, and therefore, more the investment betting on it.

So now the real question is: How can the humanitarian sector – where resources are limited – then pursue effective innovation?

And I think the answer to that lies in focusing on the other side of capital i.e. the human capital. The humanitarian sector is certainly short on funds, but it is full of passionate people. So it should invest a lot in supporting teams of self-driven individuals who can produce result-driven innovations.

Written by Harsh

April 22nd, 2018 at 10:33 pm

Posted in Education,Social

Tagged with , , , ,

Conference Presentation: GIS TECH 201 – Mapping Mashups

without comments

New Media

without comments

Written by Harsh

June 25th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Interview: Senator Cardin, Maryland, speaks on transportation (2009)

without comments

This is a little fresh air for an old post that was collecting cobwebs as a draftee:

During this year’s Planner’s Day on Capitol Hill, I got an opportunity to interview Senator Cardin on changing federal policies that affect planning. This is an excerpt from our interview. The full interview can be found at the Division’s website.

Harsh – What are some of your main expectations from the next federal surface transportation bill?

Senator – We face three fundamental challenges with the new transportation bill –

With bridges failing, congested roadways, and transit systems strained to the limit, we need to make a major new investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. According to the US DOT, the average annual cost to maintain both highways and bridges at their current level for the next 20 years could reach $78.8 billion, while it would take approximately $131.7 billion per year to improve the condition of both highways and bridges Those figures don’t include the billions more needed for our transit systems and their needed expansions. We must act to make a major new investment in a system that is under extreme stress.

Our transportation policy needs to be reoriented to the nation’s needs in the new century. We need to better integrate our various modes of transportation for handling the nation’s commercial goods. That includes freight rail, harbors, and highway trucking routes, including their interconnection to air freight facilities. Our current system for moving people to and from their work, schools, and recreation also will need to be fundamentally rethought. That will mean a much greater focus on mass transit, alternative modes of transportation, smart growth, reduction in the number of vehicle miles traveled as a policy goal, and so much more. We need a transportation policy that supports our goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reduces the generation of greenhouse gases. The new surface transportation law will not accomplish all of these changes overnight, but the new bill should put us on a fundamentally different path than we have taken in the past.

We will need to explore new ways to fund our national transportation programs. Our current reliance on a static “gas tax” is already coming up short: $8 billion in the current fiscal year. If we are successful in moving more commuters out of their cars and into buses and subways, we will see those gas tax revenues decline, not increase. If we are successful in encouraging people to live where they work and to telecommute, gas tax receipts will fall even further.

Harsh – Given the bridge tragedy in Minneapolis last year and the subsequent findings of the National Transportation Safety Board, do you support in principle the National Plan for Infrastructure Investment, and also as a way to stimulate our economy in a time of financial uncertainty?

Senator – The collapse of the I-35 Bridge was a tragedy for Minnesota and for the nation. The bridge failure resulted in 13 deaths. The accident has already spurred the nation into action.

There are approximately 600,000 bridges on highways throughout the United States. About 51 percent of bridges are state owned, 47 percent are locally owned, and less than two percent are owned by the Federal government or private entities. National surveys indicate that nearly one-quarter of all these bridges are structurally deficient.

In addition to the funds provided directly for the repair of the I-35 Bridge, the Congress provided $1 billion in special funding to address our structurally deficient bridges. Of the 2,584 bridges along the Maryland State highway system, 411 (16 percent) are classified as functionally obsolete.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, the Nation, and others are calling for major infrastructure investments. I support a sustained effort to rebuild our national infrastructure. Doing so will provide an immediate stimulus to our economy and give us the network we need to restore the health of our commercial sector.

PS: Thanks to Mike Burke for arranging this!

* Senator Benjamin Cardin (Wikipedia)
* US Department of Transportation
* US National Transportation Safety Board
* Planning & Technology Today (2009)
* US Green Building Council
* Data 360

Written by Harsh

February 18th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Webinar Series: GIS TECH 101 – Mapping Mashups

with 6 comments

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Awards for 2010

with 2 comments

Category 1: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology to Improve a Plan or Planning Process’ goes to Marc Schlossberg‘s (University of Oregon) ‘Engaging Citizens in Active Transportation Planning with Mobile GIS‘ for its creative use of technology in improving planning processes.

Category 2: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology for Public Participation’ goes to Michael Baker Jr.‘s ‘More For 1604 Social Media Program‘ for its good use of technology to enhance public involvement and participation in planning and decision making processes.

Category 3: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology for a University Urban and Regional Planning Program’ goes to the School of Policy Planning and Development‘s (University of Southern California) ‘Multimedia Boot Camps‘ for its effective use of teaching with technology in preparing future planners for professional work.

Our Award Committee comprised of elected members from the Division Leadership, namely Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Amiy Varma and yours truly. Join us at the award distribution ceremony at our Division Business meeting (National Planning Conference) on Monday, April the 12th (7 AM) in the Hilton New Orleans Trafalgar Room. Congratulations again to all our award winners!

* Technology Division of APA
* Planning & Technology Today

Written by Harsh

March 30th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Follow Up [1]: Rural Clusters and Relative Rurality

with 3 comments

Written by Harsh

February 25th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Les Misérables

with 4 comments

America’s 10 Most Miserable Cities
1 Cleveland, Ohio
2 Stockton, Calif.
3 Memphis, Tennessee
4 Detroit, Mich.
5 Flint, Mich.
6 Miami, Fla.
7 St. Louis, Mo.
8 Buffalo, N.Y.
9 Canton, Ohio
10 Chicago, Ill.

* Cost of Living and Higher Education
* Rural Clusters and Relative Rurality
* Les Misérables by Victor Hugo – Project Gutenberg

Written by Harsh

February 19th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , , , ,

Follow Up [2]: Unshared Sacrifice

without comments

CO2 emissions per capita: Carbon dioxide emissions in metric tons per capita

Population: Midyear estimates of the resident population

* Total Area:
1 Russia 1
2 Canada 2
3 United States 3
4 China 4
5 Brazil 5
6 India 7
7 France 43
7 Japan 61
8 Germany 62
9 United Kingdom 79
* Follow Up [1]: Unshared Sacrifice

Written by Harsh

February 3rd, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Swine Flu

without comments

Written by Harsh

May 3rd, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Mashup,Social

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Follow Up [2]: Debating Net Neutrality: A Nutshell

without comments

Quotes from the recent Net Neutrality Hearings:

David L. Cohen, Vice-President, Comcast– ‘…on a “very limited basis” Comcast was delaying traffic in limited areas when there is heavy traffic.'”Don’t let the rhetoric of some of the critics scare you- there is nothing wrong with network management. Every network is managed.”

Tim Wu, Professor, Columbia Law School– “I have this terrible fear we are going to have an exam after this on what is reasonable network management. And we are all going to fail.”

FCC to Act on Delaying of Broadband Traffic [NYT]
Network Management

Written by Harsh

February 25th, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Social,Technology,Web

Tagged with , , ,

Follow Up [1]: Unshared Sacrifice

with one comment

Written by Harsh

November 25th, 2007 at 12:36 am

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Technology Leaders and Political Bent, 2007

with one comment

Top 3 Contributions Over $2,000 from the Big 3:
• Chen, Ling | Bellevue WA 98006 | – | $4,600 | Hillary Clinton
• Giblett, Leslie | Seattle WA 98119 | Microsoft Visual C++ Box Program Manager | $4,600 | John Edwards
• Gonzalez, Christopher | Glen Ellyn IL 60137 | – | $2,300 | Barack Obama

• Lee, Alissa | San Francisco CA 94114 | Senior Corporate Counsel, International Affairs | $4,600 | Barack Obama
• Merrill, Douglas | Danville CA 94526 | Vice President, Engineering | $4,600 | Barack Obama
• Cerf, Vinton | Mc Lean VA 22102 | Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist | $4,200 | Hillary Clinton

• Goldberg, David | Atherton CA 94027 | Vice President and General Manager of Music | $4,600 | Hillary Clinton
• Semel, Terry | Beverly Hills CA 90212 | Chairman and Chief Executive Officer | $4,600 | Hillary Clinton
• Garlinghouse, Brad | Menlo Park CA 94025 | Senior Vice President, Communications, Communities, and Front Doors | $2,300 | Barack Obama
• Map of Contributions to Presidential Campaigns, New York Times [NYT]
• Presidential Campaign Finance Map, Federal Election Commission [FEC]


• Political Equilibrium
• Godin, Seth | Irvington NY 10533 | Author, Speaker and Blogger | $999 | John Edwards
• US Technology Administration

Written by Harsh

June 16th, 2007 at 10:30 pm

Unshared Sacrifice

without comments

Written by Harsh

May 27th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Cost of Living and Higher Education

with one comment

As I returned from the American Planning Association‘s 2007 National Planning Conference in Philadelphia, I rummaged through some past papers and chanced upon a letter.

Thomas Jefferson or William Penn?

When I look back to why I chose UVA over UPenn, the cost of living at Charlottesville v. Philadelphia, not Public Ivy v. Ivy League, proved to be the determining factor given finances. Although Charlottesville’s small-town vibe didn’t reconcile well with the “urban” in Urban Planning, and UVA did not play to my love of physical design (focusing more on the sociological aspects of planning that I, well, now believe to be closer to the core principles of planning), it was an enriching ride.

So, as some of you may be deciding on which offer letter to accept this fall, here is a little advice – focus on the one you really want and everything else might just fall in place.

Good luck!

In the Planning Studio inside the Architecture School at UVA

In the Planning Studio inside the Architecture School at UPenn

PS: Compared to UPenn, UVA has smaller graduate programs and endowments. And it feeds the Washington DC metro’s job market. UPenn, on the other hand, has a stronger focus on spatial analytics and feeds the New York metropolitan region. So spare a thought to where you would like to spend, or at least start, your professional career. A note for foreign students – UVA has a good number of, for lack of a better word, “southern aristocracy” flocking to its classes, while UPenn has a larger international student population. So stay north of the Mason-Dixon line, if you have a choice.

*• USATODAY – ‘Mr. Jefferson would be proud’: Charlottesville is No. 1
Rural Clusters and Relative Rurality:
• Albemarle VA | $37,638 | 0.358 | $13,474.40
• Philadelphia PA | $29,755 | 0.037 | $1,100.935
* Roughly, the higher the Relative Rurality, the further the dollar would go
• Cities Ranked & Rated: ‘The Ten Best Places to Live [2005]’ and ‘2005 Best Places to Live’
• 1 | Charlottesville VA
• 76 | Philadelphia PA-NJ
*• Frost, Robert. The Road Not Taken. http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15717
•* More
* Ways to give

Written by Harsh

April 22nd, 2007 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Education,Social

Tagged with , ,

Rural Clusters and Relative Rurality

with one comment

The US Economic Development Administration [EDA], in conjunction with the State of Indiana, has recently released an interesting research titled “The Role of Regional Clusters: Unlocking Rural Competitiveness” [2007] on the benefits of regionalism in rural America.

One of the primary objectives of this research is to help rural America find its competitive edge in our rapidly globalizing world. It accompanies another research in a similar vein named “Rural Clusters of Innovation: Berkshires Strategy Project- Driving a Long-Term Economic Strategy” [2006]– a public-private study funded in part by the US Department of Commerce. These 2 studies follow an earlier precursor report titled “Competitiveness in Rural US Regions: Learning and Research Agenda” [2004] led by the Harvard Business School. That report arrived at 2 main conclusions:

• ‘Capacity for regional innovation is often driven by industry ‘clusters”.
• ‘Clusters also significantly enhance the ability of regional economies to build prosperity’.

First, some quick background:

Clusters– industry and region, have been defined as ‘broad networks of companies, suppliers, service providers, institutions and organizations in related industries that, together, bring new products or services to a market’. A cluster-based approach provides an effective planning tool for economic development in the rural countryside. Graphically, I can summarize a rural cluster like so:

Pi: Quiet Musing [© Imagezoo/Images.com/Corbis]

The research’s findings, lessons, conclusions, recommendations and directions that I found relevant are:

• ‘Labeling a region around a single cluster or economic activity is too simplistic due to considerable co-location of clusters’
• ‘Clusters most strongly associated with higher levels of economic performance are business and financial services; IT and Telecom; and printing and publishing’.
• ‘Human capital, as measured by educational attainment, is the primary factor related to differences in income growth among counties’.

This research also underlines the importance of spatial technologies as follows:

• ‘Much of the analysis of rural America has been overly simplistic. GIS tools and advanced spatial analyses are not commonly used. It is important that greater use of these powerful approaches be applied to a wide range of issues facing rural America’.
• ‘Mapping is particularly helpful to illustrate and communicate data on clusters’.

Some of the maps coming out of this research can be found here.

Anyway, as I see it as a Planner, an uneasy socio-cultural issue remains unenlightened, and that is…

When you take rural America or for that matter rural Anywhere, and strip it of all its social stereotypes and negatives, you are left with something or end up attracting something that is far from rural- something that will jump, skip and run to the New Yorks of our world in time.

Pi: Quiet Musing [© DLILLC/Corbis] Rural Anything does not clamor for riches; it does not yearn for the hustle-and-bustle of urban life, or for its smog-filled jam-packed commute traffic, or for that neck-breaking workday; it is not awed by the many skyscrapers of the City on whom it conveniently blames all social ills; none of the multi-cultural nightlife or rebellious ways.

Pi: Quiet Musing [© Imageplus/Corbis] Rural Anything simply desires simplicity- a dog yawning in the backyard farm; a winding trail to work; free parking; quiet and quaint neighborhoods topped by the clichéd church tucked away inside the folds of its countryside; fishing expeditions on weekends; just yearning to stretch on a summery afternoon without having to worry about city-like pollutions and crimes; content only to drift and conform to its tightly-knit value-system.

It is a different “make” of people.

How then do you convince it to join the rat-race?


• As I see it, Relative Rurality- a measure used in this research, helps answer the age-old question: How far would the dollar go? Roughly, the higher the Relative Rurality, the further the dollar would go
Pi: Quiet Musing

• More
• Even More
• A Lot More

Written by Harsh

March 21st, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Follow Up [2]: Katrina Links

with one comment

Former senator Stafford of Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, familiar to anyone requesting, managing and mapping disaster grants under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program [HMGP] AKA Buyout Program, dies at 93.

“FEMA Told to Resume Storm Aid”
• Blogs about this article
• “Katrina Victims in Limbo as FEMA Appeals Aid Order”
• Government Accountability Office [GAO] Report: Abstract– Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Disaster Relief. Continued Findings of Fraud, Waste and Abuse. GAO-07-252T. December 6, 2006
• Video: Reactions from the Grassroots– Effects of Flood Map Modernization [Map Mod] Program’s Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps [DFIRMs] on National Flood Insurance Program’s [NFIP’s] Ordinance Updates
• Pre-Disaster Mitigation [PDM] Grant Program

Written by Harsh

December 23rd, 2006 at 1:30 pm

Why do you like Geography?

with one comment

Here’s one of many reasons:

“… And then the strange people of Asia- the Tartars, who are such splendid horsemen; the Arabs, who travel over the deserts upon camels, and at night stop and tell stories to each other; and the Hindoos, who burn their widows and drown their children, thinking these things are pleasing to God; and the Chinese, who eat puppies and rats, and furnish all the world with tea; and the Turks, with their big turbans- what a wonderful thing it is that in one little book we may learn all about these queer [sic] people.

Perhaps I like geography the more for this reason: Uncle Ben has a great many pictures of different countries, with the people who live there; and when I am studying about a country I look over these pictures…”

[Goodrich, Samuel G [Peter Parley]. pp 45. Chapter V- Geography. The Adventures of Billy Bump on the Pacific Coast- A tale of ’49. 1793-1860. http://www.openlibrary.org/details/billybump00goodarch ]


Written by Harsh

August 26th, 2006 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Geography,Social

Tagged with ,

Follow Up [1]: Katrina Links

without comments

Written by Harsh

August 16th, 2006 at 10:11 pm

International Outreach

without comments

One of the pleasures of my current job is the annual opportunity to interact with professionals from around the world, thanks to the International Visitor Leadership Program. During these interactions, I share with the visiting delegations how regional government works in the Virginias.

Pi: Quiet Musing
Mayoral Delegation from the Republic of Tajikistan, 2006

Pi: Quiet Musing
Public and Private Sector Delegation from the Russian Federation, 2005

I always end my presentation on regional governance and SIS with a quick display of Google Earth when we try to locate the remote places the delegation members come from. As can be deduced from these pictures, the members stand in rapt attention of how one private enterprise gives back to the greater common good.

* Theories and Approaches in Local Government Studies

Written by Harsh

January 24th, 2006 at 8:09 pm

Brain Hypnosis

without comments

An intriguing article that may help those interested in best meeting project expectations in a team-setting. Here is my take on that- for rewards, it is often best if expectations are lower than the actual; for punishments, it is often best if expectations are higher than the actual; so that in both cases, the resulting momentum is kept pointing upward. The old adage of “under-promise over-deliver” follows along the same line.


“… The probe, called the Stroop Test, presents words in block letters in the colors red, blue, green and yellow. The subject has to press a button identifying the color of the letters. The difficulty is that sometimes the word ‘Red’ is colored green. Or the word ‘Yellow’ is colored blue.

For people who are literate, reading is so deeply ingrained that it invariably takes them a little bit longer to override the automatic reading of a word like ‘Red’ and press a button that says green. This is called the Stroop effect.

Sixteen people, half highly hypnotizable and half resistant, went into Dr. Raz‘s lab after having been covertly tested for hypnotizability. The purpose of the study, they were told, was to investigate the effects of suggestion on cognitive performance. After each person underwent a hypnotic induction, Dr. Raz said:

‘Very soon you will be playing a computer game inside a brain scanner. Every time you hear my voice over the intercom, you will immediately realize that meaningless symbols are going to appear in the middle of the screen. They will feel like characters in a foreign language that you do not know, and you will not attempt to attribute any meaning to them.

This gibberish will be printed in one of four ink colors: red, blue, green or yellow. Although you will only attend to color, you will see all the scrambled signs crisply. Your job is to quickly and accurately depress the key that corresponds to the color shown. You can play this game effortlessly. As soon as the scanning noise stops, you will relax back to your regular reading self’…

In highly hypnotizables, when Dr. Raz’s instructions came over the intercom, the Stroop effect was obliterated, he said. The subjects saw English words as gibberish and named colors instantly. But for those who were resistant to hypnosis, the Stroop effect prevailed, rendering them significantly slower in naming the colors.

When the brain scans of the two groups were compared, a distinct pattern appeared. Among the hypnotizables, Dr. Raz said, the visual area of the brain that usually decodes written words did not become active. And a region in the front of the brain that usually detects conflict was similarly dampened.

Top-down processes overrode brain circuits devoted to reading and detecting conflict, Dr. Raz said, although he did not know exactly how that happened. Those results appeared in July in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…”

Sandra Blakeslee

• NYT Article

Written by Harsh

November 22nd, 2005 at 7:10 pm

Posted in Education,Social

Tagged with , ,

Katrina Links

without comments

Rethinking Flood Insurance” [09/21/2005]: A timely but poorly-researched editorial in The Washington Post on the levee problems plaguing the National Flood Insurance Program.

As much as some may cringe to what they see as their tax-dollars being spent on bail out, the often-omitted fact remains that many New Orleanians were not required by the National Flood Insurance Program to purchase flood insurance because they enjoyed the protection of levees. So the federal government through the Corps of Engineers is at least partly responsible for creating a false sense of security by failing to repair levees in a timely manner. Bear in mind that the State of California has been asked by its court to shoulder responsibility for damages from failure of levees for which it is a sponsor. And if we did not cry “welfare state” when the federal government stepped in to ease out the airline industry after 2001, surely we can hush our moans now.

For more discussion points, refer to this white paper by the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

While on this disaster as one watches events unfold, it becomes clear that an infuriating management style marked by a “hands-off” approach that is prone to making excuses for ignored red flags can only get rewarded for ideological and rhetorical reasons rather than merit. And such a management style finds a willing bed-partner in a “let’s-eat-at-steakhouse-since-the-proceeds-go-towards-relief-efforts” empathy-response. In itself, such a response cannot be right all the time for it is primarily detached and “feel good”.

The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 had laid down clear requirements to plan for such events. And as I understand, the National Incident Management System laid down a similar framework with regards to response-coordination. But no amount of planning [State of Louisiana Hazard Mitigation Plan, State of Alabama Hazard Mitigation Plan] could prevent the failure from happening.

Having observed this breakdown in leadership and with some benefit of experience, I cannot stress enough how planners should restrict their impulse to pen a plan for every problem and how they should also focus on becoming “political actors” for one cannot write a plan that accounts for the failure in carrying out the plan itself.

On another note, many of the residents of New Orleans were not required by the National Flood Insurance Program to purchase flood insurance since they were protected by levees. Although non-discriminatory exceptions can always be made, this further complicates relief efforts as it currently limits the amount of disaster assistance available through certain agencies.

• Blogs about this editorial
• Katrina
• Craigslist: Lost and Found- New Orleans LA, Baton Rouge LA
• Red Cross: Family Links Registry
• Lycos: Missing Persons Search
• Housing Information Gateway
• Shelter Map
• Information Map
• ESRI: Katrina Disaster Viewer
• Google Earth: Imagery
• NYT: Draining New Orleans Map
• Contact: Mitigation Planners and Substantial Damage Assessors

Written by Harsh

September 21st, 2005 at 7:09 pm

A Rose by Any Other Name

with 4 comments

The definition of GIS has evolved from ‘Geographic Information System’ to ‘Geospatial Information System’. It is time now that it takes the next logical step to ‘Spatial Information System’. My earlier post wrestled, well not quiet, for a truer understanding of “GIS” given the advent of non-traditional spatial software. Since then I have been convinced that spatial information is better understood by snapping links that tie, and thus confine, it to geography.

Inside Space- An Unventured “GIS” Frontier? Magnetic Resonance Image [MRI] of my right-wrist

It is therefore disappointing that some professionals continue to look at spatial information from behind the narrow screens of geography. Hopefully, with the entry of non-traditional market forces, this viewpoint will be shaken to the point of abandonment. A truer appreciation of spatial information will require a visual mindset where all spatial components to information are addressed.


• Front, Side and Top View: Construct two valid isometric projections

• Find the missing piece

Written by Harsh

June 10th, 2005 at 7:04 pm

Declaration of Interdependence

without comments

“As we become aware of the ethical implications of design, not only with respect to buildings, but in every aspect of human endeavour, they reflect changes in the historical concept of who or what has rights. When you study the history of rights, you begin with the Magna Carta which was about the rights of white, English, noble males. With the Declaration of Independence, rights were expanded to all landowning white males. Nearly a century later, we moved to the emancipation of slaves and during the beginnings of this century, to suffrage, giving the right to women to vote. Then the pace picks up with the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and then in 1973, the Endangered Species Act. For the first time, the right of other species and organisms to exist was recognised. We have essentially “declared” that Homo Sapiens are part of the web of life. Thus, if Thomas Jefferson were with us today, he would be calling for a Declaration of Interdependence which recognises this. This Declaration of Interdependence comes hard on the heels of realising that the world has become vastly complex, both in its workings and in our ability to perceive and comprehend those complexities. In this complicated world, prior modes of domination have essentially lost their ability to maintain control. The sovereign, whether in the form of a king or nation, no longer seems to reign”.

William McDonough [WIKI]; Architect, William McDonough Architects; Centennial Sermon On the 100th Anniversary of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

• 2004 National Design Awards: Environment Design Finalists
• Virginia Association for Mapping and Land Information Systems 2001 Annual Scholarship: Growth Study for Charlottesville VA for 2000-2030- Analysis and Possible Energy-Conscious Applications

Written by Harsh

June 5th, 2005 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , ,

Tech One

with one comment

My pick of technology-related headlines from The New York Times Page One 1851-2002:

• Pi: Quiet Musing
[10/18/1907] Signalizing the opening of the Marconi Service to the public, and conveying a message of congratulation from Privy Councillor Baron Avebury, formerly Sir John Lubbock
• Pi: Quiet Musing
[01/08/1927] Opening new radiophone service; First private call to The New York Times
• Pi: Quiet Musing
[10/05/1957] The Naval Research Laboratory announced early today that it had recorded four crossings of the Soviet earth satellite over the United States
• Pi: Quiet Musing
[07/21/1969] Astronauts land on plain; Collect rocks; Plant flag

Since the most important technological developments in the time period covered occured in the western world, and since The New York Times can safely be assumed to best mirror these developments, notwithstanding the selective sample included in Page One, I consider these to be our most important technology-related headlines from 1851 to 2002. Although, sometimes technological change can seep in without so much as a loud knock or one bold headline [think Internet].

For those wondering about a headline that may seem conspicuous by its absence, say one that heralds the omnipresent automobile, keep in mind the time period covered. It is widely accepted that the automobile, for example, was invented by France’s Nicolas Cugnot between 1725-1804.

• LoC: Auto
• Wikipedia: Automobile
• Encyclopedia: Automobile
• Encarta: Automobile
• About: Automobile History
• Mercedes-Benz: History


• From the same source, my pick of highly arguable socio-political turning points important to a broad American psyche:

[12/08/1941] Japan wars on US and Britain
[08/07/1945] First atomic bomb dropped on Japan
[05/18/1954] High Court bans school segregation
[04/30/1975] Minh surrenders, Vietcong in Saigon
[09/12/2001] US attacked

Written by Harsh

March 29th, 2005 at 10:12 pm

Posted in Social,Technology

Tagged with ,

Making Public Policy: A Nutshell

without comments

Nutshell: “‘Substituting tax-increase with state lottery’ [Policy – Director/Manager/Planner] as a means to generate additional revenue. Here, it becomes important to first find the ‘percentage of non-gamblers/gamblers/disinterested in the effected constituency’ [Information – Spatial Analyst] because ‘opposition to such a move is more likely to come from non-gamblers’ [Theory – Planner]”.

Nutshell adapted from [Skinner, B. Beyond Freedom and Dignity. 1971].

Such a policy-decision can then be supported by any of the many preferred values for its successful adoption: Religious Value- ‘Scriptures say lottery is a sin, but taxing is a bigger sin. Hence…’; Nerdy Value- ‘People who are weak in probability must pay for it. Hence…’; and so on.

By similarly lopsiding options and obfuscating issues, policy-makers often nudge the intellectually lethargic mass along a preferred course.

*• “There is no subjugation as perfect as the one which keeps the appearance of freedom, for in that way, it captures volition itself” [Rousseau, Jean-Jacques].
•* Political Equilibrium
* Operant Conditioning
Pi: Quiet Musing
SOL = Standard of Life
c = Consumers
l = Labor
p = Producers
e = Environmental Resources

Written by Harsh

February 22nd, 2005 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , ,

Tsunami Links

with one comment

Written by Harsh

January 5th, 2005 at 6:10 pm

Wanted: Proactive Policies

with 2 comments

What is the most effective method to spread the digital wave, especially of the spatial kind, in rural communities and developing countries? The following links offer some fodder, although Korea left the company of developing nations some time ago. A lot of talk has centered around the potential of wireless to bridge the digital chasm between the Knows and the Know-nots in places lacking adequate infrastructure.

• “Broadband Korea”
• “Broadband Wonderland”
• “South Korea leads the way”

More musing on this topic with time.

• Political Equilibrium

Written by Harsh

November 14th, 2004 at 6:40 pm

Posted in LBS,Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Social Software

without comments

Interesting blog on Life With Alacrity about Social Software. For the ignoramus, crudely put Social Software or Groupware or Collaborative Software is software that facilitates group interaction. Often, there is “no overt coordination with the group functioning as an aggregation of interested individuals” rather than as a cohesive unit.

Two intriguing perspectives on the internet from the blog:
• “By ‘augmenting human intellect’ we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems” [Engelbart. Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. 1962].
• “To appreciate the importance the new computer-aided communication can have, one must consider the dynamics of ‘critical mass,’ as it applies to cooperation in creative endeavor. Take any problem worthy of the name, and you find only a few people who can contribute effectively to its solution. Those people must be brought into close intellectual partnership so that their ideas can come into contact with one another. But bring these people together physically in one place to form a team, and you have trouble, for the most creative people are often not the best team players, and there are not enough top positions in a single organization to keep them all happy. Let them go their separate ways, and each creates his own empire, large or small, and devotes more time to the role of emperor than to the role of problem solver” [Licklider. The Computer as a Communication Device. 1968].

• Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems
• Open Groupware
• “A group is its own worst enemy”
• Friend of a Friend
• Applications: E-voting, WAP, Blogging […of course!]

• “Friendly foxes are cleverer”

Written by Harsh

October 30th, 2004 at 7:02 pm