Field Trip 02: POPOS, Mona Caron, and Flipping a Switch

Photo courtesy of Tony Foster.

Photo via Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

Yesterday, we experienced three different modes of public engagement. We started our meeting at one of the POPOS (Privately Owned Private Open Spaces) at the 1 Kearny building. We then headed to meet with Mona Caron, a visual artist, muralist, and illustrator residing in San Francisco. After hearing talk about her process, we headed to the event “Flipping the Switch to Light Up Central Market.”

More Info:

POPOS: The Secrets of San Francisco
Weeds by Mona Caron
A Brush With the Tenderloin
SF Chronicle article about the “Light Up Central Market” event

Six Rules for Effective Forecasting by Paul Saffo

Rule 1: Define a Cone of Uncertainty
A cone of uncertainty delineates the possibilities that extend out from a particular moment or event. The most important factor in mapping a cone is defining its breadth, which is a measure of overall uncertainty. In other words, the forecaster determines what range of events or products the cone should encompass. Drawing the cone is a dynamic process, and what we see here is just one iteration.

Rule 2: Look for the S Curve
Change rarely unfolds in a straight line. The most important developments typically follow the S-curve shape of a power law: Change starts slowly and incrementally, putters along quietly, and then suddenly explodes, eventually tapering off and even dropping back down.

Rule 3: Embrace the Things That Don’t Fit
The novelist William Gibson once observed: “The future’s already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” The leading-edge line of an emerging S curve is like a string hanging down from the future, and the odd event you can’t get out of your mind could be a weak signal of a distant industry-disrupting S curve just starting to gain momentum.

Rule 4: Hold Strong Opinions Weakly
One of the biggest mistakes a forecaster—or a decision maker—can make is to over rely on one piece of seemingly strong information because it happens to reinforce the conclusion he or she has already reached. This lesson was tragically underscored when nine U.S. destroyers ran aground on the shores of central California on the fog-shrouded evening of September 8, 1923.

Rule 5: Look Back Twice as Far as You Look Forward
Marshall McLuhan once observed that too often people steer their way into the future while staring into the rearview mirror because the past is so much more comforting than the present. McLuhan was right, but used properly, our historical rearview mirror is an extraordinarily powerful forecasting tool. The texture of past events can be used to connect the dots of present indicators and thus reliably map the future’s trajectory—provided one looks back far enough.

Rule 6: Know When Not to Make a Forecast
It is a peculiar human quality that we are at once fearful of—and fascinated by—change. It is embedded in our social vocabulary, as we often greet a friend with the simple salutation, “What’s new?” Yet it is a liability for forecasters to have too strong a proclivity to see change, for the simple fact is that even in periods of dramatic, rapid transformation, there are vastly more elements that do not change than new things that emerge.

Even in periods of dramatic, rapid transformation, there are vastly more elements that do not change than new things that emerge.

Read Full Article @ Harvard Business Review

Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin

First published in 1999, this celebrated history of San Francisco traces the exploitation of both local and distant regions by prominent families—the Hearsts, de Youngs, Spreckelses, and others—who gained power through mining, ranching, water and energy, transportation, real estate, weapons, and the mass media. The story uncovered by Gray Brechin is one of greed and ambition on an epic scale. Brechin arrives at a new way of understanding urban history as he traces the connections between environment, economy, and technology and discovers links that led, ultimately, to the creation of the atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race. In a new preface, Brechin considers the vulnerability of cities in the post-9/11 twenty-first century. Via UCPress

Field Trip 01: 16th & Mission, Nick Marzano, and Christopher Lewis

Yesterday, we started our meeting by shortly performing as loiterers at 16th and Mission St. After taking a few notes about or observations we moved towards Dolores Park to meet Nick Marzano despite the unfavorable weather conditions. Once gathered under a tree to avoid getting wet, Nick introduced us to the photographic field work he has been doing. He was full of fascinating stories about the characters he has been meeting in recent months. Talking about being uncertain and being in between, we browsed through excerpts about the blasé look from “The Metropolis and the mental life” by Georg Simmel and “Metropolitan encounters” by Joanna Zylinska (bellow this post.) Replete with questions, we parted to meet Christopher Lewis at Corona Heights. There, Christopher gave us an introduction about the area we were standing at, anthropogenic bioturbation, Franciscan terranes, the Gray Brothers Quarry at Corona Heights, sedimentation rates for chert, and earthquakes.

Christopher Lewis is the Chair of Earth Sciences Department at City College of San Francisco. Click HERE to access Chris’ San Andreas Fault course website.

Email: cjlewis@ccsf.edu
His Courses: https://sites.google.com/a/mail.ccsf.edu/chris-lewis/
Earth Sciences at CCSF: http://www.ccsf.edu/earth

Great 9-unit certificate in GIS:
http://www.ccsf.edu/en/educational-programs/school-and-departments/school-of-science-and-mathematics/earth-sciences/Courses/GISCertificate.html

Nick Marzano is a creative director, writer, and independent researcher living and working in San Francisco.

Metropolitan encounters (Excerpt)

An excerpt found in the chapter “Micro-Spaces of the every day” from the book “On Spiders, Cyborgs, and Being Scared: The Feminine and the Sublime” by Joanna Zylinska. Unfortunately, this book is out of print so we can no longer hold it in our hands. However, you can download a free copy (pdf download) by going to Joanna Zylinska’s website HERE.

Initial Thoughts Fall 2015

These are some recommended texts:


The Burnout Society by BYUNG-CHUL HAN.

Chapter 1 is entitled “The Neuronal Power” and sets out with the claim that frames the entire essay: “Every age has its main maladies.” Han differentiates the bacterial age that ended (at the latest) with the discovery of antibiotics, the viral age that ended with the advance of immunology, and finally the present age: the neuronal age. Its dominant maladies are neurological illnesses like depression, ADHD, borderline personality syndrome and burnout syndrome. The crucial difference between maladies of the viral age and the neuronal age is that between infection and infarction. An infection is caused by the negativity of the immunological other, whereas an infarct is the result of an excess of positivity. Unlike a virus, neuronal illnesses cannot simply be warded off like an outside attacker. Text Via axylus


Ubiquitous Photography by Martin Hand. 1st Edition.

Ubiquitous Photography provides a critical examination of the technologies, practices, and cultural significance of digital photography, placing the phenomenon in historical, social, and political-economic context. It examines shifts in image-making, storage, commodification, and interpretation as highly significant processes of digitally mediated communication in an increasingly image-rich culture. It covers debates in social and cultural theory, the history and politics of image-making and manipulation, the current explosion in amateur photography, tagging and sharing via social networking, and citizen journalism. The book engages with key contemporary theoretical issues about memory and mobility, authorship and authenticity, immediacy and preservation, and the increased visibility of ordinary social life.


The Anthrobscene by Jussi Parikka.

Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and e-readers all at one time held the promise of a more environmentally healthy world not dependent on paper and deforestation. The result of our ubiquitous digital lives is, as we see in The Anthrobscene, actually quite the opposite: not ecological health but an environmental wasteland, where media never die. Jussi Parikka critiques corporate and human desires as a geophysical force, analyzing the material side of the earth as essential for the existence of media and introducing the notion of an alternative deep time in which media live on in the layer of toxic waste we will leave behind as our geological legacy.

Read THE GEOLOGY OF MEDIA, an article by Jussi Parikka.

Watch “Erased Landscape” HERE.
HERE 5: Erased Landscape – the making of flat land in central San Francisco.

Watch the episodes of Saving the Bay

Optional Reading:
The Really Big One. An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.