November 26, 2005

Thoughts on walking

I am reading Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Since I was little, I've been a walker. I walked to school from grades 3 through 12 (I lived within a mile of both schools I attended, a rarity in Los Angeles). I would walk weekends to the mall, and then I'd walk all around the mall. I'd walk along the beach, the boardwalk. When I moved to Berkeley, I'd walk up into the Berkeley hills. In San Francisco, I'd traverse high and low. In New York, well, it's foolish not to walk.

And when I travel: walking. Heel toe. Heel toe. When I was younger, and I would travel with parents, I'd get a shitty hotel map, and just start wandering, meeting up with them at some appointed time and place. I walked San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, and London in such a fashion.

Anyway, as I read this book, it will spur various thoughts. Some of them I will write down.

A few so far:

For my money, perhaps the most haunting depiction of walking in literature is Yossarian's ramble through the "Eternal City" in Catch-22. In an otherwise satirical and absurdist work, the bleakness of this chapter is deeply chilling.

Walking, or rather, bipedalism, is considered by some to be the original human trait. When I think about australopithecines walking around, the image that comes to mind is of the footprints found in the volcanic ash, left 3.7 millions years ago by a couple of ancestors, scurrying with some intent, quite possibly safety.

And something I just learned. The adjective "pedestrian," meaning dull or prosaic, predates the noun "pedestrian," meaning one who goes on foot.

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Posted by peterme at 02:38 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

I think this is major.

Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of the once-again relevant Wired magazine, writes on his blog that he very rarely engages in mainstream media directly, instead utilizing RSS and the blogosphere as a set of editors to point him to what is relevant.

Obviously, Chris is an early adopter, but he's also the lead guy at a major mainstream publication. That he relies on the collective intelligence of the blogosphere to keep him appropriately informed I think suggests a crucial trend.

Chris also notes that he has 150 feeds that he follows. I'm at 149, after having been as high as 170. He and I both use Bloglines, which, frankly, isn't equipped for such numbers. But with all the RSS readers out there, none of them have successfully addressed Feed Overload. I think this is a potentially huge opportunity.

I've stuck with Bloglines because it's dumb-simple interface doesn't get in the way of reading, unlike all the other web-based tools I've tried.

Posted by peterme at 10:37 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

37Signals on Fast Company on Simple

Jason nearly dislocates his shoulder patting himself on the back writing about Fast Company's "The Beauty of Simplicity" cover story.

One of the things that Jason writes is, "The big guys have to force simple. The small guys are simple by default." Which, of course, is not true. *Everyone* has to force simple. At Adaptive Path, we've worked with many less-than-10-person startups who could NOT be convinced to embrace simplicity.

And some big companies get simple by default. Apple, with the iPod and iTunes, is the obvious example. Google and their home page is another. (Though, Don Norman pointed out Google's nudity in his insightful, The truth about Google's so-called "simplicity".)

If you want a truly valuable, and subtle, take on the Fast Company article, read John Maeda's "The Subtlety of Simplicity." He recognizes that less isn't more... That what we're striving is not simply the elimination of details and complexity, but the addition of meaning and elegance.

Posted by peterme at 10:22 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


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