May 2002

The Other Grassroots Web sites

Why was Tony Blair’s speech to the Royal Society so full of “misconceptions and logical elisions?”

“The Bivings Group, a PR company contracted to Monsanto, had invented fake citizens to post messages on internet listservers. These phantoms had launched a campaign to force Nature magazine to retract a paper it had published, alleging that native corn in Mexico had been contaminated with GM pollen. But this, it now seems, is just one of hundreds of critical interventions with which PR companies hired by big business have secretly guided the biotech debate over the past few years.”

See George Monbiot’s article in The Guardian. Monbiot identifies several “research” and “activist” Web sites as PR fronts for corporations including the influential AgBioWorld site, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Center for Food and Agricultural Research, Alliance for Environmental Technology, ActivistCash, Center for Consumer Freedom, and Stop Eco-Violence. See also this TomPaine article from March, PR Watch’s Impropaganda Review, “a rogue’s gallery of industry front groups and anti-environmental think tanks.” From also not found in nature.

>  31 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

You've Got Law

“For the first time ever, the UK Parliament is taking online consultation on a piece of legislation. The Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Bill is collecting public comments on the Draft Communications Bill via e-mail, and an online forum will publish the comments from June 10.... The public can now read the bill online, watch the Committee hearings in a webcast, and comment on the draft. As Julian Glover notes in [the] Media Guardian, pre-legislative scrutiny itself is rather novel for Parliament, so this online forum is quite a leap.... One potential problem seems likely to arise in the moderating of the e-mailed comments. All comments will be screened and summarized before being presented to the Committee, and that gives the moderator quite a bit of power as gatekeeper.”

From Andrew Stroehlein, E-media Tidbits.

>  30 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Bread, Coffee and Beer

“Joe Paff tells me that when he grew up in the late Thirties in a steel town on the edge of Pittsburgh, ‘as long as my father was unemployed and we were dirt poor, we ate very well. My father made his own beer. My mother baked bread and canned her stewed tomatoes, and my brothers brought home rabbit, pheasant and other game. As soon as my brothers and my father got jobs in the booming steel mills, we were now well off. My father had a new car. We ate Wonder Bread, store-canned tomatoes, and my father drank Iron City Beer. Moral: The victory of these debauched foods was the product of American prosperity and TV advertising that made my mother and father think that’s what they ought to eat to emulate the middle class they saw on TV shows. My mother finally denied having actually baked bread.’”

See the column by Alexander Cockburn.

>  29 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

September 11 Handbag

A handbag depicting New York’s September 11 terrorist attack has been slammed as insensitive by the family of an Australian victim. The $159 handbag, being sold by the Melbourne fashion chain Quick Brown Fox, is almost sold out.... Quick Brown Fox owner Tess Reeves said she had bought the bags in Beijing. “I thought they were an artistic interpretation of what is a tragic event,” she said. “They are the sort of thing high fashion would do. Thousands are being shipped to Europe every day. “It’s not necessarily a negative thing and, as with all tragedies, time heals. In time it won’t be as controversial.” See The Australian.

Found via The Guardian.

>  29 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

New York Subway Interface

I love a good rant. Lars Pinds has a couple on the voice, turnstiles, and Metrocard vending machines of the New York City Subway.

Ben Rubin has his own proposal for the subway’s audio cues.

>  29 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Squeeze Power

Aladdinpower is the world’s first and only hand held and operated regulated generator capable of charging rechargeable batteries instantly, just by squeezing your hand together.” Each unit includes a universal connecting cell phone cable and a high powered emergency light. Coming soon, the foot powered StepCharger.

>  28 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Learning to Trust Democracy with Comics

“The outcome of an exemplary peace and democratisation process in South Africa was dependent on the success or failure of its founding Election Day. In the end, the new democracy emerged clearly victorious, which was seen by many observers to be a ‘miracle’. But this miracle can be explained against the backdrop of media involvement in a large-scale pedagogical undertaking that was probably the most massive national communication campaign of all time.”

“The ‘Our Time To Choose’ comic book was designed by the Storyteller Group for the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa.” From openDemocracy.

>  27 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Settlements in the West Bank - The Authoritative Map

“This high-detail, colour-coded map with case studies shows the fragmentation of West Bank territory and the Jewish settlements in painstaking detail. For the first time, it reveals the potential settlement expansion provided for in masterplans. This downloadable map is the most contemporary and detailed description of the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank.”

Map of settlements in the West Bank

The article has been removed from openDemocracy site, but is accessible in the Web Archive.

The map is still available from the B’Tselem Web site.

>  26 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

The Other WTO Web site

On November 20, 1999, ten days before the Seattle Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization, a group of activists created a parody WTO Web site questioning the value of untrammeled free trade and financial globalization. Rumors of the disbanding of the WTO have been greatly exaggerated. Read more at rtTMark.

>  26 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Tie Down the Marxist Tyranny with CIA Comics

“In the early 80’s the CIA published a sabotage manual and distributed it throughout Nicaragua. The anti-Sandanista pamphlet is full of tips on bringing down the infrastructure of the country. ‘The Freedom Fighter’s Manual’ is illustrated with childlike cartoons and brief captions.”

>  26 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

The Red Ribbon

“The Ribbon Project was created in 1991 by the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus, a group of artists who wished to create a visual symbol to demonstrate compassion for people living with AIDS and their caregivers. Inspired by the yellow ribbons honoring American soldiers serving in the Gulf war, the color red was chosen for its, ‘connection to blood and the idea of passion — not only anger, but love, like a valentine.’ First worn publicly by Jeremy Irons at the 1991 Tony Awards, the ribbon soon became renowned as an international symbol of AIDS awareness, becoming a politically correct fashion accessory on the lapels of celebrities. While this has caused concern to many activists, who worry that its meaning has become trivialized, as well as denigrated by the proliferation of ‘kitsch’ ribbon objects, the Red Ribbon continues to be a powerful force in the fight to increase public awareness of HIV/AIDS and in the lobbying efforts to increase funding for AIDS services and research.”

>  25 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , , , , ,

PVC Alternatives Database

“From its manufacture to its disposal, PVC emits toxic compounds. During the manufacture of the building block ingredients of PVC (such as vinyl chloride monomer) dioxin and other persistent pollutants are emitted into the air, water and land, which present both acute and chronic health hazards. During use, PVC products can leach toxic additives, for example flooring can release softeners called phthalates. When PVC reaches the end of its useful life, it can be either landfilled, where it leaches toxic additives or incinerated, again emitting dioxin and heavy metals. When PVC burns in accidental fires, hydrogen chloride gas and dioxin are formed. For virtually all PVC applications, safer alternatives exist.... This international database is intended to help anyone from do-it-yourself enthusiasts to construction companies track down alternatives to PVC products.”

From Greenpeace.

>  24 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Evil Doesn't Live Here: Posters of the Bosnian War

“For most Americans and Europeans, the Bosnian War was played out in the brief, flickering images of television news. But another set of images, more permanent and more profound, played an active role in this war, molding public sentiment and calling attention to the plight of the Bosnian people. For three hellish years, Bosnians plastered the walls of their towns with messages of anger, frustration, desperation, resistance, and hope. These extraordinary images, the focus of this book, are juxtaposed with the hateful, divisive works of propaganda that served the most vicious practitioners of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Evil Doesn’t Live Here presents this visual battle ot the rest of the world for the first time.”

From Princeton Architectural Press.

>  23 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

We process food, too!

“After a donation of $125,000 worth of ‘food’ to Albanian refugee camps, Philip Morris created a 1 million dollar advertisement to increase public awareness of its goodwill gestures.”

Found at

>  23 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in

Taller de Gráfica Popular

The Taller Editorial de Gráfica Popular was founded on the dissolution of the plastic arts section of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios in 1937. The Studio had several locations in Mexico City throughout its history. At first it tried to work as both a publisher and gallery, but was ultimately inclined towards printmaking. The TGP artists grew up during what would become the 20th century chapter of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1940), and almost all the members of the TGP belonged to the Communist Party. Much of their work was addressed to working people and dealt with social issues. The TGP produced posters, billboards, and graphics in a variety of media. Their placed graphic art in a special place within the history of Mexican art. The TGP ended their activities in 1977. From Historia mínima del arte mexicano del siglo XX.

>  23 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Wanted: One Independent Press

Washington DC based Freedom House “is seeking a qualified media specialist to serve as its Project Director of its Printing Press project in Kyrgyzstan. A qualified applicant will have experience in developing and running newspapers in a repressive government environment, and in supervising the operation of a printing press. The Project Director will be responsible for developing and implementing a strategy for successful installation and start-up of an independent printing press in Kyrgyzstan.” The Director will help identify, or else else help develop “a local entity” to operate the press, help select a local board of directors, find a place to house and run the press, facilitate registration and other requirements of Kyrgyzstan law, develop a business and marketing plan, and “work with local media outlets to develop protection strategies to address government harassment.” Russian language a plus. Are you game? Contact the House by May 24.

>  22 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Design for our Future Selves, II

The AgeLab was established at MIT in 1999, as a partnership with industry and the aging community, to develop new technologies promoting healthy, independent living throughout the human lifespan. Our research involves an array of disciplines including engineering, computer science, human factors, health and medical sciences, management, marketing, and the social and behavioral sciences. All of our work is motivated by a shared belief that the appropriate use of technology, along with innovations in its delivery, can have a significant impact on the quality of life for older people, their families and caregivers.”

See the article at Metropolis Magazine.

>  21 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Center for Sustainable Design

“The Centre for Sustainable Design [at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, University College, in the UK] facilitates discussion and research on eco-design and environmental, economic, ethical and social considerations in product and service development and design. This is achieved through training and education, research, seminars, workshops, conferences, consultancy, publications and Internet. The Centre also acts as an information clearing house and a focus for innovative thinking on sustainable products and services.”

>  21 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Subway Maps of the World

Coudal Partners’s excellent little collection of urban transit maps has vanished from their Web site. (It lives on in the Internet Archive).

But no matter. Robert Reynolds keeps it real with his even more extensive collection of subway and urban rail maps from around the world.

Updated September 13, 2003.

>  19 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Government Interactive

A brief look at the issues facing eGovernment in Ireland, and some of the mistakes that must be avoided in order to ensure a successful rollout of Government services online.” See also Accessibility & Usability for e-Government, also from Frontend Usability Infocentre.

>  19 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Porch of Tolerance

“Christopher Hitchens reminds us that of the three religions of Abraham—Islam, Christianity, and Judaism—Islam is the only one that admits the legitimacy of the other two [‘Minority Report,’ April 15]. A further reminder: The reason Jews have been able to pray at the Waling Wall for nearly 500 years is that Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent... ordered his chief architect to construct a porch for them to pay their duty to God at the most visible surviving portion of their ancient temple.”

Richard Klein, letter to The Nation, May 27, 2002.

>  18 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

125 Top Engineering Projects

In July 1999 , the editors of the Engineering News-Record published their list of 125 significant projects completed since 1874 as part of the magazine’s 125th anniversary celebration series. Each project “must have been completed in the past 125 years; the project advanced construction methods or technology; the project demonstrated outstanding design or overcame unusual design challenges; the project was the first of its kind; the project made a major positive impact on the quality of life; the project overcame major construction challenges; the project has become larger than life over time; and the project demonstrated geographic and market diversity.” The projects are listed here.

>  18 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Social Exclusion and UK Transport Policy

Poor transport contributes to social exclusion in two ways. First, it restricts access to activities that enhance people’s life chances, such as work, learning, health care, food shopping, and other key activities. Second, deprived communities suffer disproportionately from pedestrian deaths, pollution and the isolation which can result from living near busy roads.” Why does it happen? What can be done? Read the report from the Social Exculsion Unit, a Cabinet Office. Read coverage of the report in the Guardian.

Found on also not found in nature.

>  17 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

London's New Bus Maps

“In London’s bus-stops, some of the finest information graphics I have ever seen are gradually being introduced. Here are some hastily taken photos to record the before and after of London’s bus maps, and the improvements I think are great innovations... The previous map design was ‘one size fits all’ — customised to the locale by the addition of a ‘you are here’ arrow sticker applied to it... The new map design’s first advance is that they are tailored to the specific locale. So they only show the traveller information appropriate to where they are and where they can get to from that point.”

Found on xBlog.

>  16 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Universal Design for the Web

Bobby was created by [The Center for Applied Technology] to help Web page authors identify and repair significant barriers to access by individuals with disabilities.... CAST is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to expand opportunities for people with disabilities through innovative uses of computer technology.” Enter a URL and get detailed recommendations on how to make your site more accessible. Note, being “Bobby Approved” does not necessarily mean your site is accessible.

>  16 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Posters in Israel

Yossi Lemel is an Israeli poster designer whose work addresses such issues as the coexistence, the the Iraeli-Palestenian peace process, AIDS, and the Untied Nations.

Found via American Samizdat.

>  16 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Airplanes Alter Climate

“Scientists have long suspected that airplane condensation trails — the wispy, white tails found in the wake of high-flying jets — form larger cloud banks that substantially alter the atmosphere’s heat balance..... [T]he FAA grounded commercial flights nationwide for three days following the terrorist air attacks... and now it has emerged that the American climate was indeed noticeably different during those three days without air travel. This research provides one of the strongest indicators that air travel itself changes our climate.” Read the article on Wired.

>  15 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in

Water, Hydrogen Power Island

“According to this article in The Herald Newspaper, the island of Islay, on the West coast of Scotland is set to become the world’s first Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered island. Scientests at Napier University wish to use the existing Wave Power Station to treat sea water and store the resulting hydrogen in fuel cells. The first plan is to power a building, moving on to powering the entire island in a decade.” From

>  15 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Prison Press

The Angolite is a bi-monthly newmagzine written, edited, designed and printed by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Since 1976, the publication has been “free to publish whatever content it wants.” Former death-row inmate and Angolite editor Wilbert Rideau also co-directed The Farm which was nominated for an Academy Award. The Angolite is a seven-time finalist for National Magazine Award and has received numerous awards including the George Polk Award for special interest reporting, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award.

>  13 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

The Guerrilla Girls

“The Guerrilla Girls, established in 1985 and still going strong in the 21st century, are a group of women artists, writers, performers and film makers who fight discrimination. Dubbing ourselves the conscience of culture, we declare ourselves feminist counterparts to the mostly male tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Batman, and the Lone Ranger. We wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than our personalities. We use humor to convey information, provoke discussion, and show that feminists can be funny. In 17 years we have produced over 80 posters, printed projects, and actions that expose sexism and racism in politics, the art world and the culture at large. Our work has been passed around the world by kindred spirits who we are proud to have as supporters. The mystery surrounding our identities has attracted attention. We could be anyone; we are everywhere.”

>  13 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

IBM and the Holocaust

“In the US, in the 1880s, Herman Hollerith had designed and patented an electronic tabulating machine using punch cards to carry out calculations. Using this technology the Hollerith machine, in a pre computer age, was able to carry out complex accounting functions in a fraction of the time previously needed. Hollerith’s invention laid the basis for the foundation of IBM, which was to become one of the most profitable multinational corporations of the 20th Century. By the 1930s, IBM had become a leading US corporation under its Chief Executive, Thomas J. Watson, who was an open sympathizer of both Hitler and Mussolini. After Hitler came to power in 1933, Watson strove to build a strong commercial relationship between IBM and Nazi Germany. Through Dehomag, (IBM’s German subsidiary) IBM equipped Nazi Germany with Hollerith machines for numerous financial and statistical purposes. One use of the Hollerith machine was to compile data on German Jews - who they were and where they lived.” From a review of IBM and the Holocaust on

>  12 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in

Water to the World

March 22 is World Water Day. Safe drinking water, basic health, hygiene education and sanitation facilities are nonexistent for impoverished people throughout the world. WHO/UNICEF estimates that the combination of theses conditions results in the death of 6,000 people every day, most of them children. Western NGOs that are working to build sustainable water supplies, provide access to clean water, develop sanitation, and promote hygiene, include: WaterAid, UK; Water For People, USA; WaterCan/EauVive, Canada; and Water for Survival, New Zealand.

>  12 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Discarded Cell Phones Harmful

“Within three years, Americans will discard about 130 million cellular telephones a year, and that means 65,000 tons of trash, including toxic metals and other health hazards.... Cell phones, along with other "wireless waste" from increasingly popular pagers, pocket PCs and music players, pose special problems at landfills or when they’re burned in municipal waste incinerators because they have toxic chemicals in batteries and other components, said the report [from Inform, an environmental research organization]. These include persistent toxins that accumulate in the environment... [and] have been associated with cancer and neurological disorders, especially in children. The report urges the industry to take measures to reduce the amount of cell phones that are thrown away by developing "take-back" programs so phones and batteries can be recycled and adopt industrywide technical and design standards so phones are not thrown away after a user switches services. The report said a number of states including California, Massachusetts and Minnesota are considering legislation that would make manufacturers pay the cost of managing the waste from electronic products, including cell phones. Internationally, Australia has implemented a nationwide cellphone recycling program and the European Union is considering actions to make manufacturers responsible for electronic product wastes.” From Associated Press.

>  11 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Light. Cheap.

Instigated by Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Calgary, Canada, the Light Up the World Foundation “introduces a safe, simple, healthy, reliable and affordable form of home lighting, using white light emitting diodes. This rugged home lighting system will allow people in some of the poorest and least developed rural communities to light up their homes and raise their quality of living.... The lights are powered by a relatively cheap, belt driven pedal system and rechargable battery. It takes less than half an hour to put enough charge into it to run a set of 8 WLEDs for an entire evening.”

Found via slashdot.

>  9 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Life Guard (Tower) on Duty

Life Guard TowerQuoth the Christian Science Monitor:

“They are among the most intriguing pieces of beachfront architecture in Art Deco Miami Beach, and certainly among the smallest. They are eight lifeguard stations that stretch over nine blocks of beach lining the commercial part of Ocean Drive. The stations... [were] rebuilt three years ago to replace the ones that hurricane Andrew destroyed. But the stations between Sixth and Eighth Streets are not the generic, weathered shacks of yore. To local architect William Lane, who designed them for free, they tell the world about Miami Beach. ‘They’re a response to the kind of energy that’s here in Miami,’ Mr. Lane says. The pastel structures blend 1920s Art Deco with 1960s pop-culture themes.”

What struck me when I saw them, though, was not how their whimsical style suited South Beach, but how much they stood out — and how this served their function. Sometimes it’s important for structures to call attention to themselves.

>  8 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in

The New Typography

Jan Tsichold’s Die neue Typographie appeared in Weimar Berlin in 1928. An English translation was published in 1995. The book, one of the founding documents of Modern design in the Machine Age, caused an uproar in the world of design. Starting first with some historical context, Tsichold describes the principles of the new typography as a revolutionary movement towards clarity and readability; a rejection of superfluous decoration; and an insistence on the primacy of functionality in design. A critque of its populist rhetoric in the journal of the bauhaus challenged him “to address not just the visual appearance of advertising but the very existence of such advertising.”

>  7 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Architecutral Navigation for the Visually Impaired

Sometimes it’s not enough to just add Braille to your signage.

Coco Raynes Associates, Inc. developed The Raynes Rail to provide the missing link between the entrance of a building and the desired location. Continuous Braille messages and audio devices positioned at strategic locations provide the impaired traveler with a degree of independence previously unattainable in unknown surroundings.”

The concept is simple: a handrail that incorporates Braille messages. It has been installed in hospitals, hotels, and museums, both indoors and outdoors. The system is modular, so the Braille messages can easily be changed. The audio messages are activated by photosensors and permit multilingual applications.

>  6 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Adbusters’ Rhetoric of Revolution

“Last week on Nov 27th [1998], our university campus saw the staging of a campaign for ‘Buy Nothing Day’, a campaign sponsored by Adbusters, a publication of the Media Foundation. For many on the left, the Media Foundation, it’s quarterly publication Adbusters, and it’s campaigns around ‘International Buy Nothing Day’ and ‘TV Turnoff Week’ are basically where it’s at in terms of resistance to the corporate takeover of our society. Indeed, the last several years have seen great improvements in terms of the slickness, circulation and political currency of Adbusters magazine and the promotion of its ‘new’ ideology of ‘anti-consumerism’.... Despite adapting revolutionary rhetoric and repackaging glossy pictures of Indonesian student protests, the liberal politics of Adbusters have come shining through as exemplified by their near total contempt of the power of ordinary people create revolutionary change. There are three main parts to the analysis that has led Adbusters to this political dead end: their privileging of resistance in the individual act of consumption over the collective organization of production, their view of revolution as consisting of a purely subjective and highly individualized ‘mindshift’, and their insistence that the ‘revolution’ will be made on behalf of the masses by a small group of ‘culture jammers’.”

Read the rest, from Tom Keefer.

>  5 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Design for our Future Selves

“The Helen Hamlyn Research Centre explores the implications of social change. Its focus is ‘design for our future selves’ — using design to improve quality of life for people of all ages and abilities. It has four core social change themes: ageing populations, changing patterns of work, mobility for all, innovation in care and rehabilitation. The Centre collaborates with the staff and students of the Royal College of Art and with a range of external commercial, academic, government and charitable partners.”

Research projects cover graphic, package, industrial, architectural, transportation, and urban design.

>  5 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,

‘Friendly Fire’ Deaths Traced to Dead Battery

“The deadliest ‘friendly fire’ incident of the war in Afghanistan was triggered in December by the simple act of a U.S. Special Forces air controller changing the battery on a Global Positioning System device he was using to target a Taliban outpost north of Kandaha.... Three Special Forces soldiers were killed and 20 were injured when a 2,000-pound, satellite-guided bomb landed, not on the Taliban outpost, but on a battalion command post occupied by American forces and a group of Afghan allies, including Hamid Karzai, now the interim prime minister.... The Air Force combat controller was using a Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver... to calculate the Taliban’s coordinates for a B-52 attack. The controller did not realize that after he changed the device’s battery, the machine was programmed to automatically come back on displaying coordinates for its own location.”

From the Washington Post.

>  5 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Remember Plutonium

In 2001, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced a competition

“to focus the world’s artists, architects, and visionary thinkers on a problem that has all but stumped the world’s policy makers, scientists, and leaders: the problem of plutonium disposal. Plutonium stays radioactive for thousands of years, can be made into nuclear bombs, and is deadly if ingested. But simply hiding it away prevents the world from learning anything from its folly. The challenge: to design and build a facility where all the world’s plutonium can be safely stored for all eternity (or 240,000 years, whichever comes first), where tourists can visit and acknowledge the folly of creating as much explosive plutonium as humanly possible, and something that’s beautiful and grand and awe inspiring.”

There are quite a few technical considerations. Check out the contest rules and the winning designs.

>  5 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,


Transiciónes is both a spinal clinic and an “Independent Living Center” operated by and for disabled Guatemalans. In addition to medical care, the center provides vocational and educational training at a small graphic arts, desktop publishing, and printing business, as well as a computer and office equipment repair and maintenance business. The print shop produces notebooks, bound hard cover books, business cards, brochures, posters, and other jobs both large and small. The also runs a small center for manufacturing and refurbishing wheelchairs. The costs for living at the center are offset by the work of the residents, who also earn a small salary. And, in 2001, Transiciónes’ wheelchair basketball team represented Guatemala at the Central American Games. See the articles at Disability World and the Global Development Center site.

>  4 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Nike Lawsuit Moves Forward

In April 1998, activist Marc Kasky and attorney Alan Caplan filed a lawsuit claiming that Nike had engaged in unfair business practices by falsely advertising its Asian labor conditions. Nike claimed that its public relations campaign in which it said it did not run sweatshops could not be challenged under false-advertising laws because it was protected as non-commercial speech by the First Amendment. In a ruling issued on May 2, 2002, the California Supreme Court did not agree, and now a lawsuit against the company can move forward. Considering the evidence that the statements they made were false, this looks like a major blow to greenwashing campaigns across the board. Source: American Samizdat and See also,, and Nike’s press release which notes that their position was “strongly supported by the ACLU.”

Update, 1/11/03: The case is headed for the Supreme Court.

>  4 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

World Studio Foundation

The World Studio Foundation runs a scholarship program for minority and economically disadvantaged students studying art and design in U.S. colleges and universities, a mentoring program for high-school students, and produces an annual magazine and quarterly newsletter to “stimulate, coalesce and channel social activism in the design and fine arts industries; to encourage discussion of the fields’ ethical assumptions; to promote professional practices sensitive to ecological and humane issues.”

>  4 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

First Things, Again

In 1964, a group of London designers published a a manifesto, a challenge to designers involved to apply their skills to worthwhile purposes. In 2000, “First Things First” was updated and published in 7 design magazines. It provoked a bit of debate.

>  3 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Vote Redesign

Ballot design changes everything. How much was lost because of a bad interface? Since the 2000 election, the American Institute of Graphic Artists has lobbied Chicago on the redesign of a local ballot, and the U.S. Government to include communication design criteria in any election reform bill. See also Disenfranchised by Design, an essay written in 1998.

>  2 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , , , ,

Vanishing Monuments

Usumacinta River Cultural Landscape

The World Monuments Fund is a New York-based non-profit dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered works of historic art and architecture around the world. The World Monuments Watch issues the List of 100 Most Endangered Sites every other year. Some of these sites are also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

>  2 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Rails to Trails

If you’ve ever stood in line at 1am on West 27th street in Manhattan, chances are you’ve noticed an old elevated rail. The High Line was built in the 1930s to elevate dangerous and congesting railroad traffic above city streets. It runs for 1.45 miles, from 34th Street along the edge of the Hudson River through West Chelsea into the Meat Packing District. The Friends of the High Line are dedicated to the preservation of the structure and its conversion into a public park and trail.

>  2 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Design for Literacy

“Dr. Juan Baughn, who oversees the [school] system for Edison [Schools Inc.], noted in a recent interview that some of his high school students were four to six years below grade level in reading....Those who were given books that appeared to be designed for grade school children were too embarrassed to use them effectively. Edison is now scrambling to find what Dr. Baughn describes as ‘age appropriate’ books that are written on a lower grade level but designed to be indistinguishable from books written for students who read well.”

From The New York Times.

>  2 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Architects Without Borders

Arquitectos sin Fronteras is a non-profit that organizes professional architects and technicians who develop and promote the study, planning, management, design, and construction of public works projects in regions affected by poverty, discrimination, natural disasters and armed conflict. Volunteers work on everything from schools and public housing to hospitals and latrines in places from Congo to India to Peru.

>  2 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

The Clockwork Radio

In 1991 Trevor Baylis saw a television programme on AIDS in Africa. A health worker noted that advice on how to prevent the disease spreading further could be broadcast by radio if only radios and in particular batteries were not so expensive, often costing more than a weeks food for a family. So Trevor invented a clockwork radio powered by hand crank. The radios are produced in South Africa at a factory which is partially owned by seven disabled organisations and which actively seeks to employ the disabled. The rest is history.

A modern array of stylish, rugged, crank-powered radios and flashlights are available for purchase from Freeplay.

>  2 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

(Solar) Power to the People

Grupo Fenix is a non-profit organization that supports renewable energy and sustainable development in Nicaragua, especially in low-income communities. The group works with students at the National Engineering University in Managua to develop low-cost, high-efficiency solar ovens for cooking or drying wood as well as solar cells for generating electricity for lighting and recharging expired batteries in a country with extreme poverty and very little infrastructure. The group also employs landmine survivors, teaching them how to install and maintain the solar units. The solar units are recycled from silicon wafers from the U.S. that are not quite pure enough to make computer chips out of.

>  2 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,