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Media-rich urban landscapes: Edmonton 2011 Conference

Peter Hirshberg and Marshall McLuhan

CC Flickr photo from maryhodder

“Space, Place, and the McLuhan Legacy” is the theme for a July 2011 conference at the University of Alberta, hosted by the Media Ecology Association. The Edmonton based conference aims to provoke academic dialogue and raise public awareness of media ecology and the relevance of Marshall McLuhan’s body of work to today’s media-rich urban landscapes.

McLuhan gave much attention to the changing environment of the city in the wake of technological change. As he stated in an article published in Canadian Architect in June 1961,”[t]oday the entire human community is being translated into ‘auditory space,’ or into that ‘field of simultaneous relations,’ by electric broadcasting. It behooves the architect and town planner, … Continue Reading

New video! Jump into the Planning Pool!

In case you were wondering about some ways to use Planning Pool beyond just reading our posts, watch this video! In it, you’ll find out how to comment, how to use SplashUp Map, and how to upload video. We just showed this video at the CIP Conference in Niagara Falls to great response, and now it’s available for everyone!

A Streetcar Named… Revival?

Sorry all, another lame title by me! Anyway, check out PP’s shiny new exclusive video.

A Streetcar Named… Revival? from Planning Pool on Vimeo.

Did you notice the vintage ads in the old streetcar, I reckon they’re a bit more modest than the stuff Vanessa saw in Portland. And be sure to pay special attention to the fantastic soundtrack, performed by our own very talented Vanessa Kay!

Having long been interested at the sight of those old streetcars that still made a circuit along Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek, trundling along with elegance and poise when seen against the car traffic that rushes past, I thought it would be neat if PP did a feature on it. After … Continue Reading

Kudos and tidbits

A large part of what we’re attempting to do here at the Planning Pool is to implement user-friendly technologies to give people a greater voice in their community.  We’ll be adding/improving a couple of features over the coming months to achieve this goal.  With this in mind, kudos to Eric Gordon and Gene Koo, who have together been awarded a MacArthur grant for their Hub2 project to explore the urban planning applications of the video game Second Life.

Though some old-timers will scoff at the thought that Second Life might one day be a widely utilized planning tool, it (or something similar) will become only more viable in the future.  There are surely large chunks of essential information (like accurate budgeting) that cannot yet be fully captured in video games, but people like … Continue Reading

Stuffed to the gills

Bursting with a few cameras, a laptop and a pile of other gizmos, I lugged my backpack onto the bus this morning, where I sat down and pointed my iPhone browser to the New York Times. With embarrassment, I began reading an article on Anne Leonard’s “Story of Stuff”, a 20 minute film that addresses this fetish many of us seem to have for the things that we consume.

One of the first example she brings up is the iPod. Ouch.

Warning the audience against the hazard of depending on linear production and manufacturing systems in a finite world, there isn’t much here that most ecologists don’t already know. But they aren’t the intended audience – the film is spreading like wildfire across grade schools across the US, with educators clambering to get it into their classrooms.

It’s a pretty inspiring use … Continue Reading

Successful Pro-Bus Swedish Advertising Campaign

The City Fix just posted a really interesting video about an advertising campaign in Sweden that hoped to get drivers to take the bus. The campaign started with an installation on the side of a busy highway of bus made out of 50 crushed cars. The installation created such a huge buzz on local media that it became viral, spreading to other media channels and eventually the internet.

Probably the most interesting part of the campaign is the website that the advertising company set up. The site (unfortunately there isn’t an English version but check out this site anyways – it has some really interesting pictures and graphs) has a video of the road where the advertising installation is located. A camera counts the number … Continue Reading

EveryBlock – Muni info now as iPhone app

EveryBlock is “a news feed for your block,” a mashup of municipal public information and maps. It keeps track of what’s happening on your block, in your neighborhood and all over your city. At the moment, EveryBlock is covering 11 American cities: Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, DC.

So why is this useful? Every day, loads of new information is created about the place where you live: people inspect restaurants, newspapers cover accidents, and people post photographs. Not only is this information spread out on many sites, but no one would have enough time to sort through it themselves.

EveryBlock has three main types of news:

  1. Civic information — building permits, crimes, restaurant inspections and more. In many cases, this information is already on the Web but is buried in hard-to-find government … Continue Reading


Hollywood is waking up to the world of urban planning.  First we saw it with E2, which is totally awesome, by the way.  Now comes 19.20.21.  What is it?  Well, from what I can gather, it’s a gargantuan multimedia effort to capture the various elements of megacities over a five-year period.  At the end of the project, they hope to have a 12-hour documentary ala Planet Earth (which seems relatively doable), then they want to parlay that success into a series of urban summits (about what, I’m not really sure).  The vision for the thing seems mighty grandiose and I worry that the producers underestimate urban complexity, but then the website sure is pretty…

19.20.21. co-producer, Jon Kamen, discusses the project on Fora

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