The Architecture of Life: August 2009

The Architecture of Life - Christopher K. Travis

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Furniture World

Furniture World Magazine published an article last August covering Sam Gosling and his book - Snoop, What Your Stuff Says About You - which also referred to Truehome and my architecture firm.

Here's what they had to say:

Dr. Gosling emphasizes, 'What we can learn from how people shake hands or how they decorate their desks serves as a working hypothesis into the customer’s psyche.'"

"One person who has taken looking into his customer’s psyche seriously is Chris Travis.

"Mr. Travis runs Sentient Architecture, a firm that conducts in depth interviews that try to get to the heart of how his clients perceive the space they want him to design.

"His system matches psychological needs to physical spaces and the feelings they evoke.

"His architectural plans don’t have labels such as bedroom, dining room or living room. His labels denote the psychological space…the feeling each room evokes.

"This might be a great idea for your next presentation! “'We define 'home' as an ontological state – a state of being,’ says Travis on his blog - Architecture of Life. 'Being at home is the experience of living in a physical and psychological place that inspires and empowers a sustainable and fulfilling experience of life.”

Our thanks to Furniture World for spreading the word!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Information Wasteland

Is anyone out there as fed up as I am with the state of what is laughingly called "news" in broadcast media these days?

Is the public really so stupid that the majority of us really want to digest this biased, commercialized, over sensationalized pablum?

It's an information wasteland - and it seems to me people ought to be in rebellion.

My view is that economic incentives need to exist to stimulate deeper and more thoughtful coverage.

There's a market for it. PBS - though a bit fuddy duddy in it presentation - actually presents news in a deeper context and gets an audience. But where is a "hip" version of that outside of a few weekend news and analysis shows.

There is nothing for an intelligent audience on the 24 hour news channels - only cranks, partisans and feel good nonsense

The scary thing is that traditional sources for quality reporting and commentary about real issues like policy, culture and geopolitics are newspapers - and that industry is in disarray and failing.

The Internet and other media are disrupting the print business model and that is likely to continue. Though blogs and other new models certainly have their place - most don't have the resources and expertise of professional journalists.

There is no lack of people who can do a good job of providing information - just the unemployed professional journalists these days would be sufficient to the task.

The problem is in the marketplace and the lowest common denominator ethic that dominates the programming of the major networks. Money drives the bias and trivial coverage.

Broadcast news is about stimulating anxiety, promoting shallow positional thinking - the kind of news that ends up in National Inquirer.

It works as a business model...maybe because it's mind-numbing? Is that the secret? Is that why people watch TV with the automaticity of rats whose brains are wired to be overstimulated?

My guess is that many of the people who own and run broadcast media are up to exactly that. And even when they aren't, they're forced to play the same game because they will be unable to compete if they don't. Ethical news organizations lose market share and advertisers - so they adapt and we all lose.

Most of us are so overwhelmed by the insane amount of information out there we don't really care about what is going on - only about the status of our own dogmatic positions in the marketplace of ideas.

Stoking anxiety has become an art form both in the media and in politics - and it works. Hell, it is the better part of the Republican't political strategy. Republican political operatives aren't stupid. In fact, they always seem to put the Democrats back on their heels with the technique.

Note the disinformation spread about the curent health care debate. Whose winning? I would say the disinformation is likely to come out on top with the mob - if not with the intelligensia.

Bill Maher just got crucified by saying publicly "this is such a stupid country." Tough words, but show me the behavior that makes it a false statement.

The level of education of the average American is no where near the top of the world anymore. We really are less informed and less educated that people in many other countries and the trend is increasing not decreasing.

That fact is not the result of a poor system of education. American universities are still the best in the world. It is because the media are now an omnipresent source of sound bite style information without context - and every day it is training us all to think such information has value.

We are being systemically trained to react - not the think. So new business models need to be created around quality information set in an intelligent context - but who has the power or the determination to do it?

We can complain all we want but nothing will change until enough of us get fed up that we come up with a really profitable way to target what has to be a growing market of people who are fed up.

Millions of us can see the doddering old fake behind the curtain of the media Wizards of Oz - but we don't know what to do about it.

I've been on this high horse a long time. But short term - like everyone else - all I can do is complain.

Like most of the coverage on TV - my dream of meaningful broadcast media remains both a pretense and a fantasy.

In the meantime - Rome burns.