Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crisis communications - then and now -- and looking forward to Witnessing

Last night I guest lectured at the Fordham U, MBA program, in a class taught by David Kalson (on Twitter @kaldak). I went through my experience working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2002-2005 during the clergy sexual abuse of children issue. Even though this experience was only a few years ago, it's clear how different it would be today because of social media.

TMZ posted that Michael Jackson was dead hours before mainstream media "confirmed" the story. I suppose that TMZ had a source in the UCLA hospital (or in the Jackson-family world). Huffington Post jumped on it and linked to TMZ an hour or more before any MSM confirmed it. Before I left my office tonight, my TweetDeck search for Michael Jackson was flooded with the news/rumor that MJ was dead -- long before MSM reported. When MSM reported the news it was -- "old news." However TMZ did it -- it was the first Witness.

All that said (niche/trivial) in the context of the little news/info we're getting out of Iran. (And out of Tibet, by the way.)

I'd suggest: "crisis communications" in the future is not going to be a battle just between the communications capabilities of "the victims" vs. the "victimizers" as reported by the 3-rd estate of the Media. There's a new Factor in all this: The Witnesses. With their flip-phone-videos and Twitter posts -- which, I'm sure, are just the first generation of Witnessing.

Suggestion for a change of reference: Forget about "reporting." We are now -- in the streaming world - "Witnessing."

Twitter and your organization

Steve Rubel has a nice short video on how organizations can/should use Twitter -- at least as long as it lasts.

To revive a city center . . .

Try banning cars.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dubai urban development: down but not out

Very interesting article in the LA Times about urban development Dubai-style. How while certainly hard hit by the global turndown, Dubai will very likely pull out and continue its development path. And -- most interesting -- how the Dubai model of urban development is being exported to other cities around the world, to Shanghai, yes, but also to Los Angeles.

"Dubai -- its neighborhoods unburdened by history, its developers unconstrained by zoning codes, preservation battles or community activism -- {is} an unusually pure, unfiltered example of what new cities look like in the age of globalization."

Climate change affects architecture, urban planning

Interesting new report that shows planners' and architects' responses to the fact that the "built-up urban areas . . . are turning out to be particularly susceptible to extreme weather conditions, which in the wake of climate change are becoming more and more prevalent."

Text describes landscape -- on your cell phone

The Central Park Conservancy now offers cell phone tours of Central Park in New York City.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Plant thieves. The dilemma.

This NPR story sets the stage for my own dilemma. I have a postage-stamp sized front garden out front of my Brooklyn brownstone house. Twice now this spring/summer, we have been robbed of ferns and large hostas. Somebody just pulls them out in the middle of the night.

So here is my choice. I do not need to plant that space with anything "tempting." I can leave it with nothing (mulch) or just cover it with vinca or pachysandra.

Or I can replace the hostas, or shrubs, and I can wrap them with razor wire/barbed wire and chaining them to the crabapple tree -- nastiness buried under mulch until the next thief puts his/her hands around what he/she intends to steal.

My choice is this. Less beauty for myself and neighbors. Or reasserting the beauty but underlying/supporting it with chains and razor wire.

Even small life decisions have nasty and painful dilemmas.

Remembering the Jardin Exotique, Monaco

The country is just a green blur in the mind

Verlyn Klinkenborg visits Manhattan.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cities without newspapers

American Journalism Review has a good overview of the state of U.S. newspapapers, written by Rachel Smolkin. This on a day when Ariana Huffington is reported defending herself against the charge that she's killing the American newspaper.

What the land doesn't say

Verlyn Klinkenborg doesn't like the notion of the landscape being a text. Nice essay, as always, but this blog doesn't quite agree.

The High Line

It would be hard to give too much credit to Joshua David and Robert Hammond -- the two guys whose vision, perseverance, and competence really made The High Line possible. The reviews everywhere have been consistently, and deservedly, positive. Yeah, I know, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner had something to do with it. But without David and Hammond there would be no High Line. It's a great milestone in the history of the NYC public realm. NYT today. Fast Company. Lots of other coverage.

Hudson Valley & all its implications

Tonight I went to a lecture (get ready for lots of credits): sponsored by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America (ICACA), the 2009 Fellows' Summer Lecture Series: The Hudson River Valley -- An Allegory of its Architecture, Landscape, and Artistic Legacy 400 Years after the Voyage of the Half Moon. Tonight's lecture was "The Sanctified Landscape: Memory, Place, and the Mid-Hudson Valley in the 19th Century" given by David Schuyler, professor of American Studies at Franklin & Marshall College (full disclosure), one of my alma maters.

David was, as usual, brilliant and entertaining. Making most forcefully the point that the Hudson Valley is unique in American history for its pioneering role in creating Nature/cultural tourism, combined with its astonishing ability to inspire art (Cole, et al.) and literature (Cooper, Irving, et al.)and being probably the first focus of conservation/preservation. The only fault I could find in the lecture, is that it didn't end with a nod/audio-credit to Pete Seeger.

In any case, my evening ended with great conversation with David and Paul Gunther, president of ICACA, at the Century Club (just where an evening after this sort of lecture should end.) Check out

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Worst possible outcome for Atlantic Yards

Despite the skepticism and abuse of some of my friends, I'd been a fan of Atlantic Yards. It was easy to acknowledge some of the potential problems cited by opponents, but the long-term potential -- nearly certain -- benefits of an architectural/cultural icon seems undeniable. There are so many examples of a transformative architectural development becoming a vanguard of positive economic and cultural change. Now we have the official announcement of Gehry abandoning the project and of the project going to Ellerbe Becket. All the potential urban congestion issues with none of the compensations of great architecture. Atlantic Yards will now join the less than mediocre Atlantic Terminal/Atlantic Center and the single story big box windowless stores across Flatbush. The city dynamics, the opponents, and the developers seem to have conspired for the worst possible outcome. And, by the way, a real setback for the adjacent Brooklyn Cultural District. Here is Ouroussoff's take on it.