my afternoon at occupy wall street

cities

I went down to Zuccotti Park yesterday. Certainly out of a political and intellectual interest, but also because we were talking about networks, organization and then capitalism and the economy, and the protests came up in my Intro class. I don’t know if I learned enough to say something meaningful, or dramatic, or particularly enlightened. But if this is coming up in your class, maybe you’ll find what I saw slightly interesting.

map of zuccotti park

I was as interested in the people who were there, as I was about the people who were there who wanted to come down to see what was going on. There were taped off walkways, so that people–protesters and gawkers–could mill about the encampment. There was a lot of protest voyeurism. Police were polite and respectful. I saw a lot of people chatting with the cops, long-term encampers and passersby alike. There was a lot of what I expected: disaffected kids with tattoos on their faces, with homeless men mixed in; dozens and dozens of signs scrawled on pizza boxes; drum circles. Quite a few dogs which, along with the decision to put a tattoo on your face–is a marker of some sort of longer term commitment against mainstream society (I’d have to look that sort of thing up). But there was a lot that I was surprised at as well. There was a good amount of organization too.

As I walked around, I kept bumping into people with trash bags who were constantly monitoring the granite floor for debris, talking to people who were lying on the dozens of sleeping bags to see if they needed any water. There was a medical facility, whose workers had red taped crosses on their shoulders. There was an elaborate kitchen area, with volunteers furiously washing dishes in makeshift tubs with clean gloves. There was a media tent with a large TV and internet hookup. Whenever somebody wanted to talk, they had a forum to do so. Walking around the Western edge of the park, a man next to me yelled out “Mic Check!” and three people responded: “Mic Check!” He said it a second time, and ten people responded, and then he had gained the size audience he wanted, and began talking about how he wanted everyone to continue respecting the conditions of the park. I spoke with a young man who had traveled from Florida, wanting to be at the encampment to give voice to the people in his hometown.

I walked back north to an area that was called the General Assembly (I’m sure you’ve read about it in the news), and charismatic philosopher Slovoj Zizek was conducting a teach in. Because the protesters cannot use amplification system, the GA has an echoing format for discourse: The speaker will say something in short bursts, so that his/her words can be repeated out to people outside of the initial speaker’s earshot, twice. Zizek talked about capitalism, as you would expect: “They say that you are dreamers (They say that you are dreamers… They say that you are dreamers), The true dreamers are those who think (The true dreamers are those who think… The true dreamers are those who think), things can go on indefinitely the way that they are (things can go on indefinitely the way that they are)…” But he also issued a warning to the audience: “Don’t fall in love with yourselves… Carnivals come cheap.” See some of it here. There was a clear divide between the more rough-looking youth in the western part of the park who were camping out on cardboard and playing in the drum circle, and the lefty grad student crowd who had gathered to hear Zizek. I asked one kid what he thought of a world renowned philosopher coming to speak at the park, and if he was interested. He told me, he had “zero interest.” “People come, people go. Cameras come and go. I’ve never heard of him anyways.” You can perhaps notice the different crowd by my cellphone pictures…

I walked back north to an area that was called the General Assembly (I’m sure you’ve read about it in the news), and charismatic philosopher Slovoj Zizek was conducting a teach in. Because the protesters cannot use amplification system, the GA has an echoing format for discourse: The speaker will say something in short bursts, so that his/her words can be repeated out to people outside of the initial speaker’s earshot, twice. Zizek talked about capitalism, as you would expect: “They say that you are dreamers (They say that you are dreamers… They say that you are dreamers), The true dreamers are those who think (The true dreamers are those who think… The true dreamers are those who think), things can go on indefinitely the way that they are (things can go on indefinitely the way that they are)…” But he also issued a warning to the audience: “Don’t fall in love with yourselves… Carnivals come cheap.” See some of it here. There was a clear divide between the more rough-looking youth in the western part of the park who were camping out on cardboard and playing in the drum circle, and the lefty grad student crowd who had gathered to hear Zizek. I asked one kid what he thought of a world renowned philosopher coming to speak at the park, and if he was interested. He told me, he had “zero interest.” “People come, people go. Cameras come and go. I’ve never heard of him anyways.” You can perhaps notice the different crowd by my cellphone pictures…

Oh, and it’s an amazing media circus. If you look at a person with a cameraman in tow, you’ll be asked for an interview. Across the street, a couple of sociology friends and I were talking about not wanting to speak to anyone, for fear of being edited into incoherence, being balanced by the responsibility to say something positive about the protests… Linking to something in Bourdieu’s On Television, wherein the strict anti-public intellectual wrote of the mistake of believing you know something about everything yet feeling compelled to say something. During the conversation a man from the BBC approached our group and asked for an interview to compare the OWS protest and the Tea Party. Zizek talked about that connection too.

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your brain on cities

cities

As a kind of modern update on Simmel, researchers have found that people get pretty negative side effects to living in cities. Simmel had some good news, I suppose. But scientists have found that the amygdala kinda freaks out, and increases the chances of stimulating the anxiety and danger-alertness of city dwellers. The diversity of the results, however, are perhaps the most interesting:

In an accompanying commentary in Nature, Dr Daniel Kennedy and Prof Ralph Adolphs, both at the California Institute of Technology, said that there are wide variations in a people’s preferences for, and ability to cope with, city life.

“Some thrive in New York city; others would happily swap it for a desert island. Psychologists have found that a substantial factor accounting for this variability is the perceived degree of control that people have over their daily lives. Social threat, lack of control and subordination are all likely candidates for mediating the stressful effects of city life, and probably account for much of the individual differences.”

 

mapping interactions

cities, culture, tech

 

Do regional boundaries defined by governments respect the more natural ways that people interact across space? This paper proposes a novel, fine-grained approach to regional delineation, based on analyzing networks of billions of individual human transactions. Given a geographical area and some measure of the strength of links between its inhabitants, we show how to partition the area into smaller, non-overlapping regions while minimizing the disruption to each person’s links. We tested our method on the largest non-Internet human network, inferred from a large telecommunications database in Great Britain. Our partitioning algorithm yields geographically cohesive regions that correspond remarkably well with administrative regions, while unveiling unexpected spatial structures that had previously only been hypothesized in the literature. We also quantify the effects of partitioning, showing for instance that the effects of a possible secession of Wales from Great Britain would be twice as disruptive for the human network than that of Scotland.
Carlo Ratti, Stanislav Sobolevsky, Francesco Calabrese, Clio Andris, Jonathan Reades, Mauro Martino, Rob Claxton, Steven H Strogatz – PLoS ONE, 2010

Download PDF

Also:

http://www.pnas.org/content/107/52/22436

We investigate the extent to which social ties between people can be inferred from co-occurrence in time and space: Given that two people have been in approximately the same geographic locale at approximately the same time, on multiple occasions, how likely are they to know each other? Furthermore, how does this likelihood depend on the spatial and temporal proximity of the co-occurrences? Such issues arise in data originating in both online and offline domains as well as settings that capture interfaces between online and offline behavior. Here we develop a framework for quantifying the answers to such questions, and we apply this framework to publicly available data from a social media site, finding that even a very small number of co-occurrences can result in a high empirical likelihood of a social tie. Our analysis uses data in which individuals engage in activities at known places and times. There are many potential sources of such data, including transaction records from cell phones, public transit systems, and credit-card providers. We use a source where analogous activities are recorded publicly and online: a large-scale dataset from the popular photo-sharing site Flickr. Most photos uploaded to Flickr include the time at which the photo was taken, as reported by a clock in the digital camera, and many photos are also geo-tagged with a latitude–longitude coordinate indicating where on Earth the photograph was taken. These geo-tags either are specified by the photographer by clicking on a map in the Flickr web site, or (increasingly) are produced by a global positioning system (GPS) receiver in the camera or cell phone. Flickr also contains a public social network, in which users specify social ties to other users.

the false dichotomy between ‘locals’ and ‘tourists’

cities, visual

Visitors vs. Locals

One of the themes in my research is that locals can easily be tourists, and that it’s a pervasive false dichotomy. Still, there are some interesting and evocative images that come out of this binary. The following maps use the open source map (‘OpenStreetMap‘), and use the geotagging data on Flickr uploads. Great stuff (Thanks Andy!).

Geotagged Flickr Photos of NYC

Geotagged Flickr Photos of NYC

Geotagged Flickr Photos of London

Geotagged Flickr Photos of London

the sociology of the wire

cities, media, visual

Omar, from The Wire

I’m not going to lie, I’m intensely jealous of anyone who gets to do a ‘Sociology of The Wire’ course and CMG and I have thought about co-teaching a class for years. It is a favorite amongst my colleagues, especially PI. Slate has a nice write-up about the phenomenon. There’s an on-line journal with a special issue on the show. A class at Middlebury has a blog about watching the show. When asked why he’s holding a class on the show, pairing episodes with readings from Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street, Sandra Susan Smith’s Lone Pursuit, Bruce Western’s Punishment and Inequality in America, and Sudhir Venkatesh’s Off the Books, he told the writer: “Although The Wire is fiction, not a documentary, its depiction of [the] systemic urban inequality that constrains the lives of the urban poor is more poignant and compelling [than] that of any published study, including my own.” David Simon, the co-creator of the show, states that the value of The Wire comes from it’s ability to straddle ‘two myths’ (thanks PI):

To state our case, The Wire began as a story wedged between two American myths. The first tells us that in this country, if you are smarter than the next man, if you are shrewd or frugal or visionary, if you build a better mousetrap, if you get there first with the best idea, you will succeed beyond your wildest imaginations. And by virtue of free-market processes, it is entirely fair to say that this myth, more than ever, happens to be true. Not only is this accurate in America, but throughout the West and in many emerging nations as well. Every day, a new millionaire or three is surely christened. Or ten. Or twenty.

But a supporting myth has also presided, and it serves as ballast against the unencumbered capitalism that has emerged triumphant, asserting as it does for individual achievement to the exclusion of all societal responsibility, and declaring for the amassed fortune of the wise and fortunate among us. In America, we once liked to tell ourselves, those who are not clever or visionary, who do not build better mousetraps, have a place held for them nonetheless. The myth holds that those who are neither slick nor cunning, yet willing to get up every day and work their asses off and be citizens and come home and stay committed to their families, their communities and every other institution they are asked to serve – these people have a portion for them as well. They might not drive a Lexus, or eat out every weekend; their children might not be candidates for early admission at Harvard or Brown; and come Sunday, they might not see the game on a wide-screen. But they will have a place, and they will not be betrayed.

In Baltimore, as in so many cities, it is no longer possible to describe this as myth. It is no longer possible even to remain polite on the subject. It is, in a word, a lie.

the city of life

cities

My friend Tom hurt my brain this morning when I finally looked into Conway’s Game of Life, which is–as I can figure out through Wikipedia–based upon patterns that are set up initially and then run on its own. There are ‘live’ cells and ‘dead’ cells organized on a grid, and there are four rules (e.g., if a live cell has fewer than two live neighbor cells, it dies). Anyway, some fine people used this as a basis for Voxopolis, a 3D automated city.

This also brought me to Digital Urban.

pjs and public space

cities, culture

PJs in Public

From Boing Boing, there’s a nice moment wherein we can see how the spaces of urban life create culture. Simmel wrote of social roles that spring up from urban life (e.g., the quatorzième), which Park picked up on, and Goffman writes about ‘make-dos’ in Asylums, to show how the constant existence within the semi-public spaces of a mental institution leads to little unauthorized strategies. A nice analysis by Chinese sociologist Zhang Jiehai, explains that the fashion is born as “a matter of practicality because people lived in cramped conditions with no clear line between public space and private place.” This, again, reminds me (again) of the winding walkways and the ‘unofficial streets’ of San Francisco, where public and private collide. What I’m a little surprised at is that this is hardly a youthful trend… From a quick scan of images (from National Geographic and Flickr) it appears to cut across age groups.

Of course, the reason this arises is because it is from an article on how the Chinese government is trying to crack down on this particular phenomenon.

desire lines

cities

streets with no names

Despite reading Benjamin and Situationists, Urban Sociology students rarely see how individual practices can also be a part of shaping cities. It’s not the only thing, but it’s a part of the picture. I love these images, although I’m starting to feel mixed about Detroit being continually cast as the ultimate blighted, post-apocalyptic city. From the ever-fabulous Sweet Juniper blog:

In the heart of summer, too, it becomes clear that the grid laid down by the ancient planners is now irrelevant. In vacant lots between neighborhoods and the attractions of thoroughfares, bus stops and liquor stores, well-worn paths stretch across hundreds of vacant lots. Gaston Bachelard called these les chemins du désir: pathways of desire. Paths that weren’t designed but eroded casually away by individuals finding the shortest distance between where they are coming from and where they intend to go.

Update (bumped up from ‘comments’ so that I’ll remember it): Tom adds “This reminds me a of a story that a professor told me in one of my engineering classes about a new college that was built and decided to just place sidewalks and steps around the front and side exits of all the buildings. Then they allowed the students to use the campus for the first year. After that, they paved all the worn footpaths between the buildings, dorms and dining halls. It had something to do with allowing natural systems to develop on their own and how sometimes a solution more efficient than the best engineered design will arise.”

flaneur on wheels

cities
One of David Byrnes Bike Racks, which can be found throughout NYC

One of David Byrne's Bike Racks, which can be found throughout NYC

This has to be the fifth post out of the 120 posts that is on David Byrne, which is overkill, but I’m very excited to get The Bicycle Diaries in the mail. Am I wrong to hope that it is like a Walter Benjaminesque mediation on cities, as he bikes through NYC, London, Buenos Aries, Istanbul, Berlin and beyond? Am I wrong to hope that it could be a companion piece to Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City? Perhaps I will use it in Urban Sociology soon…

Our values and hopes are sometimes awfully embarrassingly easy to read. They’re right there – in the storefronts, museums, temples, shops, and office buildings and in how these structures interrelate, or sometimes don’t… Riding a bike through all this is like navigating the collective neural pathways of some vast global mind.

jacobs and moses

cities

The battle between people-turned-symbols of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses is well-worn and yet evergreen. As much as I like using Simmel and Benjamin and Haussman, a new book by Anthony Flint, Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City revisits the more contemporary exchange. A nice review is here.

I love Photoshop, at times

I love Photoshop, at times

coffee and cities

cities, culture, tech
This Machine Kills Fascists

This Machine Kills Fascists

It’s hard to argue against the relationship between coffee and gentrification. Sharon Zukin, for example, writes about ‘pacification by cappuccino‘ and my new neighbor Andrew Papachristos writes about the interrelationship between crime and coffee. I’ll just say this for now: The Blue Bottle’s Kyoto style cold-brewed chemistry set of a machine made me come back five times in four days. I groveled to get my last cup before I headed out of town.

Finding delicious coffee should be added to either Kieran‘s or Andrew‘s ASA Bingo cards. Although I’m doing my best to reserve judgment on Atlanta’s coffee scene.

Coffee Shop, 1956

Coffee Shop, 1956

Tangentially (although coffeeshop-related), there is something to be said for catching a good museum exhibit. In my case, coming early to the ASA, I made it to a Robert Frank exhibit at the SfMoMA. Four rooms were dedicated to the four sections of The Americans. (Read Anthony Lane’s writeup here.) It was an incredible experience, and the narrative became overwhelming, if a little forced by the placards. I use RF via Howard Becker’s Telling About Society for my Media and Technology class, as his work is clearly sociological. He writes:

Robert Frank’s (…) enormously influential The Americans is in ways reminiscent both of Tocqueville‘s analysis of American institutions and of the analysis of cultural themes by Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. Frank presents photographs made in scattered places around the country, returning again and again to such themes as the flag, the automobile, race, restaurants—eventually turning those artifacts, by the weight of the associations in which he embeds them, into profound and meaningful symbols of American culture.

Fellow museum compatriot, Patrick Inglis, reminded me of Walker Evans‘ style of taking surreptitious photographs of his subjects, and it got me thinking about technique a little more.

Update: A nice review of the 50 year anniversary of The Americans is here.

semi-public, semi-private space

cities, culture

In San Francisco for the ASA, I did a little scouting around and came across a bunch of ‘unaccepted streets’ thanks to a lovely local. She told me about how these are a ‘public right of way’ that has not been built according to city standards and has not been accepted by the city’s Board of Supervisors for maintenance. These are scattered all over the town, and the residents are required to take care of them. According to the San Francisco Public Works Code:

Residents of Penny Lane Arrange a Beautification Day

Residents of Penny Lane Arrange a Beautification Day

sec. 400.1. Owners of frontage responsible for removal of rubbish or debris from unaccepted streets that are unpaved. It shall be the duty of the owners of lots or portions of lots immediately adjacent to any portion of the roadway of any unpaved street, avenue, lane, alley, court or place, or any portion of any sidewalk thereof, in the City and County of San Francisco, none of which has been accepted by the Supervisors as by law or as in the Charter of said City and County provided, to maintain said roadways or sidewalks adjacent to their property free and clear of rubbish or debris. (Added by Ord. 16-71, App. 1/26/71)

The San Francisco Public Trust has a plan to make these spaces into ‘street parks,’ but what is interesting is that many locals have enchanted these places into their own: transforming them into public gardens, or making their own mosaic-tiled parking space. I was also fascinated by the little paths and stairs that weave around people’s homes, that have these lovely pockets in which residents have decorated them with flowers, art, and mosaics.

This stands in dramatic contrast with what I have always thought of as ‘privately owned public spaces:’ Corporate-held public plazas–in which landowners could build beyond their envelope due to a 1961 Zoning Plan incentive program–detailed in Jerold Kayden‘s excellent book. The NYC Department of City Planning reports:

Approximately 16 percent of the spaces are actively used as regional destinations or neighborhood gathering spaces, 21 percent are usable as brief resting places, 18 percent are circulation-related, four percent are being renovated or constructed, and 41 percent are of marginal utility.

While in San Francisco, I also hung out with Venice Beach urbanist, Andrew Deener, and he told me that his work touches on the Venice Canals, which exist in a way similar to SF’s unaccepted streets: this one-time aspiring Disneyland/Coney Island neighborhood fell on hard times, but is now a isolated bourgeois citadel thanks to these manufactured canals. Interestingly, like the unaccepted roads in San Fransisco, the City does nothing to maintain the canals, even though they are the only way for residents (and city services) to access their homes.

Scum River Bridge

Update (2/1/10): A nice little example of Urban Alchemy is in Astoria, where residents have built a bridge over ‘Scum River’ using a nearby broken bench. (This actually received an accommodation from the office of NYC Council Member Peter F. Vallone, Jr. January 25th)

creative repurposing, creative destruction

cities

The long anticipated High Line has opened, and it is truly a wonderful public space. New Yorkers, I often contend, love to see their world in new and interesting ways, and the new High Line (designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro) fits the bill. Even on a gloomy day, Erin and I bumped through the crowds, eager to catch a new vista. Including the nearby Christopher Street Pier (opened in 2003), two new public urban spaces are incredibly successful uses of ‘leftover’ spaces abandoned in the 1980s: a decaying set of piers and a stretch of elevated train trestle (see some old pics here, and a ‘virtual tour’ of the new park here), both testaments to eras gone by and monuments of glorious post-industrial leisure. A nice writeup in the Times, states that 30 projects will be spun off of the High Line, including an outpost of the Whitney Museum.

The High Line from above

At the other end of the scale, I read of Flint’s plan to return large segments of the city to nature, and that the Obama Administration has asked the treasurer of the country in which Filnt is located, Dan Kildee (“Decline in Flint is like gravity, a fact of life”), to concentrate on 50 US cities. The Times explains that the city’s population (about 110,000 people–a third of whom live in poverty–in 75 neighborhoods across 34 square miles) will be concentrated in particular areas, rather than having the city wait out to demolish abandoned buildings. This ‘planned shrinkage’ is just a

The article also mentions Berkeley’s Institute for Urban and Regional Development, which has a Shrinking Cities Workgroup that asks a set of key questions:

1. What are the different effects of city shrinkage on demographics, economics, social life, and urban form?

2. What urban and regional policies, programs and strategies have been successful in addressing the problem of shrinking cities?

3. What are the respective roles of public and private initiatives? How can they be coordinated? Who are the key players in the redevelopment process of shrinking cities?

Flint, MI, set in nature

4. What are the key factors linking globalization and city shrinkage? Can successful approaches be generalized, or are they locally/regionally specific?

5. Which assumptions, concepts, values and practices of planning and development need revision in view of the shrinking cities phenomena? Is there a need for a new vision and a shift in paradigm for urban and regional planning and growth?

6. What are the policy implications of shrinking cities for urban and regional development? What are the respective roles of local, regional and national policies and programs?

7. Globalization and sustainable communities, sustainable growth and possibilities of early warning systems?

calvino, emotions

cities

BioMap

This write up on Calvino reminded me of when my favorite professor, Frances Bronet (back when I was an architecture student) passed me a novella called The Baron in the Trees. I fell in love with Cosimo, who climbed an oak to escape having to finish his meal (as I recall, snails) and spends the rest of his life in a network of branches (first the oak, then an elm, a carob, a mulberry, a magnolia) that interlink above the entire city. It was the beginning of my interest in the connections made beyond the streets and sidewalks of cities, and it was probably the beginning of my journey out of architecture and into urban sociology. Invisible Cities (and some pushing from a friend), led me to thinking about stories of cities and, eventually, tour guides.

I read this essay about ‘biomapping’ with similar interest. Christian Nold (biomapping.net) measures emotional states (arousal, stress) of people as they walk through cities via a GPS device attached to a galvanic skin responce system. View his emotion map of Greenwich here, and San Francisco here. This could well connect with the essay I’m mulling over on Synecdoche, New York.

Chicago Tribune Map on 'Neighborhood Personalities'

geotagging & geomapping

cities, tech

I am, in a fashion, grateful that I didn’t get a chance to learn about geotagging until after I have completed my research on guides. I feel that, as a graduate student, this would have taken me in another direction.

Geocaching, and geotagging has been the purview of a kind of technological ‘upperclass.’ Some of these devices are fantastic, and pricey. New, friendlier technologies have made these activities available to a new, burgeoning ‘middle class.’ My iPhone is fully equipped for geotagging thanks to a very simple, free application (Geotag) and one for $2.99 (MotionX-GPS) that uses the iPhone’s GPS chip. These applications allow the user to find their latitude and longitude, flag a position (what is called a ‘waypoint’), and take a picture (your iPhone automatically geotags your photos by the way!). The first one is a little crashy, but it has the added benefits of being able to record two minutes of audio and link an email address or webpage to every waypoint. MotionX just as a photo. You can then create a path of a series of these points, a database of information to share or analyze, then export it to your computer over a wireless network, which pops onto your desktop as a kml file (for Geotag) or email it or share it with your Facebook friends (on MotionX). Double click on those files, and open them Google Earth. Google Earth can be crucial for the presentation of spatial data, and the way that Google Earth and Google Maps are synced further grow this ‘GIS middle class.’ It also allows for an opportunity to create a path in an urban space with your iPhone, export it, tweak it in Google Earth, and then use the Street View and 3D buildings (clicked on in ‘layers’) function, you can record a tour of one, or several spaces that you are going to talk about in a presentation. (The way that people can add 3D buildings through Google Sketchup is amazing as well. Look at this video about how this program is used by Autistic children.)

The Geotag application is clearly in its early stages (see the community section on their website), and I am pretty disappointed that there is a 2 minute time limit on the audio, however, I see that there are some powerful uses for conducting research in the field. (On top of that, urban geocaching is a great example of our urban alchemy.)

Now, when you pair this with gCensus, which is Stanford’s free program that allows you to export Census data into Google Earth, the iPhone can be a way to mashup quantitative data with qualitative, ethnographic, street level interviews and photos. Imagine doing a presentation of some ethnographic research on a community, where you geotag the who, what, when, and where of an interview and give your audience a full image of the social context of that material. (IRB issues of anonymity notwithstanding!) As soon as Google Earth’s iPhone app allows you to download kml files onto it… it will all come full circle.

Here’s a map mashup (‘Mashups: How and Why?’ here) on rising sea levels, an article on predicting swine flu, a way to track the movements of a dollar bill, the World Bank. Check out Penn State’s Geospatial Revolution page, and Kevin Kelly’s ‘Cool Tools’ post on it.

korean taco truck twitter

cities, tech

This morning I was set to show some ethnographic film for our Media, Technology & Sociology course. I was going to show DVDs of Mitch Duneier’s Sidewalk and Jim Ault’s Born Again and a VHS of David Redmon’s excellent Mardi Gras: Made in China. I don’t have a VHS player anymore, so I went to my classroom a half hour early to cue it up, but the room was locked. Flummoxed, I sat in a lounge area and pulled out my iPhone. My dad had just emailed me a note about an NPR story he heard in his car about a L.A. Korean Taco Truck, Kogi, that changes locations every day, and Twitters its whereabouts. I searched ‘taco’ in my NPR app on my phone, downloaded the three minute, 49 second report, plugged it into the technology stand (once the room was opened) and played it for the class. We listened to it together as owner-chef, Roy Choi told the correspondent,

You have all these neighborhoods now where people come out when they usually just got in their car and went to a mini-mall. Now they’re coming out to their streets, talking to their neighbors.

Kogis Korean Tacos

Kogi's Korean Tacos

Here is a little video report on it. This is just a brilliant example of social networking spilling out of the virtual realm.

As a chef, I always think it’s the food, but I think without Twitter it wouldn’t be anything, because I could have made these tacos, but I would have had no one to sell them to.

Meanwhile, the DVD player froze, and I had to revert to the older (more reliable?) technology of the VHS player to show the third film. The experience reminds me of the Radiohead song, ‘Videotape,’ which describes a man who reaches the end of his life lamenting that all of it is recorded on outdated media. (Which, in turn, reminds me of the Variety headline: ‘VHS, 30, Dies of Lonliness.’)