PLACES : LISA FINDLEY, LIZ OGBU
Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa has labored to redress the legacy of racial segration — including the long history of physical separation exemplified by the black townships. Here Lisa Findley and Liz Ogbu describe diverse efforts to transform the marginalized townships into thriving towns — a struggle that remains ongoing.
OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR
The grouchy existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre famously declared, “Hell is other people.” If JPS had been around today, he might have felt obliged to revise that axiom. In the age of the upload, when no personal snap is too inconsequential to post, we confront the stark possibility that hell just might be other people’s photographs. As the photo collector Erik Kessels puts it, we are “drowning in pictures of the experiences of others.”
OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE
Yesterday I awoke to a stream of Twitter messages about the early Tuesday raid of Occupy Wall Street. Mayor Bloomberg was set to address the press about the raid at 8 a.m. Mayor Bloomberg had been scheduled to kick off the "Zoning the City"
conference I planned to attend at 8:30 a.m. I decided there was no rush to get to midtown: there was no way he was going to make both.
And the mayor's non-presence, like the encampment's nonexistence, recast the day for me.
OBSERVERS ROOM : ROB WALKER
An unfamiliar object startled me in a hotel-room shower recently. Was it a product of the same thick-headed vision of progress that answers the three-blade razor with the four-blader? Or a production error, an industrial design mutant? No and no. It was, presumably by accident, a moral dilemma waiting to happen.
OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER
On a February afternoon in 1902, a blaze of suspicious origin enveloped Durland's Riding Academy, a condemned equestrian center adjacent to Central Park on Columbus Circle. The scene was captured by Thomas Edison's film production company, and you can watch it today online
, accompanied by a jaunty score. The film came to mind last week, as I sat through the caper flick Tower Heist
, which is set on the very same corner of Columbus Circle in New York City, but a century later.
CHANGE OBSERVER : LAURA WEISS
Any role that requires engagement with other human beings can benefit from sensitivity to good service — communicating clearly, keeping projects on schedule, providing appropriate feedback. And yet such capabilities are colloquially characterized in MBA programs as “soft skills.”
PLACES : ROBERT E. LANG, ARTHUR C. NELSON
Americans have long cherished the myth of the wild frontier; but the United States is a nation of cities, and these cities are growing larger. As planning scholars Robert Lang and Arthur Nelson argue, the country can now be understood in terms of a new geography of "megapolitans" — large and powerful regions consisting of multiple cities and even states that are economically, environmentally and culturally interconnected.
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities curated by John Foster, highlights images of design, art, architecture and ephemera brought to light by the magic of the digital age.
OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, John Hockenberry discusses his morning NPR news show The Takeaway, journalism in the age of social-media, Steve Jobs and sex.