Sunday, October 28, 2007

>What information is there and how is it


Very interesting and valuable information about water and nature. It’s hard to even believe since I’ve never seen this kind of stuff.

>How valuable is the material to you as a designer or planner or


As a designer of a toolkit it gives me many ideas for what is measureable and observable in the environment so that I know what types of sensors to design and how they might be used.

>Could it be made more useful to you, and, if so, how?

>Compare the

>way the subject matter is presented here and in The Granite Garden. How can

>scientific information about the urban natural environment be presented in a

>way that is most useful to designers and planners and others who are not


Could be more accessible. Even with the same level of technical detail I would prefer a tiered approach to the introduction of material zooming out from a high level. In a way I could imagine Granite Garden as a bit of an “index” into other books like this, so that I could get the big picture quickly and dig deeper in certain places. In a way Granite Garden already is that, but the point is that this book could be organized less linearly. Even though it attempts to start out a chapter at a high level, it’s real purpose is to delineate all the cases of environmental water measurement, so it only goes big picture as an afterthought in my opinion. Simply put it’s not a narrative, and that’s what our minds are evolved and shaped to fit together with.

>Who are the authors? What is their purpose; what do you think they hoped to

>accomplish? Who is the intended audience?

The authors of “Water in Environmental Planning” are professors/researchers. To look at the pressures of academia, but drawing on the text too, their purpose could be a comprehensive analysis of hydrology and the earth’s water so as to impress students and colleagues and gain tenure or establish themselves as the experts, but not to integrate a social and historical aspects (sorry to them for being so harsh, I really should read more detailed before judging, but my judgment is fueled by seeing a lot of inaccessible books in my days). To quote them, they say that “We and our students have been hampered by the lack of an appropriate textbook.” They go on to say that there are textbooks for engineering hydrology but not environmental hydrology. So it could be considered as filling a textbook void in their eyes. A more positive view might include an intention to create a reference guide on the topic so that academics of all sorts can gain a deep and intimate knowledge to be shared and referenced to other audiences through other channels.

On the tree people website I saw some stuff that I didn’t connect with. But then I found a worksheet that seemed really practical and a good way to get people to start thinking. The “planbook”, for example, makes very poor use of html and web thinking in that to go through it you have to click “next” “next” “next” and can’t even skip to a certain page, among other problems.

>In what way(s) do the publications reflect the time in which they were


The time and the place. Written at least in part in San Francisco there was a huge environmental movement going on at that place, and reguardless of the place there was a lot of green thought hitting strong in the years leading up to the publication date.

According to the internet archive*/

the TREES website was published in 2000 and hasn’t changed much since then. This was early in the web so could explain the “next” style of the html.

>Do the authors of these publications use the word "nature" explicitly or

>implicitly? Do they ascribe values to the natural environment? If so, how

>would you characterize them?

The TREES website talks about natural cycles and how L.A. ignores nature’s forces which has an impact on livability and economics. I would say the values ascribed to the natural environment are more in terms of systems-level efficiency, although to study the topic for so long would certainly show a love and dedication.

I am really excited about how I can take the examples in “Water in Environmental Planning” and reformulate them on the micro-level to help me plan for individuals measuring their own hyperlocal environment. For example: measuring rainfall at different distances from a tree’s center rather than over miles. The apparatus can be similar, as sketched out on page 37 for “measurement of precipitation at a point”. It involves a collecting tube, a receiver a scale and a recording drum. Well the recording drum can be replaced by microelectronics in my sensors, and they can be much smaller collecting only over only a few square centimeters of area. There are lots of beautiful maps, such as the erosion map on page 525, that would be exciting to redo for hyperlocal areas such as a 10 ft. radius around someone’s favorite spot to sit. Beautiful graphs of “cumulative percentage frequency of annual precipitation in Baltimore…” could be redone on a local level and embedded in the landscape and experienced synesthetically through time rather than plotted on x-y on the page.

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