Why I am not a fan of the revised LinkedIN website design

Recently saw Linkedin website update with various changes to simplify and clean up the interface. I think the front page is a great new look and for most users who use linkedin for reading about connections and companies, connecting and the odd search for an ex-colleague or future employee it is fine.

For those who use linkedin for the group and company page things just got a little harder. Gone are the days of having your group and company on the main page now you have to hunt through the menu to find it, add a post and then promote it. This also means that users will be less inclined to seek out groups and companies as they no longer appear in side menus or sidebars but in the More menu make interaction less likely. Gone are your interests and other easy to use menus, you now thrust into MS style ribbon with icons and a Notifications bell that seems to go off everytime I login into Linkedin.

The main irritation of the updated design is that they only revised some pages and the rest of the site is the old design (groups, etc) which is common a practice for Linkedin as they rarely update more than one page design at a time, whereas when other social media sites announce a revised design it goes through the entire site.  How is it an irritation? If you go to groups page in the More menu your sent off into a new browser tab and then if you select settings or other menu cog menu item you are shown the old LinkedIn menu (text no icons).

I like Linkedin and also will but I find it strange that for a social company of its size and now with the backing of Microsoft that they can’t get it together to revise the brand and design throughout the whole site. They need to loose the startup mentality and mature into a company that serves its customers not vice-versa.

Started 2017 travelling through Northeast Tasmania

I travelled through the northeast of Tasmania during the first week of 2017. We used Launceston as a base and travelled to numerous areas and enjoyed the landscapes, hiking, food and driving through an ever changing landscape. It was a great way to start 2017 with the family and enjoy beautiful weather and I am looking forward to returning to Tasmania. See below for a few Instagram images of the trip.

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on


Great Lakes

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on


Cradle Mountain – Hike from Ronny River to Crater Lake to Marions Lookout to Lake Livia and Dove Lake – must do hike.

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on


Bridgestowe Lavendar Farm, Binalong Bay

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on


Ben Lomond drive up Jacobs Ladder and then across to Coles Bay

A photo posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on


Beauty Point

A video posted by worldla (@damianholmes) on


Caract Gorge – Launceston

Setting Goals and Plans not Resolutions for 2017

It is the last day of 2016 in Melbourne, Australia and it is a time when we read top 10 lists on 2016 and start looking to the future and making resolutions. However, in the past I find resolutions to be fleeting and I usually forget about  them by week 2 or 3 of the new year.

The last few years I have sat down and worked out goals and then a separate mini-plan for each goal. This way I can look back at each goal and it’s plan to see how I am going and whether I was too ambitious or too easy on myself. Over the last 5 years I have usually put a little too much pressure to get the goals completed. 2016 was a challenging year with moving the family back to Australia and taking on more responsibility at my day job along with continuing to publish on World Landscape Architecture on an almost daily basis.

I am looking to the future with positivity and have set goals for 2017 that I think I can achieve whilst balancing the all aspects of life.

I wish you a happy and prosperous 2017.

Book Review | The Social Organism by Oliver Luckett & Micheal J. Casey

social-organism-luckett

I picked up The Social Organism after watching Oliver Luckett on Gary Vaynerchuk’s #askgaryvee vlog and was interested in the concept of social (media) as seen from the lens of an organism. The book gives background of the Social Organism and how the seven rules of life (biology) can be applied to social media. Luckett explores social media through the many lens/ideas throughout the book including Darwinism, commercial printing presses, and more however, the main lens/idea of the book of organism/science is explored including Koestler’s model, cell organisms, genes, artificial intelligence. It may appear at first glance that this would be a boring read, however the book is written to allow the reader to understand at a basic principles and how they can be applied to social media.

Luckett uses real life examples throughout the book including #BlackLivesMatter, Spring uprising, Taylor Swift swifties, Oreo’s dunk in the dark, League of Legends and more to show the good and bad aspects of social media and how many still don’t understand that social media is not a fad, or just another platform or media but a part of social makeup of many places that jump local, state and nation boundaries and work at a international level. However, one criticism I have of the book is that it is very USA-centric in its examples and reference points with only a few international examples (platforms, movements) which are covered all too briefly in the book. Another criticism of the book is that it spends too long in the initial chapters explaining terms of reference and concepts which I realise is needed for those who have little to no background in social media. I think there are many ideas in the book that are covered only briefly that could have been further explored, but I think that also provides the opportunity for Luckett and co-writers to explore in a followup book.

Overall, this is a great book that I will read again over the Christmas 2016 break to gain more ideas for the future.  The main takeaway from the book is that social media has its good and bad sides and that we are living in an era when social media and the coming internet of things(IoT) is transforming the way we live, interact and govern. If you have any interest in sociology or social media I encourage you to get a copy and read it with a notepad or highlighter/marker by your side as it is full of great ideas that will trigger your own interesting thought processes. I am hoping that Luckett and co-writers have a follow up book in the making to explore ideas in more depth.

Australia`s Parliament House is about to get ring fenced


Just before the Houses of Parliament broke for the Christmas holiday they approved to increase security (or perimeter security enhancements as its known security jargon) at Parliament House by surrounding the roof and their lawns with 2.6 metre, 1.5 metre and 1.2 metre high fences at various intervals [pdf] which has drawn great ire from Australian architects including Glenn Murcutt and Australian Institute of Architects.

Why is there such outcry over increasing security at the centre of government in Australia? The design for Parliament House which was won by “Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp and imagined Parliament House that symbolically rose out of the landscape and could not be built on top of the hill as this would symbolise government imposed on the people…it was important that [it] be seen as extending an invitation to all citizens. The grand lawns of Parliament House allowed the public to be able to freely access and walk over the Houses of Parliament.” [1]. This grand idea that won the design competition provides an insight into the values of Australia, its cities, communities and people and is the main reason why so many architects and the public are voicing their opposition to the fence, whether in newspapers, blogs or on social media.

Read more at World Landscape Architecture

Hyper-city | Hyper-density

Hypercity |
A hyper-city is has an overall density that xceeds 5,000+ inhabitants/km² often with city districts exceeding 30,000+ inhabitants/km2. Cities that fall under this definition include Mumbai, Paris, Nairobi, Hong Kong, Macau, Dhaka, Dar es Salaam, London, Manila, Stockholm and Shanghai [1] Most existing hyper-cities are located in Europe with some in Americas, the newer cities are those in Asia where the countries population is migrating on mass to cities from rural areas in search of a better life.

How is a Hyper-city different from a Mega-city? Mega-city are often defined as 10 million plus residents, however they could be spread across a large area with very low densities. It is noted that many Mega-cities fall under the definition of Hyper-city.

There are two types of hypercities, those that are established (over 100 years old) and those that new cities(developed in last 50 years). Both have separate issues relating to systems and building form(architecture) which will be discussed later.

SYSTEMS & NETWORKS
Hyper-cities are often touted as the answer to the mass migration from rural to urban landscapes. They are seen as more sustainable and efficient form of city where services(transport, health, utilities), commercial (office, retail, markets, trading) and residential (apartments, villas, mixed use) are all located within dedicated area and people travel short distances to and from work, commerce and recreation. However, this is where the theory and implementation diverge as there very few communities that actually live within a few minutes of their workplace. Often housing is purchased based on personal preference and circumstances at the time of purchase including cost of housing, family size, proximity to family, proximity to friends, with proximity to work often the last factor considered as people have become more transient in their careers often staying with the one employer for 2-5 years but living in the same house for 15-20 years. Therefore, transport systems require more thought and flexibility to allow for an transient workforce who may work in factory, then a hotel, then an office in their career or maybe all in the same day.

Systems and networks are key to hyper-cities – transport, utilities, open space, services and retail. Lessons must be learnt from new and established cities to create liveable places to live.
These systems and networks can be intertwined to allow for better living experience. Limiting a hyper-city to one form (grid, organic, network, hub and spoke, etc) creates an instant legacy that takes years if not decades to change. Hyper-cities should allow people to be able to live easily and fluidly.

TRANSPORT – The network than make or break a city
Transport of people, goods, services is key to the success of a city. The need for people to move to and from home, to work, to shop, to a service, to recreate, to home is only half the network. The other half transporting food (whether inter or intra city) and services is key and requires more study and implementation of different models. Public Transport and Individual Transport (cars, bikes) have not changed dramatically, in recent times car-sharing has started to develop. Hopefully, car sharing and autonomous cars will come together to reduce the need for individual car ownership. Imagine a city with a car fleet and very few car spaces – that’s acres of land and basements that are no longer required.

Public transport will always remain bus, train, tram(streetcar) with different modes (elevated, subway, BRT, etc). It is the network form and energy type that will create for more efficient low- carbon cities.

Transport of goods is key and currently uses large amount of energy to move goods to and from inhabitants whether at home, at the office or at the store. A change from the traditional form of logistics is paramount to reduce pollution and congestion. If we look at bulk container shipping we see a model that could work for hypercities. Container shipping is based on selling space on a ship and this comes down to the last square metre, they contract sell to anyone the space within a container to allow for most efficient use of space. Currently, in cities there are numerous couriers who use this method of transport as well but it is still inefficient. If hyper-cities use a centralised system of electric autonomous vehicles on a central system

FOOD
Food for residents is either inter or intra (coming from the city or outside whether another region or country). For a hyper-city to be efficient it requires a change in land use, form and mind set.

Landuse
Currently, most agricultural land near cities is under threat from development and is a source of cheap housing. However, large tracts of arable land are replaced with cheap housing and farmers moved to the fringes of the cities into less arable land. When planning a Hyper-cities there is a need to study, map and zone areas of arable land to allow the city to have a sustainable source of food. Also hypercities should map all areas of flood zone and waterways and allow this land to be used for farming rather than creating vast tracks of non-productive recreational land.

Form
The traditional form of producing food is often grown on flat arable land on the edge of cities or in rural areas. With technology hypercities can grow food in vertical structures with hydroponics and aquaculture. Also growing food on productive green roofs could sustain vast numbers of inhabitants allowing for reduced land and transport.

Change in Mindset
Food is often flown or trucked into a distribution centre and then moved by road to point of sale. We have moved from distributed small markets to now having centralised big box markets that require inhabitants to travel. The solution seems to be a change in the mindset of inhabitants to eat based upon season and also purchase online. Online purchasing of food in China and other countries is growing. With hypercities it is possible to create network systems and logistics to create an efficient system of food distribution. Although many residents will still wish to shop at the market there is a need to source as much of the food as a city needs from the local surrounds(within 100km) to reduce the impact of transportation.

LEGACY VS MONOTONY
The main issue that established hyper-cities have to address is a legacy of old infrastructure and systems. For a established hyper-city requires continual investment in changing systems and infrastructure. It also requires for community engagement to alleviate concerns about demolision, new infrastructure (roads, utilities) and increased density. New cities face less issues related to legacy systems and have to face the issue of how to efficiently(time and money) development and scale the city to meet demand of the influx of new residents. An ability to develop large areas of residential and commercial areas often leads to replication of architecture and built form and thus a monotonous landscape of similar tall towers with little variety in form, colour or spatial arrangement. Although these monotonous landscape create cheap housing, they also create a dehumanising effect due to scale and repetition. Thought needs to be given to planning controls, architectural controls and landscape design and quality to ensure new hyper-cities are places residents wish to live for the long term and create communities rather than moving for education or employment only.

To solve the legacy issue requires cities to develop methods of replacing, pigging-backing or improving systems. More research and planning is required to develop systems for power, information (web), refuse disposal and transport. These are the key areas where cities need to develop solutions that will be resilient.

Solving the scaling issue requires more thought and flexibility in planning guidelines. New cities in China are starting to realise that there is little to differentiate them from their neighbour cities due to the use of the same planning regulations, often the same developers and same construction companies develop and build cities within the same region creating the problem of not knowing when you’ve left one city and entered another. This is also has to do with the propensity to flatten large areas of land to allow for ease of construction often wiping out any semblance of landform.

CONCLUSION
Creating a city of over 5000+ inhabitants per km2 requires the ability of the built environment and allied professions to come together to develop new solutions to problems that allow for a city to develop organically and be resilient in its forms.

1. The largest cities in the world by land area, population and density | City Mayors Statistics
2. List of cities proper by population density | Wikipedia