I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and of the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past...A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Monday, October 10, 2005

Anthropology and advertising?

I read an interesting article on trend forecasting today. I've always found this fascinating (and wonder how much anybody checks later to see if the forecasters were right). The only thing that bothered me about this one, and this is not new, is the claim that what they do is like cultural anthropology. This is not a diss on advertising, marketing, trend forecasting, or any of the other fields that claim to be like anthropology--these folks to interesting work.

I am just annoyed at the claim itself. Granted, we anthropologists are not always good at advertising ourselves...in that we offer a holistic approach, and theoretical insight based on our training. So anybody who observes people is now an anthropologist. Or is it just that Americans are so used to sound bites that they don't understand the nuanced differences in anything?

Sigh.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Innovative and Inspiring Places

Anand Chhatpar has put up a request for lists of innovative and inspiring places in the US on the BrainReactions blog. There is an interesting mix of places there, from creative labs to museums to the great outdoors. I added some of my favorite aquaria (I am apparently still on a fish thing) and some cool buildings:

Monterey Bay Aquarium
New England Aquarium
National Aquarium
Taliesen West
Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

Once I got going on structures, I really thought about innovative and inspiring places around the world. The first that popped into mind (probably because I was thinking about architecture) was Vienna--Art Nouveau, the Secessionist movement, Huntertwasser...Though now I could start going on about my favorite places around the world...

Others?