June 2017
【6/30 (五) 8pm Architectural Design: When Context Matters

July 2017
【7/7 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【7/21 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【7/28 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

August 2017
【8/4 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【8/11 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【8/25 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

September 2017
【9/1 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

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Architectural Design: When Context Matters

So we’re going to look at design again this week, but from the perspective of city planning. The tech magazine Wired published a critique of Apples new headquarters recently, and it makes some interesting points about how global companies interact with the physical places their offices are in, and how the architecture they build helps or hurts the community around them. What I’d like to know is if the situation in California correlates to situations with industrial park developments in Taiwan, for instance in Hsinchu or the more recent development in Nangang. Are things working as intended in terms of helping businesses contribute to the economy? But I also want to talk about what you think Taiwan is getting right or wrong in terms of transportation and housing as well. So let’s talk design!

The context of a building is just as important as the building itself
You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood.

Cities or Nations, which is better governance?

Are cities a better locus of government than nations?

Which is to say, there have been some serious drawbacks to the relatively new concept of nationhood, including but not limited to:
1. arbitrary borders not matching tribal/social divisions
2. border control and passports
3. arbitrary limits on economic opportunity and migration
What are some of the benefits of nationhood?

What are some of the potential drawbacks of city-based governance?
What might be the benefits?

Here's a TED talk touting the idea:

Here in the recent news is an interesting example of city-government acting on the world stage. When the US government pulled out from the Paris accords on June 1, suddenly on the same day the "US Climate Alliance" was announced.

Check this out:

Leadership and the Excercise of Power

The saying goes: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But is this always true? This article in the NY Times says there are mitigating factors. Let’s discuss!

Freedom or Responsibility
Some psychologists separate power, defined as the control of valued resources, into two concepts: power perceived as freedom, and power perceived as responsibility. How you view power can affect how you use it. When you see power as a source of freedom, you are likely to use it to serve yourself, selfishly. But when you see it as responsibility, you tend to be selfless.

Contextual Clues
Who you are — your character and cultural background — affects your approach to power. But contextual clues about how power should be used can be surprisingly effective in altering leadership behaviour.

Teaching Design for Change

One of our RO Studio members proposed that we talk about how design, the physical design of the world around us, affects people. This might be a good talk to start with.

Cooperate or Not? The Nash Equilibrium and the Shapley Value

Nash Equilibrium

"The Nash equilibrium is a stable state of a system that involves several interacting participants in which no participlant can gain by a change of strategy as long as all the other participants remain unchanged."

Make 4 dollars or 5 dollars?
I'll explain it without the traditional prisoner story.

Imagine someone approaches you, as well as a random stranger, on the street. He says to the two of you:

If you both give me a dollar, I will give each of you $5. But if only one of you gives me a dollar, I will keep that dollar, and give $5 only to the person who gives me nothing. You aren't allowed to talk to each other.

Of course, if you could talk to the other player, you would surely agree that you both will give the guy a dollar, and each walk away $4 richer than you were. But since you can't, all you can do is figure out what is best for yourself. And regardless of what the other player chooses, it is best for you to give nothing.

If the other person gives a dollar, you are better off giving nothing -- as you'd make $5 profit rather than only $4. And if he gives nothing, you'll lose nothing, rather than losing a dollar.

The problem, of course, is that both players are likely to think this way, and each give nothing. This results in a lost opportunity to make some free money.

This kind of situation is everywhere in the real world. Rational people make choices that seem (to the Prisoner's-Dilemma naive) to be non-rational. They are not being stupid, they make these choices because it is in their interest to do so.....purely due to inability to make and enforce agreements.


John Cleese on creativity:

A 5 Step process for creativity:
In learning any art the important things to learn are, first, Principles, and second, Method. This is true of the art of producing ideas.
Particular bits of knowledge are nothing, because they are made up [of] so called rapidly aging facts. Principles and method are everything.

So with the art of producing ideas. What is most valuable to know is not where to look for a particular idea, but how to train the mind in the method by which all ideas are produced and how to grasp the principles which are at the source of all ideas.

The second important principle involved is that the capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.

Consequently the habit of mind which leads to a search for relationships between facts becomes of the highest importance in the production of ideas.

Is it ignorance or discrimination?

On PTT's WomenTalk forum, a woman who lives in Britain brought up some scenarios that she personally experienced with her coworkers. Read the article, and then let's talk about the cases she brought up!

I think we have to first have to define the difference between prejudice and racism. Prejudice — holding negative beleifs about a group of individuals, and assuming individuals share these characteristics
Racism — the social mechanisms (prejudice, disadvantaging, outright attacks) by which social power is differentiated for groups, and through the dissemination of which a group gains and maintains social dominance

Scenario 1: “Whatever”
Is it discrimination that someone should not distinguish between Taiwan and China, or only politics?
If sb can’t tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, is that racism? Unfamiliarity? Laziness?
Is it the same or different situation if, for instance, a Taiwanese person would be like, “Oh, Polish, Russian, it’s about the same?”
Would a Taiwanese person say that though?

Scenario 2: “Chopsticks”
What are the assumptions behind this kind of question:
—personal cultural preference?
—level of exposure to outside cultures?
—competence/incompetence in cultural norms?
Do assumptions/intentions behind actions matter?
Or the feelings resulting from the actions?
Which matters more?

Work, Leisure, Play

“This is the main question, with what activity one’s leisure is filled.”
Is it important to distinguish between work and leisure? Or work and play?
Do we even really understand what leisure is? We seem to have this idea that leisure should be 'productive' or at least lead to productive work. Is this what leisure is really about?
What would leisure be like in a society with UBI (Universal Basic Income)?
What would you do if you really could do anything you wanted with your time? Does the idea of totally being able to decide what you do with your time a little unsettling? Do you think you would work well to be responsible to no-one but yourself for what you get done?
Is the scariness of too much freedom what makes people crave authority? We've talked about 'freedom from' vs. 'freedom to' before, does this apply to the question of work and leisure?

Work-Life Balance?
The equilibrium between productivity and presence is one of the hardest things to master in life, and one of the most important. We, both as a culture and as individuals, often conflate it with the deceptively similar-sounding yet profoundly different notion of “work/life balance” — a concept rather disheartening upon closer inspection. It implies, after all, that we must counter the downside — that which we must endure in order to make a living — with the upside — that which we long to do in order to feel alive. It implies allocating half of our waking hours to something we begrudge while anxiously awaiting the other half to arrive so we can live already. What a woefully shortchanging way to exist — lest we forget, so speaks Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
The current understanding of work-life balance is too simplistic. People find it hard to balance work with family, family with self, because it might not be a question of balance. Some other dynamic is in play, something to do with a very human attempt at happiness that does not quantify different parts of life and then set them against one another. We are collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way.