Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interesting reads: Maps, maps and maps

I do so love maps. 

  • A very thoughtful piece about the usefulness vs truthfulness of maps. Author also references an old (1937) book on cartography that revealed not just cartographic methods of that time but also prevailing cultural norms and hints of colonial attitudes. 

  • A bit morbid, but also interesting: Map of 2001-2009 road fatalities across the US. Seen at a glance most casualties are motor-vehicle passengers. When I zoomed in, it was sobering to see how most fatal accidents occured at bends and crooks in the road (road safety tip: slow down!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vintage photo

Look what I found in a 2005/6 FASS course guidebook!

Truly a blast from the past. Everybody looks really young and happy =) But why the hunched poses?

RIP Dr Pangiras (center), who was an exceptional lecturer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Interesting reads

  • Guerrila wayfinding in North Carolina, US, reminds me of hashing. Or natives leaving tracks in the wild for picking up trails. Looks like fun! 
  • Another interesting article on urban wayfinding. Makes me consider documenting the symbols and signs for navigation in Brunei. 
  • In Syria, anti-government activists make their point by changing place names using Google Map Maker. If a place doesn't exist online, does it exist in the real world? People have also begun to do the same in the streets. This article provides more background re: use of online mapping platforms for asserting regime reforms.
  • Intriguing: Is sensational news like fast food? Clay Johnson, author of The Information Diet, advocates for infoveganism. Nathan Matias provides a detailed overview of media health and information consumption.
  • Protests against austery measures in Athens are captured fantastically in photos shown here. I am not familiar with the issue so really not taking sides, but the first photo showing the police standing their ground despite petrol bombs exploding right in their faces saddens me.
  • Yeay! Now I can study at MIT too! This top-rated university has just introduced a free online course that offers certificates to successful students. 

Talk on Evolution of Kg Ayer Urbanisation

A PhD student from the University of Wellington, New Zealand, Remy LeBlanc, has been studying Kg Ayer evolution from an architectural perspective. 

He kindly agreed to give a talk on the subject on Monday, 13 February at the Core. It was attended by students, academic and officers from the Housing Development Department and the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department.

According to LeBlanc, Kg Ayer houses sprang up in a manner that mirrors closely the traditional organisation in Brunei Malay society, where the power figure is surrounded, in an outward radial pattern, by persons of varying importance, with the more influential occupying the inner circle.

He also shared some really intriguing info he gathered from orang pandai (wise men) about the houses in Kg Ayer. For instance, the houses are not aligned to ward off evil spirits; the back and front doors are similarly arranged for the same purpose. This indicates a lingering of the old animalistic rituals even after Islam has been introduced.

I'll let him tell you the rest of it, though not immediately. We recorded the talk and I hope to upload the videos here as soon as possible. 

Edit: I haven't been able to upload the videos yet as they are quite big, so you will have to wait until I figure out how to reduce their sizes. If anyone out there knows how to do this, please let me know. I'd be so grateful!

Programme Meeting

The first meeting for the year 2012 and with Dr Edgar as the new Programme Leader was held on Saturday, 11 February.

Important issues such as appointment of representatives to various faculty committees and the setting of research goals were tabled. Among the more exciting outcomes of the meeting were the agreements to meet regularly for a research seminar and to hold a programme retreat sometime later this semester. 

The highlight, though, was this wonderful chocolate walnut cake by Dr Debra: 

She makes great cakes; I still remember the carrot/pumpkin (not sure which now, ha) cake she made for the last meeting. This one is to celebrate Dr Bill's recent birthday and a token of thanks for his guidance and support during his PL-ship.