Cities and Public Spaces

Winston Churchill once said, ‘We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.’ Likewise, our public spaces shape our community identity and who we are.

Pps.org

It is less of a trend and has been the reality in the cities around the world that more and more people are coming and living in them. It is a fact that most people will be living in cities in the future. A lot of talks about innovation in city planning, real estate development, architecture, energy, transportation, housing and even tourism have been going on. While one group is busy with plans to accommodate more people and infrastructure within cities, I hear the voices of movements and community leaders reminding and promoting the need for public spaces in the cities where people would come together freely and have a good time. Continue reading

OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap is an open initiative to create and provide free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them.
– OpenStreetMap Foundation

Maps and location data has become big business. GPS equipped consumer products such as cars and mobile phones are ubiquitous. The company that has the most complete geographic data becomes the sought after source of location based information. That company has been Google with it’s Google Maps service. There is also no lack of competitors to it’s maps business. Continue reading

Lean Start-Up and Lean UX Design

Lately I’ve been coming across the terms “Lean Start-Up” and “Lean UX”. It seems like these are a set of concepts and tool sets that have been developed as a result of experiences in the fast phased tech start-up world. Generally the core idea in these is to rapidly iterate and re-iterate development of an application, UX design or a business model to make improvements based on customer feedback. This is to speed up the delivery of the end product that meets the customer needs or fine tune a business model to succeed while actively improvising. It looks like even an automotive company like Tesla has adopted such ideas. Two leaders of these ideas are Steve Blank and Jeff Gothelf.

Steve Blank

Jeff Gothelf

Translated: A Talk by Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin

I found an interesting talk by Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin on Youtube. The title of the talk is “Islam and Inter-Religious Relationship” and supposedly it was held at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia on 21 Dec 2013. It’s in Malay and this is my attempt to translate it into English. The following will be the excerpts from the talk, an absolute straight forward translation without any of my own thoughts or opinions. I hope I’ve kept it as close to the talk as possible.

First of all I would like to touch on a number of important aspects for us to understand the environment of Muslims of today which is not the same as the environment of Muslims when they had their empire. During the time when they were in the lead, probably whatever they did was considered a standard or respectable. This is due to Islam which was regarded as a “brand” of high value. And then when we face an environment like today, where Islam is condemned as a religion of violence, intolerance and the cause of so much problems in the world. So, sometimes when we’re talking about topics like this, we’re driven without a choice to not to speak in the tone of someone who is promoting his religion. But, to speak in the tone of an accused in the court room who has been forced to defend his religion. This is what sometimes becomes the reality, where topics such as this one are created as tough we’re forced to defend Islam from accusations that it disrespects and do not tolerate other religions. Continue reading

Pew Research: Social Media in 2013

Some highlights from the latest report on social media in 2013 by Pew Research Center.

  1. 72% online adults use social networking sites.
  2. 42% online adults use multiple social networking sites and Facebook is the platform of choice.
  3. Facebook and Instagram users most likely to check in to the respective sites on daily basis.
  4. About 71% online adults are Facebook users.
  5. Pinterest has more female users, 4 times than men.
  6. LinkedIn is very popular among college graduates.
  7. Twitter and Instagram are more appealing to young urban adults.
  8. 63% of Facebook users visit the site at least once a day. 40% do so multiple times each day.
  9. Some 45% of internet users age 65 and above use Facebook.
  10. LinkedIn is the only social networking site for which usage among 50-64 year olds is higher than usage among those ages 18-29.

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The full report is available at http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Social-Media-Update/Main-Findings.aspx

I Wish : A Democratic Setup

Democracy that is used to form governments has not been working. That’s because the governments formed through democratic process don’t seem to really serve the people for whom they were setup. And that’s because the politicians who were voted to form the governments only have the time to serve themselves, their kin and the political party they belong. It hasn’t been difficult to observe a serious element that corrupts and deviates individuals in politics from the objectives of democratic government. I found this element to be the political parties. I wish for the demise of political parties. Continue reading