Rahil Patel

| (• ◡•)|/ \(❍ᴥ❍ʋ).

Tools for Autodidacts

16 August 2015 by Rahil

After writing an e-mail to the creator of Voice Dream, it triggered a thought about tools, which may be an extension of Tools for Organizing, probably not Tools for Disorganizing, but this time specifically for learning.

Organizing education? Organizing knowledge. Organizing people.

Organizing Knowledge:
Though human languages are unnecessary to gain information, they do seem helpful in organizing information. And for that, we need tools to help this. And for the nomadic peoples, carrying bulky notebooks and pencils is a burden. For us privileged peoples, we likely have a smartphone, and I’ve been using it as a personal library, a public library, a notebook, and a public-facing notebook. My current set of digital tools to replace these physical entities are, in order, an eBooks folder in Dropbox, digital libraries (such as Project Gutenberg and Library Genesis), a notes folder in Dropbox full of text files used in conjunction with ByWord text editor, and WordPress. All of which have excellent iOS applications.

This covers written language, but what about other mediums to help organize information? Audio: There probably is no good way to record, playback, and re-edit audio. [todo: this tool is necessary for deaf and/or mute people***]. Pictures: One can take pictures with their phone and post it on WordPress quite easily. Illustrating: One perhaps could use a drawing application to create sketches (I personally feel iPhone is too small for this, and I don’t like carrying an iPad, though the iPad mini is a possibility. Maybe Google Glass will have something to illustrate with arm movement?) and also post them on WordPress. Video: can be taken on the phone and posted on WordPress. Touch: ? (todo: I think MIT Media lab’s tangible media [research] group had a prototype for this. Useful for the deaf and blind?). Other ways to convey ideas digitally, and somewhat efficiently?

Organizing People:
Though autodidacts were probably historically secluded, it doesn’t have to be so anymore. With ideas such as public spaces and public education more prevalent in cities, it’s not so difficult to organize a class (aka workshop?) or a meetup. And even if not, surely one has the guts to publicly talk to anyone, anywhere.

On the tech side, public spaces appear the form in hackerspaces and fablabs, with the appropriate tools and spaces. I happen to know these spaces because I know a bit about tech, but I wonder of the billions of public spaces people convene for whatever their interests are. Taiqi and squaredancing in neighborhood parks, neighborhood development meetups in meeting halls, crafting next to the Han river, illustrating on Yangmingshan mountain, and so on. These spaces really need to be mapped out and thrown on a pretty website. Or should it? Perhaps these past few weeks of seclusion has made me more digitally oriented, and missing out on my physical orientation. If a group wants to be physically inviting, there will be an inviting physical sign. Otherwise, it requires the individual to be active to find and butt into the group.

Just yesterday while hunting Semiotext(e) books on the web, I stumbled upon The Public School, and a group had a curriculum that took place at a different location in the city every day. A side thought: It’s nice to see such communities being created in cities across the world, with the community as the core of their philosophies. Anyway, I’ve thought of this idea before, but it’s nice that there is a website for this kind of stuff, as opposed to a messy mix of Facebook, Meetup, Twitter, Google Docs, and whatever else. Though, I’m sure this website has it’s limitations too. Kunal is working on a tool for organizing “pop-up collaboration spaces” too. Actually this kind of tool doubles as a tool for disorganizing, for ad hoc activism.

Any space can work in theory: one’s own apartment, a friend’s apartment, a gazebo in a park, a public library, a subway station, a trains. Any space with a door fee goes against my values. From personal experience, this can be practically difficult, as landlords may not like it, roommates may not like it, or my air conditioner is not strong enough and outside is unbearable (Taipei problems), the space is too far from the center of the city. To have a calming space in such a loud city really is a commodity, one that people would pay an over-priced coffee. Ah, I miss those small towns I’ve travelled through. When a town is comfortable, every space has so much more potential.

The heat of Taipei really does force people to go indoors for such activities. It led me to think about designing some kind of physical pop up space. For example, find a few benches in the public, then setup a plastic physical, clear, box, with a portable air conditioner. Boom! A public space that is comfortable. Taipei has enough public bathrooms and cheap foodstuffs, so that part is covered. But then, electricity is missing. Oh the woes of digital work.

Though, in practice, if the content is valuable, people will come, and people will eventually figure out how to organize themselves, even if it means stuffing themselves in a small room just to be together and talk, or dance.

But that leads to the problem of people moving far distances for finding like-minded peoples, as opposed to staying put in their own neighborhood (or town or even city[!]) and organizing, and teaching, and inspiring people more local to participate. Ah, such idealism.

Eh, well, this part of the post kind of diverted a bit into perhaps a post I will title the Ideal Public Space, which will come later.

But I feel that these thoughts make it apparent that the tools for organizing information are, at the moment, better than tools for organizing people. Hah, doesn’t that singularly summarize a major problem with humans?

Leave a comment | Categories: Education, Information Science, Media Studies, Sociology, Urban Planning

The Speed of Ideas

15 August 2015 by Rahil

I believe this was thought around the time of writing my first post when I went home after my long travels, which was in the form of an illustration because I felt no reason to write as the time to took to record an idea and the speed it conveyed it was so much slower than reality. The following posts were MS Paint quality illustrations of new media ideas, and even that, I felt, was too slow, or not worthwhile, as opposed to executing an idea to reality. Though, in retrospect, the illustrations were quite efficient, in both ways: recording and conveying.

~9/17/14:

I never liked books, and in the digital age, it’s rare one ever needs to resort to one.

I think the reason, in addition it simply being slow at displaying information, is that is it slow at conveying ideas [or perhaps I’m dyslexic?].

Poetry is a step up [I thought of Calvino’s Invisible Cities]. Within a few words, new settings and new ideas form. Though, it requires substantial experience for merely a few words to convey an idea.

Other media is a bit more difficult to compare, because there’s far more experience to it.

8/25/15:

Films are an experience. There’s infinite information to take in, nearing reality. Whereas reading a Wikipedia is not an experience, assuming one has read an article in the past.

Yet, films (or any other media) can be a learning experience, in which several ideas can be derived from it. During my film-heavy education, I would watch a film, sit, think, read a bunch of Wikipedia articles, maybe see what Ebert says, and write in my thoughts file. Nowadays, I just write thoughts directly to my thoughts file while watching the film, or pause to check some historical information.

If learning is about learning [the gist of] ideas, not content, then the speed of the transmission of ideas should be maximized. But when does one have enough experience to create or understand an idea? That is up to the person. People should experience life as is, only opting to verbalize at their own pace, at their own interest. That is life. Forget the books. Verbalizing everything would requires several lifetimes.

A curriculum should focus on giving experience which would lead to certain ideas without ever using a language.

Films (videos and animations) can be clipped to convey an idea with an experience.

Real experience, however, is much more difficult to make into a curriculum, but could be quite fun to create using travel (including locally) and guided activities (including games).

Though, a preferred method is to verbalize (and perhaps read more) about what one experiences, mixing the two (thank goodness for Wikipedia!), I wonder about comparing walking through a chaotic city and reading several books from a library.

It is possible to walk through a chaotic city and think about nothing, or almost nothing (i.e. what to eat and drink). It’s also possible to think about everything, questioning every human action of every inhabitant and of the organization of all material. The information is infinite.

During the reading of several books, words invoke meaning which may invoke a memory or experience. It all depends on past experiences. The information is finite, and if one does not have enough experience, especially of social related things, things may not make sense. The information is finite.

It also depends on interest of what one reads. The mind hones in on what is interesting, also depending on past interests. Then again, the same process happens in reality. Unless one just allows the world to pass and consume everything that comes by. Still, it requires attention.

A great strength of written work is big history. Mapping time to events. But many other medias can convey this too, so it’s not limited to writing. So, it isn’t a comparison between reading and experiencing, rather, media and experience.

So, to update the question, let’s compare walking through a chaotic city with consuming media.

Cities are organized though, like media. People choose to go to some place based on physical organization.

Let’s update the question to walking through a city without intention and consuming media, also without intention. Which will grasp ideas faster?

Formal knowledge can be entirely learned through written language. Social knowledge (anything with humans) requires a lot of experience. Physical knowledge doesn’t require much experience. And that is the order of speeds that people can grasp ideas from media.

Hmm, when walking through a city, one could think about many things rarely written about, say, how neighborhoods seem to attract people with similar values, or what components make a good public space. Sure, there’s an urban planning book now about these things, but in the past there wasn’t. So there’s this problem of lack of awareness, knowledge (in case of books: words), and the loss of information from artist to medium. Compare an [good] old media to a new one. The new one is likely to be aware of a lot more things going on. In books, this comes in words. In film, it’s in complexity, realism comes to mind.

Rereading the first sentence: when walking through a city, one could think about many things never written about. This is how ideas are created.

Ugh, a bit tired for now, and still haven’t answered this question, and diverted slightly from the main topic, the speed of ideas.

I initially thought I could gauge the speeds of each medium (book, film, game, new media), and experience, attacking books again in favor of newer media.

Ah an attack! When I say reading, I was thinking of non-fiction, because I don’t read literature. I don’t read for experience, if it counts as such. The largest difference is between the length of a book and a film. Two hours or six hours, or more in my case (I’m a slow reader). This is why I always choose reality and film over literature. I have not read any literature since Harry Potter (which was a slog, forced by school, and read between playing video games). Only philosophical fiction and maybe fiction about philosophy are as far as I go from non-fiction.

With a film, I can pause, think (say, question the social reality of the film), continue, just as I do with a book. But it still goes far faster than a book, because all of descriptions are visually displayed. Same goes for comics.

So, films, just as reality, visually display infinite information, therefore offer infinitely more experience  — I remember being so focused on films, but could never a flip through book. But experience isn’t ideas, and the speed of ideas, the speed of transmitting ideas from medium to persons, perhaps cannot be gauged after all…

[adventure time ending, to be continued?]

Leave a comment | Categories: Education, Epistemology, Humanities, Media Studies

Is Nature Necessary?

13 August 2015 by Rahil

From listening to the first chapter of A Pattern Language while scootering from Hualien city to Yilan county:

The second argument I remember pondering about was about people having a natural want for nature. Living in a small town rather than a city. Mimicing nature in cities: greenery, space, pets; or just having a dwelling in a rural area (Yilan). It said it should only take 10 minutes to get to a farm. That is very ideal, and very far fetched for New York and Taipei. But not too bad for small town cities like San Francisco and Penang. Indeed these small towns are most comfortable

It’s opposite of Veblen’s functional life, which would argue that even Hong Kong’s past Walled City is okay. It argues that humans, as any other animal, need nature (in the form of farms). Both argue humans mimic the aesthetic of farm life in cities. Perhaps not necessary, but not much is, as humans will try to survive.

In my past, I’ve stopped and gathered my thoughts in many small towns and calm neighborhoods. Both have space for me to organize. In the first, I still consume, hike, bicycle, scooter around, until I sit and begin organizing it into something creative. In the second, perhaps walking is enough. Work goes as a steady pace, no deadline, like life, life grazing. It feels good, but eventually, the crave for more complexity comes, and after a month I go back to the city. When I was young, and had no city, I believe I turned to the Internet and video games.

I do tend to burn out in cities, but it often only requires a weekend to recover. During that weekend, it is quite nice to escape to a mountain or bike all day, but not necessary. It’s just a change in awareness that is enough. Walk down another street  or park or any kind of open space without the pressure of work, and nature doesn’t seem to be needed.

So, people can survive, but then the problem is that it isn’t reality, and people should have the experience of going to nature. This is why people need nature, especially children, but also adults as a reminder. To avoid creating habits of destroying the environment, and see what is required to upkeep the city.

Hmm, I guess I somehow mixed what is necessary (the extents of human survival) and what is ideal. Nature is not necessary, but it is ideal.

Therefore, cities should aspire to design with nature in mind. Cities should have quick and affordable transport to nature.

Leave a comment | Categories: Urban Planning

A Thought about Quality

05 August 2015 by Rahil

Hmmm, this started with a thought risen by a book, but it drifted quite far, and perhaps never answered the question.

From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
“Quality from the marketplace and predicted the changes that would take place. Since quality of flavor would be meaningless, supermarkets would carry only basic grains such as rice, cornmeal, soybeans and flour; possibly also some ungraded meat, milk for weaning infants and vitamin and mineral supplements to make up deficiencies. Alcoholic beverages, tea, coffee and tobacco would vanish. So would movies, dances, plays and parties.”

– When I stay in one place for some time, get into habit (usually for work, but also if I just become bored or nearby, accessible things), I become a very functional person. I eat simple, healthy, vegetarian meals, with multi-vitamins. I watch a film once or twice a week.

– When I returned to Taipei, it seemed I wanted to live the most functional life, making the right decision every time. In addition to simple living habits, I desired the society around me to naturally partake my own simple living habits.

– At times in my life, I become anxious when I see privledged people waste money on things of quality, especially when the cost of labor for it is so high [and now likely in another country]. I didn’t care for the coffee shop Pan’s friend was interested in. I didn’t care for Meng’s major, which wasn’t functional. At the time, I was thinking about how to help people in nearby developing countries, those in poor areas in Taiwan, and even those poor people nearby, in Taipei. How can one think of quality when there’s so much functional work to do?*

– This kind of thinking leads to a life with Kant’s Imperative (Rorshach). Constant steps in a positive direction. The constant decision-making leads to an extremely active life, learning whatever that is needed to reach the next goal. Perhaps the steps may be small, but they are positive, and practical. During this way of thinking, I often do not believe anything past these small steps, sticking close to reality, and taking actions based on experience, as opposed to theory. It’s possible I’m unable to relate to any kind of media because the language of it (verbal, visual, etc.) is so distanced from reality. I’m limited to documentaries, biographies, and philosophy and science (including Wikipedia). I choose real experiences. But this leads to a peculiar education. I’m able to choose steps in the right direction, because I know from experience, but I don’t know what the rest of the world is doing, and fail to use the knowledge of gained by others. I try to build knowledge from the random scraps of experience I’ve had, instead of using someone else’s solution. It’s the only way to learn. But it is unguided knowledge. The knowledge is real, far better than the knowledge people obtain after the Information Age, but it’s still random. I get caught up in the obtainment of knowledge, realize it, and go back to functional steps toward the right direction. What’s better than gaining knowledge about the practical work one does?* Perhaps the only time I am stable in life is when I have a goal that is lengthy, and feel the work is practical.

– But with the poor decision-making of humans, politics will always show it’s head, and that feeling of being somewhat useful to a community disappears, because the work feels useless. This shifts me from technical problems to more socio-political problems. The same Kantian ethics apply. Instead of building a program to prevent bank fraud, it shifts to building civic media — guiding people to make better decisions for the society as a whole, organizing communities, civil disobedience, and so on.

– Both kinds of work are necessary and practical, but it often feels that at this point in time, especially in a modern country, the social problems outweigh technical. [stopped here* thinking whether building a water resorvoir in Africa is better than influencing a city-society to share]

– Back to the question, How can one think of quality when there’s so much functional work to do? Functional work often does not require much of the brain. At these times, if one can fit in Quality in the work, or elsewhere in the world so be it. Off-time is spent on Quality, for example, decorating a house or shop. It’s unnecessary, but people get stuck, often physically, in places, boredom arises, and Quality is added to the world. [stopped again, here]

“We would all use public transportation. We would all wear G.I. shoes. A huge proportion of us would be out of work, but this would probably be temporary until we relocated in essential non-Quality work. Applied science and technology would be drastically changed, but pure science, mathematics, philosophy and particularly logic would be unchanged. Phćdrus found this last to be extremely interesting. The purely intellectual pursuits were the least affected by the subtraction of Quality”

– I don’t care much for taste, but I do care for design, which may fall under applied science, though maybe everything that isn’t science would fall under such a broad term. There’s a lot of wasted effort in applied science and technology, but the physical design of the world is something worthy to strive for change. Does the Quality of design matter?* Would an entirely functional world be ideal? The difference between Japan’s and Taiwan’s societies come to mind. The Quality of design of the world would affect the Quality of life. One cannot design of Quality for some one else, as everyone’s interpretation of quality differs (think of someone designing an apartment for another; this example works for the two previous statements). If the only goal to society were to survive, the quality of design may not matter much. Wait, no, even now survival is still a problem…(broke into the following two thoughts).

1. The designs are based on knowledge, and knoweldge of humans, i.e. the social sciences, are infinitely complex. Using the house example again, a house (good or bad in quality) (link to poorly-designed upgrades game) may lead to other unknown problems. This would lead to the solving of those problems, and leading to more unknown problems. By this constant trial and error, the house becomes better. And this is how societies progress, through policy-making. Quality, here, is not a variable.

2. Striving to increase survival is functional, absence of Quality (in an impossible environment where there is no chance of the thought of doing and thinking of something beyond survival). It is beyond survival, one has more time to have more ‘higher-functioning’ brain activity, which is where Quality enters. Without Quality, Marx’s idea of Communism comes to mind, and does indeed seem to be the ideal society. Yet, Quality leads to the creation of more effective (and beautiful) solutions, for example, using games for education, as opposed to rote learning with written language. Perhaps Quality comes later in society just as it does in humans. The first step is to survive. Then next is to do it beautifully. And back in a loop I go. I must sleep.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Philosophy, Social Science, Thoughts

Awareness and Consciousness

26 July 2015 by Rahil

Here lies the problem of living a stable life, why I prefer living in flux (constant change of awareness), nomadic ally. To constantly be consciousness of the physical reality of the world, and not become lazy to forget about it.

我現在想出的不好。我的意識低。我得用媒體改變我的思想。
這是為什麼我以前看迪昂贏的時候有特別的感覺。
最重要是意識。
你在你的家應該看書,看電影,然後去外面,應該有很特別的感覺。
我現在不思想我做什麼。看電影?為什麼?我可以幫人。跟人可以做事。
旅行以前,我看電影的時候,看著風景我就想出來很多。有的是記憶,我總是辯論,是不是真實的。
現在我太累。

After reading chapter one of Parallax View:

It reminds me of a previous thought, the impossibility of being (acting) another person. “Being in another’s shoes”.

It also reminds me of the time a very emotional and aware period of wanting to know and understand the actions of others (Humans of Taiwan). As I travel I constantly think about why people act the way they do. I am perplexed. I wonder what they think, so I ask them. Unfortunately, mundane answers came out. As a result, I failed to bring about the awareness as Sans Soleil or a Tsai-Ming Liang film have.

A lot of lives’ actions indeed do seem to be affected by simple human decision-making problems: consciousness and habit.

In politics, this impossibility takes form in the impossibility to organize others. Self-organization (individual, community [including direct democracy], as long as the self is part of it) versus someone else organizing (creating a structure; designing) for you.

This impossibility is indeed worth thinking about…

 

 
[todo: integrate old post, Changing Societies, first reading of Parallax View]

A few notes scribbled from the first chapter of Parallax View by Slovoj Zizek:
<blockquote>The problem is not how to jump from the individual to social level; how should the external-impersonal socio-symbolic order of institutionalized practices and beliefs be structured if the subject is to retain his ‘society’

proverbial egotist view

thought and being (doing?)

returning home may warm our heads but the fact remains, that this is all ultimately irrelevant.

“Cartesian homelessness”…homeless / finding home…sailor drift to sea then found a home

void: partial, individual, private
social: singularity, community, public
truth: universal
</blockquote>

A relevant story:
A small-time traveler I met once said that, as much as he travels, he can never be in the same position as the people he sees in developing countries when he travels. Then he told me about a story of how he had sex with a Filipino in the Philippines, in which the condom broke, and when he went to the doctor to get medicine to prevent the onset of STDs, he was told that what was left was reserved for certain professionals, such as other doctors. It was at this moment he had a taste of what it was like to be in a less fortunate’s position. How it feels to be denied of available medicine.

My decision-making drastically changes as I go in and out of societies. Out of society, I enter my philosophic mode, void of life. In society, I am affected by the people in it, and the culture, usually related to economy.

But what’s most important is that I am aware of these beliefs and practices and what people do, and see their habits.

Leave a comment | Categories: Philosophy, Philosophy of mind

Habit and Addiction

26 July 2015 by Rahil

A short thought. Related to awareness.

Addiction is a habit. People tend to create habits. Habits are created from living in the same area. The same area contains the same materials and humans. Moving to a new area alleviates the mind from old habits, uses a little mind power to create new habits

Leave a comment | Categories: Uncategorized

Self-service Work

21 July 2015 by Rahil

Perhaps an idea for more autonomous societies is to create a self-service house with a job attached to it. It could simply be a space with instructions for work on a sheet of paper inside of it.

The work is likely something local. Natural resource gathering jobs came to my mind first, for example: gather honey, fishing, cleaning the environment, farming (requires some scheduling), most materialistic jobs, most natural science gathering (material analyzing / data gathering) jobs.

Work exchange (helpx, workaway, etc.) are nice, but usually only pay for accommodation and some food. The cost of transport, insurances, visa fees, some food, and other living expenses is an expense of the volunteer. In every case the volunteer loses money. Socially it can be an amazing experience, but in the end, it’s temporary because of the cost.

People can freely enter and leave the space, and freely begin and end the work. The job would give the temporary worker profit (be part of the economy) yet still be independent. This would allow people to live and work in many different areas and fields, generate wealth, all whilst having an experience.

Leave a comment | Categories: Urban Planning

Self-service Housing

20 July 2015 by Rahil

Somewhat enclosed space with a donation box. Water, mosquito net or walls, air conditioner (with off timer) if completely enclosed.

In more natural places, a gazebo with an outdoor bathroom. Perhaps a public bookcase, for sharing experience and knowledge to others.

In less natural places, any enclosed space. Korean spas (jimjibang) are exemplary. Loft-like space with hardwood floors, shared bathrooms, lockers, [re-usable? / easy to wash] pillows and matts. Perhaps that example is too large. Shrink that example, and it still works. A room with hardwood floor (with pillow and mats), locker, shower room.

Isn’t this what capsule hostels do?

This idea is good for traveling to remote parts (hiking paths, paths to remote villages), or when traveling alone, or when traveling with a group of friends.

This idea is bad for those expecting an organization, a space with a vibe set by the owners, with a certain class of people to socialize with.

Leave a comment | Categories: Urban Planning

Space, Time, and People

11 July 2015 by Rahil

Just a thought that’s been rumbling in my head as I look for a space in Taipei to use as a public space, written the day after  reading an article about a public space in New York City posted by a friendly chef.

The people in a space contribute to the social decisions of a group. Social groups: neighborhood friends, family, classes, organizations, companies, hostels, towns, cities; outcome depends on the people in it.

Win found like-minded people on the internet because the Internet contains the a great portion of the world. Win physically gathered people in a city, just as he did in the Internet, with a space. A space is the equivalent of an Internet message board. It’s a place where communication is made for a group of people.

Many personalities need a social group to progress in a certain direction. Without it, they continue in a viscous cycle, creating ideas, but not actualizing them.

Space and people create experience. The awareness of the space and the awareness of people’s actions (communication) is the experience.

The change of space and people creates new experiences.

Experiences are what give people knowledge and social relations (feelings, memories).

Therefore a good method of learning is a constant change in space and people.

The intensity of an experience does not have any factors, it is quite random.

To create something (not consume, or copy) requires time to think (or talk). To think, time is needed in a space, perhaps without much action. A relaxed social space; downtime.

People create naturally. Forcing people in a space and guiding them to create is artifical. These guidances work (school, art, jams, events), and are often needed for many personalities to work, mimicing a deadline, a restriction in social time, but it is not required; work has no time limit.

All that is needed are people and time in the same space. This is how any lengthy work is accomplished. Though, work is not judged by its scale. This is also how several works by a person, or a social group is accomplished. This is a virtuous cycle.

To gather people in to the same space is the first step of creating an experience. To do this several times is the formation of a community.

Leave a comment | Categories: Sociology, Uncategorized, Urban Planning

The Ideology of Taiwan

09 May 2015 by Rahil

TODO: mind dump part 1:

In the past I’ve professed many characteristics of Taiwan that I enjoy, and even would want in an ideal society: Taiwan: First Impressions, Taiwan and Japan: Active and Passive lifestyles, Autonomy of Taiwan.

Poke some questions at a Taiwanese person and one will quickly come to the conclusion that Taiwan lacks ideology. Ask them their identity, what they’ve done, are doing, and want to do, what they like and don’t, the common response is “I don’t know”. But watch for a moment and their ideology comes to view, like cute ants they create incredibly cute mounds for everyone to live in, high quality tools for everyone to use, and still have a soft spot for their traditions: old and new.

Positive Facade
Everything is done with a seemingly positive attitude, so it’s quite difficult to see the struggle. During the protests, their struggle expressed itself in the least forceful ways: sunflowers, posters, decorative arts, and sit-ins. Again, ask them how they feel about the protest and the common answer is “The government is bad. I don’t know what to do. Taiwan is always struggling.” with a cute angry face.

Another example of this positive facade: it is common to see people happily working, yet once one reads their Facebook posts, their journals, their LINE messages, struggle appears in the form of sad emoticons from LINE, FB cat emoticons, and short writings.

Why the positive facade? Why not simply directly express negative feelings? Was negative expression punished and rid of during education? Frowned upon (should endure)? Is this simply a cultural difference in negative expression?

When a positive facade is created in society, perhaps it becomes more difficult to express negatively, simply because it is against the norm. The resulting conflict being a positive facade opposing another positive facade.

This seems to be the case in employee-employer relationships. Both work seemingly happy, but force exists, and in covert messages unhappiness exists.

The unhappiness doesn’t seem to stem from working, but rather, working for another person. Whenever one encounters an individual worker, say a street food cart worker, or a small school teacher, they seem to have to no qualms. It is a happier choice to have one’s own business in a less developed area than to work for another in a more developed one. (And I agree!)

[Even the slightest force is avoided. An aversion to force.]

Cute and Happy World
The cute and happy aesthetic even manifests itself in material: cute advertisements, products, applications, fashion, shoe-gazing music. Perhaps the same can be said for Japan. It creates an incredibly safe environment for all ages. One may feel quite difficult to find anything remotely socially bad in even Taiwan’s largest city.

The happiness of the people and material makes seeing the problems in society, consciously thinking about them, ever more difficult. This may be my largest criticism against Taiwanese society. So although there is plentiful cuteness in food stands, pet stores, foreigners, and any new product, worthy of several photos to the social norm, few seem to see the butcher of animals, the tiny cages pets live in, whatever awful things foreigners often do, and the factories in which the products are made.

The Cute Impulse
The response to cute aesthetic is a savage impulse. Like reacting happily to eating of tasty food or watching a cat video, it requires no rational. It is a an impulse, a feeling. And in this way, Taiwanese society seems to often react impulsively.

Technology has exasperated this problem. LINE is Facebook, Instagram, Vine, voice-messaging, maybe even Skype, all-in-one. Feelings are expressed in emoticons. Messages are shorter than twitter messages. The sublime is captured by phone cameras. Action is taken without thought.

If it works, integrate it
[Action without thought. Buying things at 7-11, McDonalds, without thought of consequence. Whatever works, the society will integrate it. Hostels work? Build hostels. Tea, snack shops, cafes work? Build them! Too many in Taipei? Develop the rest of Taiwan!]

They have a knack for creating hospitable places, have high regards for health.

Good design.

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