Invisible City

Invisible City

I love books that discuss real, functional (and non-functional) design, such as the books by Don Norman (the title The Design of Everyday Things speaks for itself), Christopher Alexander (whose A Pattern Language inspired, for better or worse, the current obsession with design patterns in software), and Henry Petroski (To Engineer Is Human, The Evolution of Useful Things, The Pencil...).

So I couldn't resist The 99% Invisible City when I saw it on display at The Writer's Block. I've tried to listen to the podcast, but there are only a few podcasts that I enjoy and absorb.

That's on me - I tend to block out audio information (which is why didn't get much from the traditional classroom setting), I have to see the printed word (my favorite part of streaming music is when they display the lyrics).

And indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's good-looking, nice-heft, and well-illustrated as you'd expect from a design book you just plunked down a wad of cash for. But it's also highly informative.

Now I know not only the stories of how public infrastructure has evolved in the grand view and implementation detail, from highways to road signs down to the pattern of stripes in the middle of the road. I'm also aware of how some streets are lined with facades and some houses house utility substations (an alternate title "City of Kludges" comes to mind).

As noted by the authors, this the book contains only a small sample of what could have been discussed. But it's eough to make you think about the other 99% of accidental, deliberate, and evolved design out there that we take for granted.

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