Why are countries creating their own cryptocurrencies?

Over the last few months, we have seen countries creating or preparing to make cryptocurrencies including China, Ecuador, Senegal, Estonia, Russia. The reason that countries are looking at cryptocurrencies(Cryptocurrency) is they see it as a way to efficiently and cheaply move forward in many areas including

  • digital payments – if you have been in Asia especially China in the last two years you would have seen the vast number of people using digital payments to pay for nearly every transaction.
  • productivity – reducing the time and actions required for transactions
  • tracking illegal activity – there some people using Cryptocurrency for illegal activities, if countries start to limit the currency exchange to their countries Cryptocurrency then they can track transactions more easily
  • control – central banks like to control currency, they will most likely declare their Cryptocurrency to be legal tender (fiat) in their country.
  • reduce volatility – by being able to control the currency they will try to reduce volatility and rein in runaway markets and use levers to manipulate their market. This is most likely why some countries have shut down ICO and currency exchanges so they can start their own Cryptocurrency.
  • generate revenue from transaction fees
  • reduce fraud
  • ease of exchange – currently every time you go to another country you either have to used credit cards or exchange for cash. If you can exchange on your phone from one country’s Cryptocurrency to another you will be able to move more freely between countries.

There are still some issues with countries creating Cryptocurrency and that includes public acceptance, security, exchanges. The future will be interesting and how the world will change in the coming ten years around cryptocurrency. We will most likely see several countries with their own currency such as estcoin, DAD, and more.

 

World Landscape Architecture – 10 years on and the end of WLA Magazine

In October 2007, I was browsing architecture sites like Archdaily and found myself wondering why do landscape architects not have an independent blog for information and news. That day I registered the domain worldlandscapearchitect.com and put up a “Coming Soon” page and then went on published my first posts in November 2007.

At first, I was posting news articles and this then moved on to competitions and announcements along with the odd project. I was working as an Associate Landscape Architect in Shenzhen, China.

The initial idea was to create sites for each country and I started uaelandscapearchitect.com and chinalandscapearchitect.com. However, due to my day job and the world economy on the verge of collapsing I shifted my focus back to one blog.

Over the coming years, it evolved from World Landscape Architect to World Landscape Architecture to WLA moving away from solely about publishing news and adding more projects, reviews, and competitions. It has always been about publishing work of landscape architects as a source of information and not a typical blog where one person states their opinion or idea on a project or subject.

The most interesting part of publishing is the readers, contributors and their feedback and excitement and joy from being published on WLA. I think that has been one of the greatest rewards of publishing WLA for the last 10 years. Also, it has been an honour to meet readers and contributors in real life at conferences and events and hear their stories about their projects.

Most people think that there is a team of people behind WLA, but many are amazed to hear that there is only one person publishing WLA (including the magazine). I have never sort the limelight and always wanted to make WLA about sharing and promoting landscape architecture.

Due to time commitments, and the changing way we absorb and research information, this will be the last edition of WLA Magazine. The website blog will continue to publish work and the WLA Awards will still seek to honour the work of landscape architects every year across the world.

I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me (and understanding the numerous excuses for working weekends on WLA). I would also like to thank all the sponsors, readers and the designers and firms who have contributed work over the years as they are what truly made this fun and exciting to curate and publish.

I have published the final edition of WLA Magazine but look forward to continuing to publish the WLA blog and run the WLA Awards. It is not the end but allowing time to work on the blog and promote landscape architecture.

Launching the WLA Awards

I recently just launched the WLA Awards, in its second year. The first year was a learning curve and I hope that the coming awards will be as successful as the 2017 Awards. I am lucky that I have again have jurors who willing to volunteer to spend hours pouring over pdf files to score, comment.

I had a conversation with a few people at ASLA in Los Angeles recently and it was interesting that many said that their needed to be more awards to acknowledge the work of landscape architects. It reinforced my resolve to continue the WLA Awards as long as I can and promote the profession of landscape architecture to a broader audience.

I created the awards to allow for landscape architects across the world be honoured by their peers. I always hope to get jurors from different nations, backgrounds and experience. It allows for different views to be expressed and also for not one country or type of landscape project to win.

I also changed the award categories this year to include two scales for Built Award category – Small and Large. This change allows for the smaller projects to get recognition, I have had interesting conversations that big projects always seem to win the awards, so this year I set out to try and balance that problem.

Also I removed the Research & Communication category as it  received about quarter the entries of other categories and seem to be not acknowledged by academia(this is a common problem which I may write about at another time) and organisations as most entries were from design firms or individuals.

The next few months will be slightly stressful, seeing if firms will enter and organising the submissions for jurors, the chasing up and then the final announcement and ordering the awards. I feel for those who are in ASLA, AILA, Landscape Institute, who organise numerous categories and entries and then the final ceremony. I have thought of having a ceremony but it is hard to find a venue that would encourage winners to attend as they are spread across the world, let alone the cost of hold a ceremony.

I am looking forward to judging the Editor’s Award. It is always fun to look at the submissions and shortlist my own and then select one at the end. It could be seen as arrogant but after 10 years of curating this blog, I thought that I could have one indulgence. Hope you enter. Find out more at WLA Awards.

New media requires respect like old media

I am finding it more interesting that design firms who wish to have articles published on my blog – World Landscape Architecture think because it is new media and it is digital blog that they can ask and sometimes demand a change to the post title or the way the images are laid out. Often, I think they forget that although this is new media that old media rules still apply. That is, the editor or blogger decides on what to publish with what title and how it is laid out and how they promote it on social media. Don’t get me wrong I like working with firms and have been publishing their work for the last 10 years, however, I think sometimes designers and their ego think that they can control the way it is published, although they wouldn’t have the gall to make the same demands of established print magazine 5 or 10 years ago.

My advice is to be respectful to bloggers and publishers. You can make requests but don’t get pushy and aggressive if you don’t like fact that they won’t change the title, feature image or layout.

Publishing a Magazine

I have been publishing a magazine (WLA) for the last 6 years it has been a labour of love. There is no money in self-publishing especially in the field of landscape architecture which is a niche of a niche.

Publishing is very much a rollercoaster of emotions, first you send out the call and the emails for submissions and sometimes it is wave after wave of great projects and others times there are extremes in quality of landscape projects.

After the initial review, the first cut of projects and then the final selection it is time to start the creative process of laying out the projects and often some projects flow easily onto the page and others it is hard to make them work and you end up with several drafts before you get to the best possible layout.

You think that you’re almost there but then comes the proofing, the checking, the errors and omissions and it’s off to the press(or pdf maker) and you get all excited and you send it out into the word and within minutes of the submitters receiving it you will get the next round of errors and omissions and rush to redo and republish.

It is definitely a rollercoaster of emotions and sometimes it is worth it and other you feel a little downcast as it doesn’t sell. But you have little time to rest as the next round of submissions have already started hitting your inbox weeks ago and its time to start all over again.

Why I am not a fan of the revised LinkedIN website design

Recently saw Linkedin website update with various changes to simplify and clean up the interface. I think the front page is a great new look and for most users who use linkedin for reading about connections and companies, connecting and the odd search for an ex-colleague or future employee it is fine.

For those who use linkedin for the group and company page things just got a little harder. Gone are the days of having your group and company on the main page now you have to hunt through the menu to find it, add a post and then promote it. This also means that users will be less inclined to seek out groups and companies as they no longer appear in side menus or sidebars but in the More menu make interaction less likely. Gone are your interests and other easy to use menus, you now thrust into MS style ribbon with icons and a Notifications bell that seems to go off everytime I login into Linkedin.

The main irritation of the updated design is that they only revised some pages and the rest of the site is the old design (groups, etc) which is common a practice for Linkedin as they rarely update more than one page design at a time, whereas when other social media sites announce a revised design it goes through the entire site.  How is it an irritation? If you go to groups page in the More menu your sent off into a new browser tab and then if you select settings or other menu cog menu item you are shown the old LinkedIn menu (text no icons).

I like Linkedin and also will but I find it strange that for a social company of its size and now with the backing of Microsoft that they can’t get it together to revise the brand and design throughout the whole site. They need to loose the startup mentality and mature into a company that serves its customers not vice-versa.

Book Review | The Social Organism by Oliver Luckett & Micheal J. Casey

social-organism-luckett

I picked up The Social Organism after watching Oliver Luckett on Gary Vaynerchuk’s #askgaryvee vlog and was interested in the concept of social (media) as seen from the lens of an organism. The book gives background of the Social Organism and how the seven rules of life (biology) can be applied to social media. Luckett explores social media through the many lens/ideas throughout the book including Darwinism, commercial printing presses, and more however, the main lens/idea of the book of organism/science is explored including Koestler’s model, cell organisms, genes, artificial intelligence. It may appear at first glance that this would be a boring read, however the book is written to allow the reader to understand at a basic principles and how they can be applied to social media.

Luckett uses real life examples throughout the book including #BlackLivesMatter, Spring uprising, Taylor Swift swifties, Oreo’s dunk in the dark, League of Legends and more to show the good and bad aspects of social media and how many still don’t understand that social media is not a fad, or just another platform or media but a part of social makeup of many places that jump local, state and nation boundaries and work at a international level. However, one criticism I have of the book is that it is very USA-centric in its examples and reference points with only a few international examples (platforms, movements) which are covered all too briefly in the book. Another criticism of the book is that it spends too long in the initial chapters explaining terms of reference and concepts which I realise is needed for those who have little to no background in social media. I think there are many ideas in the book that are covered only briefly that could have been further explored, but I think that also provides the opportunity for Luckett and co-writers to explore in a followup book.

Overall, this is a great book that I will read again over the Christmas 2016 break to gain more ideas for the future.  The main takeaway from the book is that social media has its good and bad sides and that we are living in an era when social media and the coming internet of things(IoT) is transforming the way we live, interact and govern. If you have any interest in sociology or social media I encourage you to get a copy and read it with a notepad or highlighter/marker by your side as it is full of great ideas that will trigger your own interesting thought processes. I am hoping that Luckett and co-writers have a follow up book in the making to explore ideas in more depth.

Lower costs increases access to technology

Access to technology and the growing divide between the haves and have nots has reached a turning point with the development of the $100 laptop, the $50 tablet and now the $25 computer. This constant reduction in the cost of technology is allowing governments, schools, charities and businesses to provide access to technology that we all take for granted.

The challenge now is access to information, many of these organisations have to create networks to access the internet, thankfully wireless technology is cheaper as we move from CDMA to 3G to 4G LTE making the previous technology cheaper thus allowing organisations to take advantage of the lowering price of the ‘old’ technology. What is old to us is very new to them and allows for more people to gain access to information (the commodity of the 21st Century).