Thursday, September 05, 2013

technology & architecture

The latest in my neglected identity series.

I think when I put "technology & architecture" together as a single item so long ago, it was a cheat to get them both in and still keep the list shorter. If I were truly going to revise history, I'd probably go and change it because originally I separated them by a comma. But to sit down and write about them, today it feels more natural to join them with "and."

Because when I look at those two words today, I immediately think of the small space. Not the grand gesture, the big all Frank Gehry museum, but the spaces we live and work in and the technology we use to complement those spaces.  I love looking at those spaces and trying to figure out how to use them more effectively for what we're doing.

Right now, our dining room table is pushed against the wall. The idea was that it would be a temporary workspace, a big wide open space where you could go and spread stuff out. When it was in the center of the room, the high backed chairs created a barrier. Stuff got set on the table, but stuff never left the table until the imminent arrival of guests. The chair barriers are gone, but stuff has lingered far too long. It was supposed to give a nice large standing-height surface for folding laundry, but it's been taken over by mail and other stuff that I'm not even sure what it is. We've been busy and now that the children are back in school, we'll probably take care of this. It's made worse by the fact that it's hard to get to the dining room, its access from the kitchen cut off by a baby gate. This, too, may go away soon. But by pushing the table to the wall, we gained a large open space, a large workspace and easier access to the backyard versus squeezing around the table. It's not optimal, but that's what's cool, we can adjust and play around with it. (Is this architecture or interior design? potato, pohtahtoe)

I love the Not-So-Big House series by Sarah Susanka for her look at building smaller, but building wiser - imagining and reimagining space for multiple uses, avoiding waste and making it your own.

Underneath our deck, I excavated several feet of dirt, put down weed block, poured some gravel and stapled a tarp to the underside of the deck and ran an extension cord. I have saw horses and a piece of plywood covered in leftover linoleum. This gives me an outdoor desk and office space, but it's been over a year since I've been able to work at home so now it has a lawn mower, wheelbarrow and tools underneath. Eventually I want to build a shed for that stuff and reclaim this as an office.

I don't really have much in the way of home automation yet. The promise is there, but it's still mostly out of reach for me. There's the promise of lights that turn on when you arrive home, thermostats that go into an energy saving mode when you're gone, stuff like that. The closest I have is rope lights on a dimmer under my bed that turn on by photo-sensor when I get out of bed, creating a soft glowing pathway so I can get to the bedroom without kicking any furniture, outside lighting that's on a timer and a lot of dimmer switches throughout the house. But not nearly enough stuff that just works on its own or by remote control.

I can talk to my car and ask it to play music or give me stock quotes or news. In a pinch, I can ask it to give me turn-by-turn directions, but it's less desirable than my smart phone that's hanging from the rearview mirror and can give me directions and show a map, but I can't talk to it. I'm sure that will come in time.

There are all these pieces and glimpses, yet it gets frustrating because I feel like in some cases it's money and in other cases we're not quite there yet with the actual technology itself, but I'm really excited about these spaces that know us, were designed for us, and respond to us.
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