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AMO asks for your response

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AMOBulletin

AMO has been working on a new project with the editors at Volume Magazine. And we're looking for responses to the magazine and more specifically to the AMO Bulletin.

The AMO Bulletin, as with Volume Magazine, are taking on the tired and tiring question: how can architecture revive itself? The question and all of its variations remind us of the surfeit of exfoliating scrubs out there: if you use them all, there'll be no skin left. So where is this thing going?

Below is the introductory text in our first bulletin that was in the main magazine (subsequent ones are poster-size).

Have you read the bulletin, looked at it? Can you find it in bookstores, school libraries? We don't even think the U.S. has copies of #2 yet. Tell us what you think...

Although the world is now almost totally (over)run by information, the architect is, ironically, almost always out of the loop. Unable to initiate projects, her survival is reliant on an arbitrary sequence of commissions. Dependent on the “kindness of strangers”, she is at a great disadvantage in terms of forming a coherent, doable agenda.

It is clear that, in order for architecture to remain relevant and pleasurable, architects must find ways to escape the confines of their chosen profession. As long as we are seen as representing stability, architects must actively - maybe desperately - seek out crisis.

Our current environment is highly efficient but undernourishing. We are hugely productive, but our ability to generate and capture far exceeds our capacity to derive meaning. Architecture is, like any form of intelligence, a device for processing information. Usually focused on the pursuit of built form, it also applies to politics, sociology, history, celebrity.... Freed of the obligation to build, architecture's central concerns - connections, proportions, effects... - can be valuable tools for extracting knowledge from contemporary turmoil.

For the inaugural issue of Volume, we present the AMO Bulletin, a paranoid pastiche of events from the recent past. Idiosyncratic and fact-based, the Bulletin is a means of discovering, defining, maybe inventing, nascent trends - a way of generating “insider” information by monitoring external messages... a mechanism for reclaiming power in the form of foresight.

 
Aug 22, 05 2:31 pm

AMOBulletin asks:
Have you read the bulletin, looked at it? Can you find it in bookstores, school libraries? We don't even think the U.S. has copies of #2 yet. Tell us what you think...

These are for sure "tired and tiring" questions. Just make Volume and the AMOBulletin an online publication and stop being so old fashioned yourselves!

Aug 22, 05 2:45 pm  · 
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Gotan

Where can we obtain the ''Volume'' of even the AMO Bulletin...
Any web ordering, web sites, pdf download...???

You should do a email-newsletter out-of-it... I would suscribe

there is already plenty of over-priced-foreign magazine
... even though ''Content'' was relatively cheap and extremely worth it.

Looking forward to read your stuff

Aug 22, 05 2:46 pm  · 
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TinaJ

refreshing! one of the rare things that come out of daily life, not being another narcissistic self-theorizing endless discussion...

Aug 22, 05 3:00 pm  · 
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Yes, it is refreshing that promotional product placement (ie, infomercial advertising) is now acceptable as a regular thread within the discusions at archinect.

Aug 22, 05 3:05 pm  · 
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raji
Aug 22, 05 3:07 pm  · 
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and/or

that dollar bill looks dead to me.

Aug 22, 05 3:18 pm  · 
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confucius

86. Don't believe everything you think.

Aug 22, 05 3:22 pm  · 
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Aug 22, 05 3:23 pm  · 
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raji

nice.

Aug 22, 05 3:27 pm  · 
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raji
Aug 22, 05 3:32 pm  · 
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Suture

i moonlight on the side and i always knew that 10 inches was worth a buck!

Aug 22, 05 4:10 pm  · 
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pomotrash

"The AMO Bulletin, as with Volume Magazine, are taking on the tired and tiring question: how can architecture revive itself?"


Um...most firms I know are flush with work, so I'd have to say that the corpse has been revived.

Aug 22, 05 4:55 pm  · 
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Philip Gentleman

it's always annoying when old people grand stand - it's like lou reed posing for "rock the vote" adverts; when rem complains that film actors earn more than "starchitects (frank gehry / norman foster)" it begs the bigger question:

if "volume" is so vital and necessary, why is it so hard to find and so expensive? on the other hand, why is "people" magazine so easy to find and cheap?

right answer: brad pitt, jennifer aniston, and angelina jolie.
wrong answer(s): rem koolhaas, jeffrey inaba, and mark wigley.

Aug 22, 05 6:50 pm  · 
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vado retro

i heard that rem and mark were back together...

Aug 22, 05 9:20 pm  · 
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MysteryMan

Am I missing something here?

"...the architect is, ironically, almost always out of the loop. Unable to initiate projects, her survival is reliant on an arbitrary sequence of commissions. Dependent on the “kindness of strangers”, she is at a great disadvantage in terms of forming a coherent, doable agenda.

It is clear that, in order for architecture to remain relevant and pleasurable, architects must find ways to escape the confines of their chosen profession. As long as we are seen as representing stability, architects must actively – maybe desperately – seek out crisis."


Since when do we buy into the 'Architect as victim' mentality?

Aug 22, 05 9:38 pm  · 
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You want us to discuss the question of how architecture can revive itself or the effectiveness of the AMO Bulletin in general? (it really wasn't clear in your post) Funny...as one would have it with most things AMO, one doesn't know what the upwards face of the coin really is. (AMOOMA? OMAAMO?) The bulletin pullout is about as critical or polemical as, really, any scratch and sniff colgne ad in the middle of Maxim magazine, but the ads in Maxim are better graphically because at least they're designed to be read (all three or four words on them). I couldn't find anything in the bulletin that invited me to read a single word. The 2x4 packaging is the best part about Volume. And at least it is clear. If Volume wants to get back into the loop, they might start with publishing an RSS feed.

Aug 22, 05 11:00 pm  · 
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I also want to ask... is AMO Bulletin interested in a discussion or in something akin to a visit to the zoo? If it is the former, then we look forward to a conversation with you. If it's the latter, then I submit you have misunderstood Archinect.

Aug 22, 05 11:19 pm  · 
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wouldn't hurt if they stopped recycling the same old stuff too; AMOOMA seems to believe attitude is equal to content.

i love koolhaas' buildings and ocassionally am deeply impressed with his writing, but JUNK SPACE felt a bit like a call for attention more than a point of view and everything since has been equally week. Maybe Rem feels he is a performance artist and has to put out a new bit of fluff for consumption according to a super secret schedule designed to max his exposure.

bulletin was a bore. volume a boar. Like a bad copy of Crimson's latest...wunder if they worked together on this one...

Aug 22, 05 11:28 pm  · 
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I'll give the disclaimer that I thoroughly enjoyed Content. So my criticism of Volume and Bulletin has nothing to do with any bone to pick with AMO or anything of the sort.

Aug 22, 05 11:33 pm  · 
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e

maxim? read? huh? nice.

Aug 23, 05 12:15 am  · 
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really?

Content was a bit too much for me. it was a shame cause Koolhaas is a long-time favorite. In the end it felt like someone was panicking about not being creative enough, and that was annoying.

Some of the ideas were fresh and the cynical approach to commercialism and politics is generally fun, but when it comes to that sort of thing i tend to like john stewart's presentation better. In content (and the shopping tofor mes that matter) the analysis comes off more like a special effect than an argument about something important. There is seldom an indication the writers give a rat's ass about what they are writing about, nor that they actually have a clue beyond the superficial bit they present (admittedly in a clever way often nuf). Their goal is to look and sound Kool, and nothing more. Don't think it was always so.

Aug 23, 05 12:36 am  · 
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AMOBulletin

Well, we’re glad someone’s into the packaging. After all, we’re in the business of surface, right? So let’s work on the insides. But the suspicion of product placement is especially thrilling. Product placement in press clippings – that would be a new one.

The criticism that the text doesn’t draw you in might be directed more at the critic him/herself. An advertisement for Maxim? That’s neither our starting point nor our goal. Is the main problem that reading simply is not Kool? If there was a comment about the so-called polemics in the text, we haven’t seen it yet. We’d so rather get that kind of reaction than just visit a zoo.

It’s not just the absence of Jennifer Aniston that makes this magazine unlikely to be picked up by the masses; it’s the sluggishness of the distributors. But even if the distributors were more up-to-speed (#2 is already out a long time in Holland, #3 is being printed), we’d surely have circulation issues. Old fashioned it is, this magazine stuff. And the price of the magazine doesn’t make anyone rich or famous, unfortunately. Rita Novel has a good point -- we should look into it.

Aug 23, 05 5:11 am  · 
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kool

Aug 23, 05 9:18 am  · 
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"Idiosyncratic and fact-based, the Bulletin is a means of discovering, defining, maybe inventing, nascent trends - a way of generating “insider” information by monitoring external messages… a mechanism for reclaiming power in the form of foresight." Sounds like Slashdot to me.

Aug 23, 05 10:54 am  · 
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the cellardoor whore

my jab now :)

--'We are hugely productive, but our ability to generate and capture far exceeds our capacity to derive meaning. '

thats quite a different stance to koolhaas' retroactive views , seeing
possible meaning in anything including junk,left overs and such. there is meaning in anything, including an overproduction of what you might deem meaningless.


i do not know whether the promotional literature above is self-motivating bravado or a string of melodramatic cliches, but what it does lack is the maturity of not claiming too much for itself.

and one can just easily accuse you of being rather meaningless with:

---how can architecture revive itself?---

( your party might not be content, but that might well be because it doesnt appreciate there are many architectures, many countries, many diverse local and global traditions..that one cant just give a voice to 'architecture', discontent or otherwise)

---Although the world is now almost totally (over)run by information---

erm...i hear and read that a lot, but pray tell, how do you divide the word from its information?because if you solve that one, Peirce, Barthes and co woud be much indebted to (or infuriated by) you

is information some sort of global parasite? this is a retardation of structuralism/poststructuralism, the world IS information and therefor cannot be overrun by itself. the underlined theme is usually the particular nature of meaning/info and its proliferation..the world multiplying itself, not being runover.


---ways to escape the confines of their chosen profession---

the profession inherently affords ways that are not restricted to
the mudane, this is the premise of the profession to begin with.
these are not Houdini escape artists who travel those ways, but they travel legitamate ways. it is your view of architecure(s) that is restricted to the banal...you're fighting a phantom. it doesnt exist.

-Our current environment is highly efficient but undernourishing.---

yours?mine?hers? his? what is this 'our'? are 'we' a clan or a covent,
is the status quo here same as there? you assume the whole world
lives in your little wannabe-themepark-global village.

---Freed of the obligation to build, architecture’s central concerns – connections, proportions, effects… - can be valuable tools for extracting knowledge from contemporary turmoil.---

it is not an obligation, it all depends on what the individual/group's concern is. no need for your little revolution, the history of architecture
incorporates the unbuilt as well, the thought of and about. this 'freedom', whatever that is, has always been there.




---paranoid pastiche of events---

ie an illegible collage with small print in fuscia?

---a mechanism for reclaiming power in the form of foresight.---

any decent book,cd,video or magazine does that, even non decent if you learn from its failings..this is moronic obviousness



to sum it, you have not told me much about AMO Bulletin with
the generic regurgitation above. maybe not one of oma/amo's wittier
moments.



Aug 23, 05 12:16 pm  · 
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Magazines are fine, but remember that magazines today are virtually all an advertising medium. Professional journals are not not full of advertising, rather research and ideas, etc. Magazine web sites offer a selection of articles for free; profession journals online are mostly restricted reading by subscription (of individuals or institutions/libraries). Online publishing offers many options that traditional publishing does not, and there is little worry over distribution. Packaging is nothing but superficial, and more a waste than anything in these times when conservation is much more important.

Archinect is a unique/great place for architects to meet in cyberspace. There are not all that many other active cyberplaces for architects. I do Quondam as a virtual museum of architecture, and there I strive towards continually producing a museum that a real museum can't or won't be. AMO might find itself more focused with a bulletin that a real bulletin can't or won't be. Isn't that more along the lines of what Koolhaas envisioned AMO to be from the start?

Aug 23, 05 12:24 pm  · 
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Sergio Lopez-Pineiro

If this discussion was taking place 100 years ago--literarily--I would agree that a magazine/bulletin might be the right medium for encouraging ways in which architecture can revive itself. But after 100 intense years of continuous experiments with and within the media, it seems that anybody still interested in this question should probably search for an alternative medium. I wonder if we should take AMO's bullet-ing as a confirmation of this need or as a confirmation that other options are still unthinkable.

Yes, Archinect is a unique and wonderful effort. And it definitely is a different/original option. But sometimes I wonder about what would it need to really, and definitely, make a difference in the sense that we are discussing right now.

Aug 23, 05 12:58 pm  · 
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I like all the multitudinous little differences that archinect enables everyday. Maybe that's the real difference.

Aug 23, 05 1:09 pm  · 
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futureboy

after a bit of thought...this is a rather intriguing discussion.
first, i haven't seen any of the Volume's yet...and I'm in new york. although it would probably only be carried at Urban Center which is only open during workday hours (...pretty impossible to get to...)
but here's my thoughts on this
i wasn't sure at first..much of the language used in the original argument does feel a bit tired, but then when i look through the words i thik i see where this is trying to go. it seems like a willful attempt to create diagrammatic heuristic mechanism for incorporating divergent concepts, news, and research into the actions of the profession. essentially taking over some of the role currently exercised by the "diligent professional", i.e. starchitect. the question is or might be, does architecture need a base medium to develop intelligence from or is it instead the acknowledgement of the divergent intelligences manifest within the multitude of practiced versions of design research that can em-power the profession.
can the multiplicity of consultant research undertaken by small, academic practices be harnessed not as individual entities and "styles" but instead as a academic universe of intelligent schema to be tapped into for the construction of more a elaborate and sophisticated professional process. just some thoughts....

Aug 23, 05 1:35 pm  · 
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you can get volume (i think both 1 and 2) at the moma bookstore or just browse it there.

Aug 23, 05 3:12 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

maybe no one noticed,
but

welcome Philip Gentleman

Aug 23, 05 3:12 pm  · 
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Subject: AD(vocating) PUBLICITY
Date: 2001.01.23

After reading through "Bold Architecture at a Price" I asked myself, "What do you call architects if they are not "star" architects? "Non-star" architects seems to be the logical, grammatical answer, but such a nomen doesn't exactly ellicit the correct notion that an architect that is not a "star" architect is (really) an architect whose buildings do not receive widespread publicity (even though the great majority of architects today design perfectly acceptable buildings).

The real point of the arcticle is about getting publicity, and publicity via architecture is just one way for universities to get publicity (now-a-days). As the article well states, architecture is very costly, hence there is much expected from architecture, indeed, today there seems to be much, much more expected from architecture -- the proverbial "more bang for the buck".

Should architectural education begin teaching students how to design buildings that generate publicity? Of course, that includes doing a building correctly in terms of structure and function, however, getting publicity appears to be a new and already prevalent user demand that requires compliance as well. And isn't it common sense for architects to supply what the client asks for?

Then again, it really isn't the architecture or architect that generate the publicity. Rather, it is the advertisement driven publicity/news 'machine'. Exactly one year and two days ago, Hugh Pearman posted the following here at architecthetics:

"To the point: is it enough for a building to exist principally as a media image? Everyone in the world with media access knows what the Sydney Opera House looks like, and Bilbao is in the same category. Bilbao functions rather well as an art gallery. I'm told that Sydney is hopeless for opera. But functional considerations do not apply here.

Certainly these buildings need to exist: a virtual-reality image of an unbuilt building is not the same. Beyond that, the Somerset Maugham rule applies: the image is so often better than the actuality. Which means, of course, that architectural photographers are as important as architects. Do we care?"

My point being that the above quotation is indicative of the fact that entities other than architects and architecture generate the publicity.

My feeling has been all along, however, that architects and architecture are well capable of generating their own publicity, but professional 'decorum' has for the most part made that attitude an ethically and aesthetically wrong position for architects to take. This 'wrongness' is really just a fabrication, an artificial restraint, and, as always, it is precisely at these artificial points where 'institutions' are the weakest, where the decay happens, where things begin to fall apart. I wholeheartedly advocate architects to embrace publicity as a new, additional ingredient that makes good architecture, the same as firmness, commodity, and delight make good architecture.

Furthermore, I hope it takes less than twenty years for architects to begin creating and directing web sites that are just the same as television channels.

Aug 23, 05 3:47 pm  · 
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--the above is an excerpt from A Quondam Banquet of Virtual Sachlichkeit: Part II (forthcoming Fall 2005)

Aug 23, 05 3:48 pm  · 
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futureboy

ahh. good to know...i guess i'll have to swing by there sometime.
as to rita...i always enjoy your musings...
but i'm a bit skeptical of your argument towards publicity. i enjoy your embrace of mass culture, but what is gained in this act beyond the further institution of a trajectory that has been in existence since the mass publication of architecture (i would take that moment to have occurred in the 1950s during the mass acceptance of modernism)

Aug 23, 05 4:17 pm  · 
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futureboy

sorry incomplete thought.
essentially can publicity be a foundation of architecture or is it something more subtle, such as affect or spectacle. sort of a chicken or the egg argument i guess.

Aug 23, 05 4:26 pm  · 
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Mass culture is there whether I embrace it or not.

futureboy, do you always judge things in terms of making a difference or making a gain?

What is lost by not embracing publicity?

Don't tell me you're old fashioned too!

Aug 23, 05 4:27 pm  · 
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Architecture has always had the power of "icon" for those that build it. That includes publicity. All the romans where trying to tell a story, emperors "selling" their legacies. Trajan, etc....
In the dark ages, architecture (in the west) sold christianity.
In modernism it was used as a tool. many times for political agendas. Did anyone know that Schindler was paid by the State Department to travel to South America to spread American "ideals" (many SAmerican countries were flirting with Hitler, and later with socialism).
The CIA payed for advertising of the "modern" lifestyle in magazines all over SAmerica. The idea is to show modern architecture as the American antidote to old ways of living.
Now it just seems like less idealistic. As a way to egt more people to buy what ever widget (from high art, to education, to soap) you may be selling.

Aug 23, 05 4:28 pm  · 
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Can you say why publicity cannot be a foundation of architecture?

Aug 23, 05 4:30 pm  · 
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I think that the nature of "mass culture" has changed, not so much architecture's role in mass culture

Aug 23, 05 4:34 pm  · 
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I believe that architects (because of the modern movement) have a fear of leaving the abstract. Architecture has always been asymbol and used to sell an idea, a legacy, a god....

We are afraid of thinking of the greek temples as simple dumb boxes with advertising of wars, heroes, gods on them....

Aug 23, 05 4:40 pm  · 
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The ancient art of product placement...



Who knew???

Aug 23, 05 4:53 pm  · 
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Elimelech

best buy in the parthenon!!!

Aug 23, 05 4:56 pm  · 
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futureboy

i'm not saying that publicity isn't a part of that foundation, more so that it in and of itself cannot drive that foundation...
is bilbao or the sydney opera house driven by the desire for publicity (yes, partially) but can it become an active agent in the creation of the architecture???
although there are a quote that does suggest a publicity oriented agenda, from a discussion with peter bohlin of bohlin cywinshki jackson:
"remember that cameras like spaces that have a dramatic change across the frame. consider how the space changes from left to right when you compose any potential 'photographable' space"...
but in the end is it the publicity intention that drives the effect of asymetrical composition or an artistic predilection towards asymetrical composition during that cultural moment that makes that moment publishable?

Aug 23, 05 5:01 pm  · 
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futureboy

in other words, i heartily embrace the concept of embracing publicity...
but am at the same time find it necessary to understand the basis that it maneuvers upon...
and architecture takes too long and too much time to legitmately believe that you shouldn't attempt to create difference or a gain

Aug 23, 05 5:08 pm  · 
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Elimelech

I do have to say that for all their talk, I think that AMOOMA's publications are more political/commerically minded than their buildings. Their buildings are devoid, I cant see how you can cretae a beautiful book like content, and a building like the CCTV that for all the talk is pretty banal.
Where are the politics REM? We can't live in collages of world figures for ever (Corb did that too)....

Aug 23, 05 5:14 pm  · 
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The main point I wanted to address to AMO is:

Furthermore, I hope it takes less than twenty years for architects to begin creating and directing web sites that are just the same as television channels.

Aug 23, 05 5:19 pm  · 
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Elimelech

closer to the discovery channel, fox news, or reality TV?

Aug 23, 05 5:25 pm  · 
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Un-reality TV might be interesting.

melquiades, your previous post introduces some interesting points. While referring to websites as television channels I did not think of OMA's CCTV, but it's presence here is poignant, isn't it? AMO may have more experience with regard to 'web sites just like television channels' than it even realizes.

Aug 23, 05 5:30 pm  · 
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Elimelech

On a similar note, today I was FORCED to watch fox news, and not only am i glad i dont have tv, but there were so many advertisements for sleazy lawyers, that it got me thinking about the time when architects advertise their services in such wayssss....
scary, but i think inevitable

Aug 23, 05 5:31 pm  · 
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Elimelech

this conversation will slowly move from the academic to the kitsch and then we are all doomed, or not

Aug 23, 05 5:32 pm  · 
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