Perceiving through Flickr

by Chris Bertram on February 19, 2007

One of the nice things about blogging is the way you get to find out about new things, read books and watch films you’d never otherwise have come across, and so on. “Eszter”: recently persuaded “me”: to take part in a Flickr project where you take “one photo per day”: Some days, especially dark cloudy ones with British weather, can be a challenge, and I’ve sometimes been reduced to taking a pitiful snap of a household object. But I’ve also noticed a real impact on my perception of the world. Walking around, camera in pocket, being open to the opportunity to take a picture has a striking effect on what one sees. An interesting form here, an odd pattern of rust there, a splash of colour, an unusual building or a surprising or funny scene…. And the competitive/comparative element comes in too: you hope for comments, or for a given image to be “favorited”. You quickly get to notice, too, that there are some pretty interesting people on Flickr here and there. There’s “this guy”:, for example, who has a nice line in images of buildings taken from the same point, but 20 or 30 years apart (and he supplies the architectural and social commentary to match). Or “this one”: , (a kind of latter-day Cartier-Bresson) who captures street scenes in New York in black and white and has a sharp eye for the incongruous. So thanks, Eszter, for opening my eyes a bit.

(I can see that this is going to get expensive too: I’m already looking to buy a digital SLR and puzzling over the Nikon-Canon version of the Apple-Microsoft divide.)

The Challenge of Affluence

by Harry on February 19, 2007

From Avner Offer’s The Challenge of Affluence, perhaps the best first paragraph of an academic book:

Affluence breeds impatience and impatience undermines well-being. This is the core of my argument. For detail and evidence, go directly to the chapters; for implications, to the conclusion, which also has chapter summaries.

I’ve been longing to read this book since I first heard about it (several years ago) but, on reading the first paragraph, felt obliged to lend it to someone else for several weeks. I’ll tell you all about it when I’m finished with it. Be patient.

Other great academic first paragraphs?