Bookshelf: In the Bubble

A while back, I referenced some interviews with John Thackara, author of In the Bubble.

The focus of the book is the importance of design in a world as complex as ours. He has an interesting perspective on the problems of our world, perhaps best illustrated by the chapter titles…

//ref=nosim/”> Link to book at Amazon.com


Link to book at Powell’s
Link to book at Multnomah County Library

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A while back, I referenced some interviews with John Thackara, author of In the Bubble. I’ve since had a chance to read the book.

The focus of the book is the importance of design in a world as complex as ours. He has an interesting perspective on the problems of our world, perhaps best illustrated by the chapter titles:

  • Lightness
  • Speed
  • Mobility
  • Locality
  • Situation
  • Conviviality
  • Learning
  • Literacy
  • Smartness
  • Flow

Obviously, a number of these are directly on point for transportation issues.

A few insights from the book:

  • When you look at total lifecycle costs, high speed rail is not significantly less energy-intensive than airlines. But equally, the growth of airline use at current rates is clearly not sustainable.
  • Faster is not always better, illustrated by a quote about trams (streetcars) from Michael Douglas, an Australian designer: “Tramways curiously run against the grain of industrial logic. Travelling back and forth, day in and day out, tramways help us encounter and learn about small things of value whilst participating in the larger choreography of a city’s metabolism.”

A very thought-provoking read!

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