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Day in the life of the NYC Taxi Data

29 Jul

Here is the quick story of the NYC Taxi data. It’s a good example of how messy and fun civic technology can be.


What’s next for this data set? Got something interesting to build off of it?

GOOD Mag on DIY Urban Design

20 Apr

GOOD Magazine posted a great photo essay on DIY Urban Design. My favorite is the SignChair in the picture above.

Poster Pocket Plants

30 Jan

Poster Pocket Plants


Poster Pocket Plants are an idea by two artists from Toronto. They cut into the thick layers of illegal advertising posters, peel it back, fold it over, staple it, and fill it with soil and plants. Easy enough and you end up with a cheap, DIY green wall. Its a protest against advertisers, its slightly illegal, and a little hippie all in one. An A+ Urban Hack. One of them waxes a little deeper on his blog.

I appreciate that they have posted the ‘plans‘ online for easy replication. Looks easy enough, just use a razorblade to slash a top and side open, fold, fill, and photo. I bet you could get super arty with it. In addition to plant choices, how you cut them can make a statement too.

They have an old gallery online with lots of their work at

DIY Urbanism in Detroit

14 Sep

“Cities have always went down. It’s people who bring them back.” – Larry D’Mongo

Palladium Boots sent Johnny Knoxville (?) to Detroit to see whats up with the DIY scene out there. We’ve all seen the photoessays by them “dutch assholes” focused on the massive empty buildings, so it’s really cool to finally see the human reaction to the abandonment. This video series does a great job of showing off the creativity people employ when provided all the infrastructure. Watch the whole three part series over at

DJ Kool Herc

19 Jun

Dj Kool HercHe was a young Jamaican American and he just wanted to throw a party. His uncle had given him the best sound system in the neighborhood, yet he had no venue to play at and he was broke. What Kool Herc chose to do could have been done anywhere, but because it happened in New York, he forever changed the world.

Kool Herc brought the party to the people and set up his sound in the streets.

“To accommodate larger crowds, Herc moved his parties further up Sedgwick Avenue into Cedar Park. He had seen construction workers hooking up power by tapping the light posts, and so he started doing the same. “I had a big Macintosh amp. That thing cost a lot of money and pumped a lot of juice. It was 300 watts per channel. As the juice started coming, man, the lights start dimming …  The results shocked the borough.” Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, pg 78,  by Jeff Chang.

“At dusk a van rolled up with Kool Herc and his crew. His boys dragged a couple of portable tables into the schoolyard through a hole in the fence, while Herc unscrewed a plate in the base of a light pole and hooked a heavy industrial extension cord into an outlet inside. Soon crates of records, large speaker cabinets, and Dj equipment were set up and Herc started getting busy. ” – Hip Hop America, pg 26, by George Nelson.

He hacked the city and fathered the global movement of hip-hop.

Kool Herc had that hacker mind state though, he was the first DJ to buy two of the same record and play the break over and over, turning a five second snippet into a five minutes of something brand new. He also custom built his sound to be louder than any of the other local djs in the Bronx. Yet the act of hacking into the city’s hidden innards and demanding that it serve him, a young black man from the Bronx ghetto in the 70’s, is why Kool DJ Herc is the godfather of Hack Your City.