2021-04-19 4 min read


Notes, 2021-04-19.

Habitat 67, a brutalist apartment complex arranged like an alien beehive, looms in the distance from the city side banks of downtown Montreal. Built on a quay in the St. Lawrence river, the iconic structure was the realization of young architect Moshe Safdie’s thesis project and a showpiece for Expo 67. Today I walked there for the first time (it’s out of the way without much else nearby) and I was surprised to see the building is in some disrepair with plywood and concrete patches throughout. I love it.

I absolutely love that it isn’t a pristine, perfectly preserved relic but a living piece of architecture that is distinctly lived in. Residents’ patio furniture, plants, and personalities peek through the curved plexiglass windows. Habitat 67 was a utopian, futurist project imagining universal housing for all. And while housing is still an intractable problem more than 50 years later, I appreciate any flavor of futurism that puts human needs at its center.

A friend recently introduced me to the idea of cozy futurism, a movement that centers human needs and technologies that work to create affordable cities. This is the energy I want to carry with me in my life and work, and I hope you might consider it as well.

-Hillary Predko

The most clicked link from last week's issue (~19% of opens) was a blog post on some really weird Japanese butter utensils. On The Prepared's Members' Slack last week, an in-depth conversation about the cost structures of US residential housing, suggestions on which industries have similar energy today as consumer 3D printing did in ~2010, and a deep discussion on Langdon Winner's Do Artifacts Have Politics? Coming up this week, we're picking a new book to read for the Members' Reading group - please join us! :)

Planning & Strategy.

Making & Manufacturing.

  • These ASMR reviews of the tactile experience of different knobs are satisfying and a little unsettling.
  • If you haven’t been watching Tim Hunkin’s Secret Life of Components series, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a joyful romp through the workshop of a truly dedicated tinkerer, watching as he pulls boxes and boxes of parts from the shelves. I was particularly charmed with his description of the mechanics of constant force springs, which he insists are not to be confused with a negator spring such as a measuring tape. The trouble is, he doesn’t explain the difference and I can’t find a meaningful distinction between the two mechanisms. If you have an answer, get in touch - it’s bugging me.
  • Transcribing music notation is delightfully anachronistic, and many publishers used hand-engraved metal plates until the late 1990s. This was superseded by a DOS software package, SCORE, that despite being abandoned after the death of the creator is still in use by those with a license. While most music notation is done with modern digital tools at this point, those who make scores with software or code are still called engravers. This video about a new notation font has a cool deep dive into the history of SCORE.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.

  • After the Dutch government reported concerns about their lack of insight into malicious digital activity towards vital infrastructure, one citizen took it upon himself to learn more through an experiment. Stefan Grimminck hosted a fake nuclear power plant online with code including a honeypot, which listens to get more information about digital attackers. While I feel somewhat relieved no malicious attackers tried to initiate a (fake) nuclear disaster, I hadn’t known how easy it was to locate internet connected industrial devices.
  • A valiant attempt at trying to understand the motivations and production behind Amazon’s custom-made t-shirts.


Surreal computing with NanoRaptor.

Read the full story

The rest of this post is for SOW Subscribers (free or paid) only. Sign up now to read the full story and get access to all subscriber-only posts.

Sign up now
Already have an account? Sign in
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Scope of Work.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.