25.4.06

QUOTE OF THE DAY. The Northern Star reports on the recently completed decorative fencing.

Tony Madsen, junior history major, had an idea to keep people from walking through the grass.

"It would be great if they made the sidewalks go directly to where people are trying to get to," Madsen said. "Instead the sidewalks are going around in a circle."

That summarizes, in one sentence, the difference between an opportunity seeker and a problem solver.

Question: Where shall we put the sidewalks between buildings?

Opportunity seeker: Let's think like an opportunity seeker. People will seek the opportunity to get to the door, or from the door to where they want to go. So let's give them the opportunity to identify those paths, and then pave them.

Problem solver: First, let's find an expert. Let's hire a landscape architect to draw pretty circles on a ground plan, and lay out pretty shrubbery in the open spaces. That way our campus will look better from the air.

(Opportunity seekers walk where they want anyway.)

NIU would never be able to maintain the landscape in the area due to the heavy foot traffic without fences, said Bob Albanese, associate vice president for Finance and Facilities.

"We hesitated to do it last year, but finally decided we need to," Albanese said.

Problem solver: Let's put in fences to compel people to follow the paths we, in our wisdom, have chosen.
The fences were put up to redirect students to the walkways, said campus planning coordinator Jim Murphy.
But the fences are not pretty.

Problem solver: Let's use them to protect aesthetic but thorny bushes.
"There are young shrubs on the grounds right now," Murphy said. "Once they mature, we may remove the fences because the shrubs will provide a solid barrier."
But the Superintendent of the Cold Spring Shops will snark at you. (And the fences will not go away.)

Problem solver: We'll spin it.
What some may not have realized is these fences actually serve a purpose beyond enhancing the appearance of the landscape.
Advantage: emergent distributed networks.

RUNNING EXTRA. The editorial board at the Northern Star demonstrates an unhealthy acceptance of spin. Walking on sidewalks: what a novel idea.
And while most people don't like being told what to do, let alone where to walk, we hope that everyone will respect the new design and actually use the sidewalks.
The Superintendent's riposte (which, although he's hesitant to pull rank, he's contemplating sending to the editors): Sidewalks where the people actually walk: what a novel idea (unless you're at Wisconsin.)

And a warm welcome to Knowledge Problem readers. Lynne gets dynamic emergent networks.
[Forbes's Rich Karlgaard] then goes on to discuss immigration and those currently trying to "solve the problem". You can add high gasoline prices to the list of problems that politicians think they need to solve. [Links added by S.H.K.]
You take the gas prices, Lynne, and I'll get back to immigration amnesties. Thanks!

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