Better Online Living Through Content Moderation (Reading Summary Six)

In her article titled Better Online Living Through Content Moderation, Melissa King argues that content control features such as block lists, privacy settings, and trigger warnings should become more prevalent to protect people from harassment or ideas that they find offensive. Regardless of the reason, King writes that no person should be forced to receive content that they do not want. There are critics against this kind of content control and King tries to answer them while explaining to the audience why one ought to support more content control on the Internet.

According to King, there are critics who paint those who are in favor of stricter content control as being too sensitive while scoffing at the idea of a person developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from Internet harassment or an article sharing an opinion that the reader disagrees with or finds offensive. Regarding PTSD, King provides expert testimonial from a psychologist named Caleb Lack who believes one can develop PTSD from online bullying. Another argument that King charges critics with is the idea that one should not avoid what offends or irritates them; instead, one should confront what psychologically irritates them in an effort to develop a resistance to it. However, King believes this is a bad argument because a lack of controlled exposure to offensive content may lead to exacerbating a person’s PTSD. One other argument critics make against features like blocklists is that they come with a negative connotation that may damage the reputation of those who are stuck on them. For example, if an employer saw a potential employee’s name on the “misogynist blocklist”, then that might cost him the job (or cost him his job if he already has one) even though he may have been stuck on that list for merely expressing his belief that the gender wage gap is a myth. King believes this isn’t a good argument either because the architects of blocklists can exactly describe on their website the kinds of people who will be blocked. Finally, there is the argument that blockslists may infringe upon the freedom of expression of others, especially if they’re ratified by companies like Twitter or Facebook. In other words, let’s say a group of people are offended by X, and so they petition Facebook to have X blocked; if Facebook listens to and appeases the group, then no one is allowed to express X. King doesn’t buy this argument either because there is widespread online harassment in the form of bullying and threats of violence, some of it being so extreme that the victims of this harassment become afraid for their safety and lives, frightening them into silence.

Color Walking (Reading Summary Five)

In this short article titled Color Walking, the authors Phia Bennin and Brendan McMullan discuss an experiment created by William Burroughs in which he asked his students to select and focus on a color, and then to go outside for a walk. This resulted in a greater appreciation and noticeability for the selected color. McMullan and Bennin decide to conduct a similar experiment only this time they allow themselves the option of switching to different colors if they so wish. This second experiment resulted in the authors being lead down certain areas or to different colors, which in turn lead them somewhere else.  By the end of the day, all of the colors of the world became emphasized.

This is an interesting article. Personally, I don’t pay too much attention to color—or perhaps it’s more accurate for me to say that I do not normally make a habit of consciously paying attention to color. Unbeknownst to me, I may be subconsciously lead down certain roads or to certain areas in the same way Burroughs’ students, Bennin, and McMullan were lead to certain areas when they experimented on consciously focusing on color. The findings of these experiments make me wonder just how much influence color in the built environment has over where we travel. For instance, a person whose favorite color is blue may be more inclined to travel down roads or to destinations that have blue in them; and a person who hates the color red may be discouraged from traveling to areas where red is predominately featured. Another interesting thought is how this impacts the color-blind. A designer or team of designers may create a space with color in mind, purposely creating a welcoming (or unwelcoming) atmosphere; however, this may very well oppositely impact, or cause no impact, to a color-blind person since they perceive color differently.

Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’ (Reading Summary Four)



“Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’” by Emily Bazelon is an article arguing in favor of unisex or all-gender bathrooms. I believe her main argument can be summed up in the following way: male and female bathrooms are regulatory in that they permit or prohibit certain groups of people from entering bathrooms based upon their biological sex, but this notion is being challenged by transgender people. The author views this as a good thing because she believes the policies and laws that prohibit people who act and dress like the opposite sex from entering the bathrooms of the sex contrary to their own are unaccommodating and psychologically hurtful. She sees this as contrary to how a civil society should function.

According to Bazelon, many people are against the convention of unisex bathrooms, especially the idea of men sharing the same bathroom as women. She then goes on to cite a case in Houston, Texas where an ordinance which would have allowed men to use the women’s bathroom and vice-versa. However, it was struck down by voters because the opponents of the ordinance aired commercials depicting men attacking women in bathrooms, exploiting the notion that some people possess: that all men are potential rapists or are violent. The campaign seemed to have worked. She also notes that even some liberal women are against the idea of unisex bathrooms because they see this as yet another example of women being forced to accommodate men.

Moreover, Bazelon holds the belief that the beginnings of segregating bathrooms by sex are found in the Victoria era and it was mainly done for privacy and hygienic reasons. Because up until that point it was mainly men who visited libraries, parks, factories–and so these places didn’t accommodate women by giving them their own bathroom. She goes on to cite a law professor by the name of Terry Kogan who explains in an article dealing with bathroom segregation that “shopgirls” were given retiring rooms where they could rest, because the people of that time period felt that women were predisposed to fainting. Bazelon contrasts the origin of segregating bathrooms by sex with what she thinks most modern-day women are now concerned about: not waiting in line for the bathroom. That’s not entirely true though because she also points out in her article that women view the bathroom as a place where they can get away from men, or congregate with their lady friends, which could possibly be another reason why some women are against the idea of men encroaching upon their bathrooms.

Additionally, the author makes the point in her article that some are too dismissive of transgender people. That the people who see a biological woman dressing, acting, or going through sex-reassignment surgery, as still a woman because of her sex chromosomes, are wrong. Her reasoning is that because there are other sex chromosome combinations besides XY and XX we should therefore not solely rely on them for making the determination that a person is a man or woman. Instead, the author seems to want us to focus on what people feel they are and how they express themselves.

His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society (Reading Summary Three)


The two main arguments Suzanne Tick makes in her article “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society” are we’re living in a so-called gender revolution and architects and interior designers should jump on board by creating gender neutral or universal interior and architectural designs.

By gender revolution Tick means we’re living in a time when men dress like women, go through surgery to appear like women, or merely identify themselves as women—and vice-versa. In other words, according to Tick, people are no longer confined by their biological sex, but by how they express and present themselves.

Consequently, Tick believes that architects and interior decorators should encompass this gender revolution by changing the way in which buildings are designed and decorated. Tick believes that because it was mostly men that headed Modernism, she thinks the movement is from the male perspective, as well as the designs and such that sprang from it. Further, she claims that we’re still living in a male centered society and that this is especially true in regard to technology. She argues that it’s the amalgamation of all these elements that shapes the design of places and that this needs to be combated for the sake of gender neutrality and inclusiveness. Her solution is to encourage designers to introduce what she thinks are more feminine qualities to interior and architectural design like more windows, soft corners, light, hospitality, and textural materials. If this masculine design isn’t combated Tick fears that it will lead to more unsafe and exclusive areas which may offend or discourage women or people who may identify themselves as women.

There are a few other points that Tick brings up. One of these is with respect to fashion and beauty. She writes that the fashion and beauty sectors are more susceptible to cultural changes (and it occurs faster) than architectural and interior design. The other is we should adopt gender-neutral bathrooms in an effort to make these areas more inclusive and safe for those who may identify as the sex that they weren’t born as. To illustrate this point she brings up an example of an employee who underwent sex reassignment surgery during a vacation and when this person came back to work there was a conflict with this person and his/her coworkers about bathrooms in which both men and women went to human resources asking that this person not use their bathroom. Tick argues that if there were gender-neutral bathrooms or bathrooms that catered to more identities, then this wouldn’t have happened.

Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York (Summary Two)



(The cover of Morton’s book The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City.)


Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York written by Irina Nersessova is an analysis of Morton’s work using Situationist International theory. Situationist International theory teaches that capitalist societies engage in something called the spectacle. When a society engages in the spectacle they are fed images by the media that teach people who they are, what they need, what to value, and what to pursue. It’s a lens through which a society views reality, distorting it. Therefore, a rift between a society engaged in the spectacle and reality is created. Instead of people feeding off of reality, the very world around them, they instead feed off of a purely man-made construct that serves to mold people into a particular image. Moreover, this construct pushes people to perpetually consume resources, the newest gadgets, movies, and fashion, which in some cases impacts the environment and the world as a whole.

Typically,  we categorize the homeless as those without homes. This is incorrect. The homeless do have homes; they’re just not the conventional homes that are seen in so-called normal society. This is an unfortunate misinterpretation of what homeless means because what follows from this is the devaluing of their lives and homes. As Nersessova mentioned in her paper, it allows cities to remove and destroy the spaces of the homeless without restriction. Nersessova points out that because the homeless are not conditioned by a capitalistic society like the majority of US citizens are, they do not possess the insatiable thirst to endlessly consume resources. Instead, they can be observed recycling and scavenging for materials to create their homes or spaces. As a result, they’re more intimately involved with their homes than let’s say a couple who resides in a $500,000 home located in a rich neighborhood in Connecticut. This is because they had to find and select each piece of their home, and then assemble these pieces using their own personal stream of consciousness. However, as a result, their homes are more fragile than those with more conventional homes. In the bat of an eye, a city could destroy them. Nersessova makes the point in her writing that part of our identity is wrapped up in our homes, because shelter is a necessary component of human life. It logically follows from this that this aspect of identity is more vulnerable in a homeless person than a person who lives in a more conventional home.

Another interesting point Nersessova makes about the homeless, with respect to the homeless who dwell in tunnels under New York, is that because they aren’t bombarded by media images like the rest of society, they’re left to focus on reality and self-discovery; they aren’t engaged in the spectacle described in the beginning of this post. This serves to demonstrate the importance of space and how it can affect ones psyche and behavior.

NERSESSOVA, IRINA. Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York. disClosure, 10556133, 2014, Issue 23. Web.

Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical design of the Built Environment (Summary One)



(Robert Moses’ overpass.)


The article titled Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical design of the Built Environment written by Sarah Schindler is broken up into five aspects that tackle the issue of how man-made structures can permit, prohibit, encourage, or discourage certain groups of people regarding where they travel and how they might behave, with a focus on how poor people (especially minorities) are targeted. According to the paper, the way people behave, travel, and where they might make their home is influenced by architecture; and by architecture Schindler means infrastructure, sidewalks, transit stops, benches, etc. Elaborating on this, Schindler mentions an example in which a city planner for New York named Robert Moses purposely built low-hanging overpasses over parkways leading to Jones Beach. The intention behind this was to prevent buses and in turn those who don’t own cars from traveling to the beach. More precisely, the consequences of this decision made it more difficult for poor people (especially minorities) to visit Jones Beach. Architectural influence can be more far-reaching and subtle than this though, going as far as to impact our decisions by molding the context of them, or by constructing the very options that we decide upon, leaving our free will intact. It’s the last part that is misleading. It leads people to believe that they’re fully in control. However, if one is given the options A, B, and C to choose from, then they should ask themselves: Why just A, B, and C? Why not D, E, and F as well? Are there external influences at work, pushing me to one option over the others? What is the origin of these options? Schindler provides a simple hypothetical demonstrating this concept in which a cafeteria manager displays healthy foods out in the open while making unhealthy foods less visible. Such a maneuver may influence people to try and eat healthier foods. In this example, architectural influence, although still manipulative, may lead to a good result; however, imagine if the cafeteria manager did exactly the opposite. Furthermore, bear in mind that many people wouldn’t even notice that they were being influenced at all. This brings me to Schindler’s final main point. Many people, and more importantly (arguably), those who help create and interpret law do not notice or take architectural influence seriously in the same they do for laws and policies. If a city or state created a policy or law that stated no poor person shall enter a certain public beach or park, then that would be illegal and there would be a huge outcry from the public. However, through architectural influence, Robert Moses was able to accomplish just this, flying under the radar of laws and much of the public. There is one final and interesting point that I learned from reading Schindler’s paper and that is laws, policies, and beliefs are much easier to observe and change than architecture. A city could have 2016 beliefs (equal opportunity for all) while still possessing architectural influence from an age where, to use one example, blacks were falsely seen as subhuman.

SCHINDLER, SARAH. Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. Yale Law Journal. Apr2015, Vol. 124 Issue 6, p1934-2024. 91p. Web.