Sun, 28 Aug 2005
Hints instead of rules
D. Mitchell, an interesting
article about a minimalist reaction to
the tunnel vision rules promote:
Hans Monderman is a traffic engineer who hates traffic signs. Oh, he
can put up with the well-placed speed limit placard or a dangerous
curve warning on a major highway, but Monderman considers most signs
to be not only annoying but downright dangerous. To him, they are an
admission of failure, a sign - literally - that a road designer
somewhere hasn't done his job. "The trouble with traffic engineers is
that when there's a problem with a road, they always try to add
something," Monderman says. "To my mind, it's much better to remove
Monderman is one of the leaders of a new breed of traffic engineer -
equal parts urban designer, social scientist, civil engineer, and
psychologist. The approach is radically counterintuitive: Build roads
that seem dangerous, and they'll be safer.
Update: In response, Randy Mcdonald writes:
Build roads that seem dangerous, and they'll be safer.
was a principle that I first encountered when I read that Kowloon
Airport in Hong Kong (I think that is its name, ICBW) had a remarkable
safety record, given that the landing process was very terrifying.
Ever since I read that, I use the term I put in my subject line [The
Kowloon Airport Syndrome] for
Having flown into the old Hong Kong airport, that strikes a chord
It occurs to me that I want to take the idea beyond safety. What
I want to remember from the article is how physical space can be
engineered to cause people to attend to what's easily ignored. What
they might not see "in a state of nature" can be made
visible. Ditto for those things that rules divert attention from
following the rules is supposed to eliminate the need for attention).
Consider our friend the big visible chart. They are supposed to
fall in that middle ground - not rules, but still acting to nudge
people. Sometimes they don't work. Why not?
Ditto for standup meetings, bullpens, etc. How can they be better
## Posted at 08:55 in category /misc