Over the last few weeks I’ve been in some classic New York buildings, including 30 Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and the Port Authority building. What I found interesting about these three buildings, beyond their massive size, was that subways open directly into their lobbies. Curious, I emailed my friend and self-styled NYC transit expert Ian Westcott to see if he’d ever seen a full list. Reprinted with permission, here’s his reply:
Oh man, good question! There are a bunch of them I think. I don’t believe there is a list anywhere though.
A few off the top of my head:
Canal St A/C/E has an exit into the AT&T building
Jay St-Metrotech A/C/F/R has an exit into 370 Jay, which used to be an MTA building but is currently abandoned
34th St N/Q/R/B/D/F/V exits into Manhattan Mall (there is a closed passageway underground, owned by the mall, that once connected to Penn Station)
South Ferry 1/Whitehall R exits into the Staten Island Ferry terminal
28th St 6 exits into the New York Life building
Penn Station & Grand Central subways have numerous connecting exits, obvs
Frequently I don’t realize how interesting an idea is until I find myself repeating it six months later. That’s the case with this post by Mike Monteiro about calendar design. In it he argues that the whole idea of scheduling meetings for people based on the availability in their calendar drives a very bad behavior, mainly assuming that just because something isn’t scheduled that the person is free. As he puts it, “‘I’m adding a meeting’ should really be ‘I’m subtracting an hour from your life.’”
What if your calendar worked the opposite way? All time was filled by default and people had to extract from your day when scheduling things. This would move the onus to make a case for the meeting to the scheduler rather than the schedulee. I can even imagine taking it a step further and adding a set of prompts as the person schedules asking if this meeting is really important and whether it really needs to be an hour. In general it highlights a real problem we all face, though: We let software dictate the way we behave rather than vice-versa. If you use iCal you probably have lots of one hour meetings, not because they need to be an hour, but because that’s the default amount of time a new event has and people’s tendency is to no adjust that.
Of all the things I read about Osama bin Laden in the days after his death, I think this piece by Steve Coll at the New Yorker was the most interesting (it’s only available in full online to subscribers, sorry). Coll tries to understand bin Laden’s legacy (beyond, of course, the many lives he is responsible for ending in the United States and around the world) and paints him as a bit of a peculiar revolutionary who left behind little in the way of ideas. Coll writes that, “Other leaders claiming to be vanguards of revolution, such as Lenin and Castro, remade their homelands and altered global affairs. Al Qaeda never acquired a state, and its territorial influence has been limited to ungoverned backwaters such as Somalia and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.”
Coll argues that bin Laden’s most revolutionary trait was his understanding of media:
The standard caricature of bin Laden places him in a cave, stroking his untrimmed beard, plotting to drag the world backward in time. But a better way to understand his significance might be as a singular and peculiar talent in asymmetric communication and marketing strategies. His career as a terrorist signalled changes in the structure of dissent, violent and otherwise, in the Arab and Muslim worlds, particularly involving the role of transnational media. He grasped the disruptive potential of border-hopping technologies even before many Western media executives and Arab dictators did. … Bin Laden was to Arab violence and dissent in the digital age what Adam Osborne was to laptop computers or Excite was to the search-engine business. He lacked the unifying ideas and insights required to build a sustainable community of followers, but, in some ways, he was ahead of his time.