Manifest Dismantling and Scroll Editing

Walking is a Superpower, How to Do Nothing, Strava Art and more!

I sat down to start working on this newsletter yesterday when the reports about the El Paso domestic terrorism event started to cross the wire. I was glued to the news and Twitter following the story and was overcome with that mixture of anger and sadness that goes with this type of news. Then this morning, it got worse with the shooting in Dayton.

It’s heartbreaking. There’s a sickness deep in the soul of America and it’s going to take a monumental, collective effort to cure it.


Here are a few items I’ve been looking at, reading and thinking about this week. Please feel free to drop me a line if you’ve got a suggestion for me or just want to say hi. Drop me a line here: info@bryanformhals.com

Book: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

“I am interested in manifest dismantling as a form of purposiveness bound up with remediation, something that requires us to give up the idea that progress can only face forward blindly. It provides a new direction for our work ethic. Remediation certainly takes the same amount of work: in this case, a dam that had taken three years to build took close to the same amount of time to remove.”

I finished ‘How to Do Nothing’ this week and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a must read. Odell spoke directly to many things I’ve been feeling about the attention economy the last few years that it feels like a revelation.

I will probably mention it more in the future as I digest it and re-read the highlights but today I want to share the quote above because I think the idea of ‘manifest dismantling’ is not only inspiring but vital to fixing many of the problems we face. An example of that idea is the debate about tearing down I-81 in Syracuse which is brilliantly covered in this Jalopnik article.

Walking is a Superpower

“One of the great overlooked superpowers we have is that, when we get up and walk, our senses are sharpened. Rhythms that would previously be quiet suddenly come to life, and the way our brain interacts with our body changes.”

I came across a few articles about ‘In Praise of Walking,’ a new book by neuroscientist Shane O’Mara’s which was just released. I have it on the way and can’t wait to dive in I’ve been searching for more information about the neuroscience of walking so this book is timely.

“In order to walk and navigate, the brain flickers between regions, just as our waking minds are often, says O’Mara, “flickering between big-picture states – thinking about what we have to do tomorrow, plans for next year, engaging in what is called ‘mental time travel’ – and task-focused work. And you need to flicker between these states in order to do creative work.” That’s how important associations get made, and this flickering seems to be bolstered by walking.

We often say we’re allowing our mind to wander but perhaps what we’re really doing is allowing our mind to make new connections. Read more in The Guardian.

…there is a particular wisdom to be found in mindful walking. “This is walking at a slower pace in which you are conscious of every step, every breath and the sound of a bird or a twig cracking. I do better when I am mindful of my breathing when I’m walking,” he explained.

O’Mara agrees that walking can bring a great experience of flow. “Walking can allow you to escape yourself and this non-ego focus is healthy. We should spend more time not thinking of ourselves,” he says.

Mindful walking has many of the same effects as meditation for me, but what I think has had the most impact on me is how it forces me to be completely present in the moment and attentive to may surroundings. Read more in the Irish Times.

Scroll Editing on Instagram

I posted a scroll layout of some street photography from 2010-2014 on Instagram and had a few people ask about the app I use. It’s called SCRL and it’s a breeze to use. I’ve found I tend to get higher engagement when I post layout edits than standard slideshows. Of course that could have a lot to do with the content and less to do with the format but I tend to think people appreciate the editing effort, plus I think it’s more representative of how I view my photography as well.

Making Artwork on Strava

For the past four years, Lenny Maughan has been turning his routes into art. His paths through the city are carefully chosen so that, viewed on a map, they form illustrations of everything from a simple heart shape to the starship Enterprise. 

I’ve been using Strava more consistently this year to map my walks and find it fascinating. I’ve caught myself looking at the shape of the walks and wondering what I could do to integrate that into my projects, but I never thought of going down route this guy went. It’s impressive. View more on The Guardian.

Further Reading

  • Podcast: Nathan Jurgenson on social media and the selfie [FT.com]

  • How did YouTube become the most popular music streaming site? By sounding like the world itself. [Washington Post]

  • Autonomous Car Industry’s Frightening Vision for Cities [Streetsblog]

  • The great collapse of copyright [Paul Melcher]

  • This Is the Beginning of the End of the Beef Industry [Outdoor]