Why is this interesting? - The Monday Media Diet with Lilla Cosgrove

On urban studies, rule following, and the wonder of libraries

Lilla Cosgrove (LC) is a longtime friend of WITI and currently serves as CIO at the tech health company Candid. Aside from her day job, which spans digital, experience, and UX, she also has a deep interest in urban studies and travel. Here, we peer into her very interesting media and consumption habits. - Colin (CJN) 

Tell us about yourself.

I’m an urban studies nerd, a product manager who likes building things spanning the digital and physical experience, and an entrepreneur currently working on the right-sizing of retail and telemedicine at Candid. 

Describe your media diet. 

I try to balance two things with my media: learning about the world, and distracting myself completely from the world. I wouldn’t say I stay up to date in any particularly innovative way: NYT, WSJ, FT, Twitter, a smattering of podcasts. On the distraction side, I tend to deep-dive—my current dive is a grab bag collection of essays about urban living. Quarantine life has me doing a lot of thinking about the future of cities.    

What’s the last great book you read?

What is Landscape? By John Stilgoe. Stilgoe was my favorite professor in college and so I’m particularly partial to his meandering storytelling. Still, I find that every time I read a book of his, his style of observation reminds me to see the world in different ways. 

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

I grew up an ardent rule-follower. I didn’t like sitting in the car if it was idling in a handicap space while my mother popped in for an errand. Not finishing a magazine or book? Blasphemy. In the past few years, however, I’ve been trying to break that habit. That means I’m reading multiple things at once, and that I’ll skip around to whatever appeals at the moment. I’ve found that this has allowed me to read a lot more because I never feel like I’m struggling through the content. I haven’t succeeded quite yet in not finishing a book, but I’m working up to it. 

So, what are you reading now?

The Ones We've Been Waiting For by my good friend Charlotte Alter. She follows a few millennial politicians and tells the stories of how growing up in a world of student debt, Harry Potter, and September 11th have shaped their personal and generational politics. 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

If you’re down to follow me into my urban-life-essays-hole:

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

My app guilty pleasure is Star Walk. It’s amazing, and I also find it highly amusing that you can see the stars through the other side of the world if you point it at the ground instead of the sky. 

However, in the spirit of discussing reading, I’ve recently fallen in love with the Libby app from NYPL. I’m the first to admit I like reading hard-copy books much more than e-books but it’s hard for me to get to the library to get physical copies, and I feel as if Libby has opened up the world of libraries to me again! Looking forward to a deeper Amazon integration from them to streamline the process of getting books onto a Kindle. 

Plane or train?

Train. My love became deeply rooted in college when I took a coast-to-coast 3 week Amtrak trip. I made 8 stops along the way from Boston, across the south and up to SF, with the longest section being between San Antonio and LA. There’s an interesting cast of characters one meets on long haul train travel - the kids giving into retro wanderlust (as I certainly was), groups of extremely religious people for whom plane travel is prohibited, and most curiously, extremely addicted smokers who can’t make it across the country on a flight without smoking. 

What is one place everyone should visit? 

Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. It’s hard to get there by train. It’s hard to get there in general. But it’s very much worth the trip. Experience the ruggedness of our world, and be reminded of its delicacy. 

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

Sand. It started with the episode of 99% Invisible discussing the fact that sand is a finite resource and due to its necessity in building projects (primarily in making concrete) we’re causing serious environmental damage through extracting it. It spiraled into an exploration of alternative building materials like synthetic concretes and synthetic glass. Anyone else want to make some better building materials? Get at me. 

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Lilla (LC)

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