Weblog Entries for June 2010
June 29, 2010
links for 2010-06-29
Matt Taibbi slams the mainstream media for protecting the powerful instead of looking after their readers. It needed saying.
nice reflections on Clay Shirky's latest
June 26, 2010
links for 2010-06-26
"Show me a good artist and I will show you a highly educated, highly creative, highly passionate, highly driven human being. If they’re a performing artist, I will show you someone who breathes teamwork. I will show you someone who eats healthy critiques for breakfast and grows an inch that day because of it. I will show you a communicator, and a thinker... I will show you someone you want to hire."
I've never really warmed to the term "design thinking" so I agree with some of what Don Norman says here: Design Thinking: Useful Myth.
Design thinking is a public relations term for good, old-fashioned creative thinking. It is not restricted to designers. Great artists, great engineers, great scientists all break out of the boundaries. Great designers are no different.Don goes on to argue it's a useful myth - useful for design agencies, that is. Personally, I find references to "design thinking" can be tiresome and excluding... as if it's not something that all of us can do, at least in some contexts.
Much of what we humans do effortlessly, in an ordinary way, can be rather remarkable. But when we label it as remarkable, and especially when we start explaining it in complicated ways, I think we miss the magic.
When I do improv, it's a constant reminder to stop trying to be special, to put down my clever, and do the ordinary. So maybe we can take design thinking off its little altar and get on with our lives...
June 23, 2010
links for 2010-06-23
Why humans can (sometimes) beat a computer at quiz games - because we can feel we know an answer to a question before the actual answer comes to awareness. We do this with sufficient reliablity that we can beat the machine to the buzzer.
June 21, 2010
links for 2010-06-21
This is an awesome use of opendata
June 20, 2010
links for 2010-06-20
Excellent stuff from John Naughton. Snippet: "Traditionally, organisations have tried to deal with the problem by reducing complexity – acquiring competitors, locking in customers, producing standardised products and services, etc. These strategies are unlikely to work in our emerging environment, where intelligence, agility, responsiveness and a willingness to experiment (and fail) provide better strategies for dealing with what the networked environment will throw at you."
June 19, 2010
I loved this tweet from @charlesfrith:
I see people defining a successful self as a self that can keep up with its email http://bit.ly/bIfaLxI think it's so easy to conflate drudgery with productivity; and productivity with success.
England had a very disappointing game last night, and along with many fans I did my share of yelling at the telly.
In the bright light of morning, though, what I now dread is the interminable, tabloid-fuelled frenzy of recrimination. This kind of post-mortem almost certainly has no great value, probably not even catharsis, and if anything will make things worse.
So here are the python boys to remind us of the need to keep a perspective on criticism and the perils of supposed loyalty.
(Here's the link if you don't see the video.)
June 18, 2010
links for 2010-06-18
Funny. And I suspect much of life is as susceptible to small changes making big differences. Hat tip: Charles Frith
"I wonder if particular people/groups/cultures are more (or less) likely to accept the future consequences of present actions? The futility of ramming 1-way information and knowledge into the brains of adolescent boys plays out the same way climate change scientists (and groups/government) work really hard to persuade skeptics with facts and figures."
June 16, 2010
links for 2010-06-16
A Labour activist recounts his success not following the rules. This is interesting well beyond British party politics. Rule 1: Treat people like adults.
How the history of Tasmania demonstrates that isolation doesn't just kill innovation, it sets it in reverse. Or as I'm fond of saying, relationships before ideas.
"In my experience (yes, as I said, hard-won experience), obsessing over the slipperiness of focus, bemoaning the volume of those devil “distractions,” and constantly reassessing which shiny new “system” might make your life suddenly seem more sensible–these are all terriﬁcally useful warning ﬂares that you may be suffering from a deeper, more fundamental problem." (HT JMLT http://bit.ly/aLwpju )
Shoes developed to protect our feet but there are unintended consequences... (via Dave Pollard's blog)
Interesting angle on the gulf oil spill and the perils of taking behavioural economics too far
June 14, 2010
links for 2010-06-14
Cruely to animals correlates with cruelty to humans. Everything is conected to everything.
"The pity-the-pensioners argument is really just another way of valuing passive extraction of wealth by those with capital over the active creation of wealth by those who work. There are plenty of old people in the gulf who, instead of depending on shares of stock are still working on boats or supporting their kids who are. But under a corporatist scheme, the people who actually create value are much less valued than those who passively extract it from them."
Good thoughts from Euan
"The answer to why so much time is spent on what BP can do resides in no small part I believe to the fact that social media consultants earn their bread from corporations."
June 13, 2010
links for 2010-06-13
Finnish education seems to do really well without the pressures of standardised testing and intense competition - things a lot of people over here take for granted as necessary to success.
June 12, 2010
Clocks and clouds
Karl Popper, the great philosopher of science, once divided the world into two categories: clocks and clouds. Clocks are neat, orderly systems that can be solved through reduction; clouds are an epistemic mess, "highly irregular, disorderly, and more or less unpredictable." The mistake of modern science is to pretend that everything is a clock, which is why we get seduced again and again by the false promises of brain scanners and gene sequencers. We want to believe we will understand nature if we find the exact right tool to cut its joints. But that approach is doomed to failure. We live in a universe not of clocks but of clouds.Hat tip: Richard Oliver
June 10, 2010
I tweeted this post by Andrew Rixon last month: From Social Networks to Living Systems – Some principles to reflect on. It's brief and well worth reading in full.
I also liked this comment by Gibran:
A friend of mine says that the dominant paradigm always tries to turn an emergent paradigm into a tool.
June 5, 2010
links for 2010-06-05
"One of the main problems of bureaucracies is that they are based on the assumption that “experts” are objective and driven mainly by their technical knowledge when performing their job. This is a fallacy. Bureaucrats and experts working for bureaucracies are influenced by other factors that surround the organisation where their work and their own lives."
June 4, 2010
links for 2010-06-04
"Paywall experiments are about making money from content. But the biggest difficulties they face haven’t been financial; they’ve been creative. Writers like being linked. They want reactions, tips, comments and, above all, recognition. Anything which shrinks those possibilities goes against the grain and against their interests." via http://delicious.com/Preoccupations
Another nail in the coffin of branding-as-usual
Innovation without IP
Tim Kastelle has a great post on Innovation without Intellectual Property Protection, prompted by this TED talk by Johanna Blakely.
It turns out there are lots of huge industries that manage without much IP, as well as examples of where just being continuously inventive is itself the best protection.
June 3, 2010
Hugh's latest daily cartoon:
June 2, 2010
Walking with dinosaurs
James Gardner has some good advice for graduates joining organisations and facing the old hierarchy: Walking with Dinosaurs.
..have a look at your IT organisation, and especially at your development processes. I bet you'll find they're gummed up with gates, and procedures, and evaluations and reviews. Everything takes ages, and the mantras will be "reuse" and "architecture" and "governance". These are the hallmarks of the dinosaur.Yep, and not just in IT, either.
Why do I say that? Because they are mechanisms for controlling rampant spread of technology solutions in an age when doing big systems was expensive. It is still expensive, but only because of the artifacts that have been left behind when things actually were expensive. It is our control artifacts that are now making us expensive, not the problems we are asked to solve.I'd only add that I don't think the young have a monopoly on disruption. A lot of old hands understand perfectly well how to disrupt a system when it suits them.
June 1, 2010
links for 2010-06-01
A researcher suggests there may be a link between working in a slaughterhouse and committing crime in the community. This morning I've been thinking again about "closing the field" - how we easily miss the external side effects of apparently productive systems. Hat tip: Dave Pollard http://bit.ly/aMzCYX
Closing the field on innovation
Here's another report on the recent research on the limits of brainstorming (previously blogged here): How Group Dynamics May Be Killing Innovation. The underlying research suggests conventional brainstorms are less productive, in both quality and quantity, than a hybrid approach which creates time for people to work alone.
It still makes sense to me, but as I reflect on this (and so much other research on creativity), I'm troubled by the apparent urge to set a new magic process to replace an old one. I can imagine eager corporations hurriedly legislating for "hybrid brainstorming" in future. Or the online suggestions box system also plugged in this article.
Part of my concern is that these pieces of research close the field. For instance, they measure the ideas produced in the thirty minute test, but they don't consider things like the impact on the relationship between participants, which is likely to impact the ideas they generate outside the test environment. (And the ideas generated after the formal event that are the most valuable.)
They have to do that in order to get measurable results, but they then leave out all sorts of other factors that set the context. And the context is going to matter a lot as organisations try to apply the findings.
This is my beef with most "ideation" processes, which fixate on the ideas produced in the fixed time. You can produce a theoretically brilliant, practical idea - but will people want to implement it? Does the ideation process leave some participants feeling dejected because they didn't feel heard or acknowledged, and what impact might that have? And does brainstorming distract attention from the subtler, informal, casual conversational interactions which may actually be more connected to what really happens in the organisation?
Or as I often want to say when confronted with the latest "proven" technique for innovation... could we just have a conversation?