Fantastic essay by Steven Johnson on the value of keeping text/information linkable:
Ecologists talk about the “productivity” of an ecosystem, which is a measure of how effectively the ecosystem converts the energy and nutrients coming into the system into biological growth. A productive ecosystem, like a rainforest, sustains more life per unit of energy than an unproductive ecosystem, like a desert. We need a comparable yardstick for information systems, a measure of a system’s ability to extract value from a given unit of information. Call it, in this example: textual productivity. By creating fluid networks of words, by creating those digital-age commonplaces, we increase the textual productivity of the system.
The reason the web works as wonderfully as it does is because the medium leads us, sometimes against our will, into common places, not glass boxes. It’s our job—as journalists, as educators, as publishers, as software developers, and maybe most importantly, as readers—to keep those connections alive.
Checking out the Dubberly Design Office this morning I noticed a few infographics on their site that looked interesting. This one shows the Creative Process. I’m not going to quibble about the little things, but overall it’s nice to think about how interrelated everything is that we try to artificially break into stages.
Reading Design Mind and came across this:
According to the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index from April 8, trust in business has reached unprecedented lows, with only 10% of Americans now saying they trust large corporations.
My question is: Are we supposed to?
Ultimately the article goes on to explain that consumers’ trust of business is just an identifier of how in-tune an organization is with the processes it must implement to ensure its own survival. And that the future of capitalism lies in businesses forming alliances with other (potentially competitive) businesses to cater to the individual’s needs.
I agree that a shortsighted bottom-line approach is bad for a sustainable business strategy. And killing off your consumers or the planet’s resources or both is a recipe for disaster but I’m still not sure that capitalism is conducive to social, ethical behavior… Limited pie, unknown amount of competitors or future business conditions – take as much pie as possible. That’s capitalism right? I don’t condone it. I’m just sayin’…
I’m reading a fine line, how design strategies are shaping the future of business, by Hartmut Esslinger. The following quote struck me:
Although few corporations mirror the smooth operations spelled out in their press releases, the internal discord that results from a lack of shared vision at the leadership level can destroy a company’s coordinated pursuit of a design-driven strategy of innovation.
As we begin recognize the increasingly important role design plays in differentiating products, the above statement will (hopefully) drive “the board room” to recognize that a well articulated vision of what an organization’s design philosophy is couldn’t be ore critical to the long-term success of that organization. This extends both outward toward the market and consumers through an organization’s products and offerings, as well as inward to an organization’s employees and internal talent. Take the following blog by Douglas Bowman:
Without a person at (or near) the helm who thoroughly understands the principles and elements of Design, a company eventually runs out of reasons for design decisions. With every new design decision, critics cry foul. Without conviction, doubt creeps in. Instincts fail. “Is this the right move?” When a company is filled with engineers, it turns to engineering to solve problems. Reduce each decision to a simple logic problem. Remove all subjectivity and just look at the data. Data in your favor? Ok, launch it. Data shows negative effects? Back to the drawing board. And that data eventually becomes a crutch for every decision, paralyzing the company and preventing it from making any daring design decisions.
Visionary design leaders don’t grow on trees. And it seems lately that everyone is looking for that one talent that can ignite and focus an organization’s entropy into a laser-beam of innovative creative thought. It would be nice if there were more of a framework for less experienced creatives (bats his eyelashes) to learn how to be the next generation of executive design leaders, but in the end I suppose the best way is to continue to try and fail. Failure, ultimately, is the path to success.
I’ve been meaning to post this for a week now. It’s a great (and lengthy) article with Adam Greenfield who is Nokia’s head of design direction for user interface and services.
Q: Are there ways we could design ubiquitous systems that might support personal autonomy?
A: …When given some kind of real-time overview of all of the options available to you in a given time, place and context – and especially if that comes wrapped up in some kind of visualization that makes anomaly detection a matter of instantaneous gestalt, to be grasped in a single glance – your personal autonomy is tremendously enhanced… you don’t head out to the bus stop until your phone tells you a bus is a minute away, and you don’t walk down the street where more than some threshold number of muggings happen – in fact, by default it doesn’t even show up on your maps…
I stumbled across live|work recently and have enjoyed reading their articles and perspectives on Service Design. Particularly this passage:
when production takes place in one place far from where the product is consumed the relationship between producer and consumer becomes impersonal, disconnected and ultimately unsustainable.
There’s an awful lot being written about our nation’s food consumption habits and the dangers of factory farming, truck-ripened food and the like. The above statement is a reoccurring theme in modern life. One that I think we will see pop up in lots of different contexts as we emerge from the haze of the post-9/11 bush years and begin to strive for sustainability in all aspects of life.
Check out the entire article, it’s a great window into live|work’s viewpoint on their craft.
(via Design Thinking)
But let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation – but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement.
Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades…
This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food – but all that is changing.
Steven Johnson is my favorite writer. Interface Culture was a seminal read for me in college, as was Emergence. When The Ghost Map came out, hyper-local content was the buss term du jour. Johnson spring-boarded from writing a book about hyper-local information and organization to creating a digital product with it as it’s thesis. A few years later outside.in is thriving. It is through this lens that I’m anxious to read The Invention of Air, his latest book. A few days ago I couldn’t wait to see what offshoots it would spawn, his latest talk at SxSW (sadly I was NOT in attendance) gives us a glimpse. As usual he does not disappoint, this read is amazing – so thought provoking:
The Ecosystem model:
The funny thing about newspapers today is that their audience is growing at a remarkable clip. Their underlying business model is being attacked by multiple forces, but their online audience is growing faster than their print audience is shrinking. As of January, print circulation had declined from 62 million to 49 million since my days at the College Hill Bookstore. But their online audience has grown from zero to 75 million over that period. Measured by pure audience interest, newspapers have never been more relevant. If they embrace this role as an authoritative guide to the entire ecosystem of news, if they stop paying for content that the web is already generating on its own, I suspect in the long run they will be as sustainable and as vital as they have ever been. The implied motto of every paper in the country should be: all the news that’s fit to link.
More analysis to come…