A Leader on Teamwork, Credit, & Anonymity

March 13, 2012

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” – unknown

There’s a simple honesty inherent in that quote. It applies to 3rd graders as it applies to adults. It applies to business and the workplace as it does to sports and politics and education and seemingly everything else in life.

It’s a nugget of wisdom that has stood the test of time.

A line that many of us were taught at one point growing up, and one that many of us have forgotten along the way.

It feels wrong to give credit for what appears to be an almost universal truth — especially when giving credit goes against the spirit of the quote itself — but apparently that was said in these words by Harry S. Truman, 32nd president of the United States. But it reads better attributed to ‘unknown’, doesn’t it.

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Ballin’ Design

January 22, 2012

I know, I know. It’s the heart of the NFL playoffs. The eve of a Championship Sunday featuring a phenomenal pair of matchups… teams steeped in history and tradition, draped in story-lines of renewal and redemption and brotherly rivalry. It’s the most glorious time of year. I get it.

But still. Hoops is back. And with it, this nugget of brilliance-in-the-technology-and-sports-arena. A simple concept that combines motion-capture and quick-printing technologies to form something truly meaningful for kids and the game they love: Basketball. Pretty cool.

(My 8th grade Reading & Studies Skills class taught me to cite my source. My source:  FastCo Design: 5 Lessons From The Best Interaction Design of 2011. Source cited.)


Human Factors in Hoops!

June 7, 2009
Sneakers, a hoop and a ball - oh my!

Sneakers, a hoop and a ball - Oh my!

In the thick of the NBA playoffs, let’s take a closer look at this fast-paced and graceful game. Modern professional basketball is full of superhuman superstars, yet it’s still ultimately a team game, where fundamentals, strategy, and execution are as important as an ability to soar to the hoop and finish with an emphatic slam dunk.

Compared to other sports, there isn’t much technology needed to play the game other than a ball and a hoop. This contributes to the games popularity, as great players can emerge from anywhere, regardless of their means to expensive equipment. It is very pure in that sense, and though there may be fewer tangible pieces of the game to work with, the evolution of the games’ technology is still a very relevant part of the sport.

Basketball’s greatest technological advancements have been with its sneakers, changing and evolving and advancing along with the game. Designers look closely at the movements involved in playing basketball to make shoes to best optimize leaping ability, side-to-side movement, stability, comfort, and overall safety. There have been huge recent strides in shoe technology, like the 2008 Nike Hyperdunks, claimed to be made with a nasa-invented foam and fibers stronger than … that’s right folks, bullet-proof vests.

The ball itself has changed relatively little. In 2006 the NBA introduced a new non-leather ball but it was given a nearly-universal thumbs down after half a season by the players and thus didn’t last long in the greater market. The NBA admitted it didn’t take into account input from their target users – the players – and thus it’s decision resulted in a poor user experience.

And then there are the intangible aspects of the game. Because of its high scoring and fast back-and-forth flow to the game, basketball players require complex real-time decision making. The Basketball Intelligym is a training program aimed at honing decision making ability and has been adopted by many big name collegiate and professional teams. It’s very similar to the concepts used for flight-simulators in military training, and is based on the understanding of the cognitive demands undertaken by the players.   

For more on human factors and technology in basketball, check out these links covering the subtleties of information in basketball courts and the physics behind the game. And then go work on your jumper.


Football: A superbly designed game

September 4, 2008
"I hope this helmet holds up."

"Boy, I sure hope these helmets were designed well."

Americans: the wait is over — football is back!  In honor the beginning of the NFL season, I thought I’d post this great article by Vinnie Mirchandani discussing innovations in the sport.  It gives a solid look at the technological reliance and complexities invovled in the modern game.

Football seems to have it all.  Strategy mixed with raw athletic talent, constantly evolving equipment to improve player safety, decision making battling physical limitations, finesse mixed with bone-crunching collisions. 

It’s a glorious game to watch: intelligent, graceful, and brutal at the same time.  It’s no wonder an estimated 75 million Americans watch football every weekend, nearly a quarter of the US population.  (Of course, there are several theories for this phenomenon…)  Enjoy the season.


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OLYMPIC Technology

August 23, 2008

So fast.

So fast.

Aside from being the stage for world competition, the Olympics is the ultimate showcase of athleticism, human performance and limitations.  If you’ve been fortunate to view any of the events, chances are you’ve wondered some things, like how world records can be broken again and again, how such precise and accurate measurements are recorded, or whether you can find that tight spandex body-suit at your local sports store.

Well wonder no longer.  Here are some insightful articles on technology in the Olympics: from the way events are timed to the equipment the athletes use, from the way the events are viewed globally to the magic behind the opening ceremony, from the ethical questions to the pure physics of the events.

For both the athletes and technology involved, the Olympics are a spectacle of the grandest proportions.  Go world.