If Batman used a mouse …

September 6, 2012

Megalan Speed Mouse, by Adept (as seen on behance.net)

… it would look like this, I’m pretty sure. Assuming he was in costume at the time, of course. (And no, haven’t seen the new one yet… don’t spoil it.)

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Design/Strategy Conf. 2011: In Their Own Words

June 1, 2011

A few weeks back I attended the Design/Strategy conference, put on by the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. Overall it was a solid lineup. A quirky and broad range of speakers, discussing the cross-sections of design, strategy and business. Rather than try to sum it up myself, below are some of the more memorable and inspirational quotes I captured from the two-day affair. Read and absorb. Read and absorb.

(Photo not of the actual conference. But it looked similar, I promise.)

“Design research:  how to know
Design thinking:  what to do
Design skills:  how to do it
Design Awareness:  how to choose”  – Bill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

“All of our systems that work have been designed and proven for a stable world. Now the world is more dynamic and shifting. The frame is constantly changing… The amount of relearning that each of us have to do today is stunning — the half-life of many skills are 5 years…  Learning is a play between context and content: How do I make this strange new idea familiar?… Now, increasingly, we cultivate, we don’t teach.”  “Let me alter the music of a film and I can alter not only its meaning but also what you can actually see.”  -John Seely Brown, visiting scholar and adviser to the Provost at University of Southern California   

“Form is disappearing. Look at all the mobile phones, they look similar. TVs are the same way. The focus has shifted to the UI.”  -Kun-Pyo Lee, head of the Corporate Design Center and EVP at LG Electronics in Seoul, Korea

“Don’t despair, once the Flintstones understood that the pelicans could mix cement, then they understood innovation.”  “Complexity is the number of independent variables behaving independently in a predictable way.  And design is a special vitamin, which taken daily helps with complexity.”  -Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Steelcase, Inc.

“Your best ideas are the worst. Your actual prototypes will make you feel like that… In tech, know your first release is not a final product, just a hi-fi prototype.”  “You have a brilliant idea every day. If there’s no process to channel those ideas, you have a problem.” – Guillermo Krovblit, co-founder of Peapod Labs

“3-D printers mark the beginning of a change where goods aren’t so scarce, its the design of the goods that are.”  “[These days] built to last means built to change.” – told to him by ‘a writer’  “We are trending away from hoarding towards sharing.”  – Chris Meyer, founder of Monitor Talent, entrepreneur, executive, consultant, author, and leader of a think tank

The conference's home: the incredible Spertus institute in Chi-town.

“What we need to teach is passion with purpose.  Our school system is missing this… One of the best ways of learning is to own the learning.”  -Neeru Khosia, co-founder and executive director of CK-12 Foundation

“In the future it will not be important where product is produced. What will be important is who are the customers and where they are.” “Of 6.3 million college graduations in 2010 in China, 136,900 were from the design field. 9630 grads were from 1125 industrial design programs.” -Jun Cai, a leading design educator and researcher in China

“Design of course is this wondrous, rich, ambiguous, hard-to-figure-out kind of thing… Design happens at the intersection of possibilities, constraints and uncertainties.”  –Jeanne Liedtka, professor of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia

“The more value we create [for the 4 billion people in poverty] at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’/our customers, the more we create for ourselves. We can’t just think about building ventures, we have to think about the ecosystem around these things.”  –Ted London, research fellow at the William Davidson Institute & faculty member of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

“If your ambition is not much higher than your resources, you will not succeed.”  (referring to entrepreneurs in poverty in India)  “Success [in design & business] rests on insights, a blend of logic of observation. Not just intuition.”  – Jamshyd Godrej, chairman of the board of Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company

“There are emerging trends from our speakers. 1) The problems are tougher than every before. 2) Analysis and Synthesis are fusing.” “Analysis is what you should’ve done beforehand had you known what you know last year.”  – Larry Keeley, design strategist and president and co-founder of Doblin Inc.


A Super Design for a Super Day

February 6, 2011

In honor of this over-hyped yet misunderstood Great American Holiday, here’s a shout-out to beer. To great design. To two beautifully-placed perforated cardboard flaps, opening like a set of grand palace doors revealing the treasure within. Hand goes in, beer comes out. No more or less complicated than needed. Works in the fridge. Works on the balcony. Just works.

So, finally. In this era of vented-wide-mouth cans, vortex bottles, and countless other think-marketing-first gimmicks, we have a beer company that finally got something right. A simple, practical innovation… one that that truly makes life easier.

Now I don’t have a particularly strong taste for Bud Light, but one has to reward great design.

Sometimes it’s just that simple.  Cheers.


Got game?

December 30, 2010

Will this poster still be funny in 2020?

If you work in the tech or business worlds, chances are you’ll be asked this question in the foreseeable future (if you haven’t been asked it already). And what better way to round out a year than with a bold prediction for what’s to come?

If the last decade was largely about technology shaping social connections, the next few years could mark the start of the ubiquitous gaming era. Now I’m no prophet. But many a bright mind in these circles seem to agree: the games are coming. That’s right, games and layers of games, everywhere… where you work, where you eat, where you go to the doctor, where you sleep. This could mean a world that’s more fun, more measured, more engaging, more transparent, with more gold coins. Or it could mean something else. Like the social web pioneers of the early 2000’s, the power is in our hands… as the rules for how games will shape our future are yet to be written.

Tell me more, you say.

If you’re in a reading mood, here’s a lengthy deep dive from Fast Company into the psychology behind games, and what many corporate and government players are doing in this space. (Did you know humans have collectively spent as much time playing WoW as we’ve spent evolving as a species?)

From the New York Times, this articles touches on the history and current state of the gaming world, and where we’re headed.

And here, the token video from a young pioneer of the gaming future, breaking down game stickiness into four key dynamics: appointments, influence & status, progression, and communal discovery. Right.

For those in need of some bedside reading, check out Total Engagement, a unique, though admittedly academic, take on the potential for games to revolutionize the modern workplace, drawing on dynamics from wildly successful massively multiplayer online games (MMORPGs) out there.

For the auditory learners, a short radio segment from NPR on top games of 2010.

And lastly, a Wired Magazine article on a game that inadvertently changed a previously-established billion-dollar industry, by changing the behaviors of the players involved. Sound familiar?

So don’t say you weren’t warned, citizens of the world. Happy 2011. And game on.


Mobile Phones and the Self

November 9, 2010

These machines, what a part of us they’ve become!  And whether we like it or not, what gadgets we carry around reflect something about us to the outside world. Similar to how our clothing and grooming do. How the type of music we listen to does. How the type of house-pets we keep do (I keep none, it’s against my building code). Not to say that the viewpoints expressed in this comic are entirely accurate… but hey, decide for yourself.

IPhone vs Android vs Blackberry

"How smartphone users see 2G phone users..."


Is the “Eureka!” Moment a Myth?

September 28, 2010

Ever wonder where good ideas like the internet or wearable blankets come from?  Of course you have. Here’s one theory that comes with some compelling video work… quickest 4 minutes you’ll spend all week:

TED posted a longer version of Steve Johnson’s talk that fleshes out the historical importance of collaboration and idea incubation. He steps outside the frame of technology and focuses on creative inspiration and the problem-solving process itself. Pretty good stuff. Highlights include tangents on submarine warfare, Darwin, gravity, and the creative powers of alcohol versus caffeine.


‘The Onion’ on Tech Breakthroughs

June 29, 2010
Onion technology

Goggles sold separately

Tuesdays have always been under-appreciated days. So it’s in their honor that I dug up this fine article from 9 years ago. Seemed relevant.

(On a related note, check out this mildly-innovative onion technology.)