- BERG London Week 328 — we’re a design company, with a design culture built over 6 years, yet we’re having to cultivate a new engineering culture that sits within it and alongside it, and the two have different crystal grains. It’s good that they do—engineering through a design process can feel harried and for some projects that does not lead to good outcomes. And vice versa. But it throws up all kinds of questions for me: do we really want two domains of engineering and design; what is the common protocol—the common language—of engineering culture, and indeed of our design culture; how do these lattices touch and interact where they meet; how do we go from an unthought process to one chosen deliberately; how is change (the group understanding of, and agreement with a common language) to be brought about, and what will it feel like as it happens. I think more and more businesses will have to explicitly confront the challenge of reconciling design with engineering, novelty with constancy, innovation with repetition. Science is doing something once in a way that others might able to reproduce, however long it takes. Business is doing it the same way a million times, as fast as possible.
- Why We Love The Things We Build — psychological research to look at people valuing the things they build. Lots of interesting findings: participants thought others would value their origami creations highly, despite assigning little value to the amateur creations of others and incomplete items were not valued as highly as completed items. (via BoingBoing)
- Gut Flora Social Network (New Scientist) — although there’s real science behind it, I think it’s mostly a callous play to get web journalists to say “this social network is a bit shit”. (via Dave Moskowitz)
- The Unintended Consequences of Cyberbullying Rhetoric (danah boyd) — actual research on bullying and cyberbullying, indicating that those involved in cyberbullying don’t think of what they’re involved in as bullying, because that implies power relationships they don’t want to acknowledge. Instead it’s all part of the “drama” of high-school.
Mikey Dickerson on why he moved from Google to the West Wing, and where we need to be allocating our engineering resources.
In a keynote address at Velocity New York 2014, Mikey Dickerson described his journey from working for Google to working in the West Wing of the White House, leading the US Digital Services group. He told the story of how a three-day review turned into a nine-week “herculean effort” by a team working 17 hours per day, 7 days per week to get HealthCare.gov up and running. The challenges, he stressed, boiled down to a few big, though basic, things — building a monitoring system, creating a war room to provide development direction and organization, and establishing a sense of urgency to get the problems fixed. “This very formidable obstacle, when you pushed on it even a little bit, fell apart; it was made out of sand,” he said. “Nothing we did was that hard; it was labor intensive, but it was not hard.”
The names may change, but the friction between science and art goes back centuries.
Whether we're discussing ancients vs. moderns, scientists vs. poets, or the latest variant, computer science vs. humanities, the debate between science and art is persistent and quite old.
Artist-Engineer Marc Bohlen uses some fairly advanced technology to express his artistic visions. It's not often you find an artist with a degree from CMU in robotics, or an engineer with an Masters in Art History. Bohlen's projects explore how people and technology interact, ranging from the bickering robots Amy and Klara, to his latest project, the Glass Bottom Float. In advance of his appearance at the E-Tech conference in March, Bohlen talked to us about how he approaches art, and just what art is.
This second Feb 11 post was brought to you by the intersection of timezones and technology. If there’s a third Feb 11 post, I’m changing my name to Bill Murray.
- Hacking the Earth — an environmental futurist looks at “geoengineering”, deliberately interfering with the Earth’s systems to terraform the planet. Radical solution to global warming, unwise hubris and immoral act of the highest folly, or all of the above? (via Matt Jones)
- Reinvention Draws Near for Newsweek — fascinating look at how Newsweek are refocusing their magazine. “If we don’t have something original to say, we won’t. The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.” gives me hope. Newsweek are hoping to target fewer but richer advertisers, essentially a business strategy of tapping existing customers for more. This feels like they’re ceding the contested parts of their business (commodity news stories) and doubling down on the bits that nobody else is fighting for yet (their columnists, pictures, whitespace). What else could they do? Possibly nothing (see Innovator’s Dilemma), but the alternative is figuring out something new that people want and giving them that. Easy to say, hard for anyone to do.
- Tinkerkit – a physical computing kit for designers. Arduino-compatible components for rapid prototyping. Sweet!
- Stanford University YouTube Channel — short interesting talks by Stanford researchers. Brains on chips, stem cells to fight deafness, and brain imagery are some of the first up there. The talks aren’t condescending or vague, they’re aimed at “a bright and curious audience”, as the Mind Hacks blog post about them put it.