Giles Lane invited me to lead one of the days in the series of hands-on explorations called “City as Material” which resulted in Layered being published. I came into the Proboscis offices a few weeks later and decided to revise the Deep City talk I’d given at the Microsoft Social Symposium and put those thoughts down into a little e-book. Download and enjoy!
Archive for the ‘designswarm’ Category
As the mass exodus to Pinboard takes place in the wake of the almost announcement of “sun-setting” del.icio.us, I had a real long thought about these bookmarking sites and exported by bookmarks from delicious in order to look at all of it. I found stuff I hadn’t looked at in ages. Some of it made me smile. Like opening a box of photographs.
- I used to use online bookmarking a LOT more in 2006.
- Bookmarks, for me, are about forgetting, but knowing where to forget.
- For me, there’s nothing social about bookmarking, it’s mostly deeply personal, but I’m glad other people used the same platform. When people would blog their del.icio.us bookmarks, I knew what that meant. I’ve never followed anyone else’s bookmarks, but I clicked on what people linked to.
- I cannot find it in me to sign up to new things like it’s 2007. I’m done being social online.
So I decided to hold on to the 1073 days of using del.icio.us and make a thing. I called it mybookmarks.
It’s a sort of archive, as we near 2011 and as a way to tell when I was most active, and what I was interested in. It’s like my Twitter profile, but just with my bookmarks and my comments, sorted by year. It’s for me, hosted by me, not going anywhere, not being sunset, just sitting there quietly being useful. It makes me happy. So there.
Bookmarks are dead, long live bookmarks.
(It also probably doesn’t work on anything other than my version of Safari, sorry.)
Celebrating nearly 2 years as the CEO of a small and dynamic interaction design company I thought I’d collate some thoughts on starting up your own company in interaction design as this be useful for someone out there.
- SHOW ME THE MONEY
Money is important. When you start your own company, (i’m talking normal company here and not web2.0. There is no angel, VC or other convenient fluffy forms of funding here) you’ll realise how much cash flow rules your world and every decision you will ever make. Want to do r&d? Where’s the money coming from? Want to make stickers, buy a printer, pay people? Where’s the money coming from? Get an accountant fast and get one who cares about your business. If you’re around 10 people, get a part-time CFO, just a few days a month will do, you’ll need someone to be the bad cop with money, otherwise, you’ll end up spending your days chasing after people.
- EDUCATE & LEARN
Don’t fool yourself, the types of people who understand what you do are few and far between. You will spend 80% of your time explaining to people what you do and trying to make that come to life for them. Be prepared. The fact that there are over 50 schools around the world that teach interaction design and physical computing does NOT mean that there is an established industry to settle in. You’re the weird kid on the block. Hang out with people from the advertising industry, they will teach you a lot. Learn about what people who are high up in companies need to hear and what their comfort level is. Make yourself understandable and flexible enough to not seem too risky or threatening. Otherwise, people won’t know what to do with you.
- FORGET CHILDREN
When you start a company, it becomes part of you in (i’m assuming) the same way a child does. Weekends are a write-off, you’ll work every evening and time “away” will be hard as you try to grow a business that eventually doesn’t need you to feed it everyday. That will take years. I’m not there yet.
- DON’T GET BORED
Never forget what motivated you to do this, if you start sounding “bored”, then you’re doing something wrong, stop right now and get a regular job.
- PEOPLE MATTER
I’m blessed to be surrounded with the absolute most wonderful, talented, creative, weird people I could imagine. You’ll spend more time with these people than with your significant other, so choose them well and build a team you can rely on. This will be crucial when times get rough and you’re running out of steam.
- CHOOSE YOUR CLIENTS
Having a good relationship with our clients will matter A LOT. Choose them as carefully as you would choose a girlfriend/boyfriend and remember that good business is when there is a benefit for both parties. If you’re being bullied, something’s gone wrong.
- CREATIVITY TAKES A BACK SEAT
As a creative person, if you decided to be at the head of a company, you’ll have to quickly accept the fact that your creativity will only be required 5% of the time. The rest, you will spend paying bills, meeting clients, handling invoices, sending reminders, arranging meetings, going to conferences and other things that will inject life into your business. I spend more time on Powerpoint, Excel and Word than I do using any creative suite. It’s part of the game, and you’ll learn to enjoy it. It makes the creative times that much more intense and precious.
So there. I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but I these are probably the most important things I can think I’ve learnt in the past 2 years.
I dusted this off of the old Ivrea archives and thought of posting it as the plethora of mapping services and geo locative stuff these days still doesn’t seem to have addressed some of the thoughts that Didier and I were having over the spring of 2005.
The idea was simple: if you’re a tourist, you want to build your own map of the city based on your experience and the experiences of people you’re more likely to agree with. Who are those people? Maybe they’re friends, but most likely they’re strangers…how old are they? I’m probably less likely to agree with what a 20 year old finds cool in terms of restaurants than someone in their 30s. Are there any cool events in town that people have taken pics of? What is near me? What is far away? How could I be excited about seeing something based on random pictures taken today or yesterday? What do people mean when they mean Soho or Greenwich? What are the limits of that space? Can I build my own map? My own experience?
Of course at the time, we thought you’d have a “tag” in different venues that would have signed up to a listing service and for each place I tagged, I’d simply swipe my card over this tag….all thoughts rendered useless with the iPhone. The rest are still a set of ideas that are valid and I hope someone explores them further.
PS: All design was made by Didier Hilhost, CSS guru extraordinaire, I worked on the concept idea and wireframes.
I’ve been invited to lead a sort of online discussion for the near-graduation 4th year students of the BA in Industrial design in Montreal. I was in their position in 2004 which seems like so ages ago and I remember the feeling. I felt like I was sortof on the brink of an abyss, the maternal warm womb of school finally letting go of me on the cold asphalt of reality, bills, student loans, rent to pay and generally not much hope for an industry that barely exists in Québec.
When I graduated in 2004, our class was 72 students. Most of them never got a job in design, only 2-3 of us went on to graduate school.
This year, the same course will have 12 graduates. I wonder who has adapted?
So I figured I’d post up some topics of discussions here since I’ve been asked to talk about “design and business”.
- We were told in 2004 that only 10% of us will go into design as a career. What do you think your chances are now?
- If you want to start a business, what will it be? What will be your USP?
- How important do you think the internet is to your future career?
- What do you think makes a good business person? Guts or reason?
- How many jobs do you think you’ll have in your career?
- Being your own boss? What do you think are the advantages/disadvantages?
- Working abroad: do you think its essential? what do you think about Québec as a market for your skills?
I look forward to the conversations very much, maybe I’ll get to see a mirror image of myself when I was young and innocent as Massimo says. :)
This is my response in the form of imagery and conversations taking place in 2050.
1. An afternoon at the Science Museum
- So this is it?
- Yeh, I know, what a hike for so little.
- So, ok, when is this supposed to be from?
- Hmm, 2006 I think.
- And people lived like this? In such small spaces? With walls? No windows? No doors.
- Yeh…well I think.
- I know, crazy huh?
- Totally, I mean look at those plants.
- Don’t see those anymore.
- I wonder how lucky they thought themselves to be.
- Well, clearly not, look at what happened after.
- Yeh, I know…Fuckwits.
2. Waiting in line
- So…how long have you been waiting here?
- Hmm, 3 days now I think. Hard to tell, I doze off periodically. You?
- A week I think.
- I wonder when those guys will get out?
- Well they’ve been in there for 20 hours or so, the next ones will be up shortly.
- What do you suppose is in there anyway? I mean the rumors are pretty wild.
- Yeh I hear there’s turn of the century cultery in there with, like, real fruits and vegetables. Or, well, what they could artifically make up.
- Yeh pineapple and crumpets… I hear there’s real wooden furniture, and paper books. You can have a lie down and read.
- What’s a lie down?
- Not sure, but I heard that’s what people did back then.
- I can’t wait.
After Open Sauces in November, I got interested in food again, especially the way food is presented and communicated in the context of supermarkets. There’s something deeply depressing about the presentation of fruits and veg in the UK and there is also something cultural about that presentation. When I lived in Italy, access to certain vegetables was nearly impossible. In the UK, some of my American friends can never find the right types of chilis. In a way, global is a term more easily referring to people than our food, and I consider that a good thing.
Following on from that, I wanted to get back to the essence of what food was before it reaches our markets or our local corner shop. There used to be a simple understanding not only about where food came from, but how it actually grew and how it was harvested.
2 ideas surfaced: New guerrila food labels and a new way of displaying fruits and vegetables. In a day I managed to make the first one happen, the second one I would need a partner company to try this out. If you own a cool organic fruit and veg store or stall in London please get in touch!
I thought I’d design a simple food label that would come on top of existing labels, something you could keep if you wanted to that would give you at least 4 pieces of information you didn’t know.
1. What the name of the item is, and its latin name. Why? I thought it was odd we’re quite willing to learn about plants and flowers in this way and not everyday items. Is it because they’re not posh enough?
2. What the item looks like “in nature” or in its more natural environment, with roots, leaves, the whole lot. The idea is to show how it looks before it’s been cleaned up for public display. We often may forget that some thing grow under the earth or on its surface, as a fruit in a tree or hanging from plants. Zuccini for example, is more or less and un-ripened pumpkin that is picked early enough for it to still be soft. Its the same family as the cucumber, but people don’t usually eat it raw.
3. When and where it was discovered. Fruits and vegetables don’t carry history with them, but it’s fascinating what you’ll find out about how Ancient Egyptians treated the onion.
4. Any other piece of random information or history. I wanted to make sure to pique someone’s interest enough that they’d want to know more or keep the label. I found out that the asparagus plant is protected by the tomato plant from insects for example.
All pictures of the project are on Flickr and were professionally executed by Matt Biddulph :)
It’s Christmas day and I have a massive headache, maybe from the sudden jolt of relaxation that this period of the year brings to me, irrevocably. It’s the time of the year where I’m forced into sudden reflexion about the year that has gone by, and pushed by my birthday a few days ago, forced to think about how old I am and how things are changing. Of all those thoughts, some are happy, some are sad, all of them mixing to become the color of Christmas: a dark brown with shadows of wild red, like a never ending sunset on a stormy night.
Merry Christmas everyone and may your new year be full of the innocence of laughter, the comfort of friends and family and the thrill of new adventures.
On Wednesday I’ll be in Berlin for my keynote (yikes!!) at Web2.0 Expo Berlin and on Thursday I’ll be in Amsterdam to speak about hybrid toys at Mediamatic. If anyone is up for drinks, dinner, coffee, whatever…ping me! I love both cities and unfortunately don’t get to spend enough time there, so would be great to see you!
I just came back from the Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium 2008in Seattle which in the end I enjoyed enormously. I say in the end, because at the beginning I didn’t get it. This is only my second American conference and I’m learning that the flavor of these kinds of events is definitely different in Europe. I think I got it though.
The key difference is: the content doesn’t matter, the people do. In Europe, its definitely about what the theme is, what people say, if they’re smart or not, if things said are innovative or not etc. The content will act as a starter for conversations. In the US, its not that the content doesn’t matter, but it’s not necessarily the key focus or starting point to a good conversation. During the entire 2 days, people were on the backchannel commenting, bitching and connecting while someone presented. It sometimes felt like noone was listening. I was stupid enough not to join, I might have met more interesting people that way.
In anycase, content-wise here are some remarks:
- Social Objects revisited talk by Jyri was fantastic.
- It’s interesting to see the expression “social objects” be taken literally by “the internet of things” crowd. Much like “product design”, it shows that material-based metaphors are still handy even when you work on the web.
- Second Life is dead to most designers and geeks but very much alive for most researchers and academics
- 18 year olds in wealthy neighbourhoods are as scary and dependent on technology as we are.
- Jesse Alexander has the best job in the world
- Location-based services haven’t gotten any more exciting for me, I’m still waiting for the killer app.
- Academics have their own secret language and it was interesting to dive into that world for 2 days.