Thought You Should See This, April 6th, 2012

This week’s Thought You Should See This update, the innovation/design-themed blog I write:

The Wired UK profile of LinkedIn CEO, Reid Hoffman is a super interesting read, and strikes me as a classic case in which smart design could make a real difference and fast.

The Economist came out with a good story monitoring the ongoing trend of “reverse” innovation, with some new examples to freshen up those that have perhaps done the rounds a little too long.

When The Jobs Inspector Calls looks at supply chain issues for large multinational companies making the bulk of their products in developing markets such as China or south-east Asia. Focused mainly on, surprise surprise, Apple, the piece also looks at practices by the likes of Nike, and does a good job of illustrating the complexity of the issue.

In an excellent piece, Google Ventures partner, Braden Kowitz, outlines his process for managing the complexity inherent in interaction design projects, and describes how he has moved away from a screen-based approach to one that focuses on narrative and storytelling.

Why China Lags on Innovation and Creativity is an interesting take from Richard Florida on why, despite its tremendous advances as a global economic power, it will take China at least 20 years before it becomes an innovation powerhouse.

Google CEO, Larry Page sounds off about innovation and patent-trolling in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. Doesn’t really share too much you didn’t already know, though I confess I enjoyed reading his barely veiled digs at competitors such Facebook, of which he says: “Our friends at Facebook have imported many, many, many Gmail addresses and exported zero addresses. And they claim that users don’t own that data, which is a totally specious claim. It’s completely unreasonable.” Our friends, my foot.

Apropos of really nothing, there’s a magical Q&A with Pedro Guerrero in Architect magazine. The 95 year old was the longtime photographer of the work and life of both Frank Lloyd Wright and Alexander Calder, and his stories are tender, wry and insightful.

Google launches its Project Glass concept, and everyone gets suitably frothy. I particularly liked this re-edited “Ad-mented” version of the video (top), which includes that oh-so crucial feature so many of these concept films seem to forget… the revenue stream.

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Thought You Should See This, March 30th, 2012

This week on Thought You Should See This:

Erik Kiaer’s essay “It’s the Experience, Stupid!” is featured in a new book, Innopreneur. Don’t let the title put you off: the book includes essays from a host of deep thinkers, and is well worth a look.

Michael Kimmelman visits a housing project in Sevran, a Paris suburb, to see how architects have retrofitted the former eyesore into “an exemplary landmark.”

Google celebrated the 126th birthday of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with a tribute on its home page featuring Crown Hall, a building he designed at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Guardian writer, Steve Rose takes a spin through the history books to ask a simple question: what would Mies have had to say about today’s design landscape?

A new exhibition of British postwar design on show at the V&A museum in London asks a provocative question: “How did we get from a broadly civic, welfare-minded postwar design culture to 21st century design industries whose essential purpose is to make as much money as possible?”

Google’s Big Data group co-lead, Martin Wattenberg, released a beautiful interactive visualization of the wind flow around the United States, based on wind data from the National Digital Forecast Database. (Screenshot shown, top.)

A clever interactive infographic created by Kiln for The Guardian allows readers to get a clear sense of global carbon emissions.

Great video on Fast Company Exist shows the inexorable, decades-long sprawl of Las Vegas via timelapse footage, compiled from NASA’s Landsat satellites.

Help Remedies has teamed up with the bone marrow donor center, DKMS, to provide donor registry kits inside of packs of band aids. It created a remarkably strange video as promotion. (Thanks to Jaci Pearse for the heads up!)

The Financial Times converted Grand Central Station into a branded interactive installation, and opened the “Graphic World” site to dig beneath the data.

Samsung created a promotional film in which they mapped projections onto a human face. Super slick.

In Gold We Trust: The Future of Money in an Age of Uncertainty is a new book from The Economist. This promo video poses the thought-provoking question: “Are we on the verge of a revolution in the technology we call money?”

And finally, I seem to have got into what can only be described as a heated debate. Last weekend, I gave a keynote speech at the Information Architecture Summit in New Orleans. Asked to put the field into some perspective, I caused a bit of a ruckus by suggesting that the linguistic disconnect between IA and the business world is a serious problem that benefits neither. This week, I got into a similar discussion online, with designer Jon Kolko, this time sparked by a Michael Bierut-penned piece arguing that cultural illiteracy among designers is profoundly troubling. Fun–and thought-provoking.

Thought You Should See This, March 16th, 2012

Main excitement of the week was the refresh of Doblin‘s own website. But Larry Keeley also stepped up with a lovely piece featuring his ideas for reinventing participative democracy.

Also this week on Thought You Should See This:

A good, short interview with Apple’s head design honcho, Sir Jonathan Ive, reveals his thoughtful analysis the design process.

Commentary on a video by Invisible Children that has earned critics and over 75 million views on YouTube. Other commentary on a wheeze at South by Southwest involving using homeless people as wifi hotspots. All in a piece entitled Good Intentions and Unintended Consequences.

Greg Smith set off a bomb as he quits Goldman Sachs: “It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.”

James Whittaker explains why he quit Google for Microsoft: “The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.”

IBM announced the “Holey Optochip” (top), the first parallel optical transceiver to transfer one trillion bits–one terabit–of information per second.

Google Made Me Late. Twice.

What’s wrong with this picture, an accurate looking, detailed snapshot of a Google Map of a perfectly charming neighborhood in Manhattan? Let me tell you. It isn’t accurate. The subway information is wrong. And how do I know this? Because I trusted it was correct and ended up whizzing right past Christopher Street on the 2 train and having to do the panic-stricken reverse local train ride of shame familiar to anyone who’s ever taken the subway in NYC.

Now I’m perfectly prepared to admit that I am often directionally and public transitly challenged. That is *precisely* why I still consult a map, eight years after moving to live here. But this is the second time this has happened to me in recent weeks. I had ended up being wildly, mortifyingly late to hear Jake Barton talk about his work on the National September 11 Memorial Museum. That time, again after consulting Google Maps, I took the N train to City Hall, only to end up chugging over the bridge into Brooklyn. And that time I thought I must have simply read the map wrong or that perhaps recent changes to the line had made things screwy.

But this latest incident sent me back to check. And sure enough, Google has the N train serving City Hall. The MTA does not.

Now, I know, I know. It’s a free service and it’s really amazing and Google Earth is fantastic and look, I can see the house I grew up in and I’m sure there’s some perfectly reasonable explanation for the error. But I am a picky, demanding, unforgiving 21st century type, and now I’m suspicious of Google Maps and I suspect that their accurate-seeming information is actually baloney. And as we all know, trust is the currency of the age and once it’s gone it’s ever so hard to win back. So, dear Google. Don’t make me frown at you and wonder if you mean what you say. Please fix your map and don’t make me late again.