Thought You Should See This, March 23rd, 2012

This week I moderated a webinar about Embracing Complexity, filmed in Cambridge and starring our own Geoff Tuff, Brian Quinn and Amelia Dunlop. You have to sign up to see the whole thing, which I realize is a bore, but it’s here if you’re so inclined.

Also this week on my innovation/design-themed blog, Thought You Should See This:

The world was set on fire by the revelation that raconteur Mike Daisey had, well, fabricated some of the facts in his Apple/Foxconn piece that caused such a stir. This American Life devoted a program to a retraction of its hour-long show featuring Daisey’s allegations; the resulting chaos sparked much analysis of the very definition of truth. Which in itself seems like a pretty sorry state of affairs.

65% of all revenue generated in the App Store–roughly $2 billion–has come from free games that charge for extra goods. The Times has an analysis of “freemium.”

Microsoft Research analyst, Danah Boyd writes thoughtfully of the conviction of Dharun Ravi for hate crimes.

Props to GBN’s Andrew Blau for flagging this sweet video filmed from a dog’s-eye-view.

Erik Van Crimmin flagged this excellent post by Bryce Roberts: The Problem With Innovation. A must-read.

Amelia Dunlop flagged this story highlighting how General Motors is trying to get hip to young drivers — by hiring MTV’s in-house brand consultancy.

And finally, this short presentation by Rachel Botsman shows off some interesting examples of companies adhering to the philosophy of “collaborative consumption.”

Thought You Should See This, March 9th, 2012

This is a lovely presentation by Good Think CEO, Shawn Achor, on ways for us all to be happier in our lives and our work.

This week’s Thought You Should See This update:

Bentley unveiled its EXP 9F concept SUV at the Geneva Auto Show. Its attention to detail is phenomenal, but a car company releasing an upscale cross between a “business limousine” and “utility lifestyle vehicle”? Something doesn’t sit right.

Writer Janet Ginsburg pushed back at recent TED speaker (and X Prize head) Peter Diamandis. His latest shtick is focused on abundance and positivity. “Abundance for whom?” Ginsburg asked.

Those who’ve ever worried about an employer seeing something unsavory on Facebook have more reason to be worried, as government agencies and colleges are now simply asking applicants for their social network passwords. First Amendment rights, anyone?

Great Wall Street Journal story on General Electric’s new management philosophy: Go Deep, Not Wide.

Short video in which Clay Christensen breaks down his definition of disruptive innovation, a term that people love to bandy about but rarely seem to understand deeply.

We all need to read and understand this: the 118 page report, The Global Innovation Policy Index, just published by the IT and Innovation Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation.

Mercedes decided to promote its new fuel cell vehicle by making the car invisible. Cool video.

Thought You Should See This, February 24th, 2012

This week’s updates on my innovation/design-themed blog, Thought You Should See This:

Google introduced the concept of “heads-up display glasses” and people, predictably, freaked out. I was most taken with the apparent wide admission that there’s no business model for any of this. Yes, being too rigid too early is no way to innovate, and yes, flexibility and iteration are important, but given Google’s previous poor track record of figuring out how to monetize its inventions, it seems both predictable and somewhat unwise.

An Observer reporter who should know better wrote an uninformed rant about how designers are ruining the web. I responded.

As interest in Pinterest reaches the mass media, my colleague Erik Van Crimmin flagged an interesting piece on Fancy, an upscale competitor.

Graphic loveliness and design nerdery, for those into that kind of thing: designer Mike Joyce mixes his two loves — of punk rock and Swiss type — to create Swissted, a series of amazing posters.

Timely reminder of a great Bertrand Russell quote: “The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” The piece it was included in, a look at open innovation initiatives in government, is well worth a read too.

Another colleague, Peter Giorgio flagged this story about photographer Dennis Manarchy, who’s traveling around the U.S. with a 12 foot tall, 35 foot long, 8 foot wide camera. Craziness.

And finally, Doblin’s Audrey Clarke sent over this story about promoting space in which to think creatively. Apparently, *literally* thinking outside of a box can help. Bizarre, but also kind of great. (“Super Cool” cardboard box image, shown top, c/o Tuppus on Flickr.)

Thought You Should See This, February 17th, 2012

This week’s posts on Thought You Should See This, the innovation/design-themed blog I write, mainly for my colleagues at Doblin:

I had a piece published in Fast Company, sparked by the Interaction Awards, which I judged last year. My favorite quote came from the program’s co-chair, Jennifer Bove, who explained the importance of her discipline thusly: “Behavior isn’t explicit in computer chips; interaction designers are the people who understand how to make things work.” In the piece, I outlined four interaction design trends we’ll likely see more of in the near future, while there’s a bunch of interesting videos to watch, too.

The Boneyard Project is an *amazing* sounding show currently on at the PIMA Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, featuring World War II airplane wrecks customized by various street artists. (Eric White’s nosecone shown above. See the post for his equally wonderful insight into the creative process.)

Nike has made a commitment to remove water from its apparel dying process. This is a huge deal, while the Nike VP in charge of the program also gave insight into the internal challenge of trying to change the status quo.

Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” sculpture in Chicago gets a temporary night-time makeover with a new digital installation.

McDonald’s promises to make its pork suppliers provide plans to phase out pig gestation crates by May. Yes, that wording is a little hinky.

By now, everyone has surely read and dissected Jonah Lehrer’s New Yorker piece on brainstorming and ways to promote creative thinking, Groupthink. So I won’t add much but to say it’s a must-read for anyone charged with working on big thorny problems or how to manage collaborative creativity.

Finally, a wonderful story detailing Stanley Kubrick’s obsessive approach to film-making, which the director believed was “an exercise in problem-solving”. This article explains how his focus actually led to the development of Variety magazine’s box-office reports.

Thought You Should See This, February 10th, 2012

Mixed bag last week on Thought You Should See This, the innovation/design-flavored blog I write. It featured everything from cute ads to terrifying robots to the wonderful interactive piece, above, created by Greek multimedia artist, Petros Vrellis as an homage to Vincent van Gogh painting “Starry Night.”

Also last week on Thought You Should See This:

The Digital Trends headline summed up this video perfectly: Swarm of Little Flying Robots Is Amazing (Terrifying).

Teen Vogue editor-in-chief, Amy Astley shared some management advice for dealing with creative types. I used this as an excuse to bemoan the continued lack of accepted metrics for design (as seen in the Catalyst Awards, which I just judged.)

The Superbowl happened, and along with it its ads. I loved the M&M’s ad, while I also loved some of the response to Clint Eastwood’s growly Chevy spot, summed up by one writer as: “The world is a frightening place, so do your duty, buy a car. Someone get me a lozenge.”

New York Times architecture critic, Michael Kimmelman wrote plainly, “It’s time to address the calamity that is Penn Station.” Anyone who has ever experienced Penn Station at any time of the day or night, ever, stood up and cheered.

Big week for crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, which saw two million dollar projects take place. I caught one, for an independent video game, when it was at the $650k mark, and mused about what this means for the “traditional” economy

Former I.D. magazine editor, Ralph Caplan had some pithy things to say about editing and filtering, the difference — and their respective importance.

Thought You Should See This, February 3rd, 2012

This week’s Thought You Should See This update, for my friends at Doblin:

For all that it’s been picked apart by the vultures of the world’s press, Facebook filing its S-1 pre-IPO surely has to take top billing this week. The document itself is well worth a read, for its insight into the goings on at the social networking giant. Meanwhile, there’s something about its internal terminology — “DAU”s and “MAU”s (for “daily active users” and “monthly active users”) that’s strangely disconcerting and, well, unsocial. (Image above shown c/o Facebook designer, Everett Katigbak, about whom I’ve written before.)

There’s a significant, noteworthy gap between the way lawmakers think and the way chief executives approach their business, according to New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman.

The NYT’s David Carr looked at the success of the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, which helped finance 17 films on view at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival—a whopping ten percent of the festival’s entire slate.

Forbes writer David Whelan outlined a proposal to deal with the problematic disconnect between prescriber (doctor/professor) and supplier (textbook publisher/pharmaceutical manufacturer.) 

Michael Pusateri explained why he won’t be attending South by Southwest Interactive festival this year, and he neatly and usefully breaks down how to think about conferences.

Karrie Jacobs wrote a profile of SOL Austin, “an ambitious attempt to upend the conventions of the American subdivision”–mainly through the use of sustainable architecture and design.

An interview with GM China president and managing director, Kevin Wale, led to his assertion that “the Chinese have an innovative way of doing innovation, something that the rest of the world is struggling to understand”–and quite a lot of backlash.

Gaming writer and critic, Ian Bogost decried the surge in interest in “gamification” while I decried the use of made-up words in so many parts of our lives.

Valentine’s Day is coming, and if you’re stuck for something to get your significant other, you could do worse than emulate this guy, who made a heart-meltingly sweet gift for his wife and filmed the process as an ad for his employer, Field Notes.

Rather less schmaltzy, but nonetheless totally fascinating: a 50 minute video interview with leading neuroscientist, David Eagleman. Insights galore, and well worth taking the time to watch.

Thought You Should See This, January 27th, 2012

Last week’s Thought You Should See This update, for my friends at Doblin:

Doblin’s Brian Quinn gets top billing this week, for his excellent article in Fast Company, “Is Innovation Too Messy To Be Managed and Taught? Hardly.” It’s a super piece that takes a measured look at the value of the innovation practice. Do take a look.

Nerd out over old pictures of Manhattan, on show at a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. Union Square and Columbus Circle as you’ve never seen them before (nor ever will again.)

One of the weirder stories of the week was the revelation that Disney, a key supporter of SOPA and PIPA, was selling a T-shirt with graphic “inspired by” Peter Saville’s iconic image for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures (above). Cue hysteria (the T-shirt has now been withdrawn from sale.)

Couple of cute videos to watch when you have a minute: a charming homage to the practice of reading a book; and Shynola’s thought-provoking, beautifully shot video for Coldplay song, Paradise.

Interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal, documenting the fledgling practice for companies to overlook the need for a resume in favor of a more Web-savvy style job application.

Dr Chrono is another entry into the world of electronic health records. With funding from various Silicon Valley bigwigs, it’s worth checking out.

This detailed report in the New York Times about Apple’s business practices within its factories in China makes for chilling reading. (Also, do listen to a This American Life episode on the same topic.)

Lovely piece on new architectural finds in Turkey. Some might argue that I picked up on this story solely so I could share one of my favorite pictures from last summer’s Istanbul vacation. And truth be known, they might have a point. But it’s also a glimpse of the truly painstaking nature of this type of work and the reminder that, doubtless, nothing we look at is truly what it seems

Finally, General Electric CMO Beth Comstock was logging video reports from the World Economic Forum in Davos. As you might imagine, she had some interesting insights into how leading executives and politicians are thinking about innovation.

Thought You Should See This, January 20th, 2012

This week’s Thought You Should See This update, for my friends at Doblin:

Doblin’s fearless leader, Larry Keeley, gets top billing this week, for a fortuitously timed piece on Kodak’s demise. (The piece was published in Fortune the day before the Rochester giant filed for bankruptcy protection.) The Kodak Lie digs into the organization’s deeper innovation failings, so be sure and read it.

Fortune writer, Adam Lashinsky, has a forthcoming book on real life at Apple, which looks like it’ll be well worth the read. I picked up on Bob Sutton’s favorable review, which took a close look at the section detailing the company’s organizational structure.

Super old school video of designer Herb Lubalin detailing the story of the evolution of the PBS logo. Great look at the designer/client relationship–and the often fraught branding design process.

British design critic, Rick Poynor assessed ongoing tension between design and management, a continued issue for anyone looking to build any kind of design presence in the world’s C-suites.

“Do what you love. It’s going to lead to where you want to go.” Creative genius, Wayne White, will be immortalized in the upcoming biopic, Beauty is Embarrassing, which will premiere in March at this year’s South by South West Film Festival. Watch the trailer and swoon.

I went on a bit of a SOPA/PIPA frenzy, capturing multiple perspectives, including Clay Shirky’s clear description of how we got where we are. Then I decided to immortalize the day-long, web-wide protest itself (Google’s blacked out home page shown, top.) So I asked six designers to subject the protests to a design critique, and then tried to extrapolate their thoughts to see what this said about the companies’ approach to design. A stretch, perhaps, but I do believe a serious point was made among the fun. (And seriously, some of the critiques are geniusly funny.)

Nike launched the Fuelband, its way to expand the popularity of its Nike+ platform to the less obviously sporty among us. I wondered what executives at Fitbit, a startup with a similar idea but rather less funds, must be thinking right now.

In a great example of the iteration that’s so vital to the innovation process, Burt Herman explains the evolution of Storify, a site designed to “create engaging social stories.”

Thought You Should See This, January 13th, 2012

This week’s Thought You Should See This update:

Be confused about what year it is, when you read about Lou Reed and John Cale of the Velvet Underground suing the Andy Warhol Foundation over the use of *that* banana image (above.)

This super-provocative piece about educational data-mining, Colleges Mine Data To Tailor Students’ Experience, raises as many questions as it answers, and is well worth a read.

Watch an amazing video about “realtime gesture recognition with contact microphones.” No, really. Watch it.

Think about design and… smell, and read about a series of “smell-walks” being held around the world in order to challenge participants to think about environments according to multiple senses, not just the obvious ones.

Challenge your perceptions of the state of the Japanese economy by reading this fascinating piece about The Myth of Japan’s Failure.

Consider the antipathy faced by legislators, litigators and lobbyists when it comes to thinking about innovation. In a great piece about the movie industry and the Stop Online Piracy Act, entrepreneur Steve Blank breaks it down in simple, if acidic, terms.

Be glad you didn’t have to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Laugh at the account of the Gizmodo reporter who did.

Consider the mis-application of design trends–and their potentially fatal consequences, by reading this Jalopnik piece looking at the integration of touchscreen technology into car dashboards.

Marvel at the polymathic wizardry of Dr Eric Lander, profiled in a New York Times piece that details his journey from math genius to human genome-finding pioneer to founding director of The Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT.

Enjoy a rant about Google’s introduction of “Search, Plus Your World.” “Google just broke its search engine,” writes Slate’s Farhad Manjoo. Do you agree?

Thought You Should See This, January 6th, 2012

Whoops. Forgot to post this last week. Kind of a bumper round-up of Thought You Should See This links to kick off the year:

Why Best Buy Is Going Out Of Business… Gradually, a *scathing* piece in Forbes about the failings of executives at the big box retailer.

How a Few Bad Apples Ruin Everything is a great piece by management professor, Bob Sutton, who makes an important point: “Superstars get a lot of attention from bosses. But bad apples deserve even more.”

Smart piece in The Economist looking at the hypothesis of my former BusinessWeek colleague, Mike Mandel, that today’s economy favors big companies rather than small ones. The arguments both for and against the idea are important for anyone thinking about innovation.

The Touchy-Feely Future of Technology is a super package from NPR that digs into the background, development and impact of tablet computers and touch technology.

RIP, Sori Yanagi, pioneer of Japanese industrial design, who died in Tokyo, aged 96. (Magazine spread showing his beautiful work shown, above, c/o soriyanagi.com.) Also, I didn’t note but definitely should have done: the amazing ceramicist Eva Zeisel also died, aged 105.

2012 predictions already seem so, well, last year, but one of writer Daniel Pink’s might come true sooner rather than later. He predicted the demise of two of Groupon, Newsweek and Kodak by yearend. Things sure aren’t looking good for the latter.

Mother Jones ran a horrific story detailing The FDA’s Christmas Present for Factory Farms. In a nutshell, the FDA has decided not to pursue its decades-long quest to limit the routine use of antibiotics on animal farms, ruling instead that now it will support voluntary reform. This made me grumpy.

2011 reportedly had the lowest movie-going audiences since 1995. In I’ll Tell You Why Movie Revenue is Dropping, Roger Ebert explains why.

Writer and “optimistic doomer”, John Thackara chats about the crisis (and opportunities) facing the design industry–and has a particularly useful breakdown/definition of social innovation.

IBM’s now-former CEO, Sam Palmisano shared his framework of four important “why” questions to ask at every moment.