Archive for the ‘quote of the moment’ Category

Transmedia & Convergence Culture

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

from on .

Last week I spent some quality time researching and learning more about the concepts of transmedia storytelling and convergence as it relates to marketing, advertising, and content authenticity. I came across this video of , the director of MIT’s Comparative Media program and author of , and in it he succinctly explains the impact of transmedia on our culture, and ultimately on how we engage/create/distribute information. Essentially, the convergence of technologies and cultures is creating a new media landscape. Jenkins not so subtly relates that we are at a paradigmatic moment, one where an old form of media is dying at the hands of the new. To his point, the old media is one where storytelling has been held and controlled by big corporations who leverage arcane revenue models for distribution, and the challenge from new media is by contrast diffuse, networked, and empowering of the individual and democratizing of the story. This is happening in news, advertising, movies… it is happening everywhere. I love this stuff, this change happening right before our eyes. The video is brief, but dense with ideas and articulation. Jenkins is also great at putting some memorable statements out there. Like this one:

“George Orwell imagined a world where Big Brother is watching us. We, instead, with little cellphone cameras are watching Big Brother every moment of the day.”

Henry Jenkins, Director of Comparative Media Studies at MIT

Data: Seduction and Sculpture

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

View more from .

Above is an incredibly interesting presentation from Matt Jones of . In it, Matt digs into the opportunities presented by the growing river of data presented to us by the abundance of devices now ubiquitous in our world that do nothing but monitor, collect, and regurgitate endless streams of data. Making use of this data, and making it useful, is an increasingly necessary skill. This reality would coincide with the gathering momentum around data visualization, and the incredibly creative ways in which designers are beginning to represent the seemingly mundane with graphics that both engage and elucidate. Some are referring to this as “data sculpting”:

“Can we explore Data as a seductive material in the same way as stone, wood, metal can be used for beautty as well as structure and commodity?

What happens if we look at Data through lenses comprised of the sorts of properties we find in precious, seductive physical materials?”

Matt Johnson of Dopplr

Originally came across this series of slides at , the killer blog of Neil Perkin.

More Talk on The Demise of Advertising…

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

ifyoutalkedtopeople111-thumb

It’s fun to talk about the death of advertising (or anything perceived to be old, unchanging and stodgy), and everybody seems to be doing it. It’s true that advertising faces serious challenges. And yet, advertising’s not going away any time soon, if at all, though it is going through pretty interesting changes. Some of these are driven by technology, and others driven by the changed habits of consumers… which may also be driven by technology. But isn’t everything right now? It would seem that creative destruction has been unleashed on a broad range of industries for a dizzying diverse number of reasons. A common and consistent reason for this, though, is forgetting who your customer is and what they want. This would be despite the array of incredible tools now at our disposal to make this an incredibly easy thing to do, to stay connected to our customers. This is doubly true for advertising, and the cartoon above from Hugh McLeod (a favorite of mine), sums this up rather nicely. Add to this the very interesting presentation below from :

View more from .

From the slides above, a prescient quote from Jim Stengal, Global Marketing Officer at P&G, from last year:

“Today’s marketing model is broken. We’re applying antiquated thinking and work systems to a new world of possibilities.”

Actually, , CEO of , just wrote a nice article for AdWeek, , that gets to the heart of this. In it, Tim says:

“There will, of course, continue to be times and places where iconic, one-way messaging make sense — like bringing out the fine china for a special meal. But these instances (e.g., the Super Bowl), are increasingly rare and increasingly expensive. The real challenge facing one-way, brand-centric, non-conversational advertising is its focus on making the perfect presentation. The perfection model benefitted from very limited media outlets. Advertisers essentially spent money to guarantee craft, which theoretically helped a message stand out amidst the clutter. That formula had limits. Until now, marketing tools have existed in just two dimensions — words and images — sometimes in motion, sometimes with audio, always focused in a singular direction at the consumer.

Then someone invented the Internet. And Search. Quite suddenly, brands were no longer solely in power. The audience is in control. Media fragments. Most important, words and images are joined by a third dimension — technology — and now the marketplace flows in two directions instead of one.”

I happen to know of more than a few marketing/advertising firms that understand the terrain on which they navigate. As a result they happen to be doing quite well.

Connecting The Dots of Design Strategy

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

from on .

An excellent overview of one firm’s perspective on effective design strategy, and the value of design to the challenges facing business as we work to identify valuable ideas and pursue opportunity. Coincidentally, I first found this video last week while I was in Palo Alto visiting with IDEO and Steelcase on essentially the same subject, to learn more about their methodologies for user centered research and how that research is realized through smart, informed design strategy.

Which Way is Up? There is No Up.

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

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Ahhhh… Optimism! The Future is Shiny.

Siting a recent , at HarvardBusiness.org optimistically offers that we may be close to the “bottom” of this economic crisis, and that we should prepare for the upturn. The operative word there is “may”. Actually, he qualifies this by saying whether or not we are approaching bottom, now is the best time to begin planning for an eventual upturn:

“Living through a downturn is not a process of grinning and bearing it; it is a matter of working the objectives toward your goals as well as planning for the good times that will occur someday. And if your organization does succumb, you will have learned valuable lessons that can be applied to future leadership roles.”

John Baldoni

Bottom? There’s No Bottom.

Then there’s the harsh reality offered by , that in the best case is merely the opposite end of optimism. Soros proclaims that the global economic crisis we are immersed in likely has no “bottom”, and therefore no signpost for signaling a return to happy times, and that this crisis is actually more severe than that experienced during the Great Depression, and analogous to the demise of the Soviet Union. He also offers this cheer:

“We witnessed the collapse of the financial system. It was placed on life support, and it’s still on life support. There’s no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom.”

George Soros

Collapse 2.0

Soros went there, drawing a connection between our situation and the demise of the Soviet Union. In a massively interesting presentation from way back in 2006, “Closing The Collapse Gap”, tries to make the case that this is so, and recommends that we look to the unwinding of the Soviet Union for insights into the imminent collapse of the United States. Orlov’s perspective on this analogy:

“I anticipate that some people will react rather badly to having their country compared to the USSR. I would like to assure you that the Soviet people would have reacted similarly, had the United States collapsed first. Feelings aside, here are two 20th century superpowers, who wanted more or less the same things – things like technological progress, economic growth, full employment, and world domination – but they disagreed about the methods. And they obtained similar results – each had a good run, intimidated the whole planet, and kept the other scared. Each eventually went bankrupt.”

And this dark insight:

“Economic collapse is about the worst possible time for someone to suffer a nervous breakdown, yet this is what often happens. The people who are most at risk psychologically are successful middle-aged men. When their career is suddenly over, their savings are gone, and their property worthless, much of their sense of self-worth is gone as well. They tend to drink themselves to death and commit suicide in disproportionate numbers. Since they tend to be the most experienced and capable people, this is a staggering loss to society.”

Dmitry Orlov

Nothing like predictions of nervous breakdowns, rampant alcoholism, and mass suicide to instill confidence in us as we face these challenges. Given the range and diversity in opinions regarding the financial crisis I think it would be a safe bet to assume that everyone is both right, and wrong, and that nobody has a clear idea on how exactly to fix this mess. My advice?  Get busy and plan for both the bad and the good.

Thanks to @andrewkorf for pointing me to the Soros and Orlov articles.

Umair Haque’s Smart Growth Manifesto

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

umair-haque

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been pointed several times to check out the perspective of Umair Haque, pictured above, on his blog at (a big thanks to ). Umair is Director of the , as well as founder of , both worth checking out. He’s written several articles that are required reading, but it was his piece, , that was a kick in the head for me. This is because it wraps together so many of the changes we are seeing in our society, culture, economy, and business in ways that relate these changes to each other, and their relevance to our own business and the economy at large. Umair makes the point that the situation we confront today demands a rebooting of capitalism, and a departure from the now irrelevant capitalist growth principles of the post-WWII economy. He calls the post-WWII economy “capitalsim 1.0″, and you know where that’s gotten us.  So, we face a rebooting of capitalism, and this reboot is itself being driven by the reality that interaction, and subsequently community formation, has exploded in exponential ways and fundamentally changed the way we form institutions, and in the ways we exert influence and can inform growth. Despite the efforts of governments, companies, media, and everybody, there will not be a return to situation normal as we knew it before, to capitalism 1.0. Whether we know it or not we’ve just jumped off a cliff together, and some get this and others don’t. This is the chasm that now exists between relevancy and irrelevancy in the global economy today, explained simply as the difference between old ways of thinking and new ways of thinking. New principles have changed capitalism and how we compete, and are themselves formed from this revolution in interaction. Think about your own business, and how the concepts of strategy, competition, and creativity have altered the ways in which you work, compete, and engage. This has happened in a very short period of time. Haque refers to this change, to capitalism 2.0, as , and provides more detail in a talk he gave recently.

It’s from these principles we get Haque’s four pillars for smart growth, concepts that any company desiring relevancy in the modern marketplace should give serious consideration to (I edited down Haque’s explanations for each one, so please refer to his article for full text). Together, these are a paradigmatic shift in how we look at business:

  1. Outcomes, not Income: Dumb growth is about income. Smart growth is about people and how better or worse off they are. Smart growth measures people’s outcomes. Economics that measure financial numbers, we’ve learned the hard way, often fail to be meaningful, except to the quants among us. It is tangible human outcomes that are the arbiters of authentic value creation.
  2. Connections, not Transactions: Dumb growth looks at what’s flowing through the pipes of the global economy: the volume of trade. Smart growth looks at how pipes are formed, and why some pipes matter more than others: the quality of connections. The goal isn’t just to trade, but to co-create and collaborate.
  3. People, not product. Smart growth isn’t driven by pushing product, but by the skill, dedication, and creativity of people. People not product means a renewed focus on labor mobility, human capital investment, labor market standards, and labor market efficiency. Smart growth isn’t powered by capital dully seeking the lowest-cost labor — but by giving labor the power to seek the capital with they can create, invent, and innovate the most.
  4. Creativity, not productivity. Smart growth focuses on economic creativity – because creativity is what let us know that competition is creating new value, instead of just shifting old value around. What is economic creativity? How many new industries, markets, categories, and segments an economy can consistently create. Think China’s gonna save the world? Think again: it’s economically productive, but it’s far from economically creative. Smart growth is creative — not merely productive.

This is all pulled together quite well, touching on so many things we face as we think about the sustainability of our businesses and our relevance to the markets we operate in, by this quote from Haque:

“Smart economies are driven by smart growth. The four pillars of smart growth are design principles for next-generation economies. 20th century economies are limited to unsustainable, unfair, brittle, dumb growth. Smart growth is more sustainable, equitable, and resilient.

Capitalism 2.0 cannot be powered by growth.1.0: that’s why the race for smart growth is inevitable. The economic pressure — the potential for value creation, in a world being ripped apart by value destruction — is simply too great.”

Umair Haque

To Haque’s point, getting smart is indeed a preferred option to staying dumb.

A Loss to The Literary Old Guard

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

updike

Earlier this week, on January 27th, John Updike passed away. He was 76. While not an ardent follower and reader of Updike’s work, throughout my life I have enjoyed several of his books, essays, and short stories. While prolific in volume, over the course of his career publishing more than a book per year, he also delivered great quality and was respected and revered by a great many, including an entire generation of literary critics who shaped their own approach to the work from the role model he presented over several decades. Perhaps I fall more into the David Foster Wallace school of thought, who respected Updike but referred to him as “The Great Male Narcissist”.

A favorite quote of mine by John Updike:

America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy”

John Updike 1932-2009

Culture, Authenticity, and Zappos.com

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Via the excellent project , comes this great interview with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. Tony and his company are something of a legend, and for all the right reasons. This has been accentuated by how visible, transparent, genuine, and communicative they are with a growing audience of advocates, adherants, and devoted customers. Call it “marketing 2.0″, or whatever you want, but Zappos.com totally gets it. Additionally, Tony and his team have demonstrated an incredible ability to take the challenges faced by all organizations and address them in ways that may look easy to the rest of us, but they most definitely are not. In particular is Hsieh’s focus on the creation of a dynamic and incredibly successful company culture, and how this has helped focus his organization on truly excellent customer service. A few great quote from Hsieh in the video above:

“If we get the culture right, then the other stuff like building a brand or great customer service will happen naturally on its own.”

“Culture is our number one priority.”

“We hire for attitude and culture fit. We believe the skills are something we can teach.”

Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappos

For anybody tasked with building and leading a team or running an organization this is incredibly valuable perspective. In many, many cases the art of hiring for attitude and fit can far surpass the value of focusing recruitment around expertise, and result in a company culture that is strong and unified in the face of challenges presented to the company.

Honda, (Em)Powered By Failure…

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I have written about the Honda culture of innovation twice before in the last year. That’s because the history of innovation at this company, and how they have maintained a consistent focus on innovation for several decades, is a pretty incredible story that is totally worthy of investigation.

Also incredible, though, is Honda’s passion for failure. This would be something they share with another innovation icon, Burt Rutan, who also very clearly understands the relationship between innovation and failure. They are inextricably linked, and without failure there can be no innovation.

A favorite line from the video above:

“You can fail 100 times as long as you succeed once. We can only make fantastic advances in technology through many failures.”

Takeo Fukui, President and CEO Honda Motor Company, LTD.

Despite the video above being a gratuitous advertisement, of sorts, I appreciate how earnestly it addresses the role of failure in success at Honda, and the honesty in how these failures may be humiliating at the time but ultimately lead to determined success. There’s a couple complimentary videos which are also quite good at .

“Working Together is Success”

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

henry-ford-on-steps

That’s Henry Ford taking a breather on some steps in the image above. Though the company that bears his name is now engulfed in all manner of difficulties, in his day Ford had tremendous success. Mr. Ford was a recognized innovator, leader, and marketer. He reinvented enterprise for the 20th century, and fundamentally changed manufacturing in ways that are still acknowledged best practices. Oh yeah, and he essentially created the automobile business. I came across this quote by Henry Ford and it seemed especially relevant today:

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Organizations expend great resources assembling the team that is going to give them the best advantage in their business. The interconnectedness, trust, and unified effort of an effective team will not only overcome many of the challenges before the organization, but it can also offset major deficiencies. Today, in addition to cash reserves, few things are as priority in ensuring success as a team that works well together.

Wait, Nussbaum Said What?

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

He said that :

“Innovation” died in 2008, killed off by overuse, misuse, narrowness, incrementalism and failure to evolve. It was done in by CEOs, consultants, marketeers, advertisers and business journalists who degraded and devalued the idea by conflating it with change, technology, design, globalization, trendiness, and anything “new.” It was done in by an obsession with measurement, metrics and math and a demand for predictability in an unpredictable world. The concept was also done in, strangely enough, by a male-dominated economic leadership that rejected the extraordinary progress in “uncertainty planning and strategy” being done at key schools of design that could have given new life to “innovation. To them, “design” is something their wives do with curtains, not a methodology or philosophy to deal with life in constant beta—life in 2009.”

Bruce Nussbaum from “Innovation” is Dead. Herald The Birth of “Transformation” as a Key Concept in 2009

References to Nussbaum’s innovation obit and quotes from the article began shooting around immediately after it was published on December 31st. Unfortunately, most chose to focus on only part of what he is saying, the part that definitely stood to stir people up, that innovation is dead. Here’s the deal, though. Saying something is “dead”, especially after building your career, reputation, and personal brand on being an expert in it, is definitely theatrical, and certain to raise a great many eyebrows as we all thought that saying something is “dead” was itself finally dead. But he’s right. While innovation is still, and always will be, a hugely valued quality/culture/mindset in individuals and organizations, it is not enough. Innovation isn’t dead, of course it isn’t, but as a lone driver for tactics and strategy it just hasn’t been enough. Nussbaum quickly qualifies his statement by saying the challenges we now face, the uncertainty, and the reality of change mandates something broader to help us navigate these difficulties and come out the better for it. It’s “transformation” that we need to put our collective sights on, and innovation is a significant component of this transformation, though it is just a component. He makes the very good point that focusing on innovation simply was not enough to get us through the insanity of 2008, and in many cases it was actually a myopic focus on innovation that got us into this mess of our own making.

I was very excited to see that, for Nussbaum, an important element missing from our focus on innovation has been the concept of “value creation”, something that I’ve written about many times before. He wraps it up very succinctly:

“Most importantly, “Transformation” accepts the notion that we are in a post-consumer society, defined by two groups of economic players: manufacturers and consumers. “Transformation” deals with a new Creativity Society, in which we are all both producers and consumers of value. Look around and you can see Gen Y in particular creating practically from birth, mashing music, designing Facebook or MySpace pages, doing videos and podcasts—creating value.”

Innovation is dead. Long live innovation.

Burt Rutan, Innovation, and Adversity

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Burt Rutan

A couple weeks ago I came across coverage of the keynote that Burt Rutan gave at the conference via , and am finally getting around to sharing it. Rutan is an inspiring individual and I have been moved to write about him before, my favorite being Failure Leads to Understanding. In his keynote to AU2008, Rutan digs into his perspective on innovation and serves up some memorable insights, including:

“Innovation occurs in periods of adversity. In the 60s we went to the moon, in the 80s we never broke low earth orbit.”

Burt Rutan

That’s a prescient quote given the challenges we now face not just locally and nationally, but globally. Tracking the news, it is interesting how many companies have already disappeared. That’s probably as much about business model relevance as anything. At the same time that we are seeing companies disappear, the American automotive industry surf disaster, and the entire newspaper industry sink into a reactive panic, we are seeing companies expanding their business, diversifying offerings, and improving their position. There has been much talk over the last year regarding taking advantage of the imminent recession to reinvest in your organization and look for opportunities to innovate, reinvent, and diversify. I suspect that those companies that took this advice to heart stand a very good chance of being around this time next year, and positioned to maximize opportunities that arise as we emerge from this crisis, this adversity. Those that do not? Well, it’s going to be an interesting time. To Burt Rutan’s point, adversity can be a launchpad for innovation (pun intended). It can also be a destroyer, and it would seem that the ability to innovate is one quality that can help companies navigate events well.

I have not been able to find video of Rutan’s keynote, but will post as soon as I do.

Barack Obama’s Focus on Science

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I watched the video above at last evening and liked very much how President-elect Obama explains his perspective on the role of science in his administration, and the thinking behind the science and technology team he has assembled. This team will maintain his focus on the value that science offers society and the world, and represents a cross-section of disciplines that is comprehensive (with the notable lack of a biologist…) in the face of the real challenges faced by our nation, challenges that can be addressed through science, innovation, and discovery. This perspective is in stark contrast to the previous eight years, and stands to move science in the United States forward on many, many fronts. A prescient quote from Obama’s presentation:

“The truth is promoting science is not just about providing resources, it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or idealogy. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient. Especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth, and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States.”

Barack Obama

This emphasis on science and the importance of open inquiry is something that President-elect Obama had discussed several times during the campaign. This was a notable difference between himself and essentially all of the other candidates, from both parties. This difference would be one of the many reasons that I ultimately cast my vote with him, and continue to be reminded by the Obama transistion team what an excellent decision that was.

Clay Parker Jones Explains The Interwebs

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

View SlideShare or your own. (tags: )

I came across this presentation by that very directly and simply gets to the heart of things that have the propensity to intimidate and/or confuse people as it relates to “the internet”, and how they might use the opportunities it presents to better connect with people/audience/customers/users/etc…:

  • Social media
  • Designing effective websites
  • Connectivity and engagement

It’s a really succinct presentation, and eschews any jargon or webspeak for just plain speaking. I particularly liked Clay’s perspective on reach vs. engagement in support of community-building from slide 31:

“Stop thinking about this as a reach vehicle. We’re working on the reach thing. For now, people don’t look at banners, and we know they don’t click on them. But we can do engagement really, really well, so let’s stick to that.”

Clay Parker Jones

Saul Bass and Clarity of Purpose

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Yesterday I read a post by that referenced three key questions to answer before initiating a new project or taking on new work, questions the answers for which can focus us on the work we should be doing. The questions are from Jim Coudal, and I had come across them myself just a few weeks ago via Jim Coudal’s interview on , and felt compelled to point them out. The three questions are:

  1. Will we make money from this.
  2. Will we be proud of our work.
  3. Will we learn something new along the way.

So, Paul’s post got me thinking about this again, about the importance of focusing ourselves on work that matters, work that creates value not just for our clients, but also for ourselves. I started digging around and came across a series of interviews with , whose work I hugely admire, from 1986. In these interviews Saul cuts right to the heart of the matter:

“I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares, as opposed to ugly things. That’s my intent.”

Saul Bass (1920-1996)

And that intent sometimes means that we have to invest in our work to create the opportunity we require, to create the value that we need to get out of it to make an endeavor “worthwhile”. As Saul points out, the client may never understand this, and that’s ok as this is the tax we must pay for working in creative enterprise. To not pay this tax is to limit yourself and your ability to create opportunity that extends beyond yourself to your team, and to your clients. Below is an excerpt from the interview where I pulled the quote above:

10 Years of The Cluetrain

Thursday, October 30th, 2008
If you have not had the opportunity to read , I suggest you take the time to do so. You can read the entire book online for free. Cluetrain is coming up on ten years old, which is amazing in its own way, but what is important here is how absolutely relevant the manifesto and its strong messages around markets being conversations still are. Messages like:
“People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.”
The Cluetrain Manifesto, Thesis 11
Seriously, read it. I’ve even embedded the book as slides here for your convenience:
View SlideShare or your own. (tags: )

Vito Acconci’s Manifesto: Dualities, Tension, and The Architecture of Fairy Tales

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Back in 2002 I had the opportunity to attend the International Design Conference in Aspen (IDCA). The event was an incredible mix of design professions, creative leaders, and visionaries. Among the more memorable on the list of presenters was . Acconci’s presentation was an arcing review of the work and thinking of his studio, and gave us a window into the creative process used to conceive some of the more conceptually challenging work I had experienced up to that point. Simultaneous with the conference was an installation of the diversity of work by Vito Acconci at a local gallery, which was an appropriate exclamation point to Acconci’s provocative presentation at IDCA. I had a chance to meet Acconci at the conference, and greatly enjoyed our brief conversation about the thin boundary between conceptual and real, and how the effectiveness of crossing that boundary is defined by our own ability to effectively communicate what it is we intend to do, and how exactly we intend to do it.

I bring up Vito Acconci because a couple of days ago I came across his manifesto, , from last year’s Icon Magazine Manifesto issue and it made me recall meeting Acconci at the conference. His manifesto articulates the dualities of the tensions in architecture and the built environment today:

“It is the best of architectural times, it is the worst of architectural times. It’s the age of lightness, of fluid architecture; it’s the age of architecture that’s only constructed into forms of fluidity and lightness that themselves remain solid and heavy. It’s the epoch of architecture that emerges and grows as a living creature; it’s the epoch of architecture that only looks as if it emerges and grows, that only looks like a living creature. It’s the era of sensual architecture; it’s the era of an architecture of visual affects. It’s the season of virtual architecture, science-fiction architecture; it’s the season of architecture that, when built, comes tumbling back down to earth. It’s the spring of code-writing and computational architecture; it’s the winter of generic architecture generated by and justified by numbers. We architects and designers practice operations now that will make architects ultimately unnecessary, we anticipate architecture that designs itself; in the meantime, we’re narrowed down to the chosen few starchitects. We architects and designers harness multiple complexities; all the while we refine complication into elegance, we revive aesthetics, we do something that smells like art, we resort to taste and sophistication, we tag onto an ‘upper class.’ We architects and designers make places for people; but the more parameters we use to design, the less our design-process can be read in the places we build – if people can’t ‘get’ the buildings we make, then those buildings are meant to appear as a force of nature, and we expect from people only belief”

Vito Acconci –

Saying What We’re Feeling

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

“I’ve never been a big hippiefied ’60s nostalgist, but after all we’ve been through lately, to have the *1990s* back… would that rock, or what?”

Bruce Sterling – Author and Futurist

Via Sterling’s blog .

Innovation and The Future of Peugeot

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

The vehicle above is the Peugeot RD concept created by 25 year old Carlos Arturo Torres Tovar of Colombia and chosen as the winner for the recent , which ended back on September 15th. Like other automobile companies, Peugeot hosts these contests to open wider the search for innovations, vision, and ideas for the future of its products and while the RD will probably not actually be made, some of the smart innovations that it incorporates may very well inform the Peugeots of the immediate future. Some of the innovations in the RD concept are focused on shrinking the vehicle’s footprint, like the ability to fold and being single seat 3-wheeler, as shown below in a detailed rendering:

As of late there have been several automobile concepts that take advantage of folding functionality. This is a response to the reality of space constraints of navigating urban environments and the need for a smaller parking footprint. We’ve also seen more single seat concepts, a design approach that takes up less space, less material, and subsequently less weight. In many ways, the single seat concept is one that takes the great efficiencies of a motorcycle and wraps them in the safety and convenience of an automobile, making vehicles like the RD concept above seemingly ideally suited to urban commuting and meeting the needs of a flexible city car.

Anything Times Zero is Zero

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Last evening I watched the recent discussion about the economy and financial crisis between . Warren Buffet, who talks about the opportunities that this crisis presents to those with their money and wits about them, provides an incredibly succinct breakdown of how we got to this place, to the decisions that were made that resulted in such instability in the global markets.

The Three “i’s”

Buffet describes a progression to how good ideas can go bad. He called this progression the “three i’s,” with the first “i” being the innovators, those who originate new ideas having identified the opportunities that others had not seen. The next “i” would be the imitators, or those who attempt to replicate the successes of the innovators. Lastly, we have the idiots. The idiots, driven by greed and avarice, ultimately unwind innovations through blind determination to get rich. With regards to the global financial crisis, the issue is not with innovation, but with the rampant idiocy that followed that innovation. To Buffet’s point, the innovation in the financial system was very much about value creation, and the profit that results from this. The idiots sought to massively exploit the profitability piece of the equation, but this had the result of shutting off the creation of value, and ultimately created the financial bubble. This is an interesting and informing explanation on how we have arrived at the present. I suppose the challenge in moving beyond this is to get better at identifying the difference between the innovation and the immitation, and to subvert the potential influence of those who seek to exploit. Good luck to us all.

At about 22 minutes into the interview, Buffet starts talking about the danger of leverage and how much of what we face now has been caused by the collective abuse of leverage. On this, he points out:

“You can do smart things, but if you use leverage and you do one wrong thing it can wipe you out because anything times zero is zero.”

Warren Buffet