When the smartest person in the room is the room
This discussion of the "Mythical Smart Fridge" provides a primer on some of the possibilities in the rapidly-emerging sensor-laden and infrastructure-connected world. While exploring only a single object/appliance, it provides a bit of a vision into some of the possibilities of many objects in our environments become more connected.
Much more interesting to us is the vision of the workplace evoked by the line in the subtitle to Davis Weinberger's book, Too Big to Know. It evokes a physical workplace embedded with sensors and devices that curate knowledge, a "smart room" – Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room.
I have been disappointed that what I had expected from the Great Recession – a great break with the past in all of its forms – has not taken place. Embedded institutional and geographic resources may be the logical and expected reasons.
In this article, "The Boom Towns and Ghost Towns of the New Economy," Richard Florida explores some of the issues associated with "recovery."
Three "waves" in the future of design
FastCo speculates on the future of the design in this article. In a quick summary, this –
- Experience design – "The focus of great experiences has shifted from properties like form and color to ideas such as choreography and curation."
- Iceberg – "Data modeling, algorithm design, voice scripting, and gesture design need to become common design practices. These skills will entail new ways to describe and communicate our ideas to companies as the product of our thinking becomes less tangible."
- Organic products – "A new generation of products is being designed to grow alongside the user, to develop new features, and adjust their behavior to better serve the user...This new mode of working also means that the basic deliverable and contracting model of design will need to change...Tomorrow's designer must be prepared to ride "shotgun" with the customer and the product for the life of that product, perhaps helping to grow and adapt the product over time."
New forms in journalism
I remember the delight I felt when the Sunday edition would appear at the front door, and I could immerse myself in reading over eggs on a Sunday morning. When clicking on the "In the Magazine" link of the NYT site recently, I felt nostalgic.
But then, I like the progress that the New York Times is making in reshaping its journalism to take advantage of the freedom of release from print. There have been some great feature examples recently that others have commented on, but now this almost mainstream article – U.S. Textile Plants Return, With Floors Largely Empty of People – shows some of the promise of mixed media in even the day-to-day online editions.
The story is also illustrative of what the rebirth of American manufacturing may be all about –
And while Mr. Winthrop did not run into such problems, monitoring worker safety in places like Bangladesh, where hundreds of textile workers have died in recent years in fires and other disasters, has become a huge challenge. “When I framed the business, I wasn’t saying, ‘From the cotton in the ground to the finished product, this is going to be all American-made,’ ” he said. “It wasn’t some patriotic quest.”
Instead, he said, the road to Gaffney was all about protecting his bottom line.
That simple, if counterintuitive, example is changing both Gaffney and the American textile and apparel industries.
Terrains and territories
We had some experience recently with several of the leading American consumer products companies exploring how the design of the workplace could augment, amplify and activate their innovation quest.
Among the influences we've had has been Patrick Whitney's "Territories and terrains" framework as explained in this article, "An Era of Choice: New Lenses for Strategic Planning" –
User research can be used to discover what Patrick Whitney calls user "terrains" – a collection of motives, priorities and aspirations that comprise a way users think about their goals...
After learning about the user goals, a company needs to decide how to identify their "territory" – a focus on how they’re going to win...
User terrains are what customers do or want, and the company’s territory is how they’re going to help customers succeed.