How to Apply Eames’s Legendary “Powers of 10” to Real-life Problems

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This October 10, 2010 is Powers of Ten day — 10/10/10, a milestone on the design thinking calendar. It’s named for the film Powers of Ten, made by Charles and Ray Eames in 1968. And for designers, it’s an opportunity to both celebrate the Eames Office’s groundbreaking film as well as a chance to recognize the power of scale in shaping our understanding of the world around us. There will be festivities around the world. Check out the Powers of Ten website, as well as the powersof10 blog that lists some events.

If you haven’t yet seen the film, take a moment to watch it.

Powers of Ten is arguably more relevant now than it was the year it was released. The simple idea executed in the film has become a powerful construct for thinking through design problems today. In it, Charles and Ray Eames guide us through a deceptively straightforward exercise — zooming out to 10^24 and then back in to 10^-16 — re-framing a simple scene by showing it within ever-larger and then smaller contexts. Seguir leyendo “How to Apply Eames’s Legendary “Powers of 10” to Real-life Problems”

The Internet Is Still Not For Everyone

By Antonio Lupetti @woork
It radically changed the way we all interact and it has become the main medium of mass communication of our (if not all) time. Nevertheless it is used by just a few. How and why the Internet is still a technology available to less than 29% of the global population.

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Blogging Innovation » What is an Innovation Culture?

by Roy Luebke

What is an Innovation Culture?Much has been written about what constitutes an innovation culture. Defining what that means may seem relatively simple, but is much more difficult to both define and achieve than one might think.

To begin the definition for an individual organization, start by understanding how the senior management team deals with ambiguity and risk. If an organization is extremely risk averse, it is unlikely to be very innovative. All companies deal with risk, there is risk in doing something, and there is risk in doing nothing. Risk is a part of being in business, and how the organization is prepared to manage risk is a leading factor in its ability to move into new competitive arenas.

The need to be innovative is derived from market pressures. The leadership team must feel a degree of angst about the future, or some paranoia about outside forces that makes them uncomfortable. Innovation is driven by the belief that a firm’s competitive advantage is fleeting and that it must always be reinventing itself in order to survive. Hubris is anathema to innovation.

An innovation culture requires advances in processes for discovery, experimentation, and developing portfolios of options. These new processes will, in fact help mitigate risk exposure as opportunities and solutions are better defined. Better definitions will reduce ambiguity and uncertainty.

Organizations require new process to research their customers and discover new patterns in customer attitudes, and market and technology evolutions. Firms need to create ways to recognize new, emerging patterns in key areas and develop new business concepts to meet these new realities. Business leaders need to allow their people to experiment more and develop prototypes that fail before going to market so that new innovations are more likely to succeed in the long term. Ultimately, new processes need to be developed to create deeper understanding about customers and deliver more of what customers want, even though customers are not likely to articulate these needs precisely.

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Blogging Innovation » What is an Innovation Culture?

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How Do You Reinvent Something as Common as the Padlock?

Talking with Master Lock‘s Lea Plato, lead designer of the ingenious Speed Dial combination lock.

Introduced in 2009, Master Lock’s Speed Dial is the first “directional” combination lock. It replaces a series of numbers with a sequence of up-down and left-right movements (like a video-game cheat). We talked to Lea Plato, one of the designers who worked on the lock, about how the lock came to be and why it’s easier to use than what we’re all used to.

Co.Design: The Speed Dial lock does away with numerical combinations and replaces them with left-to-right and up-and-down movements. What inspired the change?

Lea Plato: The combination lock for lockers has been around for so long, so Master Lock is trying to push different ideas. The Speed Dial is a very different and unexpected design. That’s what attracted us to the idea.

The face of the lock—just four arrows—is clean and straightforward. How did that design come about?

We were trying to play off of simplicity. We wanted the appearance of the lock to match that simplicity. It’s really basic—up, down, left, and right—and easy to remember. So nothing too fancy.

The center button has a nice accent ring around it to show that this is what you push on to make the movements. And the arrows are really simple triangles to suggest which direction you should be moving it in. A lot of the design of the actual body of the lock is driven by the interior mechanism. But we also wanted to give it a nice round shape so it fits well in your hand and it’s easy to move that button up and down.

Another thing we focused on is how everyone could use it. A lot of the numbers are too small for people to see. If you’re visually impaired, you don’t have to see anything to be able to open this lock. Or if your dexterity isn’t very good, the lock is still easy to use. We wanted the lock to be something that everyone can use without making it look like it was designed for just one person in particular. Seguir leyendo “How Do You Reinvent Something as Common as the Padlock?”

Innovation and Human Capabilities

John Steen wrote a series of  posts on why experts and crowds usually miss disruptive innovation and how to use networks to tap expertise and knowledge. I’d like to expand these thoughts a bit more towards the question: what’s the role of human capabilities in innovation? For elaboration, I’m going to combine two concepts I’ve recently come across:

In a terrific post, Nicholas M. Donofrio, Kauffman Senior Fellow and retired EVP of Innovation and Technology, IBM, comments on the need for transformation of human innovation capabilities:

“The innovation that matters now – the innovation that we’re all waiting for, even if we don’t know it – is the one that unlocks the hidden value that exists at the intersection of deep knowledge of a problem and intimate knowledge of a market, combined with your knowledge, your technology, and your capability … whoever you are, whatever you can do, whatever you bring to the table.”

“The kind of people who will be best able to seize these opportunities are those I call “T-shaped” as opposed to “I-shaped.” I-shaped people have great credentials, great educations, and deep knowledge – deep but narrow. The geniuses who win Nobel prizes are “I-shaped,” as are most of the best engineers and scientists. But the revolutionaries who have driven most recent innovation and who will drive nearly all of it in the future are “T-shaped.” That is, they have their specialties – areas of deep expertise – but on top of that they boast a solid breadth, an umbrella if you will, of wide-ranging knowledge and interests. It is the ability to work in an interdisciplinary fashion and to see how different ideas, sectors, people, and markets connect. Natural-born “T’s are perhaps rare, but I believe people can be trained to be T-shaped. One problem is that our educational system is still intent on training more “I’s. We need to change that.”

There are two consequences out of that: I-shaped experts need to transform towards T-shaped in order to thrive in the future. Moreover, companies need to align human resources and structures, so that the overall organization is able to act T-shaped. Seguir leyendo “Innovation and Human Capabilities”

The crowdsourcing dilemma: the idea with the most votes isn’t always the best idea

Randy Corke|

One of the common complaints about crowdsourcing is that it can become a popularity contest: the idea that gets the most early votes rises to the top of the list, therefore gets more views, and therefore more votes and becomes the winner. And, unfortunately, for many so-called “crowdsourcing” sites, this is true. You see it on sites like Digg – get enough early “diggs” for your submission to get on the “top news” list and your submission can get visibility for a long time.

We work hard to surface the best quality results for our clients from their crowdsourcing projects, so as you would expect, we have developed ways to avoid this “early vote” bias and other forms of bias. But even with great design and planning, the best technology and the right methodology, you can’t completely eliminate the possibility of a less-worthy idea getting the most votes. However, it IS possible to use analysis and crowd management techniques to ensure that other highly worthy ideas can be identified, so that the chances of truly finding the best idea are maximized.

Seguir leyendo “The crowdsourcing dilemma: the idea with the most votes isn’t always the best idea”

Innovation. What gives? | By Jorge Barba

By Jorge Barba, an Innovation Insurgent

innovation what gives

Spotted this  tweet a few minutes ago: #Innovation is rare. Proof: millions of cookbooks sold and read all with practically the same recipes. What gives?

What gives? Human nature.

Innovation is about people and whatever beliefs, habits and attitudes people have are the limiting factors that prevent them from adopting new viewpoints or ideas. Yes, but as  Jose Briones says: it requires that people have an open mind and that is an incredibly scarce resource.

My amigo Jonathan Amm from  @ThinkTank_ probably said it best when he described the work we do as psychology work because those of us who are innovation insurgents are really in the business of opening people’s minds, . As far as all the recipes in books go, I wouldn’t be surprised that 10 years from now we’re still be talking about because human nature is one itch most don’t like to scratch. Most don’t and can’t think for themselves and resort to copycatting, which is essential to human evolution but detrimental to an organizations ability to be innovative. Seguir leyendo “Innovation. What gives? | By Jorge Barba”

10 Tech Blogs Web Designers Should Be Reading

Henry Jones |

In the past, we’ve recommended various design blogs for you to read. From learning new techniques to free resources and tools, design blogs can be a great asset. But there’s more to a web designer’s job than just designing. Web designers work in a field that is immersed in technology, and since technology is ever changing, it’s important to stay up-to-date on what’s going on.

For this post, we’re recommending 10 Tech Blogs Web Designers Should Be Reading. From emerging technologies that will change the web, to the best hardware for getting your work done, these blogs will keep you informed.


tech blogs

Techi is an exciting platform that serves fresh daily technology news, funky new design stuff, in-depth editorial articles, and reviews. It’s maintained by a passionate collective of geeks from different backgrounds and as such we bring diversity and insight to our articles. Seguir leyendo “10 Tech Blogs Web Designers Should Be Reading”

Can Neuromarketing Research Increase Sales?

Dr. A. K. Pradeep, Chief Executive Officer of NeuroFocus

Every new product launch, ad campaign or package design takes significant research, time and resources to ensure success, but not every launch is successful. Suffice it to say that guess work plays a part to determine: Will it grab attention? Will it be memorable? Will it engage emotionally? And most importantly, will it drive purchase intent?

Taking the guess work out of the equation prior to launch is a marketer’s dream, which is now a definable reality with quantifiable results. Just recently the notion was put to the test to see if neuroscience could be used to help a magazine sell more copies. And the results were enlightening. Seguir leyendo “Can Neuromarketing Research Increase Sales?”

How To Check If Your Business Social Media Profiles Are Available

Author of How To Check If Your Business Social Media Profiles Are Available

by Niall Harbison in technology | //

Screen shot 2010 09 19 at 17.39.04 How To Check If Your Business Social Media Profiles Are AvailableGetting your branding right across your various online profiles is vitally important when picking a new business name or making sure you have the various profiles you need for your own business. It can be a very laborious task going through the various sites that you intend to use which is why we thought we would share this great tool that we often use for checking the availability of your various social profiles. The added bonus is that it also checks domain names across various different countries and in general gives you a great overview of where you stand with your business branding for the online world…

Check Username Availability

Simply add your desired username in to the search box and in a couple of seconds the tool will check all the main social profiles to see if the name you are looking for it actually available.

Screen shot 2010 09 19 at 17.23.01 How To Check If Your Business Social Media Profiles Are Available Seguir leyendo “How To Check If Your Business Social Media Profiles Are Available”

How to Become an Eco Web Designer

By: Alexander Dawson | //

Whether you believe in global warming or otherwise, the earth does still have limited resources. With an ever increasing population this means that we should try and reduce our consumption of fuel and wastage whenever possible. While I’m not going to start a hippy campaign and say that we should all go live in a world without computers (that would drive me to the point of insanity) I think that as web professionals, there are small things we can do to pass on the savings to our customers.

This article aims to highlight some of those potential energy and resource saving tweaks that we can make to ensure that if our visitors wish to reduce the amount of resources they expend, the process will be as painless and unobtrusive as possible. While this list is certainly not extensive, hopefully it may give you the opportunity to think about the process you use to build a website and how to best meet the ecological needs of your visitors as they are of an ever increasing level of importance.

Save Energy
Image credit: emitea

Figure 1: Recognising ways to save energy will make you an eco designer.

Note: Everything listed has some scientific credibility behind the theory, but the amount of savings that can be made depend on various factors. My advice is that if doing small things can help visitors reduce their electricity bills or resource costs without incurring extra ourselves, it’s worth the effort!

Blackle is The New White

While this item has a lot of controversy surrounding it, there is some clear merit associated with the practice therefore it’s worth breaking apart the facts from the fiction. A few years ago a site called Blackle appeared and made a name for itself due to its simple idea that by using a black background, you could reduce the amount of energy expended by your display. The theory behind this was that it requires more energy to illuminate a white pixel than a black (non active) one, sounds easy right?

While this item has a lot of controversy surrounding it, there is some clear merit associated with the practice therefore it’s worth breaking apart the facts from the fiction. A few years ago a site called Blackle appeared and made a name for itself due to its simple idea that by using a black background, you could reduce the amount of energy expended by your display. The theory behind this was that it requires more energy to illuminate a white pixel than a black (non active) one, sounds easy right?


Figure 2: Blackle conceptualises a method to help CRT displays reduce their energy consumption.

Well the truth is that the claims by promoters of the theory itself based on a scientific study were rather exaggerated. You see, with the advancement of technologies and the progression from CRT displays (which a real difference can be measured) to LCD’s (which require near enough the same amount of energy to produce black as white), much of the idea behind such a noble campaign has been debunked. So why is this item included in the list? For one reason, backwards compatibility!

As web professionals we are used to the fact that people may be browsing our sites using clunky old pieces of technology, from elderly browsers to a machine that would have been in existence longer than your children. It’s still a fact today that many people still regularly make use of CRT displays as they visit websites. Therefore it may be worth the consideration of giving your users an alternative stylesheet which they can pick based on black to pass on potential energy savings to those devices.

Contrast is King Seguir leyendo “How to Become an Eco Web Designer”

Movement from Test to Experience: a Fundamental Shift in Assessment Perspective

Reengineering guidance and relationship of Mis...

by Dr. Charles Handler | //

Those of us in the testing and assessment business are very proud of what we do. We have about 50 years of experience in helping companies to make better hiring decisions, resulting in happier employees and increased ROI. Some of the benefits of pre-employment assessments include:

  • Sound methodology: when created correctly, assessments provide an accurate and reliable way to measure constructs important for job performance
  • ROI: we have tons of data to show that assessments provide a strong value add to the hiring process
  • Variety: there are thousands of tests available, covering almost every job and industry
  • Versatility: tests can be used for both pre- and post-hire assessment, helping them offer more value

Despite the advantages listed above, we need to be realists and face the fact that testing is a difficult game to be in. Despite a huge shot in the arm provided by technology, the basic testing paradigm still involves candidates filling in small circles and likely grousing a bit in the process.

On the other side of the fence, many companies view a “test” as isolated element of the hiring process, not an integrated part of the bigger picture. As a result of this paradigm it is not a stretch to say that in their current mainstream state of use:

  • Tests are boring — they are not engaging for candidates. In fact, they have the opposite effect.
  • Tests build walls — it is very common for a separate function to be in charge of testing and for tests to be an “add on,” creating separation between various parts of the recruitment/staffing functions
  • Tests are highly localized — although highly effective as key parts of an employee lifecycle/talent management perspective, tests are most commonly used to fight fires
  • Tests offer only a one-way dialogue — pre-employment tests provide no feedback to the applicant and by doing so can function to erode employment branding efforts

The positive and negative factors associated with testing combined with what I call “technology push” (the idea that advances in technology push all businesses and industries upward and forward by providing the infrastructure needed for innovation) are driving a fundamental shift in testing. This shift will carry us away from thinking about “tests” toward an increased focus on the idea of creating an “experience” that adds value for all parties involved in multiple ways.

We can expect this shift in focus to bring an increase in:

  • Transparency: tests will become embedded into a more engaging candidate experience until they become transparent to the applicant
  • Interactivity: experiences will increase the level of interactivity between organizations and job applicants/employees, as well as interactivity within the applicant population
  • Predictive accuracy: technology-backed experiences will help create major shifts in predictive capabilities of assessment-based content based on business intelligence and data analysis that flows from increased engagement and interactivity Seguir leyendo “Movement from Test to Experience: a Fundamental Shift in Assessment Perspective”

Beliefs and Attitudes about Mathematics

Love math 1

Without Geometry, Life is Pointless

What beliefs and attitudes about mathematics do you see in your students, in society, in the media, and elsewhere? Try and think of both positive and negative beliefs and attitudes. These can be beliefs that you agree or disagree with. I’ll start with a few, but please add your own in the comments.

  • If you’re good at math, math problems can be solved in a relatively short amount of time.
  • People do not solve math problems for fun; they do it for school, for their job, or to balance their checkbook.
  • Every math problem has been solved by someone.
  • Math is about numbers.
  • Math is a language to describe the world.
  • If you are good at math, you are smart.
  • If you can do computations accurately and quickly, you are good at math. Seguir leyendo “Beliefs and Attitudes about Mathematics”

Conscious Awareness

17th century representation of the 'third eye'...

(…) Via
by Venessa Miemis

A recent article in the New York Times, Building One Big Brain, prompted me to write up the next skill in this 12 part series. The piece quotes Nicholas Carr’s opinions about how the Internet is reducing the “capacity for concentration and contemplation,” scattering our attention and reducing our ability to focus.

It goes on to posit that “technology is weaving humans into electronic webs that resemble big brains.” (It’s nice to see this concept going mainstream… we talked about that idea here last November in the ‘Twitter’s Intelligent, Welcome to Web 3.0‘ post ). The next stage in the line of thinking is that this process is part of our species evolution:

Could it be that, in some sense, the point of evolution – both the biological evolution that created an intelligent species and the technological evolution that a sufficiently intelligent species is bound to unleash – has been to create these social brains, and maybe even to weave them into a giant, loosely organized planetary brain? Kind of in the way that the point of the maturation of an organism is to create an adult organism?

The article didn’t treat the evolution of technology as something that was going to happen outside of us, such as a machine intelligence that will outpace us, as the technological singularity implies. (which may also happen, though). Rather, it suggests something more akin to a process of evolutionary development, in which interconnectivity and cooperation will indicate a move towards higher intelligence. The ideas reminded me of the work being done by John Stewart and the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition Research Group on intentional evolution. Check his Evolutionary Manifesto.

As someone who spends much of my time online, both of the premises of the article – decreased focused attention and increased potential for a distributed consciousness – do resonate. But, I do wonder if an intelligent planetary brain is going to emerge without some intention and conscious awareness on our part. Seguir leyendo “Conscious Awareness”

Ad Giant Thinks You’ll Pay for Media Again With the Content Project

Fast Company Logo

BY Austin Carr

The Content Project

How much content are you willing to pay for online? That’s what providers from publishers to media outlets want to know as they gear up to launch subscription services. Hulu and the New York Times are just two of the many experimenting with paywalls. But the idea has yet to become viable among consumers who are used to free, ad-supported content. Seguir leyendo “Ad Giant Thinks You’ll Pay for Media Again With the Content Project”