Calling all (available) service designers!

Design community, I start a new service design engagement next week and the client needs, in their words, “another one of you”. It’s a solid piece with several related research and design streams that will do social good out the far side. Initial engagement is in Canberra until 30 June. If this sounds interesting to you email, DM, PM, whatever me and I’ll connect you to the right people.

TED Session 5 – Understand

Things got better for me in this session. The kickoff speaker, Nina Jablonski had what I think was the best stage presence so far. Others will disagree, but I really liked her – I’d totally study Anthropology if she was one of my professors.

Nina Jablonski

  • this month is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin‘s birth
  • Origin of Species was published 150 years ago – just one line in it about evolution
  • Darwin likely understood the nature of the spread of pigmentation in human population, but never wrote about it
  • Darwin rejected the idea that pigmentation was related to climate
  • TOMS satellite data collected that shows levels of UV exposure of surface
  • there is a fundamental direct correlation between UV exposure and skin pigmentation in cultural groups – pigmentation is an evolutionary factor
  • melanin acts as a natural sunscreen – darker=more protected
  • also protects against DNA destruction and folate breakdown
  • UVA has no ability to make Vitamin D in skin, only UVB – significant consequences for high latitude populations
  • health and social consequences
  • Vitamin D deficiency from underexposure to UVB a significant issue – measurable effects on skeletal and mental health
  • evidence for evolution is “right on your body”
  • best speaker so far

Arthur Benjamin

  • calculus is the wrong summit for high school math
  • rather, we should teach complex probability and statistics
  • everyone should know what “two standard deviations from the mean” means
  • few people use calculus daily in a meaningful way as opposed to probability
  • calculus still critical – introduce in in 1st year of college

Hans Rosling

  • retrospective on world HIV infection rates
  • recognised in 1983 and virus discovered in 1991
  • global HIV epidemic now reaching steady state – around 1% of adult population
  • 30-40M cases in the world
  • all not reached by treatment – 6% untreated in poor countries 2 years after diagnosis
  • only by stopping transmission can we further reduce infection rates
  • HIV is very different in Africa yet the West views Africa as a single whole
  • oversimplification
  • research is now breaking the perception of Africen infection rates and the source and nature of those infection
  • 4% of the globe has 50% of the infection
  • we need Heart. Money. Brain.

Louise Fresco

  • bread is a staple of human diet
  • “real” bread is about authenticity – why do we have this image?
  • most of our ancestors were close to the land – we have mythologised the past
  • processed white bread is a significant cultural marker – plenty
  • global agricultural population is now ~4% in industrialised nations
  • never before have so few been involved in producing our food
  • the “plenty state” change in the constitution of bread (adding sugar, milk, fruit, eggs) shifts it from staple to partial cause of obesity
  • mass production ->large scale -> habitat destruction
  • we need to go back to knowing what food is about – we are removed from what our bread is
  • the anti-mass production movement bases itself on false arguments and will relegate farming communties to poverty
  • rather than hyperlocal, we need to move away from long haul food to regional food
  • we need to give agricultural communities the necessary tools
  • we need to double global food production by 2020. – the demand for protein in developing nations is a driving force
  • clever, low-key mechanisation
  • more good science
  • ask your governments for integrated food policy
  • food is about cultural respect

Elizabeth Gilbert

  • lifelong love and fascination with writing
  • will it now change with the weight of expectation after Eat, Pray, Love?
  • she is afraid of not achieving more
  • some writers undone by their gifts
  • “Encourage our creative minds to live”
  • looking for models for sane management of creativity – ancient Greece and Rome
    • creativity associated with a divine spirit
    • unknowable reasons
    • daemon or a genius – divine entities of creativity
    • Dobby the House Elf
  • Renaissance changed – Man at the center of the universe
  • you could be a genius rather than have a genius – fundamental difference
  • Tom Waits – embodiment of tortured poet
    • creative process hit him while driving – “Do you not see that I’m driving”
    • no longer tormented by creative process
  • creativity as transcendent event – painful reconciliation for performers and creators
  • Ole!

Jacek Utko

  • newspapers are dying for many reasons
  • can anything save newspapers?
  • Small. Free. Local. Focussed. Views over news
  • Cirque du Soleil as model for newspaper design
  • design posters not newspapers
  • have fun through experimentation
  • treat the entire paper like a single composition akin to music
  • have the  designer responsible for the reader experience
  • circulation grows significantly – 13-35% immediately after the redesign
  • design as a part of the whole process – not just a point
  • improve the product as well – better content
  • strategy+content+design
  • design can change product, company, you – give power tto designers
  • do all your work at the highest posssible level
  • “To be good is not enough.”

Nigel Holmes

  • new update
  • million – billion – trillion sounds inncouous
  • at the scale of a smallbrochure, 1B is 1/42″ high to 1T at 20′
  • If 10T is the deficit, we need 1B ideas

Margaret Wertheim

  • the crochet hook is a powerful tool
  • crocheting a coral reef involves – people on several continents, math, craft, activism
  • 100s of models in installation – 99% of work by women
  • a response to news of damage to Great Barrier Reef
  • aesthetic and poetic dimensions of math
  • Andy Warhol Museum asked her to exhibit
  • also Chicago Cultural Center – at 3000 square feet
  • insane, crochet overdrive
  • many contributors – local people contribute their own pieces
  • organisms in corals reefs exhibit hyperbolic geometry – only way to physically model is with crochet
  • hyperbolic geometry discovered in 19th Century – only in 1997 was use of crocheta
  • also Eucldidea anspherical geometry
  • hyperbolic space
  • “feminine handicraft” defies Euclidean geomery and general relativity – sea slugs don’t care
  • lettuce also embodies hyperbolic geometry
  • The Crochet Code
  • play – kindy for grown-ups
  • we have think tanks, we need play tanks
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TED Session 4 – See

Today started oddly for me. Tired after too few hours sleep (I was on Canberra time last night), the first session, while certainly interesting didn’t feel like it resoonated with me quite so much as the previous day. I am neither artist, scientist nor musician and the morning was dominated by these disciplines.

Don’t get me wrong, it was all deeply interesting, it just didn’t sing for me. That changed dramatically over the day, as I will explain in a further post.

Deepak Ram

One word. Haunting.

Oliver Sacks

  • we see with the eyes but we see with the brain as well
  • imagination and hallucinations – they are different
  • patient – Rosalie, 95 years old, blind, no mental deterioration
  • began visual hallucinations
  • “It’s like a silent movie”
  • unrelated to anything she was doing
  • no familiar components
  • Charles Bonnet Syndrome – originallly described in 18th Century
  • approximately 10% of Sacks’ patients have visual or auditory hallucinations
  • as vision decays, visual center of brain becomes hyperactive
  • less than 1% of patients with hallucinations acknowledge the condition
  • not the same as psychotic hallucinations which are fully interactive
  • temporal lobe hallucinations are recollective and involve all senses
  • Bonnet is very different as you are an ousider – common factors of facial deformation in characters (large teeth and eyes) and seeing cartoons
  • FMRI now possible during hallucination
  • these issues need to be normalised as a condition
  • “The theatre of the mind being generated by the machinery of the brain”

Jo-ann Kuchera-Morin

  • at UCSB
  • the Allosphere
  • imagine a giant microscope hooked to a supercomputer
  • fit 20 people on viewing platform inside
  • massive visualisations of any activity at any scale
  • H atom particle emissions mapped to sound output
  • listen to the hydrogen

Dale Chihuly

  • trained as interior designer
  • melted some stained glass and changed his life
  • went fishing in Alaska to pay for his graduate study at U Wisconsin (only US glass blowing course at the time)
  • studied in Venice

Olafur Eliasson

  • studio is more like a lab
  • “What consequences does it have when I take a step?”
  • is art about that?
  • works with space – has dimension and temporal factors
  • Negotiability
  • Tangibility
  • Responsibility
  • Causality
  • Consequences
  • between thinking and doing is experience
  • his students (average 20yo) expected TED to be Technology. Environment. Democracy.

Don Levy

  • Sony animation
  • making Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs
  • massive labor intensity
  • computing power changes mean realistic area rather than point lighting now possible
  • also light bounce for surfaces
  • release will be September 2009

Ed Ulbrich

  • team worked on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Benjamin is 100% CGI from the neck up for the first hour of the film
  • have we crossed the Uncanny Valley?
  • anything is possible with enough time, money and resources
  • David Fincher insisted the character be played by a single actor
  • prosthetic would not hold up
  • very high risk
  • beleived they had “a solid methodology that might work”
  • sample verion done in 2004
  • Ed threw up when they were green-lighted
  • 325 sfx shots in the first hour of the film
  • looked at marker-based motion capture
  • needed the “between” data – skin behavior, muscle and bone
  • walked away from motion capture
  • now have a “technology stew”
  • Facial Action Coding System (FACS) defined in early 70s has a set of core actions
  • capture surface in 3D in real time
  • FACS library of Brad Pitt built, mapped against realistically aged maquettes
  • digital puppet that Pitt could control with his face – no animators needed
  • emotion capture
  • 155 people took 2 years

Randy Gleason

  • we have developed a culture of always-on availability
  • we have a proliferation of mobility
  • we have established an expectation of availability
  • we are documenting everything – to the detriment of engagement in the moment
  • there is a correlation between availability and a need for shared narrative
  • “I share therefore I am”
  • we create technology to build shared experience and therefor recreate our world
  • let’s create technology that makes us more human, not less

Ray Zahab

  • just set world speed record for on foor to South Pole – 33d 23h 55m
  • towed own sleds
  • Also ran across Sahara in 111 days – most strong memory is number of people affected by lack of water
  • there has to be a reason for adventurers
  • use adventure to bring attention to issues
  • for Antarctic trip had live updated web site
  • use it to tell the story re pollution and ozone
  • answer questions from school kids
  • solar powered equipment – no batteries
  • inspire young people through web site and also being inspired by their interest
  • has only been running 5 years – before that a pack a day smoker
  • “We can make the impossible possible”

Golan Levin

  • where is art on the iPhone store?
  • empower people through interactivity
  • “The mouse is the narrowest experience to suck the human experience through”
  • Remark system visualises the shape of sounds in the voice
  • phonesthesia
  • Gaze system eye-tracks as a relationship marker
  • videos at flong.com
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TED Session 1 – Reboot

Here’s the thing, I can’t write fast enough to make all this make this all make sense, so what I’m going to do is post my raw notes from each session. Crazy, I know, but hopefully it gives you at least a feel for what’s going on. When I get time, I’ll go through and add more links and detail.

Ask questions if you want more detail.

Juan Enriquez

  • The economy (elephant)
  • When you’re dancing in the flames, what’s next?
  • Banks over-leveraged (Citibank 47x)
  • Mandatory spending now hits 100% at 2017 (maybe sooner)
  • Banish entitlements
  • Work longer (2-4 more years)
  • Reduce military by 3% pa
  • Limit borrowing
  • 225 largest Japanese companies worth 25% of 18 years ago
  • “As we cut we must also grow”
  • Louis L’Amour – end… beginning
  • Skin cells rebooted to stem cells – you can make any body part
  • Oscar Pistorius – combine engineering, robotics, humans – eventually unbeatable
  • Ears now – soon better than normal
  • Eyes beginning
  • There will be a new species of hominids – before we die – take direct control (the ultimate reboot)

jane@ted.com – TED scribe, ask her questions and Chris will ask the speakers.

P.W. Singer

  • Military tech
  • Packbot
  • Reality is that robots are now doing mundane tasks but will move to critical life and death decision
  • 5300 drones
  • 12K unmanned ground units – Model T
  • Moore’s Law working on military robots
  • We are in a revolution in war
  • Affect the who of fighting at its most fundamental level
  • Warfare now open source
  • War from afar – costless war
  • War porn
  • More PTSD in remote distance fighters – it’s like a video game and we don’t have the same cognitive or conscience filters. 12 hour shifts and home for dinner.
  • How do we rethink the rules of war?

Yves Behar and Forrest

  • Serendipity and collaboration
  • Met at TED last year
  • Mission 1 motorcycle

Comcast broadband ad – shaved panther rabbit with jets – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzxGyty80PM

Thomas Dolby

  • music aids “digestion”

Naturally 7

  • UK charts this week
  • Acapella
  • Beatboxing as a seriously amazing art form
  • Vocal play
  • Wall of sound

David Hanson

  • Robotics
  • Freaky robot faces that look human
  • Conversational response

Bill Gates

  • 2nd time at TED
  • Rebooting philanthropy
  • “Hope I’m not in the Reboot section because sometimes you need to reboot your PCs.”
  • “Any tough problem, I think, can be solved.”
  • Malaria control
    • Bed nets and DDT reduce deaths by 50%
    • Foundation backing drug research – phase 3 trials
  • Great teachers
    • Make opportunity equal for all students, not just top 20%
    • Over 30% drop out rate in US – 50% in minorities
    • Higher chance of going to jail than completing 4yr degree in US if in low income bracket
    • Best teachers not the most senior ones
    • Masters’ degree has nearly no measurable effect
    • Past performance only truly significant measure
    • KIPP program – dynamic, engaging
  • US$3.8B from Gates Foundation in 2009, half on global health initiatives
  • As you improve health there is direct correlation with reduction in population growth as parents feel they do not need to reproduce so many children who *might* survive to adulthood
  • Opportunities compound (Gladwell and Gates) – luck and skill combine
  • Don’t optimise for your epitaph

Ben Zander

  • Conductor Boston Philharmonic
  • Happy Birthday to YOU
  • We have distinguished possibility.
  • What will you do next time you sing “Happy Birthday”? Or indeed next time in anything?
  • You can choose to get up and conduct.
  • Resignation. Anger. Possibility.
  • TED chooses POSSIBILITY
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BarCamp Sydney #4 – Saturday, 15 November 2008

The (un)organisers of BarCamp Sydney have let me know that they are preparing for yet another festival of creativity to engage and excite the Australian tech and innovation community. Details below.

Date: 15 November 2008

Venue: UNSW Roundhouse

Time: 9:00AM-5:00PMpm (registration starts at 8:30AM)

Register: Do it yourself on the wiki

If you’ve never been to a BarCamp before, I highly recommend it. Make some time in your schedule. For those that have been before, I needn’t remind you how great BarCamp is. Take a look at my tag list below to see just how much of your life this might touch.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there. I’m not sure how my timetable is yet.

Do I NEED 15 shutdown choices?


Over at Joel on Software, Joel delivers a sound slapping to the designers of the new Windows Vista who have managed to give the user a mind-numbing 15 options when trying to figure out how to switch off their computer.

This confusing set of possibilities is driven by trying to offer too many options/choices in a effort to please everyone rather than proving a simple yet functional interface. What this, or any other interface needs, is a simple and direct way to access necessary functionality.

It boils down to a matter of usability being a factor in your design. Ask yourself some fundamental usability questions. I could reinvent them, but the guys at 37signals have done the work for me in their book Getting Real – the faster, smarter, easier way to build a successful web application. Read Chapter 9 – Interface Design for their thoughts on the issue.