from the blogosphere, 8 oct 07

from my morning read, October 8, 2007:

Arrogance + Humility = Design, from Clay Sharky at, via Core 77.

"Arrogance without humility is a recipe for high-concept irrelevance; humility without arrogance guarantees unending mediocrity..."

Why is design important?, by Niti Bhan at Perspective 2.0, again via Core 77. Bhan, a "new and emerging markets strategist" offers us several well-worded reasons:

Often the biggest challenge is to identify the real problem that must be solved, this where using design research methods and tools can help businesses at their early stage strategic planning.

Design thinking in business takes this problem solving aspect one step further. Now the tools and techniques from the field of design such as ethnographic research, rapid prototyping and conceptual brainstorming integrate with the pragmatic business frameworks of strategy, analysis and metrics to create and provide roadmaps for business innovation and competitive advantage.

Design has the tools for visualizing complex large scale systems and the insights thus derived can be applied to improving the quality of the customer’s experience, improve the efficiency of the process and offer benefits across the spectrum of applications.

The nature of the field allows it to add empathy, insights, innovative approaches to problem solving to traditional means of addressing the same challenges.

Malware, warfare and self-replication, posted at Global Guerillas, reminds me of the WorkSpace session where we had business executives glean the organizing principles of real-world "rogue networks" such as Al-Qaeda and apply them in modeling a profitable, sustainable organization they would want to lead.

In particular, the exerpt from Bruce Schneier, listing the details of Storm Worm's behavior (Storm Worm, the main subject of the post, is a new form of malware.):

  • patience
  • designed like an ant colony
  • stealth
  • distributed/resilient command and control
  • rapid evolution
  • retaliation

Any company or organization that can consistently embody these behaviors will go a long ways towards success over near and far horizons.

Spectum's recent interview with Arthur C. Clarke on the occassion of Sputnik's 50th anniversary. He has an interesting take on humankind's exploration of space: That it was a technological mutation ahead of its time, driven by politics and patriotism. While an argument can be made that, no matter these driving forces, the push into space catalyzed tremendous technological innovation of imeasurable value, I read into Clarke's response a caution: When we bring a technology into the world "before its time," we greatly increase the likelihood of unintended negative consequences as a result.

SPECTRUM: A lot of what was achieved at the beginning of the Space Age—from Sputnik to the first landing on the moon—was spurred on by the rivalry that was the Cold War. Without that competition, do you think the human impetus to reach for space has slowed somewhat?
CLARKE: Launching Sputnik and landing humans on the Moon were all political decisions, not scientific ones, although scientists and engineers played a lead role in implementing those decisions. (I have only recently learned, from his long-time secretary Carol Rosin, that Wernher von Braun used my 1952 book, The Exploration of Space, to convince President Kennedy that it was possible to go to the Moon.) As William Sims Bainbridge pointed out in his 1976 book, The Spaceflight Revolution: A Sociological Study, space travel is a technological mutation that should not really have arrived until the 21st century. But thanks to the ambition and genius of von Braun and Sergei Korolev, and their influence upon individuals as disparate as Kennedy and Khrushchev, the Moon—like the South Pole—was reached half a century ahead of time.
I hope that nations can at last see better reasons for exploring space, and that future decisions would be informed by intelligence and reason, not the macho-nationalism that fuelled the early Space Race.

Over at WorldChanging, John Lebkowsky reviewed the recently published Charrette Handbook: The Essential Guide for Accelerated, Collabrative Community Planning. Lebkowsky offers a good intrduction to the Charrette process, including its origins:

Imagine that you're a 19th century design student at the École de Beaux-Arts in France, working feverishly on a design project that's due right now. The design school's custom is to send a cart 'round to collect final drawings from students when the deadline arrives. So the cart rolls by, and you're still working away, quill in hand, perfecting your design. You see the cart and you figure, what the hell — you might as well hop in and keep working'til the cart's done making its rounds. Along the way the cart fills up with a whole herd of students like yourself, all working feverishly away as the cart clatters through the Paris streets.

Design charrettes and DesignShops have much in common, from the language they use to the processes they employ in soliciting collective intelligence. In fact, when describing the DesignShop process, I've called it "a charrette on steroids" to those familar with charrettes. While many of the underlying design assumptions and principles are shared, DesignShops take the collaborative environment, knowledge worker support and embrace of multiple intelligences to a whole different level than the typical charrette. I haven't had any direct experience with a charrette process for about 10 years, though, and it seems to have grown both more sophisticated and systematized. The new Handbook is worth checking out.