• Plumbers and the Experience Economy

    Mechanical Contracting & Plumbing January-December 1909

  • Boyden in Conversations with Tyler

    I am a big fan of Conversations with Tyler, this chapter with Ed Bowden was particularly interesting

  • On Mastery

    I am not interested in mastering any single profession but challenging the boundaries of the discipline itself.

  • Agency, Collectiveness and Emergence

    Decentralization has ridden a wave of hype, particularly among those hoping to revolutionize marketplaces with blockchain technology and societies with more dispersed governments. “Some of this stems from political ideology having to do with a preference for bottom-up governing styles and systems with natural checks on the emergence of inequality,” Jessica Flack, an evolutionary biologist and complexity scientist at the Santa Fe Institute, wrote in an email. “And some of it stems from engineering biases … that are based on the assumption these types of structures are more robust, less exploitable.”

    But “most of this discussion,” she added, “is naive.” The line between centralization and decentralization is often blurry, and deep questions about the flow and aggregation of information in these networks persist. Even the most basic and intuitive assumptions about them need more scrutiny, because emerging evidence suggests that making networks bigger and making their parts more sophisticated doesn’t always translate to better overall performance.

  • Dennett on Judging a Judge and Intelligence Parasites

    AI in its current manifestations is parasitic on human intelligence. It quite indiscriminately gorges on whatever has been produced by human creators and extracts the patterns to be found there—including some of our most pernicious habits. These machines do not (yet) have the goals or strategies or capacities for self-criticism and innovation to permit them to transcend their databases by reflectively thinking about their own thinking and their own goals.

    They are, as Wiener says, helpless, not in the sense of being shackled agents or disabled agents but in the sense of not being agents at all—not having the capacity to be “moved by reasons” (as Kant put it) presented to them. It is important that we keep it that way, which will take some doing.

    One can imagine a sort of inverted Turing test in which the judge is on trial; until he or she can spot the weaknesses, the overstepped boundaries, the gaps in a system, no license to operate will be issued. The mental training required to achieve certification as a judge will be demanding. The urge to attribute humanlike powers of thought to an object, our normal tactic whenever we encounter what seems to be an intelligent agent, is almost overpoweringly strong.

  • Music and Math

  • Delphi Method

    In the cathedral-builder view of programming, bugs and development problems are tricky, insidious, deep phenomena. It takes months of scrutiny by a dedicated few to develop confidence that you’ve winkled them all out. Thus the long release intervals, and the inevitable disappointment when long-awaited releases are not perfect. In the bazaar view, on the other hand, you assume that bugs are generally shallow phenomena — or, at least, that they turn shallow pretty quickly when exposed to a thousand eager co-developers pounding on every single new release. Accordingly you release often in order to get more corrections, and as a beneficial side effect you have less to lose if an occasional botch gets out the door. And that’s it. That’s enough.

  • Automation, Organizations, and CX Innovation

    I learnt about this case study from the author during an HBR breakfast event yesterday and found it incredibly inspiring, as well as on–point for innovation with AI (with its technological and organizational contingencies).

  • Tett on Taxonomies

    when our classification systems become excessively rigid, and silos dangerously entrenched, this can leave us blind to risks and exciting opportunities

  • Ways of Being

    There is more than one way to be good, more than one way to be fulfilled, more than one way to navigate your career, educate your children, become proficient or pursue your goals.

  • Taleb on Stability, Stressors and Randomness

    Consider the fate of Ioannis (John) and Georgios (George), two identical twin brothers, born in Cyprus (both of them), currently both living in the Greater London area. John has been employed for twenty-five years as a clerk in the personnel department of a large bank, dealing with the relocation of employees around the globe. George is a taxi driver.

  • Immigration, Assimilation, Automation

    A very compelling conversation on FT Alphachat with Leah Platt Boustan and Margaret Peters on immigration, and economics, with the benefit of a historical context.

  • Berger on Questions

  • A Reminder on Ethics

    If you can’t articulate your ethics then someone else would. Design for agency, emotional articulation and liminal leadership don’t only apply to the collective (company, team) level, but also to the self.

  • Statistical Insignificance

    And yet this is the job often assigned to P values: a measure of how surprising a result is, given assumptions about an experiment, including that no effect exists. Whether a P value falls above or below an arbitrary threshold demarcating ‘statistical significance’ (such as 0.05) decides whether hypotheses are accepted, papers are published and products are brought to market. But using P values as the sole arbiter of what to accept as truth can also mean that some analyses are biased, some false positives are overhyped and some genuine effects are overlooked.

  • More on Nagel, and Bats

    I previously cited Nagel’s What is it Like to Be a Bat (What is it Like to Be you) but I want to bring it up again.

  • On Listening to Meaning

    The fact that more of us are listening to podcasts, morning audio briefings (I personally like the FT’s) and other audio content reminds me of the comments on encoding and decoding.

  • Reminder on Complex vs Complicated

    Complexity is a deep property of a system, whereas complication is not. A complex system dies when an element is removed, but complicated ones continue to live on, albeit slightly compromised. Removing a seat from a car makes it less complicated; removing the timing belt makes it less complex (and useless).

    Complicated worlds are reducible, whereas complex ones are not.

  • On Standardization

    The elegance of tidy assortment has not been lost on generations of statisticians, management consultants and computer scientists.

  • Mark & Pearson on Using Archetypes for Building Brands

    There was a time when successfully creating, building, and marketing brands required neither endless inspiration nor endless capital. Demand exceeded supply, and markets were uncluttered. In the main, products were physically different from each other, and brands were built on those differences.

  • Rule Makers, Rule Breakers

  • Minsky on Machine Consciousness

    Minsky making an epistemological argument of building machine consciousness (right in the beginning of the conversation, 0:12)

  • Michele Gelfand on Rules

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching Michele Gelfand’s video on Edge, which resulted in me purchasing her book, and finding these 2 pieces below.

  • Kurzweil on Forests

    I often cite this analogy from Kurzweil’s how to create a mind, I find it useful when we need to travel across levels of abstraction

  • Being Nice to Bots

    There is no need to be nice to a machine, not an objective one at least.

  • Roy and Zeckhauser on Ignorance

    Unknown outcomes can be further classified into risk and uncertainty. Risk applies when probabilities are known, as they are at gambling tables, or for insurance companies that have vast amounts of data on individual risks. Uncertainty prevails when even those probabilities are unknown, as they are for virtually all real-life decisions.

  • Ubiquity and Differentiation

    One outcome of productizing design processes and deliverables is that those are taught in university courses, MOOCs and other immersive environments to non–designers.

  • Mary Catherine Bateson on Away

    I previously shared Bateson’s comments on the psychology of epistemology. In a recent Harvard Bookstore panel (celebrating the release of Possible Minds) she made a compelling point on the use of the word ‘away’ as a logical construct which limits empathy, and forces a localized vantage point.

  • The Value of Everything

  • Design for High Variation

    Guest post by Thomas Jockin

  • Reading List Part 5: Books for the World Inside Our Heads

    Previous reading lists: Part 1part 2part 3part 4

  • On Structure

    For all of the reading, conversation and technological advancements I have been exposed to there is one simple litmus test I have successfully held on to in routing tasks to humans or machines.

  • Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI

  • On Meta Writing Humans, Rent–seeking Products, and Liminal Services

    I loved reading Friedman’s visit to 24.7 in Bangalore, India:A.I. Still Need H.I. [Human Intelligence], for Now

  • Understandable by Humans, Executable by Machines

    Stephen Wolfram thinks that language is the key for a future in which machines and humans grow together. His argument is compelling, and I urge you to watch his video AI & The Future Of Civilization.

  • Between Taleb and Pinker

    Between Taleb doom’s–dayTurkey Problem, andPinker’s boundless faith in technologythere is an opportunity for thoughtfulness. The dichotomy of their opinions is a proxy of behavioralism and rationalism, respectively. By negotiating both we can create as more balanced conversation between our tools, processes and ambitions.

  • The Opportunity Cost of ‪Not Pursuing Interests

    Pursuing interests (defined as an intentional practice, driving your own bus) has obvious happiness benefits. 

  • On Meta Over Matter

    As we’re getting better at incrementalism through sprint and agile practices what we’re really after is a “new reality” invention. Ideas that operate on dimensions not yet discovered, disruptors.

  • Russel on Machine’s Objective

    In both the logical-planning and rational-agent views of AI, the machine’s objective—whether in the form of a goal, a utility function, or a reward function (as in reinforcement learning)—is specified exogenously.

  • On Fermi Decomposition

    As we’re starting to think about measuring meaning, and qualitative complexity I find Fermi Decomposition to be a tangible example of the value of reducing ambiguity, and thinking beyond (top down) mathematics.

  • Properties of Nature, and of the Human Mind

    Reading David Krakauer’s announcement on the collaboration between Santa Fe Institute and National Science Foundation I discovered Murray Gell-Mann’s paper, “Nature Conformable To Herself”. Gell-Mann won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions.” 

  • On Context, and Meaning

    For all of the talk of the deficiencies of attention economy and data hoarding products it is important to state the other side of it. Those systems exist because of the actions of agents within them. By accepting (current grade of) collective systems of communication we’re selling our attention, and meaning short, and choose not to look at the balance sheet until much later.

  • On Conquests

    Epistemological conquests–defined here as obtaining universal knowledge about a thing–are tricky in a complex world. Not because they’re impossible, but because the interconnectedness of ideas is increasingly difficult to map, & it is changing exponentially.

  • The Efficiency Machine

    “Marketing is one of those complex fields of human activity, like military strategy or sex, where efficiency and effectiveness are poorly correlated”

    —Rory Sutherland, Advertising is in a Crisis But Not Because It Does Not Work

  • Lars Peter Hansen on the Need for Models

    The most reckless and treacherous of all theorists is he who professes to let facts and figures speak for themselves, who keeps in the background the part he has played, perhaps unconsciously, in selecting and grouping them —Alfred Marshall, 1885

  • AI and Context 

    Algorithms, like all math based decision–making systems are completely blind to context.

  • Parking Your Car

    The unlearning mind curiously travels. Wondering between thoughts, crossing over boundaries of disciplines, dogmas, or norms.

  • Dennett on Thinking in Pictures

  • Feynman on Why

  • Stationary Identity

    A function of the attention economy (real–estate and not plumbers) is that our actions, messages, and social activity are captured in a reservoir of data . From a quantified-self perspective this can be positive, allowing us to recall places we visited, or find someone we met in a conference. But it also has a deep effect on our cognitive development.

  • On Collective Nudging, and Individualism

    If you work for yourself you’re likely to have had to articulate your interests, ambitions, goals – effectively stacking up to your agency. That might not necessarily be the case if you’re in a more structured environment, where your needs are taken care by the collective company.

  • When Someone Else is Doing Your Job

    In today’s world someone else is always taking your job, just slowly. This transition – in a true to form manner – is truly agile, and not a waterfall one.

  • Albert Ellis On Rational Living

  • Advertising After Ads

    For all of the talk about the shortcomings of data hoarding (Facebook et al) I don’t know that we – as an industry– have put forward an alternative which will get people inspired, and excited to pay for.

  • Stepping Out of Our Profession

    [THE TOTAL DESIGN MODEL (HOLLINS AND PUGH 1990)](http://sk.sagepub.com/books/managing-service-operations/n4.xml)

  • On Ambiguity

    Ambiguity is an integral dimension to the creative work, often ignored by creatives and designers.

  • The People I Seek

    This is a request. A meta request. If you have been reading – and enjoying these daily posts and emails – I am asking you to invite like–minds to join the conversation. I am asking you to help spread the word by sending a note to a handful of people who too are interested in meta over matter, in working beyond the limits of the efficiency machine, and in the beautiful white space that happens between applied academia, smart business and art.

  • On Individualism

    If we follow the line of logic that we live in a reality of our own fashioning, & that professional agency (curiosity, interests, liminality) trumps skills (The Who–you–are–before–what–you–do model) then is follows taht we’re arriving to an incredibly independent place.

  • Opinions, Options and Metrics

    Opinions are subjective, and as such are limited in their optionality by the number of people whose reality overlaps with ours. Beyond a certain threshold the very cognitive foundation that our opinion is built on is eroded, and our opinions retract back to the world inside our head.

  • Prototyping, and Scarcity

    Experimentation is in the core of human creativity, learning and meaning but I can’t escape the thought of the risk of wastefulness that comes from anecdotal (purposeless) making.

  • Theory U

    “While participating in numerous profound innovation and change projects and initiatives, I realized that while most experienced leaders actually do know these deeper levels of the U from their own experience, most organizations, institutions, and larger systems are firmly stuck on levels 1 or 2. Why? I believe it is because we lack a new social leadership technology. Without a new leadership technology, change-makers and leaders don’t really shift fields but end up with more of the same. We call these attempts “restructuring,” “redesigning,” or “re-engineering,” and more often than not they serve only to deepen our frustration and cynicism.

    What I am suggesting as an alternative is to develop a new type of social technology that is based on three instruments that each of us already has—an open mind, an open heart, and an open will—and to cultivate these capacities not only individually but also collectively.

    The first instrument, or capacity, the open mind, is based on our ability to access our intellectual, or IQ, type of intelligence. This allows us to see with fresh eyes, to deal with the objective figures and facts around us. As the saying goes, the mind works like a parachute: it only functions when it is open. The second capacity, the open heart, relates to our ability to access our emotional intelligence, or EQ; that is, our capacity to empathize with others, to tune in to different contexts, and to put ourselves into someone else’s shoes. The third capacity, the open will, relates to our ability to access our authentic purpose and self. This type of intelligence is also sometimes referred to as intention or SQ (spiritual intelligence or self-knowledge). It deals with the fundamental actions of letting go and letting come.”

    Otto Scharmer. “Theory U.”

  • Adam Tooze on FT Alphachat

    Wonderful listen on FT, in particular the first part of it (up to 10th minute). A couple of points that really stuck with me were the concept of politics vs policy (which I will link to earlier posts on behavioral vs rational), and the comment by Tooze on the fallacy of the self assigned Davos’ brief to design globalization 4.0.

  • Diversity is Uncomfortable

    “The most powerful forms of ideological effect are those which need no words, but merely a complicitous silence”

  • Josef Albers on Experience


  • David Chalmers on Consciousness, Subjectivity and Science

  • On Design

  • Complexity and Sensemaking in 1931

    Forecasting is necessary because the modern economic system with its related social order is highly dynamic in character.

  • Embedded Craft vs Embossed Craft

    When we (humans) were part of the production process (say of a shoe), we would put our touch on it, so shoe ‘a’ was different than shoe ‘b’. We might have picked a different material, finished with a different stitch, or run out of a certain sole material.
    The differentiation was embedded in every stage of the product. The experience of using such a product would unfold as more details become clear, and the relationship with the object (and brand) would grow with time.

  • Dimensionality

    When we say that something is multidimensional it means it has different, & unconnected variables.

  • Mary Catherine Bateson on Not Knowing What We Need To Know

    Until fairly recently, computers could not be said to learn. To create a machine that learns to think more efficiently was a big challenge. In the same sense, one of the things that I wonder about is how we’ll be able to teach a machine to know what it doesn’t know but that it might need to know in order to address a particular issue productively and insightfully.

  • Sutherland on Efficiency

    Marketing is one of those complex fields of human activity, like military strategy or sex, where efficiency and effectiveness are poorly correlated.

  • Hannah Ardent about Feeling at Home

  • The Tediousness of Talking about Feelings

    Talking about your feelings is tiring. First you need to set the stage for your inner reality. Where you’re from, nuances relevant to what you’re about to share (hopefully you find and articulate these nuances, otherwise it might get messy).

  • Decoding Not Encoding

    So much has been written about how AI affect the human condition. Will we be replaced or augmented? Is the human race about to benefit from or be destroyed by these autonomous tools? This is only half of the narrative.

  • Universality, and the Problem with AI Product Design

    AI (machine learning, advanced algorithmic tools) is a wonderful suite of technologies. When applied with nothing but brute force (say to capture attention, make decisions, replace craftspeople) unintended things happen (Facebook ad overdrive, biased algorithms, too rigid of machine production).

  • Big Mind

  • Brands Have Feelings Too

    When talking about design for the world inside your head (EQ, who you are not only what you do) brands are no different.

  • Between Conviction and Determination

    Conviction is internal motivation (compass), determination is self–policing.

  • Shiller on Narratives, and the World Inside Your Head

    The human brain has always been highly tuned towards narratives, whether factual or not, to justify ongoing actions, even such basic actions as spending and investing. Stories motivate and connect activities to deeply felt values and needs.

  • More on Design for The World Inside your Head

    In a world of abundance and cheapening production costs the world outside your head is getting crowded (specifically to innovate in). More is being made, and more efficiently (thanks to both humans and robots, increasingly the latter).

  • Rationalism is Overrated

    If we all live in our own version of reality then pushing science further only helps our version of reality (in a world of abundance, where making things is diminishing in returns).

  • Art, Prompts and Bugs

    If we (pragmatically) accept the idea that art is in the eye of the beholder (computed by your beliefs and views of the world) then machines can’t make art. All they make is things we don’t expect, and then we assign artistic value and meaning to that output, like seeing beauty in a splash of paint or shapes in clouds.

  • Between Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Articulation

    Emotional intelligence (on the side of the practitioner) is a prerequisite for empathy, human centered design and to some extent encapsulates the entire field of ethnography.

  • Forward Propagating Design

    Probabilistic modeling and techniques of reducing ambiguity about the future are by large forward propagating. Machine learning and AI is back propagating.

  • Antifragile

    “A turkey is fed for a thousand days by a butcher; every day confirms to its staff of analysts that butchers love turkeys with increased statistical confidence. The butcher will keep feeding the turkey until a few days before Thanksgiving.
    Then comes that day when it is really not a very good idea to be a turkey. So with the butcher surprising it, the turkey will have a revision of belief—right when its confidence in the statement that the butcher loves turkeys is maximal and “it is very quiet” and soothingly predictable in the life of the turkey.  This example builds on an adaptation of a metaphor by Bertrand Russell. The key here is that such a surprise will be a Black Swan event; but just for the turkey, not for the butcher.
    We can also see from the turkey story the mother of all harmful mistakes: mistaking absence of evidence (of harm) for evidence of absence, a mistake that we will see tends to prevail in intellectual circles and one that is grounded in the social sciences.
    So our mission in life becomes simply “how not to be a turkey,” or, if possible, how to be a turkey in reverse—antifragile, that is. “Not being a turkey” starts with figuring out the difference between true and manufactured stability.

  • A Reminder about Average

    “In speaking of the individual it must be understood that we are not attempting to speak of this or that man in particular; we must turn to the general impression that remains after having considered a great number of people,” Quetelet wrote in 1835. “Removing his individuality we will eliminate all that is accidental.1

  • We are the Bottleneck

    In today’s age of technological abundance it is us who are the bottle neck. Our abilities to frame the way we make decisions, the way we think of our systems (and their constitutes) and our resistance to  new cognitive buckets (opinions; as opposed to listening to the ones that fit to our existing ones).

  • Getting Ahead of Automation

    Getting ahead of automation is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is to ask yourself: (1) what am I interested in? (2) that people pay me for?

  • Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)

  • Symphony of Complexity

    When designing for agency (physics for thinking electrons) we must consider a deeper palette of human ambitions, goals and actions than the simple average.  We need to consider that our users thoughts are deep, and that they are instantiated (not the same, different from one instance to another).

  • More on the Standing Ovation Problem

    Another compelling aspect of The Standing Ovation Problem (previously mentioned here) is the concept of celebrities and intellectuals.

  • Liminal Leaders

  • The Standing Ovation Problem

    The Standing Ovation Problem is a fascinating and useful model to understand social phenomena (say social network) and think of any design that involves agents with own wishes and needs (i.e. humans).

  • Nassim Taleb on Complexity

    “Artificial, man-made mechanical and engineering contraptions with simple responses are complicated, but not “complex,” as they don’t have interdependencies.”

  • Arts & Science Salons

    Arts and Science is a salons series in New York. We welcome practitioners of all walks of professional life, and disciplines. The talks will focus on purposeful practices, liminal thinking and life–long learning.

  • The League for Qualitative Complexity

  • Common Dominator

    When designing for universality we design for a common dominator. Something we all do the same, a feature we all share (sit when we drive, walk on 2 legs). Reality then reminds us that universality is futile, we’re not all the same, and that if you look close enough the entire world is made of edge cases.

  • Seeing in Color

    “The manual training school, comprising a full statement of its aims, methods, and results, with figured drawings of shop exercises in woods and metals” (1906)

  • Future Proofing

  • The Plumber Scenario

    At present all digital systems and tools are using an architecture that is based on Model View Controller, a system designed by Alan Kay, Trygve Reenskaug and Adele Goldberg at Xerox Parc in the late 70s. The main principles of this architecture are stationary databases and proprietary interface points, with sets of functions that connect the two. Data flows from the database to the user (at view), and then back. One way at a time.

  • Multidimensional Thinking

    For too long has software development been branded as a finite discipline. We are taught to think of a computer system as a tidy problem–or rather a tidy solution–that can be exist within clear boundaries of planning, funded by the merit of its utility, and carry on as long as it is interesting to our users.

  • Post Taylorist Design

    **Not so long ago most of our furniture was made by hand. A craft person would think of an item that could be carved out of wood, one that might be desirable and useful for other people. The carpenter would consider the material, the time it took to produce a piece, how to transport it, who may buy it, and how much should it be sold for.**
    That process was as slow as it sounds, and resulted in less pieces being made, of higher grade and less fluidity in their design. In modern terms, the carpenter was the investor, designer, distributor and seller.To perform a net positive set of decisions the carpenter would need to rely on a wide gamut of nuanced signals. All the way from how the skin of a tree looked, to what ornament was trendy at the time, and how much weight can a carriage handle with the current state of its wheels.More over, all of those decisions were not transferable to the next piece of furniture the carpenter will design and sell. Each piece came with its own questions and answers. The intuition to navigate the future unknown made a carpenter successful, much more so than any one quantitive decision over another.

  • An Argument Against AGI

    Our recent attempts to compute AI, or rather AGI (artificial general Intelligence) are not new. They can be traced back quite some time.How far back depends on whom you ask, for the purpose of this write–up I will focus on Minsky, McCarthy and MIT’s AI Lab as the starting point (but we could easily go back to Turing and beyond).When Minsky and McCarthy started the lab in 1959 they were very much set on computing general intelligence. Machines that think, armed with consciousness and able at learning.They sought to achieve that by a number of means. Of varying techniques, but a shared point of view. In an interview to Jeffery Mishlove (of Thinking Allowed), John McCarthy confessed to:

  • The Art of Gathering

  • The Ideas Industry

  • Mass Produced Software

    Mass produced software (MPS) is one that put the emphasis on the cranks and bolts of a large machines, that is hard to start and even harder to stop. It is about anomaly detection, about the reduction of individualism. About robots and humans that stand in lines, about hips of data perfectly pile up against a jig.

  • Machine to Human, Instead of Human to Machine

  • Goals and Directions

  • Arts and Science, ’19

    I have been running a series of salons for the last few years (together with XXIX). Guests included business minds, scientist and philosophers. Following a bit of reflection I decided to refocus the series from science (subject matter exploration), to a more meta place. Current tagline is: A Salon Series for Practitioners with a Purpose.

  • Machines That Think Think Like Machines

    “Machines that think think like machines. That fact may disappoint those who look forward, with dread or longing, to a robot uprising. For most of us, it’s reassuring. Our thinking machines aren’t about to leap beyond us intellectually, much less turn us into their servants or pets. They’re going to continue to do the bidding of their human programmers.

  • Lower Case

    Intentionally not capitalizing could be a powerful statement. It is an act of building something new, free from any Cannon, any top town values.

  • Thoughtfulness

    Being absorbed in or involved in thought is incredibly valuable. Firstly because it is innately human (machines can’t think [not for themselves at least]), and because it is good for innovation (assembly lines don’t think either).

  • Tech Will Flood Itself Out of a Job

  • Climbing Up the Decision Making Tree

    Traditional design (up until today) deals with satisfying what people need. For when they’re out in the market, reaching their hand out to a shelf, looking for something to buy.

  • Product Cycle’s Negative Space

  • Design for Agency

    Product design exists in the real world (outside our head). We have places we need cabs for, groceries which need delivery, and music we want to listen to.

  • On Universality

    Tools are designed to be universal, of course. A hammer can’t change to be a screwdriver. With algorithms we now try and use context where possible. With data, sensors and other externalities we might try and change the behavior of our system (the catch–all promise).

  • On Experience and Efficiency

  • More on Mediation

    A tool always mediates reality. It does so by the reduction of our surrounding into a tunnel of meaning (scene, actors, feeling), and a rational utility. A tool is a model. A hammer, an algorithm, a car: all program us to behave in accordance to an implicit trade–offs.

  • Misfits Go to the Jungle

  • Mediation of Reality

    “John Muir published How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive in 1969. In one of the many asides that enliven the book and give it a countercultural feel, he wonders about the effects of some of the newfangled safety equipment, like seat belts. He writes, “If we all constantly drive as if we are strapped to the front of the car like Aztec sacrifices so we’d be the first thing hit, there would be a lot less accidents.”

  • Plumbers

    Plumbers are an unexpected protagonist in the story of human machine collaboration.

  • Software is a False Realestate Business

    In the real world bricks are laid, and cement in poured into a finite set of rooms and apartments (n). Those are then sold to their respective new owners, and the value of each each unit (u) is x / U*n

  • Inspiration is an Emergent Property of Meaning

    Needy brands need love, acceptance, and mind–share in order to grow. In return they give people utility, and a solution to what they ask.

  • Roads, Not Cars

    Building cars is tricky business. A car is an intricate set of mechanisms, technologically sophisticated systems, intertwined and packaged in an aesthetically pleasing box.

  • Scarcity

  • More on People Acting Like Websites

    We encounter robots every day.

  • More on Robots

    Robots do only what they’re told. Robots can’t generate an original thought, or when they do it is because of an anomaly in their scripts.

  • The Long Tail is a Facade

    The Long Tail is 3 dimensional, it is more of a long facade. Behind each of those points hides an instance of an offering, a system. Some are shallow (Peach) and some are deep (APC Surplus).

  • Stumbling on Happiness

  • Deliver a Line, Not a Point

    Strategy draws a line of meaning, and finds the exact right dot on it. For example: A product bridges the tension between independence and belonging, with an exact point of balance between the two.

  • The Problem with Minimalism

    [Theo Van Doesburg, Counter-Composition VI 1925 ](https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/theo-van-doesburg-1017)

  • Cybernetics and the NP Problem

    Norbert Wiener branded the field of cybernetics with his 1948 book, where he formulated the ideas of feedback and self correction. Since then a lot of this logic has been used in system thinking (especially around design and design thinking) and AI (primarily in the pursuit of thinking machine).

  • Vaguely Understanding

    When we use our intuition independently, or follow a mutual custom (say in our work place, or in cultural setting) we understand what we’re doing, but only vaguely.

  • Machine Impossibility

    Machine impossibility is impossible, this supposed paradox reveals a human condition we take for granted.

  • Knowing is Not a Binary State

    As humans, we store information and ideas in complex 3 dimensional structures. Accounting for nuances, weight of logic and auxiliary topics. When we need to use an idea we slice through that 3d spatial matrix and render a flat idea, into a sentence for example, or a decision.

  • AI and Gravity

    Imagine I installed a bucket of paint on top of a ladder, with a canvas underneath. I carefully balance the bucket of paint, and measure the amount of paint in it. I connect a small string to the handle of the bucket, and once all components were ready I pull the string. The bucket falls, the paint spills and results in a beautiful composition, with compelling accents and negative spaces.

  • Changing on The Job

  • The Reverse 80-20 of AI–driven Services

    Because machines operate in average, what they serve might work for people close enough to that average.
    So when going to an automated doctor for a headache, or a designer bot making you a logo, if you’re close enough to the median taste (or unable to articulate your preference) such services shall seem good, and affordable.

  • What is it Like to Be You?

    Experiences write mental models for change, inspiration and empathy. We write our (and our client’s) stories into experiences, design experiential environments and use them in social interactions to foster deeper connections.

  • Discovery and Familiarity

    Algorithms only look for averages.That is due to the absolute and never discussed fact that machines operate in averages.

  • Thru–AI

    AI will is a thru–technology, and not a destination in and of itself.

  • We All Get Paid To Think

    It does not matter if you’re a carpenter, agile software coach, a CEO or a scientist. We all get paid to think. That is our commodity, which  with time should increase in value.

  • Pushing in Both Directions

    For all of the talk of liminal thinking and self reflection a lot of this written here is about technology, and innovation. Using tools in new ways, and building concoctions of tools not used before.

  • Designing With Emergence

    In a way design (especially for interactive mediums) is authoritative, or at least guiding.

  • An Act of Liminal Thinking

    The taxonomy of liminality is structure. We operate tools with different combinatorial potential. The binary light switch has the smallest one, stick shift in your car and a computer keyboard have more.

  • Friction, and Innovation on Ice

    Technological innovation – defined here as a new phenomena, packaged in a new frame for the market – is subject to friction. Existing market patterns, users’ habits or false iteration work against the goals and development of an innovation.

  • Everyone Hustle

    As we’re moving from jobs to tasks and automate certain parts of our work.

  • Complexity and Marketing

    Complexity is the science of systems of emergence.  Systems in which the internal relationship between agents results in an unexpected behavior.

  • Measuring Liminality

    I had the immense pleasure of spending a couple of days in Santa Fe, bumping into the smartest minds in complexity, science and business.

  • First Principles’ Creativity

    We talk a lot about the first tools, normally as a precursor to the story of the industrial revolutions. How the first man (or woman) sharpened a stone to be a tool, and then we got augmented. First physically then cognitively, and how we are now using algorithms to push that collaboration far beyond.

  • Perception over Expression

    Our individual, internalized perception of objective events make our sense of reality. We place objective events in an ever-evolving frame of cognition.

  • Prompts, not instructions: Meta Creativity

  • On Intelligence

  • Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe

  • The Jazz of Physics

  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

  • Machines of Loving Grace

  • How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

  • The Innovators

  • The Idea Factory

  • This Idea Must Die

  • The Inevitable

  • The Industries Of The Future

  • The End of Average

  • The Undoing Project

  • Whiplash

  • Rise of the Robots

  • Overcomplicated

  • What to Think About Machines That Think

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution

  • The Silo Effect

  • Sensemaking

  • What To Do When Machines Do Everything

  • Deep Thinking

  • Scale

  • Who Gets What ― and Why

  • The World Beyond Your Head

  • The Hero and the Outlaw

  • The Diversity Bonus

  • The Square and the Tower

  • Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

  • Exploration vs Navigation

    Referencing a comment by Shane (Parrish) in his interview with Sophie Grégoire Trudeau – the act of reading is one of self exploration. When we read we’re able to place our psyche in a new context, a new reality, without needing to build one.

  • Informational and Transformational Learning

    An informational learning process fills existing buckets with more knowledge. Say math, computer science or sociology.