...really good teaching is about not seeing the world the way that everyone else does...

"Good teachers perceive the world in alternative terms, and they push their students to test out these new, potentially enriching perspectives. Sometimes they do so in ways that are, to say the least, peculiar."
Mark Edmundson, "Geek Lessons" NYT, 2008

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

MIT Mobile Experience Lab

The MIT Mobile Experience Lab seeks to radically reinvent and creatively design connections between people, information and physical places. Using cutting-edge information and mobile technology the lab seeks to improve peopleʻs lives through the careful design of meaningful experiences.


Alberto Frigo: Progress report

Since 2004, different methods have been continuosly performed to create a total documentation throughout 36 years of the life of an individual, namely from his 24th to his 60th year of age. Using a commonly available medium, each method depicts a unique aspect of his life and surrounding. The resulting records are like the languages of a Rosetta stone that have to be actively interpreted and compare. This website is only meant to show-case a selection of the monthly production based on the different continents and sub-continents visited by the documenting individual. Furthermore this website showcase the parallel activities conducted along the actual archive.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Sometimes to look forwards we have to look backwards

A whole website of the future that never was, ranging from the bizarre to the quite extraordinarily accurate - for instance the tablet forerunner to the ipad - amazingly accurate and detailed description of how this device could transform the print industry and the social setting for accessing information.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Ultimate Turing Test

by David Barberi, 1992.


The Turing Test


Peter Diamandis – The best way to predict the future

Peter Diamandis, Chairman and Co-Founder of Singularity University, discusses the best way to predict the future, and shares his personal philosophies on innovation and the commercial space industry. Flimed at Singularity University’s Executive Program, March 2010.


Singularity University


FutureMed at Singularity University: How Will Technology Impact the Future of Healthcare and Medicine?

Exploring and driving the future of medicine through exponential, game changing technologies.

How will rapidly developing technologies such as the low cost genomic sequencing, artificial intelligence, telemedicine, robotics, 24/7 body wearable monitors, smart pills, stem cells, synthetic biology, gene therapy, mobile phone Apps and crowd sourced health data affect the future of healthcare and medicine?


Augmented reality goes beyond gimmicks

...."The smartphone is the catalyst for all of this: holding your phone up to an object and getting rich digital information from the internet that is tightly registered to that object. We say that is a paradigm shift."


Can robots know the difference between right and wrong?

Robots can walk on the surface of Mars, and, more importantly still, they can even carry a plate of drinks from the kitchen to the living room. But they are hopeless at negotiating the moral maze of ethical decisions that confront humans everyday.
So will this eventually be the robot's undoing? David Reid reports.


How Happy Are You? A Census Wants to Know

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — When they filled out the city’s census forms this spring, the people of Somerville got a new question. On a scale of 1 to 10, they were asked, “How happy do you feel right now?” Surveys are asking residents like Lee Simonds about their city, as well as questions that seem plucked from a personality test. Officials here want this Boston suburb to become the first city in the United States to systematically track people’s happiness.



Ninja is a theatrical, turn-based combat game!
Goal: Be the only remaining Ninja! Eliminate opponents by striking their hands with your own on your turn.

How to Play:
1) Players form a circle, each standing arm's width away from each other.
2) On the count of "3..2..1.. NINJA", all players jump into Ninja poses.
3) Winner of the last round begins. Turn order proceeds clockwise.
4) On your turn, you are allowed to make one swift Ninja-like movement. This can involve your whole body. Eliminate others by striking their hand - the wrist is not included. You must stiffly hold the position you end your move in.
5) You are allowed to move once the player before you has finished his/her attack. If the previous player is not attacking, you may take your turn as soon as they move.
6) If you are attacked by another player, you may dodge using only your arms.
7) When only two players remain, they begin the final duel. The remaining Ninjas stop fighting, bow, and stand back-to-back. On the count of "3..2..1.. NINJA" they jump into poses. The boldest goes first and play resumes normally. The game ends when one player remains.

a) Be Ridiculous! Winners are not necessarily the most celebrated players; playing with style is more important.
b) No pullbacks! You must remain in the position you finished your move in... again: ONE SWIFT FLUID MOTION
c) All players must have open palms at all moments in the game. Hands cannot be pressed directly to your body.
d) Be truthful! If your hand was struck, you're out.
e) The only referee is the crowd. Impress the crowd, and you might be able to get away with a bit here and there.
f) Have fun! Remember, there will always be another game of Ninja.


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Digging Deeper, Seeing Farther: Supercomputers Alter Science

Computer power not only aids research, it defines the nature of that research: what can be studied, what new questions can be asked, and answered.


Visualized: ring around the world of data center power usage

Facebook may have recently boasted about how energy efficient its data centers are, but it is still Facebook, and that means it consumes plenty of power regardless -- more than anyone else, in fact, according to Peer1's recent survey of the world's most visited websites. As you can see above, that bit of data has also been conveniently visualized by the company in a colorful chart (with a noticeable lack of green), and there's plenty more details where that came from for you to dive into in the infographic linked below.


HUMAN+ explores the technologically enhanced future of our species

What do we mean when we speak about human enhancement? New York University professor Wafaa Bilal recently had a video camera implanted on a titanium base in the back of his skull. Leaving wires dangling awkwardly along his neck, the camera sent images to a remote server every 60 seconds. Students' concerns over their privacy, faced with a teacher who for once really did have eyes in the back of his head, forced Bilal to wear a lens cap while teaching, somewhat defeating the point.

A few months later an infection forced Bilal to remove the camera, and simply wear it around his neck, but he remains keen to have it back in his skull as soon as possible. Why? What is the difference, you might wonder, between a camera strapped to someone's neck and the same camera attached to the skull with a titanium plate? To Bilal, it is all about a demonstration of 'commitment', making the painful surgery and risk of infection worthwhile. Bilal's messy piece of DIY illustrates some of the challenges around popular perceptions of human enhancement.


Beyond Buildings

As It Lives and Breathes

The ground is no longer underfoot. It lives and breathes, surrounding you with tiaras, candelabras, reefs, and stalagmites that pulse, flutter, and ripple in a manner that belies their mineral forms. This is architecture as living jewelry.


The microchip at 50: the end of Moore's Law?

Monday will mark the 50th anniversary of the patent for a silicon integrated circuit, awarded to Robert Noyce, an electronics engineer who was later nicknamed “the mayor of Silicon Valley”.

Decades later we are still living in the revolution that began almost immediately, but there are growing signs that Moore’s Law – the famously accurate prediction that the number of transistors will double every two years – is ready for retirement.


Monday, 25 April 2011

SUSPENSE— International Symposium on Rethinking Research

Wednesday May 4th 2011
Cinema Zuid (Antwerp, Belgium)

Antwerp University Association (AUHA) | Faculty of the Arts

Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp

Sint Lucas University College of Art & Design Antwerp

In the current discourse on research in the arts, artistic research is almost systematically set against the (exact or human) sciences. Research in the arts is generally seen as a deviation from or negation of this scientific, discursive standard, whether desirable or not. This research conference aims to challenge this association by placing non-discursive research centre stage. Different forms of knowing are juxtaposed, not for the sake of hierarchization, but as a means to dynamize, to rethink the notion of research from a different perspective.

In Image et subversion (2005), Stéphane Lojkine (Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille II) discusses "le mystère du sens" ('the mystery of meaning') in relation to the work of art, that cannot be captured immediately by a clear definition or meaning: "[L]e sens de l'oeuvre d'art résiste à l'interprétation" ('the meaning of the artwork resists interpretation') and distinguishes itself in that sense from a utilitarian text such as a user's manual. Lojkine coins the term "suspens" ('suspense') to designate this delay of meaning, of symbolical deciphering. Opposite suspense—as delayed or 'suspended' meaning—stands "sens" ('sense'), the deciphering knowledge of the rational mind. Suspense relates in that context to Jacques Rancière's notion of the "image pensive," an image whose final meaning remains indecisive (Le spectateur émancipé, 2008), or to Jean-Luc Nancy's conception of the image as the presentation of an absence, a displacement and thus of a lack of sense (Au fond des images, 2003).

Suspense is embedded in an "iconic," non-discursive logic that is not necessarily limited to the image in a strict sense, but that can more generally point to a different, non-discursive frame of reference. The image forms "un trou dans le discours" ('a gap in the discourse') and as such is neither formalized, nor (yet) encapsulated in a determining superstructure. According to Lojkine, the potential for subversion lies in the iconic moment of suspense. In the first shock, the instant of non-understanding, that urges us to look again, to reread, rethink, research, the artwork opens up possibilities for subversion. As Jacques Derrida underlines in Psyché: Inventions de l'autre (1998), 'invention' always implies an element of disorder, of illegality, making inroads into the existing discourse, creating alternative passageways.

By linking Lojkine's notion of suspense to research in the arts, this conference aims to raise the question as to how scientific research relates to artistic research and to what extent artistic research, or research in general, can create a space for subversion, for that which commonly slips through the meshes of a well-defined discursive discourse? Further questions that can be addressed are: How can 'suspense' function within an institutional framework? How to engage with the burden of knowing? How to deal with not knowing? How to base research on disorder, on absence or displacement of sense?

Full programme


It is time again to continue our quest for Utopia, to start another round in this extraordinary competition. We are at this point only in the start-up phase of what will be more than a year-long venture into the comtemporary utopian landscape. We would be very happy if you would care to join us by contributing with you essay or short story. Sign up in the form to the right and we will get back to you when it is time to proceed.

The Utopian World Championship (UWC) is an open, global competition in utopian thinking and writing that has been arranged twice since the launch of the first competition in March 2001.


Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Terminators: drone strikes prompt MoD to ponder ethics of killer robots

The growing use of unmanned aircraft in combat situations raises huge moral and legal issues, and threatens to make war more likely as armed robots take over from human beings, according to an internal study by the Ministry of Defence.


Friday, 15 April 2011

Science and Secrets in New York City Playgrounds

A BRONZE dragon. Squares that chime underfoot. A gargantuan seesaw that allows a few children to lift many. And water, water everywhere. Playgrounds just aren’t what they used to be.


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Call for submissions, Conditions Issue #8: Preparing for the Unknown

February 8, 2011
Most of the time forecasts about the future are based on today. Prophecies end up being smaller adjustments of the existing.
By painting a picture of the future you have automatically gone into the trap, consciously or not, acquiring knowledge needed
to fulfill the prediction. What if it’s wrong? The future will always be unknown.

Is it possible to have a long term perspective taking future generations into consideration without knowing about the future?
How do you develop strategies that are adaptable to future unknown?

CONDITIONS believes that education should play a central role in developing these strategies for the unknown future.

Send your visual material, projects, articles or abstracts to submission@conditionsmagazine.com by the 1st of April.
Deadline for final submissions is the 1st of May.

CONDITIONS magazine #8, Preparing for the Unknown

There may be a chance to submit some of the work from the course for consideration at Conditions Magazine, a new and well-executed independent, Scandinavian magazine for architecture and urbanism (and more besides):

CONDITIONS have the pleasure to announce our new collaboration with Skin Designstudio. We are very grateful for their enthusiastic acceptance to design the next issue of CONDITIONS magazine #8, Preparing for the Unknown.


While the first call had a 1st April deadline, it may be possible to submit work by their second deadline – 1 May. I'll inquire if anyone is interested.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Koji Wakayama: Can machines have experiences?

Robots are invading our lives. The robotic revolution has begun without many of us noticing. Where there were just a few computers around just a few decades ago, today there are more microprocessors in the world than people. Even if it appears to be a steady and linear trend in technological development in fact statistics show a progress that is accelerating explosively with an exponential growth begging for our attention. World leading practitioners within A.I. research imagine that in the coming years, the number of robots could also exceed the number of people. Ray Kurzweil predicts that future machines will exceed human capabilities in the next 20 years, exceeding human complexity including our emotional intelligence, and be capable of emotional and spiritual experiences.(1) This statement should not go unnoticed - Experience Designers will be expected to take a role in helping to develop experiences for robots.

Scientists and engineers have made relentless progress in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Development. Their predictions for the next 20 years are as bold as they can be. Driven by both, technological optimism and concern, this research community is envisioning and inacting a future when artificial beings will enter and transform our lives in ways we can't yet imagine. The space for the designer and other practitioners within the creative disciplines to make valuable contributions has been to a large extent been left unexplored. This condition leaves the contemporary designer outside of the discourse and therefore unprepared for tomorrow's complex design challenges. My thesis as an Experience Designer is that we have to account for the experiences of robots if we wish to play a role in the design of some of the most significant experiences in our future.

Read more.

EDG Play Methods 2

Elaboration and extension of existing rules (e.g. table tennis, indoor football etc) to create balance, so that the game continues – with equal opportunities; Iteration & repetition/ritual (Alberto Frigo); Dissemination and Narrativity (John Freyer allmylifeforsale.com); exclusion (Emma); chain of information (e.g. facial expressions) as "Chinese Whispers"/"Broken Telephone"; distortion; pass the human expression (Fernanda); renaming the world and rediscovering it through trust/sightlessness - storytelling and interruption by parenthesis (Mariana); setting yourself free (Sarin, free running/parcour - e.g. MY PLAYGROUND by Kaspar Astrup Schröder); Dogtown and Z-Boys (Emma); appropriation; zombies tag humans (Nandi); surmounting obstacles, teamwork, constraints, goals (survival); physical pursuit and release; conversational traps using forbidden words (Ivan)...

American Journal of Play

Latest issue here.

Scott Eberle on the importance of play

The second of our presenters from Strong, Scott Eberle is the Vice President for Interpretation at Strong. In his fun and fascinating talk, Scott discusses the science behind play, and discoveries that have been made in recent years that show that play is more than a way of introducing skills to youngsters (such as teaching cats to be hunters), but a way in which individuals can relate and interact with each other in fun and enjoyable ways. Please note, I said “individuals”, not “people”. Play is one of the few universals that traverses and even brings together disparate species! In this interesting talk which spans from exhibits of the French civil war on roller skates to rats giggling when tickled, you’ll learn so much about a subject that should be more important in all of our lives…


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Derek Jarmen: Wittgenstein (1993)

"If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done."

Watch Derek Jarmen's Wittgenstein (1993).

Monday, 4 April 2011

Playing with fire

'Some people have this idea that sharks will attack on sight and this is not true at all. My goal is to show people that sharks and humans can under most circumstances share the same space.'

Read more.

"Philosophy ought really to be written only as a form of poetry."

"What is the use of studying philosophy if it doesn't improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life? It is the pressing question Wittgenstein asked himself throughout his career as a philosopher."

Excerpted from WITTGENSTEIN'S LADDER: POETIC LANGUAGE AND THE STRANGENESS OF THE ORDINARY, by Marjorie Perloff published by the University of Chicago Press. Copyright © 1996 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.


The limits of empathy

What is it like to be a bat?
by Thomas Nagel

Consciousness is what makes the mind-body problem really intractable. Perhaps that is why current discussions of the problem give it little attention or get it obviously wrong. The recent wave of reductionist euphoria has produced several analyses of mental phenomena and mental concepts designed to explain the possibility of some variety of materialism, psychophysical identification, or reduction.1 But the problems dealt with are those common to this type of reduction and other types, and what makes the mind-body problem unique, and unlike the water-H2O problem or the Turing machine-IBM machine problem or the lightning-electrical discharge problem or the gene-DNA problem or the oak tree-hydrocarbon problem, is ignored.


Assignment 1

Title: Hacking the Humanities
Purpose: Apply play to understand and transform philosophical practice
Materials: Extract (free choice) from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, textual interventions (creative-critical method), staging.
Groups: two groups of 2 and 3 students.
Due: 10.00 in E1 Tuesday 5th April 2011

To recap the steps in the assignment:

1. Identify a passage from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations that addresses explicitly or implicitly an area related to course themes (play, games, rule-following etc). Discuss it in your group. Identify the different strategies used in the text (inner dialogue i.e. thinking against the self, invitations to play – "Consider this...Imagine the following....If...Let's pretend....", examples, picturing, hypotheses, performative elements etc). In what ways does the text 'stage' a process of thinking?

2. In order to better understand the text, apply the "textual interventions" technique that we explored on Wednesday in relation to Descartes' "I think therefore I am" (reference - Rob Pope: "Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies for Literary Studies") by substituting pronouns, verbs, temporality, clauses etc in the existing text. What new versions can you generate by this means? What does the new version tell you about the arguments and 'world view' (assumptions) underpinning the original extract that you selected.

3. Having already identified the dialogic qualities of the text (see 1.) apply a further level of transformation by now assigning roles/speakers/agencies to the dialogue partners in your new version. Find ways to spatialize or materialize these roles – how can the 'argument' now be performed away from the page? Prepare a presentation of up to 15 minutes for Tuesday 10.00 in E1.

4. Explain how (or if) play as a dual creative-critical strategy has given you a different quality of engagement with Wittgenstein's text, particularly in regards the performative quality of his philosophical writing.

Rolf Hughes: The Performance of Uncertainty (discusses Wittgenstein and practical knowledge)
Rolf Hughes: The DROWNING METHOD (discusses Air Trance 16)
Rob Pope: "Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies for Literary Studies"
EDG Play Publication (2010)

IDEO Method Cards App

51 ways to help you explore new approaches and develop your own

The Method Cards app is released as a free download with 8 cards for you to experience on your iPhone or iTouch. You can purchase the full deck of 51 cards for $4.99 within the application, eliminating the step of having to leave the app to upgrade your experience.

IDEO Method Cards were first released in 2003 as a printed deck intended as inspiration for practicing and aspiring designers, as well as those seeking a creative spark in their work. With more than ten thousand decks in distribution, an IDEA Silver award and continued coverage in the press, we are very proud of the tool’s success in the marketplace. However, as a design tool meant to help people explore new approaches and develop their own, we realized it was time to evolve its form. We wanted to experiment with a mobile platform and make it more readily available to an ecosystem of users who can take this tool to a new level. Thus, the Method Cards iPhone app.


Thursday, 31 March 2011

Scientific Theatre

Technology is becoming increasingly people centric. Intelligent environments, pervasive and ubiquitous computing, sensing and mobile technology etc are all about people interacting with technology. It is more crucial nowadays, than ever, to open up research in these areas to a broader audience, to explain (often sophisticated) research advances to non-scientists, as well as to get contributions and feedback from experts outside the IT field.

This one-day workshop is an attempt to set up an ‘intelligent environment’ where everyone can understand everything despite their background, culture, professional language or field of expertise. To achieve this, the most ancient form of communication, namely creative art (along with the more conventional methods, such as academic writing), will be used as means to convey scientific achievements related to the topic of Intelligent Environments to as wide an audience as is possible.

The primary goal of the workshops is to explore:
· What various disciplines have to say about, and can contribute, to the future development of Intelligent Environments.
· How concepts used in non-technical research fields could be used to advance the technological development of Intelligent Environments.
· In what way various disciplines outside science and technology can benefit from the latest achievements in IT in order to establish the environments people would like to work and live in.
· How achievements in various research and development fields could be effectively communicated to a multidisciplinary audience.


DT on Play (cont'd)

We then sorted these notes into three categories:

i) Verbs/Actions
ii) Nouns/equipment
iii) Values/emotions

(additional categories that could have been useful included iv) roles/characters, and v) sites/locations).

Design thinking session on play 31.3.11

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A piece of "emotional engineering (...) to turn nouns into verbs"

Handspring Puppet Company: The genius puppetry behind War Horse

"Puppets always have to try to be alive," says Adrian Kohler of the Handspring Puppet Company, a gloriously ambitious troupe of human and wooden actors. Beginning with the tale of a hyena's subtle paw, puppeteers Kohler and Basil Jones build to the story of their latest astonishment: the wonderfully life-like Joey, the War Horse, who trots (and gallops) convincingly onto the TED stage.


EDG Play Methods 1. (cont'd).

Textual Interventions (creative vandalism - e.g. "I think therefore I am.")
The Exquisite Corpse.
Definitions, or Question and Answer.
Dadaist poem – newspaper and scissors.
...(to be continued)

EDG Play Methods 1.

Task: Identify and gather play methods.

Make faces.
Make sounds.
Passing time.
Fooling with truth (April Fools, hoax, trick).
Listing/memory game.
Gossip/Chinese whispers.
Changing scale.
Imagination (being pursued by sharks while swimming).
Imp of the perverse (Edgar Allen Poe).
Create a space in which things can happen.
Imaginary friends (live under the stairs).
Scary play (fox in henhouse).
Do a play audit of the day/week/month.
Cooking and play: throw spaggetti to 'test' it.
Play with adrenalin.
Continuity: play for its own sake.
Colour transformation e.g. colour-themed transformations or algorithms.
Qualifying things via time ("rapidishly").
Involuntary movement tracking ("an orchestra of linguistic twitches").
Breath retention: conditions change when you exhale or inhale or hold your breath. Breath as a time marker ("Every time I inhale I'm prey; every time I exhale I'm a predator.")
Cross over: mix child's game with a sport (soccer + catch; wrestling and eating). i.e. X + 1 method.
Rhythm: changing tempo.
Excluding as play method.
Unexpected play through the environment (short cuts).
Repurposing toy elements.
Object-based play facilitating shifting roles. Object as way of starting/stopping game.
Pranks/practical jokes. Planning phase as method of play.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

“The Bed of Procrustes” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

"As he reminds readers in a brief introduction, the Procrustes of Greek mythology was the cruel and ill-advised fool who stretched or shortened people to make them fit his inflexible bed. Mr. Taleb’s new book addresses the latter-day ways in which “we humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas, reductive categories, specific vocabularies, and prepackaged narratives, which, on the occasion, has explosive consequences.”

Read NYT review.

Intense Hunt for Signs of Damage Could Raise Problems of Its Own

Published: July 27, 2005

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 26 - Now that the Discovery is in orbit, the examination begins. Its 12½-day mission will be the most photographed in the history of the shuttle program, with all eyes on the craft to see if it suffered the kind of damage from blastoff debris that brought down the Columbia in February 2003.

There were cameras on the launching pad, cameras aloft on planes monitoring the ascent, cameras on the shuttle checking for missing foam on the external fuel tank, and a camera on the tank itself. One camera caught a mysterious object falling from the shuttle at liftoff; radar detected another, about two minutes into the flight. Cameras aboard the shuttle and the International Space Station will monitor the Discovery until the end of its mission.

But all this inspection may be a mixed blessing. The more NASA looks for damage, engineers and other experts say, the more it will find. And the risks of overreaction to signs of damage while the shuttle is in orbit may be just as great as the risks of playing them down.

Read article.


By ROBERT WRIGHT Monday, Mar. 25, 1996

WHEN GARRY KASPAROV FACED OFF AGAINST AN IBM COMPUTER in last month's celebrated chess match, he wasn't just after more fame and money. By his own account, the world chess champion was playing for you, me, the whole human species. He was trying, as he put it shortly before the match, to "help defend our dignity."

Read more.

Taking Play Seriously

Published: February 17, 2008
On a drizzly Tuesday night in late January, 200 people came out to hear a psychiatrist talk rhapsodically about play — not just the intense, joyous play of children, but play for all people, at all ages, at all times. (All species too; the lecture featured touching photos of a polar bear and a husky engaging playfully at a snowy outpost in northern Canada.) Stuart Brown, president of the National Institute for Play, was speaking at the New York Public Library’s main branch on 42nd Street. He created the institute in 1996, after more than 20 years of psychiatric practice and research persuaded him of the dangerous long-term consequences of play deprivation. In a sold-out talk at the library, he and Krista Tippett, host of the public-radio program ‘‘Speaking of Faith,’’ discussed the biological and spiritual underpinnings of play. Brown called play part of the ‘‘developmental sequencing of becoming a human primate. If you look at what produces learning and memory and well-being, play is as fundamental as any other aspect of life, including sleep and dreams.’’

Read article.

How Do You Think the Brain Works?

Jeff Hawkins brought the world the PalmPilot and the Treo. Now comes his boldest invention yet: a far-reaching theory of how intelligence actually works.
By David Stipp
Fortune Magazine
Mon, Oct. 18, 2004

All the while Jeff Hawkins was creating the PalmPilot, launching the era of handheld computing, and amassing hundreds of millions of dollars, a big part of his mind was somewhere else. It was somewhere else in 1994 when he dreamed up the Palm's clever handwriting-recognition system—the first that ever really worked. It was somewhere else a decade later when Hawkins helped spearhead smart phones, which can tap into the Internet and act as organizers besides letting you call home.

As far as the 47-year-old engineer is concerned, all that was mere prelude. His true passion, the one he has pursued on the side through all those years of success, is something entirely different. It is an Einstein-worthy puzzle that has fascinated scientists for centuries: What is the source of intelligence? In recent years Hawkins has been closing in on an answer, and this fall he is set to unveil his most revolutionary product yet: a big-picture theory on how the brain works.

Read review.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Drumbeat to E-Mail: The Medium and the Message By JANET MASLIN

"Among its many other virtues “The Information” has the rare capacity to work as a time machine. It goes back much further than Shannon’s breakthroughs. And with each step backward Mr. Gleick must erase what his readers already know. He casts new light on the verbal flourishes of the Greek poetry that preceded the written word: these turns of phrase could be as useful for their mnemonic power as for their art. He explains why the Greeks arranged things in terms of events, not categories; how one Babylonian text that ends with “this is the procedure” is essentially an algorithm; and why the telephone and the skyscraper go hand in hand. Once the telephone eliminated the need for hand-delivered messages, the sky was the limit."

Read review.

How We Know by Freeman Dyson

"Claude Shannon was the founding father of information theory. For a hundred years after the electric telegraph, other communication systems such as the telephone, radio, and television were invented and developed by engineers without any need for higher mathematics. Then Shannon supplied the theory to understand all of these systems together, defining information as an abstract quantity inherent in a telephone message or a television picture. Shannon brought higher mathematics into the game."

Read review.

When Science and Poetry were Friends

‎"a new generation of artists, writing genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses, might create an abundance of new flowers and fruit and trees and birds to enrich the ecology of our planet. Most of these artists would be amateurs, but they would be in close touch with science, like the poets of the earlier Age of Wonder."

Read review.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Speculative theory

Does the universe have a purpose?


At IDEO, we believe in the power of play. It is an essential part of our approach: We use playfulness to design fun, inspiring experiences for kids (toys, games, and digital entertainment) and to bring elements of delight to more “serious” experiences for adults (cars, food, health, finance, and more). The latter may even include developing new methods for the workplace, such as helping clients boost the creativity of their innovation processes.

Play design at IDEO is grounded in human factors research, for which we conduct in-context interviews and empathy-building exercises with people of all ages. Our observations — combined with contemporary academic theory, our knowledge of cultural trends, and the expertise of our multidisciplinary designers, including leaders from our successful Toy Lab — help clients identify opportunities and rapidly build them into reality.

Read more.


At IDEO, we believe in the power of play. It is an essential part of our approach: We use playfulness to design fun, inspiring experiences for kids (toys, games, and digital entertainment) and to bring elements of delight to more “serious” experiences for adults (cars, food, health, finance, and more). The latter may even include developing new methods for the workplace, such as helping clients boost the creativity of their innovation processes.

Play design at IDEO is grounded in human factors research, for which we conduct in-context interviews and empathy-building exercises with people of all ages. Our observations — combined with contemporary academic theory, our knowledge of cultural trends, and the expertise of our multidisciplinary designers, including leaders from our successful Toy Lab — help clients identify opportunities and rapidly build them into reality.