Tag: design thinking


Amazing Stuff: November 22 Edition

This week’s amazing stuff features photos, videos, participatory design, tweet tools, mindblowing statistics and more. I hope you find something amazing in all of this and feel free to share your amazing stuff with me via the comments page.

1. Five mindblowing stats you should know. Seeing a post like that makes me curious. Tony Tjan makes us aware of the utterly phenomenal growth of the Internet and social media and considers the way that it is impacting upon business and society by looking at five remarkable statistics.

2. Imagine open-source, open-access public service design. Can’t do it? Or want to see what that might look like? Visit the Participle group and watch how citizen engagement and design thinking can combine to create some remarkable new insights on how our public services can be structured in a sustainable and responsive manner.

3. “Jaw-dropping” was the descriptor given to this TED talk by Pranav Mistry from the MIT Media Lab as he shows how the world of data and the physical world can interact. It has to be seen to believed, but I think you’ll agree with the reviewers’ comments once you’ve finished watching it.

4. From ideas to products. This week I discovered Brizzly, another of the many Twitter and Facebook management tools out there. But unlike most, this web-based tool allows you to mute people on Twitter (think of those well-meaning, but often more annoying tweeters who tweet everything from the conferences they attend) and see what trending topics actually mean!

5. Lastly, I had the chance to take in a wonderful photo exhibit in Toronto at the Hotshot Gallery and Espresso bar in Kensington by up-and-coming photographer (and public health gambling researcher) Jennifer Reynolds. The show, which covers the world of travel, is on for a couple more days and if you’re in the neighbourhood check it out. In the meantime, you can get a taste for Jen’s eye for texture and shape at her website.

design thinkingenvironmentpublic healthscience & technologysocial media

Amazing Stuff: November 6th Edition

A year ago something that truly is amazing happened: Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. This week there were some far less amazing things that I found — but some amazing stuff no less.

1. Wired Science published some of the newly released photos of islands from space. It is a stunning collection of visual images of our planet from thousands of metres into space. They provide a remarkable perspective on our world.

2. Are you better off owning a dog or a Toyota Land Cruiser in terms of the planet’s health? According to a New Scientist article published this week (and commented on in Fast Company) owning a pet might be worse for the environment than a gas guzzling SUV. True? It’s not clear, but it does provoke some interesting discussion on what really influences carbon emissions and the health of our world.

3. Visualization of data is one of the ways in which we can make complex information accessible to more people. A newly published TED talk by JoAnn Kuchera-Morin provides a stunning representation of some of the ways in which visualization tools can aid our understanding of our planet and our brain.

4. The New York Times has a new innovation portfolio site. For those interested in new ideas and design, this is a must-visit on the tour through the Internet.

5. Amazing or not, H1N1 is causing a lot of distress around the world. This week, Fast Company (their second mention this week!) reviewed some of the ways in which people can get on top of tracking and preventing the disease using iPhone apps. Mobile public health has never been so interesting.

design thinkingscience & technologysocial mediasocial systemssystems thinking

Amazing Stuff

So far the Amazing Stuff I’ve shared seems to be a hit with some folk. Perhaps this is the week that you’ll find something that I found pretty interesting relevant to you.

This week’s Amazing Stuff post features some thoughts on design. I first thought the word ‘designer’ had to mean going to design school or something to that effect. Thankfully, the many brilliant design thinkers out there who are promoting that way of seeing the world have shown me the error of my ways and illustrated how we all can be designers — and how with some thought and creativity we can become good ones. I design public health programs and resources and find myself fascinated by the myriad benefits that design thinking (like systems thinking) has to offer our enterprise.

1. The Value of Empathy . The Design Observer Group has a great website for ideas on design and this they featured an essay by Andy Chen on the role of empathy in design. He also writes a sharp, sometimes biting, critique of the way in which designers (and marketers) play on emotions to stir empathy on one hand, while being totally oblivious at other times. His illustrations from advertisements such as the RED campaign really take this message home and provided me with one of the most inspired reads of the week.

2. Is Social Media the New Cigarette? Probably the most provocative read I had all week was this post from Bill Ives and his Fast Forward blog. Bill goes way out on a limb and points to some rather disturbing and sometimes humorous parallels between cigarettes and social media both in how we use it and how it gets regulated in society as a result.

3. The Book of Odds. Did you know that the odds of choking to death on a non-food object is about 1 in 92,950? I didn’t either — until I discovered the Book of Odds, which was launched this week. The ‘Book’ is a compendium of stats on all kind of things serious and, well, odd, taking odds-ratios to a level of prominence that we’ve never seen before. Entertaining and useful all in one well-packaged site.

4. The Democratization of Social Networks. A little more on the academic side of things, Amanda Lenhart from the Pew Internet & American Life Project posted a presentation showing how the landscape of social networking is changing rapidly. Almost half of Americans are now engaged in some type of social networking activity online, which is up from less than 10 per cent last year. If you think social networks are a fad, you might want to look through Amanda’s presentation.

5. The Chemistry of Information Addiction. Another science-based gem this week was a report in Scientific American about research that looked at monkeys and information needs and the neural basis for our ‘need to know’. It turns out that we just might need to know the answer. The research is laying the foundation for future studies looking at human information use and testing the hypothesis that, in some way, we are information junkies and, when given the opportunity, will do whatever we can to get more information about the things that are important to us and that this is a hard-wired part of the brain.


Amazing Stuff

What a busy week (it seems I say that a lot). Akin to Sergio’s White Hot Top 5 on Current TV’s Infomania, here are the five things that I found amazing (or at least really interesting) over the past week:

1. The NY Times Freakonomics Blog featured a guest post from James McWilliams on the question of locavores and their true environmental impact. Like the Freakonomics guys, I am attracted to contrarian perspectives on received wisdom. McWilliams post suggests that we question claims that eating locally is necessarily better for the planet. He doesn’t dismiss the many reasons why people like farmers markets and getting to know who produces your food, but he does question if that isn’t used to inflate the economic and environmental benefits of eating locally. Something to think about and question on both sides.

2. The Future of Healthcare is Social. I love this slideshow on Fast Company’s website. It describes a wired future where handheld devices and (I’m reading into this — maybe projecting??) interoperable databases and tools will allow health practitioners and patients to learn from one another and create a truly social health system based on the best knowledge from the whole system. Dare to dream.

3. Imagine Leadership. This short YouTube video also adds some contrarian and received wisdom on leadership and what it takes to truly lead. It’s short and provocative. Developed by Nitin Nohria and Amanda Pepper of Harvard Business School’s Leadership Initiative and the XPLANE visual information consultancy group.

4. I love WorldChanging. They always post some innovative and provocative material. This week, the post that caught my eye was corresponding to International Walk to School Day and got me thinking about how design thinking can contribute to a much healthier, better and safer setting for our children by giving them back what I had as a child: a walk to school.

5. Wired Science has profiled the best microscope photos from the past 35 years. Once you get your head around the fact that these are REAL pictures taken of microscopic things you can enjoy some of the most beautiful images that nature produces for us every day.

Have a great week everyone!


The Launch of Amazing Stuff

Today I am launching a new feature on my blog: Amazing Stuff. It is a way for me to share the neat ideas, hot innovations, challenging ideas and random bits of ‘stuff’ that I find quite compelling, inspiring or just fun that somehow touches on the myriad issues related to making ‘CENSE’ of the world around me. Yes, you can always follow my Delicious social bookmarks, or what I Stumbleupon, but I’m not always good at social bookmarking great ideas, particularly after a busy day away from my desk when I’m staring at 200 updates on my Google Reader feed.

My choice of the term amazing is inspired by comedian Louis C.K. from his appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show a few months back. Watching this, I think you’ll agree that we are living in amazing times and this is a sample of the amazing things I’ve found over the past week:

1. The Design Thinkers Reading List. This is a summary of the must-have books and documents for those interested in design thinking (like systems thinking, only for how we shape the human activities and environments we live in).

2. How to Turn Urban Spaces Into Food Spaces. Taking unused land and using it more efficiently to help feed the poor and create a more sustainable food system for urban centres.

3. How Our Moral Roots Damage Our Thinking. A blog post and interview at TED with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt who discusses how the U.S. Healthcare debate is being shaped by forces that are not likely to lead that country into a good place.

4. Interview with Paul Hawken on Our Environmental Future. Environmental economist and leader Paul Hawken discusses his views on the future of the planet and the reason he still has some hope.

5. The Dark Side of Political Discourse on the Internet. Tim Bevins from Wikinomics shows us what happens when democracy meets the unbridled opportunity of having everyone speak their mind and its not pretty.