Notes & scraps from Thomas Vander Wal's
digital meanderings and quick thoughts.
For me, the point of my art was, is, and always will be to grant permission for people to create. There is no excuse not to create. All of the tools are available to do so, and for the first time, this ability has become democratized and accessible. People said that the iPad was just a consumption device, and so many incredible artists have worked for the past four years to demonstrate that this is just not the case. Advancements in human-computer interaction and mobility are creating the perfect storm for a generation of artists, musicians, creators and dreamers, enabled by devices.
Large scale execution is trumped by rapid transactional learning. Need to trim $1 billion in expenditures? Launch a massive Six Sigma project across the entire organization over a five year period, and the results are fairly predictable. Ah, the good ole’ days! Unfortunately, today’s leaders do not have the luxury of executing a prescribed strategy over a long period of time. Rather, they must build a pervasive capability of rapid transactional learning. Assimilate what is changing quickly. Push decision making toward the customer. Today’s game of business looks a lot less like Chess, and a lot more like hockey. Don’t worry about planning four or five moves out, just get quickly to where the puck is going. Sorry, there are no timeouts.
Innovation is occurring with high variance outcomes. Traditionally, a strategic risk assessment goes something like this; identify the four most likely competitive or market outcomes, and create a plan for each. The beloved 2×2 matrix to the rescue! But innovations today are not shaking up market share, they are creating and destroying markets entirely. Peering into the future, there are simply far too many possible outcomes to anticipate, let alone plan for comprehensively.
In Japan, there is an expression popular with young people: “kuuki yomenai.” Often shortened to “K.Y.,” it refers to someone who is unable to read the atmosphere. On my trip to Japan, I learned just how K.Y. I was. But I also was reminded that, with a little curiosity and some helpful coaching, even I could improve my ability to read the Japanese atmosphere.
He continued: “In Japan, we don’t make as much direct eye contact as you do in the West. So when you asked if there were any comments, most people were not looking directly at you. But a few people in the group were looking right at you, and their eyes were bright. That indicates that they would be happy to have you call on them.”
These days, I’m wondering how our cognition will be affected by the next great shifts in compositional technologies: The rise of voice dictation and heavily-AI-assisted full-sentence autocompletion technology.
Last summer in a London hotel’s breakfast room I was reading the FT while waiting for my ride to show up and, without thinking much about it, I looked to the top of the page to see what time of day it was. I then blinked and thought to myself … Hmmm … OK, Doug, the top of a page is not a toolbar, and you seem to have crossed some new sort of line with technology. This experience was what I call a future blip – a small haiku-y moment where it dawns on you that you’re no longer in the past.
Another blip: a few days back I walked around the house looking for newspaper for packing a box and I realised I didn’t have any. I ended up using paper in the studio trashcan left over from eBay purchases.
I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s announcement of the Apple Watch. Like WWDC ’14, it’s a lot to process in a single day – you’re looking at years worth of design and product vision condensed in two hours of video and a massive website update. I’m not sure I’ll fully grasp the potential of Apple’s wearable even after its release.
DIGITAL SERVICE PLAYS:
1. Understand what people need
2. Address the whole experience, from start to finish
3. Make it simple and intuitive
4. Build the service using agile and iterative practices
5. Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery
6. Assign one leader and hold that person accountable
7. Bring in experienced teams
8. Choose a modern technology stack
9. Deploy in a flexible hosting environment
10. Automate testing and deployments
11. Manage security and privacy through reusable processes
12. Use data to drive decisions
13. Default to open
Bitcoin could be a lifesaver for people in developing countries with dysfunctional banking systems. The conventional banking system is geographically segregated, with people in each country expected to use that country’s banking system. But the Bitcoin network is global. So consumers in low-income countries who are worried that local banks will mismanage their funds could use Bitcoin-based financial services in a developed country such as Canada, Switzerland, or South Korea.
Larry Biagini, chief technology officer of General Electric, which has over 300,000 people worldwide, said, “We are now assuming that 80 to 90 percent of our people will be about to do their job off of our corporate network.” One of G.E.’s fastest-growing areas is sub-Saharan Africa, he said, where the company does not operate a single corporate network.
“Nobody cares about files,” said Mr. Levie. “They care about what files contain.” Figuring out how to build software for working with that content, he said, “is a road map of years and years of tech development.” In one demonstration, Box uses a big gesture-based screen to examine things like who at different companies in a film production is working on what parts of a script.
Coworkers form an immediate community of peers, possible mentors, and potential collaborators. This has direct benefits to the work being done inside a company, because it means less time spent searching for and forming professional relationships and more time dedicated to getting on with the work.