Become an anti-disciplinarian. We use the word “anti-disciplinary” at the MIT Media Lab. We want people who both break the boundaries of disciplines and can move seamlessly between them. Worldviews and frameworks are so different between the traditional disciplines that practitioners have a difficult time talking to each other. The anti-disciplinarian has a global worldview that means you can translate what you learn from one discipline into another. That means you can pull together insights and translate them usefully for others. As disciplines keep changing and reinventing themselves, and as the world gets more connected, being able to move seamlessly between these different languages becomes increasingly important.
The accurate GPS navigation that these geosocial networking apps depend on is something relatively new. Patented to the Naval Research Laboratory scientist Roger Easton in 1974, the history of the GPS is a classic story of a military technology that eventually became something we think of as a common good that we all can access, not unlike the Internet. When President Bill Clinton discontinued the so-called Selective Availability practice of intentionally degrading GPS signals for the general public for national security reasons in May 2000, the geospatial consumer market exploded. Today, networked GPS sensors are ubiquitous, supporting a wide range of services and technologies.
You know the importance of technology to the future of journalism has become a widely accepted fact when a prominent editor decides to join a new company because of its content management system. That’s what Ezra Klein told The New York Times about his decision to leave The Washington Post for Vox Media, a digital publisher with a fancy, custom-built CMS. Klein couldn’t quite describe what made the Vox system so special, but the fact that a journalist said he loved, let alone even tolerated, his CMS was all you needed to know that the world has changed.
So, the app: we re-launched our Mobile Web site using this new stack, replacing the Backbone.js Rails stack that it used previously. You may have been using it for over a month without even knowing. It looks exactly the same as the app it replaced, however initial pageload feels drastically quicker because we serve up real HTML instead of waiting for the client to download JavaScript before rendering. Plus, it is fully crawlable by search engines.
Another short-coming of focusing on design unicorns is that it reduces design to an execution function (I’ve written about definition and execution in my post and presentation on The Double Diamond.) Approaching design from the orientation of teams, with strong team leadership, not only allows designers to tackle broader problems, it also enables them to move “upstream” into the decision-making behind product definition.