Wisdom from Wally Olins, godfather of modern branding.
Also see Steven Johnson on where good ideas come from.
Steven Johnson on the value of incremental progress. Johnson’s latest book, Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age, is an absolute must-read.
As Sir Francis Bacon put it in his essays centuries ago,“It were good, therefore, that men in their innovations would follow the example of time itself; which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, by degrees scarce to be perceived.”
Japanese scientists invent a device that helps disabled kids move independently
Instead of trying to directly challenge American colleges—a daunting proposition, given the political power and public subsidies they possess—the new breed of tech start-ups will likely start by working in the unregulated private sector, where they’ll build what amounts to a parallel higher education universe. A few weeks after returning from the West Coast, I watched Eren Bali spend two hours in a Washington, D.C.-area conference room listening to government officials, regulators, and representatives of for-profit higher education corporations discuss the morass of accreditation rules and federal regulations that make it hard for entrepreneurs to compete directly with traditional schools. Finally, Bali raised his hand and politely said, in effect, I don’t understand why any of this matters. I can go online right now and get everything I need to learn—courses, textbooks, videos, other students to study with—for free. And if I need to know what someone else has learned, I can look at their Linked-In profile or their blog to find out.
At a certain point, probably before this decade is out, that parallel universe will reach a point of sophistication and credibility where the degrees—or whatever new word is invented to mean “evidence of your skills and knowledge”—it grants are taken seriously by employers.
Disney researchers develop new physical face cloning method, using physics simulation to predict the behavior of 3D soft tissue and best match the target expressions down to the level of individual wrinkles.
Researchers at my alma matter are 3D-printing blood vessels with sugar. IEEE Spectrum explains:
The sugar template creates a temporary set of guiding pipes where fluid will flow. After it is printed, it is coated in a thin layer of corn-based degradable polymer to help stabilize the sugar. (Researcher Jordan) Miller and his colleagues then pour living cells around the template to encapsulate it in what becomes solid tissue. The sugar template dissolves leaving a bare vascular network through which nutrient-rich fluid can flow.
You once described the inventor’s life as “one of failure.” How so?
I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.
Not all failures lead to solutions, though. How do you fail constructively?
We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You’re on it, and you can’t get off. I spent seven years on our washing machine [which has two drums, instead of one].
Also see other famous creators on the fear of failure.
Tony Fadell, who designed the iPod and iPhone, on setting constraints, ignoring experts, and embracing self-doubt.
The first page of Thomas Edison’s 1988 to-do list of “things doing or to be done,” including:
- Cotton picker
- New standard phonograph
- Hand turning phonograph
- Deaf apparatus
- Electrical piano
- New expansion pyromagnetic dynamo
- Artificial silk
- Phonographic clock
- Marine telegraphy
- Chalk battery
- Ink for blind
“The six rules about creativity come down to the one rule about creativity, which is that there are no rules about creativity. The problem with the conversation around creativity, as it is often put forward in this country, is that if you can find someone who’s creative, and if you can get them to describe what they do…and then you emulate it, then you too will be creative…
The conversation about creativity goes off the rails when we assume it’s a thing. What creativity is is valuable novelty; it’s the ability to produce valuable novelty. And the question of what’s valuable and the question of what’s novel are always up for grabs. They’re always up for renegotiation.”
Clay Shirky shares six insights on creativity derived from his years of watching and teaching creatives.
- An untended garden quickly becomes a field: plant what you want to grow.
- Have partners, but don’t do the same things: make sure you both do something you enjoy.
- Hire people for what they can teach you, not for what you can teach them.
- Everyone should be able to take criticism: creative trust is built on critical honesty.
- Design is only one part of the puzzle: savor the discussion, development, debate, and dissemination of your work just as much as the making of it.
- Goals may be arbitrary, but not having them will be maddening when there’s no one else to tell you if you’re doing a good job: set 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year goals at the outset.
- When you take your favorite clients out to lunch, it’s a good time to propose what you’d like to do together next.
- Knowing more designers doesn’t necessarily translate into having good clients: spend your development time wisely.
- Be known for something: it helps.
- You will never work harder than when you’re building something: find balance. Sometimes the best way to solve a creative problem is to take a vacation or read a book.