May 112016
 

The more any quantitative social indicator (or even some qualitative indicator) is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

This adage is an example of unintended consequences, or the Cobra Effect, when an attempted solution to a problem actually makes the problem worse.

 

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May 072016
 

Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a historian and author, formulated this observation about the human tendency to devote a great deal of time to unimportant details while crucial matters go unattended.

Parkinson observed a citizen committee organized to approve plans for a nuclear power plant. He noted the group tendency to be silent when focused on technical matters such as the design of the nuclear plant, but when it came to the design of the bike shed, everyone had an opinion. Because people are often ill-equipped to consider complicated subjects, they tend to focus on trivial matters.

 

Thus the act of wasting time on trivial details while important matters are inadequately attended is known as bikeshedding.

Parkinson is also known for formulating another principle known as Parkinson’s law  – that work expands to use up the amount of time allocated for it

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Feb 292016
 

Dieter Rams asked himself the question: Is my design good design? His answer to this question was these ten principles, now often referenced as the “Ten Commandments of Design”.

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

As quoted at SFMOMA Presents Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams 

 

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Dec 302013
 

While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands its toll.

The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest known complete composition of music in existence, a Hellenistic Ionic song with complete notation likely inscribed in the first century AD. 

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Mar 112013
 

1. Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.

2. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.

3. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.

4. You want to focus on the system instead of objects.

5. You want to have good compasses not maps.

6. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.

7. It’s disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.

8. It’s the crowd instead of experts.

9. It’s a focus on learning instead of education.

From Joi Ito, MIT Media Lab

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