This week start here:

The ‘Dear Design Student‘ channel on Medium garnered a lot of attention this week for Mike Monteiro’s critique of the ‘AK-47′ as good design (5 min), but more compelling was Erika Hall’s piece on getting clients to pay for research (7 min).

Put this on a plaque somewhere visible:

The reason design projects that neglect research fail isn’t because of a lack of knowledge. It’s because of a lack of shared knowledge. Creating something of any complexity generally requires several different people with different backgrounds and different priorities to collaborate on a goal. If you don’t go through an initial research process with your team, if you just get down to designing without examining your assumptions, you may think your individual views line up much more than they do. Poorly distributed knowledge is barely more useful than no knowledge at all.


Take a few minutes with ‘By Hand and Brain’ —  a seven-part essay on making, jointly authored by Beeker Northam, Laura Potter, Warren Ellis, Alice Taylor, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, and Rod McLaren. It’s every bit as convoluted (and wonderfully so) as you’d expect.

Nick Carr has a wonderful post on ‘neo-behavioralism’, Mark Zuckerberg and the belief in the mathematical underpinnings of human fate (5 min) that is well-worth your time. It’s not Kanye-font cool, or anything, but it’s quite smart.

Please, please read Neil Perkin on ‘The growing integration into operating systems of the capability to reach inside apps to extract relevant functionality or data (3 min). What he’s getting at will begin to change the way you think of apps, operating systems and the thin layers that live atop APIs.

Fashion brands — already doing really interesting things with Instagram — are about to be able to do ever-so-much-more-clever-things with Instagram (7 min).

From Jonathan Shariat’s ‘Tragic Design’, excerpted (4 min) this week on the O’Reilly blog:

Technology meant to be used by people but created without their needs first is not moving forward; it’s moving back. Design is important for this reason: it is the bridge between what we want technology to do and having it benefit everyone. It acts as the interface between technology and the people it’s supposed to be benefiting. When that bridge isn’t there, the opposite happens, and it’s destructive. It sets technology back; it sets us all back.

How insanely vulnerable is your business or organization to ‘digitization’? Peter Weill and Stephanie Woerner of the Sloan School have put together a fascinating self-assessment tool that aims to provide people with an answer to precisely that question.


It really shouldn’t be this enjoyable to watch a robotic arm emulate movements from rhythmic gymnastics (3 min), but there’s something quite elegant about the work from the team at the Amana Prototyping Lab (not unlike the Bot & Dolly ‘Box’ video from a few years back).

Enjoy your week.