Nicholas Negroponte came out today and turned us upside down. Instead of follwing the theme, he flipped it and to great effect. He showed us the powernot of humanizing technology but of humanizing humans. Technology is only human if it is useful, if it is relevant. If it stimulates thinking about thinking, thinking about what it means to be human.
Negroponte and the MIT Media Lab have 'changed the game' with laptop.org and the One Laptop per Child movement. The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode display—both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3× the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.
Day One of humanizing the digital experience.
So I realized, first of all, we've forgotten how to be human. The keynote speakers, Jim Skinner, the CEO of McDonald's and Michelle Peluso, the CEO of Travelocity, each stood before a packed and rapt crowd in a gorgeuos grand room of the Palmer House Hilton for the better part of 45 minutes and masturbated themselves to webgasm about strategies and tactics that smelled suspiciously like 2003. Ideas bearing no resemblance to the "web two dot oh" Michelle Peluso kept referring to. Now don't get me wrong, I love McDonald's, very tasty, and I use travelocity, I think they've got one of the better travel agent 2.0 sites out there. But it's not new.. And it's no more "human" than it was three years ago despite their roaming gnome , who, if Peluso is to be believed, should be running for Senate next month.So where's the humanity? I was off to a bad start.
The Soviets are about to fall again. FAVI , a 'designer of and manufacturer of copper alloy component and mechanical sub-assemblies' was written up over a year ago in the Wall Street Journal. Seems FAVI makes money in markets in which its competitors lose money -- or have long since outsourced production to Asia. How does FAVI do it? Jean-Francois Zobrist leads the company and is a man of many maxims, but one of them is that the company he runs (he owns no stake in the family-owned company himself) makes its employees happy. The key to happiness, in Mr. Zobrist's view, is to free workers from the arbitrary restrictions of the chain of command, or rather, the chaine de comment -- the chain of "how."
"Children at Play"
"How to make a bubble holder"
This is basically an outline of the material I covered the weekend of Oct. 5,6,7 2006 as part of 3 workshops I lead at the AIGA Design Camp. If you attended the workshop and found that I left something out. Let me know in a comment. If you attended the workshop and were inspired beyond words at the time (understandable) but have now regained the ability to express yourself, leave a comment. Or if you found me to be scattered and full of shit, leave a comment (if you must).
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