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Month April 2013

Friday Link Fest…*

READ

Make and mend: Designers are finding ways to counter today’s throwaway culture ~ Rethinking…* the ways we make things, shifting the discourse from incessant production to intelligent adaptation. via Financial Times, published March 29, 2013

Engineering Serendipity ~ via New York Times, published April 5, 2013.

Great Scientist ≠ Good at Math ~Discoveries emerge from ideas, not number-crunching ~ via Wall Street Journal, published April 5, 2013.

How to Create Your Reason ~ “We need a reason, because our reasons are what liberate us from lives that feel senseless.” via Harvard Business Review, published April 9, 2013.

The link between art and innovation ~ via Politico, published April 7, 2013.

Musical Training & Language Skills Enhance One Another ~ via New York Times, published April 8, 2013.

How IDEO brings design to corporate America ~ via CNN, published April 11, 2013.

LOOK

Everything You Know by Wendy MacNaughton ~ via Explore, published April 9, 2013.

The Grinders Vs. The Dreamers. Who Wins? ~  Lovely Infographic rethinking…* grind by Joey Roth. via FastCo.Design, published April 8, 2013.

Street Artist Roadsworth Transforms the Streets of Montreal into a Visual Playground ~ via Colossal, published April 10, 2013.

Sick of the boring commute? Straphanger photobombs fellow commuters ~ via New York Daily News, published April 5, 2013.

Every Day a Different Dish: Klari Reis’ Petri Paintings ~ The Daily Dish by Klari Reis: a new petri dish painting every day. via Smithsonian Magazine, published April 5, 2013.

Artist Turns Abandoned Cars into Public Art Installations ~ “Ocupe Carrinho” (Occupy the Car) by Felipe Carrelli. via Junkculture, published April 11, 2013.

 

WATCH

Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong ~ via TED, published March 2013.

Circuit Playground Sparks Electronics Education ~ Introducing the sippy-cup set to soldering irons & the world of wires ~ via Wired, published April 4, 2013.

60 Second Adventures in Astronomy Explains the Big Bang, Relativity & More with Fun Animation ~ via Open Culture, published April 8, 2013.

 

Embodied Curiosity as A Framework for Being | Everything I’ve Learned About Being A Knowmad { so far }

Embodied Curiosity as A Framework for Being | Everything I’ve Learned About Being A Knowmad { so far }

This is the final article in a series of posts synthesizing my insights from the past three months spent attempting to apply concepts from Integrative Thinking to my every day life as an individual.

When I set out to explore this idea of embodied curiosity, I had grand plans of creating an entire ‘idea harvesting’ system for myself. I decided to create a process to guide my w{o|a}ndering and a system to store and display the treasures uncovered by my curiosity. I beefed up my Google Reader, bought a very large daily planner which I made into a “learning milestones” notebook and started a private blog in which to collect photographs, videos and articles that I found inspiring. The first two weeks of this big curiosity overhaul were positively thrilling–I was engaged, focused and motivated. I nearly jumped out of bed in the mornings I was so excited to get to work and at the end of the day as I lovingly flipped through my notebook or scrolled through my blog, I felt a great sense of accomplishment seeing all these nuggets of potential grouped together in an easily accessible way. I could feel the beginnings of new connections forming in my head. I was burning through Post-Its, littering my walls with reminders to “explore the relationship between z and x further” or “get the book on y mentioned by w”.

About a month into my new embodied curiosity lifestyle, I had a spectacular intellectual burnout. One morning I woke up and found that the excitement had gone and all that was left was dread. Dread at the thought of the hundreds of millions of interesting things that I wanted to but wouldn’t be able to uncover that day. Dread when I realized how long it had been since I had created rather than consumed. I started feeling massively overwhelmed by the amount of content and input surrounding me–so many books, articles, videos, photographs and people that I wanted to engage with and so little time. By sticking the word embodied in front of curiosity I had given myself free reign to let my curious nature loose, unchecked and unproductive. My life had become all input and no output. It was a bad place to be in. So I stepped away from my books, computer, phone and magazines and decided to go back to the beginning.

Embodied curiosity, to me, means translating ideas into action by infusing curiosity into every facet of my life and acting on the fruits of that curiosity as often as possible. What it comes down to is much simpler than what I had envisioned: it’s about asking questions and acting on ideas, every day, with every new opportunity that presents itself. Embodied curiosity is much more than a system or tool, it’s a mindset and way of being in the world. It’s a framework for subjectivity and experience. I decided to write down everything I knew about being curious, generating ideas and acting on them. I now carry the list everywhere I go so that I can revisit it daily during in-between moments and remind myself of the small behaviors and attitudes that I can nurture and develop on a daily basis to infuse my life with embodied curiosity. Here is what I know, so far:

 

  • Be grateful
  • Take in, but also, let go
  • Get lost ~ at least once a day
  • Look. Really, look
  • Listen (and try to hear)
  • Walk, everyday. MOVE
  • Look for patterns, but do not get lost in them
  • Play—hard & daily
  • Never give up trying to find ways to move past language
  • Ask questions & be wary of answers
  • Observe & seek connections with the mind of a beginner { shoshin }
  • Learn to zoom in & out
  • Seek wonder, banish contempt
  • Do not underestimate the potential of constraints
  • Surrender to your obsessions
  • Drop the thread
  • Never confuse the construct of linearity for reality
  • Collect moments & experiences with the fervor of the curator
  • Define things for yourself & revisit your definitions often
  • Create multiplicities
  • In all things, aim to be like the ink drop ~ fluid & bleeding through
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Let others in
  • Aim to make the ordinary unknown
  • Be aware of theviolenceofpunctuation
  • Redefine value with each new context you encounter
  • Observe, record, remix
  • Empathy is the most salient of currencies
  • Do not lose sight of the relativity of suffering
  • Delight ~ often & freely
  • Consume + produce ~ It’s a precarious balancing act, keep the equilibrium
  • Cultivate the skills to adapt & improvise
  • Imagine wildly & with abandon
  • Give back
  • Failure is in the eye of the beholder
  • Change perspectives as often as you change underwear, but hold on to your core.
  • The other exists only in relation to the self, so for the sake of all, exercise your compassion muscle daily
  • Growth hurts, accept that its part of the process
  • Travel lightly & shed along the way
  • Embrace the unknown & learn to be comfortable with uncertainty
  • Flee perfection & expertise ~ broaden & blur
  • Take chances
  • Translate everything ~ ideas into action, challenges into opportunities, problems into solutions…*
  • Know when to stop & move on
  • Show up & begin
  • Meaning is never given, you must create it for yourself
  • rethinking > inventing
  • One of the most important things you can do is surround yourself with good walking companions
  • Do not dismiss or scorn that which you do not understand
  • Look to the extremes
  • Context!
  • There are no beginnings or endings, just spectrums of intensities
  • Seek to exist within tensions
  • Wake up for sunrise

 

Discipline is remembering what you really want



“Discipline is remembering what you want.” – David Campbell, founder of Saks Fifth Avenue

I came across this quotation a week ago in some reading for my strategic marketing class. I loved it and immediately tweeted it, but for some reason I remembered it wrong. In my mind the line became “Discipline is remembering what you really want,” and I kinda like it better that way. When I have lapses in my self-discipline, it’s because I do what I want in the short term (e.g., sleep in) instead of what I really want for myself (e.g., wake up early, seize the day, etc.).

I consider myself a pretty disciplined person, but not as disciplined as I’d like to be. I have a habit of launching new initiatives of self-discipline on a somewhat regular basis–every couple months or so. From now on, I tell myself, you’re going to get up early, exercise, read non-stop, eat healthy, and so on. And it works for a few days, but then the naps creep in, along with the pizza and the new TV show that I just have to see because everyone’s talking about it. It’s hard to keep your eye on long-term goals when the idea of sleeping in or watching just one more episode of “Game of Thrones” is so, so appealing in the moment. I’m much better at wanting to be disciplined than actually being disciplined, but I suppose that’s pretty common. After all, that’s why so many gym memberships are sold in January every year.

We all want to be at least a little more disciplined, I think. We all have a gap between the people we are and the people we want or hope to be. In fact, the hope of helping students to narrow that gap is one of the primary reasons I teach. At its core, education is–or at least should be–about maximizing and realizing our potential, and self-discipline is a huge part of doing that. Identifying and sticking to long-term goals is how great achievements–and even small and medium achievements–are achieved. Students have to recognize what kinds of people they want to be, and they need the guidance and self-discipline to get there.

Every Thursday I mentor a student at a fairly new, small school in Harlem. The student really wants to improve his conduct and his academic performance, and so I told him about this quotation that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. At first, he understood “discipline” to be only about punishment for misbehavior. I can’t blame him for that misinterpretation. For many students, after all, that’s what the word discipline means in their lives. We had a good talk about the difference between that kind of discipline and self-discipline. If he really wants to improve his in-class conduct, I said, then he has to take it one class at a time. He might want to laugh loudly at his friend’s joke and risk getting a demerit, but what he really wants is to get the best possible marks this term, so he should keep his laughter to himself. Maybe this David Campbell line (with the added “really”) will help him during those moments when he wants to give in to impulse. I certainly hope so.

I’m also hoping that I can stick with my current self-discipline initiative. It’s pretty simple: wake up at 5 every morning (easier on weekdays than weekends), run down and up my stairs twice each morning (from the 21st floor–it helps ease my back pain), and add more fruit and vegetables to my diet. I’m also using Memrise.com to brush up on some basic Spanish (more on Memrise in a future post). They’re not overly ambitious goals, but goals don’t have to be ambitious to be abandoned. I really want to do these things, and discipline is about remembering that. It’s all about looking out for my future self, who is relying pretty heavily on the decisions my present self makes.

 

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org

 

READ

Visualization as Process, Not Output ~ “If we set out to visualize, instead of making a visualization, we can end up with any number of outcomes. In fact, many of those outcomes may not even be visualizations, but rather solutions, new ideas, and better questions. Any good visualization process is iterative. And if we allow ourselves to think more about the value of the branching points of that process than we do a single result, we leave ourselves open to many more possibilities. A verb-based approach to visualization also lets us think of it as a tool that can be used in many different projects; not only those whose results involve charts and graphs, or sticks and balls” ~ Jer Thorp. via Harvard Business Review, published April 3, 2013.

What Can Children Teach Us about Innovation? Everything, Says Stanford Design Researcher ~ via Forbes, published December 6, 2012.

Machines of Laughter and Forgetting ~ On technology as both problem-solver and troublemaker. “We must distribute the thinking process equally. Instead of having the designer think through all the moral and political implications of technology use before it reaches users — an impossible task — we must find a way to get users to do some of that thinking themselves.” via New York Times, published March 30, 2013.

Why Stealth Innovation Is Not a Solution ~ On innovation fundamentally being a team sport. via Harvard Business Review, published March 26, 2013.

Vivek Wadhwa: Why I Don’t Advise Startups to Hire M.B.A.s ~ via Wall Street Journal, published April 1, 2013.

Lessons Found In The Mud ~ via New York Times, published March 29, 2013.

Don’t Get Mad–Get Innovative ~ History is riddled with genius inventions born of hair-pulling frustration. Here’s what today’s entrepreneurs can learn about finding inspiration in pain points. via Fast Company, published April 2, 2013.

Startup Takes Aim at Old-School Ways ~ The Saxifrage School, Mr. Cook’s two-year old experiment, is seeking to upend the traditional notion that college students need a sequestered, ivy-covered campus—and will endure the price tag that comes with it. He is gambling that for a nominal tuition—$395 a class—they will use the public library, the neighborhood YMCA and existing apartment buildings to study, play and live in. “What’s the point of spending a fortune to reinvent the wheel?” said the 28-year-old Mr. Cook. “Everything you need to operate a campus is already right there in the community.” via Wall Street Journal, published April 2, 2013.

Need a Job? Invent It ~ Tony Wagner on how to prepare today’s students for the changing economy and disappearance of middle class jobs: “Reimagining schools for the 21st-century must be our highest priority. We need to focus more on teaching the skill and will to learn and to make a difference and bring the three most powerful ingredients of intrinsic motivation into the classroom: play, passion and purpose.” via New York Times, published March 30, 2013.

 

WATCH

Prepare Your Brain for Change ~ Margaret Moore, CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation, explains ways to de-stress and de-clutter your mind so you can perform at your cognitive and creative best. via Harvard Business Review, published April 2, 2013.

The Future is Uncertain. It’s Time to Start Asking the Right Questions ~ “We need to build this capacity in ourselves & the people around us to ask the right question.” ~ Hal Gregersen .via BigThink, published April 3, 2013

Everything I Know: 42 Hours of Buckminster Fuller’s Visionary Lectures Free Online (1975) ~ via Open Culture, published August 8, 2012.

 

LOOK

Lessons In Disrupting The Status Quo In Handy Visual Form ~ A new site takes the information from Beautiful Trouble, a guidebook to creative activism, and puts it in easily digestible visualizations to help prepare you for your next protest. via FastCo.Exist, published March 29, 2013.

A Matter of Perspective: See Ordinary Landscapes Become Rock-Face Monsters ~ Andreflections by Andrey Antov. via FastCo.Create, published

100 Websites You Should Know and Use (updated!) ~ via TED Blog.

Office Furniture Designed To Spark Inspiring, Random Encounters ~ Antenna Design‘s new line for Knoll is purpose-built for the spontaneous work encounters that often spark innovation.via FastCo.Design, published April 1, 2013.

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