Tag experiments

“I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open” – Our Interview With RAE, Artist …*

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Art & Photograph by RAE

 

Chances are you’ve likely come across prolific Brooklyn based artist RAE‘s work before. If you’ve spent any time in NYC, it is almost a certainty that you’ve seen some of his stickers, installations or murals. RAE’s art is vibrant, colorful, dynamic and enigmatic and never fails to make me stop and smile when I chance upon it. I have often wondered about the person behind the art and reached out to RAE to ask him my nine questions about his heart, his fears and his notion of the good life. I am delighted that he agreed to participate in our interview series. His responses, as you’ll see below, are full of the same poetic whimsy, depth and energy as his artwork. You can connect with RAE on Twitter @RAE_BK or follow him on Instagram @rae_bk.

WHAT WAS THE LAST EXPERIMENT YOU RAN?

I have a cat that speaks to me. She told me she doesn’t want to lead such a nocturnal, lazy and mundane existence. So I made a hole in the bottom of my fence so she can go out and explore the neighborhood. I may take her to see Europe one of these days. In the beginning she was just going out for short trips but now she’s gone for days. I am about to outfit her with a small camera to see where she winds up and what she does in a day. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU FEAR AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR FEAR?

I fear that more and more people will make decisions on social and/or political issues based on what their group or party affiliation supports rather than look at issues on a case by case basis.

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Talk Talk Mural & Photograph by RAE

WHAT BREAKS AND DELIGHTS YOUR HEART? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN AND SURRENDER TO?

I was in Ethiopia in 2014 and noticed there was pretty much no public spaces for kids to play. In Addis, the capital city, I finally spotted a playground but only one kid was inside playing while others watched from behind a small fence. The fence was one they could have easily climbed over and joined in but they chose not to. Instead they stared longingly at the one kid inside who was laughing and enjoying the zip-line ride and swings all to herself. Next to the entrance of the park was a security guard who told me that the playground belonged to the large hotel behind it and they only allowed guests staying there to use it. It was bitter sweet to see one child enjoying themselves so much while the others couldn’t even get a sniff of what it felt like to soar through the air just for the fun of it.

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Art & Photograph by RAE

WHAT IS THE MOST PROVOCATIVE IDEA YOU’VE COME ACROSS IN THE PAST DECADE?

Allow yourself extra time and you can do the work of many alone.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT A TRANSFORMATIONAL MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?

In high school I was a delivery boy at a butcher shop in Brooklyn then later became a deli counter person and then sort of an unofficial manager. I worked there for about 5 years. One day a lady who often shopped there asked me for help and after I assisted her she turned to me and said, “You’re really good at your job. Keep going the way you are and one day you’ll be manager of this place.” For the rest of the work day I kept staring through this large glass window into the back of the store where all the older butchers and meat packers worked. I kept thinking about how each one told me at one time or another of the big dreams they had. Some claimed they still planned on following through with them. I quit the next day.

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Art & Photograph by RAE

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE?

When I was younger I used to think a “good life” meant having what “you,” as an individual, wanted. Money, success, fame, etc, but as soon as I got a small taste of that I realized it feels very hollow if the people around you don’t have the means to at least make ends meet. So many hardworking people can’t pay the bills no matter how many hours they work in a week. Having the good life means being able to uplift others that want to do for themselves. I like it when someone gets an opportunity and makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there and pry that shit open.

COULD YOU SHARE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE ABOUT THE ART OF BEING HUMAN? 

Never hold people to the high standards you set for yourself. You’ll be disappointed more often than not. And when you do find those that operate on the same level take note and appreciate rather than be jealous.

WHAT IS YOUR DRIVING QUESTION?

I have several….

How big is the universe?
Will time travel ever be possible?
Will I ever get out of this life alive?
Would I trade in my life up to this point to start over again?

ANY BOOKS OR MOVIES YOU RECOMMEND? 

Books: “The Measure of a Man” by Martin Luther King Jr.
            “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt
Movies: Amores Perros, Dead Man, Little Odessa, Rocks With Wings (the documentary film)

. . . *

THANK YOU, RAE!

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Subway Sculpture & Photograph by RAE

 

“Keep questioning & learning. It’s one of the gifts that separates us from other species & we should take full advantage of it.” – Our Interview with Warren Berger …*

"Keep questioning & learning. It’s one of the gifts that separates us from other species & we should take full advantage of it." - Our Interview with Warren Berger ...* | rethinked.org

I first heard of Warren Berger (previously featured on rethinked …* here and here) when he reached out to me several months ago to ask if he could feature a question I had asked, here on the blog, on how we might go about learning to thrive and flourish within the tensions and contradictions that border human existence on his splendid and endlessly fascinating website A More Beautiful Question. (How’s that for a shameless ‘humble brag’?) And then I noticed Warren popping up all over the place with incredibly intelligent and insightful articles on things that keep me up at night and make me excited to wake up in the morning– the power of questions, design, and creativity, to name just a few–on Fast Company, Big Think or Harvard Business Review. Warren is an author, speaker and self-described “questionologist.” His latest book is the wonderful A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas (2014). I couldn’t be more excited about kicking off our new interview series with Warren’s interview. It seems particularly appropriate to begin with the answers of a man obsessed by and dedicated to (beautiful) questions. Connect with Warren on Twitter @GlimmerGuy.

 

What was the last experiment you ran? 

I write about the power of questioning. Recently, I looked around at other people and groups who are interested in this subject. They might ordinarily be thought of as my “competitors.” I decided to do an experiment bringing all of us together around a unified event, called “Question Week.” I would say the experiment was a modest success. With most experiments, I think you have to go through iterations, learning as you go; and that’s the case here. I’m going to keep building on this idea of unifying different people and groups around this common theme.

 

What are some of the things you fear and how do you manage your fear? 

Like so many people, I have a fear of failure and rejection. I have come to believe that one of the ways to manage this fear is to have honest conversations with yourself and it starts with asking yourself some questions about your fear. Why do you fear a certain outcome? How likely is that to happen? If it does happen, what’s the worst part of that outcome, in your mind? And if the worst happened, how would you recover? I picked up on some of these questions from the author/entrepreneur Jonathan Fields, who also suggests you ask yourself, “What if I do nothing—what kind of outcome will that lead to?” This tends to make you realize that the real failure is doing nothing. There’s another question I love, which is popular in Silicon Valley—“What would you attempt to do, if you knew you could not fail?” It allows your mind to let go of the fear, if only temporarily, and envision the boldest possibilities.

 

What breaks and delights your heart? In other words, what do you believe in and surrender to? 

Animals. It breaks my heart to see how they are often treated and it delights me to see how wonderful and loving they can be, in spite of it all. (Also, the New York Giants –they break my heart a lot, but they’ve provided more than a few moments of sheer delight).

 

WHAT IS THE MOST PROVOCATIVE IDEA YOU’VE COME ACROSS IN THE PAST DECADE?

Lots of them, too many to single one out. I recently saw a play called “Hamilton” that was a hip hop telling of the immigrant story of Alexander Hamilton; amazing. I recently read the Adam Grant book “Give and Take,” which suggests (very persuasively) that there is incredible power in giving and that nice guys can actually finish first, even in business. In my own work the most provocative idea I’ve come across is the notion that questions are currently rising in value while answers are declining in value.

 

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT A TRANSFORMATIONAL MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?

The day I decided to leave my magazine editor job and go to work for myself, as a writer. I thought, at the time, it might be a temporary thing. That was 28 years ago and I haven’t had a proper job since.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE?

I think it’s about balancing two things: Enjoying the limited time each of us has and, at the same time, trying to bring something positive into the world, on an ongoing basis. If you can find a way to do both at the same time, then you’re living a good life.

 

COULD YOU SHARE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE ABOUT THE ART OF BEING HUMAN?

Keep questioning and learning. It’s one of the gifts that separates us from other species and we should take full advantage of it.

 

 WHAT IS YOUR DRIVING QUESTION?

How might I help, in some way, to encourage more questioning?

 

ANY BOOKS OR MOVIES YOU WOULD RECOMMEND? 

Movies: Crumb. Fargo. Boogie Nights. Hud. Books: A Fan’s Notes. Seabiscuit. The Basketball Diaries. Bird by Bird.

…*

THANK YOU, WARREN …*

Tune in this coming Friday for our interview with (micro)adventurer Alastair Humphreys.

Music As An Evolutionary Adaptation to Help us Overcome Cognitive Dissonance & Retain Contradictory Knowledge. …*

Music As An Evolutionary Adaptation to Help us Overcome Cognitive Dissonance & Retain Contradictory Knowledge. ...* |rethinked.org - photo: Elsa Fridman

Integrative Thinking, as Roger Martin defines it in his splendid book on the subject, The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking, is:

The ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each.

The cognitive dissonance we experience as we work our way through this tension often comes with a high level of emotional and cognitive discomfort. It’s painful–frightening even–to question the ‘truth’ and reality of our knowledge and beliefs. All too often, in an effort to rid ourselves of this highly unpleasant sense of unease, we disengage with one of the two elements procuding the dissonance; disregarding one idea or point of view to focus exclusively on the one that feels familiar and safe to us. In disengaging, we lose out on the vast possibilities of the tension. Not only is this a lost opportunity for us to grow as teams and individuals, it often holds a heavy social and human cost as we hold on to harmful and negative stereotypes and assumptions about who other people are and what their beliefs may be.

Just a few days ago, I read an intriguing theory from physicist and investigator of human cognitive functioning, Leonid Perlovsky, that suggests adding music to our Integrative Thinking toolbox as a coping strategy to stay in the uncomfortable, if highly productive, space of cognitive dissonance long enough to work through the tensions and derive the benefits. Music, according to Perlovsky, is an “evolutionary adaptation, one that helps us navigate a world rife with contradictions.”

The idea is that music – which can convey an array of nuanced emotions – helps us reconcile our own conflicted emotions when making choices. And the more diverse, differentiated emotions we possess, the more well-founded our decisions become. Whether it’s choosing to play with a toy or deciding to propose to a boyfriend or girlfriend, our research shows that music can enhance our cognitive abilities.

Thus, because we constantly grapple with cognitive dissonances, we created music, in part, to help us tolerate – and overcome – them.

This is the universal purpose of music.

Perlovsky backs up his theory by sharing some of the experiments he and his team have conducted on the subject. One of the experiments that he shares will be of particular interest to educators and integrative thinkers:

we gave a group of fifteen-year-old students a typical multiple choice exam, and asked them to record the difficulty of each question, along with how much time it took them to answer each one.

It turned out that more difficult questions were answered faster (and grades suffered), because students didn’t want to prolong unpleasant dissonance of choosing between difficult options. However when Mozart’s music played in the background, they spent more time on the difficult questions. Their scores improved.

Source: How music helps resolve our deepest inner conflicts

{ Empathy & The Dramatic Arc } How Stories Can Change Our Behavior By Changing Our Brain Chemistry …*

“It seems like there may be a universal kind of story structure. So stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds but in doing that they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry. And that’s what it means to be a social creature–is to connect to others, to care about others–even complete strangers. And it’s so interesting that dramatic stories cause us to do this.” – Paul Zak  

In this short animated video, Paul Zak, a founding pioneer in the nascent field of neuroeconomics, shares results from his lab where he and his colleagues found that stories that follow Gustav Freytag’s Dramatic Arc could “change behavior by changing our brain chemistry.”

Monitoring the brain activity of hundreds of study subjects watching a video with a simple narrative, Zak found increases in the levels of the neurochemicals oxytocin and cortisol, which are associated with empathic responses. Most remarkable, however, was the discovery that this response also resulted in study subjects taking action, in this case through donating money they had just earned to a charitable cause related to the story they watched and even to fellow subjects. Zak’s conclusion that there could be a universal story structure that functions to connect us to each other might not be surprising to storytellers, but seeing it supported by neuroscience is a tale worth repeating. 

Source: Empathy, Neurochemistry, and the Dramatic Arc via Aeon

{ Managing the Fear of Change } 7 Interventions to Make Big Changes Feel Small & Achievable …*

In this TEDxTalk, conflict mediator and strategist, Priya Parker shares seven interventions to overcome the fear of change that so often paralyzes and keeps us from living the deeply meaningful and impactful lives we long for. The seven experiments that Priya suggests are based on research in neuroscience, business management, conflict resolution and the arts and share the common aim of making big changes feel small and achievable:

  1. The Obituary Test
  2. The Passion Comic Strip
  3. The Backward Elevator Test
  4. The Life Sentence
  5. The Dwindling Cash Experiment
  6. The Habit of Helping Others
  7. The Farewell Party Evite

watch, experiment & rethink …

Choice Architecture & The Nudge Unit …*

“The really radical thing that Richard [Thaler] opened up to us is his concept of choice architecture. Governments have a set of nudges in everything they do, even if they don’t do anything. You can either be deliberate about it or not.” –Rohan Silva 

Choice Architecture & The Nudge Unit ...* | rethinked.org

 

“If you combine this very simple, very conservative thought — go with the grain of human nature — with all the advances in behavioral economics, I think we can achieve a real increase in well-being, in happiness, in a stronger society without necessarily having to spend a whole lot more money.” – David Cameron

Be sure to check out the New York Times profiles on Britain’s Behavioral Insights Team, aka the Nudge Unit, whose “goal is to see if small interventions that don’t cost much can change behavior in large ways that serve both individuals and society.”

rethink * 

Friday Link Fest…*

 

READ

Playtime is elusive, but also essential ~ via Boston Globe, published June 8, 2013.

How Awe Can Help Students Develop Purpose ~ Research suggests that inducing awe in the classroom might inspire kids to find a sense of purpose in life. via Greater Good Science Center, published June 11, 2013.

5 Points for Your Empathy Arsenal ~ The arguments you need to explain why empathy is a key to life-long learning. via Start Empathy, published May 28, 2012.

No Learning Without Feeling ~ via New York Times, published June 8, 2013.

Happiness Should Be a Verb ~  “Well-doing” is more precise than “well-being”. via Scientific American, published June 7, 2013.

The Myth of ‘Just Do It’ — rethinking…* the idea that we perform best when not thinking about what we are doing. via New York Times, published June 9, 2013.

Place & public health: the impact of architecture on wellbeing ~ Architecture helps shape the quality of our environments and can contribute to health and happiness, writes Karl Johnsonvia The Guardian, published June 11, 2013.

Ideo’s 3 Steps To A More Open, Innovative Mind ~ via Fast Company, published June 12, 2013.

Einstein’s Problem-Solving Formula, And Why You’re Doing It All Wrong ~ via Fast Company, published March 26, 2013.

Innovation Is 1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration ~ It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. via Forbes, published June 13, 2013.

LOOK

Office Frontiers ~ NeoCon fair: rethinking…* workplace solutions to enhance collaboration & boost productivity. via Metropolis Magazine, published June 2013.

Who Made That? The New York Times Magazine 2013 Innovations Issue ~ via New York Times, published June 7, 2013.

The National Gallery Makes 25,000 Images of Artwork Freely Available Online ~ via Open Culture, published June 11, 2013.

Seeking Wisdom: 7 Dangers Of Human Virtue by Mahatma Gandhi ~ via Teach Thought, published June 11, 2013.

Ahhh, Music To My… Eyes? ~ Sonic Sculptures by Martin Klimas. via Scientific American, published June 3, 2013.

WATCH

Empathy 101: Parents: Start by sharing, not by asking ~ via Ashoka, published October 13, 2011.

A Look Inside Japan’s Suh-weet Underground Automated Bicycle Server ~ Eco Cycle Anti-Seismic Underground Bicycle Park. via Core77, published June 10, 2013.

Daniel Goleman on Different Kinds of Empathy ~ via bvo.com, published January 26, 2011.

The Enormous Opportunity In Educating And Empowering Girls ~ Girl Rising is a documentary featuring nine girls from nine countries as they seek out an education. via FastCo.Exist, published June 13, 2013.

Fruit snack Gogo squeeZ Addresses Playfulness Deficit with New Campaign ~ Wherever You Go, Go Playfully. via FastCoCreate, published June 11, 2013.

21st Century Masters Create Their Own Fields ~ via Big Think, published May 12, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org

 

READ

The Importance of Quick & Dirty ~ Jason Fried, co-founder and president of 37signals, on why ‘The ability to run with scissors is a blessing, not a curse.’ via Inc.com, published April 30, 2013.

5 Ways To Innovate By Cross-Pollinating Ideas ~ via FastCo.Design, published May 10, 2013.

Many Parents Push Academics Over Play Which May Harm Kids’ Health  ~ On the critical importance of play…* in life and learning. via Inhabitots, published January 1, 2012.

Want Kids to Become Scientists? Don’t Arrest Them For Experimenting ~ #ScienceIsNotACrime . via GOOD, published May 3, 2013.

Profiling Serial Creators ~  Scott Barry Kaufman on why it’s essential that we continually question and attempt to improve the methods by which we identify, mentor, and cultivate those who are ready and capable of becoming our next generation of innovators. Tragically, we are failing these students, often unknowingly letting them fall between the cracks in an education system that rewards characteristics that dampen creativity, such as conformity, standardization, and efficiency. via The Creativity Post, published May 8, 2013.

Well Designed Schools Improve Learning by 25 Percent Says New Study ~ via Dezeen, published January 2, 2013.

John Dewey’s Vision of Learning as Freedom ~ “The inclination to learn from life itself and to make the conditions of life such that all will learn in the process of living is the finest product of schooling.” via the New York Times, published September 5, 2012

5 Innovation Lessons You Can Learn On The Dance Floor ~ “Through movement we can inspire creativity, deep listening, & cross-generational learning” via Fast Company, published May 3, 2013.

LOOK

Things Come (Very, Very) Apart ~ Toronto-based commercial photographer Todd McLellan disassembled 50 design classics for his book: Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living. McLellan’s photographs seek to challenge our disposable culture by making transparent all the things that we regularly throw away. “I hope people think a little bit more about the things they use. Not that people should have feelings for objects, but instead think about ‘reuse and recycle,’ not just ‘use and discard.’ ” via NPR, published May 1, 2013.

10 Playgrounds That Would Put Your Childhood Hangout to Shame ~ From a colorful crocheted alligator, to a surreal, warping jungle gym, to a playground made out of recycled iron drums, here are 10 truly innovative and unusual playgrounds. via Atlantic Cities, published May 7, 2013.

Explaining Complicated Philosophies With Gorgeously Simple Postcards ~ Philographics by Genís Carreras:  Making it easier for us to talk philosophy by removing words & replacing them with pictures ~ via WIRED Design, published May 6, 2013.

Tour Google Moon and Google Mars with Bill Nye the Science Guy ~ via Lost At E Minor, published May 9, 2013.

 

WATCH

The History of Typography Told in Five Animated Minutes ~ via Open Culture, published May 6, 2013.

The Best of Humanity Caught on Russian Dash Cams ~ via Colossal, published May 3, 2013.

Can A New Symbol Make You Better At Math? ~ Math popularizer Rob Eastaway’s ‘Zequals’ sign is a reaction against the learned helplessness that most of us have accepted in our relationship with numbers. via FastCo.Design, published May 6, 2013.

Graffiti Artist Uses Rotten Fruit and Vegetables As Paint ~ Tropical Hungry by Narcelio Grud. Grud scavenged for produce in the streets and created sustainable, organic murals with it. ~ via PSFK, published May 8, 2013.

High schoolers design robotic locker for disabled classmate ~ via GOOD, published May 9, 2013.

Friday Link Fest {October 19-26, 2012}

ARTICLES

Getting Energy From the Ocean Floor ~ A consortium of companies, including Eaton Corporation, Triton, and others, are in the process of building the first-ever collection system designed to harvest energy from the currents found in the depths of Earth’s oceans. via BigThink, published October 17, 2012.

Twitter Turns #SignsYoSonIsGay Hashtag Into Warm and Fuzzy Support Group ~ On the people of Twitter being awesome and the power of social media to create supportive communities. via Gawker, published October 20, 2012.

Why Focus Groups Kill Innovation, From The Designer Behind Swiffer ~ Design Thinking in action: The Aeron Chair, the Swiffer, and the Reebok Pump–none of these breakthrough products would have gotten high marks from a focus group. Here Continuum’s Gianfranco Zaccai lists four steps to take before introducing a design to the masses. via FastCo.Design, published October 18, 2012.

What Both MBAs And MFAs Get Wrong About Solving Business Problems ~ Numbers and bullet points aren’t the only things driving executive decision making. And pretty pictures won’t get you there either. Both Designers and MBAs have a lot to learn. via FastCo.Design, published April 26, 2012

Urban ExperimentsTake to the Streets~ “a living laboratory” of two dozen imaginative inventions for transforming public space being showcased at the Urban Prototyping Festival, a free, 10-hour event in downtown San Francisco held last Sartuday. via San Francisco Gate, published October 19, 2012.

TALKS

New York Times Data Artist Jer Thorp on Humanized Data at the Intersection of Science, Art and Design ~ In a talk given at TEDxVancouver, Jer Thorp takes us on a sweeping tour of his work and ethos, living at the intersection of science, art, and design. via Brainpickings, published March 1, 2012.

YouTube Announces The Next 10 Gurus Of Education ~ After more than 1,000 entries, YouTube has chosen the next 10 Gurus of Education. The search started last month when YouTube teamed up with Khan Academy to find a few folks who could generate useful content and resources for the YouTube EDU channels (1,000 channels exist so far). via Edudemic, published October 17, 2012.

How Popcorn Maker Adds a New Layer of Information to a TED Talk~ TED goes transmedia: TEDTalk as you have never seen a TEDTalk before — with a clickable layer of information that anyone can add to, edit or remix. via TED Blog, published October 19, 2012

John Maeda on The New Tao of Leadership ~ “when creative people become The Man, it’s quite awkward.” via Big Think, published October October 12, 2012

Education in the Age of Innovation Panel ~ The most significant trend today is the shift away from a world where power is concentrated in the hands of an elite few, and success for everyone else depends on their ability to perform repetitive function work. Instead, in our world now defined by accelerating change, success depends on our individual and collective ability to innovate. During this plenary panel, four of the nation’s premier education thought leaders and practitioners offered their vision for education in the age of innovation. via Ashoka, published Aug 22, 2012.

IMAGES

A Very Unusual Camera That Emphasizes Time Over Space ~ Jay Mark Johnson—an architect, painter, political activist, cinematic special-effects designer, and student of cognitive sciences—probably would not have come up with the idea, himself, were it not for a chance discovery. He had purchased a $85,000 rotating slit-scan camera for high-resolution panoramas. (The camera records vast landscapes sliver by sliver.) Finding the accidental effects of motion in front of the camera strangely poetic, he experimented with stopping the rotation and honing in on one tiny area. These images are the result. via Slate.com, published Oct. 15, 2012.

Temporary Pavilion by Shigeru Ban in Moscow’s Gorky Park ~ On October 20th, 2012 Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture is opening the temporary pavilion by Shigeru Ban, a new venue for exhibitions, lectures, workshops, film screenings, concerts and kids’ activities, with cafe and book store. Ban’s design for the Garage’s new temporary space–situated by Gorky Park’s Pionersky Pond–uses locally produced paper tubes to create an oval wall at 6 meters high with the total area of the pavilion measuring 2,400 square meters. via DesignBoom, published October 20, 2012.

The Must-Have EdTech Cheat Sheet ~ Infographic from Boundless on the whole galaxy of terminology that you should know about when it comes to education technology. via Edudemic, published July 26, 2012.

50 Alternate American Flags, Each A Secret Infographic ~ Rethinking…* the American Flag ~ Design Studio MGMT hides telling data points inside their reimagined variations of the stars and stripes. via FastCoDesign, published October 19, 2012.

Full-Size Museum Replicas from a Makerbot ~ These pieces were printed on a Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, by artist Cosmo Wenman, who printed them in several pieces and then assembled them. via BoingBoing.net, published October 20, 2012.

An Inside Look At Art-School Studios Around The World ~ Photographer Leonora Hamill has traveled the world capturing quiet moments at art schools for her Art in Progress series. Creative environments are in clear focus, but it’s chemistry–implicit between teacher and student, materials and limitations, assignment and epiphany–that makes these images so striking and alive. via FastCoDesign, published October 19th, 2012.

The Best Graphics That Make You Realize You Don’t Know How Big Anything Actually Is~ Admit it. You have no real feeling for the size of the solar system. That’s O.K. Nobody else does either. Even knowing the numbers doesn’t help much. If I tell you the Earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter and 93,000,000 miles from the Sun, does that give you any sense of the distances involved? No, because the numbers are too big. Things that are so far removed from our daily experience — like quarks, and dinosaurs, and Kim Kardashian — are inherently hard to understand. via Smithsonian.com, published October 22, 2012.

RESOURCES

47 Mind-Blowing Psychological Facts You Should Know About Yourself ~ Humans: An Evolving Reference. Via Business Insider War Room, published Nov. 22, 2010.

DIY.org ~ Terrific website for kids & adults: Earn Skills, Become a Maker: Build. Make. Hack. Grow.

27 Ways to Learn Programming Online ~ via The Next Web, published October 21, 2012.

Get a Liberal Arts Education For Free on the Internet ~ Just getting a job in this economy is difficult enough. Getting one with a liberal arts degree is simply masochistic. Don’t spend half a decade and thousands of dollars only to join the rest of the English majors busking in a subway. Instead, educate yourself with these valuable, respectable, and totally free online resources. via Gizmodo, published October 20, 2012.

On Why Defining a Challenge is an Act of Leadership

Design Thinking is a mindset but it is also a process and an inherently collaborative process at that. The collaborative part has me stumped a bit on my quest to use Design Thinking to address challenges in my own life. I have to be the interviewer and the interviewee for the discovery period, riff off my own ideas in the brainstorming/prototype phase of the process, create and heed my own feedback during evolution and try to bring a fresh and outsider perspective to the fabric of my everyday–the myriad moments and acts that are such an integral part of my daily existence that they often occur on some level rarely noticed by my conscious mind. I have been trying to define a few challenges to focus on next month, a process which has given me a whole new appreciation for what is meant by “defining a challenge is an act of leadership”.

 

IDEO’s tips for discovery

Understand Deeply: Encourage people to reveal what really matters to them.

Pay Attention: Ask participants to show you the objective or space that they are talking about, or suggest participating in their activities.

Try to Understand Intents: Keep asking “why?” in response to consecutive answers.

Get their perspective: Ask people to “tell you a story about a time…”

Know what to look for: Understand the tools people use to interact with their environment. Look for cues in the things that people surround themselves with or the way they carry themselves.

Experience Fully: Capture what you see. Take lots of notes and photos of what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste during a field visit. Capture direct quotes.

So how do I adapt these tips for discovery to my solo quest? I decided to start with a giant rant session. I took out a piece of paper and prepared to transcribe an avalanche of oh-so-insightful and fruitful complaints that would be crafted into brilliant DT challenges. Unfortunately, my usually strong and reliable complaining abilities failed me entirely. I sat and waited staring at my blank page, unable to list even one thing. In two weeks, I managed to enumerate five complaints, none of which seemed particularly fruitful nor insightful.

My list:

-Poor closet organization (kitchen/wardrobe)

-Horrible eating habits

-Smelly trashcans outside the building

-Awful smell and feathers all over my street from the poultry slaughterhouse

-Bad life balance

I decided to experiment with various ways to group my complaints into meaningful categories, hoping to discover some larger common thread uniting various problematic elements in my daily life. Here’s what I came up with:

-SMELL

-SELF

-RELATIONSHIPS

Obviously, SMELL is not an adequate category for this list. So I renamed that category QUALITY OF LIFE. But then they all fall under that category to some extent, so I thought I should change it once more to NEIGHBORHOOD. At this point my list looked like this:

NEIGHBORHOOD:

-Smelly trashcans outside the building

-Awful smell and feathers all over my street from the poultry slaughterhouse

SELF:

-Poor closet organization

-Horrible eating habits

RELATIONSHIPS:

-Bad life balance

I wasted another two hours trying to decide whether bad life balance belonged in the self or relationship category. Finally, I realized that categories were unhelpful and I was spending too much time worrying about language rather than substance.

So I tried a different approach. Every design thinking challenge begins with a “How might we”—a one sentence description of the challenge. When I began to think about my complaints in those terms, I chose to focus on the ‘horrible eating habits’ issue as it seemed to be the broadest yet most concrete of the problems I had identified and thus the most promising HMW challenge to be.

What do I mean by horrible eating habits? I eat little if anything other than coffee all day and order in at night. More often than not my boyfriend and I eat our delivery on the couch, bent over our plastic containers, sitting side by side. Because of how ridiculously impractical it is to eat out of these containers on our (white) couch, we often fail to make eye contact for most of the meal, focusing our eyes on our knees where the food is balancing precariously. It’s uncomfortable being hunched over and usually our mindset when it comes to dinner time is let’s just get it over with and then we can go back to interacting. Eating has become a chore, which rather than bringing us together into meaningful conversations and exchanges, isolates us into a sense of overall discomfort and mild stomachaches.

In France, especially in the South where I come from, food is perceived as being much more than fuel for the body. It is an integral part of social and family life. It is an experience crafted with love and intent to satisfy all the senses: smell, touch, sight, etc. A meal is judged not merely in terms of the quality and taste of the food but also based upon the quality of the ambience, the conversation and the degree of conviviality inherent in sharing the experience. Cooking is seen as a sensual pleasure and a nurturing activity, a way to make one’s love apparent and tangible; consumable. This is how I grew up; this is what I was taught food, cooking and eating meant. So what happened?

When I went off to college, the idea of me cooking for myself seemed about as ridiculous as committing to wearing underwear on the top of my head for the rest of my life and I survived mainly on pretzels, bananas, instant miso soup and Goldfish. I moved out of the dorms and into a tiny, if charming, studio apartment with my boyfriend, Matt. The ‘kitchen’ part of our studio was slightly less wide than my arm span, and consisted of a sink, a stove barely big enough to store two pairs of shoes and a miniscule fridge, which I suspect had been manufactured long before I was born. There was no space to cook and no space to eat, so our diet consisted mainly of take out and delivery, eaten on the couch.

We moved to a 1-bedroom apartment about three months ago, with a magnificent, ‘real’ kitchen, filled with counter and cupboard space, a two-door fridge and an oven large enough to fit a full-grown and rather stout adult. Yet delivery is still the norm. Sure, we have the ‘talk’ every couple of weeks or so where we both agree that our eating habits are ridiculous and pledge to start cooking our own meals and eating them, like most people, sitting in a chair at a table. We go grocery shopping where I insist on buying tons of fruits and vegetables, filled as I am with a renewed commitment to health each time I enter the grocery store. We go home, unload the vegetables and feel great about ourselves until dinnertime when we open our newly filled fridge and are greeted with a forest of scary looking vegetables (lacinato kale?), which I have no idea how to cook or combine. So I try to be creative and throw things in a bowl together, mixing with gusto, praying that I will not have to throw it all out because of how badly it tastes. We sit down at the table, still eat quickly and for the most part in silence, both of us quietly wishing we had just gotten delivery. We keep this up for about two days until one of us caves and suggests delivery “just for tonight”.  And just like that we’re back to weeks of eating out of plastic container hunched over on the couch. We no longer have the lack of space excuse so why has nothing changed?

That was the key insight for me, it’s not about changing eating habits through sheer will-power nor is it simply about changing kitchens, it’s about rethinking the eating experience entirely. I have to rethink the physical aspects of my kitchen to make is a pleasing place (paint the walls, add decorations, get candles and nice lighting, etc.) but I also have to reframe the intangible aspects of the cooking/eating experience (make it a bonding time, a celebration and affirmation of our love for each other, a time to unwind, take refuge from the demands of the outside world and engage in meaningful face time).

Once I had that nugget of a how might we/I, I found IDEO’s tips for discovery much more helpful. I went around the kitchen taking pictures and noting the various sensorial stimuli I encountered. I felt a rush of ideas on how to improve things I hadn’t even realized needed improvement and started thinking about a holistic way to revamp the entire experience.

I tried to go back and repeat this process with my other four complaints but have been unable to formulate helpful How might we/I so far. Haven’t lost hope yet–practice makes perfect as they say. I’ve also been brainstorming different ways to approach the defining a challenge process:

-Wear a camera around my neck for a week to film my daily life, in the hopes that by seeing/experiencing it through the mediation of a screen, I might be able to get more insights into what challenges affect my everyday.

-Making a What Matters Most to Me list, after all there is no reason why Design Thinking should be confined to problems, why not use it to significantly enhance the positives?

-Asking people who are close to me to list (perhaps anonymously?) what they perceive as challenges in my own life.

Tips and suggestions would be massively appreciated…*

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