Tag progress

“We have to unpack the experiences of existing technology in broader ways.” – Our Interview With Akarsh Sanghi, Designer …*

"We have to unpack the experiences of existing technology in broader ways." - Our Interview With Akarsh Sanghi, Designer ...* | rethinked.org - Photo Credit: Akarsh Sanghi

Akarsh Sanghi

Akarsh Sanghi is a Singapore based interaction designer. You may recall seeing him on rethinked …* a few months back when I featured his prototype for a “wearable tool to assist learning,” Grasp. Grasp, a timely and thoughtful design provocation, prompts us to question our assumptions about traditional learning practices and environments. It is representative of Akarsh’s broader body of work which focuses on projects that bridge the gap between physical and digital life by applying computational methods in design and creative contexts. I am delighted to share his interview with you today. Connect with Akarsh, @akarshsanghi.

WHAT WAS THE LAST EXPERIMENT YOU RAN?

The latest project I have been working on is trying to understand the idea of creating urban trails in a city. Today we are able to navigate urban areas with the help of various mapping applications available on our mobile devices, but that is usually a static approach, since it is only to get a job done i.e. get you from one destination to another. But I believe there is a much stronger emotional value in exploring a city by following a trail created by somebody else. The experiences that this kind of serendipity can provide can amount to something great for an individual who is exploring a new place. This is an ongoing experiment in Singapore where I am currently based.

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

The one thing I fear most is getting myself involved in a project or an organization in which I lose interest or faith in while in the middle of it. As a designer, I am constantly thinking and developing new ideas and putting them out into the world. But while being committed to a project in which I lose faith half-way through, it becomes extremely frustrating to see it through till the end. Some ways in which I try to avoid this situation is by having adequate research and knowledge about what I am getting into. Also you have to completely believe in your own vision that you are trying to achieve irrespective of what other’s have to say about it, and do your best in achieving that.

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

I very strongly believe in the idea of applying existing forms of technology in the most creative and innovative contexts to solve some of the most pressing problems in society. We don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time we are trying to create something new. There are numerous situation, contexts, problems and people who are still untapped by the use of modern technology. To cater for those segments of society, we have to unpack the experiences of existing technology in broader ways. There are times when I feel extremely disappointed while working with some big organizations, since they are constantly resisting change and are so afraid to take risks in any form.

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

Everything that Elon Musk has done in the past decade, whether it is in space exploration, electric cars, solar energy and the latest idea of introducing home batteries. It is inspiring to see and entrepreneur born from the Internet Age has taken up and succeeded in businesses which were earlier restricted only to men and women in white coats working in research laboratories. His work clearly showcases that an idea however crazy or absurd it may sound at the time, can be pursued to alter the way humanity progresses.

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

I wouldn’t really say that I have had one transformational moment in my life till now (I am 24 years old) but when I was able to create small projects and put them online which other people could use and give feedback was extremely enriching for me. It really motivated me to continue creating and putting ideas out in the world. You never know what form those ideas take once they are out of your system.

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

At some point of time I want to look back at my life and sum up all the experiences I have collected, the journey I have been through, the people I have come across, the work I have done in one words, i.e. “FUN”

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

Being able to distinguish between First Principles and Intuition. Some of the most powerful entities that a human possesses can do wonders in difficult situations where one can make decisions based on formal logic or a simple gut call.

WHAT IS YOUR DRIVING QUESTION?

How can we develop tools and communities to bridge the gap between physical and digital lives of people by empowering them to control the technology and not the other way around?

ANY BOOKS OR MOVIES YOU RECOMMEND?

Books

  • Evocative Objects: Things we think with by Sherry Turkle
  • Beautiful Evidence by Edward R. Tufte
  • The Art of Doing Science and Engineering by Richard Hamming
  • Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan
  • Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono

Films

  • P.K. by Rajkumar Hirani [Hindi film challenging the traditional ways in which we see god and religion]
  • The Imitation Game by Morten Tyldum
  • Interstellar by Christopher Nolan
  • The Prestige by Christopher Nolan

Essays

  • By Isaac Asimov [access here]
  • By Bret Victor [access here]

. . . * 

THANK YOU, AKARSH!

Carol Dweck on Helping Kids Move From the Tyranny of Now Into the Power of Yet …*

In this short TEDx talk, psychologist Carol Dweck gives an overview of her research on the power of mindset to facilitate or hinder children’s capacity to connect with and activate their potential. The ways in which children frame and cope with challenges and difficulties have enormous implications on their ability to thrive. Students with a fixed mindset are prisoners to the tyranny of the now, believing that each challenge is a reflection of a fixed level of a given capacity–be it intelligence, creativity or athleticism. Meanwhile, students with a growth mindset luxuriate in the power of yet, understanding that each new challenge is an opportunity to learn something new and to practice and refine skills. Dweck shares some tips and strategies for helping students move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset–praising process rather than intelligence to help students redefine things like effort and difficulty, for example.

watch & rethink …* 

What If In All Domains of Experience, the Working Definition of the Individual Were His|Her Capacity for Growth & Change?

Here at rethinked…* we are all about experimenting with and developing strategies to empower individuals to lead fulfilling fluid lives across all spectrums of experience. Some of the biggest obstacles we run into in pursuit of this goal are the limiting cultural dichotomies that result from contexts not geared towards human growth– student versus lifelong learner [knowmad], employee versus individual. Yes, our identities are composed of myriad facets that come into greater focus based on the context in which we are operating, but our experience of self is fluid and does not discriminate between a classroom and a hiking trail or the office and our kitchens. The problem is that, so often, we evolve in contexts that acknowledge only very narrow slivers of our abundant selves. Schools, for example, tend to have rather rigid definitions of students, promoting and encouraging certain character traits at the expense of others–obedience, patience, memorization. Same with companies and employees. The issue with creating these rigid and reductive definitions of human beings based on context is that it forces us to suppress much of who/what we are, and as a result we disengage from the present moment. What if there were a better way? One where we did not keep staring at the clock, waiting impatiently for the “work” or “school” day to be over?

Robert Kegan, Lisa Lahey and Andy Fleming’s concept of Deliberately Developmental Organizations— seems to offer a promising alternative. DDOs are organizations that seek to fundamentally rethink…* the  company-employee relationship and eradicate the false “work-life balance” we have been taught to strive for, by focusing on their employees not simply as workers, but as individuals and nurturing their need for personal growth and development.

How’s that for a powerful what if–what if in all domains of experience, the working definition of the individual were his or her capacity for growth and change? How much more fluid and salient could all aspects of our lives be?

“As one executive in a high-performing company we have studied explained, “If work and life are separate things—if work is what keeps you from living—then we’ve got a serious problem.” In our research on what we call Deliberately Developmental Organizations—or “DDOs” for short—we have identified successful organizations that regard this trade-off as a false one. What if we saw work as an essential context for personal growth? And what if employees’ continuous development were assumed to be the critical ingredient for a company’s success?

The companies we call DDOs are, in fact, built around the simple but radical conviction that the organization can prosper only if its culture is designed from the ground up to enable ongoing development for all of its people. That is, a company can’t meet ever-greater business aspirations unless its people are constantly growing through doing their work.

What’s it like to work inside such a company? Imagine showing up to work each day knowing that in addition to working on projects, problems, and products, you are constantly working on yourself.  Any meeting may be a context in which you are asked to keep making progress on overcoming your own blindspots—ways you are prone to get in your own way and unwittingly limit your own effectiveness at work.”

Source: Does Your Company Make You A Better Person? via Harvard Business Review, published January 22, 2014.

%d bloggers like this: