My new limited edition shoe collaboration with Reebok will be launched on March 31, 2008. The new emoretion is my take on a Reebok classic Freestyle based upon the 7th law law7: More emotions are better than less. To develop the emoretion I worked with Reebok to come up with 67 words that became the “style DNA” for these shoes — words like confident, genius, and fearless. FYI The first shoe I did with Reebok called “timetanium” was based upon the 3rd law law3 and sold out in 14 hours.
On my recent visit to CEBit in Germany, I expected my hotel room to have the usual European sentiment of a chocolate candy on the pillow. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see a USB thumbdrive in a bright pink box! I quickly wondered how many mega- or gigabytes were in this odd freebie, only to discover that it was a chocolate in disguise. Kilocals instead of kilobytes. Oh well.
Recently I had the opportunity to engage in a public debate on the Economist.com with the brilliant Richard Szafranski on the topic “If the promise of technology is to simplify our lives, it is failing.” In my defense of innovation and technology I found a renewed optimism that I haven’t felt in quite a while. Mr. Szafranski pointed to some of the key issues of technology that we quite conveniently forget, and I was heartened to engage in his ideas. I do sincerely believe that the next phases of technology development will be for the better because we have no other choice really. Failure cannot be the accepted state for the future.
I will become the next President of RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) starting June of 2008. For more information please visit here.
I visited the Apple Store yesterday to try out an iPhone. As I have finally figured out how to do my email, shared-calendaring, address-book, etc. from my regular phone, I really had no intent of going out to purchase one. Peer pressure is a powerful thing, and hasn’t played its hand yet in this journey.
While in Shanghai recently, I had that awkward feeling one has when you’re not able to communicate in the native local tongue. Luckily my hotel bellman would slip me one of these cards as you entered the taxi. It was easy as pointing to where I wanted to go (from the limited set of choices), and I would magically be transported there. Sort of like having a touchscreen where you click on the choice you wish to make as on the iPhone. And much like the difficulty in typing on an iPhone keyboard, the taxi driver would stumble a bit figuring out which destination I was really pointing at.
The introduction of the phrase in the 80s of “point and click” was a radical idea with the mass adoption of the computer mouse. I remember that crazy feeling of being able to indirectly move the cursor around with the mouse in a time when mice were just beginning to roam the planet. Until then, all you could do is roughly move the cursor around with your keyboard — some of us were lucky to have a lightpen or otherwise technical oddity which was always rare. Now with touchscreens and other surface-based computing systems, to point has real meaning and zero levels of indirection.
One could say that the power of indirection, or an otherwise abstraction, is something powerful and necessary to all higher level thought. I guess that will be my ongoing philosophical excuse for not going out to get an iPhone. “The phone for the rest of us,” except for me.
As someone who makes images for a living, I find that the process of making images gets harder with age. One would think it should be easier with time. Something about losing the ability to concentrate; or maybe perhaps a resistance to shut everything else around me. I was good at that when I was younger. Shutting out everything and everyone else around me. It made everything much simpler really.
Writing a simple computer program can easily lead you to complex imagery. It turns out however, that the real world around us is perfectly complex. So I wonder nowadays … why bother to try to compete with Mother Nature? Of course I know the answer — because we can [attempt to do so].
Around fifteen years ago I observed the cover of a Japanese magazine with a polygonal figure as the main subject. My immediate reaction was that it was done by computer. It turned out it was simply a wooden figure carved with few smooth surfaces. This sort of “hurt” my brain. At the time I was fixated with deriving a distinct category of computer generated imagery, only to discover that there could be no such thing.
Today computer imagery has very few such polygonal artifacts, thus making it close to impossible to distinguish real from the non-real. Does it matter anymore? Probably not. And thus I find the same satisfaction when snapping a photograph that I do in finding the right computer algorithm to express myself. The latter takes much longer to develop as an actual hands-on process of mathematics and computer codes; the former indeed takes less time as the press of a shutter button, but years in order to get to the moment when nature presents itself. Ready to be captured.
I gave a talk to the M50 in New York last week. There I heard the common cry for more customer-led innovation as opposed to technology-led innovation. The logic of this approach being the assumption that when you let technologists make stuff, they are bound to make products that have more features than you’d ever want in a lifetime. Instead by listening to your customers, a product that is better tailored to their needs is created. In other words it isn’t necessarily over-designed or over-engineered. It’s ideally juuuuuuust right. Seems like commonsense.
Later in the week, I had lunch with the owner of a small business where I brought up the point above. His reply was that even when big businesses listen to their customers, that by virtue of being so large they can’t change what they’re doing fast enough to respond. So by the time they’ve changed, the customers needs have often moved onto something else. He was trying to make his own point that a leader’s intuition shouldn’t be discounted as a necessary tool in a world where hard data seems to matter too much. With so many unpredictable variables, the power of luck in success is everpresent.
I’ve been following Second Life from the beginning, and a few months ago I bought an island just to see how it feels to own absolutely nothing. The jury is still out, but like many people out there I wonder whether this will become the platform, or will the next thing from Google or Microsoft become the winner. Graphic quality is good but their scripting language is like drinking from a beat-up styrofoam cup. One could say the same thing about HTML early on.
What do you think? I’m still on the fence … or … er … on the island.
I’ve been a fan of Scott Kim‘s work for ages and thought I should point folks to his work today. Scott has this special power to invert texts in all odd and wondrous forms of visual transformation as the Escher of our modern times. I especially love his works entitled Synergy and Fantasy.
I wrote a tiny essay for this month’s Technology Review (TR). Five years earlier I wrote a longer essay in TR about the relationship between technology and art. The younger version of myself seemed to manage complexity quite differently than I do now. I was glad to stumble upon my old self as he lied quite comfortably with the chaos around himself. We should all take the time to see ourselves in the before.