Can design change the world (and should it try)?

While it is good that designers have ambition and want to change the world, are any of these ideas big enough? Or is the influence of design rather a coincidental symptom of society’s acceptance of limits, where few leaders (or anyone else for that matter) openly argue for innovation, risk-taking and progress? Instead the prevailing trend seems to be about making do, reusing what we already have, cutting back and shunning...

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Big Potatoes: Innovation, Science, R&D and the General Election

  Speakers Munira Mirza, advisor for arts and culture to London Mayor James Wilsdon, Director of the Science Policy Centre, The Royal Society Dr Norman Lewis, Chief Innovation Officer, Open-Knowledge (former Director of Technology research, Orange) Stefan Stern, management columnist, Financial Times Eliot Forster, CEO Solace Pharmaceuticals See Big Potatoes: The London Manifesto for...

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“Unless you’re a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy”
Oct06

“Unless you’re a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy”

Now that we have a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition Government, tough economic times are ahead not least because of their deficit reduction plans. £6 billion cuts in public services will no doubt add further hardship to many technology and service companies who already suffer from decreased investment from their services. So how can businesses who produce products and services ride out this tricky financial period? What...

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Is there any value in blue-skies thinking?

So is there any value in “blue-skies thinking”, which can open up new possibilities by ignoring limits and self-imposed constraints, especially in an era of austerity like now? Or is blue-skies thinking just a management cliché and an irresponsible indulgence? Certainly Secretary of State Vince Cable appears to have no time for it. To him, research that is not ‘commercially useful nor theoretically outstanding’ will have to go....

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Big Potatoes: The London Manifesto for Innovation
Sep13

Big Potatoes: The London Manifesto for Innovation

Amazon Kindle edition.   Contributing author and co-founder. When it was first published in January 2010, the Big Potatoes manifesto quickly created an international circle of enthusiasts – people who believed, and still believe, that the pace of technological innovation in the West is too slow. Now, a little later, what the Economist (12 January 2013) has called ‘The great innovation debate’ has broken out, with even that...

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Changing the meaning of ‘change’

UK prime minister Gordon Brown’s bedtime reading this year has included a book called We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production, by Charles Leadbeater – a man familiar to many in British government and policy circles, since he previously worked in Tony Blair’s 10 Downing Street policy unit (1). He is also the author of numerous books, including Living on Thin Air. Leadbeater is not just a dry ‘knowledge economy’ theorist,...

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Touchy-feely toasters

Designers and scientists are eager to place emotions at the centre of products and computing. International conferences organise around incorporating emotion into all aspects of design (1). Academics are devoted to researching ‘funology’ – ‘a body of knowledge about fun’: building enjoyment into our lives through design (2). Scientists are developing systems that can respond to your emotional state, sensing when you are agitated...

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Leonardo made limited

In his new book Leonardo’s Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies, design guru Ben Shneiderman calls upon us to consider Leonardo da Vinci’s achievements in combining mastery of art with scientific exploration. Leonardo da Vinci is Shneiderman’s muse for thinking about how to innovate with technology and humanity in mind. Shneiderman, who has been leading the cause of ‘human-centred’ design for over...

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Excuse-ability

The internet services industry often worries about how to keep customers loyal. Websites might be fun to use, but do they succeed? Will the customer make the right choices, and come back again and again? It is a problem that’s made worse by the fact that everybody focuses on the customer, and little else, for answers – as captured by Brian Hadfield, UK managing director of IT company Unisys (1): ‘The customer is not...

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