The personal media world … is a world where answering back is not an option - it’s required. Otherwise, you don’t have the personal media experience. Take Google. You don’t watch Google. Watching Google would be like watching the test pattern on a TV (before test patterns went away). If you don’t put something into Google first, you don’t get something out. That’s the world of personal media, where there are no bystanders; you have to participate to have the experience. That is profoundly new territory for people designing systems.
The discipline of design, in all its forms, empowers individuals to explore the diverse qualities of personal experience and to shape the common qualities of community experience. This makes design an essential element in a new philosophy of culture, replacing the old metaphysics of fixed essences and natures which Dewey critiqued throughout a lifetime of work directed toward the experimental nature of inquiry after the philosophic and cultural revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Furthermore, design is inquiry and experimentation in the activity of making, since making is the way that human beings provide for themselves what nature provides only by accident. There is a deep reflexive relation between human character and the character of the human-made: character influences the formation of products and products influence the formation of character in individuals, institutions, and society.
What is the Startupbus? A 3 day hackathon on wheels throttling towards SXSW at 75mph. Buses full of developers, designers, and hustlers leave from 12 cities with the goal of creating and pitching a startup upon arrival in Austin. Complete strangers thrown together to combat tight deadlines, motion-sickness, patchy wifi, and other obstacles all intent on making something great. Is it crazy? Totally. Is it awesome? Undoubtedly so.
A week ago I returned from an insanely amazing and sleep-deprived week of making (both products and friends). Together with the most kick-ass team of creative trouble-makers I could have ever wished for we created Happstr, an app that tracks and analyzes happiness.
I'm still working on a longer post about all the shenanigans and learnings from the trip, but I wanted to take a moment to encourage everyone to consider applying for the bus next year. If you want to challenge yourself, meet amazing people, form new friendships, and shift your perspective, the bus is definitely for you. Want to know more? Come to the Startupbus Demo night on April 5th (details forthcoming), where you can learn more about the Startupbus, listen to pitches, and talk to some of the folks who were on the bus this year.
I'd also like to send out special love to Eastmedia for sponsoring my trip, and Simplereach for making sure I came home safe and sound.
Oh! And be sure to check out Louisiana's bus application, which has set a new bar for 2013:
More specifically Urbanized, the third film in Gary Hustwit's design trilogy (think Helvetica and Objectified) will be screening in New York on September 20th. Additional bonus: Gary and friends will be there to discuss the film and take questions afterwards.
The central question Urbanized asks and explores is, "Who is allowed to shape our cities, and how do they do it? Unlike many other fields of design, cities aren’t created by any one specialist or expert. There are many contributors to urban change, including ordinary citizens who can have a great impact improving the cities in which they live. By exploring a diverse range of urban design projects around the world, Urbanized frames a global discussion on the future of cities."
Speaking of Urbanized, Urban Design Week will be happening in New York from September 15th - 20th. More interesting than the non-existent schedule is the open call to re-imagine the city, in which architects, designers, artists, and urbanists are asked to take an idea submitted by the public and turn it into a proposal. There seems to be a trend of government organizations adopting the practices of start-ups and design (hackathons, design thinking) in order to rapidly explore ways in which to improve the city. This is hot on the heels of Reinvent NYC.GOV and NYC Big Apps, both of which make heavy use of existing data sets and APIs.
From August 3rd to October 16th, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will be in New York exploring the theme Comfronting Comfort which examines, "notions of individual and collective comfort and the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility." The lab is a six year project, running on two year cycles in which one theme is explored across nine cities, so in another two years the lab will be back in New York with a new theme. The longer-term vision and cyclical nature of the project is intriguing and will hopefully produce some meaningful and innovative solutions to current problems.
Oulipo v.18.104.22.168 / Last updated October 18th, 2010 / WordPress
Inspired by and named after the group Oulipo, this clean, minimal, grid-based theme was created for authors who want their content to shine. Three-column simplicity with an eye for typography, Oulipo is also available on WordPress.com
Zack 990v.1.2 / Last updated May 16th, 2010 / WordPress
Based on the Boston Globe's The Big Picture, this theme puts photos and videos up front at 990 pixels wide. Zack 990 is not meant for written content alone, so if your weapon is words then you might want to check out Oulipo.