FroggyCut – Girls Rule Technology

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Technovation Challenge competition for high school girls at Twitter Intergalactic Headquarters in San Francisco put on by Iridescent Learning and sponsored by Google, Twitter, Adobe, Microsoft and Intel.  My daughter, Elizabeth Shelly, was one of the women mentors for the FroggyCut team.  When she called a couple of months ago to let me know she was doing the mentoring I asked her to make sure I knew when the competition was going to be so I could attend.

Jessica demoing FroggyCut

The competition is designed to encourage high school girls to get interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and professions.  This year’s challenge was in ten weeks to design and build a working Android mobile application for scientific learning and then build a business plan.  At the regional competition, eight teams displayed a poster and demoed their apps and then gave a four minute presentation along with answering questions for four minutes from industry judges.

FroggyCut Mentors

Teams of four high school students (sophomores through seniors) enter the competition.  Each team has two women industry professionals assigned as both technical and business mentors.  Each team also needs to have a teacher who will work with them at school for the 10 weeks.  None of the girls that my daughter worked with had ever programmed before.  So for the first four weeks a woman computer science grad student from Berkeley taught them how to program using the AppInventor visual programming language.

The weekly mentor meeting is held at the facilities of one of the sponsoring companies.  So Elizabeth’s team met at Twitter.  Along with the regularly scheduled mentors, two Twitter women software engineers worked with them each week and gave them tours of the facility to see what it would be like to work in a high tech company.  Lots of great role modeling throughout the whole process.

With four weeks learning how to program, the teams only had six weeks to develop the app, develop a business plan, create a presentation and create a poster for the poster session.

Getting ready for the presentation – FroggyCut team and judges

Elizabeth’s team FroggyCut won the challenge for their regional.  They went to Intel HQ in San Jose for the Nationals presentation and made their pitch (alas FroggyCut didn’t win at Nationals).

Quite simply I was blown away by the professionalism of the young women, the thoughtfulness of their designs, and the enthusiasm they had for demonstrating their product to anyone who came close to their poster.  Jessica, the young woman pictured above, grabbed me by the arm when I got close to her poster, gave me a 30 second pitch for their product, and then placed her Android phone in my hands and insisted that I play the whole FroggyCut game.  Most marketing professionals at trade fairs are not nearly as engaging as this young woman.

FroggyCut Presentation

I couldn’t believe it.  They produced a fully working app which the judges both loved and loved the value proposition for the app, particularly for international markets.  Not just an app, but a business plan.  Amazing.  And all of the eight teams at the competition were from inner city San Francisco public schools.  Clearly something amazing happens when an interdisciplinary learning environment is set up for success.

The Winning Team

The program is organized by Iridescent Learning which is a non-profit that also creates and sells educational mobile learning apps for high school students.  So from a virtuous cycle standpoint they are performing an important social service, encouraging young women to enter STEM professional fields, and then gaining some market information on what high school students might like and use.  Every single student team presentation started with some form of “text books suck” and we need a better way to learn that isn’t so old school.

This year the Technovation Challenge required each team to have a teacher from the girls high school to help guide the team in addition to the mentors.  Glen Botha (pictured above) was the science teacher working with the FroggyCut girls at June Jordan School for Equity. In addition to his teaching work, Glen got frustrated a couple of years ago that there were no Android apps for teachers.  So he taught himself how to program using AppInventor and created TeacherAid.  He was amazed when withing two days of publishing the app there were 500 downloads.  Glen enthusiastically demonstrated one of the apps for taking attendance.  Not only can he quickly touch and click to identify who is present, but if somebody isn’t in class an SMS text message is immediately sent to the parents.  I sure am glad teachers didn’t have this capability when I was in high school.

Iridescent also helps those young women who actually want to start a company and commercialize their app to enter other competitions to gain additional startup funding.

Along with their financial support for hosting the teams during the ten weeks and at the competitions, the corporations are also doing further encouragement.  Google for example offered every single participant (550+) the opportunity to participate in a summer bootcamp at Google to continue their app development education.

The program is only three years old and has grown from 40 girls the first year to over 550 this year.  They got a lot of their  vision from Seattle based Startup Weekends and from the high school student Robotics Competition (250,000+ participants which are mostly boys).

I am very excited about the success of this program and the organizers.  I am encouraging them to come to Seattle.

Great fun.  Great learning.  And it was a joy as a father to see my daughter acting as a wonderful role model for other young women.

I loved the framed print hanging in the Twitter HQ Lobby – “Google before you Tweet is the new Think before you Speak.”

Posted at Twitter Galactic HQ Lobby

Posted in Content with Context, Design, Learning, Teaching, Working in teams | Leave a comment

Upgrading to the iPad (3?)

Technology envy is a dangerous thing. My iPad 3 (sorry Apple, I have to distinguish it somehow from the previous two iPads that I have) arrived this morning. It seems I am not the only one that is having a problem making sure other folks know that I am one of the first kids on the block to have an iPad 3.  From Joy of Tech:

I reverted to ordering online as I did for the original iPad as it took forever (well OK, only weeks) to find an Apple store that had an iPad2.  My colleague Bandon Fleming, was kind enough to pickup the iPad 2 for me as I couldn’t get from Bainbridge Island to the Apple Store in the University District early enough in the morning to snag one.

I was delighted to see that my new iPad actually shipped from Ontario, CA on March 11, 2012. Then it just sat in Oakland for a couple of days. I had hopes that maybe somebody had screwed up and I could get my iPad 3 early. No such luck. Fedex became Apple’s staging warehouse for the online pre-orders.

Like a kid on Christmas morning on the momentous March 16, 2012, I bounded out of bed to check on the FedEx shipment travel history to see if the package was out for delivery. Indeed the package had made it out for delivery, but the bad news was they had delayed the delivery estimate until 7:30pm. Bummer. Then the doorbell rang at 10:30am and my iPad 3 was at its new home.

I ripped the box open and pulled out the iPad and immediately turned it on. To my surprise, the battery was charged to almost 100%.

I’d spent the previous day backing up and rearranging my iPad 2, so I just had to plug in the iPad 3 to iTunes and let the download flow.  Having 150 apps and lots of Kindle content and audio content meant that it took about an hour for everything to flow through the USB pipe. Finally, I got it freed up and then I could set the two iPads side by side and see if there was any noticeable difference. While I went through a wide range of apps from Flipboard to USA Today to iTunes movies (Blind Side) to Facebook to Inspire Pro to Google Maps, I really couldn’t see much difference with “Resolutionary.” Even with all the extra resolution, the iPad still shows only the same number of app icons per page so you can’t even tell a difference there.

The only two apps where I could see a difference were with the photo app and with the iBooks app.

As you can see there is a larger field ov view from the camera with more of the foreground outside my office and you can see two of our deck pillars instead of one.  You can also see greater resolution in the blades of grass.  So clearly the 5 megapixel camera is a big upgrade.

 The iBooks app was clearly upgraded for the new retina display.  You can see a difference in the hairline characters like an “l”. The crispness of the characters reminded me of the first time I saw a 300 dpi LCD display while consulting at Xerox PARC in the early 1990s. The minute I saw the beautiful hairline characters and tiny line drawings on a CAD circuit drawing was when I realized that when these devices became popular I could move away from my beloved hard copy books. That time is now.

The iPad 2 is on the left and the new iPad 3 is on the right. To better see the comparisons between the two iPads, I pulled out the magnifying glass:

Even with the photo taken with an iPhone 4s, you can see the crisper characters of the iPad 3 on the right. In real life you can see how much blockier the pixels are on the iPad 2. Hopefully, the greater resolution will be easier on my eyes with all the reading I do.

The only real problem I had with getting things setup was the problem I’ve had each time I’ve gotten a new device (iPad or Kindle Fire) – figuring out how to download all my books. I spent an hour trying to get to my books in the cloud with the Kindle app. I finally started over and un-installed the Kindle app, re-installed the kindle app and created a new login account. Somehow everything worked and I could see all my books in the cloud. Now I just have to tap on each book 1000 times to download all the books. Even though I only do this once every year or so, it is still a pain. I wish Amazon would finally do a bulk download.

At first glance, the iPad 3 is not that big an improvement over the iPad 2. Thus, the big winner in the iPad 3 availability is the lowering of the price of the iPad 2. Unless you plan on doing a lot of photography with the iPad, the iPad 2 is a better deal.

I don’t have any obvious compute intensive jobs so I haven’t done a comparison of the new higher speed processor. On the good side, I didn’t really notice the minor increase in size or weight. As advertised the battery life seems to be as good as on the iPad 2.

While the geek in me is delighted that I have the new iPad 3, I am bummed that nobody will know. At least with the iPad 2 you had the new cover to distinguish between the original iPad and the iPad 2.  The iPad 3 uses the same cover as the iPad 2, so even that doesn’t let others know how cool you are. I ordered a new iPad cover in Carolina Blue and gave my wife the new one for the trickle down iPad 2 as her alma mater made it through the first round of March Madness, unlike my Duke team.

Posted in Content with Context, Design, iPad, Photos | 2 Comments

Goodnight Moon – and Beyond

While our three children were very young, at some point in the evening the echoes of my wife or me reading Goodnight Moon would be filling the house. I will never know whether reading the book was more for the kids or for calming us down after a hectic and harried day. I do know that if I brought my “read it and be done with it” attitude to reading the book, our children would slow me down by pointing to objects on the page or try to read the book from their memory of repetitions. It didn’t take long to take a deep breath and slow down.

The start of the book always has the calming effect of a great cup of tea:

In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red baloon
And a picture of –
 
The cow jumping over the moon 

I was reminded of this wonderful book when I was browsing at the UW University Bookstore and came across Goodnight iPAD. There was no question that I had to buy the book and add it to our collection at home. There was also no question that I would get the hardcopy book rather than the Kindle edition.

I quickly thumbed through the book amazed at the creativity of the author. So I flipped back to the front cover to find the author’s name and started chuckling – Ann Droyd. Now that is too cute for words.

There are lots of other parodies we’ve collected over the years so that if grand children ever show up in our lives we can provide more diversity for their early reading pleasure. A few of the previous parodies are:

Of course, no parody list would be complete without my adult favorite Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach.

Any parent who has ever spent the night holding a crying baby has uttered these words (at least mentally). It is a wonder that the “F-word” isn’t the first thing that a baby says rather than “ma ma” or “da da”. The book was a sell out even before it showed up on Amazon’s order list. This book may be one of the first best sellers that derived from desperate collaboration on Facebook.

Last night’s dreams were more peaceful than I remember in the last year as the joys of Goodnight iPad (video) reverberated through my sleepy brain.

Posted in Content with Context, Curation, Design, Family, Teaching | Leave a comment

Teaching “Hybrid” Courses

I love synchronicity. As part of David Socha’s research agenda is the rethinking of how one transforms a class from professor centered to student learning centered. As part of the ever flowing collaboration between David, Alan Wood and me, we are creating alternative ways to teach Alan’s upcoming senior level course on History and Globalization for undergraduate business majors at UW Bothell.

Lorraine Stock

As we were wallowing in alternative designs, Alan came across a seminar in the digital humanities arena from the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities. A long time colleague of Alan’s, Míċeál Vaughn, sent a note inviting him to hear English Professor Lorraine Stock from the University of Houston give a workshop on “Designing and Teaching ‘Hybrid’ or ‘Blended Learning’ Courses: Why and How?”

As Alan was introducing us to Míċeál before the workshop, Míċeál shared that medieval scholars were doing digital humanities long before the term came into popularity. Why? Because all of our primary material is unique, there are no two manuscripts that are the same. We study things that are well before the age of reproduction. To gain access to these rare documents everything has to be in digital form. And just to hurt my head some more, Míċeál shared that he was heading up a new effort on textual studies.

I had to ask what he meant by textual studies in the digital humanities sense as in does text include art and images. “Of course,” answered Míċeál. Now I am in real trouble if I can’t even keep clear what is meant by a text. Something tells me this is another longer conversation we need to have.

Míċeál introduced Lorraine and both shared that they’d studied at Cornell University about the same time.

A short description of what Stock talked about is:

“The undergraduate Chaucer course is an intensive literature class about texts created in a culture located across an ocean and over five centuries removed from that of contemporary students, and written in a difficult language that is at best a distant, sometimes unrecognizable ancestor of modern English. The themes and genres of medieval literature are strange, and visualizing this temporally remote and geographically distant period is difficult for students native to Houston, which does not even boast a pseudo-gothic cathedral. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are a text about medieval people on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, the shrine of Thomas Becket, telling tales in a storytelling contest to alleviate boredom. Teaching this material in a regular face-to-face class is difficult enough; to make the medieval period come alive, extensive “show and tell” of pictures, films, and music are usually employed. Much more challenging is the task of keeping students engaged when the material is presented through distance learning, which adds yet another layer of “distance” from the course materials.

“Having agreed to teach Chaucer as a “hybrid” course, with 50% of course content delivered through electronic or other means, Lorraine Stock set out on her own pedagogical pilgrimage, attempting to create or find available and suitably engaging content to compensate for the 50% of class time that she would not be meeting her students. Organizing the course around the metaphor of “pilgrimage,” she constructed the curriculum as a pilgrimage, tracing the students’ journey from ignorance about Chaucer and medieval life to mastery of The Canterbury Tales. Using an interactive map of the pilgrimage route from London to Canterbury as the course guide, she constructed learning modules about the phenomenon of pilgrimage in general, Chaucer’s life, major historical events in Chaucer’s period (the Black Death and the 1381 Uprising of Peasants), the different literary genres practiced by Chaucer, and other topics. Materials created or found and utilized include self-created webpages about the content (featuring text and images), radio programs, photo galleries, QuickTime film clips, music files, podcasts, and other materials. Employing “gaming” in the design of the course’s writing projects, Stock assigns each student a medieval pilgrim identity, which they research and then create a self designed persona, in whose “voice” they write for assigned writing exercises.”

For most of the presentation, Professor Stock had an image of a map of the Canterbury Tales on the screen. It was interesting that for a talk on “hybrid learning” the three hour workshop was almost entirely in traditional lecture format with only a couple of uses of visual images about two hours into the presentation.

The map on the screen looked something like:

Using the metaphor of the journey fit well with the Canterbury Tales with each city being the starting point for a given lecture and the resources available for the lecture.

I was as fascinated with the tips and tricks that Lorraine shared as well as the business rationale that Houston used to encourage teachers to go to this hybrid learning format. Once again I was impressed with how much could be accomplished using just Powerpoint and Google image search within the context of the Blackboard learning system. For a humanities professor that is not part of the digital generation, she’s put together a well thought out set of content with loads of practical learning.

From a business model standpoint, Houston was encouraging professors to go to this format so that they could essentially double the existing classroom space. By having half of the learning outside of the classroom, face to face time could be reduced to a single class meeting per week. As Houston is a commuter school, this also reduced the number of times a student would need to come to campus. Space is always the final frontier at a university and this business model pays for itself very quickly.

By all indications the students are happier with this format, the professor is happier, and the administration is happier. Win, win and win.

What most surprised Professor Stock was how the quality of the class discussions dramatically improved. In her 30 years of teaching, she has never experienced how excited the students were to talk about Chaucer, medieval times and the implications for their avatar. As part of the class, Stock has each student select one of the pilgrims for their avatar and then they do several written assignments in the voice and mindset of their embodied pilgrim. She pointed out that not only were the discussions lively but the students writing was much better and a lot more fun to read.

She also described that in some of the classes she and a Teaching Assistant made the session more lively by channeling Black Adder and Baldrick routines. I must confess I had no idea what she was talking about. With my trusty iPad, I found a pointer to the BBC shows and bookmarked them for later viewing.

Over drinks later in the UW Faculty Club after the workshop, Professor Stock shared that doing this hybrid course reinvigorated her understanding of Chaucer and how much more she learned than in all her previous 30 years of scholarship with Chaucer. As I pushed her to provide examples, she came back to the example of the houndfish. She’d been reading the following passage all my scholarly life:

In scholarly texts, you might have the houndfish in a footnote that just says “houndfish.” It wasn’t until she looked in Google image search and saw what a houndfish actually looked like that she realized how much the beard bristles really hurt.

I can only imagine what the power of including images with the text does for a better understanding of an otherwise foreign language (Medieval English) and culture for the students.

Beowulf Manuscript

I always enjoy the special knowledge byplays that come with two colleagues who have a deep understanding of a topic.  Lorraine and Míċeál started a discussion about a recent movie of Beowulf. Míċeál immediately exclaimed how the movie ruined “our” Beowulf.  An energetic discussion ensued. Finally, Míċeál realized that the rest of us didn’t understand what they were arguing about. Succinctly, Míċeál shared that he is interested in “translation” and Lorraine is interested in “adaptation.”

Through their artful discussion, I now have new distinctions of translation versus adaption to take into my future.

Thank you Lorraine for your trail blazing work in “Hybrid Learning” and more importantly for your excitement in sharing what you’ve learned.

Posted in Content with Context, Curation, Design, Human Centered Design, Innovation, Learning, Teaching, User Experience | Leave a comment

Day 5 – Creating My Future

Before I can get to arranging the images this morning, I have a lot of re-immersion homework. I print out the previous four days of images along with Christine’s additions. I also print out the stories so that I can look at them side by side. I stare at the previous collages and re-read and reflect on the stories. What is common? What is missing? All good “left brained” stuff.

As the week went on, I was finding it harder and harder to truly incorporate the rainbow image and the fossilized nautilus shells, so I deleted them from the set leaving me with six images. I really like both deleted images, but they didn’t seem to be working to help me express what I am searching for.

Remembering the question “what is the future I want to create for myself for this new venture and product?” it is time to shift to right brain stuff.

The story just erupts out of me:

“What has to be at the center are the berries.  The core product of the new entity are the living fruits of the talent that contributes to ‘content with context.’ The breakthrough is to think small and have millions of little living things (digital media content pieces) connected together. Each piece is complete in itself like a berry, and yet can be appropriated to make something larger – either a handful of berries to eat, mixed berries for a dessert, or fermented berries which are aggregated and blended to form a fine biodynamic wine – biodynamic information and connected/blended knowledge.

“The berries also are meant to be recursive in that they can be combined and remixed to create a document or a book or a curriculum or a degree or a product or an app. The smaller berries can be created relatively quickly and are what they are.  The desserts and remixed wine (longer documents et al) require patience and many blending (curating) activities.  Like all living things the content berries have a shelf life, they decay over time if not tended to.  These berries can also be small companies that are nurtured and fermented to become larger entities.  There is a vibration in the vision between starting small with content and starting small with early stage companies.

“The clay pot is a reminder that we can build/design/create a ‘product’ each day, whether a 3D object, a piece of software, or a piece of content, or a company. The vision of the pot is started in the head and then the clay and the potter interact with each other until there is a doneness.  But the doneness is the start of the journey.  The potter may be done but then there is the firing and baking and painting and putting up for sale and distributing.  Once distributed the clay pot becomes a container for the new owner to be used in innumerable ways.

“Surrounding the fruits of nature and the interaction of man with nature’s raw materials, are the artful purer makings of man’s mind represented by the three paintings. The products represented in the photographs are real products.  The three images represent the creative inspiration for the products and companies (right hand painting), the nexus of production (the left hand painting), and the journey to market (bottom painting) with multiple stages of value adding and partners (the ‘gates’).

“As I was working through these images and story and reflecting, I realized that there was something important missing.  The left most painting gets to it a little bit, but doesn’t show the brilliant innovation of connections and open innovation. The 3D printed Nexus Sculpture captures the unique thing that happens when through the combination of artistic innovation and mechanization (3D printing) we can create things by computer and CAD that we cannot do in ‘nature’ or through craft.  That is my fondest hope for what will happen with the platform of content with context’ in both the material world through the revolutionary innovation of distributed 3D printing and through a content with context platform for other forms of content and applications.

“Ultimately what the company is about is the development of ‘just in time’ collaboration by difference tool suite.”

“Each person builds a ‘product’ for sale each day.  The company builds a new company each day.  Growth occurs by splitting, not be getting bigger.”

Slowly but surely the fog is lifting. Just remembering the work that I did in designing our ‘nexus’ personal patterns prototype is huge. I am not feeling unstuck yet, but I am a lot farther than five days ago.

CHRISTINE:

OMG – you can do spirals after all.

From your wise cracking vizbot.

SKIP:

Well, this is embarrassing. I didn’t even realize that I’d created a spiral.

I am reminded of Robert Fritz’s story of learning to play the clarinet. His teacher gave him a new, harder piece to play each week. For the first six weeks, Fritz was very frustrated because he could never “master” any of the pieces. Then the teacher asked him to play the piece from two weeks previously. Fritz played it flawlessly. It is the constant stretching that is important.

Maybe there is some hope for me after all.

Now it is on to the do an iPad painting a day. Maybe I can kick that off when I get the new iPad 3, I just ordered.

Posted in Content with Context, Human Centered Design, User Experience, Visual pattern Language, VisualsSpeak | 4 Comments

Day 4 – Creating My Future

I start the creating my future exercise today bound and determined that I can create a spiral of images.

I arrange and re-arrange the images until I am sure I have finally done it. I stand up with my iPhone 4s to take the quick photo.  As I look down at the collage, I just break up laughing. For all my work to break out of my habit, I have just shifted the angles to form a diamond. Too funny for words.

Back to re-arranging. While I had believed Christine’s research, I clearly didn’t realize how difficult it would be to break out of the prison of one’s visual patterns. If I can’t break out of what should be a simple design patterns, how many other deep seated patterns am I locked into that I can’t “see.”

I struggle beyond the allotted time to re-arrange the pictures. I finally am satisfied that today I got it.

Today’s story revolves around the rainbow in the center:

“The paintings are not clumped together in this one.  That took work.  And yet, I still can’t force myself as far as the ‘jumbled up’ example you sent.  Soooooo, what does it mean?

“At the center is the rainbow and the call to all the wonders of nature.  It is a reminder that all of science flows from nature and all of technology flows from science and all products flow from technology (and art – actually in Heidegger and Goethe, but lost in the industrial revolution – hmmmm). It is the starting point and it is the inspiration and it is the muse.  While there is no pot of gold, nature’s rainbow inspires, that is the pot of gold.  That inspiration flows through humans and back out to others to ‘throw their pot.’ The clay pot is envisioned first in mind and then flows through the hands.  It is the interaction between mind and hands, the craft of creation. While it is important to throw a single pot, it is but the beginning of creation and the start of the journey.

“Sometimes that journey is through the desert, and some times there are oases where we can celebrate the gains that we’ve made with the fine wine produced through many hands from the biodynamic fruit. The wine is used as toasting but pours back into the earth and is fossilized as a spiral of life, a reminder of the seasonality of life. As I finish up the circle of inspiration, I realize that the key is to have each talented member of the company perform many jobs to develop many talents so they can see the many points of life and light they bring to the endeavor.  Those many points of light leave rainbow traces, much like laser art, to illuminate a whole, which then emanate to others.

“As I stare at the images and reflect, from many different directions (Bootcamp TeamArt, VisualsSpeak, Heidegger, Betty Edwards, Dale Chihuly) I get the message loud and clear that the new company has to include as a core value (and maybe as a core product) art making or process art. The other reminder in these images is to resurrect the “biodynamics of information” work I did a couple of years ago.

“As I look at this collage with the rainbow at the center, I am reminded of the slide I use to introduce myself.  Rainbow photos are my favorite to capture with my DLSR camera off of my deck at the house and whenever I catch one on the ferry.  The print for building a rainbow was given to me by a colleague 30 years ago and framed hangs in my office.”

 

Christine, the computer, responds to the collage with another collage.

CHRISTINE:

Here are the four days of images. What do you notice?

When you think about what you notice, do those things have anything to offer you about your question?

Reread your stories from each day. What are the themes that enter day after day?

Are there particular images that you have grown to really like? Any that have lessened in importance?

Make one more version tomorrow, without any effort to make it a particular way. Simply answer the question, starting with the image and then allowing words to emerge.

Best from your computer muse……

SKIP:

Getting a little pushy on this one, oh computer muse.  Moving from asking to telling.  I love it.  We’ll have to remember that when we give the VisualsSpeak chatterbot a little personality.

CHRISTINE:

Moving from divergence to convergence – across the facilitation framework (another chart) :)

SKIP:

You didn’t show me that one.   Holding out are we?

Glad to see that we are travelling the same paths.  The divergence convergence divergence waves are what is always hardest for my students and entrepreneurs to get.

CHRISTINE:

Here is part of the VisualsSpeak Facilitation Framework that deals with the divergence/convergence cycle:

SKIP: Onward and upward then to Day 5.

Posted in Content with Context, Human Centered Design, User Experience, Visual pattern Language, VisualsSpeak | 2 Comments

Day 3 – Creating My Future

There is a new energy brewing this morning. Sleep time recollections were powerful. Creating a company or creating a product is the conundrum. What should I be working on? Should I be changing the core question?

Trust the process, Skip. Bring out the images and let’s get to arranging them. I am going to try hard this morning to do something other than verticals and horizontals. This morning I select the nautilus shells for the center focus.

The story I tell is a combination of sleep time work and staring at the images.

“In the twilight of awakening this morning, I realized that the previous two days were working on the vision of a product.  When what I really should be working on is the vision of a company.  As I ‘awoke’ to those thoughts, I realized that I should be doing innovation at the company level not just at the product level. I shouldn’t be trying to form one single company and I don’t really want to form an incubator company but rather something that will encourage a thousand flowers to bloom.  The real work is not absorbing or co-opting VisualsSpeak or Lizi or the Design Way team or Shift Labs (all folks I am advising) but finding a way to obtain the resources to allow each to flourish AND to develop and nurture the talent that lies within each group.

“So working really hard to overcome my hard won visual design sense (hard won but still at the micro level), I fought the urge to use straight lines and came up with this morning’s collage (OK, a tiny baby step beyond the right angles). At the center is the importance of a natural spiraling structure – from the small seed crystal product and inspiration spirals out to customers and the customers customers a dynamic and natural chain of learning and results. Some of the efforts will be with the physical, interactive world symbolized by the clay pot (distributed manufacturing through 3D printing). The beauty of distributed manufacturing is that anyone can now start a company (fostered entrepreneuring) no matter where they are in the world, much like you need very little to ‘throw a pot.’ The fruits that turn into wine are a reminder that within each tasty, beautiful berry is the seed of another plant bearing fruit. The rhythms of life remind me that each startup needs to build in its own regenerative core as a key value – both to encourage entrepreneuring from within and provide a product which will be tasted by the millions.

“The paintings (yes, I know they are all on one side again, maybe tomorrow I can do better) represent ‘it’s a journey, not a destination’ and there are many hands providing light both for the growing of products and for the growing of people.  We don’t know where the journey ends, but we know that there are multiple places to celebrate and to stop and share what we’ve learned. Sometimes we need to turn our world upside down and examine what is figure and what is ground, what is the source and what is the ‘sink’ (destination) of that which shines from each company each day. The ephemeral rainbow is a reminder to stop and SEE the beauty each day in what our talent produces, recognizing that there is no ephemeral pot of gold, but an even bigger gift – the multi-hued light that connects the rain (the down periods) with the light (the up periods).”

On a related note, I am preparing for and attending a “seminar” this evening with Gray Kochhar-Lindgren (one of the folks on the phone the other day) and several other UW Bothell humanities folks.  The seminar is about technopoeisis as described thusly:

 “To be clear, the ‘topic’ is rather broad; it’s really many topics. The term ‘technopoeisis’ does a little work to explain what we are focused on. By reading philosophers and cultural theorists, we want to understand the ways that technics (the material objects in our daily lives) and technique (the practice of using those material objects, individually and collectively) help produce (and are produced by) (poeisis – ‘bringing forth’) a particular moment of the social, political and/or cultural.”

Our first paper is one from Martin HeideggerThe Question Concerning Technology.” It is interesting that this paper shows up now which is about getting to the essence of technology while I am trying to get at the essence of VisualsSpeak and the essence of my new venture(s).

CHRISTINE:

Christine as neutral observer computer that just notices and throws out possibilities that might help participant see differently

The paintings are clustered together, but so are the photographs. It’s a strong repeating pattern, so what could it mean? Is it reflecting something about the way you are thinking about the question?

All of the images touch the nautilus except the berries. What is different about that photo? Would the story shift if that photo moved in to touch the center image?

SKIP:

Thank you, oh neutral silicon/carbon observer, from the plateau of hills so far south of the gray cloudy Bainbridge.

So this is interesting.  You are commenting each time only on the images, and not on the content.  Why is that (process wise)?  Is this what you’ve always done which is to restrict yourself to the images (as story) rather than the story (interpretation) as story? Or something else completely?

Just asking because “Skip acting as computer” would be wanting to visualize the relationships in the text (and to the tagging of the images and image analytics of the images that are selected).

“Skip as human being and human doing” – I am into a couple of hours now of compiling notes triggered by the three days of images and the last several weeks of activities looking for my patterns of immersion versus stuckness of not moving into action.  Well, one form of powerful action was to commit to writing a blog entry each day for three months to develop at least some capability for writing (non-business writing – something I have aspired to do for 40 years).

CHRISTINE:

Ok, so I’m cheating a bit because I know things about you……but I’m trying to stay more neutral than I would do in a live interaction.

I do primarily focus on the images when I facilitate mainly because it is my superpower. Most people don’t see the image patterns, and often they hold the deeper information. I would look at the verbal patterns later, when there is more information. The verbal patterns over a week are more significant than one day.

With you specifically, the last thing I want to do is engage you verbally because you already do that – its a core pattern. If you could think your way out of this with words you would have already done it. This isn’t a surface level stuck – it’s deep. So I’m looking at getting around what you usually do, and trying to get you to do something else. Some of what I am doing is tugging at the unconscious through the image patterns.

I could “tell” you things, but if you discover them, you will own them much more deeply.

What about doing an iPad painting everyday for three months? See what that sparks……

I do think we should also play with engaging with the verbal patterns and various combinations – testing to see what is most effective for which segment.

Make sense?

SKIP:

Yup.  Thanks.

I have on my list to do art everyday (a commitment to self I made a couple of months ago) but it is subservient to the do a blog post every day (which is getting harder to do as I break away from my home office each and every day).

I would love to do a painting a day, but I am just not able to get the hang of it enough to get started (even with the acrylic paints at the Bootcamp). I tried to get started by just trying to copy some of the iPad paintings you had done, copy in the loosest sense of the word, and I couldn’t come remotely close.

Sooooo, is there the proverbial hour long tutorial you can do to get me started, or point me to one of the 100s of iPad painting app tutorials?

I feel like I am missing something basic.

I also thought about doing a photograph a day as a way to bridge the gap.  I do enjoy photography and seem to be able to do pleasing pictures (of everything except people) on a regular basis.  But my friend Cash Elston points out that I need to move beyond just taking the picture to spending time “developing” the picture with my Lightroom app.  Yet another step I haven’t taken.

The other “art” I’ve been looking at is doing generative music creation on the iPad.  The wonderful professionals who developed KOAN many moons ago that Brian Eno used for much of his generative music have finally produced an iPad app Mixtikl.  I have started to play with it but haven’t gotten very far.

It is clear from the progress I feel I’ve made with the writing (several of my humanities professor colleagues are sharing how much they enjoy reading my blog which boggles my mind) that the key is to practice every day. With the painting I just can’t seem to get over the basics enough to keep going.

Thanks for the encouragement.

CHRISTINE:

Consider the possibility that it is about the process not the product……

Try Omnisketch. Just look at it as a discovery process, what does each brush do?

Or if you want something more real world painting like, try ArtRage.

PLAY

It’s about allowing your intuitive and other parts of your brain to come forward and create a space for the insights to emerge.

It’s not about creating any kind of product. You can throw it away and still have the value.

Once again, Christine kindly reminds me that it is all about “process art.”

One more day.

Posted in Content with Context, Design, Human Centered Design, User Experience, Visual pattern Language, VisualsSpeak | 1 Comment