All in Observation

Buy More By Design

We’ve built a global economy based on the consumption of products, services and experiences. To make it work, in the last fifty years, we’ve intentionally designed many socio-cultural frameworks that encourage mass consumption at an unprecedented scale. This is ecologically unsustainable and it’s time to design a different way to live. If we really want to be human centred, then we should start from the most enriched view of human experience, one where we live in equilibrium in our ecology. Then we should work backwards to figure out business models that make it work. 

Long Term Thinking

The Notre Dame cathedral is a perfect example of a generational project, taking many human lifetimes to complete. Its partial destruction reminds us of the importance of fortitude for long term projects. Many of the greatest science, art and engineering projects took decades to see outcomes. This is especially pertinent in our age of instant gratification. Christopher Roosen explores. 

Why Write?

In these times, when there is no shortage of information, why bother to write? Put simply, writing is a time capsule. The only way that two people can communicate if separated by time and space. Every single one of us should write deeply, meaningfully and clearly about what it is like to be alive in our time. Christopher Roosen explores. 

Experimenting With Technology

A human centred design philosophy places a premium on understanding human needs first, and then shaping technology to suit. However, the creative experimentation with developing technology is still a crucial part of the innovation process. It helps discover new opportunities, weaknesses and capabilities of the technology that underpins human needs. Christopher Roosen explores. 

Can the Internet Be More Than a Soapbox?

People are consuming dangerous materials in a desperate hope for medical cures. It’s an old problem, but I think the network technologies we’ve constructed make it harder for these sorts of ideas to be expunged. We’ve given edge beliefs the largest soapbox in the world. Instead of being brought out into the light of the day, challenged and deconstructed, beliefs are driven down deeper into the fabric of the internet. Christopher Roosen explores. 

Powerful Learning Comes From A Two Thousand Year Old Idea

Want to innovate education? Maybe focus less on educational technology and more on designing how people collaborate. In this spirit, I suggest we bring back the dialectic conversation. The dialectic is an ancient Greek method of learning that uses conversation to explore complex ideas. I think the dialectic a vastly under-utilised way of learning and I offer a small invented example of a moment of conversational learning.

Planned Obsolescence

Planned obsolescence, the process of intentionally designing things to fall out of fashion, function or repair makes a fundamental assumption of infinite resources that can be converted to things. But ecosystems are not infinite. So the onus is on all of us to make better choices. Those of us who make things and those of us who buy them.

Relationships are a Limited Numbers Game

Does technology let us soar to new heights of social connectivity? Unlikely. A theory known as “Dunbar’s numbers” suggests there is a physically imposed upper limit to the number of meaningful relationships that we can form. This seems to challenge the orthodoxy of trying to use relationship platforms to gain massive sets of social connections. 

Technology Zombies

We are building technology that zombifies us. Unsettlingly similar to how a fungus can zombify an ant. Yet fungus is part of a set of checks and balances that keeps ecosystems balanced. Our mass zombification by our devices doesn’t balance anything. It captures attention in mass, for the benefit of a few. 

A Lawn Story

The humble personal lawn, one per household, seem to be an intrinsic part of life, mainly because we don’t remember the choices and incentives that went in to making them that way. Strangely, our individual and personal lawns may be a powerful force of environmental destruction. We are caught in the grip of an irrational set of historical design choices.

The Revenge of the Small

There are many social and environmental challenges we face that are realtively easy to visualise. Things like crowding, poverty and drought. Strangely, it’s the small things that are often the biggest problem. Especially when there is a lot of them. 

When Candy Was Food

Candy, not too long ago, was advertised as a wonderful source of nutritious food, a stance behind which was a dangerous mix of commercial incentives and incomplete science. What is even more worrying is the ‘candy as food’ framing hasn’t gone away, rather it is just more sophisticated than before. Maybe we just have to accept that due to its long history of framing and reframing, candy, for many, will remain ‘food’.