The Landfill Designers (Programme for BBC Radio 4, 2009)

BBC.landfill.jpg
The term ‘planned obsolescence’ was coined in the 1950s but has never been more relevant. Our desire to possess the latest style can mean more in landfill, and more children in China and India sifting through toxic waste. But some argue that a fast turnover in products stimulates innovation in new technologies and reusable materials. So, are scientists and designers deliberately planning for failure? John Thackara was commissioned by All Out Productions to help write and be the presenter of The Landfill Designers, a thirty minute documentary for BBC Radio 4.

Posted in [no topic] | Leave a comment

Doctors with iPhones

I’ve been back from New York a week and I’m still mesmerised by the story of Hello Health. Tamara Giltsoff, a service designer, introduced me to this wondrous new outfit who are making it easy again to see the doctor.
helllohealthlve.png
The Hello Health website tells the story better than I can, so I’ll quote it direct: “Once upon a time, going to your doctor was simple. You knew his first name, or perhaps just called him ‘Doc’. He lived just down the street and made house calls. And if you were sick, you would see him that day, because, well, you were sick.

Read More »

Posted in care & health, social innovation & design | 1 Response

After the High life?

Highline.jpg
I was taken on a sneak preview visit to The High Line in New York. It’s an elevated public park on a 1.5 mile elevated railway that runs along the West Side of Manhattan. Everyone is rightly proud that this historic rail structure has been saved from being razed by developers. 150 million dollars have been found to to create a “one-of-a-kind recreational amenity…a linear public place where you will see and be seen”. It’s a spectacular site, and the work is being beautifully done – but the project feels strangely out-of-date before it even opens. The High Line website features “before” images (above) of the site before restoration, with masses of weeds and greenery. The project now, that I visited (see below), features concrete walkways, high-design benches, and artful planting. What I missed, amidst the designerly order, was the sense of abundance it had when still abandoned. The good news is that Phases 2 and 3 of the project venture into vast unused railway yards – perfect sites for city farms.
2008_12_highline.jpg

Posted in [no topic] | Leave a comment

Clean Growth: From Mindless Development to Design Mindfulness

cleangrowthimage.png
I’ve written this White Paper, called Clean Growth: From Mindless Development to Design Mindfulness for Design Innovation Scotland. It’s the first in a series whose aim is “to stimulate thought and debate about…radical solutions to real-world challenges”. The intended readers are regional economic development professionals and policy makers.

Posted in most read | Leave a comment

With the iBorg in New York

The May edition of Doors of Perception Report (our monthly email newsletter) is now available
here

Posted in social innovation & design | Leave a comment

Call from system: Chill !

Intel1.png
Intel2.png
Mobile phones tend to be personal devices and Intel plans to take that further – a lot further.
Researchers Margaret Morris and Farzin Guilak are developing “mobile therapy” – a system of just-in-time personal coaching, by the system, that is triggered by physiological indicators of stress.
Mobile Heart Health, as it’s called, uses body sensors to help people “tune in to early signs of stress, and modulate reactivity that could potentially damage their relationships”. Breathing visualizations and “cognitive reappraisal cues” appear on your cell phone when a wireless ECG detects deviations from your baseline heart rate variability.
The only flaws I can see in this otherwise elegant project are first, that’ll I’ll be tempted to use my handset as a club on someone when it starts flashing cognitive reappraisal cues at me like that.
And second, my heart will literally explode the first time a cellphone tells me to calm down.

Posted in [no topic] | 1 Response

New York: bat hunting

ooze.jpg
Conditions for my talk on Monday were sub-optimal: there was a typhoon *and* a high-energy dispute between students and The New School, parts of which were occupied recently. [Fond memories: I, too, was a revolting student once; during one sit-in I became a dab hand at coooking chicken and rice in a dustbin for 200 people. Luckily, Monday’s typhoon meant there was no picket line – and in the event we had a great turnout].
On Thursday I hope to go bat-hunting in Central Park

Posted in city & bioregion | 1 Response

How to be global, and great, without traveling

While I’m away, would you help me promote these new editions of my book? In The Bubble has now been translated into French, Italian and Portuguese – and I’d appreciate your support in three ways:
a) buy-and-send copies for all your French, Italian and Portuguese-speaking friends around the world;
b) tell everyone you know, who speaks those languages, that these editions are now available;
c) send me the name and postal address of journalists, bloggers and thought-leaders in those languages to whom you think I should send a free review copy. (john at thackara dot com)
Here, first, is the French edition translated by Anne Despond-Barre and published by Marc Partouche for Cite du Design Editions.
bubble-french-cover-lge.jpg
Next is the Italian edition translated by Niels Betori and published by Pier Paolo Peruccio for Allemandi.
bubble_italian_front.jpg
And here, below, published by Virgilia and available from Saraiva is the Portuguese edition published by Marcelo Melo.
bubble-planoB-cover.jpg

Posted in mobility & design | 1 Response

Velowala: ternary thinking in practice

Naomi Klein writes in today’s Guardian that “hope alone won’t save the world. It’s time to hope less, and demand more”.
I’m not sure. I find Klein’s piece enervating. Will demanding things from mainstream politicians like Obama be more productive than waiting hopefully for them to save us? I don’t think so.

Read More »

Posted in most read, social innovation & design | 2 Responses