The San Francisco Chronicle
“In the Bubble is often delightful, stimulating and surprising. Thackara may well emerge as a visionary voice for the wired era. For planners, designers and anyone with an interest in the future, this book is a rich resource of inspiration, ideas, and guiding principles as well as sharply observed cautionary tales. It suggests that what the tech revolution most needs, and may already be moving toward, is a sense of purpose.” Read the whole article
I.D. Magazine, New York
In the october issue of ID magazine Jamer Hunter writes: “(…) Thackara’s is a very new kind of book. It feels alive, connected and contemporary. In fact it’s practically hypertext, nearly half of its 574 citations direct us to web addresses. And accessible examples troughout balance the big ideas”.
Unfortunately the article is not available online but here’s an image of it (clicking takes you to the full size version).
Heyblog (Andrew Otwell)
John Thackara is has made some great contributions to design without ever having designed a thing. His new book “In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World” is largley a result of his work over the last 10+ years as the “symposiarch” of the Doors of Perception conference. At those conferences, his role has been to ask the right questions, and to describe the context in which various design problems reside. It might sound like “asking the right questions” is a trivial, simple or even irrelevant job. It is not. Thackara’s point in “In the Bubble” is that the context has become so complex, fast-moving, global, and even invisible, that design has become a wholly different field than it has been in the past. In a readable mix of statistics, anecdotes, and analysis, Thackara details problems of sustainability, environment, population, and sprawl as problems of design.
Read the whole article at www.heyotwell.com
Institute for the Future (Alex Soojung-Kim Pang)
Notes of a talk John Thackara just gave at IDEO. John’s latest book, In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World, is just out. Big idea: We used to think that innovation starts where technology starts. That’s changing now. Innovation starts with groups of people who possess tools to link up with each other, to locate and track things, and to coordinate actions between people, objects, and places. The challenge for designers is to figure out how to do their work in ways that supports this trend.
Read the whole article at future.iftf.org
Working Knowledge (Harvard Business School))
Imagine you are driving along a highway. Your car starts to spin out of control, or just as bad, you witness another car a few yards ahead suddenly lose control. In that split second, what would you do? Panic and freeze? Swerve to avoid a crash and pray that the side airbags release? Opening with a similar situation, In the Bubble makes the point that smart design can make all the difference when it comes to split-second decisions.
Read the whole article at www.hbsworkingknowledge.hbs.edu
John Thackara isolates 10 principles he believes will characterize cutting-edge opportunities for a better future, based in part on lessons of the last decade in technology, business and others aspects of the real world. Of particular interest to the North Coast is Principle No. 4: Locality.The focus of “both business and social innovation,” he writes, is shifting from locomotion to locality: “Authenticity, local context, and local production are increasingly desirable attributes in the things we buy and the services we use. Local sells.” At the same time, Thackara believes that how many localities market themselves doesn’t work. “There’s a big difference between selling soap and making sense of a place — but many place marketers don’t get it.” They imitate each other, and try to trade on nostalgic themes they all have more or less in common. “Identity has become a commodity. Diversity or distinctiveness have been edited out,” and every city depends on the same kind of facilities and publicity.
Read the whole article at www.energybulletin.net
Modules and Wholes (Michael Andrews)
I finished John Thackara’s In the Bubble over the weekend. If you are familiar with the Doors conferences, you know Thackara is a fan of the role artists can play in redefining design. He notes in his book: “Too many design methods can indeed limit innovation. Someone also has to provide aesthetic stimulus — to throw wild ideas into the ring — to provoke fresh thinking. Social critics and artists are good candidates for this role. Avant-garde media artists, in particular, intervene on issues of networks, the body, identity, and collaboration. Many of their ideas are exciting and insightful in a way that methods-driven solutions are not. What is exciting for one person is wacky to another”. I found many of the examples of artist-lead research Thackara cited in his book a bit under-whelming — such as tracing the motions of pigeons in St. Mark’s Square in Venice — even when I could see, with some self-generated imagination, that some meaningfully beneficial results might someday be realized.
Read the whole article at michaelandrews.blogspot.com
Resets the bottom line for design intelligence. How can we make information more legible, accessible to wider audiences? Can good design make a stupid product smart? At what point are products so overloaded with features that we cease to care?
Read the whole article at www.klooj.net
As for the book, I’m reading it now and I believe I will end up recommending it to you as well. But I’m only about 50 pages into it, so give me a few more days. I will say that the first 4 pages of the first chapter (“Lightness”) were quite provocative and got me hooked rather quickly.
Read the whole article at www.fredshouse.net
Protein (William Rowe)
Protein° favourite John Thackara has published a new design book. Thackara, thinks that we are filling our world with devices, systems, and products that are too complex to understand or to control, and as a result we often feel that we are the ones who are being controlled. Technology is not going away, but the time to discuss the ends it will serve is before we deploy it, not after. Sounds good to me.
Read the whole article at feed.proteinos.com
In The Bubble is an interesting and provocative look at the way designers should look at the world before designing for it. It’s both a cautionary and inspiring tale, that provides a context and construct for the way we need to think about business and design in the modern world. Influx was fortunate enough to be able to do a short interview with John.
Read the whole article at www.influxinsights.com
Arts Journal (Nancy Levinson)
“What to do when the fizzy world of high-style design starts to seem too, too much? When you’ve grown weary of the exclamatory chatter of the shelter rags, when you’ve flipped idly through one too many multi-pound monograph, when you’ve become surfeited with the ever-expanding universe of luxe stuff and cool things? This point of over-saturation isn’t hard to reach — it has perhaps inspired the delicious dishiness of The Gutter (which in just a few weeks of blog-life has already made such naughty sport of the Gray Lady’s House & Home), not to mention the cheeky satire of Design w/o Reach (with its sweet little Tootsie Pop takeoff of George Nelson’s Ball Clock). And it certainly informs an excellent new book by the design critic John Thackara . . . so push aside that colorful pile of photo-packed publications and pick up In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World, in whose pages “design” is understood to be more about process than product, more about systems and services than about surfaces and packages, more about work to do than things to buy.” Read the whole article
“Today’s technology is outpacing the human systems it’s being created to serve, resulting in landfills full of outdated silicon, frenetic stress, and overwhelmed consumers. If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “bad TiVo!” design critic John Thackara is talking to you. At first blush, this copiously researched manifesto decrying the “schlock of the new” reads like a naturalist’s indictment of the modern world.” Read the whole article