Monthly Archives: January 2009

How to blog – for the shirker

I have been blogging for five years now. See this link for all my blogs: http://sites.google.com/site/soumitrisarchive/blogs-and-sites
(now that was a spruik! caught you!)

But seriously – are you a blogger who?

  1. feels guilty blogging.
  2. blogs when the family has gone to sleep.
  3. checks your email for comments on your blog first thing every morning.
  4. thinks blogging is not work – and so agrees its great fun.
  5. wishes the whole world stopped doing what they were doing and started off great conversations on your posts.

No hang on seriously what I want to tell you about is the greatest thing for bloggers since sliced bread. Welcome to SCRIBEFIRE – ta da!!!

Why?

  1. I only ‘write’ ever so often. I mostly post from my RSS feeds – and I often dont comment on the posts. I tell myself I am not lazy – just book marking an interesting story onto my blog.
  2. I often post videos.
  3. I rarely – nay never upload files to my blog. Not pictures and not documents.
  4. My blog is my collection – which will one day become a book – when they invent a free blog to book service (all the ones available are paid and you have to do too much code work anyway). And ofcourse the book will sell.
  5. My blg is my way to gather aroubd me a cosy group of oddballs like me who blog – in a similar fashion – and then come on to my facebook. People, of course, who I never want to meet – for I dont’ have time for ‘face time’ with people, I am raining kids remember?

And unlike pale Qumana – it doesnt say ‘hey posted from ScribeFire’ and let everyone know that I was a slacker. And anyway Qumana is gone from my computer – only online stuff for me. So give it a shot and discover it for yourself. When that is done come back and I will tell you of this other thing – the second best thing.

ScribeFire – Blog Editor

Easily update your blog through Firefox®

ScribeFire Blog Editor enables users to easily drag and drop formatted text from the web into their blog(s), post entries, take notes, and optimize their ad inventory directly through the Firefox browser.

Additionally Blog Editor enables you to:

* Categorize and tag your blog posts
* Upload images
* Set timestamps
* Save works-in-progress as notes
* Post an entry as a draft
* Share your posts on social websites
* Upload files via FTP

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Add Signatures to Gmail

If you have been following my posts this year you will already know that I have decided to complicate my life completely. What I did two weeks ago – to put a date to it and be scientific say ummm at 11 AM on 19th of January – was to say I was going to do cloud computing and only that. This meant:

  1. I give up using all the software on my computer – my mac Powerbook.
  2. I give up mail, addressbook, ical, and Groupwise (which is the Novell software that work loads onto my computer – which is not my computer, it is theirs)
  3. I give up word, excel and powerpoint (which I gave up years ago)
  4. I give up writeroom and shift to dark copy instead.
  5. I give up dreamweaver and flash (which I was crap at anyway).
  6. I gave up adium for chat – so msn, yahoo and gchat(is that what its called?) were gone.

Then I would delete these programs from my computer. But seriously you dont expect me to do that – no I did delete groupwise (hated that anyway – have you looked at help online in groupwise? it is seriously something subterrainean, awesomely arcane) – so I deleted all the software from my dock. But I did get rid of Adium (lovey icon).

Then I should mention what I had to do before I did all that deleting – I had to migrate everything online.

  1. Mail was easily done – as gmail (why would anyone want to use any other mail service). I then had gcal, and contacts in mail.
  2. The I added heaps of firefox add ons.

Which brings me to Blank Canvas.

  1. I have 5 email accounts. And wanted a different signature for each of them.
  2. Blank canvas helped me do that. Greasemonkey was a bit roundabout anyway.
  3. So now I had 5 signatures and five accounts. Though I had to choose the signature each time – it wouldn’t automatically recognize which signature I wanted for which account like Mail did. Still things were fine and people at work received email that looked it came from work-email and not from shonkey gmail (which I may have been sending from the beach!)
  4. But inexplicably the signatures vanished on monday. On leave were you – you naughty blank canvas.

Today is Friday – and guess what they are back – all the signatures. Just like that inexplicably.

(more on cloud computing over the weeks and months as my life goes al over the place. but guess what – when it cools down, I will ride the 15kms to work. Without the panniers and the laptop! As if – I am wedded to the damn machine. But no harm saying it. I tried.)

Blank Canvas Gmail Signatures :: Firefox Add-ons

Automatically inserts HTML signatures into your Gmail messages based on which address you are sending from. Supports up to four signatures for each address you have set up. Works for Compose Message and Reply/Forward.

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Alexa Rank

If you run a blog you are bound to be interested in how well your blog is doing. So I have a hit count of about 300-ish. Day before yesterday it was 408. Now you get the idea – I do check blog stats – I am a slave to them. My whole self worth varies day by day based upon what the blog stat says.

So you will see me moseying about trying to get a sense of something or the other that deals with number of visits, hits or feeds. Today I found myself at a site that was talking about Alexa (what was I doing here?) – and if this obsession is something you share with me you can take a look. This is all about how do you get to  place where you can start having ads in your blog or site.

The verdict was I cant – the Alexa ranking for my blog is 4 million. Which is normal. But curiously my web site (http://Soumitri.com) comes in at 14,000. And my Blip TV channel comes in at 2,219. This channel is the most neglected of all my web-things and its so popular. Should I stop writing into the blog and start making more AV and film presentations?

20 Quick Ways to Increase Your Alexa Rank

What is the Alexa Rank?

Put simply, the Alexa Rank is a ranking system which bases its ranking schema on the level of traffic each website receives from the number of people who visit a website with the Alexa toolbar installed.

See Alexa’s definition of the Alexa Traffic Rank:

The traffic rank is based on three months of aggregated historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar users and is a combined measure of page views and users (reach). As a first step, Alexa computes the reach and number of page views for all sites on the Web on a daily basis.

The main Alexa traffic rank is based on the geometric mean of these two quantities averaged over time (so that the rank of a site reflects both the number of users who visit that site as well as the number of pages on the site viewed by those users)

Why would you want to increase your Alexa rank?

Webmasters, advertisers and ad networks use your blog’s Alexa rank as a gauge to determine the worth of a link on your website. If you depend on link or site selling as a form of monetization you’ll definitely want to increase your Alexa rank, because it’ll increase your bargaining power when it comes to ad pricing.

ReviewMe, Text Link Ads and Sponsored Reviews are just three of the networks which base your ad selling strength on Alexa Ranks.

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Disease Management for Australia

Patient centered chronic care is a difficult one to set up and negotiate in Australia – a country with universal Medicare. Disease Management here is listed within the state’s agenda – but not separately funded.

Healthways – Investor Relations – News Release

Healthways International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY), today announced a five-year agreement to offer comprehensive Health and Care SupportSM solutions to The Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Limited (HCF), one of the largest private health insurers in Australia with over 1 million members. Healthways has successfully entered markets on three continents in the past 12 months, continuing evidence that the health care and productivity issues faced by U.S. health plans, employers and government payers are global issues.

Through the agreement, Healthways will provide proactive support to HCF members with chronic conditions to help slow the progression of their illness. All HCF members will have access to a comprehensive suite of Internet-based health and wellness resources, including customized health information, health risk assessments, health coaching and online, personal health records. Services will focus on prevention, education, behavior change and evidence-based medicine to drive adherence to proven standards of care, medications and physician care plans.

“This collaboration with Healthways allows HCF to implement best-in-class preventive and care management strategies that will keep our healthy members healthy, while improving health and reducing complications for those members with chronic conditions,” said Terry Smith, HCF Chief Executive Officer.

Also:

A report issued by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare further confirms that chronic diseases are a major health concern in Australia, placing great burden on individuals, communities and the health industry. More than one-fifth of hospital stays are due to common chronic disease, and $11 billion in national health expenditures are attributed to chronic disease.2

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A Violinist in the Metro

I gt this in an email – and then looked it up in google – and found it there. I am going to post this – and then I will get off the computer. I will go to the next froom and giv my wife a hug. I will then potter about in the kitchen – and make her something nice for lunch.

(but being the nut I am – I will also share this with twitter and facebook thru shareaholic. Just tarrying a bit! Now each of you when you read this. Stop – and pause to smell the roses!! Good on you.)

A Violinist in the Metro (Joshua Bell) – Urban Legends

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

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Laptops or mobile phones?

The OLPC versus the Mobile Phone – A False Dichotomy | MobileActive.org

The ongoing debate over the value of cheap and open laptops for users in developing countries as opposed to mobile phones continues, most recently with a post from Cory Doctorow in the Guardian UK. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative, the most visible and audacious of the low-cost laptop projects, has been in the news recently for cutting half its staff and severely scaling back and refocusing its operations. OLPC had originally promised to promote economic development by distributing free computers to two billion children in developing countries.

Doctorow in the Guardian argues what we all believe in — that information technology is an essential ingredient to economic development. He notes:

Poverty and its associated problems – hunger, poor health, lack of education and disenfranchisement – are fundamentally information problems. Poverty is exacerbated by the high cost of discovering how your peers have solved their agricultural problems, of accessing government services, of communicating with distant relations who have gone to the city to earn on behalf of the family. Poverty and oppression thrive in situations where people can’t communicate cheaply and widely with one another about corruption, injustice and violence.

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There is No Delete Button on the Web

Now this has got me worried – what are all the things I have said that are floating around.

The Unforeseen Consequences of the Social Web – ReadWriteWeb

Interconnected on the Web

While it’s exciting to live in an ever connected and always on world, the flip side that we have to accept is that we also live in a world where information is becoming increasingly interlinked. Today it is relatively simple to follow footprints on the Web if we want to track both people and brands.

For instance, take a look at my public profile on Twitter and you’ll notice I can also be found on other sites: BlogWell, ReadWriteWeb and The Drill Down. Visit BlogWell and you’ll notice I can be found at WebMama and TechTalkRadio. Visit The Drill Down and you’ll see my contact information for Digg. While I occasionally use different user names on sites, I publicly declare my affiliations and unless you know me really well, or have reason to follow me across the Web, you may not realize the relationships I have or where I can be found online by visiting any one site.

While the information about me on the Web is not terribly exciting, I do leave a little bit of information on every site I visit. And therein lies the rub. Say something in passing on a social site and it may come back to haunt you.
There is No Delete Button on the Web

It is becoming increasingly difficult to remove content from the web. The Internet Archive and its Way Back Machine gives you a historical snapshot of a site within seconds. Google gives you cached pages displaying pages that may have been deleted for any number of reasons. Photo sharing sites that store images online combined with services like Twitpic that let you quickly upload pictures to social sites – all of these great social Web resources also leave your historical Web footprints open to dissection in the future.

And although the information you put out on the Web may seem insignificant today, you have to ask the question of whether it will be insignificant tomorrow, or in five years when you need to apply for college or seek new employment. Additionally, you have to ask yourself whether you’re just leaving more junk for the next generation to clean up.

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Saffer new book

Saffer on Service Design and how it just vaporises when you touch it!


Dissolving Service Design

I’m starting a revision of my book Designing for Interaction. It’s about three years old now, and lots of things, including my own perspective on interaction design, have changed in the four years since I started writing it. (Just as one example, touchscreens and interactive gestures weren’t really mentioned in the earlier at all.)

One of the most radical changes to the new edition (and there are several), is the dissolution of the service design chapter. When I wrote the book, “service design” and designing services was something that was fairly new (in the US anyway). I called it “the next frontier of interaction design” or some such hyperbole.

Three years on, and the distinction between products and services in the world of iPhones, Kindles, Google Docs, Facebook, and Twitter seems arbitrary at best, and confusing at worst. And that isn’t to even get into things like ubicomp or robots, where the distinction is even more blurry. So for the second edition, I’ve decided to dissolve the service design chapter and just place the topics and tools that were once ghettoed there throughout the book. I’m not sure that, from this point out, at least for interaction designers, the distinction between products and services is a meaningful one.

I simply cannot think of a service that interaction designers would be involved in that doesn’t have some sort of product, and typically a technology product, at its center. The product might be anything from a physical object to a website to an interactive environment, but there is something there to be designed. Secondly, I can only think of very few products that interaction designers (and really, almost any designer) are designing any more that are not part of some kind of service. Bruce Sterling in Shaping Things uses the example of a bottle of wine: there’s the bottle itself, the vineyard’s website, the printed label, the metadata that goes to online winesellers, etc., etc. And that’s for a bottle of wine, much less a device that has to live in our increasingly complex ecosystem of gadgets, environment, and internet.

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Metaphors for sustainability

Metaphor Project: Current and Emerging Metaphors re Sustainability

This handy reference list of metaphors does
not pretend to be comprehensive, although we
periodically add to it. Most important, it is
definitely not intended to stop you from
thinking up new ones. The mainstream examples
(marked with *) are mixed in with the
progressive ones deliberately, in the hope
that this juxtaposition will also help
stimulate your own creativity in coming up
with new and even more effective versions. If
important ones, mainstream or progressive,
have been left out please let us know.

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Universal Health Care for China

Thats a 100$ per person. Will this build a health care system I wonder. It is a lot of money – and will produce some spectacular hospitals and infrastructure – like what we saw for the Olympics. If however they go down the path of service design, and community health – which then addresses both clinical care ( as emergency) and chronic care – they would have something quite world class. Just focussing upon ehealth, telemedicine and a medicare system – would be another way to go. Option 1 is the sexy looking stuff – 2 and 3 are the truly transformative approaches which will touch the lives of the poor and marginalised.

EzraKlein Archive | The American Prospect

China just decided to spend $123 billion by 2011 to build a universal health care system for its $1.3 billion people. So they’ll likely have universal health care before we will. This American exceptionalism thing is getting out of hand.

But it’s worth zooming in on why the Chinese are making this a priority right now: Chinese economists see universal health care as a way to induce consumption and economic dynamism. The Chinese have a high savings rate — indeed, an absurdly high savings rate, between 30 percent and 40 percent of income — and one of the reasons is fear of medical expenses. China lacks a safety net, and so people spend less because they need to plan for catastrophe. And if catastrophe doesn’t befall, then they’ve simply spent less. Which is a problem when you’re facing down a potentially long recession. And so China is trying to make it safe for its citizens to spend, which means making future expenses more predictable, which means offering health care coverage.

The American situation is, of course, somewhat different. We spend, or at least spent, plenty. But if the Chinese save because they’re worried about paying for medical care in the future, Americans yoke themselves to bad jobs or dying industries or hollowed-out regions because they’re afraid of losing their health care coverage in the present. That’s never exactly been a good thing, but it’s more worrying now. We’re about to have to adjust to an economy that’s not powered by bubble-charged consumption. That’s going to force a number of unpleasant changes in our standard of living. But one way to mitigate the harm is to free workers from the more useless drags on their productivity, and the instability of our health care system certainly counts.

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Failure: The Secret to Success

Thanks Raph for the Video link.

more about "Failure: The Secret to Success", posted with vodpod

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small men … given unfettered power and authority, … do incompetent, stupid, and evil things

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (January 25, 2009) – The Bush-Cheney Wreckage

I’m reminded of something John Cole said the other day: “The moral of this story is not the danger for Obama going forward with his Gitmo decommissioning, the moral is that when venal, shallow, small men are given unfettered power and authority, they do incompetent, stupid, and evil things.”

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Hear hear

First Words and Deeds—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine)

We are not witnessing the articulation of a new “Obama doctrine.” Rather it is the triumph of tradition and experience over eight years of aberrant bad judgment.

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I am struggling to make a comment about this

Speaker system built into mannequin – Boing Boing

Here’s Bob Turek’s MP3 player speaker system, built into a mannequin.

speakers, fiberglas mannequin, hand built stereo amplifier
36″ x18″ x12″
2008

As part of my object remix series, this stereo forces the music source into the center of attention and creates a radically new user interface.

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Nussabum on Cottam and Leadbeater

The World Economic Forum–Lost in a Fog. A Design Manifesto for Davos. – BusinessWeek

“Moving from a system focused on needs to one more concerned with capabilities;
Moving from services that are targeted to ones that are open to all;
Moving away from a financially focused system to one focused on resources;
Avoiding centralised institutions in favour of more effective distributed networks;
Relaxing the absolute focus on the individual including more of a focus on social networks.”

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Last week

This is the last week before I go back to work – the kids go back to school actually, so I can head off to do things.

Small snippets of info:

1. I am now totally converted to ‘cloud computing’. I have deleted my ‘mail’ accounts – and am into gmail. I still miss ‘mail’. All th google stuff is  bit ugly – so my current aesthetic environment is less than perfect. But then I started my internet life in 1994 with ‘pine’ – that is DOS text.

2. I have shut down bloglines and netnewswire – and convereted to google reader.

3. I have (not totally) given up writeroom and am going to give DarkCopy a shot.

4. I am nudging my collaborators to use Google docs more. So I will be off word. (incidently – google has some kind of relationship with open office? Open office is as ugly – just wondered!).

The last thing I need to do is to get the IT lot to change the computer in my office – its very slow on the web.

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How GM Lost Its Sales Crown to Toyota

How GM Lost Its Sales Crown to Toyota – BusinessWeek

It’s official. Toyota (TM) has finally surpassed General Motors (GM) as the world’s biggest carmaker. The global sales battle has been neck-and-neck for a couple of years. But Toyota ended GM’s 77-year grip on the crown in 2008, according to numbers that came out on Jan. 21, and the Japanese juggernaut did it with authority, selling 8.9 million cars to GM’s 8.35 million. The margin of victory is two auto factories’ worth of production.

But the actual passing of the auto-sales crown is itself irrelevant. Like most pivotal moments in history, GM’s fall from the pinnacle has been a long time coming. Even at the turn of the millennium, when GM sold 8.5 million cars to Toyota’s 5.9 million, this day was all but certain. GM just made too many mistakes for too long. Management wasted too much money while Toyota was plowing billions into technology and vehicles. For decades, GM managers figured the customers would always come to them. Toyota knew it had to go to the customers.

Conventional wisdom says that the problems started with quality gaffes in the 1980s. But GM began the insidious process of creating its own demise long before then. The company’s U.S. market share peaked in 1962 at 52%. It has been downhill ever since.

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WordPress Template Maker

Though only for PCs – at 99$ its a steal. But if you wait a bit you can get the option of templates for Joomla/ Drupal.

Artisteer – WordPress Themes and Website Templates Designer

Artisteer is the first and only Web design automation product that instantly creates fantastic looking, unique Website templates and Blog themes.

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Import OPML to Google Reader

So now  have imported my RSS feeds from NETNEWSWIRE into Google Reader. And will shut down Netnewswire. The breakthrough came when I discovered that I could do the import – now I have to sit and recreate the folders.

Google Reader should import folders with the feeds!!

Google Reader: How to Import OPML Files | Google | Tech-Recipes

The New RSS Reader from Google will allow you to import your subscriptions from other services. Here is directions on importing those feeds into the google service.

First you must export your subscriptions into an OPML file. Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) is the typical format that RSS aggregators import and export the subscription list.

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Conversations With History – James Fallows

James Fallows on China-US issues.

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Obama not quite so wholesome

Its a been a heady period – a bit like watching the Australian Open to see the rise and rise of a tennis star – and reading reams of autobiographical press that probe through interviews for ‘qualities’ that make this hero. These days we are indulging in Dokic and this morning there was tensing news: her father, the cause of all her traumas, is threatening to come from Serbia to watch her if she gets to the semis. That would be a disaster I sigh into my chai in tune with all the readers of the Age in this part of the world. I go through all the sports pages and pass them on to my daughter – who is following the women’s matches fanatically.

I then picked up my copy of the Atlantic, which arrives a bit late in Australia, and began reading. Half and hour later I am here blogging with a half opened copy of the magazine. Its another kind of dismay that has brought me to blog on a sunny sunday morning – when I should be on the trampoline or in the backyard doing some gardening. So here is the story.

I have liked Obama’s speeches, but his books have lots of cringe inducing bits. Cringe, for I come from India where the separation of state and religion is an oft debated issue, for the privielging of religion is seen as potentially damaging to the rights of one or other section of society. This has been borne out by historical evidence of events in which one religious group has taken to the streets killing people (with particularly brutal acts against children and women) of another another religion – where the call to arms is invariably issued by a politician. Anyway Obama’s writing inducing this cringe when he has this slavish way of invoking God – which is not in a spiritual or intellectual context – but as an acknowledgment of omnipotence or divine right. All very chillingly similar to the prose of the religious power discourse or the past President.

I was to get support from Fallows for my queasiness about the God references in Obama. Though his objection seems more aesthetic – it sounds tacky and so on. Still atleast someone is bracketing this. You can see Fallows’ post here:

James Fallows

As I may have mentioned from time to time, I view the Reagan-onward tic of
closing all presidential speeches with “God bless America” as just a
tic. That is, a substitute for doing what FDR, TR, Abraham Lincoln,
Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and all pre-Reagan American
presidents had done: namely, find a “real” way to end a speech. Here is
interesting proof that it is a tic. The prepared version of Obama’s
inaugural address – here, among other sources — does not include those
words at the end. But the transcription of what he actually said –
here — confirms what we all heard, that he tacked them on at the end.

When he had time to think about the shape of the speech, Obama, as a writer
and thinker, realized that he had a strong close without those cliched
words. In real time, he threw them in, as any of us (including me)
might throw in “you know” or “I mean” when answering a question. Let me
say that again: when he had time to think about it, Obama the literary
craftsman thought better of it.

Which then brings me to the more recent Atlantic issue where Obama’s ‘coolness’ is the topic of discussion. I agree entirely that Obama is ethical and likeable – possibly superficially charming (charmful? dont we all know people who put on their charm, and can switch it off too?) – but quite sponge like and bears ‘the imprint’ of the others he encounters.

Cool Cat – The Atlantic (January/February 2009)

It was, I think, Lloyd George who said of Lord Derby that, like a cushion, he bore the imprint of whoever had last sat upon him. Though Obama, too, has the dubious gift of being many things to many people, the difficulty with him is almost the opposite: he treads so lightly and deftly that all the impressions he has so far made are alarmingly slight. Perhaps this is the predictable downside of being a cat.

And yes for all us non-Americans the whiff of imperialism is ever present. We talk about the way of the ‘american’ – their ‘leadership’ of the world and their presumptuousness. What is interesting here is that Benjamin Schwarz in this peice sees it too – through a ‘literary’ device of comparing what Bush might have said with what Obama actually says. I cannot fault an America president ( the leader of the free world) of being presumptuous about such leadership – for didn’t someone say that we must get the Americans back onto their spending habits  to save us from this recession?

All this is – after the show – second thoughts. Just the sort of feelings I began to have two days after I saw ‘Slum Dog Millionnaire‘.

Globaloney – The Atlantic (January/February 2009)

“Change” has been President-elect Barack Obama’s mantra, and for many of his supporters, the most important change his administration promises is a more restrained, less arrogant foreign policy, a global posture that avoids the costs and dangers inherent in playing the world’s policeman. They’re dismayed by the presumptuous and anachronistic attitudes behind the declaration that the president of the United States is the “leader of the free world.” They’re exasperated with the messianic invocation of “America’s larger purpose in the world,” with the smug notion that this country is “called to provide visionary leadership” in “battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good.” They discern the dangers of declaring with righteous omniscience that America “has a direct national security interest” in seeing its economic and political beliefs take hold in foreign lands. They’re annoyed with the historical myopia that results in an unironic reference to American military “operations to win hearts and minds.” In the claim that “the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people,” they hear echoes of the universalist logic that led to the disaster in Vietnam and see a sweeping foreign policy that the rest of the world finds at best meddlesome and at worst menacingly imperialist.

These lofty but potentially dangerous sentiments are entirely consistent with George W. Bush’s assertion in his second Inaugural Address that “the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands”—an assertion his critics at home and abroad rightly judged as … lofty and potentially dangerous. But the pronouncements quoted above—all of them—are in fact from Barack Obama’s two major foreign-policy statements, both made in 2007.

This isn’t to charge the president-elect with hypocrisy (he has consistently enunciated these views, which could be fairly described as standard liberal internationalist, even if some of his enthusiasts haven’t been particularly alert to them) but to show that the beliefs underlying America’s global role since the end of the Second World War have been remarkably consistent, embraced by both Democratic and Republican administrations. And they lead inevitably to America’s playing the “imperial” role so many of Obama’s supporters decry.


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Cloud Computing

Last year Jeremy would come to see me about once a month. Jeremy is an ixd nut who is bouncing off all manner of walls in all parts of the globe. As an aside he is also doing his PhD and has inexplicably chosen me as his supervisor. While I may have some effect – though doubtful – on his PhD wanderings what is more curious is the effect he is having upon me.

Jeremy has an iphone – and does all his communication work from the phone. He has also pushed me to use google calendar  and not ical – a pushing I resisted till the end of last year. He would often speak of ‘cloud’ computing and how he jumps on to any computer and off he goes. I am not an iphone user – and have not been an ipod user – so when I tied all this he was talking about to the iphone – it was safely the ‘other’. But another effect of supervising Jeremy was that I had to read all the stuff he was reading – and so grudgingly I did Mogeridge, and then went on to skim Cooper and the others. By the year end with the Interaction Design library uide completed – I was a convert. Though I was to include ixd inside service design and other such design contexts – I was in the same space re the forefront of computing environments.

What I mean is – not something complicated – I was going to use the MacBook less and less. It all sounded simple – I would have to give up MSWord for google-docs and so on. So I began – and it all looked fine initially.

So now I dont have ical, mail and addressbook in my dock. Which made me feel a bit unsettled.

But I balked at giving up Netnewswire. So I still have it – and every time I look at it I feel guilty. Cheating!

I also have some bizzarre ninja theme for my gmail – which my daughter insisted on. That apart I love how gmail sucks up my other email accounts. Cool.

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Do Good Design book and resources

I have only just seen this – as a CSR resource it looks good. Worth a look.

Do Good Design

As promised in Do Good Design, here’s information that goes deeper, or that changes more often than paper can easily accomodate. We’ll keep adding as people keep asking. Suggestions welcomed!

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Filed under Design, Sustainability

Craft Market Stall Holders wanted

Craft Victoria : Craft Hatch

Craft Victoria is pleased to be partnering with the City of Melbourne’s, City Library to hold Craft Hatch – an incubator market for student and emerging craft designers.

The City Library is the centre for learning and creativity with up to 3000 visitors a day. Craft Hatch has been designed specifically for students and emerging designers looking to build their market confidence in one of Melbourne’s busiest CBD retail precincts.

Craft Hatch will be held one Saturday a month at the City Library, 253 Flinders Lane, 11.00am – 4.00pm. Upcoming Craft Hatch diary dates are Saturday 13 December 2008 and Saturday 24 January 2009.

Stallholders are now sought for the 2009 February, March and April markets, which will run on the second Saturday of the month. Registrations close Saturday 31 January 2009. For more information, download the registration form or email market@craftvic.asn.au.

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Things to do in a recesion

I posted this comment on Bruce Nussbaum’s blog:

Good on you Bruce for being so ‘topical’. First the transformation design post and now this recession post.

This aligns with a line I have been taking (this is a plug for my blog – so stop reading here!) in 2009 in trying to answer another question – ‘can I use the recession to re-engage with my former students’. I asked the question here (http://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/the-opportunities-in-an-economic-downturn-for-designers/) and here (http://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/designing-through-the-recession/). Some students (a fair few I have to admit) responded.

My strategy is now to use this dialogue to push the students towards ‘social innovation’ by helping them to imagine a social innovation venture they can start up and run. Now these are in a large measure students who went to design school to become furniture designers or product designers. At university they would (may?) have attended all those sustainability and social design classes and events – but never took it seriously.

Fingers crossed for now. I am keen to hear from others who may be doing similar things within their communities.

So do write in to me if you wish to share ideas.

How do You Innovate in a Recession? Ask Flip, Amazon, Apple and IBM. – BusinessWeek

Innovating during this severe recession is a topic on a lot of people’s minds today, including IDEO’s Tim Brown. The need for innovation in this particular recession is particular acute because we need structural change in our economic, business and civic institutions, as well as rejuvenation of our overall growth.

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Filed under Design, Disruptive Innovation, Projects, Service Design, Social Innovation