There are many Ways of Dying

I listened to the last episodes of Andrew Denton’s podcasts – Better off Dead – yesterday. Nitschke was on this episode and I found Andrew’s questions and comments a bit lacking in some crucial dimensions. I felt there was a strong push from Denton to move the conversation to privilege a legal narrative – lets make this legal. Just like it is in Netherlands, Belgium and the US. I appreciate what he is trying to do, I am blown away by what he is doing. Yet death is more than just a physical end of life – and the existential issue surrounding death is merely a category in these pod casts. There is the social dimension to death. It is the death of a social being – relationships, citizen, voice, father, husband. And death can be a social practice – death can be de-medicalized. Will he go there in his podcasts I wonder!

You can follow Andrew Denton’s Pod Casts here.


And so I being writing.

Its been two years now since my participation in a Health Innovation forum organised by a group of doctors. One issue that we talked about at the event was captured in the title – last 18 months. This is a narrative in the medical profession and within the government where a significant proportion of the health care budget of a country are committed to the last 6 months of a person’s life. Its common to encounter statements such as “50% of healthcare costs are incurred in the last 6 months of life”. Posts such as this point to a rethink underway about the medical paradigm of end of life care. One dimension is certainly economic but there are also efforts focussed upon improved quality of life outcomes.

Following the thread of this narrative leads us into the economic problem and solution scenarios of a sustainable future. The direct extrapolation of current practices leads us to imagine that: People will live longer and more people will have dramatic and complicated hospitals deaths. This will cost the state a lot of money.

The recent announcement by the Australian Federal Government to reimagine chronic care as a portfolio solution or a systemic solution is potentially a step in the right direction and is also aiming to spend money wisely . Such thinking aligns well with the paradigm of patient centered health care and we can imagine that this model will in time make use of current and emerging IT solutions such as Health-kit to manage patient health.

Within the discourse of this territory of last 18 months is the work of Dr Angelo Volandes. The article from a few years ago in the Atlantic offers a great introduction to his alternative approach to end of life care. The following paragraph summarises his project – he wishes to show people that certain medical procedures near the end of life can lead to an undesirable hospital death.

On the very first night of his postgraduate medical internship, when he was working the graveyard shift at a hospital in Philadelphia, he found himself examining a woman dying of cancer. She was a bright woman, a retired English professor, but she seemed bewildered when he asked whether she wanted cardiopulmonary resuscitation if her heart stopped beating. So, on an impulse, he invited her to visit the intensive-care unit. By coincidence, she witnessed a “code blue,” an emergency administration of CPR. “When we got back to the room,” Volandes remembered, “she said, ‘I understood what you told me. I am a professor of English—I understood the words. I just didn’t know what you meant. It’s not what I had imagined. It’s not what I saw on TV.’ ” She decided to go home on hospice. Volandes realized that he could make a stronger, clearer impression on patients by showing them treatments than by trying to describe them.

To achieve his goals Volandes uses Videos. I have watched his videos and they are amazingly instructive. He now has a book out and this video.


I began writing this piece to journal my work in the area of death and dying. I have been looking at ‘service design’ solutions at the end of life.

In short we are all going to die one day. And from a consumption and service design perspective we will have the ability to choose the kind of death we find appropriate. In this last sentence I have edited out the words desirable and acceptable – both design values. Yes it is possible to speculate that death too can be designed. And their may be consultants who will specialise in this field of practice. We do have the designed funeral. Funeral Celebrants transform the physical remains of the human (person) into an aesthetic experience to make the greiving process and the ceremony of death a commodity for consumption. The socially mediated nature of practices surrounding death have both a traditional and modern dimension.

Society in Australia though still struggles with an acceptable social practice of dying. On ones side are the campaigners who collectivise death as a collective moral discourse. Within this narrative the ‘taking of life’ is illegal. On another side are the campaigners who are attempting to push the discourse towards the individualisation of dying. That it is a singular act of volition and that there ought to be choice and freedom for the practices of taking ones own life. There is this global transformation of the discourse of dying and it is enriching the understanding that people have of their own choices. It is possible in the future we will look back at this moment in history for its challenge to society to elevate the discourse surrounding death. Its possible we will fail. Its possible the scare mongers win out.

It did not have to be this way.

The taking of ones own life is a supreme act, a pure act and historically even heroic act of the brave. This beautiful piece about Mishima signposts the social practice of taking ones life.

Mishima spoke increasingly of death and lamented the absence in modern times of “great causes” to die for. In his 1970 interview, he described the samurai notion of killing oneself as “brave harakiri,” in contrast to the Western view of suicide as “defeatist.” However, while he was exhorting the young soldiers to rise up against the established order, Mishima was booed and jeered with shouts of “Get down,” and “Go home.” Many Westerners might therefore regard his bloody deed as “defeatist suicide.” Whether the coup attempt was merely a pretext for killing himself is unclear. There is no doubt that it was planned, since he had prepared jisei no ku (traditional death poems) well in advance and made provision for his wife and children. However, did he really believe the soldiers would rally to his call? What is clear, though, is that Mishima considered his act “brave harakiri,” a fitting end for a proud samurai. “Harakiri makes you win,” he pronounced.

To be continued …



Holy shit, I didn’t know that

The title is from this article in the Sydney Morning Herald (

This is a post to develop a case study for global politics on the concept of power and the mechanics of Australian democracy. The themes I aim to discuss are potentially :

  1. The fear of election outcomes – the Canning bye election precipitated events. Plus a discussion of other elections over the past two years.
  2. The power of media – how polls and news media transform the agendas and goals of politics.
  3. The good politician – hidden amidst the descriptions in the book is what is not spoken about but repeatedly hinted at. That there is this notion of a good politician, the successful communicator, one who is able to have a conversation and collaborate.


Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin (Image Source×349.gnb71b.png/1457163763583.jpg)

I read two books detailing the progression of a systemic-malfunction in the office of the Prime Minister of Australia towards a leadership challenge and the emergence of Malcolm Turnbull as the new Prime Minister of Australia. Both books set out to describe how the government destroyed itself. Both authors Patrick and Savva are respected journalists who describe their writing projects lucidly.  (You can hear them both on Late Night Live, Philip Adams –

These two books are great as primary material to describe the events as they happened. The books describe events as they unfolded (here Savva is brilliant) and there is a reasonable level of of analysis (mostly Patrick describing patterns). One summary, by Patrick, that I paused over was:

In Abbott, the Liberal Party chose a leader who reflected himself. When he failed, it turned to a man who reflected Australia. Turnbull could never have won a ballot of Liberal Party members. He was too liberal for the party’s conservative base. His elevation was a sign that, over time, a democracy delivers leaders representative of broader society.

This is brilliant and a healing touch at the end of the book. This is a move away from the cynicism of the politics of the situation, where we are all invited to moan about the loss of ethical narratives, towards an amplification of the notion of representative-democracy (keyword representative). Stimulated I write this post as a letter to a 17 year old using excerpts from Patrick.

Politicians as elected representatives are workers with hazy narratives – this is like the work of university academics who have to dream up their research projects based upon their sense of what is worth doing or thinking about. While the politician’s/ minister’s work plan for the year is settled the projects they have to design, execute and deliver contain a systemic dimension. We are invited to presume that the work of the politician is to improve an existing situation continuously till we progress towards incremental improvements in the quality of the whole system. These quality improvements will make the lives of people better, the conditions to do business better and the permeation of new ideas through society easier. A leading politician assuming a singular-agency, hubris, out of fear of future loss (insecurity) or a simple lack of application has the potential to create considerable turbulence. This is a drag on the potential for progress. (this then is one description of the meaning of political work)

Instead of an orderly, consensual administration, Abbott centralised power in his office and created an internal climate of fear.

Now Australia, as I read in my son’s Global Politics book, is a “model democracy”. As a model for democracy it was expected to lurch from the left to the right, or even contain within it a level of pluralism. I then ruminated a bit on the theme of the ‘model’. I imagined the modelling of this democracy from the perspective of systems thinking (such as represented in the image below).


This model (diagram) is from a systems thinking orientated repository and site. (

A democracy would be the system depicted – composed of its constituent parts, which interacted, made up the whole and interacted further with other wholes. The lurching would be opposed by the forces of homeostasis – or the forces of calm. So in this description we start with a lurching ecosystem. In time, as a complex system, it would reorganise itself, and settle down. As a complex system Australian democracy ought to be amenable to being modelled as a self regulating system, its constituent parts much like an organism in a complex ecosystem. Self regulation is what we would hope to see as described in this phrase ‘representative of a broader society’. Within this of course there exists the narrative of the logic of the local ecosystem. For every ecosystem would be composed of smaller component systems – which would have to be different from that of the ‘broader society’. We would expect these smaller ecosystems to be represented in the model as the ‘fringe’ narratives which can continue to function isolated and harmless awaiting a catastrophic event that would transform the basis of the normal. The dominant narrative of the system would be the overall meaning of the system, its ethos, its central program of progression. For a political system this is not a given – it is developed through the process of a conversation both in society and mirrored in the parliament (the petri dish). (this then is a value free description of the ecosystem)

Abbott was unable to lead modern Australia because, in outlook and values, he wasn’t a modern Australian.

If this fringe were to occupy the centre, and attain a capacity to damage the system as it would be expected every so often, how would the system react? This occupation, the disease vector, would need to do something significantly bad to trigger impulses for this fringe to be expelled or modified.


Looking back on the reading I have come away with a tremendous respect for the work and the work ethic of the politicians. In a perfect world – with an amazing wise leader of the ‘team’ – I can imagine the toning down of the adversarial conversation towards a setting of a goal, a destination and a preferred future. Imagine a satnav – our very own google map of a future where we choose the goal and it describes a series of road maps to get there. We can then endlessly discuss goals.

Let us remember the conversation we regularly have – hey where where shall we go? Where we are going for dinner this friday? We d decide to go to a new place every so often, but do go to our favourite place more usually. We know that we have many Fridays and many such conversations so some of us give in. We try new places, some work, and some don’t. Parliament is then the place for this kind of conversation – so where shall we go? And we speak genially and respectfully we have a great conversation.

Here is some material about the books and the authors.

Niki Savva

Who is Niki Savva?

Niki Savva is one of the most senior correspondents in the Canberra Press Gallery. She was twice political correspondent on The Australian, and headed up the Canberra bureaus of both The Herald Sun and The Age. When family tragedy forced a career change, she became Peter Costello’s press secretary for six years and was then on John Howard’s staff for three. Her work has brought her into intimate contact with the major political players of the last 35 years. She is now a regular columnist for The Australian, and often appears on ABC TV’s The Insiders as well as on political panels on Sky.


Quote – “The more I wrote, the more people would come to me with information,” she says. (Source – )

What Niki Sava does

‘ … she uses her journalistic skills and her unparalleled relationship with the key players to go beyond the previously published accounts, especially giving insights into the crises and deteriorating relationship (‘poisonous’) as the 2007 election defeat loomed, and everyone wanting to understand the history of this unique leadership situation will use her work.’

Niki Savva speaks about the events narrated in her book here. (Source –

A bit about Niki Savva and her book So Greek (which I aim to read next):

The Books


Savva, Niki (2016): The Road to Ruin: how Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin destroyed their own government, Penguin (I read it on Kindle) –


Patrick, Aaron (2016): Credlin & Co, How the Abbott Government Destroyed Itself (I read it on Kindle) –

Kyoto Field Trip Notes

I have for some time now been working on a project Hunting Wajima – that has set out to imagine the form and construction of furniture that will be made by a workshop in East Timor. The name of the project was itself a project – a sort of branding exercise. I set out to come up with a name that would point to the spirit of the design – a design-brief in two words as it were. This is different from what I have done for another project where I carved a portmanteau word – Jaliangan – to define the form of a particular kind of contemporary architecture. An architecture of boxes and their jali like wrappers. Somehow very Japanese too.

NOTE: The Hunting Wajima Project is mentioned in a previous post:

In the current phase of the project I am building on a proposition – Slatted Constructions (as posted here I want to design a furniture collection that does two things:
1. It explores the notion of slatted construction as a program, a way of building furniture.
2. It explores the typology of Japanese wood work as a source of inspiration and as a text to write into the program of Slatted Constructions.

The exploration of Japanese wood work has brought me to Kyoto, the home of and location of traditional wood work practice in Japan. I am looking not at the hard and pushy furniture products such as what I been seeing in the furniture shops and the traditional wood working Kojos. I am yet to see something inspiring. A few days ago I visited a workshop making extremely expensive (1 million Yen and above, or 10,000$ and above) furniture. Drawer units and tables. Very refined work but it left me untouched. I was excited to see the use of the elaborate traditional joints, but apart from that I was left cold by the obsessive pyrotechnics, excessive finish and shiny polish. I was looking for the rustic the natural and the truly old. So I have set out to document the marginal and forgotten. Pieces of wooden craftsmanship that are natural and light. The photographs here are some examples from that documentation.

Today I came up with the elements of a language – a typology of components:
Legs: I am documenting the forms of legs, especially that of low tables.
Endings: I am looking at the way members end, often flat but every now and then differently such as with a taper
Sizes: I am looking carefully at the sizes of linear elements, I am looking at the cross sections of the timber.
Intersections & Crossings: I am looking at how the linear elements continue beyond the intersections, for a bit more.
Lattice forms: I am looking at lattice form – the grid – which is more often a composition mainly of vertical slats.
Joins: I am looking at the way joins are formed.
Key wedge: I am understanding how the wedge in the joint helps the furniture achieve No nails/ No glue

I then had a thought today that CAD and CNC could be played with to sculpt the linear elements. The joints still occurring in the precise rectilinear locations.

I am doing some photography and also collecting images in Pinterest. You can see my collections and resources in the links below.

Japanese Joinery:
Japanese bamboo Crafts:
Reimagining Nature:
Inspirational woodwork:

A great Japanese and Japanese inspired furniture board:

My outer layer

This is a story about my outer layer. My skin. I have psoriasis. I have had psoriasis for close to 10 years now. For 5 of those years I have been in denial, and depressed about this loss of my pristine outer layer.

What is Psoriasis? For wikipedia on Psoriasis click here.

Image Source:

Then about a year ago things started to get worrying. I was red, and patchy. My UV treatment was not working all that well. It wasn’t clearing me up anymore. And I had become completely reliant on creams. When it was suggested I get onto a medical trail for a new experimental drug I jumped at the chance. I was looking at potentially getting an injection periodically and would no longer have any skin issues. Or so went the promise.

I went through the process of signing up for the trial. I was going to the hospital and was very excited by all the new stuff I was learning and the new experiences I was encountering. I have to admit I was loving being a mild form of lab rat. Then one day I got a phone call as I was driving home. There was an issue. There was a possibility I had Tuberculosis. It was pretty shocking to get this news. Or ought to have been. Luckily by this I am 54 years old and have reached a point in my life when I am venturing information about myself to others. So in a phone call to Pramod in India I mention the TB result. He is dismissive and says that almost all Indians have latent TB. I suddenly acquire a different perspective, and am instantly relieved. I promise myself that everyone would begin to hear about my body malfunctions and contaminations. I made a note to write this piece. That was 7 months ago – this post has been long overdue.

Soon I would go in for another verification blood test. It confirms that I indeed have latent Tuberculosis. Rapidly after that I am off the psoriasis biologicals trial, return the journal device and am now onto a new treatment. And a new trial. For more information on Psoriasis pharmaceuticals trails see pages like these. Plus for information about medical trials in Australia see here.

Now for my TB treatment. The infectious diseases unit, where I go for my appointments is up on the top floor, a forgotten level, of the hospital. A fitting locale where exotic people go to seek treatment for exotic emerging country diseases. I soon discover that there is a trial underway here too. This one is different, its an economic viability trial, for a new more expensive drug for TB. I agree and sign up for the trial. As part of the process of randomization for the trial I will receive either the existing drug Isoniazid (three tablets a day for nine months) or this new drug (fewer pills and for just three months). The decision of which trial I get will be decided by the computer. Given my current luck of course the computer decides I get the Isoniazid treatment. For more information about Orphan Drugs and economic viability click here. (As the site says – ‘rare diseases are rare’)

I start taking isoniazid and notice a dramatic reduction of my psoriasis. Have I then discovered a treatment for psoriasis? I go online and find others who report similar outcomes. There is also a pubmed post about a treatment where you powder isoniazid and apply it topically with a cream base to the skin. Could this be true? My TB doctor contends the anti-inflamatory effect of isoniazid could be doing the treatment. I have three more months of the isoniazid to go. The big question for me is – what will happen after I finish my isoniazid treatment?

For now I am self-managing my Psoriasis with decent results. I follow the Pagano Diet – and in this I do two things. I avoid ‘night shade vegetables‘, and I drink saffron tea. I also have a food chart – more like how I police what I consume – Sam’s Pso-Diet Chart. I am not that strict about my diet.

I avoid sugar.

I have a salt bath, soak is the right word for this, every day. The salt for the bath is made up of Sea Salt+Epsom Salt+Bi-Carb Soda in the proportions of 6:3:1.

What makes it possible for me not to get depressed about my Psoriasis? I talk about it now, and I am signed up to two online forums. I get an email from #1 every day – and I flick through it most days.

  1. The National Psoriasis Foundation:
  2. Patients like me:

My next thing to try is a lotion of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and glycerine.

What would Gough Do?

I had a few names I was tossing up for this piece. Its the usual story – I have been listening to Freakanomics radio and have been inspired to write this. But first on the name:

I thought I would do a “Letter to Mr Shorten” in response to the Labour opposition leaders press release – Bill Shorten reveals Labor’s plans for services such as Uber and Airbnb – which said if Shorten was elected in 2016, he would work with state and territory governments to deliver legislative and regulatory reforms that would turn the six principles into “concrete laws”. Take a look at the principles and think about them. Do they anticipate the future or apply past norms to a new paradigm? Which brought me to my next title – The Third Industrial Revolution – which is Rifkin doing a take on predicting the future. Which is a bit disappointing too as it fails to take up the task of questioning the form of ‘regulation’ that we have been building for the past few centuries. (Nice website though!) This mechanism – regulation – needs a rethink and we are walking past the sign posts that are asking for a rethink of what it means to be in the new economy.

In short I don’t have a title that points to any of the current texts or pronouncements. This is where I settle upon a title that is better than all these titles which could serve as sign posts towards one or other theoretical formulation.

This is the 40th Anniversary of the sacking of Gough Whitlam – arguably one of the finest idea-people we have seen. So I am revisiting Gough with a title – What would Gough Do? This is a great idea for my friends who speak glowingly about the massive change he ushered in upon taking office. He modernised state regulation that was continuing to serve as a dam, a bottleneck, to keep the past surviving even when the world had changed beyond recognition. Sure – I can start to hear the howls of protest, for this is a splendidly divisive thing to say. Hey for the day – can we just leave him as the patron saint of visionary regulation. Just for for the duration of this post!

The title having been dealt with lets proceed with the topic of this post: Regulation. This Freakanomics podcast (Regulate this!) – transcript here, podcast in iTunes – does a great take on showing the global confrontation underway between the regulators and the solution visualizers within the sharing economy. Zimmer (Lyft) puts it one way:

“ZIMMER: They interpret laws one way and are trying to do their job. And we interpret laws another way and are trying to innovate. And those two things are at odds, and the timelines are at odds. And if we took the approach of, “Hey, let’s wait and see what the government does to create a path that is very, very clear for this new industry” that we believe benefits drivers, passengers, and cities, then we wouldn’t be operating anywhere.”

This is the small view, to use a Tim Brown phrase. Or to use Dubner’s phrase – “this is what creative destruction looks like”. Let us fast forward to a future somewhere in the 2050s. Today’s battle will look ridicuclous – yes Napster was destroyed, but what happened to the music industry. The end of the music industry is something we are comfortable with. That sunset industry used its might and connection with the regulators and lawyers. Yes they destroyed one idea – but the collective change process underway was much bigger and would transform the whole ecosystem. Levin in this pod cast puts it devastatingly:

I think the more fundamental threat to taxi drivers in the long run, as a way to be employed, is almost certainly autonomous cars… In 20 years, it may be that there actually aren’t people in the front seat of the car.

Wow – here comes the empty front seat!

We are witnessing “an amazing democratization of personal service and convenience” (Levin). Where will this process, this transformation brought on by contemporary technology, lead us? We are already witnessing a new culture, a new sociality and a new emergence of ‘trust’ within the youth. Privacy which is such a big thing for the older people just does not have the same currency with the young.

Urry has a brilliant phrase that explains one form of the new sociality that we despair at. He calls it ‘copresencing’ and this explains how young people, spending all their time on their phones, are actually hanging-out (digitally) with friends. They are in effect practising co-presence. Now there is nothing wrong with hanging out – is there? Here is a plug for Urry’s book Mobilities where you can find this and a lot of other very insightful ideas. Check it on Amazon here.

What we are missing is a conversation and a spirit of wonder at the way the new is changing us, our ways and then proceeding to knock on the doors of the regulators to ask for a conversation. If the regulators are responding with more regulation – we need to protect the industry, tax system and the consumer – we know this is temporary and a form of slow adaptation. Imagine if we could have another way to look at this change – such as visualizing the change, and coming up with scenarios. So we codesign our way into an inevitable future. So that we don’t battle our way into the future. Yes we don’t have a Gough around with the boldness to make regulation vanish – snap – but hey why don’t we start by invoking his spirit today and see what it does to our way of thinking about regulation. Need I add @billshortenmp and @malcolmturnbull.

“Let me make quite clear that I am for abortion and, in your case Sir, we should make it retrospective.” (GW)

More Reading

If you want to read up more here is a list of books. All the annotation text is from Amazon. So do go there to take a look.

What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

by Rachel Botsman & Roo Rogers

“Amidst a thousand tirades against the excesses and waste of consumer society, What’s Mine Is Yours offers us something genuinely new and invigorating: a way out.” —Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air and The Ghost Map

A groundbreaking and original book, What’s Mine is Yours articulates for the first time the roots of “collaborative consumption,” Rachel Botsman and Roo Roger’s timely new coinage for the technology-based peer communities that are transforming the traditional landscape of business, consumerism, and the way we live. Readers captivated by Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, Van Jones’ The Green Collar Economy or Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point will be wowed by this landmark contribution to the evolving ecology of commerce and sustainability.

The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing

by Lisa Gansky

Traditional businesses follow a simple formula: create a product or service, sell it, collect money. But in the last few years a fundamentally different model has taken root-one in which consumers have more choices, more tools, more information, and more peer-to-peer power. Pioneering entrepreneur Lisa Gansky calls it the Mesh and reveals why it will dominate the future of business. Mesh companies use social media, wireless networks, and data crunched from every available source to provide people with goods and services at the exact moment they need them, without the burden and expense of owning them outright. Gansky reveals how there is real money to be made and trusted brands and strong communities to be built in helping your customers buy less but use more.

The Business of Sharing: Making it in the New Sharing Economy

by Alex Stephany

The ‘sharing economy’ is changing the rules of business.

Why buy a hedge trimmer that you use twice a year? Why not borrow someone else’s? Why leave your driveway empty all day while you’re at work? Why not charge someone to park there while you’re not using it? And if your business is selling hedge trimmers or parking – or anything else people can share – what do you do about it?

Already, the sharing economy or ‘collaborative consumption’ lets people earn over $15 billion a year by renting and selling what they own: from cars and homes to money and time. And that’s almost nothing. According to PwC, the sharing economy will grow into a $335 billion market by 2025. TIME Magazine calls it “One of 10 Ideas that will Change the World.” Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas L Friedman calls it “The real deal”.

Today, fast-moving tech startups like Airbnb and Uber are disrupting huge sectors of the old economy, mobilising millions of micro-entrepreneurs in the process. As Silicon Valley investors pile cash into sharing economy startups, some of the world’s largest companies are watching their backs. How can the 20th century’s corporate beasts not only survive but thrive in a new world of peer-to-peer commerce and sharing?

Written by one of the business leaders of the movement, The Business of Sharing is an insider’s guide to the sharing economy: for anyone thinking of entering the sharing economy and profiting from the upheavals ahead. From the boardroom of Sequoia Capital to 10 Downing Street, Stephany meets the powerbrokers pulling the strings in this new economy. And he meets the ordinary people cashing out.

This critically acclaimed new book includes colorful original interviews with entrepreneurs like the founders of Airbnb and Zipcar and the world’s top venture capitalists, plus case studies of major brands from around the world. The Business of Sharing is essential reading for anyone looking to get to grips with one of today’s must-understand global trends.

Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism

by Robin Chase

When Robin Chase cofounded Zipcar, she not only started a business but established the foundation for one of the most important economic and social ideas of our time: the collaborative economy. With this important book, she broadens our thinking about the ways in which the economy is being transformed and shows how the Peers Inc model is changing the very nature of capitalism.

When the best of people power is combined with the best of corporate power to form “Peers Inc” organizations, a potent creative force is released. The “Inc” in these collaborations delivers the industrial strengths of significant scale and resources, and the “Peers” bring together the individual strengths of localization, specialization, and customization, unlocking the power of the collaborative economy. When excess capacity is harnessed by the platform and diverse peers participate, a completely new dynamic is unleashed.

In Peers Inc, Robin Chase brings her provocative insights to work, business, the economy, and the environment, showing:

  • How focusing on excess capacity transforms the economics of what’s possible and delivers abundance to all
  • How the new collaboration between the Inc and the Peers enables companies to grow more quickly, learn faster, and deliver smarter products and services
  • How leveraging the Peers Inc model can address climate change with the necessary speed and scale
  • How the Peers Inc model can help legacy companies overcome their shortening life cycle by inviting innovation and evolution
  • Why power parity between the Peers and the Inc is a prerequisite for long-term success
  • How platforms can be built within the existing financial system or outside of it
  • What government can do to enhance economic possibility and protect people working in this new decentralized world

Chase casts a wide net, illuminating the potential of the Peers Inc model to address broader issues such as climate change and income inequality, and proves the impact that this innovative economic force can have on the most pressing issues of our time.

Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age

by Philippe Aigrain

An in-depth exploration of digital culture and its dissemination, Sharing offers a counterpoint to the dominant view that file sharing is piracy. Instead, Philippe Aigrain looks at the benefits of file sharing, which allows unknown writers and artists to be appreciated more easily. Concentrating not only on the cultural enrichment caused by widely shared digital media, Sharing also discusses new financing models that would allow works to be shared freely by individuals without aim at profit. Aigrain carefully balances the needs to support and reward creative activity with a suitable respect for the cultural common good and proposes a new interpretation of the digital landscape.

Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators

by Clay Shirky

How new technology is changing us for the better.

In his bestselling Here Comes Everybody, Internet guru Clay Shirky provided readers with a much-needed primer for the digital age. Now, with Cognitive Surplus, he reveals how new digital technology is unleashing a torrent of creative production that will transform our world. For the first time, people are embracing new media that allow them to pool their efforts at vanishingly low cost. The results of this aggregated effort range from mind-expanding reference tools like Wikipedia to life-saving Web sites like, which allows Kenyans to report acts of violence in real time. Cognitive Surplus explores what’s possible when people unite to use their intellect, energy, and time for the greater good.

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World

by Don Tapscott

The Net Generation Has Arrived. Are you ready for it?

Chances are you know a person between the ages of 11 and 30. You’ve seen them doing five things at once: texting friends, downloading music, uploading videos, watching a movie on a two-inch screen, and doing who-knows-what on Facebook or MySpace. They’re the first generation to have literally grown up digital–and they’re part of a global cultural phenomenon that’s here to stay.

The bottom line is this: If you understand the Net Generation, you will understand the future.

If you’re a Baby Boomer or Gen-Xer: This is your field guide.

A fascinating inside look at the Net Generation, Grown Up Digital is inspired by a $4 million private research study. New York Times bestselling author Don Tapscott has surveyed more than 11,000 young people. Instead of a bunch of spoiled “screenagers” with short attention spans and zero social skills, he discovered a remarkably bright community which has developed revolutionary new ways of thinking, interacting, working, and socializing.

Grown Up Digital reveals:

  • How the brain of the Net Generation processes information
  • Seven ways to attract and engage young talent in the workforce
  • Seven guidelines for educators to tap the Net Gen potential
  • Parenting 2.0: There’s no place like the new home
  • Citizen Net: How young people and the Internet are transforming democracy

Today’s young people are using technology in ways you could never imagine. Instead of passively watching television, the “Net Geners” are actively participating in the distribution of entertainment and information. For the first time in history, youth are the authorities on something really important. And they’re changing every aspect of our society-from the workplace to the marketplace, from the classroom to the living room, from the voting booth to the Oval Office.

The Digital Age is here. The Net Generation has arrived. Meet the future.

Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy

by Bryan J Kramer

Technology continues to evolve and make our lives busier and more complicated, but it can never replace true human connection–our fundamental need to share information, stories, and emotions.

Sharelogy explores the history, art and science of sharing, and illustrates why sharing is what gives us a unique competitive advantage as individuals and brands. It is meant for entrepreneurs and marketers who want to make their content more valuable, shareable, and for individuals who want to understand the power of sharing to grow their personal brand.

Kramer’s best-selling second book, Shareology raced onto the USA Today’s Top 150 Book List the week of its release, as well as onto #1 on Amazon in four categories includingBusiness & Planning, Strategic Planning, Hot New Releases and Communications, and Business Best Sellers Top 25 and Jack Covert Selects list on 800 CEO Reads.

Shareology includes:

  • The Shareology Backstory
  • Sharing in the Human Economy
  • The Importance of Context
  • The Human Business Movement
  • Sharing: A Sensory Experience
  • Timing Is Everything
  • Redefining Influencers Inside and Out
  • Connections and Conversations
  • Creating Shared Experiences
  • Social Selling Helping
  • What Makes Stuff Worth Sharing
  • Brands on Sharing
  • The Sharing Future: What’s Next?

Bryan Kramer is a renowned global speaker, consultant and trainer. He’s also one of the world’s foremost leaders in the art and science of sharing, and has been credited with instigating the #H2H human business movement in marketing and social, which was the basis for his first book: There is No B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human #H2H ~ another Amazon bestseller.

It’s a Shareable Life: A Practical Guide on Sharing

by Chelsea Rustrum (Author), Gabriel Stempinski , Alexandra Liss

Three 20-somethings started off as strangers and came together through experiencing the life-altering benefits of sharing. Through their sharing experiments, they gifted, bartered, rented, and swapped their way to a richer life.

Now, you too can learn how to lead a Shareable Life through the practical know-how and real life stories highlighted in this comprehensive guide.


  • Live rent free
  • Pay for your car
  • Increase your free time
  • Work from anywhere
  • Find work, even in a down economy
  • Travel the world on a backpacker budget
  • Reduce your monthly expenses sharing
  • Build a stronger community
  • Develop more trust in people
  • Create a healthier lifestyle
  • What are people saying?

“It’s a Shareable Life is a ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in the practical side of living the sharing economy.” – Rachel Botsman, Author of What’s Mine is Yours

“This is the best guide I’ve seen for the sharing economy.” – Casey Fenton, Founder of Couchsurfing

Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business

by Jeff Howe

Why does Procter & Gamble repeatedly call on enthusiastic amateurs to solve scientific and technical challenges? How can companies as diverse as iStockphoto and Threadless employ just a handful of people, yet generate millions of dollars in revenue every year?

“Crowdsourcing” is how the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the responsibility of a specialized few. Jeff Howe reveals that the crowd is more than wise–it’s talented, creative, and stunningly productive. It’s also a perfect meritocracy, where age, gender, race, education, and job history no longer matter; the quality of the work is all that counts. If you can perform the service, design the product, or solve the problem, you’ve got the job.

But crowdsourcing has also triggered a dramatic shift in the way work is organized, talent is employed, research is conducted, and products are made and marketed. As the crowd comes to supplant traditional forms of labor, pain and disruption are inevitable, and Howe delves into both the positive and negative consequences of this intriguing phenomenon. Through extensive reporting from the front lines of this workplace revolution, he employs a brilliant array of stories to look at the economic, cultural, business, and political implications of crowdsourcing.

Notes to Friends

To my friends in Design – Airbnb was born when two designers rented out their apartments to people, designers, who were coming to town for a design conference. This is a good idea, why don’t we propagate this? And so was born a new form of sociality.

To my friends in the Architecture space – there is an interesting link between the sharing economy and Architects. As Zimmer of Lyft says it:

ZIMMER: So in 2006, I went to Cornell Hotel School, and in my senior year took a class in city planning in the architecture school. And the class was called “Green Cities,” and had this amazing professor.

DUBNER: The professor was Robert Young …

The professor inspired Zimmer with something he said about occupancy. Lyft was born – eventually.

Design for Care

I recently finished reading Peter Jones’ book Design for Care: Innovating Healthcare Experience. If you are a designer and keen to enter into Health Service Design – this is a brilliant book. If you are a health care provider, or someone who works in the health care services industry this is a good way to see how ‘design’ thinks about health care. In simple term we make what is hard (health care services, medicine, hospitals) into something squishy (service, patient experience). Once its squishy we – designers – can remould it much as you would sculpy or your favourite brand of modelling clay. So in short – a highly recommended book. You can follow Peter @designforcare. Plus here is a video and a blurb (if you want to scan and come back for the video later)

Peter Jones, author of the new book Rosenfeld Media book: Design for Care: Innovating Healthcare Experience, presents a discussion of service design in healthcare as an integrated practice of empathic design. Designers are finally starting to make inroads in the practices of clinical healthcare, but are finding institutions have no context for their contributions. Clinicians, IT, health services and patients (people seeking health) tend to live and work in disconnected systems today, and the “best fit” of design practice has not yet been recognized. Designing for care complements clinical care practice, improving services and creating innovative and systemic responses to complex human system problems.

The webinar maps design practices and methods found effective in different contexts across the healthcare spectra (consumer, clinical, institutional), illustrated by current cases and design research. Brief design research studies are presented to prompt our rethinking of the meanings of care, of information sensemaking in care contexts, and designing for requisite complexity.

Plus more Videos

Transforming Healthcare with Service Design

Lovely Video from Karolinska: This service design project was carried out by Transformator Design Group at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, spring 2010.

Hitachi Design – an innovation centre serving all of the company’s sector-specific divisions – invited PDD to look at European trends and industry expectations regarding the use of digital health records.

Lets do Design Projects in the space of Open Government

I had a look at Open Goverment today – nudged by a twitter post. Great Video. This is their site:

OGP’s vision is that more governments become sustainably more transparent, more accountable, and more responsive to their own citizens, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of governance, as well as the quality of services that citizens receive. This will require a shift in norms and culture to ensure genuine dialogue and collaboration between governments and civil society.

OGP aspires to support both government and civil society reformers by elevating open government to the highest levels of political discourse, providing ‘cover’ for difficult reforms, and creating a supportive community of like-minded reformers from countries around the world.

And I of course naively dream of redesigning Government. Gov2.0 is potentially different things for different people. What if we codesigned Govt? This is not as odd as it sounds in the first instance. Designers and govt? Is this a form of design? Or sceptics from another side – why would you open govt up for a design exploration? But that is all not as odd as I was to discover. Here is how “open source” proposes the future of Open Govt:

As new technologies become available, citizens’ ability to participate in their governments’ proceedings will continue to improve.  Although we cannot know the future, we can expect the definition of “open government” to evolve as our capabilities and expectation for participation and collaboration increase. Thus, it is important to recognize that “open government” is not so much a fixed term as it is an ideal to inspire and strive for–one that has and will continue to change with the times.

The you have the world Top 10 Govt 2.0 Initiatives

The Gov 2.0 movement continues to gain momentum around the world with a number of inspiring people, projects & ideas rising to prominence over the last year or so. Sometimes the most important innovations emerge from the periphery where creative citizens take a “do it first, ask for permission later” approach that can generate a wealth of benefits for the entire global community. So here’s my pick of the world’s best Gov 2.0 initiatives. What are your favourites?

Then there is a “how to” or good practice service design principles from Gov.UK

Listed below are our design principles and examples of how we’ve used them so far. These build on, and add to, our original 7 digital principles.

We are not totally sure if the mood in local and federal government is towards seeing Government as ripe for service redesign projects. There is some hope that some of the state and quasi state agencies are open to seeing how ‘apps’ (very fashionable) can improve their customer relationship. Are they thinking of redesigning themselves? Do they see Govt as a ‘service’? Not sure about this.

Quick intro to case studies

Meet the Govt.UK Content Team.

A short film to explain what we mean by Government as a Platform. By designing government services in blocks which do one job each, it’s easier to fix them, upgrade them, share them, and scale them up.

GOV.UK Verify is the new way to prove your identity when accessing digital government services. Janet Hughes explains how it works.

Leisa Reichelt: How to transform public services – An experience working for the UK government

The UK’s Policy Lab was launched at the beginning of April 2014. Policy Lab is a creative space where civil servants can experiment with new techniques and approaches to policy problems from data science to design. Its existence is born of a recognition that government needs to get better at policy-making; open it up, make it quicker, more digital and more connected with the people who are affected by it.

In this session Andrea shared their projects and revealed how they are working with design ethnographers, data scientists and other experts to develop new ideas in Government.

Future Ways of Living

I am great fan of Freakanomics Radio. So this morning I was listening to an episode – “Think Like a Child”. Now as a designer educated in India, with its gestalt psychology leanings, and complexity theory narratives this is what you would hear; think like a child, learn to see things from unorthodox perspectives. So I was mildly curious, and wondering if I would be dissappointed – I need not have worried. As a Dubner fan I know better than to predict content – so I was again inspired by this podcast. So get your Frekanomics radio app, download this and listen. If you want to skim – here is the transcript.

I will open with this crucial section that was a great takeaway.

DUBNER: Okay, so you’ve given us a number of traits that children exhibit in much larger measure than we might’ve thought before. What about the ways in which the old wisdom was right? What are the ways in which children really are kind of a dormant or latent version, at best, of what they will become?

GOPNIK: Yeah. It’s interesting. The kind of conventional wisdom was really that children were sort of defective grownups. So they were grownups, but missing pieces, with bits that hadn’t developed yet. But if you think about that from a biological or an evolutionary point of view, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. An alternative way that you might think about them is think of the kids as being the research and development division of the human species. And we’re—adults—we’re production and marketing. So from the production and marketing perspective, it might look like the R & D guys are really not doing anything that looks very sensible or useful. They sit around all day in their beanbag chairs playing Pong and having blue-sky ideas. And we poor production and marketing people, who are actually making the profits, have to subsidize these guys. But of course, one of the things that we know is that that kind of blue-sky, just pure research actually pays off in the long run.

I am writing this post to talk about – Contemporary Industrial Design and how Industrial Design reimagines ways of living. First I pull out phrases from the text above and list it.

  1. Research and Development division – As Industrial Designers we are familiar with the R&D Wallahs who are always dreaming up new innovations.
  2. Production and Marketing – We are also familiar with this lot who can shoot down what we propose. The market is not ready for that. This is what will sell.
  3. The R & D guys are really not doing anything that looks very sensible or useful – Often the obsessions that lead to innovations and inventions can be hard to fathom.
  4. They sit around all day in their beanbag chairs playing Pong and having blue-sky ideas – Such as having endless conversations about the future. Or thinking up ridiculous ideas – which they then propose to develop.
  5. Blue-sky, just pure research actually pays off in the long run – But for now they seem to be having endless conversations about the way things will be in the future.

There is one branch of Industrial Design that does blu sky thinking – this is popularly referred to as Design Thinking. Jon Kolko does a great job of appropriating Design Thinking as a process Industrial Designers use. He writes; “In the past, design has most often occurred fairly far downstream in the development process and has focused on making new products aesthetically attractive or enhancing brand perception through smart, evocative advertising. Today, as innovation’s terrain expands to encompass human-centered processes and services as well as products, companies are asking designers to create ideas rather than to simply dress them up.” He goes on to give the example of an Ideo/ Tim Brown project: “Brown, the CEO and president of the innovation and design firm IDEO, is a leading proponent of design thinking—a method of meeting people’s needs and desires in a technologically feasible and strategically viable way. In this article he offers several intriguing examples of the discipline at work. One involves a collaboration between frontline employees from health care provider Kaiser Permanente and Brown’s firm to reengineer nursing-staff shift changes at four Kaiser hospitals. Close observation of actual shift changes, combined with brainstorming and rapid prototyping, produced new procedures and software that radically streamlined information exchange between shifts. The result was more time for nursing, better-informed patient care, and a happier nursing staff.” Heaps more on that great Kolko article here.

Now if you are an industrial designer all this is music to your ears. Its also a convenient stick with which to beat the thing-making designers who as Kolko says above are “focused on making new products aesthetically attractive”. I will add a small addendum here that pretty things and goodlooking designs have their place. Its just that they are, to use Brown’s words, not that important. That 2009 TEDTalk by Tim Brown is a classic: Tim Brown says the design profession has a bigger role to play than just creating nifty, fashionable little objects. You can see that here.

Now I invite you to think about the R&D people in bean bags doing blu sky thinking as the people who do not make usable stuff. They spend their time thinking about changing the way things are done. They are design thinkers – switched on by Brown, Kolko and the story of Kaiser Permanente. The production people (adults) are then spending time creating nifty, fashionable little objects.  This sounds rough, much like the barbs aimed at ‘design thinking’ and ‘innovation’ by the fashion wallahs. So there is this divide – and a tension.

Or in freaknomics terms – the children and the adults.

Now how would this design thinking, innovation and service design orientated approach reimagine ways of living? This is what I set out to answer in this post.

I directed a studio with undergraduate industrial design students to find out. The goal was stated as micro living in the future. The designer were then invited to think up propositions that visualized the living infrastructure of the future. Would sharing play a big role in this future? What could we learn from Airbnb to reimagine sharing?

Much in the way the car is recast as a mobility appliance, the apartment becomes an appliance. Seen as appliances – the role of technology and consumption of appliances can be queried. On one side we start blusky thinking by visiting all the sci films – fifth element is a favourite – and also thinkers like Ray Kurweil who urges world changing as a great thing to do, “There are young people who followed their own instincts and changed the world.” What does this kind of thinking do when confronted with the notion of living and the living appliances we currently use? Lets say there exists an outmoded way of thinking about living.

Then there is the aspect of how do you consume these appliances – these living modules. Not like your mobile phone or other contemporary tech appliance. You have to buy this appliance hard wired into a specific geographical location. One immediate query – that can potentially break down the meaning of modules for living – is why do we have a hard-tie with geo-location? There is no way to answer this except to say – this is a legacy issue that will go away at some point in the future.

Seth Godin, in his blog, does a pithy take on legacy. He asks questions such as, “How long did it take Detroit to take the ashtrays out of cars? The single-sex admission policy at the club? How many people who use your website need to speak up on behalf of a button or a policy for you to persist in keeping it there? How long before you cancel the Sisterhood meetings that are now attended by just three people?”

To this we can add – How long did it take for governments and city councils to change laws about consuming living appliances?

Focussing away from some obvious bottlenecks to innovation – such as legacy issues – we can take a look at the people who need these appliances. Into this conversation we introduce some very powerful issues such as coproduction, cohousing, cocreation and collaborative consumption.

What happens to living then? What happens to living appliances and the living ecosystem when service designers are asked to design apartments?

To be continued.

See my earlier post inspired by the theme of – if apartments were cars here.

Projects for VicRoads

News Item: VicRoads has admitted more than 1400 motorists could have been wrongly fined for driving an unregistered car due a computer glitch with its licence and registration system. Read more Here.

VicRoads had a problem with their software[1] – a technical malfunction that did not communicate with the customer – with disastrous consequences for the customer. VicRoads did send out emails reminders for Registration[2] payments[3] to many who then ended up driving unregistered vehicles[4]. This is illegal[5] – so these people became criminals[6]. As criminals they were then accosted by the police[7]. This is a simple description of this event. It is sufficient to open up a discussion of the existing design of “a service[8] that people in Victoria use to consume mobility”. For more information on the actual events see below:

  • John Fayne ABC 774 Sound Cloud Link here.
  • News Item: “Vic Roads admits stickerless vehicle registration system ‘not up to scratch’, after complaints mount over missing renewal notices” Here.
  • News Item: “VicRoads launches probe after 1432 Victorian drivers wrongly fined due to IT ‘error’” Here.
  • An earlier account of a similar problem with Licences Here.

I am now looking at the possibility that we can undertake a CoDesign exercise to come up with a new way – to reimagine a service surrounding mobility. This is potentially an iterative process of designing. A way that delivers an outcome that meets contemporary standards of expectations of service delivery. 

Or as Fayne says about a future when looking back we are able to say “isn’t it good that VicRoads is now a model agency with no complaints from people”.

In the above account we encounter the existence of:

  1. Software (not apps?)
  2. Registration
  3. Payments
  4. Vehicles
  5. Illegal
  6. Criminals
  7. Police
  8. Service


The VicRoads software is a database of vehicles. The data on the vehicle potentially contains information about the Vehicle. It also merges information about each vehicle with data about a specific and particular human (customer) or firm – the owner.

What other information feeds can be accessed by this database? This is an interesting question that can be activated in the context of improving accuracy.

Let us imagine that VicRoads begins to trust people to be honest[9]. It then is able to handover the management of registration ( and also licence – aka permission for older driver to be allowed to drive) to the customer[10]. Let us imagine then that 80 percent of people will be truthful – I will put Christine Nixon into this category. 20% however will need to game the system – for a variety of reasons. VicRoads then will need a strategy to engage this situation – with multiple strategies – to get the outcomes they want. Let us imagine we have the ability to hire a team of criminals – very Hollywood style – to work up foils for a whole series of scenarios. Let us them imagine that we are able to design a smart system that can activate the FOIL through a very particular set of stages and protocols.

Let us propose that till today I have had no idea why I would need to game the VicRoads systems. I am in effect unable to ever game the system. What we get here is the possibility that I will be able to set up a auto payment system like the one I may have the option to set up for my other services. A very Bingle like app or interface that  we are slowly getting used to within MyGov. Its pre-populated – I can edit and make changes or confirm. So an App will be great to design and prototype [11].

Now to get back to the existing system: It is imagined the database can be queried by a whole series of instruments to generate reports. One report it can generate is about the status of service – has a fee been paid for the relevant period.

Very mobile phone. Only with mobile phone subscriptions you get email, sms/text and potentially hard copy paper reminders through the post. Delayed payments activate a recorded message, which then quickly escalates to a phone call from a real human. Does the software VicRoads uses have this level of engagement with the customer? Good to build the App! [11]


Telstra goes one step better. They advertise an App based way to self-manage your account. BE THE BOSS OF YOU they say. “Manage your account and services from your smartphone or tablet with the Telstra 24×7® App“. This puts the customer in charge – and so they can pay proactively. Without the interference of Telstra. Why does VicRoads not have an app allowing the customer to self manage their payments? App Again! [11]

In the contemporary period companies activate the proactive customer to work for them. The progressive company co-creates outcomes such as timely payments.

There is a unique philosophical position at the bottom of this narrative – I will state it here.

  1. The Customer is a partner.
  2. The Customer is respected.
  3. The Customer is trusted to do the right thing.
  4. The Customer has to be provided a service better than that being provided by literally everyone else.

The reputation of company as a responsible citizen is then confirmed by the customer. Their emotional value is captured by their expression of loyalty.

There are companies that operate monopolies – which have not, may not have, made the transition to the contemporary economy where goodwill is computed in monetary terms. Government agencies such as health care service providers (hospitals) struggle to make the transition. In an interim period it can be seen that such agencies use the customer feedback to improve service. Such incremental improvements of course mark these enterprises as obsolete. Of course private service providers that have obsolete models of practice close shop when they are accosted by forces of disruptive innovation (Clayton Christensen). Government and state agencies do not have such simple mechanisms of renewal and have to be updated incrementally. They are protected from the forces of disruptive innovation. A very important question then for VicRoads will be. How does VicRoads reimagine itself in contemporary terms? One way is to do a project that uses Scenario Construction. [12]


Is the notion of registration relevant in the emerging world?

Many people do not use this facility. We can categorise them as a population of people who don’t drive to get themselves about. Who in effect are not mobile or use assisted mobility.

  1. The very ill
  2. The very old
  3. The very young
  4. A group of people who do not have a driving licence.
  5. People who can be driven around.

The future is here as driver less cars. Will this be the new form of public transport? Has VicRoads imagined what will happen to notions of ownership and road use in this scenario? The emergence of driver-less cars has a significant impact upon the notion of ‘driving’. It is possible that in the future there will contain a diversity of mobility options and therefore a few distinct categories of people-vehicle combinations will emerge.

  1. The driverless cars will be common. This may have an older people option, or will permit safe Local Mobility. [LM] This is of relevance to medical aspects of individuals impacting upon permissions to drive/ use roads.
  2. Uber, Lyft and other disruptive services will disrupt successfully. Lets call this Ride Share [RS]. This is the possibility of competitive options of pervasive mobility becoming common.
  3. GoGet and Flexicar membership will be ubiquitous. Lets call this the Share Car population[SC]. This is a membership model – that even today as in GoGet has a free option – that is pay only when you use.
  4. Those taking up cycling will opt out [as in #1] or will drive occasionally and can plan their trips, such as weekend travel[WT]. This is the anti personal transport lobby. The state will build more and more cycling facilities.
  5. A new breed of mobility product will emerge. Lets call this new mobility products. [NMP] See the list at end #11.
  6. A population of people who will opt out of driving. The current generation of teenagers has this culture in some measure. Lets call these the Opt Outers [OO].
  7. A population of people who will want to own and drive. Lets refer to them as the Owner Collector [OC] lobby.
  8. A population of people who have to drive to do illegal acts. (“I don’t think there’d be too many bank robbers who use a driverless car as their getaway vehicle,” he said. For more click here.) Lets call these people the Get Away crowd [GA].

Now we have a question: What proportion of population can be ascribed to each category. I have made a list below – which gives us one scenario.

LM/15%, RS/15, SC/15, WT/15, NMP/ 10%, OO/15, GA/2% – which leaves me with a Owner/Collector, aka those that will drive definitely, proportion of 13%. Are we saying that the population of individual ownership will drop to 13%? In which case we will need to reimagine the ecosystem of Tax as the premises of ownership have to be adjusted to a new reality. Is 750$ a year or 2$ a day the appropriate fee for supporting the road ecosystem? If the quantum of fee collected potentially drops how does the tax/ income stream work. This is a scenario project. [14]

What mobile phones do it they charge you a subscription fee, give you a phone, and then charge you for usage. This in turn transforms the design of the product and the economy of development. For example 41% of people use iPhones (link). Were this to happen to cars we would buy the service, and not the product, and the product would be the best technology. Potentially an intelligent TESLA with its NVIDIA TEGRA Processors [link] is a primitive look at the future of mobility appliances. This is a scenario project. [15]

If we imagine that there exist distinct zones of mobility – such as inner urban [Z1], outer urban [Z2], and rural [Z3}. Then we can start to see the possibility of alternative scenarios of Registration. Who registers, and who manages the registration will change. Also Z1 can see a drop in vehicle ownership. By how much? 75% in the above scenario.

Will that convince the government to close VicRoads and create a department of mobility? Whats is the best future for our children? Another scenario project. [16]

Victoria has approx 4.6 million registered vehicles. How many of these will be shared vehicles or be part of emerging services? Which then leads to what is the best way of ‘taxing’ these? This is another Project – again scenario development.[17]


One of the dimensions of the relationship between VicRoads and individual owners is a contract to pay a fee for the privilege of being allowed use the Vehicles on roads maintained by VicRoads. Its possible to have, own, a vehicle to look at – and in that instance no fee needs to be paid. There are a large number of such vehicles in Victoria. People who live in this place have this odd habit of owning many vehicles – only some of these being for the express purpose of being used to move about. The others are collected or treated as projects.

The fee that is paid to use the roads – a toll as it were – takes many forms. Vic Roads prefers to keep this privilege simple and charges a flat annual fee. Some other agencies charge on a pay as you go [PAYG] basis – the toll. There is a small amount of chatter about having a PAYG system. How will that work? Good to do a research project to simulate the PAYG system and see how it impacts upon the other “tacit protocols”. Apple convinced the music companies that music consumption through hardware devices – CDs and other material artefacts – was obsolete. Henceforth music would be consumed like a ‘personal radio’. Largely free for the most part – some would pay for a level of control or finicky personal preferences.

Is it then possible for this – fee for use – to be a contemporary service? When compared with iTunes – to consume music – how different is it? This is a scenario project. [18]

Of course Registration is a tax – and needed to maintain the roads. There is a bit of discussion around the need to have an alternative model – “In the end, it’s not important whether fuel tax and other fees pay for roads or not. They’re just another kind of tax and can be used for whatever we as a democracy want it to be used for.” For more click here.

Illegals, Criminals, Police

I am currently not writing this section. Will do this later. Here is a link to a service design project in Scotland by Snook: My Police. While the project of Codesigning the Police Force in Victoria is some distance away – it is possible to reimagine public services such as VicRoads. Or even renegotiate the notions of criminality in the VicRoads space. Of course it may just be that this is too early for Victoria.


This is a text under development – and I will add more discussion as I go. I am aiming to describe unique projects that can be undertaken to unpick and unpack current practices that are tightly packed into hard bundles. Once we have dismantled the – no you can discuss that – bundles we can start a process of innovation. I have marked 18 potential projects and will open them up one by one.

For now you can leave comments. For more you may need to come back to see updates.

For now I have listed some additional Reading re the FUTURE of MOBILITY – that add to the need to be proactive in reimagining contemporary services like VicRoads.

  1. We see three key trends shaping mobility, both personal and commercial: the move to on-demand mobility, the impact of driverless vehicles and the growth of electric vehicles. More.
  2. Will technological advances and shifts in social attitudes lead to our no longer owning or driving vehicles? More.
  3. What happens to mobility in the next 15 years? More.
  4. What might one expect for the future of mobility in the United States in 2030? Mobility is defined as the ability to travel from one location to another, regardless of mode or purpose. RAND researchers used a six-step scenario development process to develop two thought-provoking scenarios that address this question. More.
  5. In 2008, after I told a global leading car company that they are not in business of making cars, but in the industry of personal mobility, and that car sharing would be an important personal mobility business model of the future, I was almost thrown out of the factory gates. Six years later, the same car company now runs a car sharing business and is in the forefront of developing new mobility services around vehicle usage rather than car ownership. More.
  6. According to the Picture the Future – Mobility research, Australia must focus on social and economic hubs, freight and logistics, alternative energy and intelligent mobility to achieve seamless mobility. More.
  7. Next is an advanced smart transportation system based on swarms of modular self-driving vehicles, designed in Italy. Each module can join and detach with other modules on standard city roads. When joined, they create an open, bus-like area among modules, allowing passengers to stand and walk from one module to another. More.
  8. Twenty years from now, transportation will look a whole lot different. Boston Consulting Group estimates that self-driving cars may account for a quarter of all global automobile sales by 2035. More.
  9. We are experiencing a fundamental shift in the history of transport: the end of the dominance of the privately owned motorcar. More.
  10. AGL toys with idea of electric vehicles for customers. More.
  11. Here is a list of 10 electric bikes made by car companies, placed in the order in which they are likely to come to market. More.
  12. Drivers who have lost their licenses for drink driving and other offences are  another a significant source of electric bikes buyersMore.
  13. Throughout Europe, commuters are ditching high petrol prices for eco-friendly electric bikes. More.

How small can an apartment be

There is a lot of interest around micro-apartments. Or Micro living. Or small spaces.

There was this video that circulated about what industrial designers seem to be doing to furniture. All furniture is getting the automotive desing treatment – by which I mean that the design and manufacturing of furniture is becoming heaps more sophisticated. When engineerng does furniture then the humble table becomes a tranformable hi-tech gadget. This gadgetisation of furniture is going reasonably unremarked – and you still have sites like Design Milk that push a form of minimalist primitivism. If all furniture becomes gadgetized – then what else are we waiting to see in furniture.

This is Their motto is space reinvented. This is what they say about their philosophy: “Living in smaller – and most importantly – more efficient spaces while also constructing smaller and more energy efficient buildings is the cheapest and most economical way to make a dent in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Micro-houses are topical – people seem to be exploring this idea. I belong to a facebook group called – Tiny Houses Australia.

These design retailers have house designs too (Click to see more): Muji House,  Ikea HOUSE

Japanese Micro Homes are a subject worthy of respect:

If you listen to the architect Kengo Kuma, the craze for kyosho jutaku, that distinctly Japanese variant of the micro home, started in the thirteenth century, when the poet Kamo no Chomei penned an essay about the joys of living in a shack called An Account of My Hut.

The Very Small Home: Japanese Ideas for Living Well in Limited
by Azby Brown, Kengo Kuma (Introduction)

The Very Small Home is an inspiring new book that surveys the creative design innovations of small houses in Japan. Eighteen recently built and unusual houses, from ultramodern to Japanese rustic, are presented in depth. Particular emphasis is given to what the author calls the “big idea” for each house-the thing that does the most to make the home feel more spacious than it actually is. Big ideas include ingenious sources of natural light, well thought-out loft spaces, snug but functional kitchens, unobtrusive partitions, and unobstructed circulation paths.

Then we have smart apartments –
In Portland, Iotas’ pre-wired smart apartments let you rent the high-tech life By Jenny McGrath (Read more )

The Smarter Apartment: How to live in the home of the future, right now. By Jillian Goodman

This is Breathe Architecture talking about their project in Brunswick – The COMMONS – Binq is proud to be a major part of The Commons, a sustainable “Green” apartment building in Brunswick Melbourne.

The Press about the Project.

This is the Rem Koolhaas video that everyone is talking about.

A Barcelone Story

A UK Story Plus Someone else cataloging small apartment ideas.

If Cars were built like houses. Check this video out.

Why can’t a house be built as well as a car? An article on TreeHugger.

For the poetic narrative of the tiny space – one navigated by neding to enter Ann Kline’s book is a masterpiece. A Hut of One’s Own: Life Outside the Circle of Architecture By Ann Cline.

The question for us then is what is the future going to look like. For one Urry proposes the notion of ‘copresence’ as what we yearn for. Social media, facebook and snapchat, give us presence – we are in effect with other people all the time. Just not physically. Is this why many young people around the world are not interested in driving, or owning cars? Young people are on the screen a lot – but their screen time is different from watching TV. In fact watching TV is reasonably uncool. This is another practice thats dying.

Were the design people to channel some of these practice of the new kids growing up – we might have a very different way of thinking about how we live.

The Commons took out the washing machine from the apartment and the car park from the block. So we get a laundromat for the apartment (social space?) and cycling+carShare. The generation of social space – unintentionally? – is something I am keen to watch. A colleague described the city as the ‘urban lounge’ (reference?) – where you hang out in the city, and crawl into the apartment to hibernate. These are some pretty interesting ideas – and combined with the ‘smarts’ we are looking at a future of some very neat experimentation.

Update: Re explaining Jaliangan and other such.

I am interpreting Jaliangan (the grill+courtyard) portmanteau word as:
  1. Jali – how the built form talks to the city. As in pinterests here.
  2. Angan – the courtyard or Urban Lounge ( As in this Pinterest here.
So we can chip away at the meanings that are currently situated within the notion of the ‘home’.
  1. Re urban lounge – while provision of ‘amusement’ and ‘social space’ is what it currently refers to I imagine this is already being reinterpreted as we speak. As something much more.
  2. So if all service – is taken out of the apartment, and much of the private functionality of the ‘social’ is provided for outside – aka tent city – then we have a ‘future discourse’. More edgy. Cooking, Washing, watching, making, Playing – are all external to the core.
  3. If the notion of your ‘vault’ or apartment as the ‘personal collection’ is pulled out as a service – reinterpreted locker room? – then we have another component of the meaning re conceptualised.
What then is the meaning (hence brief) of this new artefact – the micro-apartment?
Lets say we leave behind the bed and the toilet as the core of this new notion of the apartment. We then are interested in finding out what is going on in the developments around these two notions of “the sleep” and “the toilet”. These two examples below are a hint of the work going on currently. I went looking for the smart toilet and bed and this is what I found.
Then on smarts:
1. The toilet: Toto is away making networked toilets.
2. The bed: The bed and sleep are getting a slightly different exploration – tough still within the space of the internet of things.

Slatted Constructions

My son grew and grew. So he outgrew his bed. Or his feet began to push against the foot of the bed. Apparently people who are 6 feet and taller (or longer when they lie down!) just let their feet hang out over the end of the bed. So we needed to make a bed where my son could let his feet hang out over the bed. We haven’t asked if his growth spurt would reach those long proportions. Meanwhile he has dismantled his bed – with my help and was set up to occupy the floor. Which worked fine till his eating in bed habit brought ants into this bed.




Images above – my list of timber sizes/ cut sizes, the routered slot for the slats, the slats.

So a new bed was on the cards. A good project for the father-son duo to do something together. The bed took six months – as these projects do. Many trips to Bernie Cook, our local timber merchant, a lot of laughter. I had settled on Tassie Oak to build this project – a local hard wood. I was to discover later that ‘tassie oak’ was just a throw away name for any construction hard wood that arrived at the timber mill. Worked for me. Only this particular hard wood was brittle – which causes a bizarre chipping of the edges with the slightest tap.


Testing the fit of slats into routered slots.


Clamps for the shorter side, tie-down straps for the longer side. Glued joints left for 24 hours to dry.


Every project has to generate infrastructure – as every good economist knows. This is how you build a great nation. Or workshop. I only added a relatively inexpensive Orbital sander ($45) through this project.

The images below are of the final phase of the assembly of the Bed and the final resting place of this piece. My son is behind the camera. He helped with the sanding, and drove me to the hardware stores – three times. The last trip was to pick up the hessian straps which we had left behind on the previous trip.

BnW Bed 2

BnW Bed

Setting slats, to staple on straps.


Slats and straps before I turned them the right side up.

This was me doing a classic slatted structure – I am now interested in exploring slatted structures as a way to make more pieces. Possibly a sofa, a couch, a chair perhaps. I have also recently participated in the dismembering of an antique Chinese table. There were some interesting details there, both of the flow of the legs and the intricacy of the joinery. Details I wish to pursue possibly alongside the Japanese joinery book that is sitting on my table. Maybe “slatted-constructions” is a name worth exploring through making projects. And their allied infrastructure development agendas.

The bed in the room. Corner Details.




My son is doing Photography in school – so the images below explore close ups and depth of field. 






Dad Sad

A Great Migration

I drove my son to his music class today. As we drove I decided to raise the topic of the little Syrian boy who had drowned on the beaches of Turkey. My son knew about the boy. He was angry. I had tears in my eyes. That is not fair. This should not be happening. We can do better. This is not our best moment.

These are faces of the people in the Syrian Refugee Crisis. (Source –

Out of respect for the tiny person that was, I want to stay clear of cynicism.

My son is angry now, about many things – “why do people do war?” he asked plaintively. I let the question hang in the air. This is one that we do – thats problematic at many levels. I was at this moment unable to be the dad who knew everything. I could not bring up Call of Duty that he plays on playstation – where he kills digital people – that would have been a cheap trick. One that I have used countless times. Aloud I said “Men”.

This much is true, its men. A lot else is not true. Why do men go to war? I am not focussing upon the information – the incidents and the narrative – about why of one or other raid, bombing, or last stand. I also do not want an answer to this question – I want this question to hang there, unanswered. This is a child’s question and it can never ever be answered. For all answers will be adult answers. Money, oil, power, greed, capitalism, territory, politics, strategy, votes. These are not answers. These are mere words. Why do men go to war?

I then began to point out the amazing outpouring of humanity we were all privileged to witness. Countries bordering Syria had many refugees – millions.

Syrian Refugee Children (Source: UNHCR)

Syrian Refugee Children (Source: UNHCR)

I spoke about Angela Merkel and how this was proving to be her finest moment. There were posters of her with captions in arabic saying ‘I love you Merkel’. I too had sent out a tweet last night saying just ‘I love Merkel’. If Germany reaches the target of 800,000 people given a new life in Germany I will be pleased that I have lived to see this day. We are still in the car – and my son asks, how will they communicate. I said they speak English. I was thinking of the beautiful boy who spoke – ‘we only want to go back’. He was beautiful.


Equally there were countries that were watching – not taking refugees, not required to take refugees. They stood accused – for their inaction. Or was it true – ‘who wanted to go there?’

I read why Germany has a unique attitude to the ‘refugee’ and how many alive in Germany have been a refugee too. This is a new way of looking at Germany, and I witness a huge softening in my attitude to Germany. I held forth yesterday in conversation with my daughter about Merkel. How she was a child of GDR, and would have grown up in an ideologically charged world. A world that believed and espoused the need for us to realise a world where everyone was equal. Maybe this generosity is something she has to carry. There are many such people in the world. Generous people. People who cannot contribute, even if they want to. In some places they can.

The Journey of Migration (Source – 6 charts and a map that show where Europe’s refugees are coming from – and the perilous journeys they are taking, The Independent, UK)

He then asked why people were walking through Hungary. I explained about how they were walking/ going from Turkey to Germany(map above).

Christmas Island, Australia (Source

I read of the “exodus of humanity”. Was this an exodus? Or do we want a new word, a new phrase? Something like “the big human migration”. Like the journey that herds in Africa take to seek out water and pasture. A journey that does not recognise national boundaries, ethnicities and political narratives.

For me this is that spark of utopia that emerges every so often – only to be extinguished. I hear that Hungary has closed its borders! I know that this mass migration – the long trek – was a once of. A mistake that reveals the true nature of our humanity. We are once again spin and narratives.

My son asks – “Why don’t they send planes to pick up the people. Just throw heaps of money at this problem – and fly people in troop carriers to where they want to go. Chuck going through Hungary.” I turned to look at this amazing creature – my tears resurface, I struggle to focus upon the road – and say to myself: I vote you as President of the world my little boy ( he is 4 inches taller than me). Thank you Call of Duty, thank you all the military conflict playstation games – you are producing a new version of humanity.

I have been pushing this issue in my head too: what can I do? I asked Google and it answered – ‘what you can do’. I am teacher and I know I can do something. I can push this out as a campaign. I can light a spark. I can ask – are you with me? Dont you think we can do something – such as?
1. We can change ourselves by letting this sliver of light into our lives.
2. We can dream of a new future.
3. We can send money to UN agencies, to the volunteers.
4. We can make an “I love you Angela” Poster.
5. We can set up a way for this to become much bigger – for people in far away places to say and do something

Yesterday there was a public transport strike in Melbourne. A spontaneous voice rose from the travellers – please donate your fare to the refugee support agencies! This produces goose bumps. Its all around us – this humanity.


  1. UNHCR Page on Syrian Refugees (
  2. Everything you need to know about the European refugee crisis, Sydeny Morning Herald, (
  3. Worldvision on Syrian Refugee Children (
  4. Forgotten Syrian Children of War (
  5. UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, to meet 11 year old Hala and her five siblings who arrived as orphans from Syria’s war. (
  6. I am one of the people you would prefer to see dead – (

Migrants from India settled in Australia 4,000 years ago before Captain Cook’s arrival (and they took their dingos with them) | Daily Mail Online

This news item came up in the Daily Mail – scientists speak about the results of the Human Genome project –  that the Tamil gene in the Australian Aboriginal population was 140 generations old. (Thanks Arvind for the original post). What is interesting is that the humble dingo is now a cousin of the Indian dog.

Then the zh can be found in Australia. David Gulpilil is an Australian Aboriginal Actor – He pronounces his name in the Tamil way – Gulpizhil – the zh sound as in vazhapazham. Which I have always found interesting. So it appears that zh sound is 140 generations old.

Here is a video – of a spoken Aboriginal language. Sounds a bit like Tamil?

The DailyMail articles – Migrants from India settled in Australia 4,000 years ago before Captain Cook’s arrival (and they took their dingos with them) | Daily Mail Online.

Dr Irina Pugach, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said the international research team calculated that the Indian DNA reached the Aboriginal population 141 generations ago.

Assuming that each generation is separated on average by 30 years the geneticists were able to conclude that the Indian population arrived on in Australia 4230 years ago.

‘Interestingly this date also coincides with many changes in the archaeological record of Australia, which include a sudden change in plant processing and stone tool technologies, with microliths appearing for the first time, and the first appearance of the dingo in the fossil record,’ she said.

‘Since we detect inflow of genes from India into Australia at around the same time, it is likely that these changes were related to this migration.’

In 2009 I posted here – – about the similarities between tamil and the language in the movie Ten Canoes. The comments action of this post is very much alive – a topic that many others visit periodically.

A Ten Canoes Clip – 

Jam of Cane sugar and Fresh Figs

We have a fig tree in our back yard – just one. Every year it produces a lot of fruit through February and March. We are mindful that this is the bounty of nature. The fruit the tree produces is therefore meant for us and for the birds. The birds are Rainbow Lorikeets mainly. We often let our friends-visitors pluck the fruit and take some home. Figs are not everyone’s favourite fruit so there is often a good level of sharing between birds, home owner and the visitors.

This year we did not have a hot summer and the mildness of the temperatures may have slowed the fruiting of the tree. The tree was late and the first fruits were given over to the noisy birds. It could also be that I was feeling lazy, preoccupied or just waiting for the right moment. There of course was the fact that the grapes needed attention and I was addressing that by making my first Grape Jelly lot. You can see the Grape Jelly Recipe here.

There were a few people who helped with the plucking and so I ended up with about 8 kilograms of figs. Everyone will say make jam in small lots – it tastes better. I decided to push on make this jam in the large pot. Last year I had made jam with Jaggery and Indian Dark Rum. The people I gave it to had said complimentary things about that so I was going to go down that same route. Fig Jam made with cane sugar is quite the popular kind of Jam in France. Actually Jam of fresh figs (you can make Jam with frozen fruit too) and Cane sugar is the right name for this Jam. I also encountered Maggie Beer’s Burnt Fig Jam and was going to try that.

The Ingredients in this were:

  • Figs 8 kilograms
  • Cane Sugar (Gur) 3 kilograms
  • Juice and rind of 4 Limes
  • 1/2 Cup of Dark Rum ( I uses Indian Rum)

I cut the figs small and put it in a large wide bottomed pan. The pan went on to the fire. I added the sugar and let the whole mixture bubble away. The bottles were washed in the dishwasher, boiled in water and put into the oven to dry. The lids stayed in the boiling water. When the Jam was ready I bottled the Jam.

Then I was not happy with the result – so a week later I emptied all the jam back into the pot and reheated the Jam. The result was probably half way to being Burnt-Jam. I bottled all that last night. In the midst of my jam making I got a call from Alberto in Milan. Which was quite lovely – indeed. I was a bit unhappy even after all this Jam making. My jam was a bit dark and I had seen images on the internet of this reddish fig jam. So this morning I made 1 kilogram of Fig Jam with white sugar – the images are of todays Jam making session – hence the white sugar.

IMG_3928IMG_3930IMG_3864 IMG_3966  IMG_3967IMG_3968IMG_3970   IMG_3971 IMG_3935

Grape Jelly Recipe

This is a post about harvesting grapes from my backyard and then making Jelly from the grapes.

We have a single vine in our backyard and it throws up a profusion of grapes every year. One year, on black saturday, the heat dried all the grapes on the vine – we wondered if they had become sultanas. We pluck grapes, hand them out to visitors and there is a still quite a lot left over. Like the sole fig tree which generates two harvests a year the grapes too needed a processing activity. So I approached the vine yesterday, a sunny saturday (which later turned violently stormy), with a basket and a pair of clippers. When I had finished I had 10 kilograms of grapes. Which was now a problem. I would have to do something with them – the option of giving them to others is not available because these grapes have seeds (first barrier to eating them for people who have grown used to seedless grapes), plus they have thick skins (which are good for protecting them till we want to do something with them) another negative.

IMG_3905 IMG_3909 IMG_3910 IMG_3911 IMG_3912


IMG_3920IMG_3917 IMG_3918

I went online to find what else could be done with grapes. There was the grapes in the casserole recipe that looked interesting. Eventually I settle for the Grape-Jelly option. The recipe is simple:

1 Grape + 1/2 Sugar + some Lemon + some source of pectin.

So here is the GRAPE JELLY making process that I went through:

  1. I had some jars I had picked up on a trip to Bright over summer. Put jars to boil in water, put the lids into the water. I gave the jars about 20 minutes in the water, then transferred jars and lids to baking trays. I put the baking trays into a pre heated oven (180 deg C) possibly for 10 minutes, then left them in there with the oven off.
  2. The grapes went into a big pan onto the gas (no water – though some recipes say add water). The grapes possibly took a while (45 minutes) because I was processing about 7 kgs. At the end of this period I mashed the grapes with a potato masher. Then poured the lot into a muslin draped over colander. The experts say they leave this for 24 hrs for all the juice to be extracted. I was in a hurry – so I got as much out as I could and discarded the leftover in the muslin into the compost.
  3. The juice then went into a pot, I added the sugar and boiled the mixture. I then added the pectin I had picked up (Jamsetta – 50 gms for each 1.5 kgs of grapes – so I added 200 gms of Jamsetta). The mixture came up to boil. I skimmed off the scum.
  4. I pulled out the two saucers I had cooled in the freezer. Onto them I poured a tiny bit of the mixture from the pot. This was to check that I had the consistency right.
  5. The the bottled came out of the oven, the jelly mixture was spooned into the jars and I capped the jars while still hot. That was 12 jars in all.

Now the process had a glitch the first time I did it: I had used less pectin in the first iteration. So the jelly did not set – it was a cordial at best. I had to go to the shop to get more pectin, then empty out all twelve jars into the pot and run the dishwasher with the bottles. The bottled went into the oven again and the test was run again too. The jelly firmed up nicely on the chilled plates. Now I have 12 jars in the studio – cooling and hopefully of the right consistency.

This is another post in the Preserves section of the slow food journal.

Yannis Varoufakis

I heard Varoufakis on the radio this morning. Then put on this TED talk of his and sat watching it with my daughter. “When someone is insolvent will you give them a huge loan” he asks. This is exactly what EU did to Greece with the collusion of the Greek’s politicians. He then goes on to ask – if you are saddled with a loan that is huge and that you cannot hope to pay it off -what is the solution? The people giving you the loan write off half the loan (Germany post war) or you tie the repayment to the growth of the GDP (Australian student loans). He is brilliant and I nominate him as a person to follow, listen to and read-up on.

“One of the great ironies of the eurogroup is that there is no macroeconomic discussion. It’s all rules-based, as if the rules are God-given and as if the rules can go against the rules of macroeconomics.

“I insisted on talking macroeconomics.”

Then if you like the Voldemort allusions – if you are of such a persuasion.

Anyone else think could make a living as Voldemort’s double, if the finance minister gig goes phut?

Posters of Hope and other such

Re Shepard Fairey – he designed the Obama Poster. Today Michael (who I sat next to at dinner a couple of years ago, plus who is the father of RJ Nina Las Vegas) was featured in the Age – for his poster in Sydney. He has made an Abbott poster.

The large majority of people reading this post have seen this image before. This iconic image of Barack Obama, adorned on posters, stickers, clothing and more, was created by Los Angeles-based, contemporary street artist Shepard Fairey. This image has become a pop cultural phenomenon and an important symbol in the political landscape of 2008 and beyond. How did this image spread virally so quickly? Who was involved in making that happen? More

The Obama poster and all the others.

Life in Compost

This is a saturday post that connects to projects in the garden. It also connects to a joy in making, watering, seeing plants grow and engaging with sustainability (albeit in a desultory fashion – but thats okay). We have been composting food scraps for two years and today it was the day to remove the compost bin enclosure and reveal the compost. Of the three bins, the top of one was still fresh, another had a few plants growing (a pumpkin and some money-plants). The base was rife with earthworms. When you see earthworms in compost you feel thats healthy compost. If you like to see images of compost there are some good ones below. This post bean its life as a desire to share images of compost with my project collaborators from the past (O P Singh and Ashish Jain). Then an acknowledgement of the fact that I am still carrying on some form of the recycling work. At a small scale, alone. Which matters too. Below is the image of the compost – covered with older compost. The dark wet part contains many earth worms which have swiftly burrowed in (you would think they are slow – but you should have seen these chaps – they have been honoured with the title of this blog post). The kadahi is for scaling. Is that all the compost you got from a years worth of discarded food scraps? IMG_3870 IMG_3869 IMG_3866

The plants that came out of the compost. Now in another veggie box. IMG_3871

I also took images of the summer bounty in our backyard. These tomatoes (from a plant that Chris Ryan gave us) are delicious. Importantly the plan seems to be doing well even without a huge amount of water. IMG_3882 IMG_3881

The mint plant was plucked, a few years ago, from a pavement where it grew happily. It has grown into a bush. In summer it looks like this – a bit flowery and a bit spotty. In winter the mint puts out big leaves and looks more robust. It behaves like a weed and has captured a tract of the backyard for itself. IMG_3883

The lawn before the mower arrives can throw up these yellow beauties. Also a weed, but these will go into a tiny vase in the house.


IMG_3886 IMG_3887

The Bamboo chimes took some getting used to. Melbourne can throw up some mighty storms and it took some time to work out an ideal location for these noisy fellows. Under the pergola they are sheltered from the worst of the wind and can keep putting out their gruff grunts every so often. IMG_3888 IMG_3889  IMG_3878 IMG_3877

The figs are almost ready. I have to gear up to make jam again next week. I am thinking tuesday night may be a good time to do this. The parrots live on this tree and feast very randomly on the fruits. So many fruits pecked and only a few fully eaten. I imagine there is a possibility there will be two harvests of figs this year. IMG_3864

Dilli is lovely, though a wee bit dusty

The dusty Delhi air is now a problem. When we lived there we blamed the loo, and the cold that trapped the dust. Wonder how much to Delhi’s dust is natural and how much is man made?

Delhi’s dust/pollution rises in winter – Diwali to Holi – as per the graph. Living there we knew this. So its a dusty city next to Rajasthan. What about Delhi versus Jaipur/Agra/Ahmedabad/Nagpur?

Of course it needs fixing – by watering Rajasthan? – but would be good to get more nuanced reporting too.

Or am I being romantic?

And this image: Gurgaon?

Indeed, there has not been a single 30-day period in Beijing over the past two years during which the average PM2.5 level was as bad as it was in December and January in Delhi.

Worse yet, the numbers tell only half the story because Delhi’s PM2.5 particles are far more dangerous than those from many other locales because of the widespread burning of garbage, coal and diesel fuel that results in high quantities of toxins such as sulfur, dioxins and other carcinogenic compounds, said Dr. Sarath Guttikunda, director of Urban Emissions, an independent research group based in Delhi.

“Delhi’s air is just incredibly toxic,” said Dr. Guttikunda, who recently moved to Goa to protect his two young children from Delhi’s air. “People in Delhi are increasingly aware that the air is bad, but they have no idea just how catastrophically bad it really is.”

via Delhi Wakes Up to an Air Pollution Problem It Cannot Ignore –

Spinach and Ricotta Rolls

I woke this morning at 6 AM. Brewed fair trade coffee, made some oats, fed the cats, woke my son – and then headed off to the local bakery. At the bakery I bought a fresh ciabatta roll, and some ricotta cheese.

Back home I mixed some frozen spinach with a portion of the ricotta. Wrapped it in puff-pastry and put it in the over for 20 minutes. As I sit posting to this blog, I have a fresh mug of coffee next to me, my son is doing his home work, the cats have gone back to bed, and the rolls are cooling down.

Just an ordinary morning.

Spinach and Ricotta rolls

Spinach and Ricotta rolls

How To Create a Personal Learning Environment to Stay Relevant

I have been looking at the terminology that describes what I do in the classroom with my students. Here are some of the things students will do in a typical course I teach:

  1. Get a twitter account, use tweet deck to follow different hashtags (#) as a way of doing research.
  2. Set up a wordpress blog, and post text, sketches and images to the blog.
  3. Join the class Facebook group and contribute (from the mobile).
  4. Use Tumbler to do research and post thoughts, images, drawings.
  5. Use Instagram, pinterest to do visual research/ visual ethnography.
  6. Use Delicious, citeulike, netnewswire to undertake textual research.
  7. Use RSS and StumbleUpon to read online journals/ diaries to do user research (Digital Enthnography).

Its ten years since I started using blogs and online tools as part of my design teaching. In recent years I have been using the smartphone/ with notifications as a component of the learning process.

NOW – In design studio projects the central learning happens through a process of visualisation and pin up reviews. So in class presentations and conversations are crucial. Within the discourse of/ terminology of PLE I am now referring to the class encounter as ESSENTIAL LEARNING. The learning that happens outside of class – through social media and digital ethnography – is OPTIONAL LEARNING. Though I wouldn’t do it so intensively if it were really Optional. Which means I need a new term for what PLE refers to as Optional-Learning. If you have a suggestion – for an alternative term – post me a suggestion in the comments section.

How To Create a Personal Learning Environment to Stay Relevant in 2013 | Online Learning Insights

“Our understanding of learning has expanded at a rate that has far outpaced our conceptions of teaching. A growing appreciation for the porous boundaries between the classroom and life experience…has created not only promising changes but also disruptive moments in teaching.” EDUCAUSE Review, 2012

This quote from Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education (Bass, 2012), gives a good a reason as any for educators to develop a Personal learning Environment [PLE]; a space where we can keep up with the experimental modes of learning, instruction, changing pedagogy and instructional methods that surfaced in 2012. In a previous post I introduced the concept of PLEs and touched on why educators may want to consider developing a PLE for 2013. In this post I’ll outline how educators can develop their own PLE, where to start, and I’ll provide specific action steps, and what tools to use. First though, I’ll share three convincing reasons why we should get serious about PLEs—why they aren’t just for students.

Three Reasons Why Educators Need a PLE

Education is in a phase of disruption (not news to anyone)—and it’s not just a blip or a bump, but is what Harvard professor and author Clayton Christenson describes as disruptive innovation. This concept describes what is happening in higher education now. We can see disruption in the new forms of course delivery  (i.e. Udacity, Cousera), teaching methods (i.e. flipped classrooms), and new learning models (i.e. competency based learning). These experimental forms of teaching (MOOCs) and assessing (peer review, assessment centers) are changing how educators teach, and impact the student/instructor relationship. Below are three [convincing] reasons why educators should consider creating a PLE:

  1. We need to disrupt ourselves: The model of higher education is at a turning point. PLEs provide a framework for us to expand our knowledge in our areas of expertise, and in teaching and instructional methods that are and will be appropriate and relevant for the digital era.
  2. The Instructor’s role has changed. The learner is moving to the center of the learning and teaching model, and relies upon a variety of sources for learning. PLEs will help instructors not only stay relevant in his or her field, but will provide an opportunity to learn how to use tools that will enhance instructional methods and adapt to the changing paradigm.
  3. Access to the Internet has changed how we teach and learn—forever. New tools devices, and applications are changing our culture and society. Education is not immune. We need to adapt and respond—PLEs will help us to do so appropriately by responding from a position of knowledge and understanding.

via How To Create a Personal Learning Environment to Stay Relevant in 2013 | Online Learning Insights.

Useful Links


While emphasizing the active role of a learner, the PLE approach implies thatlearning is not located in a specific time and place, but is an ongoing, ubiquitous and multi-episodic process. As PLEs allow the collocation of diverse learning activities, tools, and resources, contexts permeate and learning becomes connected. In this sense, PLEs challenge some dominant paradigms in education and in the traditional understanding of borders, be it in view of learning places, educational roles or institutional policies.

The Future of College? – The Atlantic


This a great article on the concept of education and its mediation in the contemporary period through technology. Its of course for the brilliant – but nonetheless a model worth keeping in mind.

The paradox of undergraduate education in the United States is that it is the envy of the world, but also tremendously beleaguered. In that way it resembles the U.S. health-care sector. Both carry price tags that shock the conscience of citizens of other developed countries. They’re both tied up inextricably with government, through student loans and federal research funding or through Medicare. But if you can afford the Mayo Clinic, the United States is the best place in the world to get sick. And if you get a scholarship to Stanford, you should take it, and turn down offers from even the best universities in Europe, Australia, or Japan. (Most likely, though, you won’t get that scholarship. The average U.S. college graduate in 2014 carried $33,000 of debt.)

via The Future of College? – The Atlantic.

UN peacekeeping missions show mixed record | World | DW.DE | 15.02.2012

Reading up on Peacekeeping – has it worked?Blue Helmets

When UN peacekeepers are sent on a mission, their goal is not to conquer territories or fight against hostile troops. Instead, it is to safeguard peace between formerly warring parties.

But the reputation of UN peacekeepers has been tainted due to what happened on their missions in Somalia (1993), Rwanda (1994) and Srebrenica in Bosnia and Hercegovina (1995). So where do the UN’s blue helmets stand? Do they live up to their responsibility as global peacekeepers – or is their mandate often times not strong enough to pacify heinously fighting militia?

via UN peacekeeping missions show mixed record | World | DW.DE | 15.02.2012.

FlipBoard online

Flipboard is on the web as of this week. This is brilliant news.

I have been using clipboard to read twitter – like a magazine with images and text. It changed my life. As a clipboard user you forget about the other world of paper, and subscriptions.

In Flipboard you subscribe to all sorts of feeds, sites, tweets, and anything else you can access.

You can post from Flipboard so it can become the place where you connect with the world – the world in your hand, in your mobile as it were. The only problem was – while its beautiful – its small and hard to read. On the web its luxurious and rivals Life magazine of old. It can transform the most cryptic tweet into a full screen image.

Here is a piece about Flipboard –

Here is where you need to go

That said I find you have to set up your account and feeds using the mobile interface – the web version has been imagined as an ‘addendum’ (sounds like a body part in the nether regions) as the link above says.

In short to the question – what does clipboard do?

Flipboard has made waiting obsolete!

10 Years now

I am looking back on ten years of sporadic blogging, writing and using the blog as a community space.


I have deleted a lot of blogs and have brought everything into this space (so many dead links I am sure).

I am hoping that I will be able to calm down and write slowly, reflect and collect my thoughts in this one place.

Thank you Twenty Fifteen – finally there is one place that works for me above all others – no bloggers, no tumblr, no movable type. Just wordpress.