Tag Archives: musings

Mismatched socks: standalone part two DRAFT

1 Jun

To give a concrete example of the standalone complex, I’ll use an example from daily life. A while ago I was doing laundry with my girlfriend, and on that particular day she found herself with no matching socks. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to illustrate the difference between a rigid and a flexible system. In a rigid system, in this example a system where all socks need to be matched in order to do work, if you have any sort of failure, such as the lack of a matching sock then your system relies on redundancies to cope. That works for a small amount of failure, but in the case of a complete dearth of matched socks, for instance, you will end up sockless until next laundry day. On the other hand is a flexible and dynamic system that uses a modular units that can be interchangeable catch up with such failures, that is for example if you change your mind about match matching pair of socks is. If you redefine a matching pair of socks to that which you can wear to go out and then do your business, then the system is becomes much more flexible. All it takes is a shift in your perspective and how you react to changes in situations. In that sense I’m trying to create it in organization that can operate as a drawer full of mismatched socks. Just like in the drawer, the socks themselves do not change, rather it is the person wearing the socks that changes . The organization is the one that changes. The members of the organization, the people involved don’t change, only in how you use them.

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Generative Design

15 Jan

I first learned about genetic algorithms used in design from a lecture on design research. The name of the firm escapes me now, but they designed various interactive objects and placed them in homes to see how people live with information. One such object was a television set that picked up the radio signals of planes that passed overhead, and showed on a 3D revolving globe the flight path of that plane. The aerial for the set was designed by NASA, using a genetic algorithm to find the best possible configuration for the aerial.

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SHIFT – A work in progress.

23 Dec

I’m working on a draft of an article for Shift, from the OCAD Student Press

This is going to be an epic deja vu for my thesis, and redemption. I finally get a chance to put together a cogent interpretation of all the research and thinking that went into my thesis project. The draft is below, and it’s still very early alpha stage.

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Man’s principle gift, and the only thing that distinguishes it from
other animals, is his ability to tell stories. The first words created
the world. Ancient stories gave meaning to the stars.


The following is a work of fiction. Any similarity to any person, or to any actual events, or institutions is intentional and
anything but coincidential.

In 1937 the future of airships came crashing to the ground in a fiery, smoking ruin, amid the famous cries of “oh, the humanity!”.

Since the Hindeburgh crash in Lakehurst Naval Station, New Jersey, only the ghosts of these once important vehicles are seen: floating vestiges of the past above the Super Bowl, or largely ignored, hawking electronics above Queens and Manhattan. A few are still ferrying tourists on harbour tours and over vineyards for wine tastings, but they are largely seen as curiousities, if seen at all. In most of my conversations with people with airships, the first reaction is perplexity, then incredulity.

But everyone I have met agrees with me eventually, that airships are needed in this world again.

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The Inuit are Canada’s Ninjas.

12 Dec

I’ve been fascinated by the Inuit for many years now. On the West Coast, we grew up with stories of the Haida, the Salish.  We learned of their cedar clothes and boxes, how they lived in cedar homes and cooked with heated rocks in cedar pots, and how they foraged and hunted.  The city has long since replaced the rainforests of the aboriginal time, but examples of it can be found less than an hour from downtown.  The point is, the first nations people didn’t have the same draw for me, because they were here, and BC is not the hardest place to survive, by any stretch of the imagination.  The arctic, however, is cold, barren and hostile.  In my eyes, it was a huge feat to survive up there. The ingenuity of the northern people amazed me, and their stories ( the real stories, not their myths, which I can talk about later) were legendary to me.

An example is the grandfather who hated the sedentary life that his family had adopted. So he snuck out, made a knife by freezing and shaping his poo, killed a dog and made a dogsled out of the skin and bones, and then harnessed the other dogs to it and vanished into the snow.

Personally the best and smartest thing is how they used to make the runners for their dogsleds.  Before steel and milled wood, dog sleds were made from walrus bone and drift wood. The bottoms of the runners were not guaranteed to be flat.  So the way they made it flat, was with moss and ice and fish. The moss and the fish acted like rebar to strenghten the ice, but also to fill in the gaps of the structure, be it bone or gnarly driftwood.  The ice was applied slowly, layer by layer by spitting water in a mist, and then buffing with a scrap of fur.  The result was a strong, straight runner.  The best part, however, is that that fish would keep all winter, and in the spring, when things were tough, the fish would thaw and they could eat it.  BRILLIANT.

Watch Wade Davis on TED talk about Cultures at the far edge of the world, and the story of the Inuit elder and his poop knife.

Cutting edge technology

8 Dec

A recent comment made me think about the qualities of “cutting edge technology”. At least in terms of communication and computing, the aim of new technology is to make it more human. Gestural interfacing, voice recognition, biometrics etc are all efforts to make machines understand us. This is important because there is a general perception that technology is alienating. I tend to agree with that, as I am not convinced that a more mediated communication is better. However, in light if this recent revelation, I am starting to wonder if we’re not Pygmalion creating Galataea. So in the end, are we helping them, the machines, the marble or the poor flower girl, become like us, or are we trying to make ourselves more human?