“Today’s belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation-killer of our age. In this environment, the best an audacious manager can do is to develop small improvements to existing systems—climbing the hill, as it were, toward a local maximum, trimming fat, eking out the occasional tiny innovation—like city planners painting bicycle lanes on the streets as a gesture toward solving our energy problems. Any strategy that involves crossing a valley—accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance—will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done.”

A really pressing issue these days. Is this how some of the scifi empires that I read about, the stagnant ones, emerged? Management and individuals were able to access too much information, depressing risks? Or was it the immediacy and publicity of the access that causes “minority shareholder lawsuits” at the smallest drop in earnings/profits? Could it be that too much real-time transparency has led to the development of a shared sense of infallibility directly crushing any risky gambits for success in the future? I just don’t know…

I also like this quote from earlier. I’m not sure, but this ties in to some ideas I have about the need for “translation layers” or people that can help create and transmit these shared narratives. Star Trek (especially TNG) showed voice controlled computers that anyone could use. Now we have google voice search, Apple’s Siri, and Nuance. There’s more too! Scifi directly inspires people to reach, to make these things come true. This is what he’s calling the Hieroglyph Theory.

We need better and more of these, else we risk falling into the same stagnation that afflicted the Imperium of Man (W40k), numerous progenitors, and even Asimov’s Galactic Empire (Foundation).

Researchers and engineers have found themselves concentrating on more and more narrowly focused topics as science and technology have become more complex. A large technology company or lab might employ hundreds or thousands of persons, each of whom can address only a thin slice of the overall problem. Communication among them can become a mare’s nest of email threads and Powerpoints. The fondness that many such people have for SF reflects, in part, the usefulness of an over-arching narrative that supplies them and their colleagues with a shared vision. Coordinating their efforts through a command-and-control management system is a little like trying to run a modern economy out of a Politburo. Letting them work toward an agreed-on goal is something more like a free and largely self-coordinated market of ideas.

Innovation Starvation | World Policy Institute - johniac’s posterous (via infoneer-pulse)

infoneer-pulse:

Why Innovation Doffs an Old Hat

“The location numbers on a Kindle are rational, and they make sense for the medium — but they don’t correspond to the emotional expectations of what a book is,” said Adam Greenfield, managing director of Urbanscale, a New York-based urban design practice, and author of “Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing.”
Designers in all fields are regularly confronted with versions of this choice: whether to incorporate cues to keep people grounded in what has come before, or scrap convention completely. In transportation, for instance, the power of steam engines was initially described in relation to that of horses, a practice that has continued to the present day. Automobile designers have incorporated visual cues suggesting carriages; for example, adding nonfunctional spokes on wheels. Today, electric cars, which can operate with unsettling silence, are being designed to make more noise, largely for safety reasons.
Such design is also common in the digital world. The basic interface for personal computers was designed as a desktop with a series of folders and a trash can in the corner because it allowed users to work in the way they were used to doing in the physical world.

» via The New York Times

The idea of adding “throwbacks” is a useful metaphor. That sometimes it goes too far… I’m sure I’ve seen an example of this, but I can’t recall one right now. The NYT (and Flipboard) single out iBooks as superfluous, but I’m not quite sure it is.
If you’re dealing with paginated text, adding the animation of page-turning makes logical sense. Readers expect the page to turn if they’re scrolling “sideways”. In Instapaper, with its vertically scrolling (non-paginated) arraignment of text it does not make sense to animate a page turning. There’s no expectation of a ‘page’ so it would be incongruous to see a page turn. The text is presented as one long ‘page’.
Therefore, the amount of animation and skeuomorphs presented in an application or UI paradigm really depends on the layout and more specifically the device. On a laptop or desktop OS/browser/word processor pagination is silly due to the input and screen setup. But on touch screen devices or the Kindle, pagination and hence “page turning” for example can make sense. But you can still go too far. I just doubt that Apple hasn’t done so in the examples given.

infoneer-pulse:

Why Innovation Doffs an Old Hat

“The location numbers on a Kindle are rational, and they make sense for the medium — but they don’t correspond to the emotional expectations of what a book is,” said Adam Greenfield, managing director of Urbanscale, a New York-based urban design practice, and author of “Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing.”

Designers in all fields are regularly confronted with versions of this choice: whether to incorporate cues to keep people grounded in what has come before, or scrap convention completely. In transportation, for instance, the power of steam engines was initially described in relation to that of horses, a practice that has continued to the present day. Automobile designers have incorporated visual cues suggesting carriages; for example, adding nonfunctional spokes on wheels. Today, electric cars, which can operate with unsettling silence, are being designed to make more noise, largely for safety reasons.

Such design is also common in the digital world. The basic interface for personal computers was designed as a desktop with a series of folders and a trash can in the corner because it allowed users to work in the way they were used to doing in the physical world.

» via The New York Times

The idea of adding “throwbacks” is a useful metaphor. That sometimes it goes too far… I’m sure I’ve seen an example of this, but I can’t recall one right now. The NYT (and Flipboard) single out iBooks as superfluous, but I’m not quite sure it is.

If you’re dealing with paginated text, adding the animation of page-turning makes logical sense. Readers expect the page to turn if they’re scrolling “sideways”. In Instapaper, with its vertically scrolling (non-paginated) arraignment of text it does not make sense to animate a page turning. There’s no expectation of a ‘page’ so it would be incongruous to see a page turn. The text is presented as one long ‘page’.

Therefore, the amount of animation and skeuomorphs presented in an application or UI paradigm really depends on the layout and more specifically the device. On a laptop or desktop OS/browser/word processor pagination is silly due to the input and screen setup. But on touch screen devices or the Kindle, pagination and hence “page turning” for example can make sense. But you can still go too far. I just doubt that Apple hasn’t done so in the examples given.