May 31, 2011

A long time ago, back in 1987, a man called John Sculley, published a book called ‘Odyssey. Pepsi to Apple. A journey of adventure, ideas and the future’. Apple’s ceo at the time explained in his book why Steve Jobs had hired him and why Steve left.

On page 403 John Sculley tried to look into the future:

‘A future-generation Macintosh, which we should have early in the twenty-first century, might well be a wonderful fantasy machine called the Knowledge Navigator, a discoverer of worlds, a tool as galvanizing as the printing press. Individuals could use it to drive through libraries, museums, databases, or institutional archives. This tool wouldn’t just take you to the doorstep of these great resources as sophisticated computers do now; it would invite you deep inside its secrets, interpreting and explaining -converting vast quantities of information into personalized and understandable knowledge.’

Some people at the company came up with a video. They were inspired by the Dynabook concept, created by Alan Kay in 1968. The Knowledge Navigator looked like this:

The video can be found here.

John left and Steve came back.

And now we all have and/or want an ipod, iphone and iPad.

It indeed has been an epic voyage, as the word odyssey came to refer to.

Content on the Move

October 1, 2010

New screens, small, medium and large, keep popping up.  Flipping through content will become a new form of entertainment experience. New content formats and user experiences will  be invented, since a simple 1:1 translation of existing content to new types of media, will not attract enough users. In the beginning of TV we could watch radio and plays. The first automobiles resembled horse carriages. It always works like that.

Experiments continue. Maximizing value is the name of the game.

Another Paradox

September 29, 2010

One of the paradoxes in our digital age is the more data, the less knowledge. The more we know, the less we know.

In 2004 I was involved in launching a radical new form of datamining, using new mathematical concepts to fight combinatorial complexities. I remember I talked about it at a tradeshow and had to use quotes from T.S. Eliot’s ‘Choruses  from The Rock’ (1934) to get my message across.

Picture me standing before mathematicians, quoting: ‘ Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’

Today there is even more data out there in the real world and here on the web. The Data Deluge is all around us.

We need new forms of information design. We need new ways of visualizing the data. Because a picture still tells more than a 1000 words. Here is a stunning documentary about visualization.

It only takes (only) one hour to watch. Time to spend versus lessons to be learned: another paradox.

Not just looking good.

September 24, 2010

As my readers know, this blog serves several purposes, at least to me. It forces me to think deeply, before I write and that’s not easy at all. All too often I write before I think. My second goal is to adress all kinds of myopia in business, mostly surrounding media, old and new. Doing so, I discovered that myopia is everywhere, even in my own mind. Third purpose is exercise in writing and writing skills, as a learning experience to produce a real book, be it paper or digital, somewhere around July 2011. The 4th purpose is interesting and a bit strange. I set out to clean my shelves of the books I bought during my 25 years journey in the still fast paced and exiting domain of all things digital.  And in deciding whether or not a book survived the test of time, I discover interesting and stimulating thoughts and share it through my blog.

This morning I read a few pieces in ‘Designing Business’ by Clement Mok. The subtitle of this still standing tall piece of work is ‘Multiple Media, Multiple Disciplines’, a phrase that inspired me to design a logo and a concept for a consultancy in 1998 by the name M3D.

The book is brilliant. Just read the introduction from the first chapter.

‘Surrounded by the fantastic forms that technology takes, it’s easy to think we’ve landed on another planet, but the down-to-earth reality is that business will have to live with the constant arrival of new technologies for some time to come. Further complicating that reality is the fact that introducing an innovation into the marketplace doesn’t guarantee its success. On the contrary, it’s the ability of humans to adjust to change that controls whether new technology is accepted. The internet’s twenty-year “overnight success” shows that technology evolves much more quickly than humans adapt to it. People adopt ideas when social, personal, and financial trends intersect -a confluence that may seem random but that usually happens “by design”. Design, in its broadest sense, is the enabler of the digital era – it’s a process that creates order out of chaos, that renders technology usable to business. Design means being good, not just looking good’.

This book was published in 1996. Wow.