#1 Meet and connect people. I find ideas are always made better when they are shared openly. I’ve tried to invite different people out for lunch each day at work. Folks who know each other, but who under normal circumstances won’t go to lunch with each other. One measure of health is how well the blood circulates. In a company that blood is communication.
My mission isn’t limited to where I work. It extends to outside work. I’ve already met with Reagan Hwang of UXFactory. Interesting things happen when people with passion and ideas meet. Stay tuned.
#2 Read a book a week. This due to a convergence of two facts in my life these days: 1) there are far too many books I have bought that i have never read; 2) My subway ride to work is just over an hour each way.
Mind you I am the slowest reader I know. I typically read about 20-25 pages an hour. Which is fine, since for some strange reason, most books I read seem to have chapters that are about that length.
My pile of unread book fall into roughly 3 categories:
- Architecture theory books from the mid to late ’90 I bought during my Columbia Master of Architecture days.
- Internet, information architecture books I bought between 2001-2006 during my web consulting years at Forum One.
- Business of design books I bought recently.
So far it has gone pretty well. In the first month of 2008 I have read:
Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development, by Manfredo Tafuri. This small but heavy theory book was on the list of required reading for my M.Arch course. I still don’t have enough brains to understand even a fraction of what Mr. Tafuri is on about. But I can now strike that off the list I’ve kept since 1994.
The Ten-Day MBA, by Steven Silbiger. When my wife and I were dating, I had just graduated from my masters in architecture and she was just starting her MBA. The architecture school and the business school were physically separated only by a few yards, but we were a world apart. We, at the architecture school, always had a disdain for the other. Once I lamented to a friend that the MBA students will probably make multiples more money than us, and may even become our clients. His response was, “yeah, but they don’t have any taste.” Being close to the top of an organization, it helps to have some basic business knowledge if not an understanding of the lingo. Maybe I’ll even get a real MBA one day. What a change.
Inside Architecture, by Vittorio Gregotti. I’ve been fluctuating between architecture and business/design every other book. This book I used for a paper in a class entitled, “Global Architecture” given by much personally-admired Prof. Gwendolyn Wright. I recently had dinner with a close friend from Columbia who head Jina, a successful architectural practice in Korea, He told me this book in part forms the basis of his architectural philosophy at his firm. That’s reason enough for a full read.
The Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda. I also own the hefty Maeda @ Media, but this book is more readable. Also Simplicity seems to have been a trendy but bloated subject recently. If I am to talk intelligently about simplicity and why it’s not always appropriate, it’s better to keep friends close and enemies closer. Not quite sure if simplicity is my friend or enemy.
Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder, by David Weinberger. I saw Weinberger give a presentation at the Nonprofit Technology Conference back in April 2007. His book had just come out. I’ve been carrying it with me ever since then on every business trip hoping to crack it open, but always failing. Now I have and I am glad I did. This is by far the best book so far this year. Weinberger does a great job of summarizes the current trend toward the atomization or the “miscellanization” of knowledge and weaves a convincing argument that this mess of miscellany is now more open than ever for each of us to bestow our personal and social meaning upon it, freed from traditional sources of authority. What’s equally impressive is that he mentions the word “Web 2.0” only once in the whole book, when in fact that is what he is referring to. But he goes beyond mere web as a phenomenon to talk about how it affects the structure and development of knowledge itself. What he provides is a framework for what makes Web 2.0 possible. More about this book later.