Posts tagged “change”

Why not?

Every drummer knows, it’s hard to find a place to practice.

Drummer, Highway 9, Santa Cruz mountains

So when I drove by this guy rocking out on the side of the road, I thought, “yes, that makes so much sense.” Plenty of space, no neighbors around to get pissed off at you.

So how come the roadsides aren’t dotted with drummers?

Even though it’s a great solution, it takes a certain degree of chutzpah to go drum in the woods.

Lots of seemingly innovative ideas never take hold. Some of these concepts may be asking customers to “drum in the woods”– to behave in ways that might stick out, feel weird, or refute what they’re comfortable with.

Nicolas Nova further explores why ideas do and don’t take hold in his visually rich Inflated/Deflated Futures presentation.

Related posts:
Minding Manners
Open Carry

How long to plan for growth/change?

From Arizona Adds Digit to License Plates to Keep Up With Growth

The increase in motor vehicles has exhausted the 10.6 million or so combinations of characters on the state’s six-digit plates, said Cydney DeModica, a spokeswoman for the state’s motor vehicle division.

So Arizona is joining New York, California and other more populous states in adding a seventh digit. The extra digit allows for 106.48 million possible combinations – three letters followed by four numbers – which should accommodate a growing population through 2040.

2040 doesn’t seem that far off when it comes to making sweeping changes to infrastructure. Do they know what they might do after that? Or do popular growth (or motor vehicle ownership) predictions not hold valid beyond 30 years? Seems like a perfect problem for long term thinking, the absence of which created technology challenges such as the Y2K bug.

Of course a key difference here is that the Y2K bug failed to address a definite event (the year 2000 would eventually be reached, at a predictable time in the future), whereas the growth in Arizona cars may follow a trend but it’s far from definite as changes in weather patterns and oil prices could conceivably change the trend dramatically by 2040.

Rage With The Machine

Biodiesel-fueled coupe made from old semi truck, Half Moon Bay, California

lawnmower-race-sequence.jpgLawnmower Races, Half Moon Bay, California

I went to a huge auto and machine show recently at a small airfield down the coast from San Francisco. I really love this kind of stuff, but my machine lust was battling thoughts of carbon footprints, sustainability and global economics that made it a little difficult to see the event as entirely wholesome.

Living in and trying to navigate this consumption/sustainability paradox is the conundrum of the day for anyone who loves things.

Nokia’s Jan Chipchase gave a talk at Adaptive Path a couple of weeks ago, and showed a model of the Remade mobile phone concept. The Remade is produced almost entirely by upcycling, a Cradle to Cradle concept whereby potential trash is transformed into something valuable and useful.

Appearance model, Remade mobile phone concept, Nokia. (picture from

The extruded aluminum body of the Remade model seemed really tough, and made me think about what it would be like if products were built so well that they rarely broke.

Would that be the most sustainable approach to the object cycle-making things that lasted, and using them for as long as they lasted?

It’s a complex picture: there’s technological evolution constantly rendering our stuff obsolete, there’s the need for producers to continue to produce and sell what they make, and then there’s that crow/magpie thing-our persistent desire to add new objects to whatever we already have sequestered in our nests.

Thinking about a system this complex always leads to big questions. Here are some of mine for this round:

  • What is the relationship between remaking how objects are produced and shifting cultural attitudes toward consumption?

  • Can producers profitably focus on business models that take advantage of long use (for example by focusing more on post-purchase relationships and less on product replacement)?

  • Can it ever be as cool, sexy, and fun as buying new things to use our things for years and years, so that they acquire a patina, shape themselves to our bodies and our personalities, and bear scars that tell stories?

Or will that leave something fundamental in our natures (our crow-selves??) unsatisfied?

Fading Kitsch

A few months ago we saw a very cool Hollywood used car lot, Kay Kars, featuring rather poorly executed (and dated) film icons as enthusiastic decoration.

A mural along one wall featured Brando, Marilyn, Clint, and Arnold.

A banner along the street showed some of the same classic stars, as well as Bugs and the Three Stooges.

Meanwhile, an otherwise non-famous bunny encouraged potential shoppers to “Come On In”

A few months along, Kay Kars has either moved or closed down (the website describes their luxury car inventory; not likely the same business) and the empty lot is nothing but sad.

Update: Here’s the scene in February 2009:

New Yorker on Playboy

The New Yorker reviews The Playmate Book: Six Decades of Centerfolds (not currently listed on Amazon) in a provocative summary of cultural changes seen through (and created by) the magazine.

Six hundred and thirteen women are represented, but there is one basic model. On top is the face of Shirley Temple; below is the body of Jayne Mansfield. Playboy was launched in 1953, and this female image managed to draw, simultaneously, on two opposing trends that have since come to dominate American mass culture: on the one hand, our country’s idea of its Huck Finn innocence; on the other, the enthusiastic lewdness of our advertising and entertainment. We are now accustomed to seeing the two tendencies combined – witness Britney Spears – but when Hefner was a young man they still seemed like opposites. Hence the surprise and the popularity of Playboy.

In the nineteen-eighties and thereafter, the artificiality only increased, as did that of all American mass media. The most obvious change is in the body, which has now been to the gym. Before, you could often see the Playmates sucking in their stomachs. Now they donÔø?t have to. The waist is nipped, the bottom tidy, and the breasts are a thing of wonder. The first mention of a “boob job” in The Playmate Book has to do with Miss April 1965, but, like hair coloring, breast enlargement underwent a change of meaning, and hence of design, in the seventies and eighties. At first, its purpose was to correct nature, and fool people into thinking that this was what nature made. But over time the augmented bosom became confessedly an artificeÔø?a Ding an sich, and proud of it. By the eighties, the PlaymatesÔø? breasts are not just huge. Many are independent of the law of gravity; they point straight outward. One pair seems to point upward. Other features look equally doctored.

That, in the end, is the most striking thing about Playboy’s centerfolds: how old-fashioned they seem. This whole Ôø?bachelorÔø? world, with the brandy snifters and the attractive guest arriving for the night: did it ever exist? Yes, as a fantasy. Now, however, it is the property of homosexuals. (A more modern-looking avatar of the Playmates’ pneumatic breasts is Robert Mapplethorpe’s Mr. 10¬?.) Today, if you try to present yourself as a suave middle-aged bachelor, people will assume youÔø?re gay.

The whole thing is worth a read, it’s thought-provoking and kind of funny, and I guess slightly titillating in a sort of intellectual-snob manner. Works for me.

Sorry to all the surfers who found this post through Google expecting some free pr0n.

Designing change

Nice Fast Company Now piece on (according to P&G) what design requires in order to change business cultures:
. a senior management champion
. to live in the business units
. to be integrated early in the process
. a voice
. measurement of the bottom-line impact


About Steve