Reading older books and texts

In 2019 I am focusing on reading recently published books but also including old books and texts including books from the pre-1900 about cities and design. I am hoping to read these book to gain some knowledge and understanding of past issues and topics to see if there are trends and ideas that could provide me with some ideas or inspiration for 2019.

Why would I want to read past text? My theory is that many technologies and ideas are coming full circle including the electric car (first practical electric car was 1859) which have reappeared numerous times in history over the past 160 years, therefore there many issues that cities and people faced in the 1800-early 1960’s (density, pollution, etc that we could further understand and utilise).

I had decided this a new year goal for 2019 but was thought about broadening it to futurists of 1980’s after recently reading the Isaac Asimov piece from 1983 predicting what 2019 would hold for the world from a 1983 perspective and it was interesting to read that he was not far off on many of his predictions about Computerization, Jobs and Pollution, however sadly his prediction about Education did not eventuate.

” The growing complexity of society will make it impossible to do without them, except by courting chaos; and those parts of the world that fall behind in this respect will suffer so obviously as a result that their ruling bodies will clamour for computerization as they now clamour for weapons. “

“The jobs that will disappear will tend to be just those routine clerical and assembly-line jobs that are simple enough, repetitive enough, and stultifying enough to destroy the finely balanced minds of those human beings unfortunate enough to have been forced to spend years doing them in order to earn a living, and yet complicated enough to rest above the capacity of any machine that is neither a computer nor computerized.”

” The consequences of human irresponsibility in terms of waste and pollution will become more apparent and unbearable with time and again, attempts to deal with this will become more strenuous. It is to be hoped that by 2019, advances in technology will place tools in our hands that will help accelerate the process whereby the deterioration of the environment will be reversed. “

“Education, which must be revolutionized in the new world, will be revolutionized by the very agency that requires the revolution — the computer.
Schools will undoubtedly still exist, but a good schoolteacher can do no better than to inspire curiosity which an interested student can then satisfy at home at the console of his computer outlet.
There will be an opportunity finally for every youngster, and indeed, every person, to learn what he or she wants to learn. in his or her own time, at his or her own speed, in his or her own way.
Education will become fun because it will bubble up from within and not be forced in from without. “


Be open to ideas and move beyond “the right way” or “this is how we do it”

When you have worked for various companies and clients in different countries and cultures you soon realise that there is not one way to do something. Never get lost in the pushing what you think is the “right way of doing it” on to others.  You may have learnt the “right way” at school or university or at the starchitect firm you worked at but you soon realise that way of doing it may have been right for that time or project. Education institutions, Society and Culture are all too often hung up on the proving and judging what is the right way and ignoring the fact that learning and innovation comes from testing, failing, learning and trying different ways.

Doing something the same way for years just ends up perpetrating the cycle without improvement. Be open to other ideas and continue to research, analyse, review, and learn whether it is designing, working or living.

the world also needs more doers

Yesterday, I wrote ‘the world needs more thinkers’ today I though it would also look at actually doing something after the thinking.  There is a need for more thinkers to attack the world’s problems but there is also the need for people to put things in motion by actually doing something. Doing is underestimated and often seen as too hard. Also doing has become easier but also lazier, merely tweeting about a cause to few hundred or thousand followers or facebook friends really doesn’t do much. We need people to be doing more of the ‘heavy-lifting’.

Easy Action – Build on others Energy
How many times have you attended a conference where everyone gets a great energy and buss from the event for it to just dissipate after the event finishes. This is true of many conferences or symposiums the energy is high we a learning a great deal from each other and then the event ends we go back to our everyday lives and the conference becomes a memory. Why not do something with that positive energy whether as a group or as an individual. Whether its merely placing some of your notes on an internal email or blog – curation is underrated do to vast amount of information we are exposed to per day, but at some point at some time someone will want to know or read that information.

Harder Action – Make something of the Energy
The bigger step is contact all the people you met at the event and try and get something more substantial out of all that energy whether as a group by creating new ideas and publishing them. The power of information is very powerful and the ability to disseminate information is easier than ever before with the internet and digital publishing.

Little Harder Action – Join the Energy
The other form of doing is the unselfish action of taking part without any benefit, why not clean up the local river with a couple of friends or join a local group – tell a few people but don’t paste it on facebook, twitter, google+. Get gratification from just doing something different for one day or more regularly if the mood takes you.  Join a local or international group in your area of expertise and dedicate time regularly to achieving the groups goals.

Hardest Action – Creating Energy
Creating an organisation and dedicate some or all of your time to setting goals, promoting and doing those goals and thus making a difference in the world (aka making a dent in the world/universe)

At this time of year we make lots of plans and  ‘to do’ lists why not add a few things you have been meaning to do for years and take action on them.


Your learning and work environment makes a difference

Think of your school, university or workplace unless you are someone fortunate enough to be in a interesting work or learning environment,  I am guessing the walls in your office or school are white, the floor is a some hue of grey or dark colour and the furniture looks like it came from an industrial designer who lived in the gulag. These environments amaze me that not more thought went into where we learn and work, we head everyday to minimalist and/or cheapest alternative when creating learning or working environments. How do we expect cities, states, and countries to be full of class leading innovators when the places they have to learn and work are boring and uninspiring.

For me I often become inspired with ideas when I am travelling whether its locally or internationally. The new places, scenes, people, materials create new stimulus that sets off the innovator or thinker inside of us. So why not bring that to our work or school environments. It may be too costly for some but simple changes such as calenders, pictures and adding a few plants with coloured pots can make people feel more inspired. But you don’t have to wait for your school or workplace to do it, you can add a few things to your desk (of course within workplace regulations) that inspire you and change them often. Another way is taking a different way to work or a different mode of transport . The change will give you something to think about.

So, if your a boss or manager of a school, university or workplace reading this post why not think about how you could make a few small changes to inspire people. It maybe something simple as painting doors, putting up some art or hiring plants on seasonal rotation. Another way is taking people out to the park or the roof top of the building or starting a running/sport group. The more you break up the monotony the more people will wish to stay for the long term.

If your designing a new office or school think about how you can make small changes to improve people work/study life. Does the kitchen really have to look the same as the whole office? Can you make the desks different colours and interchangeable. Can the some of the break out/meeting areas just be a high table and stools to make meeting less formal. I sure you can think of different ways to make a difference – just put your mind to it.