The world in Microbes

Microbiology never meant much to me as I am not a scientist looking into the smallest living particles of life. The Dutch summer interview series ‘Zomergasten’ (literally: summer guests) invites 6 interesting people over the summer to speak for 3 hours about their interest, fascination and their life. The first of this season was Rosanne Herzberger, a Dutch woman and microbiologist. She did not just talk about her work as microbiologist where she has an interest in the vaginal microbes, she spoke more about the misconception and powerful voice we have that we lay over the world. The way we interpret history, animal behaviour and the role we play amaze her and when she places that next to microbiology she shows how things can also be seen.

Also  why we believe bloggers when it comes to food advice and we stop trusting the government and scientists. In this instance she explained how E-numbers are not harmful at all but how bloggers made us believe they are. Or how she asked in her column who is sponsoring the websites where hate towards women is the norm and fun. Many of these sponsors have resigned. She showed beautiful, and a bit extreme, Jewish tradition of the Belz Mizvah Tantz and Grizzly man, humans in their habitat.

Since I saw this last week I started wondering what more we can learn from microbiologists. Thanks for TED and understandable talks that made me realize: where ever I would end up in an organisation, I have to look for the microbes, the things that make the life and transfer resources into energy. Through the eyes of Herzberger I am starting to understand how life works, how we work as living beings and how being a bit crazy can be incredibly beneficial.

Oh and the decor of the program makes it even more pleasurable to watch. Up next: the mayor of Amsterdam. Cannot wait.

 

Imagine Moscow – Design Museum London

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The Iron Cloud, one of the imagined buildings of the Soviet Union

Soviet Union architecture and design on great scale. A year ago I saw a wonderful collection of product and graphic designs from the SU in Rotterdam. Back than I was mesmerized by the simplicity of the design and the high emphasis on functionality. So when a colleague told me about this exhibition I was immediately interested.

This exhibition shows another dimension of great design: showing greatne
ss together. Until this exhibition I didn’t think about how the government used architecture and design to show how great the Soviet Union could be. This totalitarian push to be innovative and show the world what the possibilities are is credit for the leaders of that time. Nowadays we don’t particularly see that design can show the innovation in the name of a nation. We innovate mostly in name of ourself. Which is a pity, or moreover, a missed opportunity. Open design, open innovation or shared innovation is a future I would like to embrace. Together we can, we can work on wicked problems, we can address issues that are urging and we can find solutions that fit most people in society. The Soviet Union was a wonderful experiment in many ways, it has failed, but I learned last Sunday that it also brought people together and created opportunities for philosophers, architects, artists and filmmakers to imagine how great that nation could be. For innovation, innovative systems we ought to look forwards, but also backwards to learn from what is there. Could the Soviet Union be an example of open innovation?

Rules for Revolutionaries

Bernie Sanders’ fight to be elected in the USA was remarkable as no one had seen him as a potential candidate. Becky and Zack describe the revolution they tried to start together with Bernie. This politician understood that politics was not enough, he wanted a movement. Just like Obama did in 2008, Bernie worked hard on community organizing as a tool to raise voters, awareness, dedication and power. It was not enough in the end. But the two campaigners, Becky and Zack, share the rules they discovered in their journey in this book. 22 rules that I will not all describe.

I will share one: Rule 11. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the big. In other words, if it is not shiny and designed but does fulfill its purpose, work it! In some occasions not having the end design is fine and unnecessary. This rule is a bit scary to me, as a designer, but also challenges me to give it a try. There is a big pro to this rule which is that if it looks unfinished you will get more input from its users to make it work better. In my previous job as spatial designer a finished render could sometimes feel too finished for a client, they saw no room for changes they wanted to make. The question is: what does the thing you present has to represent? Is it the finished design or an idea? Is it about how it works or the looks? Do the looks care in a social revolution?

The social revolution worked, thousands and thousands of people connected with Bernie Sanders’ team of staff and amazing volunteers. Community organizing on a big scale, I am impressed. The book describes internal and external struggles, management decisions and volunteer request, a must read if you want to work on big change!

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Bond, Becky and Exley, Zack, Rules for revolutionaries – how big organizing can change everything, 2016.

Daryl Davis’ exceptional friendship

Daryl Davis, friends with the KKK based on the things they had in common. He never asked the Klan members to convert, but some did because they knew better. I will inspire you with a movie and a story

As you might have noticed my last messages have been a lot about diversity, unseen hate against the ‘other’ and the idea of self respect. Our globalizing world is becoming more diverse than ever, or was this always this way. The media becomes stronger in polarizing our world with many different messages. On top of that our possible future leaders in Europe could be populists who are not that friendly to strangeness. Time to build and show our similarities and get the best strength out of the differences. Let’s do this together! 

Jackson Pollock together with de Kooning, Kline, Rothko and Newman in the Royal Art Academy. An exhibition of the masters of abstract expressionism. I wonder when such a strong movement is standing up again. The paintings are magnificent in real sizes. For the first time I walked through an exhibition with an audio tour. And because making pictures was prohibited I could engage really well with what I saw and heard.

‘Works that work’ magazine about (design) projects that have made an impact. The magazine looks worldwide to find inspiring projects that set examples for others. Did you know Rwanda was the first country to ban plastic bags completely? I mean, Holland was really proud to do so last year, but now I know we were just following! #wtw7
And have you ever heard of the story of Captain Gupta who lets Indian schoolchildren experience a real plane flight and emergency landings in an abandoned plane? #wtw3 

I can highly recommend this magazine, in depth stories that are surprising and come from all corners of the world. Plus, every issue has a relevant theme. This magazine makes me want to DO things.

Today I got to meet with and listen to Dr. Josephine Ojiambo. For you who do not know her, she worked from being a Kenyan public health servant into becoming Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth. Impressive right? That was not all. She shared the story of her life in an authentic and passionate way. It is about being an example for others. But also learning from other people that have been important in her life. 

A few lessons from Dr. Ojiambo: until we address the history of our nations, we are unable to look at the future of that place. We have to name the problems, face them and move on. 

The inclusion in politics and businesses is about the recognition of all the faces from around the globe and it is OK to wear your ethnicity with pride. But when it comes to us women when we feel like men do not address us properly or help us as they should. She said: often you, as a woman, just have to tell them what it is that you need, make yourself seen at a table and make your voice heard. One can make a change when you find a group, represent yourself and go from there. 

I had the chance to sit with her and ask a question that laid heavy on my heart. And instead of saying: this is the solution she said: I believe your intuition knows how to get you where you want to be. 

Strange Tales VI – lost my name

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Three talks from RCA teachers about the intersection of science and art. Hosted by the London based company ‘Lost My Name’, they make children books and host this event: Strange Tales, to get inspired by peoples stories. I am not sure what I will do with the information that was shared. But I will share two quotes with you. First a quote by Kevin Walker: “we direct peoples attention through design by making design”. This quote comes from the article ‘the world is a computer’. Charlotte Jarvis’ last statement I’d like to share as well: “science states meaning; art expressing them” she has deformed this quote into: “science expressing meanings by making it operates as experience.” 

It got me thinking about how we use our knowledge. Am I right to say that designers always translate their knowledge into an experience? 

Whether they realize it or not, designers live in Peirce’s world of abduction; they actively look for new data points, challenge accepted explanations, and infer possible new worlds.

Roger, L Martin (2009) Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage