Design with a capital “D”- in trouble?

Two editorial/essays in this months Domus  both question the much hyped  dominance of design and design thinking in the contemporary world. In the first one, Design warsJustin McGuirk  looks at the commercial sphere, where  Samsung’s lead in sales of phones and tablets on Apple brings the relative conceptions of what design is into focus and examines wether Samsung is in fact more robust in its methods of broad based innovation, introducing many models and winnowing out the winners, trashing the losers and quickly adapting to users responses than Apple  with its development of a single ‘one-size-fits -all’ strategy . In the rapidly evolving world of cell phone technology, this is probably a more viable and humble  strategy than betting the house on a single design as Apple have done, with some monumental failures in its past. Since no one has divine insight into the future, it is infinitely more “Antifragile” as Nicholas Taleb  points out in his latest book of the same name, to entertain  many options and by a process of “tinkering” engage with the actor – worlds that constitute reality and are where the seeds of the future are germinating.

An aspect of the production process at Samsung

Is Samsung really the ersatz Apple that it is sometimes portrayed as, or does it simply have a different idea of what design is?

The answer, rather obviously, is that Apple became what was until recently the world’s largest company by selling “design”. The sheer force of aesthetic desirability combined with an effortless user experience was contagious enough to make businesses the world over, even those not selling products, aware of design’s transformative potential. Samsung, on the other hand, is most often discussed in terms of its technology and its market penetration but rarely its design. So if Apple is superseded by a company that is not particularly feted for its design, then, after all this hype, perhaps design is not quite as important as we thought. But then, is Samsung really the ersatz Apple that it is sometimes portrayed as, or does it simply have a different idea of what design is? Does it have a design ethos? 

Eye-tracking devices will read your thoughts

Continuing the theme of ubiquitous surveillance an dour complicity in allowing this invasion through our addiction to the use of the technology we expose ourselves to marketers relentless pursuit,  from smartplanet by Amy Kraft see also Facial Monitoring: The all-telling eye

The way you read things offers a lot of information about who you are. Blinking, the dilation of pupils, settling on a word for a fraction of a second longer–it all means something. And to marketers who are trying to understand what consumers want, eye-tracking devices might be key.

A few companies are developing applications to attach eye-tracking devices to computers and smartphones to bring this technology into the mainstream market.

Apple has already filed a patent for a 3-D eye-tracking user interface for use in iPhones and iPads. And the European company Senseyeplans on installing eye-tracking software in smartphones next year.

Slate reports:

“This information will be collected, analyzed and resold to hundreds of companies–advertisers, data analytics providers, and others–across the digital ecosystem in what the industry calls the ‘mobile marketing value chain.’ In theory, they will be anonymous, ‘nonpersonal’ data. But, in practice, the anonymity will be easy to penetrate.”

Of course, there are privacy concerns. By now, we’re all too familiar with companies collecting data without our consent. Facebook, Google and Twitter have all done it. But there never seemed to be any dire repercussions for those transgressions.

Slate’s John Villasenor says: “Today, when we read something online, our thoughts are still our own. We should enjoy it while it lasts.”

Photo via flickr/Mikleman

Steve Jobs Is Dead – long live his legacy


Like millions of others I was saddened to see a bill board on a telephone pole this morning that one of our ages greatest visionaries and entrepreneurs has passed on. From when I first learned ‘basic”  programming on an Apple II computer with 64 meg of ram I have been hooked – not being able to afford a Macintosh, I have had several Ipods and still think, as reportedly said by Bob Dylan ” shuffle changed the way I viewed music”, I had to wait many years for my own Mac as the firms I worked for, later even the one I owned,  economically used PC clones and Microsoft’s abominable software. Now writing this on a MacBook Pro with my Iphone in my pocket and contemplating how I can justify an Ipad 2  to my loving wife. I wonder how Apple will fare in the future and who will there be to flamboyantly launch unimagined techno-dreams to us aging hippies with which to be brought into the 
future in a way we can grasp and love. 

From Apples Websie:
Watch a video  commemorating  Steve’s life from the Gaurdian  here: