Citroën Autonomous Mobility Vision

Citroën has unveiled a new urban mobility concept that sees lines of autonomous, electric and interchangeable pods winding through cities of the future. The Citroën Autonomous Mobility Vision is primarily a flat, wheeled portion called the Skate that moves the vehicle. On top, any number of manufacturers can install capsules of their own design.

https://www.autoblog.com/2021/10/05/citroen-mobility-concept-lets-other-companies-design-your-cabin/

stand in the future…

stand in the future to solve today’s problems

Steve Justice, Skunk Works – Lockheed-Martin

This quote really resonates with me.

After 25 years at the leading-edge of Enterprise & Supply-Chain technology with trailblazing and iconic companies – where I was privileged to learn from industry-legends – I have developed an obsession for achieving ‘elegance’ in solutions to highly-complex problems.

It is something that I have repeatedly attempted to deliver, with successes & failures. However, it is always constrained by limitations that were built-in from the start – and this means 20-50 years ago – and also from the ‘paralysis’ that comes from induced artificial-complexity, that typically compounds over time.

After resigning1from management & NOT from my colleagues – some of the very best in the business! from Infor2 a KOCH company in October 2020, I was determined to see if I could design a ‘dream system’ for global trade & logistics – for a foreseeable future. A completely-new approach to address the wicked-problems we face in the present, anticipates the potential in the next 30 years or so, and provides a concrete, realistic example of how an ideal system could be. It represents a new system-design and set of principles that could make a positive impact on ‘how the world works’ in the 21st century, and beyond.

2050 seems ambitious and aspirational enough to ‘anticipate’. Its a year I hope to see – a world where my grand-daughter will be 30 years old.

the calls for action

Supply-Chain challenges and failures are front-and-center, making today’s headlines – with calls to “re-think, or re-imagine supply-chain”, or to reduce unnecessary complexity and barriers.

To achieve the results & benefits the world needs, then we must envision what that future could be. We need to stand in the future.

taking action!

Today, with all the hype surrounding the latest concepts and buzzwords like ‘Industry 4.0’, ‘Digital Transformation’, and ‘Self-Driving’, or ‘Autonomous’ this-or-that…

You have to wonder, ‘how will we get there from here?’, and subsequently, ‘then what’?

Will it actually be ‘better’ than what we have today?

How will we get to an INDUSTRY 4.0 ‘vision’ – with a conflagration of business-processes, constructs, and assumptions from 20-50, or even 70+ years ago?

the best way to predict the future
is to invent it.

ALAN KAY

In the spirit of the ‘art of the possible’ – I dedicated myself to create something completely different than anything that exists today, with zero-dependencies on the past – that can only be appreciated when you ‘stand in the future to solve today’s problems‘ – and not to remain stuck in the past.

I have created a Supply-Chain Management Simulation Game, called INDUSTRY 5.0 – and an experimental Autonomous Logistics System for People & Cargo called NŪMŪV.

  • INDUSTRY 5.0 is a ‘serious game’ that enables you to envision business models, supply chains and logistics of the future – based on anticipated capabilities, where autonomous robotics are manufacturing & moving people & cargo – even in space!
  • NŪMŪV (i.e. ‘new move’) is an experimental multi-modal transport system-simulator – one that moves both people and cargo ‘autonomously’ – orchestrated by supply & demand, in time & space via the INDUSTRY 5.0 game.

what next?

With a comprehensive design-specification and several Patents in process, we are now in the early stages of development, and getting closer to be able to really show it off.

  • Do you want to know more?
  • Do you want to help?
  • Do you want to Invest or Partner?

We greatly appreciate any encouragement and support in this early stage.

Onward and upward!

Robb

that time I did a TED-talk pitch contest (and won)

I recorded these videos in February 2012 as part of a pitch contest for TEDx Austin 2012 held at the (brand new) Circuit of the Americas.

I won, and got a free pass to the event. Nothing else ever came of it.


The Future of Mobility

1. Own or Subscribe?

No one buys a cable box anymore – or even buys their own phone and probably even your computers and devices anymore.

So why should I own a car? I’d rather subscribe.

I have a family of four including two teenagers and I’m willing to sign a contract with the manufacturer for all my family’s transportation for the next two to three years.

Here’s the deal: we should be able to swap our vehicles anytime and get the right-size vehicle when needed. Small car for small trips, big car for big trips.

Heck, I’ll even visit the dealership more often – and I may buy other stuff there.


2. Multi-Modal Network!

Even cooler, we should be able to expand our transportation network easily – you know, \ if we need a bike, scooter, bus, train, airplane – whatever – we need a total logistics system.

And get this, by using other partner services i’ll learn partner or loyalty credits to use towards something special – maybe an outrageous supercar for the weekend!

3. Incentives for Sustainability!


How about this? If I opt-in and allow people to discover me with their smartphones they can ride share with me and I’ll get even more credits.

This new mobility business model will be so much better in so many ways and in today’s economy and the challenges we face – it’s a really smarter way to go.

Web 2.0 and the Emperor’s New Clothes?

This is a Blog post written by Robb Bush on JUNE 3, 2010 that has long since disappeared from the internet.

Can someone explain why/how the various “Web 2.0” thingamajigs actually HELP business productivity?

I think they are neat-o, of course. I like things like Facebook and LinkedIn. Sometimes. But I can’t say they make me more productive or effective in my real everyday work. This is at least in comparison to what my expectations for what business productivity software and networked applications were supposed to do.

Is it the next Photoshop? The next Excel? The next advanced Planning and Optimization tool? I say emphatically no.

Almost all of these wonderful “Web 2.0 innovations” generate an explosion of content fragments that may – or may not – contribute to “useful knowledge”. Much of it is “in the now” – and eventually disappears or becomes buried.

Heres what I see:

  • Increased fragmentation of knowledge
  • Further challenge to already incredibly short attention spans (you want executives to use this?)
  • Reduction of meaningful conversation/ideas into soundbytes (particularly challenging when multilingual)
  • Over-reliance on text messaging / human-interpretation without process-support (eg Take a look at this… What do you think of… Heres an action item…)

Weren’t computers and software supposed to make us smarter, to bring us information, and not just inspire us to poke-around and click at disconnected messages?

The over reliance on linear text-messaging, rating things up/down, “likes”, the generation of excessive random tasks and discussions, and the capture and “trapping” of digital assets (more PPTs!) – seem to be further “dumbing things down” for everyone.

However, it provides the illusion that “things are happening”. That must be good right?

I consider this phenomenon in our industry another example of “the generation of artificial complexity that contributes to an illusion of productivity“.

More eyeballs, attention, and excitement are a good thing for Start-Ups selling shiny-objects to VCs and more Advertising to consumers…

But, is it REALLY good for the enterprise?

I have been tinkering with all of this for a long time, and often have been a strong evangelist from the earliest days of Web 0.1. But, the way things are going seem to be quite a step backward with over emphasis on copy-cat patterns from the recent crop of browser-based web applications. They may be fun to play with for a while, but may not equal more productivity or quantifiable business benefit.

Are we going to let the future of software get hijacked with brittle, non-scalable applications that place too much emphasis on linear discussion and voting trails?

Why not just consider the real benefit of Web 2.0 – which I consider the ‘people-connection’ – as a “add-on” or extension embedded into what Business Productivity Software already does (or is supposed to do). It should not be the “center” of a person’s activity, IMO.

Maybe some intelligence can be brought to all of these systems and provide some semantic matching and perhaps sensemaking. But, to do that – it will NOT be in a flat-browser paradigm, nor will you be endlessly clicking and poking around and reading little text fragments.

And, I don’t think we will call it Web 3.0/4.0… it should be a more “Disappearing Computer” that does not require our reliance on being glued to a web screen 24×7 tracking a multitude of disparate ‘inboxes’ and fragments.

Now that would be the real emerging technology.

Robb Bush
June 3, 2010

Review: GOING 2004

Sep 10-12 2004 – Boulder, CO

My Perspective – Where am I coming from? Why do I care?

I am a designer, inventor, and entrepreneur. I thrive on learning about new technologies, systems, and design practices. I am a concerned citizen. I was a happy camper at the Going Conference.

My business background is in design and development around “emerging & converging” technologies such as Multimedia and internet back in the early 90’s and next-generation Enterprise Software in the late 90’s through today.

It all sounds so old today.

What’s next? What’s Emerging & Converging today?


What was I looking for?

I went with questions about the scope of “new mobility” solutions:

  • How are the problems defined?
  • What has been accomplished so far?
  • What are the perceived barriers?
  • What are the dimensions of the technologies and approaches?
  • Where the boundaries between commercial opportunities and legislation?
  • What can I do in my community?

The lineup of speakers, and especially the order of of presentations revealed the state of the current answers to these questions. It was great fun to connect-the-dots.

What did I discover?

  • Environmental Challenges – We know we cannot continue dependence on foreign/finite energy resources. We know the effects of congestion and pollution on the atmosphere. We can do better. Yes its bad in the USA any many other large countries – ADD to that the exponential rise in these environmental threats as growing countries implement old policies, obsolete design standards, and more non-clean vehicles into the world. There needs to be a new example.
  • Economic Challenges – …
  • Public Policy Challenges – …
  • Personal/Emotional Challenges – …

Poly-multi-dimensional Disciplines, meet Multi-poly-dimensional Challenges

There are distinct approaches coming from many professions, industries, and academia. Each group brings their own passion and flavor to the problem/solution-space.

I found it fascinating to experience the many different perspectives on potential solutions.

  • The Designers (A mix of Transportation designers, Environmental Designers, Architects, Graphic Designers … )
  • The Engineers (Software, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Communications, … )
  • The Academics and Researchers
  • The Entrepreneurs (New Vehicles and modifications, Online Services, … )
  • The Planners and Policymakers (Every level of government, City Planners, Land Developers, … )
  • The Activists (Environmental, Health, Education)

So what is this thing?

As a whole, I believe this new mobility thing represents a new SYSTEMS DESIGN approach.

Its so big and un-weildy that its was called both a chicken-egg problem, AND a blind-men-and-the-elephant phenomenon. No wonder its so frustrating – and the clock is running.


The Call to Action

There are many opinions and ideas, complimentary and conflicting.

Where is the Reference Implementation? What is the fully-developed example that the world can follow? What are you going to do about it?

I understood these to be THE BIG QUESTIONS that Dan Sturges was asking of the speakers—and wanting everyone in attendance to ask themselves. This was Dan’s “Call To Action”.


Speakers Commentary

DAN STURGES, YOUR GOING HOST and Senior Program Manager, Integrated Transportation Systems, WestStart / CALSTART
Dan Sturges - Going 2004
Dan Sturges – Going Conference Producer

JEFF MORALES, Senior VP, Parsons Brinckerhoff and former director of CALTRANS
Mr. Morales has been working with London’s city government and has been able to affect profound change on some very significant problems. First, according to Mr. Morales, he is working for a leader that is putting some of the mobility and transportation problems as a very top priority in London. He was able to articulate several MEASURABLE results. Charging a toll to enter London would create enough pain for people to try alternatives. Equally important were ensuring the quality and availability of those alternatives for them to be readily adopted.

DEAN KAMEN, Chairman, Segway, LLC and President of DEKA
Looking very far ahead, and in context of HOW WE GOT HERE. He acknowledged that there is a role for cars and every other type of transportation. He evangelized that different modes of transport are needed for different distances and densities. His uses his Jet for going 600 miles (at 600 MPH), his car to go 60 miles (at 60 MPH), and his HT to go 6 miles (at 6-10 mph).

The Segway is very fancy solution for a problem that people are generally unaware of. Its a heckuva lot of fun. From a technology/innovation standpoint – the Segway is “magic”. Its another one of those solutions to problems that people don’t know exists – or particularly care about. No more goof’in on the Segway…

My wish for Segway LLC: LICENSE THE SEGWAY TECHNOLGY AS A PLATFORM. To put in computer industry terms, Segway is trying to be like Apple – make everything – have complete control (and that’s cool of course) – but be a Microsoft (stay with me) and let designers and engineers extend and build upon the technology. You may be surprised how others can add value and extend the reach and application of your core technologies. I would more readily invest in a company that took that approach.

JOHN O. NORQUIST, President, Congress For New Urbanism
Woah, a public figure that understands the impact of design on quality of life AND can back it up with hard-dollar economics. His message should be heard (even if they don’t agree) by all politicians, developers, and civic leaders. He advocates fostering design patterns that have proven to make great cities, great—and actually did something about it as Mayor of Milwaukee.
John Norquist - Going 2004
John Norquist

ESTHER DYSON, Editor at Large, CNET Networks
Said ‘good luck pulling any of this off in the US’. Try developing areas first. Acknowledged that other influences could change behaviors.

I have been a Release 1.0 subscriber, and really appreciate and respect Esther’s broad understanding and intelligence. I hoped to get a chance to meet her, and ask her what she really thought, but she bolted to the airport after her talk – maybe she’ll write about it.

HENRY BEER, Principal, CommArts, Inc.
Missed it. Dammit.

DANIEL SPERLING, Director, University of California’s Institute for Transportation Studies

SUSAN SZENASY, Editor-In-Chief, METROPOLIS MAGAZINE
Absolutely wonderful plea for designers to be citizens first.

FRED SILVER, Vice President, WestStart/Calstart

SUSAN SHAHEEN, Innovative Mobility Research, Berkeley CA
Working very hard to make mulit-modal transportation a reality in the Bay Area. I have to agree with Esther that retrofitting and re-educating big cities is much steeper road to adoption than opportunities to affect positive change in new developments and emerging economies

RICK STEELE, CEO, NuRide – Dynamic Ridesharing
Creator of Kinkos.com. Made some dotcom $. Now doing NuRide – Great idea, for people that don’t mind riding with complete strangers. Pays people to ride (and drive) through cash-incentive customer-loyalty program model (in pilot partnerships with Target, Home Depot, etc – with promise of guaranteed customers coming through the door – who will hopefully spend 150%). Interesting idea combining social networking, eBay (feedback ratings-trust), and online travel sites (put in where you want to go, and get results), and my prediction…an alliance with Match.com.

DOUG FIELD, Vice President, Segway LLC

DR. MATT BARTH, Director, CE-CERT and Vehicle Technology Research Lab
Arguably the most complete design, infrastructure, execution, documentation, and analysis of a total new mobility transportation SYSTEM. See UCR Intellishare.

TIM BLUMENTHAL, Executive Director, Bikes Belong
OK, count me in. Everyone should ride their bikes more. Nothing but good stuff comes of it. This guy is the duke of cycling. BTW, I have 8 bikes in the garage, spent 7 years working in bike shops during high-school-college, and raced competitively, and ride with my family regularly.
Tim Blumenthal - Going 2004
Tim Blumenthal

STEVE RANEY, Founder, CITIES21.ORG

HARRIS SILVER, Founder, citystreets.org
Eye-openeing presentation about Harris’ advocacy to affect public policy through activism and education to make the NYC streets safer for pedestrians of all kinds. It seems to be working. He presented a slide that indicated that the pedestrian fatalities (from autos) has dropped from in the 300’s to the 100’s PER YEAR over the past few years.


People I Met

Clark Kellogg – Kellogg Consulting
Really nice guy and great moderator. Wish I could spend another 2-200 hours talking with him.

Doug Frasher – Volvo Concept and Monitoring Center ?
Rick Steele – NuRide
Drew Takahashi – Funjacket Enterprises ?
Bill Dieter ?
Peter Kuchnicki – Intrago
Ryan Montler – Intrago
Graham Hill – 21Wheels
Tai Robinson – Intergalactic Hydrogen
Tai Robinson - Going 2004
Tai Robinson and one of his vehicles while we refueled (w/Natural Gas) on the way to post conference festivities. This specific vehicle was the first hydrogen-fueled vehicle to drive across the United States – it got us to the bar just fine, and was WAY COOL. Tai is amazingly articulate with first-hand, hands-on, empirical knowledge about what renewable energy sources can be utilized RIGHT NOW. He proves it every day. Look for him on the Discovery Channel someday when they catch up to him.

Steve Raney – Cities21.org
Harris Silver – CITYSTREETS.ORG
Tracy Carroll – Flexcar

(I am still missing a few because I did not get contact info!)


Personal Note

I had not seen Dan Sturges or Erik Blatter in 17 or 18 years. This was when I was 19 or 20, and starting at ACCD. They were the “seniors”. (I later got Dan’s room in the house – which has to be the coolest room you could ever have during any college experience – but that’s another story).

I am grateful to have been able to stay in touch with Dan (randomly) over the years – and seized the opportunity to attend his conference and see him in action again.

It was a great surprise to see and visit with Erik again. Erik is an incredible designer with great intelligence, ideas, energy and humor. Erik has a passion for design, history, and having fun – even when things are drop-dead serious.

Dan is still Dan – his drive and instinct to project forward, never afraid to be different, and never afraid to challenge or question why things should not be better – and readily offer a stream of options and ideas. Dan is a great teacher and leader – he makes you think, not be afraid to take chances, and enthusiastically explore exhaustively and freely.

Enough of all the heady stuff – I just really like these guys, and it was great to have the opportunity to reconnect and pick up like it was yesterday.

Dan and Erik’s early influence has been with me ever since – i.e. the little voice that says “ok, what would Dan or Erik do here?” (this either gets me in trouble, or results in some of my best work 😉

Dan Sturges - Eric Blatter - Robb Bush - Going 2004
Dan Sturges, Erik Blatter, Robb Bush


My • Simulation-Space for Half-Formed Thoughts •

Its not about the vehicles. Or the city. Or the technology. Its a NEW SYSTEMS DESIGN APPROACH combining design disciplines, engineering disciplines, planning disciplines, manufacturing disciplines. This is the part I am most excited about. This is the elephant and we are all describing different parts of it. Applying our own unique perspectives, practices, and politics. I saw many solutions that are looking for problems, or solutions to problems that people are not really aware of (yet), or even care about (yet). How do you fix that?

There is a BIG difference between Developing New Cities vs Retrofitting Old Cities – trying to discuss both at the same time is not very productive.

Will make your head explode.

The language of “new mobility” is full of red flags for the ones you are trying to convince – when not preaching to the choir. Taking things away, “sweeping away cars”, “removing vehicles from the road”, “being green” create red flags and unnecessary barriers to understand the real opportunity. Describe the new mobility vision in BUSINESS and ECONOMIC TERMS FIRST AND FOREMOST if you want to get the interest of decision makers and powerbokers (and everyday folks perhaps). Avoid starting and centering on all the gee-whiz jargon about the new vehicles, the hardware, the technology. So what. Its all available today – and it works. Show me the money.

A New American Way? – This could be positioned as a New American Way – creating new commercial opportunities, minimizing (or eliminating!) our dependence on foreign oil, improving productivity and global competitiveness, improving quality/standard of living – and by the way – will result in cleaner air and healthier planet and all its its inhabitants. It will raise the bar, put America back in a leadership position, and provide a new (and more affordable/implementable) model for other growing nations to follow.

Clark wants a Manifesto, Doug wants a better “Problem Definition” – That would be a good start to The Open-Source Mobility Toolkit – This idea came up in the post-conference roundtable. Not that a single group could centrally develop and manage an authoritative Toolkit, but could manage it in an open source fashion. Provide the framework, let people add on to it. More mutations-ideas. Patterns emerge. Rate and measure the successes, survival of the fittest emerge. People could copy it, use it, contribute to it, etc. Some land/community developer may be saying right now “I want to create the next Southlake… but where do we start? How do we do this? Who do we hire to do this? Is there a template or best-practices for this?”

Leadership/stewardship is needed, but most of all, it needs to be freely available so that others that are developing new communities (the new cities) will know where to start.

A web-based new-mobility solution configurator application would be nice too – to help focus from the overwhelming/competing options. Defined based on density, pre-existing conditions, Residentially/Commercial, Major Office Centres, Airports – Possibly through a Hierarchy/Network/Mapping of People and Places Relationships, Frequency, Growth Rate, Land Values – then, Run Simulation.

The Layers (Idea-holder)

  • The Policy Layer
  • The Infrastructure Layer
  • The Physical, Rubber-Meets-The Road Layer
  • The Powertrain/Energy Layer
  • The Human Factors Layer
  • The Safety Layer
  • The Networked Communications Layer
  • The Marketing Layer
  • The Emotional Layer

Question: Could we be creating unforeseen negative impacts in new mobility systems designs? What will be the unanticipated problems created/experienced with the “solution” of multi-modal transportation? We tend to look at only the answers to the current problems rather than what problems could be introduced if it takes off. Current systems may be broken or obsolete, but could we have foreseen some of these problems when key decisions were made?

Christopher Alexander’s “pattern language” was never actually mentioned but was definitely indicated. (Sidenote: see Amsterdam Realtime for some fascinating GPS-drawn patterns from real-world mobility)

RANDOM NOTE: Why I don’t Rideshare/Carshare, or ride RT – I like the private time. The alone time spend in a car commuting is great thinking time, personal time, sing out loud time, listen to XM Radio. Its pretty sad, but for many, this may be the only quality “me-time” you get. (I know, you can read, sleep, work while on the RT too) This was addressed eloquently by an attendee (who happens to be a designer with a major manufacturer) that today’s vehicles have been designed to deal with congestion, by providing a more comfortable and safe environment for commuters. This is directly connected to the possibility that most people don’t understand there is a problem. Disclosure: I have not been on that many RTs and therefore may not be truly enlightened – some ARE quite nice (including the RTD bus from Denver Airport to Boulder). Other than business travel, my only voluntary RT experience is Dallas’ DART Light Rail – I have never, or ever will desire to ride the DART buses, but the Light Rail was WONDERFUL for family trips on the weekend going from Mockingbird Station to Downtown or further to the Dallas Zoo. If I worked downtown at the time, I would still opt for the car, and not want to leave it baking in the sun at the station (fortunately, my employer offered covered parking – very important when the days are 90-100 degrees plus for 6 months). That’s just me, but I am very happy it is there for people that will use it regularly. The other ones I have ridden are The London Underground, Boston’s T, Atlanta’s MARTA.


OTHER PICS


Josh (?) from 10mph.com and Harris Silver, Founder of citystreets.org


Phone-pacing on the Segway – You know how you pace back and forth and walk around while talking on the phone? Much easier and fun on a Segway.

Dean Kamen - Robb Bush - Going 2004
Robb Bush and Dean Kamen – (Discussing our theories for Matter Transfer Protocol (MTP) – rendering the whole new mobility thing kinda passe 🙂


MY TRANSPORATION NETWORK DESIGNS

I am the inventor of guess what? A design for dynamic, real-time, data-driven, interactive 3D transportation network management software! This really works, and was solving a much larger scale transportation and logistics visibility problem of tracking the flow of orders/goods, modes of transport, merge-in-transit operations, and route optimization. I may add some other images of the actual applications later…

MY VEHICLE DESIGNS

18 years ago, I had a passion for developing vehicles that were primarily human powered and utilized renewable energy. I thought it may be good to include a design from 1986 that I created, that seemed relevant this week. I retrieved an old portfolio from the back of the attic and took a couple of digital photos from the original drawings.

What problem was I solving? As a competitive cyclist at the time, I wanted a vehicle that could go fast for long distances, be more comfortable than a “safety bike” configuration (hence the recumbent posture), utilize solar/renewable energy to support a computerized systems control/optimization system, air-cooling/circulating features, an electric motor with regenerative braking, and an active-weighted-hydraulic rear wheel – in order to go very long distances.

Nothing else was done to further develop the idea beyond these sketches.

IF there is something useful here, then I would offer this design up under the creative commons license. Go for it.

Here are the key features as indicated in the writing on the drawing starting clockwise from top, plus additional comments (in parentheses)

  • Photovoltaic cells for cooling and auxiliary power (Cooling, lighting, computer)
  • Computer controls centrifugal force system to achieve and maintain high speeds (Active-hydraulic weighted rear wheel, dubbed the “Centri-Force”)
  • Electric auxiliary drive and regenerative braking system (Dang, I thought I invented it!)
  • Computer monitors vital statistics to regulate assistance from auxiliary power and protect the “motor”. (Assistance is allocated and modulated by heart rate, incline, acc/deceleration sensors, etc)
  • Primary and secondary drives (Some kind of futuristic transmission)

Link to Original Post

Doors of Perception 7 : FLOW

NOTE: This is a re-post from 2002. The blog platform, and my content are long gone from the internet - and many of the original links are non-functional. Trying to stitch it back together. So much for digital permanence. Pfft.

To what question is ‘pervasive computing’ the answer?

John Thackera’s generative question at Doors7

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Day 1 of the Doors7 Congress in Amsterdam NL

I am definitely in the right place at the right time. Some great presenters and the theme and content is right on target.

Speakers today included Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry delivering a fascinating lecture on creating design strategies by learning from similar solutions in nature. Key takeaway: rather than design like machines…design like a living system.

Luis Fernandez Galiano, from Madrid School of Architecture gave a passionate presentation about the pleasures and frustrations of design in a complex world.

David Rokeby and Michael Awad are artists doing some fascinating modeling of patterns in space and time using by using algorithms and filters to modfy video of human movement in public spaces…remember the theme is FLOW.

Lars Erik Holmquist, leader of the Future Applications Lab at the Victoria Institute in Sweden gave an interesting introduction (which I agree 100%” with the key point): “design real stuff, build prototypes, and test it with real people”, which was obviously targeted at designers that deal too much in blue-sky and pray to the gods to deliver the technology too make it work (expressed in his cargo-cult metaphor).

The technology exists today to make some very useful things work IMHO!!!……

Lars is the chair of Ubicomp…and he prefers to use the term “ubiquitous computing”…for obvious reasons. Either/Or IMO, How about ‘Ambient Computing’?

Elena Mavromatti and Achilles Kamesas are doing some fabulous things as part of the Disappearing Computer initiative and leading the project called e-Gadgets as in “Extrovert Gadgets”. Their demonstration was controlling the playback of a wireless MP3 Jukebox with a wireless remote in the form of a light cube…you would change “channels” by rotating the cube different directions.

Marko Ahtisaari (link to his blog) is the Director of Insight and Foresight at Nokia…and is chartered to developing new lines of business at Nokia. He is investigating patterns of existing behaviour that could be extended and enhanced with their technology.

Mindblower of the day was Axel Thallemer…who is the founder of Festo corporate design, who has incorporated biology into industrial design with incredible innovations in Architecture, Transportation, and Consumer products. Although in German text, his book contains illustrations of the many innovations created by Axel and his team.

Axel Thallemer, founder and leader of Festo Corporate Design and Robb Bush of Ambient Informatics.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Day 2 of the Doors7 Congress in Amsterdam NL

Another day of incredible presentations. My head is full.

Bruce Sterling kicked things off with expected Sterling-esque dystopian future scenario based on the wonders of ubicomp, or pervasive computing…an example of “battlefield intelligence” and subsequent detachment by military forces…eSoldiers. Was a great start, and got the crowd loosened up…but on edge. This shit COULD be dangerous, and designers have a responsibility to make things usable…which tied into a key theme of the dicussion this week.

One other theme was “dashboards” (and one of my main reasons for attending) which fell completely flat in the show, but outlined very insightfully by John Thackera in his article “Real-time design in the ‘world as spreadsheet'”. He was asking great questions on the panels…looking for the big picture, to look for the interconnections between science/biology, Technology, Architecture, Design, and Human Facors (another theme). The panel on “dashboards” /was/ entertaining…but completely missed the opportunity that these dashboards do imply a positive control (as opposed to “control:power”). It is the type of control than can help comanies reduce wasteful inventories, reduce the number of empty trucks driving around…and can also more intelligently use raw materials…for example. On looking for the big picture issue…I see where he is going, but often the guest responses are decidedly intra-disciplinary (?). Everyone /says/ that there needs to be a crossing of disciplines to create new solutions…but few are really doing it, (with the exception of Axel Thallemer and a few others to add) falling back on established disciplinary descriptions of applications. Which is understandable.

Fortunately some guys from Moto(rola) are thinking up completely NEW things. Marco Susani, a strategic designer at Motoroloa is defining types of flow and creating a new ontology to describle the flow in complex networks. The old terms somtimes do not work, and this seems to be a great excecise for defining the scope of a systems design…if one can characterize and name TYPES of flow. Thats new. The presenation was passionate and very emotional/beautiful in the descriptive graphics. If anything was missed (maybe I missed it), it would be that fact that for any individual there exists many diverse and overlapping types of flow (stratification). All of the models are interwined…PLUS the fact that there are multiple connections BETWEEN the models creating a scale-free network.

Felice Frankel delivered a great presentaion based on her book Envisioning Science (link), which she also signed a copy for me, thank you. Just buy the book. No embellishment needed.

THEN came the real mindblowers. Philip Tabor, architect, delivered a beautiful concept called a ‘simulation space for half formed thoughts’…a ‘daydream engine’. He was looking for vagueness an fuzzy edges vs. sharp contrast in the design of Spaces, Systems, and I guess a NEW way to think about a new “epistemology of the creative process” (i just made that up).

Patricia de Martelaere, philosopher, was everything you would hope for. Being and becoming. Platos ideal static world (shadows). The non-existence of “real time”. Which also means there may need to be a new term…because “real” and “time” have too much baggage. Perhaps any improvement in usefulness, utility, benefit, value that is created can be considered as a move toward “real time” even though, philosophically (and possibly scientifically) that something called “real time” does not exist.

OK. Move on.

Joshua Davis. Awesome. Just like every other rad developer dude I have ever known….has done some incredible Flash scripting. He has been able to COMMUNICATE through his book Flash to the Core . Had the crowd rolling. Incedble work, with attitude (worth another paragraph).

The OPEN DOORS contest, well lets just say there were only 3-4 contestants that were really in the ballpark….the ones with incredible concepting and execution vs. the ones that were average stuff with the word “pervasive” or “flow” slapped on them as an afterthought. (more later on how Ben Hooker and Shona Kitchen from Royal College of Art UK was, IMO, the best of the show the with their Altavistas Project).

Some Pics!


"Doors divas" Ine and Dagmar. The entire staff was fabulous! Congrats!


Koen Koevoets of Koen&Co in Utrecht was especially gracious and a really nice guy to have a few Heinekens with.


The American phenom of "Speed-dating" worked in the new Flow context as a way to meet a lot of people fast!

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Day 3 of the Doors7 Congress in Amsterdam NL.

The show ended on a high note and seemed to be a great success. I agree. The ideas and interconnections…the flow created by the conference itself was quite amazing. The flow of ideas, concepts, prototypes, and processes came together across Biology, Theoretical Physics, Art, Music, Software Development, Critical Theory, and Device Development…as well as proposing the physical topology and conceptual models to deal with the design of interconnected/networked systems.

What a great chance to meet people who are thinking really hard about these issues and kudos to the Doors team for the foresight to assemble these different disciplines that must create together to design and deliver systems that are highly usable, convenient, sustainable, value creating (in many ways), along with the new responsibility for design decisions in this context.

Control came up as a theme both good and bad…and may be worthy of a new conference. Control:Convenience. It means different things to different people and within different contexts.

J.C. Herz, of JoystickNation has revealed that the character and nature of MMORPGs, and even The Sims represents a new development model that includes the users to enhance modify and maintain the software. (Much more on that later!!!)

Franziska Nori of DigitalCraft delivered a passionate plea to reinvent the museum space. What is it for now? Is it relevant? Should it contain everything, or be an arbiter? Who are the customers, the users, the producers? What is the motivation to be represented in a museum? And, one of the biggest questions was “who is the public, and what public do museums cater to?

Ezio Manzni, professor of industrial design at Milan Polytechnic. The Sustainability guy. The depiction of networked systems as either “large and fast” (the Highway…Airport, Distribution Networks) and also in a tighter mesh that is “close and slow” (the neighborhood, people-processes).

I think this reflects a philosophical approach to the scale-free networks described in Linked: The New Science of Networks by Albert-László Barabási (2002) and Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks by Mark Buchanan (2002).

Natalie Jeremijenko showed project with Robotic feral dogs to detect radioactivity, etc. (using modified aibos etc) and some profound thoughts. (More later…)

Neil Gershenfeld, director of Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT wants to take technology DEVELOPMENT to people that need it…whether it is eskimos to help manage wildlife populations (or to help designers that need help perhaps). This was not GIVING them technology that someone else invented but helping rural communites develop systems that THEY think would benefit. The opinion in the crowd was that this was a double edged sword.

The finale of Doors7 with many of the speakers and conference organizers on stage.