December 31, 2019

Evenly distributed

Most science fiction takes place in a world in which the future” has definitively arrived; the locomotive filmed by the Lumière brothers has finally burst through the screen. But in Neuromancer” there was only a continuous arrival—an ongoing, alarming present.”

This article in the New Yorker, How William Gibson Keeps His Science Fiction Real, was widely linked on social media. It’s really good.

December 29, 2019

It’s less impressive when a computer does it

Some guys at MIT built an electric DeLorean that drifts.

December 26, 2019

Mr Wardely, meet Mr Latour

A long time ago, I had to wrap my head around Actor-Network Theory (ANT). ANT traces it’s origins to Bruno Latour, Michel Callon and John Law, among others. I learned it from Anni Dugdale. A lot of people don’t like ANT (see the criticism section on wikipedia) but I’ve found it useful. To put it really simply, it’s a way to think about how different arrangements of people and things result in different outcomes.

A slightly less long time ago, I came across Simon Wardley’s eponymous mapping.

More recently, I came across Matt Edgar’s brilliant post, Three Lives of the front-facing camera which used Wardley Mapping as a way to visualise actor-networks. Edgar’s follow up where he finds some troubles with Wardley Mapping is also fantastic and is very actor-network-y, too.

Latour’s website is awful. Click the article title to get the PDF.

All this rolled around in my mind for a while until I remembered Latour wrote an essay (or gave a speech, or both) about… design. And Peter Sloterdijk. And… look, I honestly don’t know and I’ve read it more than a few times.

In that essay, Latour ends with:

So here is the question I wish to raise to designers: where are the visualization tools that allow the contradictory and controversial nature of matters of concern to be represented? […] What is needed instead are tools that capture what have always been the hidden practices of modernist innovations: objects have always been projects; matters of fact have always been matters of concern.

I think Wardley Maps might be one way to create the visualisations that Latour was writing about.

December 26, 2019

Be Foxy, but don’t get eaten

Hedgehogs are deeply and tightly focused. Some have spent their career studying one problem. Like Ehrlich and Simon, they fashion tidy theories of how the world works based on observations through the single lens of their specialty. Foxes, meanwhile, draw from an eclectic array of traditions, and accept ambiguity and contradiction,” Tetlock wrote. Where hedgehogs represent narrowness, foxes embody breadth.”

The Atlantic: The Peculiar Blindness of Experts

I strongly identity as foxy. But in the fable, the fox gets eaten. Something to keep in mind.

December 22, 2019

Models of Culture Change

John Shook:

The typical Western approach to organizational change is to start by trying to get everyone to think the right way. This causes their values and attitudes to change, which, in turn, leads them naturally to start doing the right things.

This, of course, doesn’t work.

Those of us trying to change our organizations’ culture need to define the things we want to do, the ways we want to behave and want each other to behave, to provide training and then to do what is necessary to reinforce those behaviors. The culture will change as a result.

For example:

When NUMMI was being formed, though, some of our GM colleagues questioned the wisdom of trying to install andon there. You intend to give these workers the right to stop the line?” they asked. Toyota’s answer: No we intend to give them the obligation to stop it — whenever they find a problem.”

December 22, 2019

A model for complex change

Lippit’s complex change model

Erin Folletto’ Casali, via Tom Critchlow