Happy 105th Birthday, Heinz!


Mai and Heinz von Foerster in Pangaro’s 1970 Citroën DS21 in Pescadero, California, in the early 2000s (Photograph: Paul Pangaro)

Heinz von Foerster was born 105 years ago today. He was a major figure in the beginnings of cybernetics from the middle of the 20th century, and through to its flowering as second-order cybernetics. His ideas can be magical and one of his papers is still a favorite and voted the favorite of students in cybernetics + design courses year upon year.  His wife, Mai, also magical in her clarity as well as succinctness (a trait not shared by Heinz), once said to me, “Heinz has a mind like a crystal.” He demonstrates this so well in his “Ethical Imperative”, a cybernetic koan worthy of contemplation and action: Read more…

Anatomy of a Startup #Fail

The NY Times has published a smart and useful article on the anatomy of the failure of a startup. Any product manager, or anyone working in a startup, can learn from the detailed sequence of steps that it took to kill Vine (that link will not work once they take the site down for good).

Vine is/was a well-executed app that was early in the game with video sharing, had clever ideas that suited the market, had good backing, had been acquired by a powerful player—and yet it died an unfair death, at least in startup terms. There were many moments of #fail that occurred, not in product design but in lots of other ways, except bad timing. Think of them as checklist for what to watch out for. The article offers a real example of how tenuous a startup can be, and how a cascade of errors can kill even a healthy tech company.

Lost History of Cybernetics

sidebarnwmp_portraitNorbert Wiener is the centerpoint of a new project to raise awareness about the history of cybernetics.

There are quite a few videos, including a 16-minute trailer about the proposed full-length documentary (full disclosure: I’m advisor to the project and appear on-screen). The site also offers a wonderful talk by Andy Pickering, proposing a new synthesis and New Macy Meetings. (Andy started using the term “antidisciplinarity” in reference to cybernetics, which brought cybernetics to the attention of Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, as described in his piece in the Design + Science Journal.)

Programming And Animating On The Same Screen At The Same Time

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 6.22.50 AM

The relationship between a piece of code and the result of that code is nearly always a distant one. “Code” means a long string of text, written in an arcane logic. It takes months or more likely years to acquire coding skills. But the result of that code — a calculation, a screen display, user controls on an interface — must be approachable, transparent, and require only seconds or minutes to understand.

Read more…

Color & Materials Design student Shabnam Hosseini installs her work at ArtPrize Eight

One of our first year students Shabnam Hosseini installs her work for ArtPrize Eight in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her sculpture  standing over six feet tall and made from paper and gold thread hangs in the cavernous  Calvin College Gallery  from September 21 – October 9 .

One Can Be Constant

One Can Be Constant. Paper and gold thread. 2015, 9″x9″x74″

ArtPrize is recognized as the most-attended public art event on the planet according to The Art Newspaper, and was recently highlighted in The New York Times’ 52 Places To Go in 2016.

For 19 days in the early fall, around 400,000 attendees descend upon three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters. Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown in over 160 venues—museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, theaters, hotels, public parks, lobbies, buildings, walls, bridges, laundromats, and auto body shops—and it’s all free and open to the public.


2016 IDSA International Conference: Making Things Happen

Witness Color, Detroit

Last week designers arriving early for the IDSA 2016  International Conference in Detroit  participated in a range of workshops at CCS.

Color and Materials Design MFA hosted Witness Color, Detroit Workshop,  invited participants to research Detroit and it’s brand though a personal branded color palette. 14066429_10154161671418891_7561578733819690337_o

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