Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

11 APRIL, 2011

Game Frame: Bringing Game Mechanics to Work

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Last weekend, we had the pleasure of Undercurrent’s Aaron Dignan speak at this year’s PSFK Conference where he offered, with wit and rigor, a delicious taste of his new book: Game Frame: Using Games as a Strategy for Success — a compelling case for using game mechanics to transform the way we think about and do work, making play a core driving force of the modern workplace.

This book is my attempt to compartmentalize the relevant information about games and play in everyday life into one quick but actionable read. The truth is, we are born knowing how to play, and how to invent games where none exist. I’m convinced that there is a role for games and play in reshaping the world around us. Most of the the game designers I know imagine a world full of highly engaged people actively becoming the best version of themselves. In bringing that vision to life, we lack only the road map to get there, and the willingness to begin the journey.” ~ Aaron Dignan

If you consider yourself a gamer, or you’ve ever seen Philip Toledano’s portraits of gamers, you know the kind of passion, drive and emotion that go into gaming. Yet, chances are, you’re also familiar with the kind of drone-like mesmerism that an unengaging job can inflict. The core premise of Game Frame is that the psychological insights and behavioral motivators of game mechanics can be translated to the business world with powerful, transformative results. From why games have such a strong magnetic pull on the human brain to how our iPhones, hybrid cars and other technolusts are priming us to be intuitive gamers, Dignan blends illuminating research with real-life anecdotes from around the world to deliver a compelling treatise on the elusive intersection of creativity, productivity and real joy at work.

Filmed in August 2010 at São Paulo’s MIS-Museum of Image and Sound, the documentary is a living hallmark of the incredibly diverse ecosystem of contemporary art, exploring some of the key pillars of creativity, from collaboration to inspiration to cerebral stimulation.

Part Enchantment, part Gamestorming, part Reality Is Broken, Game Frame offers a thoughtful yet digestible guide to making the modern workplace what it always should’ve been: Productive, engaging and, above all, fun.

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01 APRIL, 2011

5 Questions x 8 Interesting People x SXSW 2011

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This year, we went to SXSW and decided to ask 8 of the most interesting people we know — including The New York Times’ David Carr, Behance founder Scott Belsky, and Fast Company’s Alissa Walker — 5 questions about technology, innovation and the information economy. We photographed them with their answers and used projeqt, the wonderful storytelling platform we introduced a few months ago, to share their answers.

The questions:

Go ahead and explore this visual micro-portrait of today’s tech landscape. And we’d love to hear what you — yes, you — would’ve said, so drop us a comment below if you’d like to share your 5 answers.

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30 MARCH, 2011

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

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What African drum languages have to do with the future of the Internet.

The future of information is something we’re deeply interested in, but no such intellectual exploit is complete without a full understanding of its past. That, in the context of so much more, is exactly what iconic science writer James Gleick explores in The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood — a new book that may just be the book to read this year, flowing from tonal languages to early communication technology to self-replicating memes to deliver an astonishing 360-degree view of the vast and opportune playground for us modern “creatures of the information,” to borrow vocabulary from Jorge Luis Borges’ much more dystopian take on information in the 1941 classic, “The Library of Babel,” which casts a library’s endless labyrinth of books and shelves as a metaphor for the universe.

Gleick illustrates the central dogma of information theory through a riveting journey across African drum languages, the story of the Morse code, the history of the French optical telegraph, and a number of other fascinating facets of humanity’s infinite quest to transmit what matters with ever-greater efficiency.

We know about streaming information, parsing it, sorting it, matching it, and filtering it. Our furniture includes iPods and plasma screens, our skills include texting and Googling, we are endowed, we are expert, so we see information in the foreground. But it has always been there.” ~ James Gleick

But what makes the book most compelling to us is that, unlike some of his more defeatist contemporaries, Gleick roots his core argument in a certain faith in humanity, in our moral and intellectual capacity for elevation, making the evolution and flood of information an occasion to celebrate new opportunities and expand our limits, rather than to despair and disengage.

Gleick concludes The Information with Borges’ classic portrait of the human condition:

We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence, reading the history of the past and of the future, collecting our thoughts and collecting the thoughts of others, and every so often glimpsing mirrors, in which we may recognize creatures of the information.”

For a closer look at The Information, we highly recommend Freeman Dyson’s fantastic essay, How We Know, in this month’s New York Review of Books. Publishers Weekly also just released an excellent interview with Gleick, very much worth a read as well.

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