Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

18 APRIL, 2011

NASA + William Shatner: Space Shuttle’s Legacy

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This month, NASA announced that after 30 years of spaceflight and over 130 missions, its Space Shuttle Program fleet will be retiring to an earthly resting place. To commemorate the fleet’s remarkable legacy, NASA produced this fantastic short documentary, narrated by none other than William Shatner:

An idea born in unsettled times becomes a feat of engineering excellence. The most complex machine ever built to bring humans to and from space and eventually construct the next stop on the road to space exploration.”

The film comes mere days after public outrage over proposed NASA budget cuts, along with NASA’s own appeals, finally appeared to have moved Congress to approve a healthier funding grant of $18.5 billion. Meanwhile, ordinary NASA fans continue to churn out extraordinary tributes that attempt to bridge the frustrating gap between NASA’s deeply inspirational work and the toothless official communication about it.

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14 APRIL, 2011

IOU Project: Social Technology Meets Artisanal Tradition

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“Transparency.” “Accountability.” “Sustainability.” “Authenticity.” In recent years, these moral ideas have been reduced to fluff-phrases empty of meaning, sprinkled atop just about every Fortune 500 corporate mission statement like some sort of odor-masking miracle candy on a sundae of bollocks. But what if they were to be taken in untainted hands, looked at with new eyes, resurrected with new spirit?

That’s what IOU Project is out to do. They produce handmade apparel from fabrics hand-woven in India. Because each textile is unique, you can trace the production process of your particular garment right back to the exact weaver who hand-wove the fabric using the IOU mobile app. The project is part storytelling experiment, part ecommerce venture, part social meeting place for a community that shares these values of authenticity and purpose, bridging centuries-old artisanal traditions with the promise of modern social technology.

In the rush to automate the world, artisans are being replaced with machines.”

Besides having what’s easily the most thoughtful visual identity we’ve seen in a while, IOU also features a number of beautifully filmed, warmly candid videos that capture the people and process behind the project.

IOU Project is still in stealth mode, but you can sign up for a heads-up about the official launch on the site, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

via Meta Filter

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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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