trespassing into nature

When framing a house, one will, despite styles and epochs, often be able to discern if the house is cut out from its environment or if it provisions for a twilight zone between inside or outside. Whereas Claypots Castle would be by design cut out from its surroundings, la Maison de la Reine in the Petit Trianon would show quite the opposite design.

These same characteristics are also reflected in houses of lower budget. Balconies in city apartments are a design made to provide an escape away from the post-modernism of our city dwellings today. It is not surprising that we will more often that not be inclined to grow nature in our balconies; our small outlets to nature.

It is, however, not only our longing for contact with nature that makes the Maison de la Reine especially desirable to us, but an invisible part of our nature has been cut off from us in our modern life aseptic housing. Aseptic in a metaphorical sense but also in a microbiological sense too.

Building materials are treated to diminish anything microbial, and like antibiotics these methods are non-selective; they might kill the pathogens, but they also kill microbes that are beneficial to human survival and well-being.

Elizabeth Henaff

In our fight to put down the sickening bacteria in mold, we created antibiotic housing were the much necessary microbes we very much need to live, have a hard time living with us.

you are beautiful beyond question

We are capable of employing our intellect and industrious hands to the building of truly ugly contraptions. Often to help appease some early life trauma and palliate those poignant modes of anxiety that made themselves most noticeable and uncomfortable in our lives.

Nature, in the other hand, designed us beautiful. Beautiful in the most simplified interpretation of the concept: where form and function leave nothing for improvement. Beautiful with no compromises in our design. Where nothing needs to be added or removed. Our design is the result of millions of years of fine tuning. A design for efficiency and energy conservation. Our bodies, along with all creatures and living entities on earth emerged of nature themselves, of nature’s sources and constrains. In the event of a mass extinction, as Alan Weisman suggests in his book The World Without Us, life would probably start again from some surviving microbe. And a new nature would cover the earth again, not as we know it today but beautiful in the same way nonetheless.

scaffolding the corporation for the 2030

in still many corporations, young arrivals would, after a time, come to realise that the only way to make a career is to work up the ladder towards management. Yet not everybody can be or ought to be a manager. This is not new hence unfortunately many who today are shouldn’t be.

In the down of AI, many jobs that today still exist and busy thousands of people, (e.g. moving data from one excel sheet to another, from one database to another) will be one day no more. When a text line will suffice for AI to do all we need with data. And those people who have been shifting cells and making graphs for the last fifteen years won’t have it easy to still be able to add value to their organisations. Yet we find them in ageing swarms in our offices nowadays.

At the same time, we loose young talent because they see no ladder other than the management one. But eventually they would see themselves fitting in the role of an specialist, however no career scheme is today set for those.

Come the time of AI, will be those specialists who will be able to add value to their organisations, and will be those we regrettably miss, and even more regrettably we let go of them when we could have kept them, and grow them inside and in time.

Now more urgently than ever it is time to build the scaffolding of what our organisations will be in 2030. Otherwise we will find ourselves where now traditional banks start to find themselves: rapidly rendered inefficient by FinTech.

A career path moving toward specialisation that will grow towards mastery and end in a position not of management, but of organisation core competences, strategic growth and newcomers nurturance for a new generation of mastery.

This builds into an organisation with less people but more specialised and thus expensive people. Yet those organisations who choose to save money on their people and not foster specialisation, will soon have to close entire divisions out of asphyxia and with a high social cost. Still we have time to make a choice for the future, foster talent and be agile.

the stone and the rope

visiting an art exposition is an event that often struck something hidden in the back of our minds. Things are shaken that normally lie back dormant in a quiet pool. This time was a paintings exposition by Gabriele Münter in the Lenbachhaus art gallery in Munich.

The progressive theme-sorted display of paintings makes me reckon how much iteration, experimentation and discovery is visible behind those works. Makes me imagine how exciting a life of devotion to art can be, yet surely not exempt of hardships. Or for that matter, a life devoted to writing, or photographing or any creative undertaking.

At some point one ends reflecting on himself. “And how well I fare in this sense?” To come to maybe saddening thoughts. Thoughts of one’s own creativity being crippled by the almost unmovable machinery of industry and corporations. One would wish that one’s life would be like Gabriele’s—a continuous slope of experimentation and learning and of improvement of one’s work and the enhancement of coworkers and the world around. However often one sits on a nimble boat over fetid waters of politics and power-grabbing, a place where creativity would be rather seen as something that could go wrong and topple the statu-quo.

One would have a vision of corporations as rotting in the inside, not visible immediately but crumbling in the long run. We often see this increasing gap in creativity when we do travel from the splash of new ideas in the internet economy with the somber rudeness of corporation processes and tools. Sometimes we ever manage to put some patches but still the core is old and crumbling. Generation changes are too spaced. Fear of failure is deep rooted hence not trying is better than failing. Willing to ignore that failing is the antechamber of success. All for the short term. Now and here. This month, this quarter, just this status report.

“Let’s solve this now, and later we will think of a better solution. “ how often we hear those words. And we know that the truth behind them is that there will never be a later and that we will be again in the same situation in the near future, with only the old yellowing and cracking solution of old at hand. A thin sheet of gloom tell us that the next time we will be in a yet more precarious situation and that the old solution may not be enough this time.

Would be too easy to put all the blame on those who have to take decisions. Even if their own lack of imagination will doom entire teams or divisions, they are only the result of an industrial policy with a deep reformation announced one century ago and well due now. Erich Fromm confirms the common traits of the predicaments of the humanists of the beginning of the nineteenth century:

  • the need to aim the industry for the good of humankind instead of for its own sake,
  • to account for the environment in the industrial exploitation of resources,
  • that solidarity should prevail among people,
  • that the aim of any activity must be oriented to maximize the well-being of humankind,
  • that not maximum consumption but reasonable consumption is desirable
  • and ultimately that the individual needs to feel a contributor to the whole.

These, ring today with ever more remarkable actuality and urgency.

a very apartment of mine

that moves with me.

Cities have understood that it makes no sense to have people criss-crossing them because they found a place to live at the farthest point they found a place to work.

Cities have erected frames of residential buildings, where apartment modules are trucked there and docked. Frames clustered around and between commercial, transport, and industrial hubs.

People purchase an apartment module, with two rooms in the front side with large wall sized glass panes, a toilet, a shower room and a kitchen in the back side. And they docked it wherever they needed to, for the time they needed to.

When they need to move on, they secure their stuff and let the module be undocked and trucked to a new place.

Two modules can be docked together to embody a larger apartment: four rooms, a larger kitchen, two toilets, two shower rooms. Three modules even.

Cities have seen that the bulk of automobiles have disappeared. The streets, taken mostly by bicycle lines, became again a place for people. The air is clean. Birds can be heard overhead. Now and then an electric powered automobile rolls silently along.

It is flawed, I know, but it is a nice dream.

Added: An afterthought of this idea is that being the value of a living place a combination of land value (speculative value) and building value (material value), we would invest in the long term in material value, but we could rent the speculative value.

baby boomers aplenty

Not too far in the future an inrush of retirees will take leave from their workplaces and will join the lines of the well deserved retiree status thus creating a significant drain in the public reserves of every developed country.

Those left to keep the wheels of industry spinning are less, earn less and spend less than the affluent baby boomer generation. Incidentally contributing less to the public chests. Moreover, the next generation that is now joining the workforce is, and will be, yet less affluent.

Is then society and economy in the developed first word fated to stress and a slowdown? Possibly. Maybe not though. Here comes ingenuity at play.

We, the afterwave, have blossomed in the age of computers, and into the age of social media. If shadowed by the previous lot yet sprouts of new thinking are breaking through and reaching now maturity. We can possibly grow over this bleak scenario with our new tools and skill sets.

We have an oncoming huge supply of experienced, wealthy and healthy women and men that if not in general proficient in the intricacies of computers and Internet, they use them at a more or less effective degree. And many would rather sporadically undertake activities of social and economical significance than spend the whole day chasing a golf trolley. And we have the means to help them choose over a variety of ways to spend their time in a way that has an impact to our society and economy.

Some like cooking and would cook for her/his younger single and busy neighbor. Some like building furniture or restoring it and would enjoy giving the wardrobe of the neighbor a new life. We have often neither the time nor the money to keep up with all our needs and would gladly take an offered hand at an affordable cost. And eat healthy, use our furniture longer and with pride, discover how our children’s imagination is spurred with lovely cut and painted cubes and that they can show their appreciation to the makers of their toys a flight of stairs above or two houses up the street.

The list has no end, and we have the ingenuity and potential to make it happen. The sooner the better.

the Krebs Cycle of Creativity

Now and then we stop reading. Struck by a sentence that has so much in itself that we need some moments to read it again, again, and again.

In “Age of Entanglement,” Neri Oxman describes the Krebs Cycle of Creativity. This shows science taking the perception of nature and converting it into knowledge. Engineering takes this knowledge and converts it into utility. Design takes this utility and converts it into meaning, behavior, and societal value. Art takes it and converts it into social perception. And although it’s too rare, this should be in the input into science as well. Our view is that science, engineering, design, and art need to work seamlessly together in order for our creativity to be well expressed.

Source: Joi Ito (Report from Marrakesh)