Nothing new comes purely from old things. Nothing old has no part in new things.
Or something like that may have been an unintended theme of a few days spent in the Arkwright Mill in the Peak District. Laptops and Looms is a place that people who care about new things without blutly dismissing old things can openly care about the what comes next and why.
Beyond the buzz words, assertions and obvious, how are good people in our time making good things with meaning to real people? That, in the attic of the mill at the epicentre of the industrial revolution is where a bunch of interesting and interested folks gathered for three days to discus the now only possible now (but often not yet here...)
That was Laptops & Looms 2.
I missed the first one being in the middle of the Channel moving from Paris to London, but this one wasn't to be missed.
As in all thing contemporary, non-hierarchical and grownup it was self oragnising. Not anti-anyone, pro-anything or un-something, just good people who give a damn and make an effort. Also a bit self conscious for having last time they met birthing and popularising the internet of things and "the new aesthetic" a launching a number of companies from Artefact Cards to an ethical mobile phone manufacturer. The bar is much lower this time.
40 of us shared three days together, did some talks and activities and mostly just talked. That was the point.
In the next triennial we will know the outcome (if any) but these are the things that stuck with me, for now:
Nomenclature - You have to learn enough of other industries to know what to ask or look for
Lateralism - One new skill can change what is possible
Myths - The California Ideology is showing cracks - what is the new Euro myth
Scale - Should we and must we expect physical industries to be web scalable
Memories - New filters emerging beyond our current obsession with "now"' to mark and recall moments in time
Ignorance - Despite "data" obsession huge frontiers of science remain unanswered - ie how we smell - making data about human behaviour mostly flawed
Quality - As demonstrated with manufacturing in China, proximity is necessary for the 100's of decisions behind quality control if quality matters to you
Stay-sourcing - The number of companies who now have a defensible market position and quality product from not outsourcing grows by the day - from axes to fine china - as the majority of their industry who did outsource commoditises
Taxonomy - Time to rename, relabel and reorganize terminology around innovation - rather than disrupt or startup say what you mean - the idea (rather than intention) or the firm/company
Identity - Isn't it better to be a business than a startup
Startup - Not a tech company, rather be a company that uses tech to solve problems
Service - What is a service? - A service is something to help someone do something
Customer - If you make a service calling a user a customer attracts "customer experience" frivolities like "surprise & delight" which people see through and are rarely surprised or delighted by
Developers - dancing between a bit if stability and a bit of startup
Change - An observation on the pace of change in trams (from the visit to the Crich Tram Village - yes a village dedicated to trams) by the primary source of movement, four different modes and massive infrastructure changes in one lifetime:
1870 - horse
1880 - steam
1890 - early electric
1900/1910 - electric
1920 - early motor carriage (Glasgow)
Till next time Loominati. Hope to see you all soon and give the Durr chaps a boost upon launch.
The more time I spend around designers the more I'm self conscious of a reprehensible crime against kerning I persistent commit.
I grew up in a school with computers and typewriters. I first typed on a typewriter but 99.997% (approximately) of my lifetime writing has been on a computer.
The problem, I still double space after every period. Software is design to only need the one bash of a spacebar and adjusts space appropriately to give that extra breath between the end of a sentence and start of a new one. Yet I double space. Compulsively. Continuously. To the great annoyance of every designer I know, and write to.
Confusingly. That's how I end a period in my iPhone. Double space.
I'm tempted to retrain myself on my laptop computer, but maybe, I'll just wait for mobile user experience designers to conquer their archaic desktop brethren to save me from the typographical tyrants.
This year has been one of those years to take stock of what the past years have brought us and all the many many things learned along the way that we never would have known if still in comfortable Vancouver.
The hard thing about all the lessons learned through doing hard things is the challenge to relate them to friends and colleagues after the initial curiosity quickly fades. Truth is how can you translate, without extreme boredom, such personal and individual experiences.
My fear is that all the little things from everyday will some day start to feel ordinary.
My hope is that having joined one of the planet's most exciting emerging creative dynamos full of Dreamers and Doers that life will be anything but ordinary.
So maybe it is time to re-grasp for myself the classical spirit of blogging. The unpolished and often unformed points. The observations, noticing and random of life. Maybe the mundane, maybe insane, maybe neither.
I am going to dissolve the artificial wall between work and non work life. There will be some work things, some food things, events and activities, some boring stuff about natural wine, probably things related to my book Everyday Paris and undoubtedly travel bits. Whatever seems worth noticing for myself. Maybe, just maybe, you'll find it interesting.
It won't be over polished or conceptualised. It won't be overly self aware, it might come accross as pompous at times, trite at others. Not by design but that's how it may seem, to you. The stretch is the point.