Books

Book Notes: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

Book Notes: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

Notes (quotes, really) from Dan Hill’s Dark Matter and Trojan Horses. A Strategic Design Vocabulary. Some of these are a tad out of context. I’d read the book if I were you. It’s very good, short and has both high level strategy ideas and lower level tactical examples. What gives designers the right to approach such complex areas, usually the domain of political scientists and civil servants? Aren’t these essentially beyond the capacity and capability — if not remit — of design? Culture is not something that can be designed, after all; is it even ethical to consider that it could be? However, a…

Book Notes: The Hard Things About Hard Things

Book Notes: The Hard Things About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers offers advice on sticky business situations. His past experience, good and bad, is served up for your benefit. The writing is crisp, direct and eschews simple answers. When you inevitably find yourself in complex, difficult to manage situations, this is the book you’ll reference. It’s an effective mix of been-there-done-that wisdom and practical, put-it-to-use-right-now takeaways. The following are the quotes I found especially helpful in a managerial role and with an inclination towards organizational design and process. Your mileage may vary, of course….

Book Review: Remote: Office Not Required

Book Review: Remote: Office Not Required

I read Remote: Office Not Required over the weekend (it’s a fast read) to see what I could learn about working with remotely located coworkers. I came away with a simple change of perception that will likely change the way I operate in the future. Our company has two offices which, in a sense, makes us a remotely located group. I say ‘in a sense’ because those offices are, at most, 30 miles from one another. Before reading the book, the idea that this small distance made us a remotely located organization seemed far fetched. If I needed to talk to someone face-to-face,…

Book Notes: Playful Design

Here are some highlights I took from John Ferrara’s book Playful Design: Creating Game Experiences in Everyday Interfaces. The elements of great game UX Motivation: There needs to be a reason to play, a goal. Meaningful choices: You need to be able to influence the outcome of the game through your choices. Partial ambiguity can work well here (eg. I don’t know what will happen if I do X, but I’ll take the chance because I have a reasonable expectation of what will happen). Balance: How well do aspects of the game work together to create an experience where the…

Book Notes: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

Cognitive friction: the resistance encountered by a human intellect when it engages with a complex system of rules that change as the problem changes. “#1 goal of all computer users is to not feel stupid.” Larry Keeley’s three qualities for high tech products: Capability: what can be done? Supplied by technologists. Viability: what can we sell? Supplied by business people. Desirability: what do people want? Supplied by designers. Need and desire are not the same. Desire leads to loyalty. Designing for a minority of users leads to success rather than attempting to accommodate all users. Specificity is key. Find a…

Book Review: The Innovative University

Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring apply Christensen’s disruptive innovation theories to traditional, 4 year, public and private higher ed institutions. It’s a great primer for anyone who wishes to understand the issues currently facing the higher ed world. I’ve written quite a bit at this blog about the issues this book puts into historical context. I’m now much more well grounded as to the origins of the problems I see and how they can be dealt with in the future. Here are a few highlights: Three of Harvard’s successive presidents- Charles Eliot, Lawrence Lowell and James Conant- each contributed to…

Review of Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications

My Goodreads.com rating: 3 of 5 stars If you’re at all connected to the social media world within a work setting, much of this book will be basic to you. That said, it’s easy for lots of small opportunities and ideas to fall through the cracks on a day-to-day basis and this book will bring back some of those missed opportunities. I kept a list of ideas to investigate and think about again and for that, I give it three stars.