Friday Reading #24

It has been one of those weeks that seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. I must have been busy or just very ignorant. I went to London for a pretty good banking conference run by the nice people at Anthemis. I met a very nice and helpful lady for a chat about the War Cards. I got a new broom. It has been all go. No real theme or big subjects for this weeks readings. Some stuff on the Ultramundane, blunders, PRISM, simplicity, not just any innovation but M&S innovation, raising the bar, the Internet of actual things and words. I published two parts of a long post I wrote about the adjacent possible in large multinational corporations. I also include a picture and a link to a description of an Owl Theremin because it made me smile this week.


Owl Theremin


Goods were no longer good, they were incredible. They didn’t just perform, they over-performed. Ours is the age of the ultramundane. Far from meaning what it sounds like it means (i.e. very boring), “ultramundane” refers to the otherworldly. Ultramundane products are both banal and yet too good for this world.


Blunders of Genius: interesting errors by Darwin, Pauling, and Einstein

When James Joyce wrote in Ulysses: “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery,” he meant the first part of the statement to be provocative. History has shown us that even some of the greatest scientific luminaries, towering figures such as the naturalist Charles Darwin, the twice-Nobel-Laureate chemist Linus Pauling, and the embodiment of genius — Albert Einstein — have made some serious blunders.


Secret to PRISM: Even bigger data seisure

So much data was changing hands that one former Microsoft employee recalls that the engineers were anxious about whether the company should cooperate. Inside Microsoft, some called it “Hoovering” — not after the vacuum cleaner, but after J. Edgar Hoover, the first FBI director, who gathered dirt on countless Americans.


How To Improve Any Service By Simplifying It

Offering simplicity within a complex domain is likely to be so appreciated and valued by customers that it ends up being perceived as a luxury. That may surprise some marketers who make the common mistake of thinking that in order to position a brand as a “luxury” alternative, you must provide customers with more features, perks, and options; luxury, in this context, is equated with “excess.


Innovation, M&S and Plan A

…innovation is not something finite and separate from the rest of the business: it’s the means by which it propels itself towards its chosen destination, in this case full sustainability. Getting to A is what the job has become, and it doesn’t end. Innovation of this hard-nosed, business-led kind is the very opposite of brainstorming or trying to come up with world-shaking ideas in a vacuum. Instead it is about getting crystal clear on what matters to stakeholders and where outcomes must change to deliver new value to them.


Raising The Bar

We constantly talk about “raising the bar”. The phrase in itself, so well accepted that we seldom consider its meaning. We all need to raise the bar and then we ail have sorted all of the issues that we have in society. Once the bar is raised all will be well. Children will be educated, the unemployed will become employed, families will become more functional and businesses more community  minded. The bar has been raised and thus we will respond with vim and vigour and our collective efforts will see us prevail.


The Internet Of Actual things

 “This is a delicious fruity Pinot Grigio,” the bottle will tell you via its embedded e-ink screens, front and back. “Excellent with chicken and salad. Should you be drinking mid-week? Please turn me around to view messages from sponsors specifically chosen to match your interesting lifestyle. Enjoy your wine!”



We’ve become obsessed with fancy designs, responsive layouts, and scripts that do magical things. But the most powerful tool on the web is still words. I wrote these words, and you’re reading them: that’s magical.


‘Bonus’ link written by me


The Adjacent Possible In Large Multinational Corporations

In a large multinational organisation it becomes ever more difficult for the right minds to know one another exist let alone converse or meet in person. In organisations over a certain size the chances that someone somewhere in the world is coming up with similar ideas to someone else are high. How do you connect those ideas? How do you connect those experiments?  The technical problems, progressions or failures in one team, in one building, in one country, in one region could be as much a secret to someone six desks away let alone six time zones.


Hope these links made your brain work. Go on and subscribe via email if you don’t already or try an endangered RSS feed for more posts. Have a lovely weekend.

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