The amount of pleasure and gratitude I generate and connect with from a 15k 5am feb run tells me that life is easy. Taming the mind is hard.
The second verse of James Vincent McMorrow’s song Red Dust goes like this:
Someone is ringing a bell
It chimes through this shimmering shell
That once was my vision of birth
Now is my vessel and curse
His performance of this very song at Lowlands festival in 2012 might just be the ringing bell that gets your vessel to shimmer: youtu.be/1ZrRekHR7ZE
The biggest obstacle to creativity is breaking through the barrier of disbelief. A lot of people have good ideas, but it’s an entirely different thing to precipitate that vision into something tangible.
Rodney Mullen http://youtu.be/DBbmNAZWq-E?t=5m12s
Earlier today I went to Fotografiska (The Swedish Museum of Photography) here in Stockholm. I got extremely taken by the Before They Pass Away project by Jimmy Nelson. Wonderful work that truly resonated with me. Unfortunately the exhibition was in one of the smaller spaces. I truly hope I get the change to experience all of the material at some point.
For more information visit www.beforethey.com
The third record was Soundgarden’s Screaming Life EP. Jonathan Poneman was probably the biggest Soundgarden fan in Seattle. So we join forces to put out that record, and then we open our offices and put out all sorts of legendary stuff.
– Bruce Pavitt, founder Sub Pop Records
It was -18 Celsius outside and I got above message.
My 2014 running campaign started with a new and exciting approach: a heart rate monitor, a low-glycemic diet and a running pace dictated by whatever 155 heartbeats per minute gave me.
After 4 months my Garmin racing predictions were scary and my weight was the lowest it’s ever been. I felt great.
To evaluate my new approach I had registered for a lab session in February and then two races in May: a half marathon to experience my lactate/anaerobic threshold, followed by Stockholm Marathon three weeks later to see how I performed over the longer distance.
The summer was scheduled for speed development and the overall goal for all of this was to do a sub 3:15 at Berlin Marathon in September.
Being in the lab was good fun. I did two tests: one to determine my lactate threshold (increase effort over time while taking blood samples) and one being a so called “max” test (which means running until you fall of the belt).
On the 29th of April I did an easy 33km jog on 2:37:34. Average pace 4:46/km with an average heart rate at only 146 bpm. It wasn’t a flat course either. Elevation 329 meter.
This was without preparation (such as carbohydrate loading, glycogen-depleting and tapered training), without race adrenaline and in the morning on an empty stomach.
At that point in time, a sub 3:15 wasn’t unrealistic, and with 4 month left to Berlin Marathon I starting to think that I should target a ‘just above 3:10′ instead of a ‘just under 3:15′.
I was in my best ever form. Every part of my mind and body was with me… besides my achilles tendon… she decided to give in just a few days after that peak and just a few days before I was about to run the first race.
I aborted the half marathon half way. I felt strong but I wasn’t able to run on the intended pace (4:10) without my achilles saying no.
The marathon I aborted on km 29.
Most of the summer ended up being rehabilitation instead of speed work. I only ran 109km in May, 47km in June and 112 in July. Nothing like the levels pre-injury [below].
I increased the training again in August and September but without have had a longer stretch of continuity I reached the Berlin Marathon starting line with very low expectations.
My race strategy was to keep a pace of 4:44/km, but not letting my heart rate surpass 155 bpm until the later stages of the race. So no faster than 4:44/km or 155 bpm. A 4:44/km pace would give me some margins to be able to lose a few minutes at the end of the race and still shave of a minute or two from my 3:27 PB.
Someone told me a few years ago that the first 30k in a marathon is just transportation to the real race. It’s so true. It’s only when you reach kilometre 30 you know if you’re having a good day or not.
When I passed the 30k mark I was still in extremely good shape. So good that I was overthrown with deep emotions. Tears were not far off. I almost felt like stopping. The ‘I made it!’ sensation was that strong. This was my 4th marathon and I had never felt this good at this point in the race.
A few km later I had to start digging, which slowly crescendoed into 3 – 4 less glamorous kilometers at the end. Having to fight for just 15 – 20 minutes in a marathon is a blessing.
I passed the finish line on 3:22:48. For a couple of minutes I really couldn’t understand what just had happened. I was so convinced that I would have a horrible race, but instead I had a lovely one executed perfectly — just on the edge of what my body and mind could deliver on the day.
I had been very even. My 5k splits were: 23:59, 24:06, 23:46, 23:56, 23:55, 24:06, 23:59, 24:31.
First half was done in 1:40:57 and second in 1:41:51.
My average pace was 4:48… that’s maybe my only disappointment. According to my GPS watch i kept 4:44/km as intended.
But all of this belongs to the past.
No rest for the wicked.
For 2015 I’ve decided to have my yearly marathon penciled in early to be able to shift my focus onto the half marathon distance. This means I now need to keep up with marathon preperations throughout the harsh, cold, dark Swedish winter. Thankfully a sunny LA Marathon awaits me in March.
The fact that next years marathon preparations sneaked in on this side of the new year has resulted into a new PB for total kilometers in a year. This came as a surprise. In 2012 I ran 2012km. I remembered it being… a big undertaking. This year I just happened to beat it and I’ve been injured.
So far this year I’m up to 2001. So just one run away from breaking it. I will probably end the year on something closer to 2100.
However, I have to add, most km covered in 11 month still belongs to 2012, which actually also is 2012km.
For the most part of my vocation as a Designer — a maker and shaper of digital services and experiences — I’ve been given the advice to specialise; to clarify my role and what I offer.
In hindsight, it’s easy to see that this advice wasn’t directed to me as an individual and for the well-being of my career. It was a favour, disguised as a suggestion so that less friction would be involved when trying to pigeon-hole me into the traditional invoice cycles and the conveyor-belt like approach applied by the industry to deliver billable results to clients.
I’m stubborn. I’m quality driven. I’m also a maker. So, these attempts were futile.
Somewhere along the way this industrial approach began to burst at the seams; businesses started to ask for more flexibility, firms started to question the quality of work that got shipped. You could say that our customers’ expectations got higher, and our traditional methods didn’t deliver.
It became more and more evident that what had worked really well for advertising and traditional design firms wasn’t applicable 1-to-1 when the medium was digital; Where a customer interacts and participates with the result. Where the delivery is something that lives on. When what you create is an experience for many more senses in many more scenarios and situations.
Along with this maturity, the… “advice” to specialise got replaced with curiosity on my thoughts on how to execute a project with fewer handoffs and more collaboration. Invigorating.
We are still very much in this maze. A growing scale of brave firms and hero clients are in the forefront to find a healthy and sustainable balance between control, fear, competence, experience, ownership, authority, innovation, guarantees, speed, flexibility etc and so on.
Thankfully, help is on the way.
In 2011, Hyper Island was about to run a 32-week pilot for a Digital Media Management program in Manchester together with Teesside University. It was designed to prepare students for a leading role in the media, creative, and digital industries.
Due to various reasons (mainly a lot to cover over a short period), the ambition was to merge the learning outcomes for design and technology into the same module.
Given my involvement, knowledge and insight into the Hyper Island methodology, in combination with my multifaceted interest with design and technology, I was asked to interpret the learning outcomes and design a learning experience which I also would facilitate.
I was given a lot of trust and a very long leash, which I gladly accepted.
A unique and almost unreal opportunity: What type of co-workers would I like to have in the future? What type of designers would I like to design?
Today, the perspective I get when writing this is giving me a sense of acrophobia, but back then it was more a matter of hitting the ground running.
The result became a module titled ‘Creative Problem Solving’. A learning experience to give the students an understanding on how to get insights into how people interact with digital products and services, their needs and experiences, and how to design them to be both effective and intuitive.
The learning was based on the methodology commonly referred to as Design Thinking, the basis being: define the problem, research for a solution, ideate with others to come up with the best options, create prototypes, choose the best solution, roll it out and learn from its success.
I’m extremely proud that my interpretation of the module caught the imagination of the director and program managers at Hyper Island and lead them to researched this further and ultimately launch an entirely new program, titled Digital Experience Design.
It’s unfortunate that the very type of designer the industry tried to suffocate, is today the type that is very much sought after. The type they promoted, are today abandoned. I liked to believe that the very purpose of agencies were to accumulate and curate talent, not eliminate.
Given my personal experience and reflection on my career to date, it’s clear that talent curation and direction of an industry still need actors such as Hyper Island to inject oxygen into the ongoing change and evolution.
Now let’s embrace and welcome these multifaceted t-shaped designers with open arms and active ears. Let’s give them space and trust to fuel the change. Like with all great endeavours: let’s give it a leap of faith.
It’s not that I’m a luddite and don’t like technology; I’ve just never been interested. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1997, nobody really had cell phones, and I just never went down that path.
Apparently, Christopher Nolan does not have a cell phone or an email account. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ...
The word “design” makes people think of visual arrangement and appearance. “Topology” is a decent word for the underlying scheme. A “design” in the topological sense is a set of elements connected in a specific way. The style and visual presentation are layered on top. Software systems, below the visual “design”, are topologies of affordances. Networks of buttons, fields and outputs connected by functions.
If you believe that the solution to a particular problem is to increase the amount of something, be aware that it might just happens to be that the thing you want more of, is the actual problem.
I tried to look at where did the kind of learning we do in schools, where did it come from? […] It came from about 300 years ago, and it came from the last and the biggest of the empires on this planet. The British Empire. […] What they did was amazing. They created a global computer made up of people. It’s still with us today. It’s called the bureaucratic administrative machine. In order to have that machine running, you need lots and lots of people. They made another machine to produce those people: the school. […] They engineered a system that was so robust that it’s still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists. […] We take our children, we make them shut their brains down, and then we say, “Perform.” […] We don’t want to be spare parts for a great human computer, do we? So we need to design a future for learning.
It is the phenomenon sometimes called “alienation from self.” In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something […] Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. […] to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves—there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect.
– Joan Didion
You don’t get to decide the truth. Other people have their own experiences, just as valid. This is easy to forget. Your slice of life seems so large and unmistakeable, like a mirage of wholeness from where you stand. But it is your job to know better and not confuse your small piece for the whole, even if you sometimes forget. Life is big—much bigger than just yours.
Great stories happen to those who can tell them
– Ira Glass
I think that for a project or an adventure to be a real adventure it has to have some amount of uncertainty. If I know I will succeed from the start, it will be a mechanical venture. […] When you leave what you know, you are widening the reality you live in and thus widening your own consciousness. If we feel safe everyday, we aren’t really living; we’re only repeating what we know. Living, for me, is expanding ones own reality as far as possible.
– Andreas Frannson
A book with proper margins says, We respect you, Dear Reader, and also you, Dear Author, and you, too, Dear Book.
When in doubt: do (and start anywhere).
In Japanese culture, there is a word for this: chindogu. The literal translation is “weird tool,” but the concept is about utility, or lack thereof. Kenji Kawakami coined the term as a way to point out objects that are invented under the premise of solving a problem, but which, in practice, only generate more problems, rendering them devoid of utility. Kawakami humorously calls them “unuseless,” which is to say, they have a function, it’s just not one that helps us (and it may be one that harms us).
When creating and refining digital services; chindogu is a daily challenge. A method I found that can help to prevent this is to keep asking the question: yeah, but why?
The quote is pulled from the article ‘Yes We Can. But Should We?':
Empathy is more than a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through… Empathy is having the will to muster enought courage to do something about it.
For the last nine year Nicholas Felton has releases an personal annual report covering all sorts of activity and data. This years report (2013) examines, to quote: a year of Nicholas Felton’s communication data. It aspires to uncover patterns and insights within the data and metadata of a large and personal data set. Sources include conversations, SMS, telephone calls, email, Facebook messages and physical mail.
I find this topic (and numbers) very interesting.
The last couple of years I have personally taken proactive actions to “retreat” somewhat from social media, networking and all the constant updating and catching up with events of others. Addicts of communication. It has become a somewhat sprititual journey. Anyway, looking at this report – and the sheer mass of data – I can’t stop to think “this is insane”. And by that I don’t mean Nicholas in particular (and definitely not his work, just simply what his report implies.
Last night my mate asked to use a USB port to charge his cigarette, but I was using it to charge my book.
The future is stupid.
I just stumbled over this really interesting article on Claudia Kotchka: www.fastcompany.com/53060/in...
To me, it illustrates what design is and can be to businesses. It’s also really nice to read about some other real-world-examples on what design can do, and be, besides Apple.