kottke.org posts about Juan Enriquez

PopTech is releasing video of some ofApr 10 2007

PopTech is releasing video of some of the talks from their conference. Among the first batch, I'd recommend Thomas Barnett, Juan Enriquez, Erin McKean, and Theo Jansen.

Is California going to split from theFeb 12 2007

Is California going to split from the United States? CA governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently stated: "We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state." Juan Enriquez extensively covers the potential fracture of the US in his book, The Untied States of America (@ Amazon).

PopTech day 2 wrap-upOct 21 2006

Some notes from day 2 at PopTech, with a little backtracking into day 1 as well. In no particular order:

The upshot of Thomas Barnett's entertaining and provacative talk (or one of the the upshots, anyway): China is the new world power and needs a sidekick to help globalize the world. And like when the US was the rising power in the world and took the outgoing power, England, along for the ride so that, as Barnett put it, "England could fight above its weight", China could take the outgoing power (the US) along for the globalization ride. The US would provide the military force to strike initial blows and the Chinese would provide peacekeeping; Barnett argued that both capabilities are essential in a post-Cold War world.

Juan Enriquez talked about boundries...specifically if there will be more or less of them in the United States in the future. 45 states? 65 states? One thing that the US has to deal with is how we treat immigrants. Echoing William Gibson, Enriquez said "the words you use today will resonate through history for a long time". That is, if you don't let the Mexican immigrants in the US speak their own language, don't welcome their contributions to our society, and just generally make people feel unwelcome in the place where they live, it will come back to bite you in the ass (like, say, when southern California decides it would rather be a part of Mexico or its own nation).

Enriquez again, regarding our current income tax proclivities: "if we pay more and our children don't owe less, that's not taxes...it's just a long-term, high-interest loan".

Number of times ordained minister Martin Marty said "hell" during his presentation: 2. Number of times Marty said "goddamn": 1. Number of times uber-heathen Richard Dawkins said "hell", "goddamn", or any other blasphemous swear: 0.

Dawkins told the story of Kurt Wise, who took a scissors to the Bible and cut out every passage which was in discord with the theory of evolution, eventually ending up with a fragmented mess. Confronted with this crisis of faith and science, Wise renounced evolution and became a geologist who believes that the earth is only 6000 years old.

The story of Micah Garen's capture by Iraqi militants and Marie-Helene Carlton's efforts to get her boyfriend back home safely illustrates the power of the connected world. Marie-Helene and Micah's family used emails, mobile phones, and sat phones to reach out through their global social network, eventually reaching people in Iraq whom Micah's captors might listen to. A woman in the audience stood during the Q&A and related her story of her boyfriend being on a hijacked plane out of Athens in 1985 and how powerless she was to do anything in the age before mobiles, email, and sat phones. Today, Stanley Milgram might say, an Ayatollah is never more than 4 or 5 people away.

Lexicographer Erin McKean told us several interesting things about dictionaries, including that "lexicographer" can be found in even the smallest of dictionaries because, duh, look who's responsible for compiling the words in a dictionary. She called dictionaries the vodka of literature: a distillation of really meaty mixture of substances into something that odorless, tasteless, colorless, and yet very powerful. Here an interview with her and a video of a lecture she gave at Google.

Voting for the futureOct 20 2006

Juan Enriquez had a nice idea for rebalancing the priorities in the voting booth: proxy votes for parents of children under 18. That is, if my wife and I have two kids, the family gets four votes, not two. Juan's rationale for this plan is that the voting public is currently made up of a lot of baby boomers, who are going to begin to vote for things that benefit their age group, which can be thought of as an investment in the past. By voting on behalf of the 0-18 year-olds, the parents might support issues that benefit that age group (education, etc.) and invest in the future instead. Here's a quote from Juan in CIO Magazine:

Why not give parents of kids under 18 one proxy vote per child? Only then will there be a strong voting block to counter growing gray power. It is also time to quit spending more than we earn. And above all, it is time to realize just how fragile countries can be.

If you missed his talk on PopTech Live, the CIO article covers some of what he talked about.

AIGA Design Conference podcastsSep 29 2005

The AIGA has podcasts and presentation materials up for some of the speakers from the Design Conference (my full coverage here). Several of the main stage speeches are up, as well as backstage interviews with some of the participants. In particular, I would recommend:

  • Audio of the main stage presentation and interview with Juan Enriquez.
  • Audio of the main stage presentation by Bill Strickland on The Design of Leadership.
  • Audio of the main stage presentation by Milton Glaser and Nicholas Negroponte.
  • Audio of the main stage presentation by Murray Moss, although I'm not sure how well this one would work if you listened to it without the slides.
  • The PDF of Stefan Sagmeister's presentation doesn't make too much sense without the audio, but the last 50 or so slides are worth checking out for the design candy.

These aren't just for designers; they're perfectly fine for non-designers as well. Here's the RSS file with all the resources...it should work well with your favorite podcasting software or newsreader. It's great that the AIGA is making these presentations freely available...you're getting a lot of the conference for free here. If I remember correctly, not even O'Reilly offers the presentations or podcasts for download after their events like Etech.

Update: Wrong again! IT Conversations has several podcasts from the last Etech conference. (thx tim)

And, the rest of the (AIGA Conference) storySep 20 2005

Here's a sampling of the rest of the AIGA Design Conference, stuff that I haven't covered yet and didn't belong in a post of it's own:

  • Juan Enriquez gave what was probably my favorite talk about what's going on in the world of genetics right now. I've heard him give a variation of this talk before (at PopTech, I think). He started off talking about coding systems and how when they get more efficient (in the way that the Romance languages are more efficient than Chinese languages), the more powerful they become in human hands. Binary is very powerful because you can encode text, images, video, etc. using just two symbols, 1 and 0. Segue to DNA, a four symbol language to make living organisms...obviously quite powerful in human hands.
  • Enriquez: All life is imperfectly transmitted code. That's what evolution is, and without the imperfections, there would be no life. The little differences over long periods of time are what's important.
  • Enriquez again: The mosquito is a flying hypodermic needle. That's how it delivers malaria to humans. We could use that same capability for vaccinating cows against disease.
  • Along with his list of 20 courses he didn't take in design school, Michael Bierut offered some advice to young designers:

    1. Design is the easy part.
    2. Learn from your clients, bosses, collaborators, and colleagues.
    3. Content is king.
    4. Read. Read. Read.
    5. Think first, then design.
    6. Never forget how lucky you are. Enjoy yourself.
  • Nicholas Negroponte: If programmers got paid to remove code from sofware instead of writing new code, software would be a whole lot better.
  • Negroponte also shared a story about outfitting the kids in a school in Cambodia with laptops; the kids' first English word was "Google", and from what Negroponte said, that was followed closely by "Skype". He also said the children's parents loved the laptops because at night, it was the brightest light in the house.
  • Christi recorded Milton Glaser's mother's spaghetti recipe. "Cook until basically all of the water is evaporated. Mix in bottle of ketchup; HEINZ ketchup."
  • Ben Karlin and Paula Scher on the challenges of making America, The Book: Books are more daunting than doing TV because print allows for a much greater density of jokes. In trying to shoot the cover image, they found that bald eagles cannot be used live for marketing or advertising purposes. The solution? A golden eagle and Photoshop. And for a spread depicting all the Supreme Court Justices in the buff, they struggled -- even with the Web -- to find nude photos of older people until they found a Vermont nudist colony willing to send them photos because they were big fans of The Daily Show.
  • Bill Strickland blew the doors off the conference with his account of the work he's doing in "curing cancer" -- his term for revitalizing violent and crime-ridden neighborhoods -- in Pittsburgh. I can't do justice to his talk, so two short anecdotes. Strickland said he realized that "poor people never have a nice day" so when he built his buildings in these poor black neighbohoods, he put nice fountains out front so that people coming into the building know that they're entering a space where it's possible to have a good day. Another time, a bigwig of some sort was visiting the center and asked Strickland about the flowers he saw everywhere. Flowers in the hood? How'd these get here? Strickland told him "you don't need a task force or study group to buy flowers" and that he'd just got in his car, bought some flowers, brought them back, and set them around the place. His point in all this was creating a place where people feel less dissimilar to each other...black, white, rich, poor, everybody has a right to flowers and an education and to be treated with respect and to have a nice day. You start treating people like that, and surprise!, they thrive. Strickland's inner city programs have produced Fulbright Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, and tons of college graduates.
  • I caught 30 minutes of David Peters' presentation of Typecast: The Art of the Typographic Film Title and realized I should have gotten there in time to see the whole thing. I could sit and watch cool movie titles all day long. Among the titles he showed were Bullit, Panic Room, Dr. Strangelove, Barbarella, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Superman. The title sequence for Napoleon Dynamite (which was discussed on Design Observer last year) was shown later in the main hall.
  • At the closing party at the Museum of Science, we checked out the cool Mathematica exhibit that was designed by Charles and Ray Eames, two designers who were also pretty big science/math nerds.
  • And some final thoughts from others at the conference. Peter Merholz says that "form-makers", which make up the vast majority of the AIGA audience, "are being passed by those who are attempting to use design to serve more strategic ends". (That's an interesting thought...) A pair of reviews from Speak Up: Bryony was a bit disappointed with the opening Design Gala but left, like everyone else, in love with emcee John Hockenberry while Armin noted that the preservation of digital files is a big concern for museums in building a collection of graphic design pieces...in 35 years, how are you going load that Quark file or run that Flash movie?

For more of what people are saying about the conference, check out IceRocket. There's a bunch of photos on Flickr as well.

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