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Category “Education”

Driverless Cars (1)

For most of this year I’ve been making time to learn about driverless car technology.

Humans driving cars is a problem. When we drive cars we are ‘machine operators’ and like any human who operates a machine, some are good and some are not. We get tired, we get distracted, we SMS, we get old, we get drunk.

Driving is dangerous. Driving is unproductive. Driving is wasteful.

My primary area of focus here is not the driverless technology itself, but the impact it will have on current systems and services and the in the new industries and services that will be developed as a result of it’s implementation.

Key benefits of the technology

  1. Health & Safety (lower incident rates of accidents)
  2. Productivity (more efficient travel times & ability to work or rest while in transit)
  3. Environmental (more efficient use of energy & a move to electric cars)

I’ll continue to research this topic and share links to research and development that I come across.


Below is a list of articles and videos I’ve found interesting so far and serve as a bit of an introduction to the topic:


1. (2011 TED talk) Googles Driverless Car by Sebastian Thrun


2. Google Self Driving Car Project (Official Google Blog, October 2010)


3. Google’s first prototype with no steering wheel (link)


3. Fortune Article on 3D printing human organs (link)

“A major source of organ donations? Auto collisions. Which means 3D printed organs won’t become a reality until we get self-driving cars, a surprising connection.”


4. How Google’s Driverless Cars Detect Aggressive Drivers (link)


5. Video of how the Google car navigates city streets

An Email About The Design Industry

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 10.29.31 am


I wrote this to a friend this morning and wanted to share it because I hear these topics talked about all the time. The text from the screenshot above and ‘*’ on ‘Understanding’ is below.


Hard to know what roles they are thinking about filling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their were jobs in the industry that weren’t being filled by the output of the education system here. The gap between industry and education is every widening.
I believe that we are at a really unique time in the design (specifically graphic) industries history.
Demand to be a designer and ‘work from home‘ + abundance of courses teaching design + access to design hardware and software +wider community understanding* (thanks Steve & Apple)  = Over supply of designers, many under qualified.
Key points that concern me about the Australian design industry:
1. Most People Speak Different Languages
(Generally speaking) Design and business are still talking to each other in different languages. Firms like IDEO, Frog & Tank don’t make this mistake. This is where value is miss-understood. Design effectiveness isn’t measured. That’s insane.
2. Digital Design & Education
(At a graphic design level) Digital design is extremely underrepresented in the curriculum’s of most education providers.
3Design & Business Education
The number of students that are graduating without adequate business skills is remarkable. Our industry is unique because even before you start your formal training you can begin freelancing or running your own business. Unlike law or medicine you don’t need any formal qualifications to be a practicing graphic designer. You also don’t need to complete any work experience. This means we have lots of students graduating and starting their own ‘Motherbird’ studio without any idea of how to charge clients or manage projects or understand billable hours.
I’m not convinced that forcing students to complete industry practice is the right way to go (although it would help). I’d rather see a much larger investment in educating our students about running a business and helping them understand that we are in a service industry. The market is impartial. It doesn’t care if we can’t manage our own time.


*Understanding: this is still relatively low. People look at Apple products and launch events and understand that design is somehow linked to increase value, but I’m not convinced that they understand why or when to use design.

Can design be taught online?

“…and it will all be done online.” they said.

Today I learned that a local education provider will join a few others and from next year, start offering a full time Graphic Design course ‘online’.

Automating my to-do list across multiple devices? Tick. Storing and categorising all of my receipts automatically? Tick. Being able to carry all the worlds music (almost) in my pocket. Tick. So many things can and should be made easier, quicker, cheaper for us by taking them online. Things that machines can do better than us should be. Education is not one of them. At least not entirely.

Education is no doubt in need of some pretty significant changes, a revolution even, but some things need to be learned with your hands, with skilled people teaching you, not online in forums and through .pdf’s.

When I was first taught ‘graphic design’, we had CS1 and we had the third gen iMac’s, but as any decent designer will tell you, the tech doesn’t mean shit. The tools don’t make you a better designer.

Our class was forced to draw hundreds of A4 proportioned thumbnails to learn about scale and proportion. We made posters using old boxes of Letraset, and were asked to layout magazine spreads by photocopying existing type, then cutting and pasting around images. If we didn’t like the design, you had to start again from scratch, by hand. No ‘create new page’ buttons.

It’s clear that technology can and is already having a huge impact on education, (I’m a fan of the work Treehouse are doing in this space). But there is a part of me that feels like we are failing students when we offer an entire ‘Graphic Design’ course online that has little to no human contact necessary to pass.

Like many things, design is a craft and once upon a time it was taught through apprenticeships with masters of the craft. Education has evolved overtime, but today I was given a reminder that maybe we are pushing things too far. When a designer is no longer required to make things with their hands, I think we’ve strayed way off the path.

Maybe our education providers are measuring the wrong metrics. Instead of measuring the number of students to enrol and graduate, we should pay close attention to the number of students who find their passion and adequately learn the skills required to create value*.

Harder to put in a spread sheet I know, but we could try?

*or something similar?


full-office-cubicles-449-297“When did not having purpose become the norm?”

I don’t remember who said it, me or the person I was talking to, but that questions summed up a lengthy conversation last night about education, design and other things.

It’s true that it’s now the normal to go through life without purpose, without the feeling that you are working towards something worthwhile, something important to you as an individual.

When did that happen? And more importantly, why? More importantly again, how do we start to reverse it?

Early this week in a Medium post, Nick Crocker said “If you said to me, go and design a Diabetes store, I would just take you to the supermarket.”

I wonder if you someone asked you, “Can you design me an environment that reduces the chance of someone discovering purpose in their work and life”, whether you would just take them to a standard university or office suite.

Everyone is passionate about something, everyone is capable of finding purpose in their work, but to achieve that we might need to start rethinking how, where and why we learn and work.

Deliberately designing models and systems that encourage the discovery of purpose in life and work and in everything, should surely be one of societies highest priorities.




Education Ideas

What would an education system look like where students come to learn and leave when both the student and education provider agree they have learned what they came to learn? What would the business model be? 

More and more I find myself in long conversations about education, how important it is, how fucked up the current model appears to be etc.

One attribute of current education models that has been getting my attention lately is the relationship between time, money and learning.

Currently we pay an education provider to give us the relevant knowledge over a defined period of time e.g. 3 years to obtain some sort of qualification, degree, diploma etc.

This model works well for the institution because time is easy to plan and measure, but I wonder if it actually benefits the student (customer).

If it only takes me 6 months to learn all the information required to obtain what would normally be a 3 year degree, why do I need to wait 3 years? Likewise, what if it takes me longer to learn than other people? What if I need 4 years and 5 months to understand all the content properly?

Should the role of an education provider be to create an environment where a student can be curious and learn at their own pace and then step in to push them out of the nest when they observe they are ready?

• How does an education provider scale ‘knowing when to push someone out of the nest’? It’s a high touch problem.

• If not in ‘time’, how do yo charge a student for their education?


Peter Thiel (PayPal co-foudner) said in this interview (44:30) that the education providers are really insurance salesman and that most people view consciously or not, obtaining a qualification like buying insurance policy, ensuring they can get a job and avoid “falling through the cracks in our society” as Theil puts it. Few actually study because they are interested in learning.

If that is true, and I believe it is, we have a pretty big problem on our hands.