In the final of this weekend’s panel discussions, Hernan Diaz Alonso spoke of “iPad syndrome” as a beautifully packaged set of constraints that may (along the lines of Jonathan Zittrain’s thoughts on closed technology) limit our creativity and imagination.  I couldn’t help but think of a representation project from undergrad where I chose to deform the iPod – but failed to radically alter it in any meaningful way. Perhaps my imagination was overwhelmed by my reverence for Mr. Ive’s design and the values embedded within?  (I think “reverence” is appropriate .  I don’t think I’m the only one who considers the Apple logo Eve’s snack.  Maybe original sin = over-specialization?)

J.Hilmes - Spring 2006

Fast forward a few years to the previously mentioned iPad.  If good design is often a product of constraints and limitations, then how does Hernan’s statement figure into the equation?  The following video is a simple example of working within the constraints of the tools available – and transcending them in unforeseen ways.

Making Future Magic: iPad light painting from Dentsu London on Vimeo.

Another of this weekend’s speakers, Leah Buechley,  questioned in a separate panel discussion whether a culture of customization (facilitated by an abundance of accessible open-source tools) actually reinforced silos of information and other forms of isolation – by perpetuating a specific interpretation of the Western ideal of complete “freedom” – which in turn reminded me of Rob Riemen’s thoughts on the word in his fantastic book Nobility of Spirit.

How do we “define our terms” and communicate in an age of infinite options?

Steven Mankouche – “Open Source or Representative Democracy?”

Heather Roberge – “How do the tools themselves shift your values?”

Conclusion? - This post will mutate.  Stay tuned.


This morning I – along with a couple hundred of my closest friends :) – skyped with Bruce Sterling.  how cool is that?!  many thanks to Dean Monica Ponce de Leon and the rest of the faculty and students (particularly my gracious hosts Geoff Salvatore and Andrew Stern) at the University of Michigan’s Taubmann College  for putting this event together.  Stay tuned for the “Future of History” coming this winter – as well as more substantive reflections (and the forthcoming Youtube videos of the conference) after I process all that was so generously shared this weekend.


ReFarm The City @ Andes Sprouts Society from Mark Kizelshteyn on Vimeo.