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Books that have shaped our thinking – Nava PBC
"Recommended reads related to civic tech, health, government, behavioral science, design and engineering

At Nava we have a living Google Doc where we link to books that help us understand the systems and architecture we use. The intention of this document is to form a baseline of readings that new employees will need and to share with other employees good resources for being productive.

Below are some of our favorites from that list:

Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences
by Susan Leigh Star and Geoffrey C. Bowker
This covers, in great detail, the astounding ways that the models we make for the world end up influencing how we interact with it. This is incredibly relevant to our work: the data models we define and the way we classify and interpret data have profound and often invisible impacts on large populations. — Sha Hwang, Co-founder and Head of Creative

Decoded
by Jay Z
Decoded is Jay Z’s autobiography and describes his experience as a black man growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in NYC. In particular, there is a passage about poor people’s relationship to the government that changed the way I think about the perception of those government services that I work to improve. This book showed me that the folks we usually want to serve most well in government, are the ones who are most likely to have had profoundly negative experiences with government. It taught me that, when I work on government services, I am rebuilding a relationship, not starting a new one. Context is so important. It’s a fun, fast read and I used to ask that our Apprentices read at least that passage, if not the whole book, before starting with our team at the NYC Mayor’s Office. — Genevieve Gaudet, Designer

Seeing like a State
by James C. Scott
A reminder that the governance of people at scale can have unintended consequences when removed from people’s daily lives and needs. You won’t think of the grid, property lines, and last names the same way again.— Shelly Ni, Designer

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
Cain uses data and real world examples of how and why introverts are overlooked in American culture and then discusses how both introverts and extroverts can play a role in ensuring introverts get a seat at the table and a word in the conversation. — Aimee Barciauskas, Software Engineer

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas Piketty
This book analyzes the long-term fluctuations in wealth inequality across the globe, from the eighteenth century to present. He exposes an incredibly important issue in a compelling way, using references not just to data, but to history and literature to prove his point. — Mari Miyachi, Software Engineer

Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III
by Robert A. Caro
Our most underhanded president also brought us Medicaid, Medicare, and civil rights. Was Machiavelli so bad after all? — Alex Prokop, Software Engineer

Praying for Sheetrock
by Melissa Fay Greene
A true, close-up story of McIntosh County, Georgia, a place left behind by the greater Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. This is a story about the civil rights movement that shakes up the community in the 1970s, and this is also a story about burnout, and organizing, and intergenerational trauma. — Shelly Ni, Designer

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care
by T. R. Reid
Reid explores different models for healthcare in nations across the globe. He’s searching for an understanding of why America’s system is comparatively so expensive and unsuccessful, leaving so many uninsured and unhealthy. There is a great chapter on Ayurvedic medicine which (spoiler alert) seemed to work for the author when he was suffering from a shoulder injury! — Aimee Barciauskas, Software Engineer

Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
A very enjoyable and inspirational read about the history of Pixar from founder Ed Catmull himself. It delves into what sets a creative company apart and teaches lessons like “people are more important than ideas” and “simple answers are seductive” without reading like a typical business book.— Lauren Peterson, Product Manager

Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
The magnum opus of Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman is a psychologist but his Nobel is in Economics, and unlike other winners in this category, his win stands the test of time. You will be a much better decision maker after reading this book and understanding the two modes our brains work in: System 1 intuitive “fast” thinking and System 2 deliberate “slow” thinking. It is a beast of a book, but unlike the vast majority of (pop) psychology books, this book distills decades of groundbreaking research and is the basis for so many other psychology books and research that if you read this book carefully, you won’t have to read those other books. There are so many topics in this book, I’ll just link to the Wikipedia page to give you a flavor.— Alicia Liu, Software Engineer

Nudge
by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
This covers how sensible “choice architecture” can improve the decisions and behavior of people. Much of what’s covered comes from decades of research in behavioral science and economics, and has a wide range of applications — from design, user research, and policy to business and everyday life. — Sawyer Hollenshead, Designer

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
by Atul Gawande
This book is about how checklists can help even experts avoid mistakes. Experience isn’t enough. I try to apply the lessons of this book to the processes we use to operate our software.—Evan Kroske, Software Engineer

The Soul of a New Machine
by Tracy Kidder
This book details the work of a computer engineering team racing to design a computer. While the pace of work for the team is certainly unsustainable and perhaps even unhealthy at times, the highs and lows they go through as they debug their new minicomputer will be familiar to engineers and members of tight-knit groups of all varieties. The rush to finish their project, which was thought to be a dark horse at the beginning of the book, is enthralling and will keep you engaged with this book late into the night. — Samuel Keller, Software Engineer

Release It!: Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software
by Michael T. Nygard
One of the best, most practical books I’ve ever read about creating resilient software on “modern” web architectures. While it may not be the most relevant with regards to cloud-based infrastructure, the patterns and processes described within are still very applicable. This is one of the few technical books I have read cover-to-cover. — Scott Smith, Software Engineer

Design for Democracy
by Marcia Lausen
From an AIGA project to improve the design of ballots— both paper and electronic— following the “hanging chad” drama of the 2000 election, comes this review of best practices for designers, election officials, and anyone interested in the intersection of design and voting.—Shelly Ni, Designer

The Design of Everyday Things
by Donald A. Norman
This is a classic for learning about design and its sometimes unintended consequences. I read it years ago and I still think about it every time I’m in an elevator. It’s a great introduction to a designer’s responsibility and designing in the real world for actual humans, who can make mistakes and surprising choices about how to use the designs you create. — Genevieve Gaudet, Designer

More recommendations from the team
• The Unexotic Underclass
• Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice
• Everybody Hurts: Content for Kindness
• Poverty Interrupted: Applying Behavioral Science to the Context of Chronic Scarcity [PDF]
• Designing for Social Change: Strategies for Community-Based Graphic Design
• Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels
• The New New Journalism: Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers on their Craft
• The Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art out of Desperate Times
• The Effective Engineer: How to Leverage Your Efforts In Software Engineering to Make a Disproportionate and Meaningful Impact
• Effective DevOps: Building a Culture of Collaboration, Affinity, and Tooling at Scale"
nava  books  booklists  design  education  health  healthcare  sawyerhollenshed  jayz  susanleighstar  shahwang  geoffreybowker  decoded  jamescscott  seeinglikeastate  susancain  introverts  quiet  thomaspiketty  economics  melissafaygreene  civilrrights  socialjustice  creativity  edcatmull  amyallace  pixar  teams  readinglists  toread  howwethink  thinking  danielkahneman  government  richardthaler  casssunstein  atulgawande  tracykidder  medicine  checklists  process  michaelnygard  software  ui  ux  democracy  donalnorman  devops  improvisation  collaboration  sfsh  journalism  kindness  socialchange  transparency  participation  participatory  opengovernment  open 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Storytelling advice (video) | Khan Academy
[via: "Now you can take Pixar’s ‘The Art of Storytelling’ course for free"
http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2017/02/16/now-you-can-take-pixars-the-art-of-storytelling-course-for-free/

"Have you always wanted to be Pixar animator? Now that process is a tiny bit easier. The animation studio recently made a number of courses available on the Khan Academy website to help you start your journey — and they’re free.

The group of courses are called “Pixar in a Box” and include short lessons on everything from character modeling and animation to using virtual cameras. Today, it added a new course into the mix: The Art of Storytelling.

The free course is an exploration into the storytelling process at Pixar. From the course description:

“What makes someone a good storyteller? Storytelling is something we all do naturally, starting at a young age, but there’s a difference between good storytelling and great storytelling. In this lesson you’ll hear from Pixar directors and story artists about how they got their start, what stories inspire them, and you’ll begin to think about what kinds of stories you might want to tell.”

Throughout the course, you’ll learn what Pixar creators do to help build their own stories, complete activities, and get advice from Pixar storytellers on how to tell your own stories.

The courses are made up of text and short videos and are designed so that anyone at any skill level can start at the beginning and dive right in. They’re not quite as comprehensive as what you might learn in a college course but can give you a really good overview of a topic to help you decide if you might want to enroll in a course down the line.

Who knows? The next “Toy Story” might even be your idea."]

[Also available from Pixar:
https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/pixar ]
khanacademy  pixar  storytelling  classideas  animation  filmmaking  2017 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Apple and Star Wars together explain why much of the world around you looks the way it does - Quartz
"One of the most effective critiques of the totalizing approach to urban design—the Darth-design of cities, if you will—was architecture critic, activist, and theorist Jane Jacobs. Towards the end of her bestselling 1962 critique of mid-century urban design, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs recounts the number and diversity of the neighbors in the building where she worked. She reports:
“The floor of the building in which this book is being written is occupied also by a health club with a gym, a firm of ecclesiastical decorators, an insurgent Democratic party reform club, a Liberal party political club, a music society, an accordionists’ association, a retired importer who sells maté by mail, a man who sells paper and who also takes care of shipping the maté, a dental laboratory, a studio for watercolor lessons, and a maker of costume jewelry. Among the tenants who were here and gone shortly before I came in, were a man who rented out tuxedos, a union local and a Haitian dance troupe. There is no place for the likes of us in new construction. And the last thing we need is new construction.”

And added, in a forceful footnote: “No, the last thing we need is some paternalist weighing whether we are sufficiently noncontroversial to be admitted to subsidized quarters in a Utopian dream city.”

That there is little room for controversy or discord in the Death Star—amongst its legion of same-suited stormtroopers, say—may go without saying. But what of Apple?

It is clear, first of all, that the company’s success—for all the apparent imperiousness of Jobs—relied, and likely relies still, on discussion, disagreement, and diversity. Jobs himself was famously a stickler for regular “no-holds-barred” meetings in which, while his own leadership had to remain unchallenged, no other presumptions or suppositions were sacred. (Pixar’s irrepressible Alvy Ray Smith would be one of the only employees to challenge Jobs’ control of a whiteboard, part of a duel with Jobs in which dry-erase markers, presumably, stood in for sabers.)

Like the products themselves, however, Apple’s core identity relies on keeping disagreement and discord behind a tightly controlled façade. And sometimes even a tightly controlled interior; one of Jobs’ least successful management interventions on his return to Apple was a short-lived attempt to have all his many thousand employees wear the same, black, custom Issey Miyake clothing. To Jobs’ credit, he quickly withdrew the proposal—but it lived on in the many hundred black turtlenecks Miyake crafted for Jobs’ own, resulting use.

No, if there is something disturbing in the design of Apple’s own apparent Death Star, it is not so much in the company’s clearly successful internal operations, nor in its beautifully singular product range. Rather, it lies in the runaway result of this success; the way in which so many of our interactions with the world, and with each other, are now filtered through the efforts of a single, well-designed and Apple-authored interface.

And beyond well-intentioned, we might even say essential. Particularly given the disorder and predictable unpredictability of complex technological systems, we all crave, and need order. The first Star Wars shoot was so plagued with technical difficulties (and the related derision of the unionized British workforce on the Pinewood Studio lot) that more than one cast member observed that George Lucas appeared far more sympathetic to the authority and order of the Empire than the ragtag Rebel Alliance. Apple has thrived above all in the last two decades by offering the particular beauty that lies in order, organization, and simplicity, and in the predictable delight that results when something technical, unexpectedly, just works."



"We might start inside. A recent profile of Sir Jony Ive in the New Yorker by Ian Parker, “The Shape of Things to Come,” shifts seamlessly from the discussion of consumer objects to that of architecture. Ive, it is suggested, sees himself as an architect too. He finds it, he says, “a curious thing” that in design “we tend to compartmentalize, based on physical scale.” He is reported to assert that he has (in Parker’s words) “taught Foster’s architects something about the geometry of corners,” introducing a seamless, curved detail between wall and floor that now runs throughout the building’s interior.
Yet this detail, and its future life, points to what is in fact one of the main differences between design at the scale of consumer electronics, and that at the scale of architecture and the city.

Apple’s great success as a consumer-focused company is rooted in the one power a consumer has above all: choice. Apple’s products are ubiquitous, above all, because they are far better than what they compete with, a quality that comes precisely from the tight control that Apple exerts on them and their design. But, at the point we don’t like our device, we can—and will—buy a different and better one—from Apple, or from some as-yet-unimaginable competitor.

Yet it is in the nature of architecture that it offers no such choice—the more so the bigger it gets. We can, if we are lucky, sell a house we don’t like. But we can’t sell or dispose of the terrible building across the road. And architecture involves many more people than those who design it, or even pay for it. Myself, I keep thinking of the cleaning staff of the new Apple headquarters; it is for these people, above all, that the usual, clunky detail of wall-meeting-floor exists, with a skirting board to hide the edge of the floor-wax, and catch and disguise the dirt that escapes the polishers. One hopes a special, super-functional polishing device has been designed for them, that will seamlessly clean and feather the floor-wax as it slowly curves into the wall—but one fears that it has not. One thinks as well of Apple’s desk-bound employees, who, so as to preserve the clean lines of the building’s exterior, will not be able to open windows in their offices—despite the Bay Area’s preposterously perfect climate. (“That would just allow people to screw things up,” Jobs apparently declared.)

But here is where the design of products and buildings is most different. The particular conundrum solved by the best teams of architects and city-builders (including all of us as citizens) is how to balance a whole set of competing demands, physical, environmental, and social, against each other—including the demands of the powerful against the needs, and rights, of the powerless.

As we attempt to design 21st-century cities for an increasing landscape of uncertainty, this is an important lesson to remember. Instead of single, grand projects, the staying-power of a city depends on a million connections between its inhabitants, and the natural and technological systems that sustain them. Cities designed tabula rasa, as Jane Jacobs cogently characterized it a generation ago, lack this robust resilience. Instead, their monumental visions of order turn out to hide brittleness, fragility, and frequent catastrophe. Even the most seemingly ordered long-lived city-grid—Manhattan, Barcelona, even San Francisco—simply allows us to better negotiate what is, in reality, a riot of real-world diversity.

It is in this light, perhaps, that one might also examine Apple’s greatest points of corporate difficulty: the interface between the company’s tightly designed and integrated products, and the public software ecosystems it has developed in service of them, the App Store and the Mac App Store. To this architect, these places read a bit like a modernist cityscape; beautiful, elegant, even nice to visit—but very difficult to live in. Like such cities they are also—at least in the case of the Mac App Store—increasingly abandoned, as is usual, by those who can afford to leave.

And yet it is not really Apple that is entirely to blame. The revolution in architecture today—one where the world of screens and devices and the common infrastructure of our cities merge, overlap and combine—is much larger than even the enormous, careful company.

In an awkwardly received, hauntingly prescient diatribe while presenting the Oscar for Best Director in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola declared, “We’re on the eve of something that’s going to make the Industrial Revolution look like a small out-of-town tryout.” What Coppola saw was our world today: “a communications revolution that’s about movies and art and music and digital electronics and satellites, but above all, human talent.”

Steve Jobs’ Apple set out to help create this world—and has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams of the future. George Lucas hired Pixar’s founders, originally, to use technology to make the production of culture easier for himself and a cadre of directors. But Lucas’s digital editing system was quickly eclipsed by Apple’s own, far cheaper, Final Cut Pro—and then, of course, by the iPhones that put high-quality filmmaking and editing into all of our hands. In this, and much else, Apple has helped author a world much like that of Lucas’s far-off galaxy; where all of us are connected, and can tap into vast reserves of invisible power through the device we hold in our hands.

But as Apple’s reach extends into the city and world, into the public sphere as well as the private screen, we should do well to remember these hard-learned lessons of control and openness, hardness and softness, brittleness and resilience. After all, the only thing one can say for certain about a Death Star is that it unexpectedly explodes right before the ending."
apple  starwars  georgelucas  architecture  cities  design  stevejobs  nicholasdemonchaux  history  siliconvalley  filmmaking  urbanism  urbanplanning  control  predicatability  fragility  resilience  unpredicatability  hackers  hackability  jonyive  janejacobs  discussion  disagreement  friction  discord  serendipity  authority  cupertino  pixar  canon  openness  hardness  softness  brittleness  isolation  uncertainty 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Episode Forty One: When You're Part Of A Team; The Dabbler
"The thing is, a lot of this behaviour is very easy to mistake for cult-like behaviour from the outside. Apple frequently gets described as a cult - not only are its employees members of the cult, but its customers are described in terms of being followers, too. And you see this cult behaviour in terms of the reverence expressed toward dear leaders (Messrs Wieden and Kennedy, for example, or the brain trust at Pixar, or Steve at Apple) but also in terms of the transmission of the values of those leaders. Wieden prides itself on a number of maxims ranging from a thousands-of-thumbtacks installation done by members of its advertising school of the slogan FAIL HARDER (with requisite misplaced thumbtack) to pretty much every employee being able to understand what's meant by "the work comes first" even if they do need a bit of re-education as to how, exactly, the work comes first (ie: it is not a get out of jail free card when you disagree with the client about what counts as good work). Then there are the Other Rules, the ones practically handed down from the mount (or, more accurately, discovered in an office scribbled in pen) that state:

1. Don't act big
2. No sharp stuff
3. Follow directions
4. Shut up when someone is talking to you

and turned out to be a parent's note to their child but actually not that bad advice when you think about it.

[See also: http://wklondon.typepad.com/welcome_to_optimism/2005/02/words_from_wied.html ]

And now, another nascent organisation, another one that I constantly harp on about: the UK's Government Digital Service. I don't think it's a coincidence that from the outside two of the people (but certainly by no means the only people) influential in the success of GDS and its culture are Russell Davies and Ben Terrett, both of whom have been through the Wieden+Kennedy, er, experience.

Russell is an exceedingly smart, unassuming and humble person who has a singularly incredibly ability to be almost devastatingly insightful and plain-speaking at the same time. It feels rare to see both at the same time. But what he's articulating at the moment in terms of GDS strategy and implementation is the thought that "the unit of delivery is the team" and when you're building a new organisation from the ground up, and one whose success is tied directly to its ability to embed within and absorb the culture of an existing massive entity, the UK civil service, it feels like watching a (so far successful) experiment in sociology and anthropology being deployed in realtime. A note (and thanks to Matthew Solle for the clarification because it's an important one): while the GDS works with the civil service, it's not actually a part of it, instead being a part of the cabinet office and being more tied to the government of the day.

So there are macro-level observations about Pixar that you glean from books and other secondary sources, but it's not until you visit the place and start to talk to the people who work there that understand starts to feel that it unlocks a little more. I'm lucky enough to know one person at Pixar who's been gracious enough to host me a few times and while we were talking about the culture of the place and how, exactly, they get done what they get done, one thing that struck me was the role of the individual and the individual's place in the team.

You see, one of the things it felt like they concentrated on was empowerment and responsibility but also those two things set against context. My friend would talk about how every person on his team would know what their superpower was - the thing they were good at, the thing that they were expert at - and everyone else would know what that superpower was, too. And the culture thus fostered was one where everyone was entitled to have a reckon or an opinion about something and were listened to, but when it came down to it, the decision and authority rested with the expert.

Now, this might not sound like a stunningly insightful revelation. Allowing people to have opinions about the work of the greater team and then restricting decision-making to those best qualified to make it sounds on the surface like a fairly reasonable if not obvious tenet, and maybe even one that because of its obviousness would seem reasonably easy if not trivial to implement. Well, if you think that, then I'm sorry, it sounds like you've never been a good manager before: it turns out to be exceedingly difficult.

At this point the narrative begins to sound rather trite: Pixar, and the companies like it that consistently achieve "good" results and are able to marshall the resources of large teams to accomplish something greater, are simply trying harder than all the other ones. And in the end, it may well be as simple as that. It's easy to have a mission statement. It's easy to have values. It's significantly harder to try as hard you can, every single day, for thirty years, to actually live them.

In the same way that one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply say that one has a set of values or culture and it magically happen.

This is perhaps best illustrated in the blindness of the new wave of stereotypical valley startups that rail against bureaucracy and instead insist that their trademarked culture of holocracy inures them to the requirement of bureaucracy. That the way they instinctively do things is sufficient in and of itself. Well: bullshit to that. That simply doesn't scale, and the companies that think they're doing that - and I'm looking at you, Github, winner so far of the Best Example Of The Need To Grow Up award of 2014 and we've not even finished the first quarter of the year - are living in some sort of hundred-million-dollar VC-fueled fantasy land. Which, I suppose, goes without saying.

I began this part by implying something about teams, and I sort of alluded to it when mentioning the GDS maxim that the unit of delivery is the team.

I think it's becoming clear that the type of delivery that is expected in this age by its nature requires a multi-disciplinary team that works together. It's not enough, anymore, to have specialisms siloed away, and one thing that jumped out at me recently was the assertion in conversation on Twitter with a number of GDS members that there isn't anybody with the role of "user experience" at GDS. Everyone, each and every single member of the team, is responsible and accountable to the user experience of delivery, from operations to design to copy and research.

The sharpest end of this is where digital expertise had traditionally been siloed away in a sort of other. In a sort of check-boxing exercise, organisations would recruit in those with digital experience and either for reasons of expediency or for their own good, would shepherd them into a separate organisational unit. Davies' point - and one that is rapidly becoming clear - is that this just doesn't make sense anymore. I would qualify that and say that it doesn't make sense for certain organisations, but I'm not even sure if I can do that, and instead should just agree that it's a rule across the board.

Of course, the devil is always in the detail of the implementation."



"The thing about hobbies in the networked age is that it's incredibly easy for them to become performative instead of insular. That's not to say that insular hobbies are great, but the networked performance of a hobby comes with seductive interactions built not necessarily for the hobbyist's benefit but for the benefit of the network substrate or medium. As a general reckon, hobbies in their purest form are nothing but intrinsic motivation: whether they're an idiosyncratic desire to catalogue every single model of rolling stock in the UK or increasingly intricate nail art, before the hobby becomes performative it is for the self's benefit only, a sort of meditation in repetitive action and a practice.

The hobby as the networked performance, though (and I realise that at this point I may well sound like a reactionary luddite who doesn't 'get' the point of social media) perhaps too easily tips the balance in favour of extrinsic motivation. Whether that extrinsic motivation is in terms of metrics like followers, likes, retweets, subscribers or other measurable interaction with the hobbyist the point remains that it's there, and it's never necessarily for a clear benefit for the hobbyist. You could perhaps absolve blame and say that such metrics are intrinsic properties of the enactment of a social graph and that they're making explicit what would be rendered as implicit feedback cues in any event, but I don't buy that. They were put there for a reason. Friend counts and subscriber counts were put there because those of us who are product designers and of the more geeky persuasion realised that we could count something (and here, we get to point the finger at the recording pencil of the train spotter), and the step from counting something to making visible that count was a small one and then our evolutionary psychology and comparison of sexual fitness took over and before you knew it people were doing at the very least SXSW panels or if you were really lucky TED talks about gamification and leaderboards and whether you had more Fuelpoints than your friends.

So that's what happened to the hobby: it moved from the private to the public and at the same time the dominant public medium of the day, the one that all of us had access to, marched inexorably to measurement, quantification and feedback loops of attention."
danhon  leadership  administration  management  pixar  wk  gov.uk  russelldavies  benterrett  authority  empowerment  collaboration  teams  2014  hobbies  expertise  trust  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  motivation  performance 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Future of UI and the Dream of the ‘90s — UX/UI human interfaces — Medium
"In other words, we’re expected to translate our emotions through emotionless interfaces."



"While application interfaces probably don’t need to make use of immersive soundtracks, the addition of sound effects can add to a user’s experience (provided they have the option to opt-out.) Apps like Clear and Duolingo added cheery and triumphant sound effects to their completion actions. These sounds are a recognition of the user’s success and reinforces the visual mark of a, typically green, success state."



"What can we learn from the masters of animation and how can we apply that to our work in UI? Replicating what we see in everyday life reminds us of our personal experiences. In Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas’ book, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, they outline 12 basic principles to creating more realistic animations.

While not the key point of an interface, we can apply these principles on a micro-level. Excellent examples of delightful animation can be seen in Tweetbot, Apple Maps and Vine."



"While seemingly a very obvious way to communicate—copy and how we deal with inputs is often overlooked. In our rush to replace popular actions with iconography, designers often forget that sometimes copy can be just as powerful.

We can make use of copy to speak to users conversationally, eliminate the chore of form input or provide discoverable and fun easter eggs. All three ways give the illusion of a person behind the product or device."
ux  helentran  ui  interface  2014  design  minorityreport  animation  emotions  sound  frankchimero  journey  clear  duolingo  vine  tweetbot  pixar  maps  mapping  copy  content  writing  gestures 
january 2014 by robertogreco
russell davies: smallifying
"Kindle Book 53 was Little Bets by Peter Sims.

And we're up to date! That's everything I've read on my Kindle so far.

Affordable loss, that makes sense:

"Sarasvathy points to the value of what she calls the affordable loss principle. Seasoned entrepreneurs, she emphasizes, will tend to determine in advance what they are willing to lose, rather than calculating expected gains."

People are more honest when it's rough:

"Prototyping allows P&G staff to make things in order to think. “How do you let consumers experience it, even if it falls totally apart within five minutes?” Thoen asks: The level of feedback you get is so much more valuable and impactful…. The problem with showing something to consumers when it’s almost totally done, people don’t necessarily want to give negative feedback at that point because it looks like, “This company has spent a lot of money already getting it to this stage and now I’m going to tell them, ‘It sucks.’” On the other hand, if something hangs together with tape, and it’s clear that it’s an early prototype, the mindset of consumers often is, “These people still need some help, so let me tell you what I really think about it.” Thoen beautifully describes the value of prototyping: Potential users of ideas are more comfortable sharing their honest reactions when it’s rough, just as people at P&G are less emotionally invested in their ideas."

Accept the starting point:

"Throughout the Pixar creative process, they rely heavily on what they call plussing; it is likely the most-used concept around the company. The point of plussing is to build upon and improve ideas without using judgmental language. Creating an atmosphere where ideas are constantly being plussed, while maintaining a sense of humor and playfulness, is a central element of Pixar’s magic. The practice of plussing draws upon those core principles from improvisation: accepting every offer and making your partner look good. Rather than criticize an idea in its entirety (even if they don’t think it’s good), people accept the starting point before suggesting improvements"

Thank God for moderate importance.

"what organizational psychologist Karl Weick refers to as small wins. Weick defines a small win as “a concrete, complete, implemented outcome of moderate importance""
russelldavies  2013  small  smallifying  prototyping  pixar  p&g  petersims  relationships  trust  plussing  judgement  criticism  risk  incremental  increments  emotions  emotionalinvestment  making  collaboration  sharing  rapiditeration  workinginpublic  feedback  constructivecriticism  r&d 
february 2013 by robertogreco
kung fu grippe • The trick to fostering collective creativity,...
“The trick to fostering collective creativity, Catmull says, is threefold: Place the creative authority for product development firmly in the hands of the project leaders (as opposed to corporate executives); build a culture and processes that encourage people to share their work-in-progress and support one another as peers; and dismantle the natural barriers that divide disciplines.”
administration  management  leadership  tcsnmy  cv  sharing  risktaking  peer-assessment  2008  teamwork  authority  hierarchy  creativity  pixar 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Pixar's story rules: how to create compelling stories
Pixar's story rules: how to create compelling storiesJUN 08 2012

Over a month and a half, Pixar story artist Emma Coats tweeted out a series of lessons she learned on the job about how to create appealing stories. Here are a couple of my favorites:

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th - get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
writing  fiction  story  storytelling  pixar  via:lukeneff 
june 2012 by robertogreco
How to Build the Pixar of the iPad Age in Shreveport, Louisiana - Technology - The Atlantic
As you get closer, the landscape gets scrubbier, with empty lots separating the buildings like gaps in a smile. A man may walk down the street in welding gear. Pull into the parking lot of BioSpaceX, a shiny new building originally intended to house biotechnology startups. Walk through the doors. You're at Moonbot.
moonbot  sarahrich  alexismadrigal  creativity  ipad  books  pixar  shreveport  louisiana  2011  brandonoldenburg  billjoyce  williamjoyce  art  illustration  lamptonenochs  christinaellis  storytelling 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Bless the toolmakers « Snarkmarket
So much here in Robin's post and the comments that I'm not going to quote anything. Lots to think about.
tools  apple  pixar  arts  art  robinsloan  snarkmarket  creativity  creation  media  freemandyson  roolmaking  liberalarts  lasting  building  software  design  writing  timcarmody 
september 2011 by robertogreco
What Schools Can Learn From Google, IDEO, and Pixar | Co. Design
"What would it mean for schools to have a culture centered on design thinking and interdisciplinary projects instead of siloed subjects? What if the process of education were as intentionally crafted as the products of education (i.e., we always think about the book report or the final project, but not the path to get there). What if teachers were treated as designers?"
education  learning  design  creativity  innovation  google  schooldesign  ideo  pixar  hightechhigh  larryrosenstock  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  projectbasedlearning  missedopportunities  tcsnmy  lcproject  2011  pbl 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - "In many ways the work of a critic is easy."
"Consider for a moment that this touching little rumination by Anton Ego, feared food critic in Ratatouille, about the critic’s relationship to the artist. It is from an animated film. A cartoon, if you will.

Animated movies can tackle deep, complex issues, but to tackle something so abstract as the pathos and jubilation of a critic, and offer up that meditation as a way to give closure to a plot arch is something I think can only be done by the most skillful of hands (no matter the medium: animation or otherwise). Pixar is celebrated at large for the quality of its films, but very rarely appreciated in this capacity. And, Brad Bird’s ability to offer depth through the integration of abstract issues gives his films, whether The Incredibles, Ratatouille, or The Iron Giant, a sense of profundity that is sorely lacking in many mass-market American films these days, even those non-animated movies made for us “grown-ups.”"
frankchimero  pixar  criticism  abstraction  ratatouille  film  filmmaking  bradbird 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Near Future Laboratory » Blog Archive » Creative Corporate Cultures
"* Creative reviews, even for stuff you’re not working on. Oftentimes a company gets to a size in which no one knows everything that is going on elsewhere, which results in overlap, duplication, inefficiencies and just plain bad organizational structures... * People before ideas. Creative individuals trump project ideas. Bring in creative talent and allow the ideas to come from that... * Constructive post-mortems on projects. I think this is crucial. The time to consider what was done and what went right and wrong is a requirement if a team/company/studio is to learn from what it spent so much time and energy to create."
creativity  pixar  process  projects  reviews  work  tcsnmy  reflection  hr  hiring  leadership  culture  values  management  julianbleecker 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Inside Pixar’s Leadership « Scott Berkun
"That fundamentally successful companies are unstable. And where we have to operate is in that unstable place. And the forces of conservatism which are very strong and they want to go to a safe place. I want to go to the same place for money, I want to go and be wild and creative, or I want to have enough time for this, and each one of those guys are pulling, and if any one of them wins, we lose. And i just want to stay right there in the middle. ... The notion that you’re trying to control the process and prevent error screws things up. We all know the saying it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And everyone knows that, but I Think there is a corollary: if everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up. It’s better to fix problems than to prevent them. And the natural tendency for managers is to try and prevent error and over plan things."

[via: http://blog.frankchimero.com/post/567439792/the-notion-that-youre-trying-to-control-the ]
conservatism  edcatmull  pixar  creativity  leadership  management  people  failure  business  behavior  culture  design  innovation  productivity  tcsnmy  administration  risk  risktaking  learning  unschooling  deschooling  certainty  uncertainty  adaptability  lcproject  flexibility  power  control  lifehacks  collaboration  entertainment  film 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Blog: Frank Chimero (I never liked the kids who raised their hands in...)
“I never liked the kids who raised their hands in class. I sat at the back, sulking, bored, & probably drawing something…Paying attention in class required effort, bravery, & a feeling of inclusion. That last one is the biggest. Owning problems, & showing vulnerability while you work on them is a big deal…I just assumed somebody smarter, older, & probably somebody dead for 100s of years had already figured it out. Why bother? Speaking up would just invite somebody to say “well Pythagorus once said…” The internet feels like that sometimes. You start to talk about a new idea for an interface, & somebody says “But Jakob Neilsen says…"…No matter who said what, it’s possible they were wrong, & even if they were right, sometimes pursuing your own divergent ideas lead to something brand new.”...“I don’t like hard rules at all. I think they’re all bullshit."
frankchimero  edcatmull  pixar  ideas  rules  divergence  thinking  schools  schooling  invention  creativity  jakobneilsen  design  problemsolving  hardrules  risk  risktaking  vulnerability  lcproject  tcsnmy 
may 2010 by robertogreco
How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity - Harvard Business Review
"Pixar is a community in the true sense of the word. We think that lasting relationships matter, & we share some basic beliefs: Talent is rare. Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build capability to recover when failures occur. It must be safe to tell truth. We must constantly challenge all of our assumptions & search for flaws that could destroy our culture...To act in this fashion, we...have to resist our natural tendency to avoid or minimize risks...much easier said than done. In movie business &...others, this instinct leads executives to choose to copy successes rather than try to create something brand-new...why you see so many movies that are so much alike...why a lot of films aren’t very good. If you want to be original, you have to accept the uncertainty, even when it’s uncomfortable, & have capability to recover when organization takes a big risk & fails. What’s key to being able to recover? Talented people!...not so easy to find."
business  uncertainty  leadership  management  administration  creativity  pixar  edcatmull  risk  tcsnmy  learning  truth  culture  organizations  safety  talent  resilience  recovery  community  unschooling  deschooling  certainty  adaptability  risktaking  lcproject 
may 2010 by robertogreco
The Mid-Century Modernist: “The Incredibles” Mid-Century Ideal
"The home of Bob and Helen Parr in “The Incredibles” is one of the finest examples of mid-century modernism in all of animated cinema. Thanks to Pixar’s skilled artists and miraculous CGI, every detail in the architecture to the furniture to the decor can be an idealized depiction of an American suburban residence in the ’60s. Cheers to production designer Lou Romano and art director Ralph Eggleston for giving fans of this style so much eye candy."
via:cityofsound  pixar  theincredibles  design  architecture  modernism  homes  interiors  animation  film 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Pixar University: Thinking Outside The Mouse
"Pixar University expands the notion of employee education by broadening its focus from skills training to a more general fine-arts education. Employees choose from a full palate of classes -- about 14 per week -- which they are allowed to miss work to attend. "We have something going on almost every day and most evenings," said Nelson. "We offer the equivalent of a B.A. in fine arts through our courses.""
pixar  education  apple  learning  work  universities  alternative  creativity 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Wall-E: Wall-E, Right Wing Hero?
"So will progressives abandon Wall-E en masse because it has an unrealistically happy ending? Will conservatives embrace the little bot as their new mascot?"
pixar  wall-e  film  environment  politics  sustainability  culture  us 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Mavericks at Work: Where the Most Original Minds in Business Connect
"Nelson said. “Why teach drawing to accountants? Because drawing class doesn’t just teach people to draw. It teaches them to be more observant. There’s no company on earth that wouldn’t benefit from having people become more observant.”
culture  pixar  management  administration  leadership  filmmaking  business  organizations  work  workplace  process 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Pixar's tightknit culture is its edge - (37signals)
"Nelson said. “Why teach drawing to accountants? Because drawing class doesn’t just teach people to draw. It teaches them to be more observant. There’s no company on earth that wouldn’t benefit from having people become more observant.”
pixar  business  administration  management  leadership  learning  lifelonglearning  workplace  work  education  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  observation  filmmaking 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Games Without Frontiers: 'Spore' Releases the Pixar in You
"what Spore will do, very subtly & quietly, is begin changing way people interact w/ 3-D culture. 3-D art will suddenly seem less opaque & more understandable...next time you go to animated movie, you'll see onscreen characters as series of design decisio
clivethompson  spore  games  gamedesign  animation  3d  play  pixar  gaming  willwright 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Disney | Magic restored | Economist.com
"What accounts for this renaissance? Iger's management style is said by many to have unlocked Disney's creativity....[Eisner] meddled in detail of Disney's parks & movies. In contrast...“Bob pushes creative decisions to the people below him.”
disney  pixar  creativity  via:kottke  leadership  management  administration  organizations  business 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Bob Sutton: Give Me Your Black Sheep [on Pixar and Brad Bird]
"1 of only cases I know where wildly successful organization took proactive steps to avoid falling into "success trap." "Find some happy people & get them to fight...Think of some ridiculous & impractical things to do, then plan to do them"
business  innovation  leadership  management  administration  pixar  bradbird  bobsutton  via:migurski 
february 2008 by robertogreco

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