Category Archives: inspiration

Optimism Will Prevail

Optimism - by Greta EaganToday there’s a pile of snow ready to wage war with the suspension of my 10-year old Japanese car; the crisis in Egypt intensifies; and here in Canada ISPs are planning to move forward with a plan to implement metered Internet access (a.k.a. Usage Based Billing) with the co-operation of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Thankfully I’m an optimist.

I’ll make it to work fine and the snow will soon melt; Egypt is headed for a democratic future, certainly without President Hosni Mubarak whether he cares to acknowledge it or not; and I’m confident the concept of an open Web will prevail as Canadians mobilize against the rising threat of big telecom’s agenda to whittle away our Internet rights under the guise of trivial bandwidth and capacity concerns.

Yes I’m an optimist, even though I love a good dystopian science fiction thriller accompanied by a bitter Belgian ale.

[image credit: Greta Eagan via Flickr]

No Deliverables, Just Reboot

It’s almost August and I’m ready to embark on several much needed days off (5 to be exact) from work. A temporary break from the daily routine of pixels, creative deadlines, motion-tweens, copy decks and revision documents.
This is my world on any given week, and while I absolutely love my job and the process of making things interactive for our clients at OSL, it’s nice to get away once and a while and soak up some vitamin D with family and friends.

Desynchronizing from these activities and changing one’s environment (subliminal voice inside is telling me to turn off that computer now!) can be a healthy prescription to clear one’s mind and revitalize creativity while fostering a renewed sense of inspiration towards work endeavours.
This is a great technique (getting away that is) for physically, mentally, and creatively recharging. It’s like hitting a giant reset button, rebooting one’s physiological system just like a internal CPU, and it’s something we should all strive to do periodically to maintain peak performance.

In fact, with so much emphasis on work—sometimes 60+ hours in a heavy week, the sudden onset of vacation time feels almost like one of the kicks from Inception causing me to instantaneously wake up and leave one constructed reality for another. Where am I headed next?

At the same time, with the notion I’ll not be working for the next 5 days, I briefly imagine what I’ll be doing 20 – 30-years into the future when I enter the so-called ‘time-rich’ leisure demographic.
In my dad’s generation you could easily identify these people—they drove Cadillacs, lived down south for the better part of the year (usually in Florida), wore their socks up to their knees and complained continuously about the weather.

While I’m not keen to end up livin’ la vida loca with the Clark Griswold set down south, I do wonder how I’ll occupy my time once I enter the infamous ‘retirement’ years. Perhaps I’ll travel, paint or write books—maybe blog like I’m doing right now? Will the concept of retirement even exist 30-years from now? Will books and blogging be replaced by immersive interactive literature pieces? I don’t know.

What I do know is that tomorrow has no specific agenda or list of deliverables to be completed for end-of-day—just spontaneous unplanned events connecting freely with no constraints in sight. Ahh, I feel alive.

FITC Toronto 2010 Day 03


The final day of FITC Toronto 2010 has just wrapped up and without a doubt John Underkoffler’s presentation entitled “It Has To Be This” resonates in my mind as the most thought provoking and forward thinking talk of the day -dare I say, the whole conference.

The overall theme for this year’s conference was playground, inspired by childhood memories of tinkering and creating things from scratch; challenging established rules and paradigms of thought. In fact many of the talks I attended over the course of the last 3 days have, in some way or another, shared this common thread by celebrating the importance of experimentation, inventiveness and creativity in all the work we do (or aspire to do).

It’s amazing to witness first-hand the unconventional thinking and problem-solving of individuals like Brendan Dawes, Ralph Hauwert, and Mario Klingemann whose work I would characterize as relentlessly fuelled by a desire to explore the unexplored -to push the boundaries beyond where most would stop. For these individuals (and many more of the speakers at FITC) curiosity is an inherent attribute of research and development where the tendency is to not merely use technology, but effectively invent and shape its future.

Continuing with this theme of shaping and inventing our tools and technologies, John Underkoffler provocatively began his presentation by showing an image of the original Apple computer which he aptly described as a device you purchased, brought home, and it did absolutely nothing until you did something with it (e.g. write a program). Underkoffler’s next slide fast forwards 30 years to the present day displaying an image of Apple’s latest iPod and iPad devices -2 closed and seemingly uncreative tools representing 60 to 70% of Apple’s current ecosystem -that is, 2 devices you in fact cannot use to create anything new. Pausing for a moment I think to myself -brilliant! This is a tangible example of the notion of computer interface going backwards in terms of its ability to be shaped and manipulated. Moreover, this was a perfect segue into one of Underkoffler’s arguments that we must ultimately abandon traditional screen-based user interfaces and input devices (e.g. windows, pull-down menus and buttons designed and optimized to be driven by a mouse) in favour of something new in the form of g-speak (g short for gesture).

Underkoffler’s g-speak research is essentially a real world, working prototype of the gesture based UI first seen in the futuristic science-fiction movie Minority Report. But, this isn’t science-fiction  as Underkoffler explains, this will be commonplace for most computer systems in 5 to 7 years time.

We’ll have to see what the future holds  for physical gesture based UIs -but for the time being I suppose we’re still stuck with our clumsy mouse inputs and tablets.