Erik Sundelöf

entrepreneur, thinker and Swede

The Nature of Ignorance

150 150 eriks

I had a discussion today with a friend about the pace of today’s society. I am not sure how we ended up in the discussion about what ignorance really is. The discussion made me reflect on what ignorance really is. She described herself as ignorant as all her friends did have a certain level of education, and she have gotten that feeling after a discussion with one of her friends. For the record she is far from ignorant, at least in my eyes.

Ignorance for me is to choose not to see a problem that you are aware of. But are you really ignorant if you are unaware of a problem? If you are totally unaware of the problem you are of course not ignorant, but when do you become ignorant. How aware do you have to be of problems? I have no answer to it, but really believe we have an obligation to follow up on our intuition and gut feeling. If something feels wrong, you really should follow up on it.

What was the root of her feeling? I can both understand the feeling and not understand it. Awareness is the key to a lot of things in this troubled world, but there are also times when you even though you are aware have to choose yourself. Some say that it’s ignorance, I do not.

However, we should never take our situation in this world for granted.

Going offline with future cellphones

150 150 eriks

Personally, I would definitely like to, even in the technology intense future, have time to sit back, relax and reflect without the sense of having to be online all the time. What scares me is that I sometimes feel the need to be online all the time, and that even when I am offline, I still am online. What are the reasons by this feeling? I wrote a draft of this blog and then discussed the draft with a friend. She actually made me change the scope of the blog, and the conclusion was that it is not only a technology problem, but also a problem in us.  I will come back to this feeling a bit later in the blog.

Before looking at any solutions to help us relax from the ever so present feeling of being online and always reachable, I will give some background. Recently I wrote a blog about the future design of social software, and those thoughts is emphasized by another blog. The two blogs fairly well summarize the future needs of social software according to me, and concludes that the virtual and the real world is going in different directions and not as a unit. This is emphasized by an article in today’s New York Times by Mark Wallace. This development of virtual community scares at least me. Do we really want to live two separate lifes? One in the real world, the other in the virtual world. Some people have even gone that far that they in principle only live in the virtual world. Clearly the social softwares themselves cannot solve this issue.

This past Monday, Marko Ahtisaari, who is the Director of Design Strategy at Nokia responsible for Strategy and Planning of Design Activities came and gave a speak about the future of our shared cell phone network. He previously worked in Nokia’s Venturing and Corporate Strategy units, where he was responsible for identifying and driving new growth opportunities based on user experience. He had some very interesting new ideas on the development of new products during the seminar. I had the opportunity to in more detail discuss the future of cell phone systems during lunch and the effect of them in and on the society. The seminar was based on his blog“Blogging over Las Vegas”, where summarizes parts of the reasons for the remarkable growth of the cell phone industry by: The primary human benefit driving the growth of the mobile industry was that of social interaction, people connecting with each other. Initially this meant calling people – a familiar activity at the time – but with a new twist: the cord had been cut. Over time this began to also mean sending short text messages… “

By cutting the cord, people would be able to feel more free, but as the web evolved we got more and more restricted or online. I think that cell phones can be used to really make us free from this feeling of being hooked up, and Marko Ahtisaari outlined seven future challenges of our shared mobile future: Reach, Sometimess Off vs. Always On, Hackability, Social Primitives, Openness, Simplicity and Justice. (For a full description of these challenges the reader is referred to his blog.) All of the challenges are very much interesting yet different in their nature, but I will here focus on the Sometimes Off versus Always On and the Social Primitives. How do we create the proper linkage between the virtual community and the real life community? How can we create the right technology solutions so that this is possible? And will this really help us go offline if so just for a moment?

A very appealing thought is to use the cell phone technology. The reasons are simple. The cell phone has, like Marko Ahtisaari says, become a hybrid of a lot of things, and we carry it with us almost all the time. We use the cell phone as a clock, calendar and in some cases even as an email client. Why not use it to help us in our daily social interaction with other people? There are of course dangers with this approach, but I am not talking about putting web browsers on the cell phones to solve this.

People mainly use their cell phones to call their friends and family. Thus we primarily use the phone to call our friends and family. A solution for us to know when a person wants to be offline would be to bring your phonebook and your buddy list in the instant messaging software or the social community closer. By that you can in your cell phone specify if you are available or not. I like the idea very much, even though it is not a perfect solution. What we really need to do is to realise that we have to give ourselves the possibility to go offline. Thus I really think that one of the more important parts of the speech is really how we can face the challenge, citing Marko Ahtisaari: “How do we design to be sometimes off in a world that is itself always on?”

A rather surprising answer: Use cell phones.

What is the Role of The Future Designer?

150 150 eriks

I spent my usual hour browsing my feeds in Bloglines and found a highly relevant topic. It describes the necessity to link any design with the userbility. This is a highly relevant topic that cannot be to highly prioritated when building any kind of product.

Via Digital Web, Jess McMullin has come up with one of the best summaries I’ve seen of what design can be. Make sure to grab the continuum model PDF.

Briefly summarized, the PDF describes design as a continuum that progresses from no conscious design to focus on style, then to the form and function level, eventually settling into problem solving, and finally, if you’re lucky, morphing into something redefining and potentially disruptive.


Original blog:

the night walk

150 150 eriks

Two weeks ago, during an offsite camp at Asilomar in Monterey I went on a long night walk on my own down by the beach. Seeing the stars, feel the smell of ocean, feel the nightly breeze from the ocean and hear the waves moving into shore was just great. I stood by the Pacific Ocean listening to music.

One of my favourite songs is "Fix You" by Coldplay. I listened to that tune the whole summer and it always fills me with comfortness and calmness. What really provide that feeling are the tunes, but I guess the lyrics encapsulate me quite well.

When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
And I will try to fix you