Closing a social transaction. Musings on e-commerce and copyright.

A couple of days ago via Microsoft’s arbiter of all things cool,  Steve Clayton,  I saw this poster

Pinned Image

(If you like it, buy it too).

The poster has gone viral, no doubt bringing a wry but slightly painful smile to anyone filling in travel expenses or CRM system screens, or thinking about tidying the garage.

Within  a couple of  clicks I was able to contact  the artist, Brad Rose, and via the collective art website, Big Cartel, order and pay for the print.  It will be gracing my office wall  some unspecified time in the future when I get around to having it framed.  

 The Internet and social media allow me to discover what I think is cool art, interact with the artist and buy their stuff. The world of art and crafts is being fundamentally reshaped by the Internet and social media.  I can very easily find stuff I like,  appreciate who and how it is made, and perhaps buy their product.  It would have been easy to just print out the poster without buying it, but I quite like the idea of paying the creator for the the grin that this will bring to people’s face when they visit my office.  I don’t need the threat of copyright infringement to know this. Discover, engage, and own.

 In a rather weird circular way, I first got into buying poster art online with Hugh, of gapingvoid fame, a close friend of Steve. 

BTW Brad’s site is a fascinating tour of typography. One day I might actually try and learn something about typography. It will be an ideal weapon to use against wine bores at dinner parties.

 similar post on my Gartner blog.




iPads, Poems and ERP

(cross posted from my Gartner blog)

April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

While I’m somewhat uneasy about the impact of  the iPad and Kindle on books and literature generally  because of the intellectual property control that it gives the device maker, I’m rather impressed with the implications that it has for poetry (thanks Lia for the link).

Watch this video from the Guardian about Elliot’s Wasteland. It is simply delightful.  Congratulations to Faber for doing this.  It is doing things with poems that weren’t possible before.

For the enterprise software vendors reading this, doing the stuff you do on the desktop or the laptop on the iPad doesn’t really impress anyone, it merely illuminates the gap between yesterday and tomorrow. Do something that you couldn’t do before.  Surprise and delight. Innovate rather than replicate.

update: credit due to as well as Faber.

Homage to a design icon and a digression

I’m not talking about a  Barcelona chair


barcelona, baby

(from flickr of suttonhoo)

nor a 1972 911 Carerra RS

'72 911 Carrera RS

(from Ulfbot’s Flickr)

no, not even the latest Campagolo Record.

My number one design icon is the billy bookcase from IKEA.

Seeing the Bauhaus thing last week made me realise why. Form follows function.  Everything about it, from packaging, the assembly, and the integration is absolutely without waste. (note to self re-read the the laws of simplicity blog)

Billy even manages to provide amusement.

I bought another 4 yesterday, and I noticed that they had halved the width of the packaging by making the backboard crease vertically rather than horizontally. Clever,as they are much easier to carry for the store staff and easier to load into the car.  It meant I bought one more than I’d planned to. We have about 11 15 billy bookcases  at home. Unfortunately IKEA don’t sell extra walls, at least at my shop. pity. 

A digression.

IKEA run SAP for HR via the ADP Globalview offering, and a couple of weeks ago I spoke to Albert Martens, HR Director at IKEA. In passing, after discussing HR systems, I mentioned  that I’d like to see a shallower version of the Billy, optimised for paperbacks. He opened up the customer request system while I was on the phone and entered it there and then. 

Building direct customer feedback to the designer is not only good for product development. It is a remarkably effective way of building customer engagement. I firmly believe that SAP’s strongest competitive advantage is our customers and partners, but only if we listen to them. At the risk of repeating myself, start ups have to guess what to build. We just have to ask. This is what we mean by co-innovation, but this is only the beginning.


Technorati tags: , , ,

A design classic. 1927 and software?

More design ramblings.

Logo Weissenhofmuseum im Haus Le Corbusier


On friday I got to visit the Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart. It was built in the late 1920’s, opening in 1927. The architects involved were Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud, Victor Bourgeois, Adolf Gustav Schneck, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Bruno and Max Taut, Hans Poelzig, Richard Döcker, Adolf Rading, Josef Frank, Mart Stam, Peter Behrens and Hans Scharoun.

Le Corbusier and his fellow architects aimed to strip down the house to its simpliest form. There is beauty in the stark, simple lines of the buildings. Their goals were to create cheaper, healthier, more practical and liveable spaces.

This is Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s apartment block.


 Luckily the development has been saved after it was condemned to destruction by the nazis, bombed by the allies  and then neglected. It is an astounding spot, and it showcases some many of the innovations that we take for granted in homes today.

The buildings are by no means perfect, and sometimes the gap between the vision and the engineering and technical reality were too great to bridge. The tension between design and engineering is palpable. I wasn’t expecting to be awed, but I was. The tour was excellent, both for the architecture and the history. 


Le Corbusier house. It looks as if it was built yesterday, not in 1927.  You can go inside.

The visit to the mercedes museum and the Weissenhofstiedlung made me think a lot about software. Both the 300SL and many of the bauhaus buildings depend on a excellent chassis to function effectively.  Without a stable platform, nothing really works. The separation of the chassis from the body enabled Benz and co to make huge leaps foward in strength, shape, handling, cost and weight reduction in the car. The same point could be made about the use of a load bearing frame in buildings, with the walls etc merely acting as a skin. This dramatically expanded the realms of possibility, both for interior space and external volume.

The same argument can be applied to the need to split data, process and visualisation in software application design.

It also made me think back to a post I wrote in defence of concrete. Good software is partly about achieving a balance between design and engineering, with design helping to push engineering forward, and vice versa. 

At its core, the Bauhaus movement is about “art and technology – a new unity”. Weissenhof is a pretty good place to go and think about software.   Oh, and I need to read a bit more.  And next time I’m in Berlin, I’ll need to go here.

Enterprise software can learn a lot from Bauhaus.

Thanks to my colleagues for organising the trip, and to my brother for a quick Bauhaus recap and indoctrination. 

Art and Berlin

My Berlin infatuation continues. Last weekend I went to Max Liebermann’s villa on the Wannsee. It is a spectacular setting.

Max Liebermann Villa am Wannsee - Berlin


Max Liebermann Villa am Wannsee - Berlin

(from flickrstream of infactoweb.)

The lake is just a few kilometers from the centre of Berlin, but it feels like you are in the country.  

His art is equally memorable. Max Liebermann’s life and the Wannsee itself provide a poignant illustration of the highs and lows of German culture and politics. I’m not an art expert, but there is something rather special about this painting.

It makes me want to go and find a bench to sit on, and read about the Berlin Succession.

You can buy  books and prints etc in the on-line shop, and the museum is a must see.

Technorati tags: , ,