Category Archives: reviewed

Designing for Social Change: Strategies for Community-Based Graphic Design

By Andrew Shea
Book Review by Lisa Handalian

This book got its start as author Andrew Shea’s masters thesis from the Maryland Institute College of Art, after he was unable to find social change/design toolkits specific to the graphic arts. Although the examples he provides are mainly visual in nature, Shea may actually be doing readers a disservice by highlighting graphic design as part of the title. To its credit, “Designing for Social Change” consists of more generalized and universally applicable observations that are well suited for design students of all disciplines, as well as less experienced professionals and researchers, volunteers and community organizers.

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Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It

By Joshua Cooper Ramo
Book Review by Hy Mariampolski

Small things can have big impacts. Seemingly unrelated events can accumulate, causing bubbles to burst, dikes to disintegrate and, suddenly, turn well-laid plans and their anticipated payoffs into vain dreams. These are among the ideas that lie beneath Joshua Cooper Ramo’s The Age of the Unthinkable, an alternately gloomy and wildly optimistic assessment of the resources we need and can potentially use to manage the perils and opportunities of our increasingly interconnected world.

Although the primary focus of Ramo’s work is on foreign policy, his analysis is grounded within a range of disciplines, including cognitive science, physics, the history of art and diplomacy, and new product development. His wide-ranging intellect demonstrates the intersection of design thinking with other disciplines that require creative breakthroughs. Ramo is masterful at turning phrases that provoke thought, as when he claims early on that the level of innovation produced by Lebanon’s Hizb’allah fighters demonstrates “creativity comparable to US internet entrepreneurs.” Unfortunately, he ends up blinded by his own brilliance and his recipes leave us troubled rather than tantalized.

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Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

by Simon Sinek
Book Review by Zelda Harrison

Books on effective management and leadership have been the publisher’s staple for decades, making it hard to believe that anyone can redefine the extensive and the influential work of Peter Drucker and his fellow “Business Thinkers” or “Social Ecologists.” So it’s hardly surprising that on the surface, Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” appears to be another addition to the long list of self-help publications for aspiring leaders and management gurus.

Arguably, Sinek’s clean, concise writing style and illustrations of (currently) successful companies such as Apple, Southwest, and leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. could be touted as relevant to a new generation and highly-accessible to a general audience. For the SonicRim Book Club, the true value of his work probably hinges on his observations about human motivation, and provides useful insight into the decision-making process, human dynamics, and building brand loyalty.

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Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work

By Nigel Cross
Book Review by Ben Shaw

A little over a year ago Bruce Nussbaum wrote an epitaph for design thinking. Unfortunate timing, perhaps, for Nigel Cross’ book by the same name, published about a month later. Nussbaum rightly called out the practical difficulty of affecting change in organizations. “Design Thinking” does not address the management fad critiqued by Nussbaum, but provides an overview of years of academic research and theorizing from the perspective of an editor of one of the foremost journals in the field known as design studies.

This book is the opposite of a coffee table monograph celebrating the idiosyncrasy and particular approach of a prominent design personality (though there are a couple of fascinating case studies of such individuals). Cross relies on empirical data and observation to render design activity in more general terms, with a certain level of abstraction. The accounts are drawn from engineering design, industrial design and architecture, and reflect a dominant framing of design in terms of problem solving. As Cross emphasizes, this is not a methods or how-to book—it postulates generalizations for interested readers to relate to their own situations. These are likely to apply as well, according to Cross, to fields not directly studied in the research, including software, interaction, furniture, textiles, and graphic design. Some current areas of practice like service and participatory design are not addressed, and the accounts may speak more to some readers than to others.

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The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success

By Carmine Gallo
Book Review by Amanda Weller

Carmine Gallo’s book, “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs” promises to be an inspiring and useful tool to help ignite your business and your career, “to propel you further than you ever thought possible.”

Nothing in the book is ground breaking­. Many of the secrets— “do what you love,” “simplify,” “kick start your brain”— have been floating around in popular psychology books, business articles, and university lectures for years. And anyone seeking specific steps or tips should look elsewhere as the book is thin in this area. It glosses over the importance and irreplaceability of Jobs the person—* his personality and experiences, and how they flavored the way he embodied the secrets that made him so special. Although published while Jobs was alive, many of the anecdotes would be familiar to anyone who has read the Walter Isaacson book. Gallo’s idolization of Jobs can be cloying, but it seems to dissipate as the volume progresses, or perhaps more accurately, as the reader gets used to it.

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Doing

Future of Autonomous Driving in India: A Co-Creation Workshop

Uday will conduct a co-creation workshop at the 10th Pune Design Festival on February 26th and 27th. The workshop will offer an opportunity to learn how to introduce  a disruptive technology into community imagination with sensitivity to cultural, psychological and social factors. For the workshop we have chosen a topic that is already drivers’ mental models and challenging the imagination... learn more »

Whiteboard @ SonicRim: Designing Design Education

Where should we draw the boundaries of design education? Design has been considered to encompass all kinds of things — from a safety pin to a highway.  It involves the development of hardware and software. Its scope involves tangible and intangible domains of human life. The practice of design has come a long way since... learn more »

October 16, 2015: A workshop on “Innovation Through Co-creation” at Wayne State University, Detroit.

A workshop on “Innovation Through Co-creation” at Wayne State University, Detroit. SonicRim Uday Dandavate and Kevin Schmidt facilitated a workshop on “Innovation through Cocreaton” at the Wayne State University in Detroit. 25 participants from both for profit and non-profit sector participated in this hands on workshop. A key point made was the need to introduce... learn more »