The reactions to Steve Jobs’s death around the world have been quite extraordinary, and reveal how much his work has had an impact on the world of technology, business and design. Jobs actually changed the lives of millions of people by bringing computers into their daily routines, now followed by iPods, iPhones and tablets. It’s hard to think a businessman could be so influential.
Jobs was an odd character, a sort of charismatic leader who had devoted followers, led religious-like presentations to launch new products, cultivated a powerful and impeccable brand image, and nurtured secrecy. His rigid leadership, combined to an innate sense of innovation, led him to helm one of the most powerful and successful companies ever.
The aspects of Steve Jobs’s work I wish to celebrate, because I think they are relevant to Defiant Imagination’s mission, are his incredible perseverance in trusting what I think was his gut feeling and believing in his ideas, his belief that excellent design was an essential part of the product’s usability and his insistence in delivering good design to the masses. I think Jobs ultimately respected his customers and believed they deserved no less than the best. I don’t agree with all of Apple’s positions, but this is not the point. I’ve been a user of Apple products for many years and I just wished to celebrate Steve Jobs for being responsible for the tools I use to work and entertain myself everyday.
I found this interesting infographics today (click to enlarge):
Ghost towns… We used to think about them as icons of the Wild West, traces of an ancient civilization (Petra) or as the unfortunate consequences of an accident (Prypiat, abandonned after the Chernobyl catastrophe.)
Financial speculation has since created another kind of ghost town, one created by the laws of modern banking and the rules of real estate. In the U.S., these towns are the foreclosed neighbourhoods of California or Florida, bought for a fortune and sold for nothing.
I’ve recently learned that the U.S. were not the only country dealing with a real estate bubble, far from it. Spain has been plagued with a problem of unfinished developments and unsold housing lots, well documented in these articles from the New York Times and the Guardian. In the meantime, its youth can’t afford to buy property, unless they sign 50-year mortgages.
What surprised me the most was the situation in China, whose housing bubble is taking gigantic proportions. The New South China Mall, the biggest mall in the world, has been sitting empty for years. Nearby, towns built for millions of people have a 25% occupancy rate, while residents in Beijing can’t afford to buy decent property.
Three ways to stay in touch with Africa’s brightest talent:
The Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship celebrate the work of business owners. The competition is open until August 24th, and the winner will be declared during a Gala in Nairobi on December 8th.
African Digital Art is an amazing online platform showcasing the work of visual artists, designers, filmmakers and more throughout Africa. Its weekly inspiration post is a delight!
What’s Up Africa, a video blog about “what’s hip, hot, eye-catching.”
Nicholas D. Kristof’s last column in the New York Times is a cry for help in defense of education. But whereas the columnist and reporter usually writes about international issues and developing countries, his latest text is about a domestic problem.
“Chipping away at poverty is difficult and uncertain work, but perhaps the anti-poverty program with the very best record is education — and that’s as true in New York as it is in Nigeria,” writes Kristof.
Several countries have chosen to slash education budgets in order to face budget deficits. In France, thousands of teachers’ positions have been suppressed. Classroom sizes are swelling and individualized student services are getting scarce. Why governments would want to threaten one of the best catalysts for economic prosperity is unclear to me, although I can certainly understand that putting money into education is a long-term investment, whereas saving money by cutting public funds generates immediate results. And in the political world, that is what matters.
Recent drastic budget cuts in Detroit have caused the suppression of 853 staff positions, including 304 classroom teachers. Back in March, when the plan was drafted, the Emergency Financial Manager’s measures were estimated to cause classroom sizes to climb to 60 kids per classroom. Now how is this supposed to pull Detroit out of its economical and social mess? I don’t know.
What scares me the most is not the current cuts, but the result of these, that we’ll only get to see in 20 years or so.
This article published in the New York Times on July 1st comes as rather good news for Detroit. It’s actually the first positive piece of news I’ve come across about this city in months — maybe years.
It seems the creative type has elected Detroit as its newest boom town. According to the article, “downtown Detroit experienced a 59 percent increase in the number of college-educated residents under the age of 35, nearly 30 percent more than two-thirds of the nation’s 51 largest cities.” Artists, designers, entrepreneurs and other types of young professionals have been taking advantage of low real estate prices and the growing number of career opportunities.
This phenomenon transpires in the number of trendy coffee shops and restaurants opening every year, renovated buildings as well as community initiatives being launched. I was particularly impressed by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, an entrepreneurship hub providing services to new creative businesses.
There seems to be a certain parallel with what New Orleans has been experiencing since Katrina: a surge in creative initiatives and social entrepreneurship. Both cities still have a long way to go, but it seems that in such places that have been badly shaken by deep crisis, the feeling of community lies at the basis of the reconstruction effort. I hope we’ve only seen the beginning of what will be an amazing journey toward a renewed prosperity.
Photo credits: Ian Freimuth, some rights reserved.
I just found out about this grant program organized by paper and pulp group Sappi, Ideas that Matter. The program has been helping to fund communication material supporting charitable activities, and is open to individual designers, agencies, in-house design departments and students.
“Since 1999, Ideas that Matter has funded over 500 nonprofit projects, contributing $11 million worldwide to causes that enhance our lives, our communities and our planet. Sappi believes that the creative ideas of designers can have an impact beyond the aesthetic and that those ideas can be a powerful force for social good. Working together with our customers, we aim to make a difference.”
The deadline for this year’s contest is July 15th. More info on the program’s website: http://www.na.sappi.com/ideasthatmatterNA
I usually don’t pay too much attention to articles and books that deal with creativity. Most of them are just shallow and irrelevant. I usually prefer to look at the manifestations of creativity, the innovative ideas that we come up with. But I ran across this Newsweek article, published in July. (Oh, I’m so late on this.)
Creativity in the U.S. is declining. It’s a fact. The causes for this are unclear, so are its consequences.
I just realized Defiant Imagination reached its 100th post with the last one. Which makes this one the 101st, so I feel I’ve already missed the mark. Damn.
Photo credits: Flickr user tifotter.
“In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.” Could you imagine your life without chocolate? I can’t. Yet that’s what John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, declared to The Independent last week.