March 23, 2019

What It Takes Book is a book by MAEKAN Community's Dillion S. Phiri and focuses on Africa's young creatives

Creative Nestlings Whatever It Takes Book Dillion S. Phiri

What It Takes is a book that documents the emerging creative class in Africa. The book published by Dillion S. Phiri, founder of Creative Nestlings, serves as a tool to connect Africa and beyond. The multi-faceted Creative Nestlings platform focuses on “nurturing a curious, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial mindset” across Africa. For the book, Whatever It Takes, Dillion and his team captured the story of 60 young African creatives and outlined their processes and challenges in an emerging world. It’s an exciting time for the continent of Africa and its diaspora. The intersection of global network and connective tools are resulting in some exciting opportunities ahead.

What It Takes is available now via hardcover for USD 48.63.

March 20, 2019

Fragrances are about to play a new role in your wellbeing

smell fragrance olfactory onotes

Fragrances play a big part in our lives, although we might fail to actively recognise that. In a world where high definition TVs can capture every single colour and audio systems that can make your skin shiver (even kill you!), we hardly experience smell beyond traditional frameworks. However, all this is about to change thanks to new scientific findings and initiatives.

Scent and human evolution

Our modern times have relegated scent to the back burner. Instead, we’ve primarily focused on the senses around hearing and seeing. Dr. Jenny Tillotson, explains how the origins of humans and scent were crucial for survival. “In prehistoric times, the sensory appreciation of our ancestors could detect danger, ripe food, diseases, when females were ovulating, but today we rely on data to inform us of all of these things. Going back to that could have benefits ranging from allergies to sleep to mental health.”

Fragrances and olfactory research are still nascent

We are still slowly learning how smell and subsequently fragrances impact the human mind. Just as light played an important role in improving productivity, so can smell according to David A. Edwards of oNotes. oNotes is known as the “iTunes of smell” and allows users to make playlists of preferred smells and override olfactory fatigue. Programs like oNotes are redefining the importance of smell in improving our wellbeing.

Technology to drive innovation

Whether its inefficient perfume bottles or smell emitting fitness trackers, technology will play a pivotal in bringing smells to the mainstream. Multiple companies including IBM are entering and looking to integrate smell into our lives. Ultimately, fragrances and smells will play a central role in our wellness as we continue to understand human biology. The future is bright as intelligent systems will help us strive to be the best versions of ourselves, no matter what the field.

February 4, 2019

Huawei releases AI app that translates emotions into sounds for the visually impaired

Chinese smartphone company Huawei has released an AI-powered app that translates emotions into sounds for the blind and visually impaired, called Facing Emotions.

A worthy partnership

Facing Emotions was developed in collaboration with the Polish Blind Association and a key group of the blind community, and uses the back cameras to scan the face of the person with whom the blind person is talking. AI then processes the identified emotion and transmits the sound through the phone’s speaker or an earpiece if the person is using one. This is all done in real-time and offline mode.

How it works

The app uses the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s powerful camera and AI to translate seven universal human emotions into seven short and unique sounds created by blind composer Tomasz Bilecki.  Sound samples tested by a team of blind consultants were rated as easy to remember and understand while being non-invasive for the user and their environment. Huawei also released a neck-worn holder designed to make using the app more intuitive.

December 31, 2018

The WeTransfer Ideas Report 2018 offers some tips for creativity

WeTransfer asked 10,128 of their users, spread over 143 countries, about what makes them creativeThe study came to several conclusions that you probably already know.

Idea generation
When asked where they were most likely to get ideas from, creatives answered that real-life experiences like talking with friends, travel, nature, books, magazines, and galleries are more likely to generate good ideas than social media. Neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf explains that when something enters our mind, it does so through a multitude of sensory experiences: taste, smell, and spatial information to name a few. By experiencing things in real life, we think much more profoundly about them, whereas a screen presents lots of content to skim.

Eureka moments

  • 47% of people said their best ideas came at work.
  • 29% on my commute.
  • 23% in bed.
  • 17% in the bathroom.
  • 15% doing exercise.
  • 13% in cafés.

Lu Chen, a professor at Stanford University, agrees that the best ideas will come at work, saying that we need to engage our minds at a high intensity to have any meaningful thought. This said, the results also show that too much intense thought can leave us locked up, cornered by our thinking. In this case, doing exercise or taking a bath or shower can help free up enough space in our minds for original ideas again.

Pen versus phone
40% of respondents like to record their thoughts on paper, while ‘on a computer’, ‘in my head’, and ‘on my phone’ each got around 20%. Pam Mueller, a social psychologist, says what we have all been told at some point: recording thoughts on a computer often winds up being a mindless transcription-like task, while writing our thoughts down on paper requires more care and concentration.

The question, “What inspires your best ideas?” lead to results showing 47% of people see film as their main source of inspiration. Books, friends, and travel also ranked above websites as sources of creative inspiration. This may partially be because 18% of people said that getting distracted online obstructs good ideas.

December 20, 2018

Craig Mod discusses the future of books and it's not so bleak

The future book is already in existence even though the form it takes is not what anyone predicted or what popular imagination expected. Physical books and digital books have not dramatically changed in their form, function, or experience. Craig Mod wrote for Wired Magazine on the evolution of the book and its ecosystem.

What did people expect from “the future of books?”

  • Pages were meant to be alive with interactivity
  • Books were thought to be able to respond to your environment or you as an individual
  • Stories would no longer be linear but go in all directions and encourage creative exploration
  • Print medium would die out and libraries would be forgotten

What has changed about books?
While the reading experience has not changed because the reading experience of a book is essentially perfect, as Mod says, “in an age of infinite distraction, one of the strongest assets of a ‘book’ as a book is its singular, sustained, distraction-free, blissfully immutable voice,” everything around a book’s creation and consumption has changed.

  • Funding, printing, fulfillment, community-building have been revolutionized by easily accessible tools and services
  • Author earnings have improved due to the viability of independent publishing
  • Crowd-funding as not only enabled individuals to create work that otherwise wouldn’t exist but has proven that publishing can nurture thriving communities

The future looks like…

  • An increase in well-written email newsletters which offer a decentralized, reliable way for creators to have ownership over their work and audience
  • Habitual reading will not just be books from cover to cover but the kinds of writing published regularly in pieces
  • More audiobooks
  • Beautiful physical products created for niche, dedicated fans
November 28, 2018

Brian Merchant looks into the booming business of "worldbuilding"

Businesses have always looked to the future when developing products and predicting problems to be solved. Whether it’s video communication technologies used by agents in dystopian futures, or electronic books, ideas proposed by science-fiction are regularly translated into physical products that we use today. This long history of proven success has perked the ears of businesses all over the world, in different disciplines, to explore the possibility of ‘worldbuilders.’ Brian Merchant dives deep into what this means and its implications.

Worldbuilders are teams of science-fiction writers and enthusiasts. Companies like Ford, Nike, and Boeing are paying—sometimes $300,000 for 3 months’ work—worldbuilding teams to think up the fictional futures of their companies in order to inspire new development. Worldbuilding agencies create detailed futuristic worlds in order to kickstart the creative minds of America’s most famous companies.

SciFutures, a world-building agency that Merchant focuses on, thinks up several worlds that forecast threats or potential developments of a business. After choosing around five of the proposed worlds, the agency will polish the stories up, and make them ready for presentation to the client. The worldbuilding team decides which medium is best suited for delivering their message—many are translated into graphic novels. If a company likes one or more of the ideas, SciFutures will go one step further in helping the company develop blueprints and prototypes.

Regardless of the data-driven decisions that form the foundations of our society and the businesses that surround us today, worldbuilders stand as a bastion of the power of creativity and free thinking. Big companies are still willing to make major investments in this industry which, although it has a proven track record, is completely fallible, and may very likely not pay off.

More interesting still is the shrinking gap between fiction and fact. With such limitless possibilities of production, these fictional stories are so easily translated into concrete products. Whereas in the past, technologies thought up by the likes of Phillip K. Dick would have been impossible to put into production, they can now be relatively easily drawn up and manufactured. This signifies an exciting and ground-breaking time for technology, and if this power is harnessed and used properly, the future of life/societal/environmental solutions through design looks bright.

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