I am reminded this morning of much I like working out what all the buttons do on a machine. Quite often the machines we use, be they an oven, a sports watch or a computer, have many more functions than we realise. Not all of these devices have the levels of user interface design that you might get from say a modern phone. While I’m a fan of good user design, I quite enjoy pouring through manuals to discover these more obscure functions… or better still, trying to discover them for myself.Continue reading “The satisfaction of learning what the buttons can do”
This question came up on the way home this evening. On the back of the tandem, my daughter was experimenting with counting in French. Things were going fine until we got to sixty-nine. And then I explained that French for seventy is soixante-dix, literally, ‘sixty ten’. Without turning round, I could feel the look of bewilderment on her face.Continue reading “Why do they say ‘sixty-ten’ in French?”
Drivers, please don’t complain about the traffic: you are the trafficBroadbent, O. (2019). Internal monologue everytime I hear a driver complain about the traffic. Bristol.
[Written in May, posted today] Saturday was the chance for my one of my favourite kinds of parenting: the kind where I can go on a journey with my daughter at her pace, stop and look at various bits of engineering infrastructure along the way, and then move on when we are ready.
This weekend’s excursion was along the Frome Valley in East Bristol. Near where we live the river cuts a steep gorge through the limestone landscape that forms a lush green necklace that weaves its way through our neighbourhood. It is an excellent off-road route for cycling.Continue reading “Parenting x inspecting hydraulic structures in the Frome Valley”
I’ve been thinking about creating an Eiffelover podcast for over a year. Last week at Port Eliot festival I saw John-Paul Flintoff (@jpflintoff) give a great talk on creativity in which he challenged us to name one creative project that we want to do, and commit to taking the first step…
And so this is it, the Eiffelover podcast, the first of what I hope will become a regular digest of matters engineering, creative and practically philosophical garnered from the people I meet, the workshops I run and the material I read. I hope you find it useful.
To kick off, I created my first episode here at Electromagnetic Field camp, a non-profit UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.
In this podcast I meet some of the fantastic people here at EMF camp and their imaginitive creations, I dig around to find out what makes these creative people tick, and I get into a fascinating conversation with Richard Sewell about ‘Thingness’, a term he and his colleague coined to talk about the power of making things. Listen now to learn more.
The ability to design arguably sits at the top of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning, requiring as it does decent doses of creativity and evaluation. The foundations therefore of good design must be a broad general knowledge base. This certainly seems true in civil engineering. In order to quickly think up possible solutions to an engineering problem requires knowledge of material properties and behaviour, construction methods, costs, precedents, laws and codes etc. Continue reading “Pursuing general knowledge – not such a trivial pursuit”
I like the idea of using maps to tell stories. I particularly like the idea or using a map to show an emerging story. A couple of years ago I had the idea of creating a personal Journey Planner map for the Tube, showing the bits of the Underground network that I had used in a year. The map would grow the more journeys I went on. This sort of map would of course be useless for planning journeys to new places – though I could just point my nose in the direction of the gaps and be sure to go somewhere new.
Leagues ahead of my uninitiated idea is a campaign I saw yesterday in the Guardian in an article about ad agencies’ suggestions for rebranding the Euro. The proposal from ServicePlan in Munich is to track the journey of Euro notes through the Euro zone. See concept website here. Individuals would take part by scanning euro note serial codes using their phone, uploading the code to a database along with their geolocation and a photo, and over time see where else this same note travelled.
Over time a picture could emerge of currency travelling across the breadth of the Euro promoting some sort of shared identity.
I like the idea, but as I type I realise I don’t quite understand how each note’s onward journey is tracked. If it relies on other people registering the same note, then that is one serious ad campaign that would be needed to get enough people involved…and even then the story would get cut short as soon as someone the note in a suitcase under their bed!