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"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)
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"pattern cognition" (PSFK presentation)

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This is the presentation I made at the PSFK conference in New York City, March 27, 2008.

This is the presentation I made at the PSFK conference in New York City, March 27, 2008.

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Transcript

  • 1.  
  • 2. seeing things
    • we’re in the business of “seeing things”
    • a symptom for some people
    • a business model for the rest of us
    • our clients depend on seeing things early and clearly, on grasping new patterns
    • pattern: product idea, campaign theme, BFI, innovation, positioning strategy, new media play
    • it wasn’t there naturally at MIT
    • so I started wondering what are the mechanics?
    • are there patterns to pattern recognition?
  • 3. recognition becomes cognition
    • It’s not pattern recognition, exactly
    • it’s not an act of identification
    • oh, there’s a pattern
    • or this is an example of that
    • it’s finding a match between
      • something swirling in the client’s world
      • something swirling in our heads
    • and this is a matter of making patterns
    • cognitioning them (apologies to Elvis Presley)
  • 4. two categories of useful patterns in our heads
    • 1. prefabricated ideas
      • all that reading in college and since
      • patterns at the ready
      • this is kind of like pattern recognition
    • 2. purpose build, custom made
      • ideas we make on our own
  • 5. intellectual appliances
    • these patterns are a little like blenders or toasters
    • they are created to solve a particular problem simply and well
    • we surround these ideas with all kinds of worshipful regard and a certain amount of hocus pocus
    • better to think of them as practical devices
  • 6. 1. prefabricated patterns
    • Oh, that’s like kinda like …
    • what Simmel says about social imitation
    • Freud on the “preconscious stream”
    • that’s very Buffy or Simpson’s
    • that’s very Burton or Jarmusch
    • getting a fix on something
    • it is a kind of bagging and tagging
    • it helps us think
    • take an evanescent idea and give it shape and form
    • an intellectual appliance (like a toaster)
  • 7. a case in point
    • yesterday NFL threatened to ban long hair
    • a violation of personal freedom
    • football players as Roman gladiators
    • controlled until sacrificed to owner greed
    • but if you use Daniel Bell’s distinction between instrumental and expressive individualism, a more elegant argument emerges
    • one cannot be allowed to extinguish the other
    • the issue leaps up when seen through this lens
  • 8. 10 ideas
    • 1. Kauffman on messiness as a good thing
    • 2. Goffman on public life as a stage
    • 3. Brooks on multiplicity in social life (Bobos)
    • 4. Blue Oceans
    • 5. Shirky and emergent categories
    • 6. Granovetter and strength of weak ties
    • 7. Surowiecki and wisdom of crowds
    • 8. Levitt: what business are we in
    • 9. David Weinberger and the new structure: small pieces loosely joined
    • 10. X on porousness
  • 9. 2. purpose built, custom made patterns
    • starts with noticing
    • my Sahlinsian instruction
    • an alert had sounded in his head
    • full alert, what was this?
    • the point is not to be glib
    • noticing as a brute activity
    • do it often and easily
    • (PSFK every morning)
  • 10. our heads teeming
    • things we notice
    • things we’ve heard
    • things we’ve read
    • the way the client likes to think about things
    • all swimming about
    • not consciously entertained
    • but quick to manifest
    • there is a process at work of which we are unaware
  • 11. An example
    • I was talking to Teri Rogers
    • and a couple of half-patterns emerged and rushed together
    • 1. Just-in-time
    • 2. Just-enough
    • These are really still in the works
    • I am doing pattern cognition “under glass”
  • 12. possible pattern 1: just-in-time
    • the world is more responsive
    • the things I need to get the job done are there at hand
    • some simple improvements:
      • messages by SMS or email
      • packages for FedEx
      • airline tickets on line, tickets produced at airport
      • gmaps on your iphone as you step out of the subway
    • the concierge effect, invisible order
    • everything at hand just as and when we need it
    • the term is from Taiichi Ohno , Toyota car assembly plants, early 1970s
    • we use it more broadly as a way of thinking about how our social, commercial, urban worlds reengineered and made available
  • 13. possible pattern 1: just-in-time in design
    • more metaphorically this time
    • objects that comes with intelligence built in
    • so that the intelligence of the designer leaves the object, passes into my hand, runs up my arm, enters my brain, and becomes an idea,
    • 1) I know how to operate this thing!
    • 2) I must be a genius!
    • well, no, it’s the object that’s a genius
    • it delivers what I need to know about the object at the very moment I need to operate the object
  • 14. possible pattern 1: is this something or is it nothing
    • the Letterman question
    • am I “on to something”?
    • and if I am on to something, am I talking about it in the right way, with the right tag
    • is this “just in time” or something else
    • if it isn’t this, then what?
  • 15. possible pattern 2: just enough
    • Yale economist Barry Nalebuff: Honest Tea
    • Sugar, like most goods, has a declining marginal utility. One teaspoon takes away tea’s bitterness. Another adds a nice sweetness. That’s where we stop.
    • a new model of consumption?
    • as opposed to the “Denny’s model”: all you eat and at least 3000 calories more
    • 1950s: America the bountiful, land of plenty
    • every American duty-bound to consume heroic quantities of sugar, salt, fat, nicotine, alcohol, sun (to say nothing of carbon)
    • all the world is a resort culture
    • we have been scaling this back
    • but perhaps now we have an idea for scaling this back
    • rework the fundamental terms of the bargain?
  • 16. the patterning process
    • we are always coming across things like Honest Tea
    • PSFK every morning, a stream of Ohs!
    • we want to keep all of them as candidates, keep all of them in play, and see if confirmation is forthcoming
    • a couple of days ago:
    • Newman’s Own Sweet Enough cereal
    • Oh becomes Ok
    • this pattern is forming
  • 17. ideas cohabiting in your head
    • so, for most of us, the ordinary world finds our heads teeming with possible meanings
    • and in this case, in my conversation with Teri, while talking about real estate, these two ideas fell hopelessly in love
    • teeming becomes teaming
    • they leapt up and said “we belong together”
    • just-in-time and just-enough together forever?
  • 18. But do they (belong together)?
    • well, kinda, sorta, maybe, if you squint your eyes and tilt your head, sure
    • now the task is to find the pattern that brings these ideas together
  • 19. what do we call this and what happens when we do?
    • The “engineering” option:
      • calibration, engineering, delicate mechanics
      • Tokyo and trains that arrive on time
      • a clockwork, wheels within wheels, the Clockwork American?i
    • Escher “the world inventing itself” option:
      • escalators, things that emerge just as you need them to
    • The Game Space option
      • that game renders to the right when we go right, dream time, a new time-space thingy
    • Synchronicity option
      • too badly damaged by that Police song?
    • a new bargain in the consumer society?
      • we get more as we take less
      • we are enabled, not indulged
    • Argh: none of these is quite right
  • 20. the new bargain of the digital age
    • I like this last one, imperfect as it is
    • it invites us to rethink the consumer proposition globally, expansively
    • look, we can say, consumers are no longer consumers
    • the point of goods and services is not to indulge the consumer, but to enable them
    • we are getting more instrumentality, even as we use less stuff
    • we are becoming more vaporous, more virtual, less weighty, less punishing to the planet
    • less voracious and more active
    • notice that this still might not be an idea
    • and certainly I haven’t yet found the right tag
    • my hope is that somewhere out there is a client someday will go, “right, I could use that”
  • 21. the new urgency
    • 5 reasons for better pattern cognition
    • 1. the sheer ferocity of change
    • 2. clients are all in the innovation game
    • 3. they need more ideas more quickly
    • 4. “black box” creativity in deep disrepute
    • 5. we have made pattern cognition a private activity, we do not share our intellectual appliances with enthusiasm
  • 22. next steps
    • pattern cognition is a private activity
    • even when conducted in a “brain storm”
    • the patterns at work in our heads often remain proprietary software
    • we never reveal the code
    • it is time for us to think more explicit about the patterns we use to find patterns
    • it’s time for us to share these patterns
  • 23. Pattern cognition in summary: 1. applying prefabricated patterns
    • Daniel Bell as a case in point
    • our parents are thrilled, liberal arts education vindicated
    • by this time, you would think we would be better at this
    • time to break with the business press model
    • almost uniformly hopeless
    • too long, clumsy, inelegant and insufficiently illuminating
    • maybe PSFK will treat us to periodic reviews of best ideas found on blogs this month
  • 24. pattern cognition in summary: 2. building our own ideas as we go
    • Just-in-time as one case in point
    • Just enough as a second
    • not exemplary but the ideas that happened to happen this week
    • we can follow up here but sharing half formed observations
    • there are conversational rules about how “half baked” a thought can be
    • we need to change these rules, these tolerances
    • (or get new friends)
  • 25. Pattern cognition in summary: 3. brute noticing, Sahlinsian!
    • noticing stuff in the world
    • nothing happens unless this does
    • not assimilating
    • not being Mr. or Ms Smarty Pants
    • not grabbing at things
    • but letting the world put us on notice
    • no, we don’t “get” this
    • stopping to think what we would have to think to think this
    • listening for what might be patterns
  • 26. Pattern cognition in summary: 4. patterns make more patterns
    • this is the climb from small patterns to bigger ones
    • in the case of our rush to a meta-pattern for just-in-time and just-enough, we climbed very far indeed
    • a whole new bargain
    • really? anthropologist, please!
    • but this really is the high rigger stuff and the most fun possible
    • we need forums for this
    • PSFK here too?
  • 27. seeing things
    • we’re in the business of “seeing things”
    • our clients depend on seeing things early and clearly, on grasping new patterns
    • pattern: product idea, campaign theme, BFI, innovation, positioning strategy, new media play
    • it wasn’t there naturally at MIT
    • so I started wondering what are the mechanics?
    • are there patterns to pattern recognition?
    • I hope this was useful
  • 28.
    • you can reach Grant McCracken at grant27@gmail.com

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