From Objects to Systems

One of the transitions that inventors are going through is a transition from designing the one-and-done, disposable, standalone objects of the 20th century to designing smart objects that communicate with complex systems in time and space. The inventors and companies that will rise to the top of this new, competitive landscape will be the inventors … Continue reading From Objects to Systems


Use Off-the-Shelf Parts for Early Prototypes

for inventors of smart devices and systems Once you have an idea for a smart device or system and an understanding of the needs of your customers as well as the features and benefits that your competition provides, you need to do some prototyping. Your first prototypes are for internal use with your team. You want … Continue reading Use Off-the-Shelf Parts for Early Prototypes

Dieter Rams and Durability

The work of modernist designer Dieter Rams is the inspiration for many products today most notably Apple products. The modernists strove for "timelessness" in their designs so it comes as no surprise that Rams's visuals hold up. But for Rams and his contemporaries, timelessness was more than just a look. It was about durability. They believed in high-quality products … Continue reading Dieter Rams and Durability

The New Inventors

We're in a new age of invention. The tools and materials for making and distributing products and systems are more affordable and easy to use than ever before. Web-connected computation will be in just about everything we use and every system that we live in: clothing, housewares, supermarkets, farms, cars and buses, homes and apartments, … Continue reading The New Inventors

‘Classic’ vs ‘Expressive’ Use of Technology

In his 1989 book  Disappearing through the Skylight, English Professor O.B. Hardison distinguished two implementations of new technology: Classic and Expressive. Classic use is to do old things with new technology. Expressive use is to do new things with new technology. We see a lot of instances of classic use. The first cars were basically horse carriages attached … Continue reading ‘Classic’ vs ‘Expressive’ Use of Technology

from Hardware and Software to Devices and Information

I help run a hardware accelerator in Ithaca, NY where we help teams of inventors develop their concepts for connected devices. So many devices are connected these days and many more will be connected in the near future (Moore's law applies here). I spend a lot of time thinking about how to navigate this near … Continue reading from Hardware and Software to Devices and Information

Connecting people with the Internet of Things

This piece first appeared on Women 2.0 / Medium I’m a classically trained designer. That is to say, most of my design education was based in the Bauhaus tradition which is focused on the visual. I spent endless studio hours doing exercises in color, form, line, shape, mass, balance, and harmony. I value my classical … Continue reading Connecting people with the Internet of Things

In Hardware, Usability is Key

Four examples of hardware entrepreneurs and inventors that prioritize usability: 1. Leah Buechley celebrates 10 years of her invention the Lilypad Arduino, an affordable, easy-to-use electronics platform for prototyping wearable technology. image via   2. Hardware startup Moxxly is acquired to redesign the breast pump experience image via   3. The Bare Conductive team makes tools … Continue reading In Hardware, Usability is Key

Ithaca is a Maker City

This past weekend I was invited to share stories about my city, Ithaca, NY, on a panel at World Makerfaire in Queens. The panel was moderated by Peter Hirschberg, a well known urban innovator and co-author of the new book Maker City: Urban Manufacturing and Economic Renewal in American Cities. Hirschberg co-wrote the book with founder … Continue reading Ithaca is a Maker City

Visualizing Air Quality Data

          This semester my Ithaca College students in Make Better Stuff Studio are collaborating with Wicked Device Electronics Co., the makers of Air Quality Egg--an affordable, web-connected air quality sensor made in Ithaca, NY--to design an exhibit for EdTech Day at IC. Make Better Stuff (MBS) Studio is a pilot course … Continue reading Visualizing Air Quality Data

Making Light – Made in USA is alive in The White House and in Ithaca

Earlier this month we traveled to The White House Office of Science and Technology to take part in a special kick-off event to National Maker Faire. We were thrilled by a panel focused on connecting makers with US Manufacturers. The panel was facilitated by JJ Raynor, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and … Continue reading Making Light – Made in USA is alive in The White House and in Ithaca

from ‘What We Know’ to ‘A New Aesthetic’

When we invented industrial manufacturing, we looked to Victorian era products and mass-produced everything from dishware to ovens with Victorian ornamentation. We did this until the Bauhaus came along and demanded that new technologies require a new aesthetic. The members of the Bauhaus "listened" to modern materials and processes and "heard" that they wanted to be simple and … Continue reading from ‘What We Know’ to ‘A New Aesthetic’


 This post originally appeared at week a fellow IG member and I went to the Scratch Conference at MIT Media Lab. Scratch is a visual programming language developed by folks in the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT and the Graduate School of Education at Harvard. The goal of the project is to help kids (and adults) transform … Continue reading Repost: 4PS OF THE MEDIA LAB

Repost: Encouraging Young Women in STEM

this piece origially appeared at Last week, Ithaca Generator makerspace (IG) partnered with Xraise, the outreach program at the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education, to host a week-long GERLS Camp for middle school girls. GERLS is an acronym developed by the program’s leaders Lora Hine, director of outreach at Xraise, and Claire … Continue reading Repost: Encouraging Young Women in STEM

Who Is Best at Predicting the Future?

I've come across an interesting study about a correlation between cognitive styles and accuracy in predicting the future. The study is from Philip Tetlock, Professor of Leadership at UC Berkeley who built on Isaiah Berlin's theory about foxes and hedgehogs. Put simply, foxes are lateral thinkers,  hedgehogs are linear thinkers, and it is foxes who are better … Continue reading Who Is Best at Predicting the Future?

You Put Your Tech in My Social Science

The other day a friend of mine, a technology entrepreneur, said to me at lunch, ‘I’ve been reading your posts about social science and technology. Something that stands out to me is that these social scientists define problems really well but don’t offer solutions.’ I giggled. He's right. In fact, I have a new friend … Continue reading You Put Your Tech in My Social Science

The Internet of Things Should Connect People

For those readers who aren't techies, the "Internet of Things" is  a phenomenon I first read about in Bruce Sterling's book Shaping Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers, in it's simplest definition, to physical products connected to the internet. You've already heard of some of them, like the refrigerator that sends a text message … Continue reading The Internet of Things Should Connect People

Scratch on MOOCs

Scratch is an  easy-to-use web platform for making games and animations. It's for kids and the cool thing about it is that it nudges kids toward designing games rather than just playing them. I've been dabbling with Scratch in a free online workshop from The ScratchEd Team at Harvard University. They do incredible things with it and you … Continue reading Scratch on MOOCs