Mastering the art of bricolage

A couple of days ago I linked to a piece by Paul Saffo, who was urging us to learn the art of bricolage. Thinking about it afterwards I was reminded of my friend Karen Mahony and her partner Alex Ukolov, who are masters of bricolage. (See here for examples of their work)
Karen is a truly remarkable person. After working successfully for many years in the corporate zone – BT, Wolff Ollins, her own multi-media consultancies, Mahony Associates and Xymbio – she went to live in Prague and re-invented herself.
I have often urged her to keep a record of her activities, because she is one of the few people who really gets network thinking. The businesses she runs with Alex – Baba Studio, The Magic Realist Press and Baba Store are wonderful examples of 21st Century businesses and if she were ever able to find time to write a book about how they have managed to achieve so much in so little time, it would be a great text for people who would like to build “good” businesses.

Why we don’t do what we should

Thanks to that great linker Creative Generalist, I rediscovered Dave Pollard‘s “How to save the world”. If ever there is an example of my thesis that it is best to regard some blogs as networks well worth exploring rather than just looking at the latest entry, Dave Pollard’s is one.
What caught my eye, since it is a subject dear to my heart, is a list of “the nine reasons we don’t do what we should”. If like me, you sometimes find yourself trapped in ‘can’t be asked’ mode, this one is well worth a careful read and a long ponder.

Cobbled-together technologies

In an interesting set of speculations about what lies ahead for us in the years to 2015, Paul Saffo urges us to learn the art of bricolage:
“History reveals that even the most mind-wrenching novelties are comprised in large part of cobbled-together bits of old technology. Invention and innovation are a process of bricolage, and innovators are, above all, clever bricoleurs— dumpster divers pawing through the technological wreckage for shiny bits that can be recombined with new knowledge to create new wonders.

Does Google do purposive drift?

“Its main asset is the number of PhDs it has working for it, ceaselessly trying to figure out how to extend the principle of search into everything, unbounded by time, space and (soon) language barriers.
The company refuses to hire people more than a year or two out of university, for fear that experience in the conventional business world will taint their freshness of mind. Google googles the Internet for its own purposes, ceaselessly.
It tried to recruit a South African schoolboy I know because it was so impressed with his web page. (He turned them down in favour of going to university, probably a mistake).
Google’s business plan seems to be a simple one: its people start things, and then work out how to make money out of them. This is an internet land grab of extraordinary dimensions.”