A skillful, comprehensive, and complex look at design as it’s shaped by technology and culture.

THE FUTURE OF DESIGN

GLOBAL PRODUCT INNOVATION FOR A COMPLEX WORLD

An overview of the principles of design focuses on globalization and technological developments.

In this business book, Justice (China’s Design Revolution, 2012) looks at product design in the context of the global economy. The author concentrates on products sold internationally and leads readers through the process of designing and testing. Justice pays particular attention to making sure the design fits the needs and preferences of customers in each regional market. The book teaches readers to develop and apply design thinking skills and “the nuances of design reasoning” throughout the planning process and to understand how the result aligns with overall business goals. The author also explores ways in which technology is changing both the world of design itself and how people expect to interact with products. The book emphasizes the possibilities of a design-driven future and the ethical responsibilities creators must embrace (“Designers and other disciplines related to technology will need to take a prominent role, with values and ethics as a key part of their education”) in order to make it beneficial. Justice incorporates many anecdotes and examples from her own work (for instance, modifying a focus group format in Hong Kong to make participants comfortable sharing their opinions) and that of other designers, providing illustrative stories that constitute one of the volume’s strengths. On the whole, the book is well organized and covers a substantial amount of territory despite its short length, though much of it is presented at a high level rather than in significant detail. But the author points readers to plenty of additional resources with further information, both throughout the text and in extensive endnotes. Justice also does an excellent job of explaining that design exists within a cultural context, and both regional differences and technological developments may require creators to regularly adjust their thinking (“What you think of as good design attributes may change in the future based on what becomes culturally important”).

A skillful, comprehensive, and complex look at design as it’s shaped by technology and culture.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4736-8467-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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