- Uber debuted a new logo to much scorn and mockery, and shortly after the lukewarm response, a senior designer stepped down. Virtually every time a major company rebrands itself or introduces a new logo it's met with skepticism and general derision, but it does feel like they made a big misstep here. Various reports of the redesign process talk about the heavy involvement of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and his refusal to hire outside consultants or agencies to either help with or lead the design redevelopment. For what it's worth, Steve Jobs worked with half a dozen outside design consultancies during his Apple and NeXT years, as well as marketing and ad agencies, so if you're looking for an example of a CEO heavily involved in design processes that got great results without turning to outside eyes, you'll have to look further.
Feeding the Future:
- A review of the latest and greatest Soylent formulation. The vision that Soylent has for humanity is a a bit of a reductive one, where food is fuel rather than culture, but given how much food scarcity we may see in the near future due to climate change we may need a variety of solutions to provide for the world's stomachs. If what Soylent is figuring out now can improve food security and nutrition for the future, we may all be better off because of it.
- A university in the U.S. is making students wear fitness trackers, and the activity they do (or don't do) will affect their grades. It's weird, dystopian, and a huge overreach by the university into the personal lives of students. Not surprisingly, it's from a university that has a history of getting overly involved in their student's personal lives (they forbid LGBTQ students, for instance). As always, the danger is that if the outcome of the tracking activity being connected with grades is a "good" one, and other institutions decide to emulate an invasive policy because it is deemed effective.
- Apple may be punishing users for using non-Apple approved repair services by disabling their phones remotely, rendering phones useless at times and places where there are real risks and consequences for the owner.
- You can now get killed by a bullet made from plastic. While the product is a bit menacing, this is good news for reducing lead contamination in both the wild world and for law enforcement that have to spend significant time in firing ranges for training. Reveal had a great piece of investigative journalism on the subject of lead poisoning via firing ranges awhile back, we recommend giving it a listen if you have the time.
- Despite technology's power to turn 20 devices into 1, many households in the U.S. still have far too much stuff. While we can likely all agree that large amounts of largely unused stuff is a bad thing, the shaming of quantity is a bit misguided- if you can't afford a $ 8,000 trip to Europe, is it really a moral failure to instead treat yourself to many small, cheaply made goods? Quite possibly we should be looking at how we can improve the social and built environments in our communities for everyone so that finding refuge in things is a less appealing proposition in general, and physical goods can be left to solve for real needs instead of a quick-hit of feeling good and empowered.
Solutions from Down the Supply Chain:
- Crowdfunding is great for enabling new products to get to users, but transitioning to sales post-campaign can be difficult, not to mention that potential customers often have a hard time navigating the new, unfamiliar options that crowdfunding is so good at delivering. A new take on retail from a Nest engineer is hoping to help both sides figure it all out, and we think it's pretty interesting business model - we're definitely going to keep an eye on it.
More next week.