Tuesday, April 24, 2012


While researching tools for my course on Cloud Computing for Entrepreneurs, I came across this nice collaborative diagramming tool called Cacoo. One of my points in the course was that Cloud services that included the ability to collaborate were the most valuable. Recently my friend Phil was asking about a diagramming tool and I figured it would be fun to try it out. Here is the diagram we worked on. Try it yourself. Sign in to Cacoo (it's free) and invite someone you've always wanted to work with to brainstorm with you on new ideas.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Problem Solving aka Doodling


Analyn invited the Heretic to one of her social action group meetings. Throughout the meeting he drew in his sketchbook and she noticed that he was doodling. She was furious until towards the end of the meeting he looked up and asked a question that cut right to the core issue that the committee was trying to resolve. He then gave a simple but perfect suggestion and went back to his doodling.

Drawing is always about problem solving. Therefore drawings by their nature are problematic. If you’ve created the perfect rendering then it is not a drawing. Even a doodle is addressing a problem: How to get the goop out of your subconscious and into a tangible state that can be used to find meaning. The answer? Draw something meaningless and evolve it into something unexpected.

Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution Toolkit and TED talk


Turn a doodle into a treasured object at Shapeways
or turn it into a commodity at Cafepress

Monday, April 9, 2012

Real Life Heretics: The Hexayurt Project

Vinay Gupta and his friends at the Hexayurt Project wanted to attack the problem of providing cheap easy to access shelter for crisis locations. They asked "Why not use locally accessible materials? How would we reduce waste to make it a viable solution?"  They took the lowly plywood sheet and flipped it to create the Hexayurt, named after the Mongolian round tent. They tried it at Burning Man, and then brought them to Haiti and other places around the world. Most importantly, they used the Open Design concept to make sure that the idea was accessible to anyone anywhere.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012



Rip some paper and put it in a small plastic container. Label the container “Ripped Paper.” Put the container in a larger container along with a bent paper clip and label that container “Miscellaneous.” Put the container in a larger container and label that container “Small Objects.”

By using the Miscellaneous category you have devalued the contents of the two smaller containers and you have degraded the relationship between the “Small Objects” category and the “Ripped Paper” category. Most of all, you have demonstrated the inherent problem of Hierarchical Categorization. To be fair, you can’t blame Miscellaneous. That’s just a stop-gap of last resort on a flawed system. You will find Miscellaneous categories everywhere.

Hierarchy is extremely valuable for understanding frameworks but it is really only a particular kind of relationship. Connecting things with relationships is much more effective than dividing things with categories. This is especially true with people.