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Posts Tagged ‘Dassault Systemes

Asking New Questions: the Shropshire Iron Bridge

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Could questions fuel personal and corporate goals?

Toward the end of Free: The Future of a Radical Price (NY: Hyperion, 2009), Chris Anderson cited an example of a bridge in Shropshire, England (p. 213). This bridge was built at the beginning of the Industrial Age (1779), just when builders were shifting from timber to iron as a construction material. But the thinking had not yet shifted to where builders realized iron could be used differently than wood. As a result, the bridge was “wildly overdesigned,” made with iron elements cast separately, and thousands of metal planks fastened and bolted together after the fashion of wooden structures. The bridge is still around today, though much reinforced over the years.

The builders didn’t realize this new material required a very different approach to bring out its strengths. Iron cast in larger sections could take advantage of natural strengths. Small iron castings fitted like wood negated those strengths.

Anderson used the bridge and the bridge-building techniques as an analogy to understand Free. The entire book is a masterful (and thoroughly readable) argument for why the free-to-many-and-paid-by-a-few model works for so many companies today. Anderson also dived into the history of free, along the way citing Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, (a favorite of mine) which describes how gift economies work (hint: gifts tap our genetic pre-disposition toward reciprocation, that is, giving back).

Leaders Lead. Followers Follow. Will Followers Lead?

The point is that new materials, just like new tools, invent or allow or conjure new ways of working. And rather than trying to do the same old things but with newer stuff, we need to sniff out the new goals and new methodologies. In particular—given social media tools—I’m curious how leaders and followers will connect on shared goals.

We’re now well beyond telling each other how to use social media—we’re thumb deep in using all sorts of apps for personal communication. And those tools are quickly working their way into commerce (I nearly always read reviews of products before I buy), into travel, into politics and into our work lives. I would argue the new tools change the way our faith lives work, especially in relation to leading and following.

I keep returning to a phrase I ran into earlier this week, from Dassault Systemes:

If we ask the right questions, we can change the world.

Wise leadership looks for game-changing questions. And those questions come from anywhere—from up, down or outside the organization. It is these questions we’ve not yet addressed that will help us understand the new tools, methods and (even) goals and direction.


Written by kirkistan

September 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

Coursera Learnings: The Close Reading

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Word by word, pay attention to the text

It’s actually what I did yesterday with my visceral response to the Dassault Systemes commercial from Casual Films which appears to have touched a nerve.

Not so long ago I wrote about the Modern Poetry class I’m attending with ~30,000 new friends. We’re watching Professor Al Filreis and a team of dedicated UPenn student TAs react to and discuss Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg and others. The class involves a fair amount of dissecting meanings and is lots of fun. And now we are grading each other’s close readings of a Dickinson text. The Coursera machinery for dealing with a massive online open course is startlingly easy to use and even (sort of) personal. Kudos to Professor Al Filreis and team!

For me this was to be a year off from grading college essays, but these essays are different. People from all over the globe are struggling to sort out what the assigned Dickinson poem means. Some—like me—have never worked this closely with poems. Many of us read our own meanings into the text—often this is linked with a lack of close attention to the words. Even word by word: the close reading demands the individual words add up to something. To gloss over the words is the thing that allows me to pack in my own meanings. I’ve noticed this tendency for years reading ancient texts with small groups: the farther we get from the words on the page, the easier it is to attach our pet peeves to the author’s supposed/assumed point. But the words themselves lead into or out of meaning and belief.

I was struck by one of our course readings: this poem by Cid Corman:

Cid Corman, “It isnt for want”

It isnt for want

of something to say–

something to tell you–


something you should know–

but to detain you–

keep you from going–


feeling myself here

as long as you are–

as long as you are.

Naturally, there is lots to say as you go word by dash by word. But one thing—from the perspective of conversation—Corman focused on how we know something about ourselves as we stand together in conversation.


Image Credit: Zoltron via thisisnthappiness

Written by kirkistan

September 25, 2012 at 9:08 am

Two Inane Commercials. One Purposefully So.

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“Perfect place to build a town” defies believability

The folks at Casual Films tell the story behind making one of the dumbest commercials I’ve seen in a long time. In their work for Dassault Systemes, the filming is cinematic, the visual effects are stunning, the soundtrack and entire setup is urgent and important. But in the short form of the clip, when the supposed explorer speaks, the bottom drops out of the story. Her words—and her delivery from the top of the dune—flip the believability switch that says: this is utter fiction.

If we could supply fresh water this really would be the perfect location for the new town.

Her words send me to this set of questions: Really? You’ll build a town in the desert? And you think people will come because you have fresh water? Have you really studied what it takes to build a planned town—has it ever worked? Who wants to live in such a place? And then I start thinking about colonialism and all the unsustainable projects my country has initiated over the years.

Maybe Dassault Systemes really is going to do this and icebergs in the desert really will supply nomadic tribes for years to come. I hope they are changing the world. But the actor’s long sentence yelled across the desert—heard perfectly despite the distance and the howling wind—made everything suddenly seem like a middle school play. In fact there are a couple other points where the supposed conversation sounds like a PR flack talking to schoolchildren.

Wexley School for Girls: Take Me to Copper Mountain Now

Compare what Casual Films did with what Seattle’s Wexley School for Girls did for Copper Mountain. They hammered the silly button with no pretense at believability and completely own my attention. I don’t even ski, but I want to go a place with this sense of humor.

See a fuller set the Wexley commercials here.

By the way, I find the Dassault Systemes tagline pretty compelling:

If we ask the right questions, we can change the world.


Via Adfreak

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