MotU #2: Edison and the brass balls

Stuff you knew you needed to know

Hotel California has been found in Cupertino. Sir Jony Ive revealed that the design team at Apple is a suitably minimalist 18 people. And no-one has ever left. That tight-knit crew just unveiled Apple Watch kit – the tool for making apps for next year’s wearable wonder. Two new UI concepts to note: Glances and Actionable Notifications.

Hoodie-fan Mark Zuckerberg has been cracking the whip at Facebook. After successfully (but not without friction) spinning off Messenger into a separate app, he’s rumoured to be working on Facebook for work and has also just released a separate Groups app. This is very on-trend and reflects the move to single-purpose apps. Making an app for your company? Beware the false idol of the ‘one stop shop’.


Monetising content has long been a thorny problem. Startups like Millipay are focusing on micropayments for publishers whereas Google is testing Contributor – a paid service that replaces ads with thank you messages. 

… and stuff you didn’t

25 years ago, an artist installed an encrypted sculpture called Kryptos outside the CIA’s headquarters. It contained four encoded puzzles designed to challenge the spooks eating their lunch. Three of these brain teasers have longed been cracked, but the fourth has withstood all-comers. The artist this week revealed a clue that might finally uncover its hidden secrets. Cryptography is arguably the most important science of this century, and I recommend Simon Singh’s book as a readable primer.

Alongside managing distraction mentioned last week, another theme I expect to return to regularly is accessing creativity. John Cleese is (not?) surprisingly a champion of this, and this week told a wonderful anecdote about the prolifically inventive Thomas Edison,

“[Edison] thought that he got his best inventions when he was on the verge of falling asleep, and he used to sit in a chair holding ball bearings in his hands, with a brass bowl under his hands, so that when he fell asleep he’d drop the ball bearings and the noise would wake him up, and in that way he could spend quite a long period of time in that twilight area between being very tired and actually falling asleep, and that’s when he said he got most of his ideas”