Marschitects, Deep Learning, Blockchain For Music & Human Centered Design — Things I Read Today For Aug 15

Happy Monday fellow medium readers. Hope you had a great weekend.

So this is post #4, and I’m still enjoying this process of writing down what I’m learning from the articles that I’m reading, and then sharing them here for all to see. Three elements of this process are really working for me:

(1) I only have so much time, and because I have to write about the key articles I read (which takes time in addition to reading them in the first place), I have to be more choiceful about what I read and when I read it. This means that only the most interesting and immediately useful information goes in my head from now on.

(2) I take in more about the articles that I’m reading, because I have to pay more attention in order to write down my key take-away(s).

(3) I’ve ended up starting to explore the community side of medium more, and am enjoying being a part of it.

So, here we go… the articles for today:


I love reading and thinking about the cosmos and space exploration. As such, it was no surprise that I just had to read this article posted in How We Get To Next, by Vas Panagiotopoulos. It explores the wonderfully curious world of architecture for habitats and cities being conceptualized for living on Mars… or better called “Marschitecture.” I suggest this piece simply as a fascinating look at what could be in humanity’s future, and a peek at those people who are dedicating their lives to trying to figure it out.

“Architecture has been forever linked to humanity’s evolution, and space architecture is just the next phase. As we seek to become a multi-planet species, architectural technology will allow us to live comfortably in extreme conditions on other worlds, just as it has in the tundra, in deserts, and on top of mountains on Earth.”


I bumped into a lot of articles over the weekend about the acquisition of hardware manufacturer for deep learning, Nervana Systems. In this one, the VC Data Collective talks about the thesis they had when investing in Nervana, as well as all of the wonderfully cool work that is happening in Deep learning, specifically across 9 key industries. I find it quite mind blowing to read about everything that the current machine learning tactics are able to accomplish already. With the pace of development only getting faster, I can’t even imagine what’s in store. A very worthwhile read.

“Our thesis is that a) increasingly powerful and inexpensive hardware that is machine learning/deep learning-friendly (lots of multipliers and fast memory; e.g., Nervana Systems), b) a flourishing of learning approaches running on that hardware, and c) large, novel data sets, now inexpensive to acquire and refresh, to train and drive those novel learning algorithms, is fueling a transformation of major global industries right in front of everyone’s eyes.”


I seem to have missed the mission-stating first two posts about this, but Benji Rogers, along with a globally distributed team, is working on a project to change the music industry for the better — by using the secure and traceable data of the blockchain. In this article, Benji is announcing that the MVP is complete, and taking the time to run through exactly how it works. This appears to be an amazing example of the broad applicability of the blockchain, one that I hope continues to progress.

“We still have a lot of work to do, I’m sure that we will get a lot wrong as we roll this thing out and that we will have missed some things along the way, but the mission is good, and what we are seeking to do will, when grown up, lead to a scale-able and lasting change for the good of all who create or work with the extraordinary music that we know and love.”


This article, by César Bejarano, explores The 6 Fundamental Principles of Interaction from the Human Centered Design methodology: (1) affordances, (2) signifiers, (3) constraints, (4) mapping, (5) feedback, and (6) concept models. While these principles are a bit academic, I can definitely understand their use and want to continue to explore them in more depth to be able to apply it to my work.

For fun, I’ll pick a favourite one = feedback. Feedback tells the user what processes or actions are taking place at any given time, or after any given input from the user. What I liked about reading about feedback is that it opened my mind to understanding that it’s not just about telling the user that THEY did something wrong or right, it’s actually more broadly about communicating to the user what the system is doing.

“Discoverability is possible because of Human Centered Design (HCD), an approach that puts emphasis on the person’s natural needs and behavior, rather than on the object itself. It’s inspired by behaviors rather than demographics, it takes place in natural contexts as opposed to artificial ones, and it relies on dynamic conversations instead of scripted interviews.”


Another one for ya on Human Centred Design (HCD). This one is a great article by Nathan Kinch on the process he believes should be used for product development within the HCD framework. He first highlights that while most product people think that the key is to start with the pure desires of the end users (i.e. from: desirability / viability / feasibility), he believes that you need an insight or business context FIRST, before you can focus on desirability. He then runs us through his process.

Nathan’s insight here certainly sounds straight forward, but from my experience it doesn’t always play out that way. Too often people focus on desirability first and foremost, and end up realizing down the road that without a business context, there’s no business to end up creating, and therefore no real point for the process.

“Desirability rarely sets our context, but the desire to create value for humans still drives our process”
“Effective design creates new shared-value. Without business value, human value will not be delivered”

That’s it from me today. Hope you enjoyed reading about what I’m reading about. Let me know what you thought about any of the articles above. Let’s have a conversation.


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