Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Book - Universal Principles of Design

William Lidwell
Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design.
Rockport Publishers, 2003, 745.403 LID

Both a quick access resource for designers, and an easily digestible introduction to the fundamentals of design, Universal Principles of Design is a valuable tool for anyone wishing to engage with the design process.

As well as unpacking major subjects within design such as 'Accessibility' and 'Aesthetics', Universal Principles of Design also explains theories such as the 80/20 rule, which highlights the need to evaluate each design element as '80 percent of the effects generated by any large system are caused by 20 percent of the variables in that system'.

The book provides concise yet detailed explanations to aid our appreciation of methods such as consistency in branding, a concept that we all know to be an effective advertising technique without necessarily having a full understanding of why. Delving deeper into the importance of human responses to design, the book contains a strong coverage of human factors such as 'Attractiveness Bias' and 'Mimicry' illustrating that the way we engage with a product psychologically is as important as the way we use it physically.

Universal Principles of Design could certainly provide valuable insight for
anyone wanting to be involved in any of the design competitions being run by the RSA in 2007. Once again RSA Design Directions has a number of awards on offer, including the recently launched 'Flying Start 2007 ' for young design/creative graduates with an interest in starting up a design-led enterprise. For those wanting to gain a better understanding of exactly what Design Directions is all about, a free publication is available entitled Design Directions: Three Years of Designing the Difference. To receive a copy of this publication, please contact

RSA Arts & Ecology will also be encouraging general thinking about design solutions in 2007. Engaging in the need for arts and design to tackle environmental issues, we will soon be launching our 'Bat House Project' which is a competition to build a home for bats in London and will be open to architects, the general public and school children, with a prize for each category.

Friday, April 20, 2007

RSA Ethical Futures - Loving the Machine

Timothy N. Hornyak
Loving the Machine: the Art and Science of Japanese Robots
Kodansha International, 2006, 629.892 HOR

As advancements and breakthroughs in science and technology become increasingly frequent and further reaching, scientists, politicians, the media and society as a whole are beginning to think more and more deeply about the possibilities for human existence in the future.

Long existing in our imaginations through science fiction books and films, ideas such as dramatically extended or infinite human life expectancy or robots that replicate human actions and emotions are beginning to enter the realms of possibility. There are scientists who believe that the first human to live to 1000 has already been born, and as the book Loving the Machine illustrates, robots or 'humanoids' of various kinds are already being developed as commercial products in Japan.

The book, supported by author Timothy N. Hornyak's blog, is more than a celebration of robots and their potential impact on our lives. It focuses on Japan, not simply because this is where the biggest developments are being made, but also because of the unique attitude the country holds toward robots. Hornyak informs us that Japan is 'creating what will likely be the world's first mass robot culture'. What is perhaps most interesting is the Japanese attraction to specifically designing robots with human characteristics that encourage us to express the kind of emotions towards robots that we would only normally express towards other living things. Indeed, the Japanese economy is the only one that has really shown an interest in developing robots as mass consumer goods, designed to entertain people as pets or even friends.

However, a future in which humans have relationships with robots that replicate their relationships with other humans creates another element of uncertainty surrounding the future relationship between human, 'post-human' and robotic states. To consider this and many other issues arising from the prospect of a 'post-human' world, the RSA Programme team has created an Ethical Futures Project to question how our society might ethically comprehend and deal with this challenge.

Friday, April 13, 2007

RSA Library Update - April 2007

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of April 2007. Fellows are welcome to e-mail if they wish to borrow any of these items, or search the library catalogue for thousands of other titles....

000s – Generalities

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

G.Neil Martin, Neil R. Carlson & William Buskist
Pearson Higher Education, 2007, 150 MAR
This new third edition of Psychology introduces students to the central concepts, ideas, theories and findings in all major branches of psychology.

RSA Fellow’s donation.

Lucienne Roberts
Good: an Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design
AVA Academia, 2006, 174.974
This timely book is a reaction to the current tendency within design for a focus on style-led design solutions and the pursuit of self-expression alone. Urging designers to use their influence wisely, Lucienne Roberts seeks to open up a dialogue about ‘good design’ and challenge the perpetuation of vacuous design judgements that are often made without any real analysis of the criteria used.

200s – Religion

Richard Dawkins
The God Delusion
Bantam, 2006, 211.8 DAW
While Europe is largely secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, divides opinion around the world. The God Delusion attacks God in various forms, from the sex-obsessed, cruel tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign, but still illogical, Celestial Watchmaker favoured by some Enlightenment thinkers.

300s – Social Sciences

We Are What We Do
Change the World for a Fiver: 50 Actions to Change the World and Make You Feel Good.
Short Books, 2004, 303.4 CHA
This book marked the launch of ‘We Are What We Do’, a national movement developed by the charity Community Links that aims to inspire people to make small changes and undertake small acts that can have a large impact on the environment, society, and their individual lives.

RSA Lecture related item 'People Making Waves' Wednesday 18 April 2007.

We Are What We Do
Change the World 9 to 5: 50 Actions to Change the World at Work
Short, 2006, 306.36 HEN
Following up from the best selling Change the World for a Fiver, this stimulating and thought provoking book looks at actions we can take in and around the workplace.
RSA Lecture related item: 'People Making Waves' Wednesday 18 April 2007.

Nick Cohen
What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way
Fourth Estate, 2007, 320.51 COH
From the much-loved, witty and excoriating voice of journalist Nick Cohen, comes this powerful and irreverent dissection of the agonies, idiocies and compromises of mainstream liberal thought.

Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington & Joji Wotanuki
The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to The Trilateral Commission
New York University Press, 1975, 321.8 CRO
A classic report on democracy from 1975, made to the pan North American, European and Pacific Asian independent organisation - The Trilateral Commission.

Maurice Fraser (ed.)
European Union: the Next Fifty Years
Financial Times Business, 2007, 327.410 MAU
Half a Century after the EEC was established by the Treaty of Rome, fifty leading politicians and political thinkers provide their hope and ambitions for the next fifty years of the EU.

RSA Lecture related item: 'The next 50 years: what sort of Europe do we want?'

Will Hutton
The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century
Little, Brown, 2007, 330.951 HUT

The Writing on the Wall is an incisive and thoroughly accessible account of China's emergence as an economic power from the best selling author of The State We’re In.

David Strahan
The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man
John Murray, 2007, 333.823 STR
The Last Oil Shock is the story of a threat even more serious than global terrorism, and even more urgent than global warming. David Strahan guides us through the shocking facts of the looming energy supply and energy security crisis facing the world.

Stuart Skorman & Catherine Guthrie
Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur: Why I Can't Stop Starting Over
John Wiley & Sons, 2007, 338.097 SKO
Stuart Skorman gives us an insider's view of what it takes to start a business from the ground up, offering his hard-won lessons in business for any entrepreneur or small businessperson who wants to create a company that has a heart and soul.

Bryan Burrough
Barbarians at the Gate: the Fall of RJR Nabisco
Arrow Books, 2004, 338.836 BUR
Barbarians at the Gate is the shocking account of the largest corporate take-over in American history. Bryan Burrough tells the ultimate story of greed and glory with 25 billion dollars at stake.

Ian Shapiro
Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy Against Global Terror
Princeton University Press, 2007, 363.325 SHA
Attacking both the Bush administration’s inflammatory national security programme and the inability of the US Democrat party to present viable alternatives, Containment argues that the idea of containment offers the best hope for protecting American security and encoring the expansion of democracy throughout the world.

ThuRSdAy related item, ‘Confronting Nuclear Proliferation in an Age of Terror'.

Drugs - Facing Facts: the Report of the RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy
RSA, 2007, 364.177 RSA
Following a wide-ranging two-year study, this report was launched in March 2007 by the RSA and proposes a radical rethink in drugs policy ahead of a major government review of the National Drug Strategy in 2008.

Professor W.J. Morgan
Teacher Mobility, 'Brain Drain', Labour Markets and Educational Resources in the Commonwealth
Department for International Development, 2006, 370 MOR
The result of an 18 month research project, funded by the Department for International Development, this book examines the role of education within strategies for poverty elimination.

RSA Fellow’s donation.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Bryan Appleyard
How to Live Forever or Die Trying: on the New Immortality
Simon & Schuster, 2007, 612.68 APP
The search for immortality has been a constant human refrain throughout history and medical science has improved at an exponential rate in recent decades and there are those who believe that the ability to cheat death will soon be within our reach. In this book Bryan Appleyard examines our human desire to live forever.

Mike Southon & Chris West
The Boardroom Entrepreneur: Putting the Craft of Entrepreneurship to Work Inside the Large Organisation
Random House Business Books, 2005, 658.421 SOU
Entrepreneurs are the masters of change in the modern business environment: visionary, flexible, innovative. Large, established organizations look ponderous in comparison - but they need to change too, now more than ever. Can they learn from entrepreneurs? Or is the culture clash just too great? Mike Southon and Chris West, authors of the bestselling The Beermat Entrepreneur, believe that established institutions can harness the entrepreneurial passions and skills of their people. In this book, they show how.

Chris Fill
Simply Marketing Communications
Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2006, 658.802 FIL
The third edition of Fill’s best selling, theoretically strong marketing communications text provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject and focuses on two main themes- integrated marketing communications and relationship marketing.

Ian Wilkinson
Inclusive Design: Clear and Large Print Best Practice Guide for Designers
International Society of Typographical Designers, 2007, 686.22 WIL
Written by RNIB with specific reference to the Disability Discrimination Act and supported by the Design Council and the European Institute for Design and Disability, Inclusive Design is a landmark publication which provides a framework within which to work when producing typography and graphic design for people with partial sight.

RSA related item: Design Directions.

700s – The Arts

Gerald Scarfe
Drawing Blood: Forty-five Years of Scarfe Uncensored
Little Brown & Co., 2005, 741.594 SCA
Drawing blood is the first collection of Gerald Scarfe drawings and paintings to be released for twenty years. A truly exceptional artist and one of Britain’s most revered cultural commentators; Scarfe is also a member of the RSA Royal Designers for Industry faculty.
RSA related item: Royal Designers for Industry collection.

Phil Baines & Steve Hare (ed.)
Penguin by Designers
Penguin Collectors' Society, 2007, 741.640 BAI
As part of Penguin’s 70th anniversary celebrations, The Penguin Collectors’ Society held a study day at the V&A to explore the history of the design of Penguin books. Penguin by Designers documents this fascinating event, attended by many of the people who have been involved in the design of Penguin books over the last fifty years.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

Pentagram & Delphine Hirasuna (ed.)
The Pentagram Papers: a collection of 36 papers containing curious, entertaining, stimulating, provocative, and occasionally controversial points of view that have come to the attention of, or in some cases are actually originated by, the partners of Pentagram Design
Chronicle Books, 2007, 745.2 PEN
Since 1975, the famed international design firm Pentagram has produced a series of signature documents, known as Pentagram Papers, exclusively for their clients and colleagues. For the firms thirty-fifth anniversary, these idiosyncratic and influential pieces are collected together for the first time and made available to the public.
RSA related item: Royal Designers for Industry collection.

Kathryn Best
Design Management: Managing Design Strategy, Process and Implementation
AVA Publishing SA, 2007, 745.206 BES
Design Management is about the management of design in industry. It leads the reader through the strategy, process and implementation of design management via an exploration of the required skills, theory and practice of each.
RSA Fellow’s donation.

Trevor Naylor
Living Normally: Where Life Comes Before Style
Thames & Hudson, 2007, 747.1 NAY
The anti-style bible for those who ignore makeover culture, Living Normally is an interiors book with a difference. Fifteen inhabitants of ordinary homes are given the chance to air their views on life at home today and to have the world come for a cuppa at their place.

Wall and Piece
Century, 2005, 759.2 BAN
Banksy is responsible for decorating the streets, walls, bridges and zoos of towns and cites through Britain and the world with works of art. Officially a criminal by law, his brand of graffiti art combines comedy with political and social comment to great effect.

800s – Literature

John Mullan
How Novels Work
Oxford University Press, 2006, 809.3 MUL
Using examples from popular novels, John Mullan examines the techniques by which fiction works. He explains how the pleasures of novel reading often come from the formal ingenuity of the novelist, addresses the close reading of fiction, and shows that literary criticism is something that fiction enthusiasts can do.

900s – Geography & History

Alistair Horne
A Savage War of Peace: Algeria, 1954-1962
New York Review Books, 2006, 965.046 HOR
British historian Horne spent much of his career studying French military history. In this work originally published in 1977, he turns his eye on France's failed colonial war in Algeria.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Book - Change the World 9 to 5

We Are What We Do
Change the World 9 to 5: 50 Actions to Change the World at Work.
Short Books, 2006, 306.36 HEN

Change the World 9 to 5 is the latest book from
We Are What We Do which is a movement set up by the charity Community Links with the aim of "inspiring people to use their everyday actions to change the world". Following up from the 2004 publication Change the World for a Fiver this book focuses on the place where we spend a huge amount of our adult lives - at work.

Beyond the convenience of suggesting practical actions that can be undertaken in a place where most of us spend a great deal of time, many of the suggestions within the book also focus on changing the culture of the working environment, such as 'speak rather than email' or 'know how you fit into the bigger picture'. The benefits of making work a nicer place to be are fairly self explanatory, however this approach also as has potentially significant implications regarding the politics of work, as described by this
Guardian Newspaper article.

With such a broad and far reaching goal as "changing the world" it is not surprising that the movement advocates action on a wide variety of issues including the environment, community cohesion and personal behaviour. However We Are What We Do argues in favour of developing a large social movement of people making small manageable actions, rather than relying on the actions of a select few individuals to promote change. The movement has attracted praise within the world of politics from both the Labour Party and particularly the
Conservative Party, who have connected the movement to their idea of "social responsibility".

We Are What We Do has also attracted considerable media attention, not least because it has produced a bag, designed to be used instead of plastic bags, that has become a hugely popular and fashionable accessory. Read an article about the bag in The Independent newspaper.

David Robinson, co-founder and current chair of We Are What We Do, will speak at an RSA Lecture on 18 April 2007 entitled People Making Waves.