Blog

Over fifteen years of writing through explorations, the Smithery blog is where you will find our thoughts on a wide variety of different topics. Search a keyword, or just have a scroll through the latest posts.

  • Digging into Regenerative Principles

    I just came across some notes I made from Nesta’s first Minister for the Future event back in June, which was on Food for the Future and the potential of regenerative agriculture. The original essay on the topic was written by Thomasina Miers, and she was joined by Tara Garnett (Director of TABLE) and Tom…

  • Futures: The Unit of Delivery is Action

    I remember this from the early days of GDS permeating its way across the UK digital culture and beyond; The Team is the Unit of Delivery. Getting a group of good people well working together towards well considered outcomes. In the last week or so, after a conversation with Samantha Culp, who’s writing a book…

  • WeWork… never worked

    This started as an aside on LinkedIn, but in the comments more stories started turning up, so capturing here for posterity. ——- WeWork has filed for bankrupt (FT). Quite some going for a company Ince valued at $47 billion. An unbelievable valuation. I have been grimly fascinated by the business for years, ever since I…

  • Resurrecting web marginalia

    I’ve just spent a few minutes with Stephen Anderson‘s reflections on the Mighty Mind community experiment on Circle (which, as a platform… kinda sucks). Stephen wondered if the thing he actually wanted didn’t quite exist, and in amongst ideas threw out the term… wait for it… Webrings. The description from Wikipedia, if that doesn’t mean…

  • It helps open things out

    We launched Where The Light Gets In, a regenerative design field kit, last week in the Artefact Shop. It’s gone really well, driven in a good part by a LinkedIn post. Once upon a time, that would have been Twitter, but blog posts on a radically different social media landscape are for another day. We…

  • Mystery Thumbs and Feature Debt

    On video calls recently, I’ve been confused by a mystery thumb reaction which appears above my head at the mere glance of a thumb, like in the picture here. Was it a Zoom thing? Or an Opal Camera thing? Whenever it happened, I’d spend five minutes poking at various bits of software trying to work…

  • Obliquiscopes: setting aperture for reality

    I just realised that this thing, the frame, the viewer, the [enter other casually used descriptor] has never really had one particular name. What is it? Well, it’s an Obliquiscope. I’ve previously used the word to define a process, which I think I taught at a session at the RCA back in 2016 or so.…

  • Towards a regenerative design toolkit

    I have been working on a side project in the moments where I get the chance; a regenerative design toolkit called Where the light gets in. It’s a corruption of the Leonard Cohen lyric “There are cracks in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. I am less interested in the how, and more interested…

  • The Crisis of Discovery

    Sometimes a phrase pops. You drop everything, because those words suddenly make the world make more sense; the background interference that’s been nagging at your subconscious resolves to something more intelligible. Today, it’s this from Robin Sloan‘s newsletter: “Where the internet is concerned, we are in a crisis of discovery. Anyone with interesting new work…

  • How to play Mundane Superhero

    I was writing up a longer blog post, reflecting on the recent Innovation and Future Thinking course which Toban Shadlyn and I ran last month, and I wanted to quickly nod to Mundane Superhero. It’s a workshop warmup game I came up with maybe ten years ago. But it turns out I’ve never written it…

  • Testing the Community Power Compass

    A year or so after first writing about the Community Power Compass, I was invited by Val Elefante to deliver a seminar on it for The Metagovernance Project this week. Metagov (for short) is an interdisciplinary research collective looking at standards and infrastructure for digital self governance. The video of the seminar will be up…

  • How to rewild a new garden

    You may be thinking you’ve stumbled into the wrong blog. And I can understand why. Smithery is a strategic design practice, which admittedly encompasses many things. But never gardens. What follows, however, is a documentation of our personal experience of a nature-based design intervention, and then some broader systemic thoughts on what might have worked…