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.

  • 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…

  • Exploring Regenerative Triangulation

    I started articulating some thoughts in the last newsletter about a triad, in the fashion of fragile–robust–antifragile (from Taleb’s 2012 book) , which contained the states of unsustainable, sustainable and regenerative. The main thing bugging me was that making something sustainable, and moving towards a regenerative version of it, aren’t necessarily in the same direction.…

  • Artefact 234 – Your Letters

    I sent out the latest edition of the Artefacts newsletter earlier this week, 3000+ words on a variety of things. Interestingly, various people got in touch with contributions, thoughts, questions, and more, but all via different platforms. There was no one place to share responses which other people might see and get something from too.…

  • I can’t believe there’s no butter

    Well, not no butter. But certainly less than you’d expect. Another example of what producers are having to do in the face of ever-rising input costs. The wrappers are probably long paid for in bulk. The boxes they’re packed into measured for the original dimensions. The size expectations of what a portion of butter looks…

  • Taking Care of Water: IEDIFT 2023

    📢 Calling all futurists, changemakers, change-seekers, innovators 📢 . Come spend two weeks this summer at IED in Barcelona attending the Innovation and Future Thinking course. We will be bringing together a group of inspirational local and international lecturers, immersing ourselves in the local and regional context through a series of site visits, and applying…

  • Hanging with your prosthetic selves

    This week I read Zoe Scaman’s latest report on communities; there probably aren’t many (if any) people paying as much attention at the intersections behind brands, agencies and whatever community is in these conversations today. If that’s your bag, do check it out. It did spur one particular thought in my mind; are we still…