Environmentalist, Designer and Innovation Expert
John Thackara does big-picture keynote talks for a wide variety of public and private sector organisations. He also chairs events, and people enjoy his interviews with speakers and panels. John explains: "My job is not just to talk—it is to challenge your assumptions, and start conversations. The aim of these conversations is to open up opportunities for innovation."
For thirty years John Thackara has traveled the world in his search of stories about the practical steps taken by communities to realize a sustainable future. He writes about these stories online, and in books; he uses them in talks for cities, and business; he also organizes festivals and events that bring the subjects of these stories together.
John is the author of a widely-read blog at designobserver.com and of the best-selling In the Bubble: Designing In A Complex World (MIT Press)—also translated into nine languages. As director of doorsofperception.com, John organizes conferences and festivals in which social innovators share knowledge. He has lectured in more than forty countries.
Creativity and Social Innovation
Everyone is talking about creativity and innovation—but what are they for? In this age of energy and economic transition, social innovation creates local living economies from the ground up. It also enables us to share resources--such as energy, things, time, skill, software, space, or food. New values, as well as new models and platforms, are a condition for success. (A video of John's talk at Norway's Design Day is here.)
Design In the Light of Dark Energy
Resource efficiency is not a lifestyle choice. We've splurged on energy for 200 years because we could. The growth-at-all-costs economy grew because it could. We drove two ton trucks to collect a pizza because we could. Now that we can't, the nature of our playing field is changing. (John's talk at the 2011 Architecture and Energy conference in Philadelphia is here.)
Five Per Cent Health
Peak oil, and peak fat, are transforming the logic that currently shapes the global biomedical system. Until the medical system addresses the causes of illness with the
same brilliance with which it addresses the effects, the population will continue to get sicker. (The 20 minute video of John's talk at Mayo Clinic is here.)
Growing The Bio City
Cities are in transition as cheap energy, and capital, become scarce. In the emerging biocity, people use natural resources to adapt and renovate structures, heat and cool buildings, move and treat water, or grow and supply food. From 'Paris as a Sponge' to Twitter-enabled markets, John describes the new solutions, and novel collaborative models, that are transforming the city as we know it. (John's keynote 'The True Costs of Big' is here.)
“An inspiring presentation for our executive workshop.”
“A global expert on innovation and the green economy.”
Oslo Architecture Triennale
“You lifted the conference and discussion to a high level.”
“Our high-level guests greatly appreciated John’s challenging talk.”
“Your lecture created an enormous buzz.”
In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World
We're filling up the world with technology and devices, but we've lost sight of an important question: What is this stuff for? What value does it add to our lives? So asks author John Thackara in his new book, In the Bubble: Designing for a Complex World. These are tough questions for the pushers of technology to answer. Our economic system is centered on technology, so it would be no small matter if "tech" ceased to be an end-in-itself in our daily lives. Technology is not going to go away, but the time to discuss the end it will serve is before we deploy it, not after. We need to ask what purpose will be served by the broadband communications, smart materials, wearable computing, and connected appliances that we're unleashing upon the world. We need to ask what impact all this stuff will have on our daily lives. Who will look after it, and how?
In the Bubble is about a world based less on stuff and more on people. Thackara describes a transformation that is taking place now -- not in a remote science fiction future; it's not about, as he puts it, "the schlock of the new" but about radical innovation already emerging in daily life. We are regaining respect for what people can do that technology can't. In the Bubble describes services designed to help people carry out daily activities in new ways. Many of these services involve technology -- ranging from body implants to wide-bodied jets. But objects and systems play a supporting role in a people-centered world. The design focus is on services, not things. And new principles—above all, lightness—inform the way these services are designed and used.
At the heart of In the Bubble is a belief, informed by a wealth of real-world examples, that ethics and responsibility can inform design decisions without impeding social and technical innovation.