My generation inherited the digital era. For better or for worse, it found us. Immersed in user-generated content since day one, it became my generation’s instinct to create, and perhaps more exceptionally, to share our creations with the world. We rapped to the Lion King, invented the cat meme and edited our own encyclopedias.
But, alas, current copyright law opposes our collaborative instinct. It chokes to death our creative spirit. It challenges fundamentally what and who we are.
Pulling incessantly in opposite directions, copyright law and my generation have agreed to a stalemate. The law proscribes the very behavior that defines us. It prohibits precisely what it means to be and feel young.
Inevitably, we ignore or even abandon the law altogether. We pirate the music that we love and become criminals in the process. Condemned to a destiny of piracy, we lurk thirstily in the sea of cyberspace.
But are we to blame for our piracy? Are we to blame when, we intersected, as if by fate, with copyright law that denied our collective identity? Are we to blame when, with no strategic way to bypass it, we had few options but to break the law?
While the answers to these questions are elusive, our problems remain solvable. Our solutions, however, require compromise. My generation must now assume responsibility for its actions. We need to work hand in hand with lawmakers to strike a balance in which copyright law protects existing intellectual property, but doesn’t stifle the creation of future intangible assets.
We need artists working with us. We need them to make their work more available and recognize the artistic value in doing so. Those artists audacious enough to embrace piracy culture will likely expand their outreach and impact larger audiences of consumers and co-creators alike.
Counterintuitive indeed, artists are already cashing in on free music distribution. A new generation of rappers is building revenue streams around the creation of free digital content. J. Cole, Wale and Mac Miller, to name a few, are well known for attracting fan bases with complementary mixtapes and eventually converting their fans into paying customers.
Most recently, rap newcomer Lil Dicky made headlines when he released a barrage of32 independently-produced songs, entirely free of charge. In the process, he harnessed the support of a YouTube army. He’s now selling out concerts withSchoolboy Q and Ludacris.
For Generation Y, these developments have profound implications. Our approach to reframing copyright law within the context of the ever-changing digital era must be predicated on the principles of creativity and collaboration. So long as Generation Y accepts that artists deserve adequate compensation for their labor, and the artists themselves uncage their creativity, we will together push forward the frontier of innovation. Together, we will determine the future of intellectual property in this country.
1. When it comes to developing mobile applications, no design method is easier or more cost-effective than paper-based prototyping. When you’re working with paper, you’re free to make conceptual modifications to your design without suffering the economic burden traditionally associated with app development. Paper-based prototyping lends you the economic flexibility to pivot, or change directions, with ease.
2. Moreover, paper-based prototyping facilitates positive team interaction. As opposed to programming, which requires technical expertise, paper-based prototyping is relatively unintimidating. It’s approachable to most members of the development team and therefore, levels the technical playing field.
3. Paper-based prototypes are also, to their advantage, unpolished and unimposing. Users generally feel more comfortable criticizing them than they do mock-ups constructed of more costly materials. If nothing else, paper-based prototyping proves ideal for incorporating user feedback into the design process.
As you navigate the process of app development, consider the following lessons:
A) Learn to conquer your perfectionism. Too often, developers seek refinement in their prototypes. They feel pressured to present end users with aesthetically appealing mock-ups. But these same developers have forgotten an important rule to product design. The prototype’s appearance is irrelevant – at least initially. It’s imperative, prior to commercialization, to observe how users interact with your app in its most basic form.
B) Test your prototypes rigorously with end users. Before squandering additional resources on the development of an app that nobody wants to buy, scrutinize your mock-ups along two dimensions: usability and desirability. Usability testing assesses how well users interact with your app. Desirability testing, on the other hand, measures how effectively your app meets user needs. This double-pronged evaluation will help you determine the commercial viability of your app early on in the development process.
C) Always keep your eye on the prize. Remember, it doesn’t matter how cool your app concepts are, or how polished your prototypes look. What matters is that customers understand how your app works, and more importantly, that they’re willing to purchase it. Otherwise, all you have is quirky ideas and no means by which to pay the bills.
1. Social media lends us the resources necessary to manipulate our self-images. It provides us with cyber stages on which to perform new roles and shed old skin. It offers us a medium through which to transmit specific information that emphasizes our redeeming qualities, while concealing our character flaws. Empowering as it is, though, social media has become a place of perpetual and, at times, meaningless return.
2. We wander through social media for hours on end before accepting that we’re lost. We compulsively refresh newsfeeds, desperate for news worth celebrating. We pathologically log in and log out of private accounts, only to log in again, and again, and again, until our bony fingers ache.
3. Like Christopher Columbus and his motley crew, we travel the socially connected Web in search of answers, but never find quite what we’re looking for. Distracted by the black depth of digital content, we drift on, from site to site, neglecting to notice the ceaselessness of our odyssey.
4. As Westerners, we customarily relate to our world in linear terms. We anticipate conclusions to voyages. We expect plots to evolve and protagonists to change.
5. But social media is proving incompatible with our linear worldview. Our online experience no longer resembles the finite story with which we’re familiar.
6. In a given Facebook session, too much happens for one to remember, and so, in a way, nothing happens at all. Events intersect but don’t progress. People connect but don’t make contact.
7. And that’s okay. Our relationship with social media is complicated and ever-changing. It’s balanced by contradictions pulling incessantly in opposite directions.
8. From a cultural studies perspective, social media is nothing short of a miracle. It’s opening exciting new windows through which to investigate human interaction. More than that, it’s informing, entertaining, and uniting individuals across geographical boundaries. It’s fostering real community bonds.
9. So there’s a flipside to social media. On the surface, it’s artificial. That is to say, only the information that we want to share via social media becomes public knowledge. But that fact is profound in itself. It means that every TED talk we post speaks volumes about our values. Every cat meme we retweet reveals insights into our minds.
10. The problem then, is not social media. And it’s not the content itself. It’s our animalistic inability to control ourselves. It’s the rate at which we’re binge-drinking content through the beer bong that we all call social media.
The choice is now ours to make:
a) We could ignore the rapidly changing technology environment, or we could adapt to it.
b) We could deny the addictive qualities of social media, or we could acknowledge our psychological dependence on them.
c) We could lose ourselves in digital content, or we could get lost in a conversation.
d) We could Instagram the sunset, or we could disconnect and explore the natural world.
e) We could abandon social media altogether, or we could embrace, in moderation, the interactive processes that it facilitates.
f) We could cling to the impracticality of our linear worldview, or we could adopt a cyclical one.
g) For how else can we find meaning in a digital world in which there’s no final destination and no objective to achieve?
1. Study what you love, do well, and get involved.
2. Create a personal brand and tell your story. Share whatever makes you unique with the world. Even if nobody’s listening, a falling tree most definitely makes a sound.
3. Trim down your résumé. Keep only the highest quality content.
4. Customize your cover letters, or at least parts of them, to demonstrate the unique value you’d provide to each company.
5. Network frequently. When you find yourself bored on Facebook, log out and log into LinkedIn. Focus on establishing meaningful, knowledge-sharing relationships. Invest in yourself by building your professional network one connection at a time.
6. Network effectively. On LinkedIn, connect with alumni in your industry. If you graduated from Temple and want a consulting job in Philadelphia, conduct an advanced LinkedIn search for “Temple University,” “Consulting,” and “Philadelphia.” Now, once you’ve identified Temple alumni in your industry, don’t blow your chances by trying to impress them. Rather, introduce yourself, tell your story, and inquire about theirs.
7. Avoid energy drink-peddling, multi-level marketing schemes at all costs. If you’re dedicated to becoming a caffeine pusher, do it because you love energy drinks. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I envy you.
8. Diversify your career options. Never put all your eggs in one basket. The job market is one big numbers game. Apply to positions early and often. You’re far more likely to miss out on your dream job if you don’t know that it exists. Find it before someone else does.
9. Take control of the situation. Seek out attractive companies, startups, non-profits, etc., even if they’re not hiring, and inquire about future openings.
10. Practice interviewing. In preparation for behavioral interviews, learn the S.T.A.R. Method. This effective formatting technique helps structure your interview answers in terms of a Situation, Task, Action, and Result (S.T.A.R.). Reflect on a time when you overcame a challenge. What specific actions did you take? Now, articulate how those actions influenced the outcome in your or your team’s favor.
11. Prepare thoroughly for interviews, but never too much. Research the company and the position. Develop a clear narrative that your résumé supports. Rehearse that narrative and incorporate the S.T.A.R. Method to validate your qualifications with specific examples.
12. Handle behavioral interviews no differently than you do conversations. Listen to understand, not to reply. You have one mouth and two ears. Consider speaking half as often as you listen. That being said, always prepare what you’re going to do and say moments before actually committing.
13. Embrace failure. If you don’t land your dream job initially, try to find out why. Accept that your dream job might take years to secure. In the meantime, treasure every opportunity that life brings your way.
14. Be honest. Be yourself. You shouldn’t feel pressured to fake anything. You’re the person who was invited to this interview. You’re the person who’s qualified for this job. You’re capable of achieving whatever you believe you’re capable of achieving. Follow your passion and perseverance to the doors that will open just for you at the perfect time. You belong where you’re appreciated.
Perhaps, in 2013, you didn’t finish a novel, due, not to your short attention span, but rather, the bombardment of literary choices at your disposal. Perhaps, in 2013, you didn’t commit to a relationship either, overwhelmed with the sheer number of bicep bearing or sideboob sporting singles available in your social networks. Perhaps, even while reading this, you’re simultaneously checking emails and notifications, wondering anxiously, is another blog really worth 60 seconds of my life?
The fact is, in 2014, with the world becoming hotter, flatter, and rapidly more crowded, we’re caught inescapably in a crippling blizzard of choices. And the problem is, we don’t even know what we want anymore. We only know what we don’t want. Counterintuitive indeed, we find ourselves paralyzed by too much of a good thing.
Choice overload coupled with our insatiable desire for excess raises our expectations to insurmountable heights. Since satisfaction is the difference between reality and our expectations of it, we tend to remain dissatisfied with the reality of our decisions. Our freedom of choice proves ultimately paradoxical in that it inevitably results in regret.
To help cope with choice overload and subsequent regret, consider these tips:
1. Lower your expectations to the point at which you’re satisfied with reality.For example, don’t expect to finish every bestselling novel, but read often for pleasure.
2. Forget the number of fish in your sea of social networks. Treasure anyone and everyone who life brings your way. If you’re perpetually busy and convinced you can always do better, you’re just another victim of choice paralysis.
3. Stop competing with and comparing yourself to those around you. The grass appears forever greener on the other side.
4. Avoid regret. Appreciate, rather, what already is. Put last year’s Patrón provoked make out session with your ex behind you. Be grateful for the family and friends who support you despite your imperfections. Not everyone is so fortunate.
5. Realize that nothing is or ever could be lacking in your life. Everything you have, somebody out there wants. Everything you want, somebody out there has. But everything you need is right before your eyes.
6. I once met a Spanish man who lived so close to France that at night, he could smell the buttery croissants baking, yet he remained content to die of old age without ever having gone to taste one. Attach yourself neither to results nor destinations. You’re exactly where you need to be.
1. For the love of Steve Jobs, stop creating products and services from scratch. Instead, resourcefully seek out innovative combinations of existing solutions, much like a talented author creates new meaning from old words. The automobile didn’t arise from thin air. On the contrary, it resulted as an amalgamation of two existing forms of transportation: the horse carriage and steam engine.
2. Use your skills and passions to your advantage. Integrate three of your interests to see what inventive combinations you can generate. For example, I’m an entrepreneurial action sports and hip hop enthusiast who films skateboarding videos while rapping about entrepreneurship.
3. Look to the natural world for inspiration. George de Mestral invented Velcro after discovering that burrs of the burdock plant stuck to his dog’s fur. Moral of the story: de Mestral didn’t draw his inspiration from a blank slate. Conversely, he redesigned an existing technology that Mother Nature crafted meticulously, long before his own earthly arrival.
4. Develop commercially viable solutions that address specific pain points. Before haphazardly generating solutions to problems that nobody cares about, step back and ask yourself, what pain point am I remedying? To their peril, entrepreneurs often neglect to evaluate customer and user pains. As a result, they make costly business decisions based on untested assumptions.
5. Realize that less is more. Southwest Airlines saved $10 million in fuel expenses simply by installing lighter seats in its airliners. Southwest developed what product designers call a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which contains all of the components necessary for functionality, but nothing more.
Consider French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s advice: “You know you’ve achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.”
6. Observe how others achieve high performance levels and imitate them. At the risk of tooting Southwest’s horn, the airline also cut operating expenses — reducing the amount of time that its aircrafts spent grounded — when it adopted the same speedy refueling techniques employed by Formula One racers. Imagine how different technologies used in one field could be adapted to solve problems in another industry.
7. Dare to be different and others will remember you. Just think about the iPhone. Apple consigned Blackberry’s hardware keyboard to oblivion by doing exactly the opposite of its competitor: designing a touch screen with fewer buttons. Imagine a Blackberry, or any product for that matter, on Opposite Day. That’s one of the most effective ways to differentiate your products. Define the attributes of an existing solution and reverse them. Whatever the competition makes, make the opposite.
*8. Infiltrate untapped market space. In the 1980′s, confronted with declining attendance, Cirque du Soleil reinvented the circus. Rather than enticing waning crowds of children with taller giants and faster fire jugglers, Cirque targeted an entirely new market segment. In doing so, Cirque changed the circus game. It established uncontested market space by attracting affluent adults who were willing to pay a premium for performances of unrivaled proportions. Follow in Cirque’s freakishly acrobatic footsteps.
*As the bestselling authors of Blue Ocean Strategy advise, avoid highly contested market space. Ignore the urge to fight for market share. In fact, stop competing to outperform your rivals. Focus, instead, on exploiting untapped market niches, on making your rivals irrelevant, and on rendering their business models obsolete. Change the game and never look back.
2. Familiar with one-night stand protocol, you’re surprised, days later, to receive her friend request. To be polite, you accept it.
3. Over the weeks, she joins the chorus on your newsfeed. She posts a couple albums, likes a few statuses, and changes her profile picture twice. You can’t help but notice. It’s happening right before your eyes.
4. You can’t help but notice that she’s dating someone new. Now that you have an open window into her life, you can’t help but notice her every move.
5. Better judgment aside, you find yourself evaluating her new boyfriend. You compare yourself to him and imagine his relationship with her.
6. You find yourself reconfirming and reevaluating opinions of your once one-night stand. During the process, you also reframe and redefine your own self-image.
7. You neglect to notice that her cyber activity reflects but a fraction of her daily activity. You neglect to notice that this fraction results in a distortion of reality.
8. You forget that she, like everybody, engages in two types of behavior. You forget that her front stage behavior is directed towards you, the audience, while her back stage behavior is conducted behind the social curtain.
9. She controls, at least partially, the information that she shares. Only the information that she wants to share becomes public knowledge.
10. As far as you’re concerned, that information defines her character. And she might very well confuse herself with that information. Her good performance fools you and her both.
11. But the person whose profile you see isn’t the same person who you slept with weeks ago. It isn’t even the same person who’s posting the content. It’s an actress who doesn’t shit, shower, or shave.
12. You don’t see her getting ready. You don’t see her struggling to look and feel a certain way. You don’t see the process of her identity. You see only the result.
13. It’s not irrational that you, over the past few weeks, have become attached and increasingly attracted to her. You see her face every day and she looks perfect.
14. But your relationship with her is entirely pornographic. You think that a connection exists, a special bond, due to the frequent exchange of personal information.
15. This distortion of reality ultimately prevents you from seeking out and working for real connections and developing real relationships.
16. You’re paralyzed by your false perception, connected to nobody but a cyber-identity, intimate with nothing but a cold computer screen.
17. You have a few different options.
*To learn to let go, consider these lessons:
a) Let go of your self-image. Let go of your perception of her. Let go of your social media obsession. Let go and live your life.
b) Spend your days, not scrolling through life, but fighting for it.
c) Find someone to love, if you’re ready to find someone to love. I guarantee they won’t be perfect, but neither are you.
d) Spend more time on interactions than the Internet.
e) Invest more in your relationships than you do in yourself.
f) Don’t forgo your identity altogether, but be anonymous when granted the opportunity.
g) There is something profoundly human about the one-night stand, and something profoundly wrong with its current state of imperilment.
My Assignment: ”You are required to read Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design, by Chris Lefteri and Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals, by Rob Thompson. The purpose of having you read these books is to give you some insight into the various manufacturing techniques used in product design and development process. Now it’s your chance to really be creative. Think of a product and how you might use one of these techniques to manufacture it in a new an innovative way. Have fun.” (Professor Marc de Vinck).
My Approach: Rather than applying a manufacturing technique to prototype a tangible product , I created a music video. Though certainly unorthodox, my video suffices, according to the assignment’s constraints. In addition to capturing the industrial spirit of Bethlehem’s SteelStacks (formerly the heart of American manufacturing), I articulate precisely how I’m employing various metal cutting techniques to develop leaner, more cost effective bottle caps.