Great reads of 2016

2016 was a big year in our“Great Reads” Slack channel. .

There were around 300 posts from 23 Meldsters. Early in the year the Js had it: with lots of posts from Jeremy, Jen and Jack. Overall Janna was the most prolific poster with around 43 entries. Thanks Janna for keeping our minds engaged.

There were a lot of posts via Medium, New York Times, Fast Company and The Guardian. The emergence of Academia.edu has tickled a few of us too, with many papers being posted from this site.

The big themes for the year were as follows (not in order):

  1. The future of work
  2. Written & verbal communication skills
  3. Social justice & equality
  4. New models of education
  5. The future of technology
  6. Design methods
  7. City making
  8. Breakthroughs in science & health care

Below is a little look at the themes and some links to some of the articles. Let me know if you’d like the whole list. I have a spreadsheet!

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-4-36-00-pm

Word cloud from Word-it-out

 

We all seemed very interested in the future of work. Oli was particularly obsessed with automation of jobs, and whether the robots are truly going to take over. Not working at all was also a popular theme. Steve found this mildly terrifying article about the social impacts of a world without work.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. We found inspiration in articles about team work and how to generally get better at working together… This article about Google builds perfect teams was so popular it was posted twice.

Written communication is something we are all trying to improve daily. There were lots of posts about developing our written and verbal communication skills, whether it was storytelling techniques for business, or improving our conversation skills. And then the opposite of that ZOMBIELINGO – or what happens when language is stripped of meaning.

Social justice and equality was a big theme (no surprise with how terrible 2016 has been). Articles on homelessness, poverty, and the impact of Brexit were often posted, as were articles on what happens when the system fails its people – incarceration.

One of my favourite articles of the year was from CityLab which emphasised why understanding the story behind the data is important. The article is about a school in the US whose data told them that their kids were skipping school but it didn’t tell them why. Through qualitative research they found that the low absenteeism was (in part) due to low income students being embarrassed about their dirty clothes. The school installed washing machines for the kids and attendance rose. Fantastic.

Education and different styles and approaches to teaching were of increasing importance as many of our designers started teaching in 2016. Finlands reform of education was of interest to Dom. Janna and Jess also found some interesting ideas on education reform from Google and Harvard.

Jeremy was all about acknowledging great thinkers and artists of the past such as Buckminster Fuller and Paul Klee, and those of the present day who left us too soon such as Zaha Hadid.

And speaking of great thinkers, Meldsters were being published in 2016 as well as being written about (and appearing a lot on stage). It was a good year for reads, even if it was an abject failure of a year for humanity. Let’s hope we can redeem ourselves in 2017.