Saturday, February 16, 2008

Yahoo eats its creative brains?


Design and Innovation are really similar and complementary terms.  Design is "to conceive or fashion in the mind; to invent" while innovation is to improve on a design, or invention, probably through more design.  It is an iterative process that happens in waves.

Kind of like job cuts.  During times of stress, the first ones to go are R&D.  The last person to go is the one who turns off the lights at night and makes the coffee in the morning.

Interesting times are in store for Yahoo after axing 1,000 employees.  Someone else did some cold ballpark estimates for the effect the cuts will have on YHOO's stock price & EPS.  Apparently the more people they cut, the more operating profit they will have?  Sounds a bit flaky and unsustainable to me.  Are they going to have the board of directors installing more memory in the servers at Yahoo, or are they just going to outsource everything to Amazon S3?

The entire Yahoo Design Innovation Team, aka yHaus, has been axed en masse, Portfolio.com has confirmed with one of the team's former members.

"Yahoo Design Innovation team has been shut down completely," wrote Doug Fritz, a former full-time staffer for the team, in an email.

Confirmed: Yahoo Design Innovation Team Axed - News Blog - Daily Brief - Portfolio.com

No word on whether they were measuring innovation vs. profit at Yahoo, or the social aspects cutting 1,000 jobs will have on corporate culture.  Perhaps this is a poison pill designed to stop any hostile takeover?

One designer posted some really interesting data visualization videos around FAA flight data here.  Like living organisms, the planes graphically pour in and out of the US.

Here is a list of a few of web sites of the former Yahoo design innovation team for further inspiration.

http://www.aaronkoblin.com/
http://www.ghost-hack.com/
http://www.bigpixel.com/
http://www.practicalist.com/
http://www.dougfritz.com/
http://jennylc.com/
http://danielmassey.net/
http://recombine.net/
http://interactive.usc.edu/members/adm/

Innovation is quite similar to the creation of life.  It is a drastically changing event that impacts everyone around it.  Sometimes innovation may even shorten life.

Speaking of life and living, one of my friends sent me photos of their unborn son.  This feels to me like looking into a crystal ball and being able to see a life before it sees the world.  Incredible stuff...

Like watching the creation of life, being able to watch what is happening in the brain is as incredible.  It is still a very mysterious part of our anatomy, though every day technology turns into a Rosetta Stone for translation and decoding of our thoughts and actions into meaning.

One technology that captures my interest is brain single-photon-emission computed tomography (SPECT) 3D imaging.  This technology gives psychiatrists and scientists the ability to compare the brains of various subjects and view incredible 3D visualizations of the inner workings of the brain.  Picture a cure for brain-related disorders, and perhaps even better-tasting food.

Cardiac MRI provides the ability to look into the inner workings of the heart.  Picture longer lives and a healthier brain.

However, with all of the advances in science, there does not yet exist a tool to visualize the soul or even prove that it exists, though fetal imaging gets pretty close to seeing a mother and father's soul combined into a living being.

What does this all have to do with Yahoo cutting its innovation teams?  Perhaps it leaves them to go on to more important work than just building a better web site, search engine, or social network, like getting rid of lost baggage or delays at airports, or inventing a way to visualize the soul.

Just my $0.02.

No comments: