Notes on Engineering Health, October 2020

Show Unfinished Work
Among 10 key pieces of advice for design schools espoused by the Stanford is #3) Show unfinished work:

In the early days in particular, staff were prototyping everything. How the class schedule worked. Various ways to visualize the calendar. Different approaches to class projects.

The original space also had almost no walls. The few walls it did have were made of unfinished 2x4s and skinned with see-through panels, which became work surfaces. So everything was visible.

This hyper-visibility could be frustrating at times, but it was influential in the early development of the and its students: it helped expose work and allowed ideas to flow freely. From the staff’s calendars and diagrams to the students' prototypes and sketches, no one's work could hide.

Later on, this ethos led to a habit of keeping work-in-progress on display.

When we started publishing this newsletter 14 months ago, part of our motivation was to show some of our unfinished work by being more open about problems and technologies that we were interested in working on. By listing scientific papers and articles of interest each month, we hinted at some of our focus areas. But, while the open-rate for the email version of the newsletter has been strong, the click-through rate has hovered around a mere 3% — indicating that perhaps our hints have been a bit opaque.

This month we are introducing a new section of the newsletter, First Five, a curated list of topics that we are working on along with a bit of commentary and links to some of the content (scientific papers, books, podcasts, video, etc.) that is motivating our work. Our hope is that this new format will add some additional openness about our unfinished work, and will further facilitate the free flow of ideas with our readers.

To that end, we hope that you will be in touch with us directly if you see areas of mutual interest. And we hope that you will follow us on Twitter and Instagram where we will continue to post our full reading list of interesting content in health and science.

Jonathan Friedlander, PhD & Geoffrey W. Smith