Take a Free Crash Course in Design Thinking from Stanford’s Design School

If you ask a few of today's youngsters what they want to do when they grow up, the word "design" will almost certainly come up more than once. Ask them what design itself means to them, and you'll get a variety of answers from the vaguely general to the ultra-specialized. The concept of design — and of designing, and of being a designer — clearly holds a strong appeal, but how to define it in a useful way that still applies in as many cases as possible?

One set of answers comes from the 90-minute "Crash Course in Design Thinking" above, a production of Stanford University's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, or d.schoolThe Interaction Design Foundation defines design thinking as "an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions we might have, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding." In a brief history of the subject there, Rikke Dam and Teo Siang write that "business analysts, engineers, scientists and creative individuals have been focused on the methods and processes of innovation for decades."




Stanford comes into the picture in the early 1990s, with the formation of the Design Thinking-oriented firm IDEO and its " design process modelled on the work developed at the Stanford Design School." In other words, someone using design thinking, on the job at IDEO or elsewhere, knows how to approach new, vague, or otherwise tricky problems in various sectors and work step-by-step toward solutions. D.school, with their mission to "build on methods from across the field of design to create learning experiences that help people unlock their creative potential and apply it to the world," aims to instill the principles of design thinking in its students. And this crash course, through an activity called "The Gift-Giving Project," offers a glimpse of how they do it.

You can just watch the video and get a sense of the "design cycle" as d.school teaches it, or you can get hands-on by assembling the simple required materials and a group of your fellow design enthusiasts (make sure you add up to an even number). Youngster or otherwise, you may well emerge from the experience, a mere hour and a half later, with not just new problem-solving habits of mind but a newfound zeal for design, however you define it.

"Crash Course in Design Thinking" will be added to our collection, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

2,000+ Cassettes from the Allen Ginsberg Audio Collection Now Streaming Online

Last month Colin Marshall gave you the scoop on Stanford University's digitization of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," a project that takes you inside the making of the iconic 1955 poem. As a quick follow up, it's worth mentioning this: Stanford has also just put online over 2,000 Ginsberg audio cassette recordings, giving you access to "a staggering amount of primary source material associated with the Beat Generation" and its most acclaimed poet.

For a quick taste of what's in the archive, Stanford Libraries points you to an afternoon breakfast table conversation between Ginsberg and another legendary Beat figure, William S. Burroughs. But you can rummage/search through the whole collection and find your own favorite recordings here.

via Stanford Libraries and Austin Kleon's newsletter (which you should subscribe to here)

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Stanford University Launches Free Course on Developing Apps with iOS 10

Whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS, Stanford University eventually releases a course telling you how to develop apps in that environment. iOS 10 came out last fall, and now the iOS 10 app development course is getting rolled out this quarter. It's free online, of course, on iTunes.

You can now find "Developing iOS Apps with Swift" housed in our collection of Free Computer Science Courses, which currently features 117 courses in total, including some basic Harvard courses that will teach you how to code in 12 weeks.

As always, courses from other disciplines can be found on our larger list, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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How to Start a Start-Up: A Free Course from Y Combinator Taught at Stanford

If you have any entrepreneurial aspirations, you've likely heard of Y Combinator (YC), an accelerator based in Silicon Valley that's been called "the world's most powerful start-up incubator" (Fast Company) or "a spawning ground for emerging tech giants" (Fortune). Twice a year, YC carefully selects a batch of start-ups, gives them $120,000 of seed funding each (in exchange for some equity), and then helps nurture the fledgling ventures to the next stage of development. YC hosts dinners where prominent entrepreneurs come to speak and offer advice. They hold "Demo Days," where the start-ups can pitch their concepts and products to investors, and they have "Office Hours," where budding entrepreneurs can work through problems with the seasoned entrepreneurs who run YC. Then, with a little luck, these new start-ups will experience the same success as previous YC companies, Dropbox and Airbnb.




Given Y Combinator's mission, it makes perfect sense that YC has ties with Stanford University, another institution that has hatched giant tech companies--Google, Cisco, Yahoo and more. Back in 2014, Sam Altman (the president of Y Combinator) put together a course at Stanford called “How to Start a Start-Up,” which essentially offers students an introduction to the key lessons taught to YC companies. Altman presents the first two lectures. Then some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley take over. Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook co-founder), Peter Thiel (PayPal co-founder), Marc Andreessen (Netscape creator/general partner of Andreessen Horowitz), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo CEO, prominent Googler), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn co-founder), Ron Conway (Silicon Valley super angel), Paul Graham (YC founder)--they all make an appearance in the course.

You can watch the complete set of 20 lectures above, which covers everything you need to start a start-up--from creating a team, to building products users love, to raising money, to creating the right culture and beyond. Altman's site also features a recommended reading list, plus a set of additional resources. (Bonus: A Georgetown undergrad has created an ebook pulling together the class notes from the course. If you download it, please donate a few bucks so he can pick up some ramen.) The videos for "How to Start a Start-Up"--which will be added to our collection of Free Online Business Courses--can be found on YouTube and iTunes U.

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This is Your Brain in Love: The Stanford Love Competition Shows What Love Looks Like on an MRI

We hear it so often it’s almost a cliché, one I’m sure I’ve repeated without giving it much thought: You can’t measure love in a laboratory. But we probably can, in fact. Or at least neuroscientists can. Last year, one joint Chinese and American team of neuroscientists did just that, defining the feeling we call love as “a motivational state associated with a desire to enter or maintain a close relationship with a specific other person.” This doesn’t cover the love of pets, food, or sunsets, but it gets at what we celebrate with candy and red tchotchkes every year around this time, as well as the love we have for friends or family.




Using fMRI scans of three groups of 100 men and women, the researchers found that an “in-love group had more increased activity across several brain regions involved in reward, motivation, emotion, and social functioning,” reports Medical Daily. The longer people had been “in love,” the greater the brain activity in these regions. Whether the brain states cause the emotion, or the emotion causes the brain states, or they are one in the same, I can’t say, but the fact remains: love can be quantifiably measured.

Meanwhile, Brent Hoff separately decided to exploit this fact for what he calls a “Love Competition.” With the help of Stanford’s Center for Cognitive Neurobiological Imaging (CNI), Hoff enlisted seven contestants of varying ages---from 10 to 75---and genders to enter an fMRI machine and “love someone as hard as they can” for five minutes. Whoever generates the most activity in regions “producing the neurochemical experience of love” wins. Gives you the warm fuzzies, right?

While "the idea that love can be measured may seem deeply unromantic,” writes Aeon magazine, “the results were anything but.” The contestants were not restricted to romantic love. Ten-year-old Milo gives his love to a new baby cousin, because "she's very cute." Dr. Bob Dougherty of CNI predicts early on that an "older guy" like himself might win because experience would better help him control the emotion. But at the beginning, it's anyone's game. Watch the competition above and find out who wins.

Given that this is billed as the “1st Annual Love Competition,” might we expect another this year?

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

29 Sketchbooks by Renowned Artist Richard Diebenkorn, Containing 1,045 Drawings, Now Freely Viewable Online

Richard Diebenkorn (U.S.A., 1922–1993), Untitled from Sketchbook #4, page 23, 1943–1993. Ink wash with pen and ink on paper. Cantor Arts Center collection, Gift of Phyllis Diebenkorn, 2014.4.25. © The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

We owe the way we see California today in part to the painter Richard Diebenkorn, "whose deeply lyrical abstractions evoked the shimmering light and wide-open spaces" of the state "where he spent virtually his entire life." Those words come from his 1993 New York Times obituary, which suggested that Diebenkorn's resistance to brief aesthetic movements and art-world fads (a resistance aided by the distance between California and New York) would ensure that the influence of his vision long survive him. Now, thanks to Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center, we can look more closely than ever at what went into that vision in a new online exhibition of Diebenkorn's sketchbooks.

"Throughout his long career," writes the Stanford Report's Anna Koster, "Diebenkorn, AB '49, kept a sketchbook – a 'portable studio,' as he called it – to capture his ideas. These books, now in the Cantor's collection, span 50 years and represent the range of styles and subjects he explored, including deeply personal portraits of his wife, studies of the figure, landscape studies and compositions that point to Diebenkorn's signature blend of figuration and abstraction." The sketchbooks, donated by the artist's widow and the Diebenkorn Foundation, currently sit on display at the Cantor's exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: The Sketchbooks Revealed, which runs through August 22, 2016.

But if you can't make it to northern California before then, you can have a look at all of them online and behold in detail their 1,045 drawings spanning fifty years of Diebenkorn's life. They give not only an insight into how he rendered the material for so many of our California dreams, but how he handled his famously contrarian oscillations between styles, from Abstract Expressionism to figuration and back to the abstract again, with some of his richest work in-between. "I was never throwing things away when I switched from one way of painting to another," he once said. "You can see a continuum from representation to abstraction, although I must say it never felt like a smooth transition while I was in the middle of it."

via Stanford News

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Stanford Launches Free Course on Developing Apps with iOS 8

i0s8 apps stanford

Quick note: Whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS, Stanford eventually releases a course telling you how to develop apps in that environment. iOS 8 came out last fall, and now the iOS 8 app development course is getting rolled out this quarter. It's free online, of course, on iTunes.

You can now find "Developing iOS Apps with Swift" housed in our collection of Free Computer Science Courses, which currently features 117 courses in total, including some basic Harvard courses that will teach you how to code in 12 weeks.

As always, courses from other disciplines can be found on our larger list, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

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