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The Way Things Work Now

by | Jul 18, 2017 | Concepts, Data, Innovation | 0 comments

327 words | reading time 01:20

I became an engineer for different reasons, a very powerful one being 2 books my father had us read and re-read and read some more over and over: The Big Book of Petete (El Libro Gordo de Petete) and David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work.

Both full of colourful content and humorous illustrations, they put a vast amount of knowledge at my fingertips, just leaving me wanting more. Every hour of every day I learnt more, and the more I learnt, the less I knew about before. Now, the less I know, the more I want to look around and dig deeper for clues on higher ground. 🎶

As Macaulay’s himself puts it, by building bridges between the digital and the physical, he tries to makes sense of the evolution of technology, using mammoth’s bodies to show force, hydraulic pressure, the ingenuity of the turbine or why the dreadful static electricity exists. I still keep the copy of the one I used to read (from 1988!), and am eager to get my hands on the revamped The Way Things Work Now.

He also masterfully bends perspective and scale to insert clarity into complex interactions, leaving everything relevant naked to the eye and highlighting it’s more important attributes. I, to this day, fondly remember how I was dazzled by the illustration of the zipper mechanism.

Derived from his teachings I came about the concept of open truss. It helps to put in simple physical terms, any complex system that operate in an organization, illustrating the relationships of the data that runs through it and how it enables the system to deliver value. I also share David’s sense of purpose, as I enjoy focusing into what I care about the most, data, just like he does.

I found fascinating how, like calculating trusses, their shapes, nodes and loads, based on their dimensional restrictions and needs, you can analyse complex systems, zeroing in and taking one element at a time, one triangle, the most basic truss, of data, innovation and services, at a time. As it turns out, the way things work now might seem different, but the same basic principles will always apply. Δ

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