The sCoop: week of February 27

Sure we’re designers, but what do we like to do for fun? This week, we filled our spare time with coaching our friends, listening to thought-provoking talks, beaming with pride for our clients, discovering cool new tools and sources of inspiration, debating photo philosophy, laughing out loud, and gearing up for another round of teaching. Here’s what we’ve been up to:


We kicked off our first session of office hours with the new Rock Health crew. Attendance was high, with seven teams coming in for 1:1 sessions with a Cooperista, each tackling a specific type of problem based on the team’s needs. More on these great sessions next week…


We took a break from speaking this week (in solidarity with Alan, Doug, and Nick as they put finishing touches on their upcoming talks at SXSW) and instead doubled down on listening, checking out some inspiring thinkers on the subjects of storytelling and alternative education.

First up was an inspiring talk at CCA from the very talented Jonathan Harris, creator of Cowbird and We feel fine. We love this guy; how do we make more of him in the world? If you haven’t looked around in, you should. One of our fave quotes of his is: “I think we’re going to want more nourishment from our technology.” And a key question he asked we’ll strive to answer while we design is: “What’s the quality of a human I am trying to amplify through this technology?”

Next up, author and Forbes blogger Michael Ellsberg came by our offices to talk about our shared interest in education and brainstorm opportunities to collaborate to further that mission. Later that night, Michael spoke at the Commonwealth Club, expanding on his vision for alternative education that focuses on developing practical success skills for the real world, as opposed to “college skills”. This is the theme of his new book, “The Education of Millionaires

As an added bonus, after the talk Michael introduced Kendra and Teresa to his father, Pentagon Papers activist Daniel Ellsberg, who proceeded to charm and dazzle them with scarf tricks. It’s not every day that you get to participate in magic tricks with “the most dangerous man in America”!


We’re like proud parents when we see our work getting praise out in the world, so we were thrilled to hear that Practice Fusion’s iPad EMR prototype got noticed at HIMSS last week:
“I got to use it and was very impressed with the design and approach to mobile. The app strips out anything not essential to physicians seeing patients and charting encounters. Basically the iPad app is not simply a mobile version of the EMR — it is mobile clinical tool specific to patient encounters. The rest of the functionality of Practice Fusion (scheduling, PM, etc,) is left to the Web/desktop version. The app itself flows like the Twitter iPad app, with expanding and collapsing frames all built specifically for touch experience.”


If infographics are your thing, you’ll want to check out what Chris gushingly referred to as “The most beautiful annual report concept I’ve seen in a long while.” And don’t miss the buzz-worthy IL-Intelligence in Lifestyle, the monthly magazine of Il Sole 24 ORE, Italy’s leading financial daily. This video interview with Art director, Francesco Franchi shows off some of their handiwork, and you can see more at his portfolio site.

On the topic of public good, our mouths were watering over news of the nation’s first food forest, a public park in Seattle planted with hundreds of kinds of edibles, from pears to walnuts, all available for public consumption. And we put our money where our mouths are with Redesign Democracy, a Kickstarter project to redesign voting ballots. Want a group who’s investigating grassroots, affordable, open-source biotech? Yeah, the Bay Area’s got that.

We gained efficiencies and drew inspiration from tools like Dropmark, Memolane, and Readability’s new mobile apps, checked out a cool Windows Desktop UI concept, and read some thought-provoking articles on new visual proportions for the iOS user interface and hidden gems in UI details.


We’ve been known to “trade perspectives” on all kinds of topics around the office, so we were interested to discover this “rant” and subsequent commentary on the ethics of instagram for journalistic photos, which called to mind a recent spirited debate between Stefan and Chris on the topic of post processing photos. Purists like Chris argue that it alters the image, compromising the authenticity. Others, like Stefan, think all tools distort the original and authentic, so you might as well make it look good. Feel free to declare your allegiance to team Chris or team Stefan in the comments.


We cracked up over this clip from Stephen Colbert, which serves as a cautionary tale on the perils of trying to control your brand too tightly.


Want more Cooper goodness? Come to Cooper U!

Suzy Thompson

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