Venus’s basement


I loved this piece on the BBC News site about the work of Jacque Fresco, the now 97 year old architect behind the Venus Project. It would seem to go quite nicely with Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. Perhaps you could drive your Tesla to the Hyperloop station, hop on and be out at the Fresco designed city of the future in the New Mexico desert ready to take off on a Space X Flight to Mars.

I’ve always had a soft spot for architectural visions of the future, so much so that I lived in one at BedZED in south London. The truth of these kind of clean, shiny developments though is that you need to make all the systems behind them work and that can be far harder than creating the vision in the first place. I remember going down into the basement of Biosphere 2 and realising just how much gubbins you need to even support a dozen people. Every city has its equivalent of that basement and if Fresco’s ideas are to be put into practice, that’s where the real invention will need to take place.
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There’s a quote in this Wired interview with Elon Musk that got me thinking:

I don’t believe in process. In fact, when I interview a potential employee and he or she says that “it’s all about the process,” I see that as a bad sign. The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You’re encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren’t that smart, who aren’t that creative.

I’ve also noticed that debates about ‘process’ can be time and enthusiasm-sapping — especially in startups. Certainly the best teams I’ve worked with haven’t had process, just lots and lots of ideas, problem solving and getting things done. Having said that if you don’t have a process for the mundane you can end up spending all your time coping with it and having no time for trying new things. Perhaps the thing you need to do is separate out things that just need to be made as simple as possible from things where you need to do something that nobody has ever done before.