Harvard University's Andrew Witt on the power of ruminating ideas, understanding complex problems, curating signals, geometric simplicity, introspective automation, and finding time for reflection.
Andrew Witt is co-founder, with Tobias Nolte, of Certain Measures, a Boston/Berlin-based office for design futures and an Associate Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University. Trained as both an architect and mathematician, he has a particular interest in a technically synthetic and logically rigorous approach to form. His work has been shown at the Centre Pompidou, Barbican Centre, Futurium, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, among others.
Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn and Certain Measures.
- "Feeling some sense of accomplishment or success allows you to understand, Okay. What it really takes to feel that level of satisfaction is this amount of work."
- "When you are eighty, you can look back and see, That's the body of work that I put into the world."
- "I try not to look at other people's work as much as possible and, partially, it is to force myself to create in a very particular way but also not to create false expectation of speed and expediency and immediate demand which can be super corrosive, especially if you want to nurture something that's going to be durable."
- "There will be certain moments when you feel like, Okay. This was well done. This is something that I put into the world and is good."
- "Our whole understanding of what it means to create something which is successful is about creating things which are frictionless and can be distributed as easily as possible through market channels. It's all about this process of consumption."
- "There's this moment where you see the waves moving away from you towards the horizon. In its very basic way, it's only the water and sky that are around you."
- Certain Measures
- Gehry Technologies (GT) and Trimble
- Critique of Pure Reason by Kant
- Patchwork theory
- Formulations: Encoding Architecture, Mathematics, and Culture by Andrew Witt
- Pre-Socratic philosophy
- Commonplace book
- The adjacent possible with Stuart Kaufmann
- High-dimensional spaces
- Graph theory
- Mind the scrap
- Form maps
- Ten Books on Architecture—De Architectura—by Vitruvius
- Set theory
- Gmail API
- Feltron Report
- Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
- On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
- Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi
- 00:00 · Introduction
- 01:04 · Part 1 — Career, ideas, and geometry
- 03:33 · Certain Measures vs. Harvard
- 08:27 · Stitching ideas
- 13:58 · Letting ideas grow
- 15:23 · Where good ideas come from
- 18:04 · Mapping super-high dimensional spaces
- 21:21 · Mapping projects
- 22:33 · Big data
- 26:25 · A geometrical challenge
- 28:25 · Geometric simplicity
- 31:02 · Simple and intuitive
- 33:07 · Part 2 — Life, creativity, and the end game
- 33:17 · Daily habits
- 35:26 · Reflecting away from the screen
- 36:02 · Commute and time for reflection
- 36:40 · Marginalia, being a generous reader
- 37:11 · Indexing ideas when reading
- 38:33 · Creativity
- 39:49 · Types of ideas
- 41:29 · Practicing seeing
- 42:00 · Curating signals
- 43:33 · Scripting email
- 44:49 · A customized journal
- 46:03 · Time tracking
- 46:38 · Digital organization
- 47:39 · Quantified self
- 48:55 · Analyzing your writing
- 51:04 · Swimming
- 53:12 · A happy moment
- 55:46 · An influential person
- 57:49 · The end game
- 59:46 · Connect with Andrew
- 01:00:21 · Spreadsheet of goals
- 01:02:03 · (Not) looking at other people's work
- 01:03:28 · Outro
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Theme song Sleep by Steve Combs under CC BY 4.0.