Karl Schmieder M.S./M.F.A.

Three by Five.6 | Teenage Engineering. Hemingway.

Posted in 3x5, biotech in kids books, biotechnology, Music, Observations, Uncategorized, Writing by Karl S. on February 23, 2018

Teenage Engineering is a Swedish manufacturer of synthesizers and audio gear. For my birthday, Tomás and Felix, my youngest sons, gave me a Pocket Operator Arcade. It’s a calculator-sized, AAA-battery powered synthesizer. Pre-programmed with 16 video game sounds, 16 prebuilt patterns, and 16 sound effects, the Arcade is a simple, elegant sound maker. I’m using it for chiptunes-making (and time wasting!). It was the perfect, sweetest birthday present.

Question: What will be the synthetic biology equivalent of a PO-20?

Hemingway Editor. I usually jot these three by fives on an actual notecard, then transfer them to Hemingway for editing. Hemingway shows me what sentences are hard to read, reminds me not to write in passive voice. Plus, it tells me how readable my prose is. Usually, I aim for 6th grade but given the long, biology-related words I use, I’m usually happy for 12th.

Organism Design. Minecraft Chemistry | Three by Five by Eleven.5

Photo by Heather Schwartz on Unsplash

Organism or microbe design is an emerging industry.

It’s analogous to the semi-conductor industry. Companies design and manufacture the semi-conductors found in computers, phones, cars, and televisions.

Today, end-users rarely make semi-conductors themselves. They hire the expertise and apply what is manufactured to create a product.

Organism design companies are reprograming yeast and bacteria to produce useful molecules. Those molecules are used in consumer goods, foods, medicines and industrial products.

Perhaps the best known organism company is Boston’s Ginkgo Bioworks. Sarah Zhang profiled the company this week in an article I enjoyed in The Atlantic. (We featured co-founder Jason Kelly and creative director Christina Agapakis in What’s Your Bio Strategy?)

Minecraft Chemistry. A couple of week’s ago, Microsoft added a Chemistry Set to the popular game. Since there are about 55 million people worldwide playing (and some 122 million games sold) that’s a lot of potential exposure to chemistry. What about a synthetic biology expansion kit?

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My Billboard

Posted in 3x5, Advertising, Influences, Marketing, messagingLAB, Observations, Writing by Karl S. on February 14, 2018

Three by Five by Eleven.4

William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy is credited with launching cyberpunk

Netflix just started airing Altered Carbon. It’s a rad take Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 cyberpunk novel. One of my favorite genres, cyberpunk typically explores how the street repurposes tech, life in cyberspace and off-planet.

Last fall, I reread William Gibson’s Sprawl TrilogyNeuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive. (Neuromancer, BTW, is credited with “launching” the cyberpunk genre, though purists will cite British New Wave authors and Philip K. Dick as originators.)

I was searching for biotech references. And man, did I find them, from the neurotoxin sacs that are surgically implanted in Neuromancer main character Case’s body, to a Mitsubishi-Genentech merger (that never happened), and hackers trying to bring back by-then extinct horses.

In many ways, Gibson already riding the biotech wave years before synthetic biology was re-defined.

Three by Five by Eleven. 3

Posted in 3x5, book notes, Book Reviews, Influences, Science Fiction, synthetic biology, Writing by Karl S. on February 1, 2018

I’m a story nerd.

I enjoy re-reading books, re-watching movies. I like figuring out how the authors or film makers put the story together. What hints did they place at the beginning of the story, and resolve at the end?

I’ve read plenty of books on writing screenplays, plotting, and character development.

Last year, I enjoyed The Story Grid, which is Shawn Coyne’s master work on story analysis.
Right now, I’m reading Larry Brooks Story Engineering. Only half way through but I’d recommend it.

Pedro Paramo is the one book I’ve given away the most.

Mexican Juan Rulfo’s thin, 1955 novel launched magical realism. It’s a story about a son looking for his father, and a father longing for his son. The book drips death on every single page.

The novel is a fragmented, post-modern masterpiece that is highly relevant today.

Paramo influenced Nobel-prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude. It’s said Marquez had memorized long passages of the book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Three by Five by Eleven.2

Posted in 3x5, Influences, Observations, Writing by Karl S. on January 25, 2018

Here’s this week’s 3×5.

like to work in 90 minute blocks of time, often split in sprints of 2×45.

To help focus, I’ll use a timer app: Forest on my phone, Freedom, on my computer, and Insight for meditation.

Of these, I find Forest the most useful and fun. You’re growing a (virtual) tree while you focus. You can choose different species of trees and more unlock over time. My current favorite: stalks of bamboo.

My niece Violeta introduced me and I am forever grateful.

I’ve been a fan of Steve Blank and Bob Dorf’s The Startup Owner’s Manual for a long time. It’s a big book. It’s also full of practical insights (“Get out of the building…”). I’ve recently been referring to it since I’m launching a new business offering. It’s a book that breaks down the Lean Startup process.

Tim Ferriss’ Impossible Questions (email subscription required). There’s 17 of them. I’ve been thinking about these…