Thinking June 16, 2017

Influences: Leandro Agrò

people of influence

In this new series of posts, we speak to our team, partners and friends to find out which books, people and things have inspired them and helped shaped how they think.

First up, we sat down with Leandro Agro, who leads our UX and Service Design team. We thought he would be the perfect person to start with, as he published his first solo book Internet of Humans earlier this spring.

Without further ado, here are the books, humans and other things that have inspired Leandro and molded his thinking. We hope the list will inspire you!


Anything by Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is the classic futuristic visionary, who was also the founding executive editor of Wired magazine. He is the most relevant author to have shaped my thinking, and I’d like to mention two books by him in particular: New Rules for the New Economy and What Technology Wants. Kelly looks at the entire lifecycle of who we are and where we are going; the consequences of the technology that we embrace, and what we become as a result of the technology that we embrace. Very few authors speak about technology this way. Tech crowds usually focus only on technology, while social scientists have a more humanistic approach. And while they may discuss the consequences of technology, they don’t often understand technology enough. Kelly manages both. I met Kelly in California where he was promoting his book Inevitable. He signed my copy and wrote ‘Star Trek is inevitable’ on it.

Enchanted Objects by David Rose

When Rose wrote his book, the prevailing trend was to focus on the software inside a smartphone. He had a broader view, claiming that we should infuse intelligence into many different kinds of objects and refuse to spend our lives just looking at a reflective display. He speaks about the black display, but I have interpreted it as the ‘black mirror’, referencing the popular TV series. I met David in New York together with Sigurdur. David later spoke at Frontiers of Interaction.

Book of Robots by Isaac Asimov and Sci-Fi in general

I grew up in Sicily, and sci-fi was more readily available than science. I never met a scientist, but sci-fi movies and books were there to shape my thinking as a child—in particular, the Robot Novels by Isaac Asimov. They are great at teaching you how machines think, and in a way this was my early access into how to code. Asimov’s most inspiring stories are based on particular situations where the famous – and incredibly elegant – three laws of robotics conflict.

David Crane, Atari Intellivision, and other video games

David Crane was the founder of Activision, one of the largest video game companies in the world. He was the author of the first video game that has a person as the main character: Pitfall. In total, Crane invented more than 100 video games. Little Computer People, for example, was an absolute masterpiece; it was a big brother concept of sorts, ahead of its time, where the player was observing artificial people living in their small world – it was similar to watching goldfish in a bowl, only better! I will never forget the day we visited the Computer History Museum in Mountain View together. It was incredible to explore the exhibits with a living legend.


Richard Saul Wurman

We should all say a collective ‘thank you to him simply for him being who he is and having founded TED. His approach to (high-end) knowledge is really democratic. I got a chance to spend some time with him through Frontiers of Interaction. And he said the most shocking thing: ‘I don’t believe in education. At All.’ I couldn’t believe my ears! He then continued to say that what he does trust is self-generated curiosity.

Elon Musk

Not simply because he is very successful in what he does, but why he is so successful. It’s his ‘Elon Musk approach’ to everything that he does. Whatever he chooses to do, he creates knowledge from scratch. And this allows him to do things differently from how they were done before.

Salvatore Iaconesi & Oriana Persico

They are special. According to Salvatore, the future is a [theatrical] performance. Our success depends on our ability to tell stories, almost like actors, and to imagine new things. He is a scientist, but his approach is more that of a writer. He also regularly collaborates with his wife Oriana – they are super fun and very deep thinkers.