culture

I wonder how modern “makers of things” understand how the “end-of-life product lifecycle” determines value, loyalty, and beauty? Do they account for the “end of life” experience of their products? Putting down Old Yeller (G5) this last week was an emotional experience. I have a 9-year old computer that I recently gutted, taking the first step to transform it into a nano-reef tank. I didn’t kill it because it didn’t work anymore – it ran just fine. My G5 lasted so long that I could no longer update it or run current software on it.

I’ve always believed that a good designer shouldn’t “work in a vacuum” – this design statement is often thought of as a pleasantry, but rarely becomes a mantra or philosophy of action for most designers. Reflecting upon this statement certainly yields insights that influence the way we design, and some designers may find that such reasoning challenges their predispositions of what “design” should be; if you shouldn’t design alone in isolation, then what should you do? If you’re a “design keeper”, such a question inevitably disputes your role as designer.

One could write a 500 page book on the drawbacks of the Kindle – a device attempting to redefine the paper-bound medium we’ve known for the last 1000 years… the book. The Kindle and Nook are devices that challenge the way we think of books and the narrative values they embody; this poses uncertainty in cultures that are made up of story-telling people. The Kindle will never be able to properly mediate narrative content that wasn’t created for it! Anyone wishing to really change the narrative experience through a new device needs to consider providing content created specifically for the new device and medium.

Within minutes of it’s unveiling, the entire world began documenting the iPad’s unmet expectations. Most people saw an XXL iPod that didn’t have any bona fide qualities of a useful computing device. The lack of features and functionality were easily discerned by techno-geeks world wide, including myself. But Apple figured out a long time ago that computers were capable of embodying experiential qualities other than just “productivity”. People in the technology and business worlds never understood why someone would design or buy an enclosed computer that looked like a toaster or was missing “standard” connective ports; proving why Apple’s market share has never defined by units sold to the business world. While the PC world has been duking it out over large service contracts and anti-trust lawsuits, Apple has been selling cool.

I like old things – I like how they smell, how they age, and how they move, sound, and feel. An old possession of mine…

Design accountability is the idea that we design, test, iterate based on visual accountability – the stuff that we really put on paper – and…

While attending the 2009 CHI conference in Boston, I encountered an interesting transportation ticketing system that used humans instead of computers. After four jam-packed days…

Find out why most design programs fail at creating real designers and why designing without constraints isn’t designing – it’s just dreaming.

DESIGNING THE GOOD IDEA: What constitutes a “good idea”? Who judges it so? When does any idea become a good idea?