Design Is About Making Tradeoffs

Fort Greene Brownstones

Great Design: What is Design? (First Draft) – Joel on Software:

You know those gorgeous old brownstones in New York City? With the elaborate carvings, gargoyles, and beautiful iron fences? Well, if you dig up the old architectural plans, the architect would often just write something like “beautiful fretwork” on the drawing, and leave it up to the artisan, the old craftsman from Italy to come up with something, fully expecting that it will be beautiful.

That’s not design. That’s decoration. What we, in the… industry, collectively refer to as Lipstick on a Chicken. If you have been thinking that there is anything whatsoever in design that requires artistic skill, well, banish the thought. Immediately, swiftly, and promptly. Art can enhance design but the design itself is strictly an engineering problem…

Design, for my purposes, is about making tradeoffs.

(Via marco.org. (Via @mrgan.))

It’s the Truth

Television

Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing:

When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.

(Via The Information Diet. (Via Anil Dash.))

Every New Idea is a Threat

Seth’s Blog: Optimistic enthusiasm as a form of realism:

If your organization is both pessimistic and operationally focused, then every new idea is a threat. It represents more work, something that could go wrong, a chance for disaster. People work to protect against the downside, to insulate against the market, to be sure that they won’t get blamed for anything that challenges the system. In organizations like this, a new idea has to be proven to be better than the current status quo in all situations before it gets launched.

Change is a Fact of Life

Tom Green – Google+ – Once more in public: The news that Adobe is killing Flash…:

“Welcome to your new careers. If you can’t deal with this sort of change on a regular basis… there’s the door. Go get a refund and go drive a beer truck.” It was a great opportunity for me to review all that had been going on, what happened, and what it means for them.

The thrust was technology changes and you either embrace change or get out of the way. Change is a fact of life in our business and, as a teacher, it is a fact of life for me.

(Via The Shape of Everything)

Something I Call Artists

I had the distinct pleasure of being able to attend the opening keynote of the 2011 EDUCAUSE conference by Seth Godin. Here is a taste:

Something magical has just occurred.

It’s a really simple idea.

Which is: The means of production, which both Karl Marx and Adam Smith talked about, has shifted.

Karl Marx and Adam Smith both talked about the same device: a pin making machine.

Before the pin making machine, a skilled pin maker could make ten pins a day. After the pin making machine, four guys off the streets with five minutes of training could make 10,000 pins a day.

Well, Karl Marx looked at this and said, “We are in big trouble. Workers of the world unite. We’re going to be replaced.” And Adam Smith looked at this and said, “Quick. Go buy a pin making machine.” And they were both right.

What it led to was this: It led to the fact that the person who owns the means of production gets to keep the money.

What has happened is what every one of you own, what every one of your students owns, is a laptop with an Ethernet port or a WiFi card. And that connects them to the entire world. And this is the connection economy. So that device that they have in their hand has world class architectural tools and world class engineering tools and world class marketing tools all built into it all for free. Which means that everyone at that level now owns the means of production.

The means of production is now no longer the coal mine, it’s no longer the Ford factory in Dearborn, it is that device. And so, we are going to shift from farmers to factory workers to something I call artists.

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