Designing Design

My friend Clive Richards sent me the url of Beth Mazur’s IDblog which looks like a good gateway in to the world of information design, usability and design in general. Scanning the entries I came across a piece by Clement Mok which should be compulsory reading for all designers. In the piece “Designers: Time for Change” Mok argues that “…designers are currently a divided, fractious lot, whose professional esteem is considerably lower than it should be. Unlike other skilled professionals, designers are viewed as outsiders of uncertain prestige, and are frequently excluded from participation in business enterprises except in a narrowly circumscribed, post-hoc context. A consideration of principles would suggest that a skilled designer should be present throughout a development project, to facilitate cohesion and effectiveness of planning and execution. Instead, designers are often summoned to perform only limited, specific tasks after managerial and fiscal specialists have already made crucial decisions?often inefficiently with little or no depth to their understanding of the dynamics of information and its consequences. These problems all point to the need for us to define, and to design, what is meant by design.”
My only real quarrel with Mok’s position is that his focus on design is a little narrow and that his argument would have been stronger had he taken the ICSID’s definition of design “Design is a creative activity whose aim is to establish the multi-faceted qualities of objects, processes, services and their systems in whole life-cycles. Therefore, design is the central factor of innovative humanisation of technologies and the crucial factor of cultural and economic exchange.”

There should be links

This is an entry without any links. And there should be hundred of links. The life of my friend Rosie Dalziel demanded links. On Monday night she died. She had been ill, but even so the fact that she died so suddenly was a shock. Now normally I would not think that this was an appropriate place to record something of such a personal nature, but part of my reaction to her death falls within some of the underlying themes of what I am trying to do here.
I feel angry. Not unusual you might think, feeling angry when some who might have many more years of life dies. But this was different. This was about what happens to people who are trying to do something genuinely new. This is about how hard and lonely it is to be a pioneer. This is about a life cut short before a powerful vision could be realised. This is about the probability that her death will mean that she never gets the recognition she deserved. And this about the fact that when you put her name in to google there are no links and there should be.

Continue reading There should be links

Jumping on the bandwagon

I’ve been interested in the idea of blogging for about a year or so. When I first stumbled across the phenomenon in a newspaper article and looked at a few, I was struck by the way it seemed like a return to the spirit of early days of the web. Some of the key sites I used in the early days were the hotlists – collections of urls of interesting stuff on the web. With the good ones, compiled by people who knew what they were talking about, there was a sense of the hotlist as a doorway into an area of ideas. The best blogs have a similar feel with the bonus that the writers often have interesting ideas themselves.

Continue reading Jumping on the bandwagon