Design 2.0: Design, Technology, and the Future notes

by Luke Wroblewski November 16, 2006

Functioning Form's Boston correspondent, Joshua Porter was in attendance at last week’s Design 2.0 event put on by Core77:Design, Technology, and the Future. Here’s what he heard discussed...

John Maeda, MIT

  • Are we really dummies?
  • Why do we buy books called "X for Dummies"...to feel bad about ourselves?
  • Things that are difficult to do make us feel bad.
  • Too Much SIMPLE! There's too many people yelling for simplicity.
  • Simplicity is oversold.
  • What if the sky were simple? One color...no clouds?
  • It wouldn't be nearly as breathtaking.
  • People like complexity.
  • Computers are simple, yet complex.
  • The mouse itself is simple. What we can do with it is very complex.
  • "I don't believe in museums. The world is much better than museums."
  • Laws of Simplicity - new book
  • Law 1: Reduce - simplest way to achieve simplicity
  • Law 2: Organization - makes many appear fewer
  • Law 3: Time - savings in time feels like simplicity
  • Law 4: Learn - knowledge makes everything simpler
  • Law 5: Differences - simple and complex need each other
  • Law 6: Context - context is not peripheral
  • Buy the book for the rest. :)

Jason Pearson, GreenBlue

"Designers are incredibly powerful. We have a hand in creating the communications, experiences and artifacts that shape our world and growing influence on decisions affecting the quality of life for millions of people. We make the mundane easier; we can delight the spirit; we can make things function better; we can help others understand the implications of choice by the way we see problems; and we can help all people to communicate among themselves better. These contributions will always be important; today, in a world struggling against itself and its environment, they are absolutely critical." - AIGA

  • Wants to find a deep practice
  • Deep practice is intentional engagement to achieve enduring systemic change
  • Intentions are key in design
  • Designers move from intention to reality
  • Or, design is a way to achieve our intentions
  • Prototyping is a critical part of design, the process of design
  • Henry Petroski - "we fail our way to success"
  • The Earth is providing feedback...are we listening?
  • BodyBurden
  • "We are becoming the victims of the unintended consequences of our designs."
  • Prototype-feedback-analysis
  • "There's no such thing as a perfect (or green) product"
  • That's the point...we're always getting feedback.
  • Know what feedback (metrics) are important, and make informed decisions based on them.
  • In order to make good decisions we need two things:
  • Intelligence - concepts and ways of explaining
  • Data - information to fill the concepts

Natalie Jeremijenko, UCSD, NYU

  • Designers and Accountability
  • Sustainable design means sustainable accountability
  • Sustainable design can't be a design of convenience, must be collective action by all involved
  • We must choose sustainability
  • Project: Feral Robotic Dogs
  • Electronic toy dogs are made of some horrible components
  • Their actions are playful and not very informative
  • Restructured them to display information about environment...smells things that are bad for the environment
  • When given to kids, to let loose in their neighborhood, they get involved in environmental issues...because their dog is suggesting that something is not right
  • This is changing politics of the environment because it has changed who has the evidence
  • Changed who has data, who is standing up for the data, and who is active going forward
  • HowStuffIsMade.org
  • How does the stuff you're wearing get made?
  • Do you know? Does anybody know?
  • "The profound ignorance of how stuff is made is the hallmark of the Information Age."
  • "In order to think about innovation, you must criticize what is being done."
  • Standards of Evidence
  • Fish are on anti-depressants
  • What would a bird say...to humans?
  • "Feed me some of your food, so that I don't get sick from your waste?"
  • What will we do...collectively?
  • "Technology is a public action."

Bill Cockayne, Change Research

  • Simple devices in complex networks
  • Simple phone, complex social and technical network
  • 3 Levels of Design
  • Design - for today's future: ethnography, prototypes
  • Research - develop strategies for the next few years: scenarios, deep dives, trend finding
  • Foresight: modeling 10-20 years out
  • As you move from Design to Research to Foresight, ambiguity increases
  • How do people do Foresight? How do you design that far out?
  • You can't get there from here.
  • You can't do user research on 7 years out.
  • You can't do user research on what a car will be in 20 years...because the drivers are in diapers right now.
  • What you can look at is what's being discussed...and that's where the innovation comes.
  • Right now it's Green (sustainability). First it's talked about, then the changes come.
  • READ, READ, READ!!! (economist, NYtimes, fortune, and 20 others...all at once)
  • When are the changes? What has to happen for the change to occur?
  • Telling the story backwards can aid in figuring out what changes need to occur.
  • The Democratic controlled house means that science will become funded again...predict accordingly.

Panel (Above 4 plus Allan Chochinov)

  • Society oscillates between simple and complex.
  • We like to have both at once.
  • We take for granted partial information.
  • How do you structure responsibility in a world of partial information?
  • Tension between what something wants to be vs. what you want it to be.
  • Starting at the end vs. iterating from the start
  • Maeda: "All bullshit is good."
  • Jeremijenko: "Bullshitters need to be held accountable."
  • We give out gold stars to people who bullshit but aren't held accountable:
  • Energy Star, Organic, Free Trade Coffee
  • "Designers are whores for clients"
  • Jeremijenko laments that she can't get any of her designer friends (even at IDEO) to join HowStuffIsMade.org
  • In 10 years the Internet has gone from nothing to everything (affecting everything)

Complete details can be found on the Core77 site and detailed write-ups of the last two Design 2.0 events are on Functioning Form: Products & Ecosystems (San Francisco), From Complexity to Clarity (New York).