David points to a great Bruce Nussbaum article on the democratization of design, and the backlash against designers. Bruce argues that it's time to move from "Design by Ego" to "Design by Conversation".
It echoes some recent thoughts that I've posted on process, and even references Russell's "always in beta" idea that has been hovering over many of these posts as well.
Quick item to think about:
We design stories with our audience. As John Battelle said recently, the conversation now is the content. It’s not about the finished story but about the ongoing story. It’s the conversation. And since most conversations don’t have a conclusion, they are ongoing. We live a life in beta.
You'll have to excuse the repeated posts these days on things related to information/attention/flow/media and networks, but there here are a lot of really interesting things that I keep coming across, like this presentation from Stowe Boyd.
What I find most compelling is the idea that our current definitions of some fairly basic terms are being radically challenged, as they don't really make much sense anymore.For instance, Boyd argues that "we don't really know what attention is". I think he's probably right.
There are a lot of things that are being subjected to the same kind of challenge, and requiring radical re-evaluation: terms like "value", "knowledge", "media" and more. This is what makes this field so exciting right now. No one really knows what they're talking about ;)
A couple of summary points from the presentation:
In an era of flow you can ignore things that don't look threatening or critical. Important stuff will be signalled in a bunch of ways: critical breaking news stories will show in Twitter tweets, RSS, emails, IM. But you can just ignore transient stuff. That's why etiquette around IM has to be based on 'it's ok to ignore IMs' because otherwise it becomes a chore demanding foreground attention.
Don't listen to industrial era or information era (the last stage of industrial-ism) nonsense about personal productivity. Don't listen to the Man.
The network is mostly connections. The connections matter, give it value, not the nodes.
The last point is incredibly important, and at the heart of what network economics is all about (shout out to the Umair Haque fans in the house).
Humor embodies many of the right hemisphere’s most powerful attributes—the ability to place situations in context, to glimpse the big picture, and to combine differing perspectives into new alignments. And that makes this aspect of Play increasingly valuable in the world of work.
I don't use phone cards too often, but I always notice them when I got to convenience stores. How can you miss them?
Rob Walker attributes this to their "aggressive design" which is meant to help them stand out amongst the clutter. I love that: "aggressive design". There are rules and tricks for standing out amongst the clutter in every category and phone cards have to do this with iconic, obvious and LOUD graphic design.
there has been a move toward cultural images: Jamaica cards might have images of cricket or soccer, a card for calling Israel might show the Wailing Wall and so on. “Everyone is trying to make their card stand out,” Caron says — and if that involves a design that some might consider rather didactic, or even ugly, well, so be it.
I just realized that even though I spend ages browsing through Flickr, I never give love to some of my favourite finds. Here is the first, from tanakawho in the Minimalist Art pool (it only sounds pretentious).
TV Guide's Stingray project is joining the legionofotherservices trying to become the directory of online video. The idea is that it will be "the TV guide for the next generation" or something.
Doesn't the idea of an online video directory a la the traditional TV Guide model sound completely dated? Claiming to only index mainstream video content, this old media approach to content seems more than a little misguided.
Where will they draw the line between amateur/semi-pro/professional? While there is an obviously huge audience for shows like American Idol, how valuable will an online video guide that omits the long-tail really be?
What we really need is a reliable search engine for all online video, or at least as much as can be included.
I've read a bit about Spore, the video game that has been generating massive buzz, it sounds very cool.
Creator Will Wright gave a recent talk about it at SXSW, and of the things that I found interesting relates to yesterdays post about process and Generation C. Wright argues a similar point as Schulze and Webb:
Media is malleable in this new generation. A computer used to be a fancy calculator, but nowadays it’s really more of a communications device. So I think we are looking at technology as player-centered rather than broadcast-centered
For Wright, this shift to player-centered implies a platform for creativity, for sharing, and also a heavy emphasis on the process of the game. And that seems to be the genius of Spore: the ongoing process of playing the game is the point of the game (rather than a specific end, from what I understand). Learning, even about how to make the world itself a better place as Wright says, will be a by-product of designing an experience which matches up with the new generation's expectations and behaviours.
As with yesterday's point, the example of Spore is a good way (the Wii is another one, or even the new iPhone, according to S&W) of concretely demonstrating how new products, software and games are addressing deeply changing media consumption habits. The common denominator in this case is a focus on the process creation, imagination, sharing and community.
You think brands can learn something from games like Spore about engagement?