Tales from the Third Coast: lessons learned from a developing design community


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A talk I gave to design students in NOLA during UX4Good 2012.

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  • I thought it was fun to name this talk this way because the Gulf and Chicago both claim the title of "Third Coast," and we are all developing. New Orleans, Chicago, New York, San Francisco. We're all at different stages of design maturity, we are all developing, and we all have things beautiful and relevant to contribute to the dialog of how people interact with each other in social spaces, online and off. Here is what I've learned watching this go down in Chitown.\n\n\n
  • Great architecture, Motorola, ad agencies. That's where things were when I started out as a practitioner. It was pretty grim. The agencies didn't get online, and Motorola didn't care about it.\n\n\n
  • Now, we have Orbitz, Groupon, 37signals, Threadless, and a thriving agency culture supporting many revitalized brands in CPG, retail, and insurance.\nAqua, by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, the building is the tallest in the world to have a woman as lead architect\n\nSo, what changed? What did we take advantage of, and what did we miss out on? I have one answer, but first I will offer you four things that help guide me and others in our discipline.\n\n\n
  • We had great architecture going back decades.\nall the architect buddies gave me crap about being an ia. licensed? bonded?\n\nengage older disciplines to figure out what they know. agencies and architects know professional services, messaging, design for humans\n\ndesign organizations, products, logos, web pages\n\n\n\n
  • University of Chicago\ndo discovery\nignore people\nlisten to what they don't say\ndon't accept the world\nbricoleur is user, engineers are, well, engineers. we bridge those views.\n\n\n
  • Motorola, Midway, musical instruments. champaign and mosaic\nunderstand it,try it, love it. data, user interface code, whatever.\n
  • school of the art institute\nthis means so many things to so many people.\nViridian movement papanek, design for the real world\n\nengage your local institutions & invest in their people\n
  • Fake Grimlock is a robot dinosaur on the internet who dispenses advice to startups. you dont have to do it alone. never have more resources been available to you.\n\n\n
  • no one even knows what we're called. I'm at a ux conference, my title says us, and I hate that term. design strategist? too high faultin'. clear our discipline is not mature when we cant name it easily.\n
  • Look at a million interfaces, talk with a million different practitioners. Listen to how they apply their craft. band together and discuss.\n
  • find great problems to solve. design for the real world by papanek. shaping things by Bruce sterling. check it out. become a Viridian.\n\nwork hard at finding meaningful work, connecting your community, and connecting to the larger world. There are lots of shoulders to stand on here. \n
  • \nbe really lazy. how lazy?\ni wrote this last night. it took me 20 years of procrastination to be able to do it.\ntry it all\ndiscard what doesn't work\narchitecture\npattern libraries\nif you are innovating on something that has been solved before, you are doing it wrong.\n\n\n
  • steal from the best\nsteve jobs said surround yourself with the finest examples of work.\ned tufte says the same thing.\ni just stole this shit from them.\nThis is why you can tell people to fuck off when they give you shit about owning a bunch of apple stuff. don't be a fan boy, just tell them this is why you're doing it.\n\n\n
  • play, being lazy, having fun is your job. let your subconscious work.\n
  • This is what we do. this is how we build community and how we solve problems.\n\n\n
  • \n\n\n
  • Tales from the Third Coast: lessons learned from a developing design community

    1. Tales from the ThirdCoast: lessons from adeveloping designcommunity
    2. Chicago then
    3. Chicago now
    4. Every design problem begins with aneffort to achieve fitness between twoentities: the form in question and itscontext. The form is the solution tothe problem; the context defines theproblem. We want to put the contextand the form into effortless contactor frictionless coexistence, i.e., wewant to find a good fit.Christopher AlexanderArchitecture
    5. The bricoleur is adept at many tasks and at putting preexisting things together in new ways. The Engineer deals with projects in their entirety, taking into account the availability of materials and tools required. The bricoleur approximates "the savage mind" and the Engineer approximates the scientific mind." Claude Lévi-StraussAnthropology
    6. The programmer, like the poet,works only slightly removed frompure thought-stuff. He builds hiscastles in the air, from air, creatingby exertion of the imagination.Few media of creation are soflexible, so easy to polish andrework, so readily capable ofrealizing grand conceptualstructures.Frederick P. Brooks Jr. Software
    7. Design is the method of putting form and contenttogether. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions,there is no single definition. Design can be art. Designcan be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it isso complicated.Paul Rand Design
    8. Design your job
    9. "How can you tell a good paintingfrom a bad one? [...] All you haveto do my dear," he said, "is look ata million paintings, and then youcan never be mistaken."Its true! Its true!Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard (1987)
    10. Work hard
    11. Be lazy
    12. Really lazy.
    13. Plazy
    14. Thank youjdkunesh@gmail.comjkunesh@barackobama.com@jdkunesh