Undervaluing What We Can’t Measure

“Just in the way that I'm inspired by books and magazines of all kinds, conversations I have, movies, so I also think, when I put visual work out there into he mass media, work that is interesting, unusual, intriguing, work that maybe opens up that sense of inquiry in the mind, that I'm seeding the imagination of the populace. And you just never know who is going to take something from that and turn it into something else. Because inspiration is cross-pollinating. So a piece of mine may inspire a playwright or a novelist or a scientist, and that in turn may be the seed that inspires a doctor or a philanthropist or a babysitter. And this isn't something that you can quantify or track or measure. And we tend to undervalue things in society that we can't measure.”

~ Marian Bantjes, from “Intricate Beauty by Design,” TED Talks (February 2010)

Hunger for Reality

“Every single one of these [successful games] has succeeded off a clever psychological angle. But there’s more than that. There’s something else these things have in common, not just these psychological tricks. What these all have in common is they are all busting through to reality. We’re used to, in the old days of gaming, it being all about fantasy. It’s all about fantasy and Ben Gordon used to say, ‘We don’t care about realism in games because people come to our games to escape from reality.’ And so we have this strong belief that fantasy is the thing. But every single one of these is breaking through into reality in some interesting way. And we don’t feel good about reality as game designers. We’re a little uncomfortable about reality…

…But it’s not just us that were kind of snuck up on by this reality thing. And it’s not just just happening to us. Go look at TV. The people in TV, their heads are spinning. Everything’s turned into reality TV. Go to the grocery store. It’s not just groceries anymore. It’s organic groceries. The more genuine, the more real groceries. You go to McDonald’s and to get a Big Mac and – you could get a Big Mac or you could get the real burger, the angus burger made with real this and that or whatever. Everything is suddenly about reality.

Now what’s going on? Is this just how it’s always been? Well, I found this really interesting book. It’s called Authenticity. It’s by the guys who wrote The Experience EconomyGilbert and Pine put forth this most interesting concept: the most valuable thing in products is are the real, are they authentic. Which is a bold hypothesis. And then they go further and they say, Why is it? Why now? It didn’t always used to be this way. Certainly that’s not what sold stuff in the eighties…They’re arguing that all this virtual stuff that’s been creeping up on us over the last twenty years has really cut us off from nature. We’re cut off from self-sufficiency. We couldn’t be self-sufficient if we wanted to. We don’t know how to do it. We live in a bubble of fake bullshit and we have this hunger for to get to anything that’s real. Even if the best we can do is a Starbucks mocha with real Swiss chocolate — we’ll take it. Oh, look how real that seems to me relative to what I’m used to. And so there’s this idea that maybe there’s this hunger for reality. ”

~ Jesse Schell, from his talk at DICE Summit 2010

Can Design Save the Newspaper?

From TED Talks (March 2009):

“Newspaper designer Jacek Utko suggests that it's time for a fresh, top-to-bottom rethink of the newspaper. (At this point, why not try it?) In his work, he's proved that good design can help readers reconnect with newspapers. A former architect, Utko took on the job of redesigning several newspapers in former Soviet Bloc nations, starting from basic principles. He worked closely with newspaper executives to figure out the business goals of their papers, and then radically reformatted the product to fit those goals.”

Designing Cities for Cars

"In developing-world cities, the majority of people don’t have cars, so I will say, when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality...We are designing cities for cars, cars, cars, cars, cars. Not for people. Cars are a very recent invention. The 20th century was a horrible detour in the evolution of the human habitat. We were building much more for cars’ mobility than children’s happiness...The upper-income people in developing countries never walk. They see the city as a threatening space, and they can go for months without walking one block."

~ Enrique Peñalosa, from an interview with Deborah Solomon, New York Times Magazine (6.8.08)

Learning from the Masters

"I see us as a very young species and eventually natural selection will judge the rightness of our innovations. The thing that's different about us is that we can choose to learn from the masters...It's really interesting. I look at the scientific method and it's quite different than the method that biomimics use. In the scientific method, you go to your observation with a hypothesis and then people try to find the exception to the rule. In biomimicry, you're training yourself to observe and to pull out the universal. You're sitting and observing in a way that says teach me.

~ Janine Benyus, from "Biomimicry," Studio 360 (5.9.08)

Happiness By Design

"Renowned for the album covers he created for the likes of Lou Reed, Talking Heads and the Rolling Stones, Austrian-born, New York City-dwelling designer Stefan Sagmeister invariably has a slightly different way of looking at things."

A list of things Stefan Sagmeister has learned in his life so far:

  • Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
  • Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now.
  • Being not truthful works against me.
  • Helping other people helps me.
  • Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.
  • Everything I do always comes back to me.
  • Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
  • Over time I get used to everything and start taking if for granted.
  • Money does not make me happy.
  • Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life.
  • Assuming is stifling.
  • Keeping a diary supports my personal development.
  • Trying to look good limits my life.
  • Worrying solves nothing.
  • Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
  • Having guts always works out for me.