I’ve been rolling around in an orgy of reading on design and innovation lately. And JSB’s site is a fine treasure trove. I just heard him on Talk of the Nation, discussing China. I felt like calling in just to be a fan-boy, but figured that would just annoy the radio producer.
johnseelybrown.com: chief of confusion
Why can’t we keep things simple? Sure, we all complain, but why can’t we design stuff that mere mortals (like you and me) can use? There are many reasons why this doesn’t happen, but one of the main ones is that we, technologists, continually overlook the social resources that people use to orient themselves, to navigate through complex territory, and to help each other figure things out. Some of these ideas Paul Duguid and I cover in our book, The Social Life of Information, but others go to the heart of how we can design transparent systems that fade into our subconscious and are just there, not in our face.
Take the U.S. Constitution. Part of the constitution’s strength was keeping it simple and honoring the social resources that a community of imagination (i.e. the nation) could deploy to evolve its interpretation as the world evolved. Design applies to institutions and nations, and individuals as well- the freedom to design your own life…