April 12, 2012

What should we talk about?

I’ll be speaking at the RE:DESIGN/UX conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 1. It should be a really interesting show, featuring a lot of savvy designers & creative directors. Each session lead speaks for about 10 minutes, followed by 30-40 minutes of group discussion.  Here’s my idea in brief:

TheFuture of Creation

Everyone’s a maker; everyone’s a sharer.  Great design software costs a buck.  When things are common, we value them less. (No one celebrates breathing.) How do we keep creation special?  Let’s talk about what it all means to designers & their tools.

Is that a conversation you’d find interesting? Feedback & ideas are most welcome.

Posted by John Nack at 8:53 AM on April 12, 2012

Comments

  • Cian Walsh — 10:43 AM on April 12, 2012

    I went to an event last year in a small forest in Wales.
    Fantastic gathering called the Do Lectures (www.dolectures.co.uk)
    One of the speakers was Frank Chimero who gave a talk on producing things the long hard stupid way. It talks about imbuing your work with some sign of the effort that went into their creation. That people recognize and value the craft behind the smooth facade. But maybe software masks the effort a bit too well?

    http://www.dolectures.com/lectures/do-things-the-long-hard-stupid-way/

  • 1111 — 11:39 AM on April 12, 2012

    talk about how adobe is screwig people with ACR updates. how there is no update for actuall software (eg. CS 5.5) and people are forced to buy CS6 when they have bought LR4.

  • sbg — 6:36 PM on April 12, 2012

    How about talking about all the actual good that could be done with $670? Mosquito nets? Clean water?

  • Nat Brown — 9:09 AM on April 13, 2012

    I commented earlier and included lots of links, which I bet sent me to your spam filter. Apologies if redundant.

    To whit:

    Isn’t creation, at its heart, about celebrating the common?

    What could be more common than typeface, (your blog entry of 7/31/2011), city lights, (same of 11/15/2010), or a sheet of paper, (once more of 5/21/2011)?

    Even breathing can be celebrated, (http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2007/01/blowing_smoke.html), no?

    Here is my suggestion for your talk:

    The Future of Breathing

    Everyone breaths. Everyone makes. Everyone shares. These are common things. When things are common, how do we make them uncommon? How do we keep creation special? Let’s talk about what it all means to celebrate breathing.

    N.

    PS

    Pennies are common too, so here are my two. :-)

  • Nat Brown — 6:34 AM on April 14, 2012

    Back again.

    I have more practical things to do than noodle on philosophical questions like these. But they are not nearly as much fun.

    I do not like your set-up and I do not like my prior response.

    I think my issue comes down to the meaning of “design software” and “creation.” Designers tend to use the word “design” to include all that they do: conceptualizing, creating, designing (in the sense of making things aesthetic), making and sharing.

    I would break the word “design” into high design, which is the conceptualizing and creating, and low design, which is the making and sharing. (Low design might also be called publication).

    I think that aesthetic straddles high design and low design. That is, a mediocre designer is one who executes common aesthetic rules; a good designer is one who surprises us with an uncommon aesthetic.

    As I use the term, design software can mean two things. First, it can be software that has codified and/or systematized common aesthetic principals. This can mean a word processor that automatically sets up comfortable margins and matches leading and kerning to the selected font. It can also mean a photo cropping tool that displays a “Rule of Thirds” grid or a “Golden Spiral” thread, allowing the clueless to appear clueful. (I was an English major. I have license to invent words).

    Second, the term design software can mean software that expedites the mechanical tasks of design. I use ACR, which compresses hours of darkroom work into seconds of computer work. Reading your blog, I understand there are similar tools — outside of my budget mind you — that expedite the work of imaging professionals at all levels and in all industries.

    I think that design software has devoured low design. I think that design software has accelerated high design.

    Guttenberg invented the printing press. Doing so was the paper equivalent of Al Gore inventing the World Wide Web. (Or was it Berners-Lee? I can never keep the two of them apart). Naturally, the aesthetic rules of printing trailed printing technology and generally were known only to printing professionals. George Eastman invented roll film, which allowed the common man to make and share photographs. Again, the aesthetic rules of photography trailed the technology and generally were known only to photo professionals and serious amateurs.

    To my ear, the gist of your set-up is the premise that design software has made creation common. I do not think that creation has become common, which goes to gist of my original response. I wonder if we both miss the target. I think the real issue is the verge between high design and low design. That is, what is the interplay among design software, high design, and low design?

    I think all of the following questions are both implicit in your set-up and more intentionally focus on the different components of this interplay:

    • Has design software made creation/creativity common? If so, what of the future?
    • Is design software genuinely a new technology, like the printing press or the roll film camera? If so, what implications for creation/creativity in the future. (Or, what new rules of aesthetic will evolve from this technology and where will we see such innovation appear?)
    • How has the line between high design and low design been changed by design software?
    • Design software has been disruptive to professional designers but has it been disruptive to design?
    • Going forward, who will be designers?
    • Amid the cacophony of publication, how do we find/distinguish high design from low design that is simply pumped out by design software?
    • If the common rules of aesthetic design can be codified in a design program, have we as design professionals been confusing training with creation/creativity? If so, what now?

    Again, my two cents worth. I hope I may serve as a foil, if nothing else.

    And so, with my bride is telling me that painting our garage door should take priority over John Nack’s blog, I move on.

    Sounds like a great conference and I think your session will be a hoot. I hope all goes well.

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