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Short and sweet: succinct definitions of design

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I wrote my own shortest definition of design as a personal challenge to express the term in a manner that was brief, robust and circumspect. The result (discussed elsewhere in this blog):

"Design is creation for reproduction."

Another short definition that I greatly admire was sent to me by Richard Thomas, a colleague at the Beal Institute for Strategic Creativity. Ricky said:

"Design is the process of initiating and representing relationships."

Doug Chapman, whom I know as an actor, environmentalist, former director of research at William McDonough + Partners, and graduate of the Institute without Boundaries program I directed until 2003, recently offered this very concise statement:

"Design is the line between idea and result."

In Toothpicks and Logos: Design in Everyday Life (2002, Oxford University Press), John J. Heskett highlights the multivalent senses of the word "design" by offering and analyzing a bewildering sentence:

"Design is to design a design to produce a design."

"Design," says Heskett, "has splintered into ever-greater subdivisions of practice without any overarching concept or organization, and can be appropriated by anyone."

While I don't consider this situation to be alarming, I do believe in this time of great change and great opportunity that practitioners and theorists of contemporary design will benefit by having a sense of what they have in common with those flying the same colours.

Metabolo Metaphors

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I thought about creating a place where I can list examples of metabolo in contemporary culture, as I encounter or think of them, and expand on them later. This post is that place.

Examples:

  • Flock - the browser I'm using right now
  • Media ecology - a young discipline pioneered by Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, and others
  • Rabid media attention described as a "feeding frenzy." On this note, one relative of the slain child Jon Bennet Ramsey said the media attention was "like having a wild animal attached to your face."
  • Macintosh's pulsating status light -- like a sleeping animal's breathing
  • Linkrot - apt... if not pretty

Bruce Sterling’s Speech at ETech 2006

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This item links to the transcript -- or the script... not sure which -- of Bruce Sterling's speech at Emerging Technology 2006, San Diego, CA, March 2006. In the author's words, "Delivered at alpha-geek central, it may include indecipherable techie in-jokes. Well over 6,000 words. Includes illustrations." The audio, which is quintissentially Sterling and thus more fun to consume, is available at http://www.itconversations.com (keyword search for Sterling). [del.icio.us/gva]

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