10 Past 10
10 Past 10
As a self labelled student of design, I have charted my own course. Currently, my main sources for learning and inspiration revolves around three domains: Interior Design, Architecture, and Horology. The first two I suspect many people monitor and study and use for inspiration. Living spaces tend to come from the work of people who call themselves designers. And in these industries we see they welcome and value design like no other. This attracts the the top talent, and produces the greatest volume of good design. But what about Horology?
I can't say for certain that the watchmaking industry differs from the others, but it does appear that way. Horologists don't call themselves designers, instead they use watchmakers, "makers". This distinction provides me a spark of insight into why I feel drawn to this space. Watchmakers and software developers assemble complicated machines where the outer surface belies the extraordinary details contained within.
We both strive for precision and accuracy. Our focus on performance takes us to the extreme edges of our craft and here we find innovation. More often than not, the engineering optimizations receive more attention than the overall design aesthetic. But when we do find good design in software, and in horology, it comes from a complete understanding of their constraints. And most interesting of all, I now see that we share some of those same constraints.
The traditional user interfaces in horology and those in software development must fit within a small two dimensional area. Design quality emerges through the choice of typography, layout, and discovering novel ways to excite the user. We both have information to communicate and the sophistication in which we expose the data becomes the primary purpose of the designer.
Just look to the various types of complications, like my favorite double tourbillon. This inventory of complications appear orthogonal to software design patterns. The best designers in both fields wage war against skeuomorphism, choosing instead to challenge conventional thinking with strange new ideas. We see these designers attacking tradition, ignoring old rules, and instead revisiting "solved" problems with a childlike naivety. They break the rules for shape, symmetry, font, and HMI button placement. They add animated elements to attract the and hold the user's attention.
And we love it when it unexpectedly works as expected.
My recommendation to software UI designers: study Horology and soak up all you can from the world's best watchmakers. Checking out the products displayed at last week's Basel World conference could provide you a new meaningful source of inspiration.
Over 92 years of lacerated knuckles, and still going strong... If I had any meaningful time to myself, I'd spend it trying to undo the damage done by Mr. Robinson all those years ago.
Two kinds of people in the this world...
Two kinds of people in the this world...
those who believe you can divide the world into two groups, and those who don't.
The best way to describe how these decisions get made, I'll quote from a recent HN thread:
Open plan offices suffer from a few very difficult to fight effects. One, a lot of people think they are great for "collaboration". Often this is because they have collaborated successfully in some way in the past in open plan offices and imagine that there would be no way to achieve the same level of collaboration with a different office plan (classic "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy). Two, it's currently very popular and hip, especially in the tech. community. It feels more informal and less "old business" so a lot of startups and companies that want to project a youthful image adhere to it. Three, it's often significantly cheaper than offices.
So there you have it. A summary to polarize two camps.
Software developers need an environment that lets us think. To concentrate. To work without distraction. An environment that fights to protect that zen feeling of being "In The Zone."
An open office? Are you crazy?
Still, there is no fighting it. Any sort of dissent is a sign of inflexibility, shows weakness, and I've come to realize that negativity is corrosive and a bad habit I must break. With the change coming, what strategy will lead my teams into this new environment? How do we maximize the teams' productivity and ensure continued success?
A top priority is to embrace this change and be the champion the company needs to convert the stalwarts. To show a genuine enthusiasm based on a greater understanding of the challenges ahead, and how to mitigate them. This I'm confident I can provide.
The fear of change comes mainly from the threat of new distractions. It's all about the distractions. We hate with a passion anything that breaks us out of the zone. So, how do we fight unwanted distractions that are the very promise of the open plan office?
Not headphones. That's for certain. People get to that answer and then stop thinking. It requires deeper contemplation than that.
I believe the winning strategy comes from gaming the system and using my management position to enforce the adherence of a Makers Schedule. The most important priority is not stealing the time away from the people that need the time to get their work done. It means those of us with nothing but time, and an endless need to gather information from those doing the work, must dig deep and respect the needs of our developers. It hinges on that respect and an understanding of how software is made.
My role in this is to make that promise to the team. To reassure and demonstrate the foundation of this respect. To take the Makers Schedule gospel to my peers and construct a culture around allowing work to get done.
Fun times ahead, opportunities abound.
I see a problem with resumes and their role in hiring today. It contributes to the misconception that I want to hire you based on your past. They try to exploit a perceived relationship between past success and future success. My real and only concern: your future. Resumes today really don't speak to your potential. This seems suboptimal to me.
I think a resume should try harder to express that your attention is what matters. That your time is available and you have it to give.
In today's Attention Economy my daily potential breaks down like this:
I expect that a similar break down of hours applies across most people. Everyone can get into the "Zone" and do excellent real work for about four hours a day. After that the mind tires and attention wanes. During the other waking hours there exist numerous mindless tasks that need to get done, and things that may require coordination with other people. Six hours of consideration and collaboration 'completes' the working day. But has the working day really wrapped up? No, people who truly enjoy their work commit to it and make it part of their identity. It consumes us and we become the roles we play. This internalization results in continuous all waking hours background concern that we nurture. Everything we experience in life we do while searching for ways to apply new ideas to our work problems.
Fifty hours of traditional labor plus another forty eight of low focus attention; Let's call it 100 hours a week because we really don't shut it off while eating meals with family and friends, or thinking in the shower, or the other things too.
The question becomes "How effectively does your resume sell your 100 hours of future attention?"
With the traditional resume, somehow I think we've missed the point of the hiring decision. Our focus on experience and applicable skills represent an imbalance in the system. Instead, we need an artifact that communicates our available attention and curiosity. Those more than anything indicate the degree that someone cares and commits.
TARDIS vs. TIE Fighter
TARDIS vs. TIE Fighter
My graphic arts practice continues with predictable results. I find that I've improved in speed and accuracy when manipulating images with the Wacom tablet, but the creation of new works (drawing) lags behind.
A rare moment of humility sent me in search of online resources to help close this gap faster. Many art students have walked this path before, and thus there must exist some teaching exercises to follow. I found them and started.
This morning I spent time on the Blind Contour lesson...
and inspecting my output today and I'm reminded of once reading about the drawing a clock face test used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
One more reason to doubt my own sanity.