One night, back in 1995, a neighbor invited me over to see where he could go with AOL because he knew I had a strong interest in computers and wanted to get on the Internet. Within minutes of dialing up, listening to the familiar high pitched modem scream, there I was standing with the whole world in front of me. All I had to do was click here and there on a keyboard.
From that day on, I knew I wanted to build websites. More than that, I yearned to participate with the planet in a positive way. One of my first online friends lives in Norway. He wanted to learn more about my country (the USA). For several years, I eagerly looked forward to booting up my PC to see what "JM" would send from his home on top of the world. I told some of his stories to my kids. What an amazing opportunity to connect with people! What a glorious opportunity to do my part in creating peace by reaching out to people and talking to them. Even better, I learned to listen.
I like to find other people who feel the Internet can be a tool to bring people together in positive, constructive ways. So, it was such a thrill to find this interview by Dirk Knemeyer of InformationDesign.org on Nathan Shedroff, a pioneer in experience design. Nathan has a new project. "I've been working on a project to help people buy products based on their social values instead of merely price. It's a set of information solutions that display, ultimately, personalized ratings for products based on a variety of issues."
The March interview allows Nathan to describe his new project. But more than this, he has much to say about design and where it may or may not be going.
"We rail about the bad design we see in mainstream products and services, stores, advertisements, clothes, etc. We assume that everyone but us has terrible taste. It may even be true but we don't do anything meaningful about it. I've seen designers cave to "marketing people" over demands to change some element of the solution without ever trying to understand why, or questioning the demand. At the very least, this is an opportunity to learn something about a field that, mostly, rides heard over design in most companies. Most designers never care to learn the language of business people - or anything about their values and concerns in order to defend their work in a meaningful way. Instead, they retreat to their studios, complain, and dream about working for someone else. In fact, most designers can't actually discuss their work intelligently because they don't know WHY they made certain decisions, which they learn in school. We learn to hide behind the words "intuition" and "creativity" purposefully mystifying it so that it obscures our interaction and responsibility."
If you've been itching for purpose or inspiration, this interview is a gem.