Posts tagged hurry slowly
What Is Your Quest?
Thursday morning woods walk turned  wet walk.

Thursday morning woods walk turned wet walk.

 

I continue to linger on the contrast between learning and problem-solving (see last weeks post and Hurry Slowly Ep. 17). There’s less fear and anxiety when equipped with a lens of learning. A kind of childlike naivety opens the mind to different ideas. Problem-solving, on the other hand, implies stress, which can close the door to original pathways.

Good questions are an excellent vehicle for learning. Richard Saul Wurman speaks to that with an interview with Debbie Millman (see link below). He elevates the word “quest," which I appreciate. A quest is a long, arduous search for something (Google's definition). I'm starting to understand that we're all on our journey or quest. What is your quest? There's no better place to look than at the questions we ask others and ourselves every day.

How do I dodge complacency and recognize and reframe my deep-seated biases? That appears to be a quest of mine. At least that's the theme I draw from the links below. That, and initial preparations for my fall UCD course at DAAP. Eek! August will be here in no time. 

Enjoy, 

D.J.


Richard Saul Wurman Interview With Debbie Millman 
Debbie Millman does a good job interviewing Richard. The most compelling segment is toward the end when Debbie goes off script and asks Richard what he wants to talk about. Richard doesn't want to answer Debbie's initial round of questions regarding his past. Richard prefers to talk about the future. What leads me to question the tendency to ask older or successful people to recount their experiences as if they’ve completed their journey? What if instead of asking about the past, we talked about what’s now or what’s next? I tested my new theory on a friend who’s thirty-years older than me. Like Debbie, I dwelled on his past. I caught myself and asked him what’s next? It led to one of the most intimate conversations I’ve had all week.

Everything Easy is Hard Again by Frank Chimero 
Every so often I feel the pressure to learn how to code. While there’s been plenty of false starts, I’ve never made a genuine commitment to the cause. Frank’s perspective, from someone who does code, is encouraging. It’s impossible to keep up with the web, and perhaps the old, slow solutions are enough. I doubt I will leap into code. However, I do hope to find a reliable dev. partner in Cincinnati or beyond. I’m continually receiving requests for web design projects, and I don’t think that trend will fade anytime soon. Reach out if you’re interested or have any tips.

Design Discourse Is In A State Of Arrested Development 
Are we (designers) adding value? What happens when we start to ask that question of our work and others’?: “Our tendency is to focus on techniques and tools and to ignore the deeper questions. And it’s not just that we’re unwilling to examine our failures; we’re just as likely to focus only on the superficial aspects of our successes, too.”

As a design student, how do I deal with my professors teaching outdated tools and methods?
“Use this opportunity to ‘learn how to learn,’ and use resources outside of school to teach yourself the latest tools and techniques. That curiosity and drive to learn on your own will serve you well in a design career.” I found this advice likewise helpful for the professor when it seems impossible to keep up with ever constant change. A focus on the foundations and teaching the students how to learn gives them timeless gifts that they will use beyond the classroom and throughout their careers. 

A Helpful Diagram (for design students)
"Venn and The Art of Being a Design Student."

The Silent Rise of The Female-Driven Economy
“Put very simply, most of the structures, design, technology, and products we interact with are designed with male as the default.” How myopic. It’s time to start asking who will be alienated by what we design?

The Side Effects of the Decline of Men
Instead of learning to code (see Chimero notes above), perhaps it’s more important than ever to build an emotional IQ?: “The researchers suggest the scientific evidence shows that women have on average stronger skills in empathy, communication, emotion recognition and verbal expression, and corporate America is valuing those qualities all the more.”

Kudos to ChrisKathryn, and Meg for link suggestions.

 

 
Curiosity Didn't Kill The Cat
Mandy Smith in the Oratory at Grailville on Monday.

Mandy Smith in the Oratory at Grailville on Monday.

 

This week I was confronted with how much I don't know— and it's not the first time this has happened. A feeling of weakness usually follows. To avoid that feeling I try to do and learn things to compensate for my sense of inadequacy. And that's never enough. 

But in a moment of clarity, I realized that there's a better perspective; an option that's less confrontational and more hopeful.

The less I know, the more curious I can be. 

Consider the example of a conversation. With a perspective of abundant curiosity, I am more likely to listen and ask questions. Alternatively, with an attitude of scarcity (or overconfidence), I’ll either become reticent or overcompensate by sharing information and giving advice that’s not valuable to the listener (or me).

Through these thoughts, I’ve had the realization that the world doesn’t need another white male with all of the answers. What’s more valuable is someone who’s curious and humbly accepts their limitations. That's my intention as I continue to write this blog.

You may be wondering what killed the cat?

Maybe it's overconfidence, not curiosity, that killed the cat.

Most of the links below reflect my curious intention for the week. It’s odd how when you think of a word it often shows up in elsewhere. For instance, The CreativeMornings global theme for February is curiosity. Don’t forget to sign up for the Cincinnati event this coming Monday. Tickets go fast.

Enjoy,

D.J. 


A Morning With Mr. Schickel
Here’s an artist who wasn’t confined to his medium and let his curiosity transport him from the design of stained glass windows to building church structures that supported those first visual portals. 

Josh Clark, The Era of the Algorithm, CreativeMornings|NYC
Josh shares how machines have an overconfidence issue, which is often a reflection of their creators. He suggests that as designers we become more mindful of the self-importance we project into the tech we create. He calls for “systems that are smart enough to know that they’re not smart enough.”  

Hurry Slowly, Episode 017: Bill Duggan You Can’t Rush Aha Moments
I like the idea that we can only create out of what’s in our memory. Instead of laboring to force a solution, perhaps it’s best to step back and learn. Become curious. It reminds me of a line from Pachinko: 

“’Just study,” Hansu has said. ‘Learn everything. Fill your mind with knowledge—it’s the only kind of power no one can take from you.” Hansu never told him to study, but rather to learn, and it occurred to Not that there was a marked difference. Learning was like playing, not labor.” 

How Jason Kottke is thinking about kottke.org at 20
Chris introduced me to Kottke.org. It's one of the longest-running blogs on the Internet. I go there pretty much daily and find many delightful and thought-provoking perceptions. Reading this interview makes me wish I were involved in the internet’s early days.* At least I get still get to enjoy the curious mind of Jason Kottke and all that he generously shares each day.

*I'd like to write about this more.

Marionettes episode of 'The Crown'
Easily my favorite episode of The Crown so far. It portrays how to be genuinely useful in protest. In this case, it came down to humility and deep respect for the crown. For more on this type of protest, check out the Generous Orthodoxy episode of Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast.

Buddhist monks on the value of video games
I’ve quoted this article a dozen times this week. For me, it’s a reminder to forget the carrot at the end of the stick. Be present at the moment whether that’s a video game or meditation session. 

The advantages of organizing knowledge in terms of country and place 
I wish I had a physical space where I could hold clippings and curiosities in designated spots. For now, I have Moleskines, Evernote, Dropbox, and this blog. 

Fine Amnesty Day 
I owe the Cincinnati Library $1.20. Not for long. Thanks to sharing Meg. 

 

Kudos to Tyler, Chris, Jocelyn, Meg, and Mandy on tips on this weeks links. 

 
Look (Inside and Outside)
Calm during the ice storm. Taken during my morning walk on Wednesday.

Calm during the ice storm. Taken during my morning walk on Wednesday.

 

This week I was reminded that it’s the designer's job to pay attention to what no one else is noticing— to see at what’s within and around us, and to occupy the spaces where most people don’t want (or know how) to go. 

Our frantically-paced world has made it incredibly challenging to slow down and truly see things. It has become increasingly difficult to identify the stories we are telling ourselves, or to truly experience the unhurried nature of the world we live in. Recognizing and resisting this cloudy reality isn’t impossible, though. We are awakening to the necessity of rest so we can ask ourselves those bigger and crucial questions: what are we sorely missing? Where are our blind spots?

This idea feels timely as I’ve currently been working on a title company's website with a significant emphasis on aesthetic. I found myself sitting with number of thoughts: “What will people think of this design? Does it showcase my credibility as a designer?” About midway through the week something caused me to look at the work differently—and I began to ask a better question: “What would a realtor or home buyer experience when they visit the site?” I was struck by the short-sightedness of my initial questions, and so I began to stretch my attention to include the concerns of the people who would be using the site. I began to visualize what things might be like from these other vantage points— a first time home buyer full of anxiety and confusion, or a lender who’s putting faith in a client’s knowledge and experience. Approaching the site design from a different perspective felt much more effective in improving my work’s potential than the standard position based entirely on my own point of view.

Paying attention is not an ability we receive in a spectacular flash of enlightenment—it’s meant to be an ongoing journey of discovery. And it’s a choice we’re called to make everyday. 

Here are a few links that are worth paying attention to.  

Enjoy, 
D.J. 


Hurry Slowly, Episode 15: Oliver Burkeman Against Time Management
I had to listen to this one a few times—and will probably listen to it a few more. I particularly enjoyed the parts about paying attention, and how essential it is for us to actively decide what we will spend/devote (instead of “manage”) our time to, because time isn’t an unlimited resource.

Design Observer, Episode 74: Eyes and Hands
This one also required more than a couple listens (and probably will need a few more). The entire episode is full of great moments of wisdom, but I particularly enjoyed the middle segment about the role of the designer to look and critique. Also, there’s a fantastic conversation within about the designer’s need for humility, not empathy. (Even more reason to give this episode a listen: there’s an intriguing bit about students being assigned to walk around in adult diapers.)

Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker
I’m reading this because it was on a list of the top non-design books that designers should read. The book—which takes place entirely within the span of an escalator ride—is seen through the eyes of someone who dissects the details of each object he has noticed or an experience he’s felt—from the microscopic differences between plastic and paper straws, to the extended analysis of why both his shoelaces broke within two days of each other. This isn’t a book you could easily skim through, as the beauty of it is in the mundanity of the details. The material provokes a such variety of emotional responses—there were times I somehow wanted to cry from laughter (but also times when I wanted to drop-kick the book because it required so much of my attention).                     

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
This novel follows the generations of a Korean family for more than a century, and their movement from their homeland: they slowly drift beyond the borders of their village in Korea to the much larger cities of Japan. It’s a book about identity, and a book about time—it’ll probably make you cry. If you want to know what life might look like for a non-privileged person within a country that is blind to that struggle, it will enlighten you to their plight by placing you directly in their shoes.

Faces Places, a film by Agnès Varda and JR
Meg and I just watched this at the Contemporary Arts Center. The essential moment of the film for me was when Agnes was asked, “What’s the point?” Her response: “Imagination.” It reminded me of a line from the Mary Oliver poem that I mentioned last month. “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination.” Imagination: seeing with the mind’s eye. It’s the gift we have the ability to give and receive. 


These last two links are from from CreativeMornings|Cincinnati. I’ve had the privilege of working on the CM|CIN board for the last two years, but in the interest of growing my business and focusing on teaching at the university, I’ve decided to step down this month. These two links come from events that I played a role in planning. Both of these have been deeply meaningful to me and continue to shape the way I see the world. 

Shakkh Ismaeel Chartier at CM|CIN  
Ismaeel reminded us that the great mystery is within ourselves. That while it takes vulnerability and time to look within and pay attention to what’s happening inside ourselves, it’s worth the struggle. And maybe that’s what the world needs most right now.

Larry Bourgeois (and me) at CM|CIN 
I facilitated this on-stage conversation with Larry for this CreativeMornings talk. The theme was ‘Genius’. The major takeaway was this: genius requires humility, vulnerability, and passion. It reminded me of what Adam Robinson shared (at DO Wales 2017) as the common theme of all the geniuses he’s ever met: they all had a childlike aura. During the Q&A, I asked him what that meant, and he told us how they never stopped asking questions—as opposed to always having the answers. Genius—and childlikeness—require all three of those traits: humility, vulnerability, and passion.

 

Credits: Kudos to Tyler for suggesting Pachinko, Mary Claire for the tip on Faces Places, and Christopher for edits.