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Friday round-up

Some miscellaneous bits I haven’t had a chance to post yet about the conference:

  • Congressman Barney Frank didn’t talk at all about “Design and Civic Leadership”, but he did say he was in favor of limiting free speech in one small way: he would ban the use of metaphors in the discussion of public policy.
  • Dj Spooky on the standarization (i.e. Gapization, Starbucksification, etc.) of American retail (paraphrased): If you think about it, the US is almost more totalitarian than the Soviet Union was; we buy our own uniforms.
  • Peter Merholz on the death of user experience: What people not call “user experience” used to be called “design” (by the Eames generation). The term “user experience” was necessary because “design” had become associated almost exclusively with the way something looked. The pretty, the aesthetic. Who did Peter blame? Professional organizations (including the AIGA) and designers themselves. Peter notes that design is making a comeback, particularly in the business press, something I noted in earlier in the week.
  • From the Three Minds blog, a summary of a presentation by Murray Moss of 10 things that he likes right now. Well, not so much things as ideas or trends. Or commerce…all of the items he showed are on sale in his Soho store/gallery.
  • More blog action from the conference: Peterme has some quick thoughts, David Panarelli has several posts from Friday (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and UnBeige tells us about Ellen Lupton, Dj Spooky, a David Carson sighting (I totally didn’t know he was here…seeing his work for the first time made me want to be a designer, so I may have to accost him and gush a little), and then promptly goes off to nap. Nap!? That’s allowed??

More tomorrow, already the last full day of the conference.

Reader comments

Rich ArdSep 16, 2005 at 10:57PM

"totalitarian"? Similar products and gulags are a bit dissimilar.

Donnie JeterSep 16, 2005 at 11:50PM

... and how much was a ticket to this conference?

EmilySep 17, 2005 at 12:14AM

Fantastic coverage - thanks!

BenkaySep 17, 2005 at 12:36AM

P. Miller played about 3 shows in PDX in the past week. He's insanely popular right about now.

patSep 17, 2005 at 2:47AM

Nice wrap up. Do you have any more on Spooky / Miller's talk on the "standardisation of American retail"?

Scott StowellSep 17, 2005 at 3:03AM

I think you're being unfair to Barney Frank.

It's true, he didn't talk explicitly about design per se. But the main theme of his talk was that as a direct manifestation of the people, government is meant to do those things that we can only do by working together. The implication being, of course, that the (bad) government we have now is a result of decades of rhetoric about government being bad.

This idea of collaboration and consensus echoes the themes in John Hockenberry's introduction on Thursday, as well as the constant post-Katrina theme of the conference: that design should be a plan for action based on clear, shared goals, not a desperate response to crisis situations. So he did talk about design, but through the lens of his own experience.

Stefan HaydenSep 17, 2005 at 7:04AM

I think the real problem is that design is a really broad word for people who are not designers. Either the topic need to be a bit more specific or you need to help guide people as try figure out what they should say.

ArronSep 17, 2005 at 4:50PM

"If you think about it, the US is almost more totalitarian than the Soviet Union was; we buy our own uniforms."

That officially wins the prize for the dumbest thing I've read on the internets today, and I just got through reading the transcript of Bush's Morning Address.

jkottkeSep 17, 2005 at 6:12PM

That officially wins the prize for the dumbest thing I've read on the internets today

Yes, and of course he meant it absolutely literally and seriously.

essSep 18, 2005 at 12:48PM

Design is one of the words, like depressed, that is so comfortable and familiar that we just toss it around without considering how easily it can be misunderstood. "User experience" was, I believe, a sincere attempt to address this.

Someone who is designing a lipstick tube and someone who is designing the cockpit for a MiG-29 jet would both need to address how people use the thing, but the difference is more than one of scale.

The problem is that sometimes you can't just toss out a word - you need to say something.

Jerry KindallSep 19, 2005 at 11:43AM

design is making a comeback

When you walk into Target and see posters hanging from the ceiling that say things like "Design Inspires" ... actually, I think it's not just making a comeback, it may have jumped the shark.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.