Time to Learn

I realized in a panic after the first couple of days that knowing how to mark-up header, paragraph, and break tags and knowing how to use the magic wand, clone-stamp, and levels tools in Photoshop wasn’t much foundational knowledge to have coming into this program.  I really doubted I had the existing skillset I should have to make any sense out of what was being taught at the speed with which all the information was coming at me.

I should add that way back when I last went to school, I studied philosophy. I mention this because studying philosophy is worlds away from studying an applied technology. In the humanities you listen, think, and discuss. In technology you mimic, observe the result, and practice. Completely different paths to learning and this new path is completely foreign to me. My panicked thoughts were “I’m just being shown how this stuff is done. How am I going to understand how to do this stuff myself without focusing on the theory behind it? How am I supposed to actually learn it so I can do it myself if I’m just doing what he’s doing?”

But I’m was in and I was committed. I kept telling myself they know this stuff, they’ve taught this program before, and they’ve taught many others just like me. I should just sit down, pay attention and trust in the process.

So that’s what I did and that’s what I do. I sit in class and mimic and observe. I watch as simple words and symbols arranged into codes transform into webpages filled with images, color, and formatted text that can grown and shrink. And afterwards I sit and practice it so I can do it myself. And you know what? I find that I am learning. Want proof? A result of this first month, appropriately, is this calendar, our first assignment. I’m kinda proud of it: I coded it myself.


I have a feeling…

So, our first web blog assignment is to write about how we define good design. It’s odd to try to put this into words as I’ve never thought about verbally defining what I perceive good design to be. Good design to me has always been just that – a perception. That’s to say it hasn’t ever been anything I’ve objectively defined to myself, but rather a feeling I’ve experienced whenever I’ve encountered it.

So what is that feeling? It’s a sense of ease. Of flow and symmetry. Of unity between elements in what I’m encountering that allows me to experience them as a whole rather than as parts.

And that experience applies to both the tangible and intangible as well as the natural and man-made worlds of objects. I can experience good design in looking at a flower, appreciating the lines and elements of a car, reading a well-turned sentence or listening to a favourite song.

Design is an act of creation – of purposefully bringing together various pieces to yield something new. It is the making of some “thing.” Whatever is created (tangible or intangible) will necessarily have structure and in that be directed toward fulfilling some purpose.  This purpose could be anything: to attract bees ensuring pollination and biological viability; to look good while driving to the corner store, to communicate observations about social mores, or makes sounds that cause our moods to lift.
Where whatever purpose is met and there exists an immediate, visceral experience of any designed object’s “rightness”, therefore, I think exists “good design.” Whether that perception is experienced universally by all who encounter the object or whether it’s experienced solely by the person having created it, is another matter.