Sunday, August 8, 2004

Design Egomaniacs

Every year, it seems, we get a new organization in the realm of design. A couple of years ago it was AIGA's Experience Design. Then, two years ago, AiFIA. Last year it was IxDG. This year, it's UXnet. And while I'm a member of some of these fine organizations, I've come around to my friend Tom Alison's position (well-expressed on the defunct uxDesign blog, second from the bottom), that we don't need more organizations. We need more egomaniacs.

Quoting Tom:

"I don't think any ho-hum professional organization is going to make even a ripple in advancing the awareness of information design, or influencing anything that has anything to do with the information technology industry at all...If you look at anybody who's made an impact in the industry, take a close look at what they're like: eccentric, self-aggrandizing individuals who attract attention to their cause because they are in love with themselves and love being heard. And they also sometimes happen to be geniuses."

He goes on to give examples: Richard Saul Wurman, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. And, of course, our pal Jakob Nielsen, who has done more for usability than the UPA could ever hope to achieve by constantly pushing it in people's faces. Or take Edward Tufte (please): he's done more for information design than, well, probably anyone ever. He also seemingly has an ego that is so large, it is difficult to chart.

Each of these folks has pushed their agenda to the point where it has become the industry's agenda, and all of us are better off for it. Some of these folks (Tufte, Nielsen, Don Norman) are considered the main thinkers in Design these days, although none of them are designers. We need more design egomaniacs (RIP Paul Rand) to promote themselves and, by extension, design, not more organizations.

So get to work, you design slackers! Publish books. Flood the web with blogs. Find your "thing." Find work. Do your own projects. Be obnoxious and eccentric. Wear a costume. Stroke your own ego. We'll all thank you.

Posted at 01:49 PM | comments (4) | trackback (0)


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