Cognizance & Collaboration

My designer friend (and for­mer co-worker), Jay Moore, posted a link to his Face­book on Why devel­op­ers can­not afford to ignore design.

Here was my ini­tial response:

I think what’s best is each role [design and devel­oper] is cog­nizant of what the other role does and has an under­stand­ing of the process. I may not know how to write a jQuery plu­gin from scratch or under­stand the specifics of a PHP mod­ule (for exam­ple), but I know by look­ing at it from an inquis­i­tive mind­set or ask­ing the devel­oper spe­cific ques­tions, I’ll bet­ter under­stand why it exists, what func­tions it per­forms, etc.

Like­wise, a devel­oper should feel free to ask the designer ques­tions, exam­ine their work and under­stand the process. A hybrid can just ask him­self questions.

…it looks like magic to both sides but a lot of what comes out of design/development is exper­i­men­ta­tion, flashes of bril­liance and guess­work. Both roles are not bril­liant from the get-go.. you just keep work­ing at it until that mes­sage you are try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate breaks free. Even then, know­ing you can con­tinue to iter­ate is key. And by all means, know your lim­i­ta­tions and be open about them. Some things to remind your­self with as a design/dev: Don’t be a mir­a­cle maker, ask for help, col­lab­o­rate. We don’t do enough of this and silo our­selves to the point where the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion become cum­ber­some or non-existent.

Jay replied with:

Right back atchya man — it all seems like com­mon sense — but sadly, it is very rare to find. it cre­ates under­stand­ing / effi­ciency / & ulti­mately = #innovation.

My final thought:

I think because the envi­ron­ment that we all ini­tially work in or learn within (art/design/illustration or development/mathematics/programming) is set up to be com­pet­i­tive in a way. Peo­ple look out for them­selves — nat­ural human instinct — but the more you col­lab­o­rate the bet­ter it’ll be for you and your co-workers, friends, fam­ily. I remem­ber being in art class and ask­ing the pro­fes­sor for more projects where I could col­lab­o­rate with my class­mates. There was very lit­tle of that. More silo’d projects with fol­lowup critiquing.

The Road Not Taken

I have a ten­dency to trans­verse my mem­ory logs — as deep and vast as they are — for spe­cific moments that led me to where I am now.

If I were a super­hero this would be my great­est weak­ness; too much look­ing back, not enough look­ing for­ward. I sup­pose it has to do with the way I’ve engi­neered myself.

Explor­ing who it is that I was and con­tinue to be, as a father, hus­band and artist com­forts the per­son that I’ve become.

Just as there is no secret sauce to suc­cess, there too is no algo­rithm to know­ing what choice we made (or will make) is the right one. Instead we lean on our past and entrust our­selves to influ­ence future deci­sions and hope the best for the penul­ti­mate outcome.

Robert Frost, four-time Pulitzer Prize win­ning Amer­i­can poet, put it best in his poem,

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yel­low wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one trav­eler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And hav­ing per­haps the bet­ter claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the pass­ing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morn­ing equally lay
In leaves no step had trod­den black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet know­ing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Some­where ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less trav­eled by,
And that has made all the difference

We’ve all stood before the fork in the road of our choices. Just as the per­son Frost describes above we chose one path over another and promise our­selves that if we ever face a sim­i­lar set of choices again, we might con­sider the other path.

Yet, it is highly unlikely we will face the same sit­u­a­tion, so we accept that what­ever we did may or may not have had an out­come we were proud of and we move on.

I can’t say that every deci­sion I’ve made has been the right one, in fact I’d be liv­ing in a delu­sional world if I believed that were true.

How­ever, I know for a fact that many of them, right or wrong, shaped the per­son I am today and rec­og­niz­ing the jour­ney to that fork in the road is prob­a­bly just as impor­tant as the deci­sion itself.

The dif­fi­culty for me is fig­ur­ing out why I decided to take one path over another which ends up being an exer­cise fueled with curios­ity and some­times lends itself to insanity.

Project 52

It’s been extremely quiet here, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been locked away in some room carv­ing odd sym­bols into the walls.

Actu­ally, I’ve been tool­ing away at many things, one of which involves this very site, but that I can’t speak of quite yet. I’ll just say the redesign is under­way and will mark the return of the crest. For older read­ers you know exactly what I mean, but for those who’ve only stopped by every once in a while the crest was once part of the brand of this site.

Beyond that I’m par­tic­i­pat­ing in Project 52 this year. What’s that?

Project52 is a per­sonal chal­lenge geared toward get­ting fresh con­tent on your web­site. The goal is to write at least 1 new arti­cle per week for 1 year.

I’m chal­leng­ing myself to a goal: to write some­thing new once or more per week for one year start­ing Jan­u­ary 1st, 2010. It doesn’t seem like a lofty goal really, not at all actu­ally. It just means I have to com­mit to some­thing that I’ve long neglected and some­where along the line it might (I hope!) recharge the fiz­zled neon sign that is this “blog” or site, or what­ever you want to call it. Call it “Fresh Fish Mar­ket” for all I care, which inci­den­tally is the name of my wire­less network.

There you have it. At least one new post a week for just a year and if I can adhere to that rule I think the prize is an all-paid expense trip to Tahiti.

One can dream such a dream, right?

One day at a time

The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time. — Abra­ham Lincoln

Ever have one of those days where the future seems hazy, but you’re cer­tain it’ll become clearer as you move through it all?

Today was that day.

As blessed as I am (mostly due to a sup­port list that has too many names to men­tion — okay, one being my wife), I still pon­der the journey.

Step­ping stones…