1. What does Edward Snowdon have to do with the role of an association?

    In an Op-Ed piece in the New York TImes on June 13, 2013, David Brooks provided some thoughtful observations about “The Solitary Leaker”:

    "Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.

    If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.

    This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age: the deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme.”

    Brooks then concludes, as he has often in the past, “For society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures.”

    This has been true for centuries: civic institutions build trust. And AIGA, as a community of designers, plays just that role in providing both an ecosystem for a profession and an ethosystem, a means of expressing ethical expectations of each other and encouraging participation in the community, under those rules.

  2. Are we risking our ability to care?

    In a commencement address at Middlebury College, Jonathan Safran Foer raised questions about our diminishing ability to care. 

    "Most of our communication technologies began as diminished substitutes for an impossible activity. We couldn’t always see one another face to face, so the telephone made it possible to keep in touch at a distance. One is not always home, so the answering machine made a kind of interaction possible without the person being near his phone. Online communication originated as a substitute for telephonic communication, which was considered, for whatever reasons, too burdensome or inconvenient. And then texting, which facilitated yet faster, and more mobile,messaging. These inventions were not created to be improvements upon face-to-face communication, but a declension of acceptable, if diminished, substitutes for it."

    "The  problem with accepting — with preferring — diminished substitutes is that over time, we, too,become diminished substitutes. People who become used to saying little become used to feeling little."

    Perhaps the more emphasis we place on speed at the expense of depth, the less likely and able we are to care…have the empathy and compassion that distinguishes us. And this is also one of the reasons that AIGA believes it has an important role in encouraging thoughtful conversations.

    Quoted passages from excerpts of the address published in the New York Times, June 8, 2013 as “How not to be alone.”

  3. Is there a value in design unthinking?

    Martin Heidegger: “The more original the thinking, the richer will be what is unthought in it. The unthought is the greatest gift that thinking can bestow.”

    Perhaps this suggests that we must discover what we have not thought of, particularly with the complexity of problems and the world today.

  4. If design is meant to be responsible and purposeful and not also art, then why does anyone design another chair?

    Do we need another chair? If not, why do we love new ones? Maybe because design really is art. Pragmatists notwithstanding.

  5. Does science fiction support our ideal of the T-shaped designer, with broad higher order skills?

    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

    Robert A. Heinlein

  6. kev63083 asked: At our college, adjuncts teaching Adobe Illustrator and PS are not required to be Adobe Certified. They only show a portfolio to be hired. This has caused some concern since there is no way to tell if they actually know the skills sets or even the current version except by their declaration. What do you and other professional designers think about requiring adjuncts to take an Adobe Certification test as ONE part of the hiring process? FT faculty teaching OTHER programs are against this idea.

    Faculty from other programs undoubtedly worry about the precedent of skill-based certification requirements. The question probably needs to rest with the nature of your program and whether the focus is on application of the programs or training in the programs full range of features. Certainly, certification provides a sense of technical knowledge of programs, but little about the their application. There is no single and clear answer on this.

  7. thefilichino asked: Hi Richard, it's been a pleasure reading your invaluable insights. This is my question: It is not uncommon to find people who practice design without professional training or education, yet receive varying degrees of success (Tom Dixon, Miuccia Prada and Orville Simpson). What advantages does a formal design education have over self-taught skills and inherent creativity? I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!

    An important question. Many of the processes that designers go through in problem solving can be undertaken by others. However, designers have several attributes that make them special: empathy to understand human solutions; creativity to define the unexpected; and incredible commitment to excellence in detail, so that they execute in ways that would elude others. So others may be able to achieve what designers can, but are far less likely to. Still some highly respected designers emerged from other disciplines.

  8. What are survival skills for an innovator?

    Are these the attributes AIGA should be fostering in a professional development programs?

    ·  Critical thinking and problem solving

    ·  Collaboration across networks and leading by influence

    ·  Agility and adaptability

    ·  Initiative and entrepreneurship

    ·  Accessing and analyzing information

    ·  Effective oral and written communications

    ·  Curiosity and imagination

    Tim Brown might add:

    ·  Integrative thinking

    ·  Optimism

    ·  Experimentalism

  9. What do we need to be essential in a hyperconnected world?

    In a hyper-connected world, everyone must demonstrate how they can create value better than any alternative. The tools and methods we know are being made obsolete faster and faster.

    As Tom Friedman points out, it requires a lot of individual initiative. As we become liberated from the routine by automation and software, the winners will be those with more PQ (passion quotient) and CQ (curiosity quotient) not IQ. You need to leverage all of your tools not just to find a job, but to reinvent one or transform one. 

  10. How did Walter Gropius define design?

    Design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.