Design, Discovery & Humor

February 19, 2012by

I still remember the way David Evans, teaching on the nature of expression in poetry, declared with total conviction, “The way it’s said is everything.” He even made it one of his “rules of poetry.”

This is a fairly common principle of rhetoric, but it bears repeating, particularly when presented in a new and compelling way.

In this TED talk released in 2009 David Carson illustrates the same principle with respect to design. He opens with a nostalgic but insightful observation on slide projection vs. power point, then proceeds to exposit several examples of how “the emotion of design” colors human experience.

An intriguing statement here from a book of Marshal McLuhan quotes that Carson put together anticipates in a way the thesis of Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants: “The new media are not bridges between man and nature. They are nature.”

A few other quotes from McLuhan are worth transcribing:

The invention of printing did away with anonymity, fostering ideas of literary fame and the habit of considering intellectual effort as private property.

When new technologies impose themselves upon societies long habituated to older technologies anxieties of all kinds result.

While people are engaged in creating a totally different world they always form vivid images of the preceding world.

Man in the electronic age has no environment except the globe and no possible occupation except information gathering.

Carson makes a prescient remark himself toward the of his talk when he describes how people will move up the scale of importance as technology evolves. The importance of being human has already achieved a practically euphemistic status for doing business online.

As we get more technically driven the importance of people becomes more than it’s ever been before. You have to utilize who you are in your work. Nobody else can do that. Nobody else can pull from your background, from your parents, your upbringing, your whole life experience. If you allow that to happen, it’s really the only way you can do some unique work. And you’re going to enjoy the work a lot more as well.