Arrogance and humility

Two perspectives.

Clay Shirky, writing on A Brief Message:

Design is arrogance.

The designer says, “I know what you want better than you. Here it is.” A designer offers judgment as superior; as Henry Ford said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”

Design is humility.

Users are experts in their own lives, lives the designer will see only if she understands their wants and needs. Design is recognition that “good” only makes sense in that context.

And Peter Denning, as the voice of “a user” in an article that featured fictional, representative voices from across the world of IT:

I love using computers. I’m not a computer scientist, and I don’t want to be. I just love using the stuff computer scientists make. Awesome! I get some really spiffy things done with your tools even though I am an amateur. Most of the time, your stuff does not bankrupt me, waste my time, or kill me… I am so grateful to have all this computer stuff. My wants and needs determine what computer scientists can sell, so they often listen to me very carefully. Without those wants and needs, in fact, I’d be a nobody.

Honestly, I’m speechless.


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