Design theory, theory design
David always had a vision for where he wanted to go next. I was never the “idea guy” — in addition to my coding and back-end duties, I often served as an idea editor. David would come in with a grand new feature idea, and I’d tell him which parts were infeasible or impossible, which tricky conditions and edge cases we’d need to consider, and which other little niceties and implementation details we should add. But the ideas were usually David’s, and the product roadmap was always David’s.
Daft Punk’s 1997 debut album, Homework, recorded entirely in Thomas’s bedroom, filtered house and techno through a love of classic rock. The cover displayed a logo patch sewn on to a black satin jacket, while the inner sleeve depicted a desk cluttered with adolescent artefacts, including a 1976 KISS poster and a Chic single sleeve. It was like a superhero’s origin story: Peter Parker’s bedroom before he became Spider-Man. Guy-Man, who designed the artwork, says that Thomas is the “hands-on technician” while he is the “filter”: the man who stands back and says oui or non. The hit single “Around the World” displayed a then-unfashionable love of disco which attracted the attention of Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers. “The genius is never in the writing, it’s in the rewriting,” says Rodgers. “Whenever they put out records I can hear the amount of work that’s gone into them – those microscopically small decisions that other people won’t even think about. It’s cool, but they massage it so it’s not just cool – it’s amazing.
Lot of useful parallels between music and design practice in this article, particularly the stuff around generation / filtering, and reworking the details.
From a design perspective it can be useful to frame physically and mentally impaired users as “super-users” as in they are “just like you or me only more so”. In order to make use of a device they adopt advanced techniques to get the same thing done with less. We are all mentally impaired at some point in the day whether induced by multi-tasking, being exhausted or high. Physical impairment can be inherent compared to the norm or brought on by being drunk, injured, or engaged in other physical tasks.