Humility, passion, hyper(links), history

I just finished the third issue of The Manual. I tried really hard to savor it because it is so good, allowing myself only one essay per day. But yesterday I broke down and read all that I had left. It is such a wonderful publication and if you haven’t checked it out, I really recommend that you do, now, immediately.

This third issue again had me thinking during and after everything I read. Here’s just a taste of the quotes that I am still mulling over.

Whether or not chance operations has agency applications, I suspect the design community at large has much to gain by more openly confronting ambiguity, self-doubt, and complexity in our relationships and in our selves. I’d like to counter the celebratory stance of the moment–design bravado–with a more humbled position. A slow ramble: sensing, collecting, and being fully present to changes in light, weather, and sound.
-Paul Soulellis, page 10

I loved Paul’s beautiful look at what sharing our failures and our ups and downs can mean for the community. How being transparent in process can bring about some great things.

If you want to have passion for your work then do what your coaches told you: set challenging goals for yourself every day, work hard to achieve them, and evaluate how you did at the end. Structure it in a way that makes absorption possible. Do it, in other words. Then do it some more.
-Tiffani Jones Brown, page 21

Tiffani describes perfectly what I need to do - I need to just do it. Every day. Explore, get creative, have fun, but always work at it. This too builds on Paul’s call to have humility-don’t be afraid of failures.

The devices we love to connect with are the same devices that cause us to disconnect from one another. Everyone knows where everyone is and what everyone is doing, but how does that enrich our lives?
-Duane King, p 52

Duane’s essay was close to my favorite of the bunch. I loved that he talked about how hard it can be to disconnect. Also, how are the devices we use affecting us? Why can’t we stand in a line without looking at our devices, let alone go on a walk with nothing but our thoughts. I think about this a lot and I’ve made some significant changes in my life to try and get away from always being distracted.

We should recognize that when we design and publish information on the humblest homepage or the grandest web app, we are creating connections within a much larger machine of knowledge, a potential Turing machine greater than any memex or calculus racionator.
-Jeremy Keith, p 68

Jeremy’s essay was certainly right in line with many of the things he is always talking about, especially if you have heard some of his AEA talks in recent years. I love his passion for the web and I agree, we are at the beginning of this medium and we don’t fully understand it yet, but it needs to keep the crazy connections so that we all get the most from this interesting thing we call the web.

By looking for inspiration in others’ work, adapting it significantly, and openly acknowledging those debts, I think we can move that phrase “web design trends” past that stereotype of unthinking, unambitious adoption and set a standard for evolving those trends over time. And, in doing so, we’ll invest a sense of memory–of history in our adolescent industry.
-Ethan Marcotte, p 82

Ethan ends by talking about history, how short the history is in the world of the web and designing for the web. I love jazz and he goes to that medium to show how we can build on what has come before us, without shame, but with acknowledging that we do have a history, albeit a short one, but that we should be looking to it and know it to understand where we are now. It reminds me of my time in art school. I immediately gravitated to abstract painting and my professor one day made me stop painting, head to the library and check out several books by specific artists. Showing me where I sat in time to my predecessors and how I could take inspiration from those that came before me and build on what they had done. I love that Ethan’s essay reminded me of that all over again and how I can do that in the web world too.

Every issue of The Manual seems to top the one that came before. The third issue is certainly no different. Thank you to the team that publish it, you get my brain going every time for days thinking about the ideas you bring to light.