Our Jobs…as Designers

With the recent passing of Steve Jobs, we could go on and on about his accomplishments and contributions. But, wait, what about that time he stole that idea from Xerox PARC? (The one about the PC…that led to Apple’s Mac?) Yeah, well, what about it?

While the infamous story of Jobs’ visit to Xerox PARC remains a blemish on his character for many, we see this as yet another example of his creative genius (and what a sly fox he was!). Basically put, he was able to see something in the Xerox Alto’s mouse and user interface that its creators could not: its potential for everyone‘s use. Without his insight and imagination on how it could be improved and changed for commercial use, it may have stayed behind PARC’s concrete walls forever…and I would be working at a library…in the Midwest.

Malcolm Gladwell delves into the Jobs / PARC incident in his May 16 article, Creation Myth: Xerox PARC, Apple, and the Truth about Innovation, in The New Yorker, as well as in an interview with Robert Siegel on NPR’s All Things Considered.

From NPR:

Innovation and originality are close cousins. We think of creative innovators as people with new ideas. But to read Malcolm Gladwell on the subject is to be reminded of a distinction: An innovator may not be the one with the new idea — but with a new take on an old idea.

For us, especially as designers, this is an important differentiation. How frustrating is it to think of an amazing “new” idea, do a quick Google search, and realize it’s already been done…20 times over, 10 years ago!? Alas, there is hope in what’s already around us; the challenge is to change the context, defy convention, and constantly question. That business card is for your Rolodex? Wrong! It’s a perfect shot coaster! Should you eat that filet mignon? Nope! Lady Gaga needs a new dress!

So the possibilities are endless, and our duty as designers that much greater. Sound exhausting? We say, game on!

via TUAW < via NPR < via The New Yorker

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