W. o’ W.: Brian Eno

“The trouble begins with a design philosophy that equates ‘more options’ with ‘greater freedom.’ Designers struggle endlessly with a problem that is almost nonexistent for users: ‘How do we pack the maximum number of options into the minimum space and price?’ In my experience, the instruments and tools that endure (because they are loved by their users) have limited options.

“When you use familiar tools, you draw upon a long cultural conversation – a whole shared history of usage – as your backdrop, as the canvas to juxtapose your work. The deeper and more widely shared the conversation, the more subtle its inflections can be. This is the revenge of traditional media. Even the ‘weaknesses’ or the limits of these tools become part of the vocabulary of culture. I’m thinking of such stuff as Marshall guitar amps and black-and-white film – what was once thought most undesirable about these tools became their cherished trademark.

“Although designers continue to dream of ‘transparency’ – technologies that just do their job without making their presence felt – both creators and audiences actually like technologies with ‘personality.’ A personality is something with which you can have a relationship. Which is why people return to pencils, violins, and the same three guitar chords.”

Read the entire piece here: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.01/eno.html

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