Recently, the state of California banned junk food in school vending machines and set standards for calorie content in school lunches. This was in response to political pressure from parents and interest groups, and may result in a serious change in the way food manufacturers make and market their goods.
There was a time when problems were easy to solve. Want some food? Make a sharp pointed stick or sharp rock to spear a deer or marmot. Need to get around? Once you figure out how to make a wheel, sticking two of them on a flat bed and calling it a cart isn't too tough. Now, thousands of years after those first design challenges, humans are still making new things, finding new opportunities, and solving new problems. As we have grown more complex in our application of technologies to problems, and we find each new challenge more complicated than the last, how can we ensure that our problem solving strategies are up to the challenge?
Humansys: Focused VS Peripheral
When you were younger, did you ever dream of what it would be like to have a little genie in your desk, or backpack at school, so you could just ask for the answers to those "stupid questions" like "What's the average rainfall of Namibia", or "what are the seven wonders of the world". You might have dreamed it would be a perfect learning tool. Now, 20, 30, or 40 years later, with the ever-growing development and search-savvy focus of the Internet, that genie is available. But the question remains: Is this tool that answers every question really giving knowledge, or just answers?
Which view is correct?
There is a story about a young Japanese artist sometime way back when. He wants to paint the best picture of Mount Fuji, and so goes to his teacher and asks, "Which is the correct view from which to paint Mount Fuji?" His master replies, "All of them."
The Smallest Thing...
Most often, design problems are proportional to the size of the design mistake. A large design error -- like the complex, laborious, and ugly design and engineering of the Aztec truck -- makes for a large performance disappointment. A small design error -- like an unfortunate screw placement in a VCR remote control housing -- might make things inconvenient every once in a while, but mostly they are small issues. However, when designers begin dealing with complex systems with many interrelated parts, a little design decision can lead to the utter failure of the design.
Technology eats itself
Designers put a whole lot of work into the technical details of the functioning of their products. Yet the world as we know it is so darn complex, problems can arise easily, especially when your product has to interface with other parts of the built environment.
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Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team