Life and Death in the Product Food Chain
Pardon us for going all 6th grade biology Captain Planet on you, but unless you slept through the 1990s Earth Day Fueled Eco-Party, you know we're in a "web of life". The natural world has evolved over billions of years to include an unbelievably complex array of interactions and dependencies, most of which are unknown, and many of which are remarkably unexpected. Intentional design, while very much different from evolution, shares a number of common solutions and themes, as we've discussed many times before. Would it be so surprising that the same sort of web of interdependency exists in the product design world?
Emergence: Stupid Parts, Smart Whole
You've seen it happen. You've even been a part of it. Every time you drive a car, walk in the city, or play a video game like Everquest, you've caused it to happen. You may not have even noticed it. "It" is emergent behavior, the force behind flocks of birds, swarms of bees, and colonies of bacteria. It could also be the cause of perfect success, or complete failure in your designs.
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?
Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team