thoughts

You can't get fired if you don't have a job. by Anthony Schmiedeler

I'm going to be completely honest here. It's embarrassing but I didn't really know who Margaret Atwood was before Monday. I don't consider myself "well-read" but I'm trying to get to a point where I do. I was slightly aware of her status as an iconic female author so I knew that hearing her deliver the Kenneth A. Spencer Memorial Lecture at KU was a good opportunity for me. So I made the trek out to Lawrence and I wasn't disappointed.

Margaret Atwood is an honest speaker. She was thoughtful and didn't pull any punches. She talked about the state of our world very bluntly, starting with where we came from and what we are.

We came long ago and we came equipped with the arts. Inside every one of us is an artist of some sort — maybe not a very good artist, but an artist nonetheless.

She ended with her answer to where we are going, urging us to embrace the humanities because they are "what make us human" and warning us to avoid the steadily growing "zombie" movement that appears to be doing the opposite. It was hopeful in a weird way and reassuring to hear that maybe I'm on the right track. It helped that in her explanation of the impermanence of ideas, she was able to insert some dancing Super Bowl sharks

My favorite part of the conversation were the audience questions and her super witty responses that always went much deeper than the original queries. Hear are a few I jotted down (largely paraphrased): 
 

• In response to "what made you get into writing?" she referred to the famous line "They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started playing..." which was a great way to say she didn't know what she was doing when she started. She finished with "I will explore almost anything to see how it works." I guess writing is what stuck.

 In response to "How do you address people who take your book too seriously?" she said "It's only a book. Just take the cover and close it." She writes books, not as a gloomy prediction of what's to come, but more as a map on how to avoid it. Nothing is inevitable and the future is not set in stone.

 My favorite line of the night was in response to "How did you get into activism?". She said she hates activism! It's more of a chore than anything else. But there are people who can't say what they want to say because they have jobs. Due to her time in the Girl Scouts she feels compelled to go a bit further than most. So she says what she wants for those who can't because "You can't get fired if you don't have a job!".
 

After the talk I guess I still don't know her that well but I can say that I'm a new fan. And I will be reading The Handmaid's Tale very soon.

Future Library. A 100 year project, started in 2014, of which Margaret Atwood is the first contributor.

Future Library. A 100 year project, started in 2014, of which Margaret Atwood is the first contributor.

Making my California Summer by Anthony Schmiedeler

As I start my next journey in design for people with User Experience at Cerner I thought it would be nice to reflect on my (productive) summer along the west coast.

It all started with a video. Then all of the sudden I had a job 1,500 miles away.

The first thing I had to do was make a new home in the Orange Cottage.  My room was on the left.

The first thing I had to do was make a new home in the Orange Cottage. My room was on the left.

I got to learning (and making) pretty quick with a   Rapid Ingenuity One-Pager  . And the learning (and making) didn't stop over the weekend because I had the luxury of attending a   workshop about social change   led by   Catapult Design  . Pictured above: Mapping systems  at the Catapult Design Lab. 

I got to learning (and making) pretty quick with a Rapid Ingenuity One-Pager. And the learning (and making) didn't stop over the weekend because I had the luxury of attending a workshop about social change led by Catapult Design. Pictured above: Mapping systems at the Catapult Design Lab. 

The next thing I had a part in making was a prototype for a new learning game called  Faceball .  Somewhere in between that I made this  animation  about cupcakes and/or professional development depending on how you want to look at it.

The next thing I had a part in making was a prototype for a new learning game called Faceball.

Somewhere in between that I made this animation about cupcakes and/or professional development depending on how you want to look at it.

I made some new friends at Facebook that led to seeing a great talk by   Martin Venezky. This is the Facebook Analog Lab.

I made some new friends at Facebook that led to seeing a great talk by Martin Venezky.This is the Facebook Analog Lab.

I made some food.

I made some food.

I made some scars.

I made some scars.

I connected with some motivated veterans and community leaders at the   Mission Continues   and   helped build a garden at El Toro elementary school  . Word is we might be starting a KC platoon...

I connected with some motivated veterans and community leaders at the Mission Continues and helped build a garden at El Toro elementary school. Word is we might be starting a KC platoon...

Of course we made some memories.

Of course we made some memories.

I made a couple of trips home. One for business (  the   job interview) and one for pleasure (pictured above: Bonnaroo).

I made a couple of trips home. One for business (the job interview) and one for pleasure (pictured above: Bonnaroo).

I made more friends at IDEO.org, Volume Inc, and Google. We even got to visit the Stanford d.school! This is IDEO.org skills library where you can check out lessons from your peers. They should have these everywhere.

I got some new clients in my barbershop of one. And   wrote  ,   doodled  , and   logo'd   for fun.

I got some new clients in my barbershop of one. And wrotedoodled, and logo'd for fun.

We designed a   blitz   and hacked a   cricket   (it sounds weird because it was). 

We designed a blitz and hacked a cricket (it sounds weird because it was). 

I even did some   freelance work   on the side and started working on a MOVIE with   BetterThanFiction Productions   (details probably not coming soon). 

I even did some freelance work on the side and started working on a MOVIE with BetterThanFiction Productions (details probably not coming soon). 

And I can't forget about the lifelong friendships I made with some very talented people. Thanks for everything  Keir ,  Sam ,  Ehsan , and  Melina ! And my spiritual advisors at  Future: Greg, John, Mike, and Blanca .  What a summer.

And I can't forget about the lifelong friendships I made with some very talented people. Thanks for everything KeirSamEhsan, and Melina! And my spiritual advisors at Future: Greg, John, Mike, and Blanca.

What a summer.

Impact, by Design by Anthony Schmiedeler

Art vs Design

I’ve been privy to many arguments about the differences between art and graphic design. Some say art is more about expressing emotion and design is a calculated outcome defined by rules. Others say art is all about how a viewer interprets it and design has intended goals. I think there is a lot more overlap than that. A lot of times, art take a rigorously planned out path where as design comes out as a spontaneous gesture. Likewise, a design can be interpreted in many different ways no matter how much effort was put into crafting an obvious conclusion.

Impact vs Aesthetics

Despite their similarities, I do believe that they should be criticized on different scales. The primary focus of good design is to solve a problem. That problem could be as simple as forming an honest representation of a product with a brand or figuring out a comfortable path for readers in the layout of a magazine. Art can at times be used to solve a problem but I would argue that those artworks are designed to do that. So why is it that design isn’t judged on it’s ability to solve problems?

The Beauty in Solutions

In my experience, most graphic design is judged on the way it looks rather than what it does. No matter how much thought is put into function, form seems to win out. This perpetuates those trendy waves that swell and die out year after year. It also seems to cut down on people’s efforts to actually use graphic design for good. In a perfect world design would be judged on impact. Even if that impact is very small or only has the potential to be effective. After all, any design that tries to solve a problem is inherently beautiful no matter what it looks like.