1.30.2010

machine beauty...




In this book David Gelernter elegantly distills an aesthetic formula: 

Elegance = Power + Simplicity

It is an equation that transcends products and machines, and requires an alchemical but very human blend of art and science.  This is a balance that is not easy in most organizations, and one which designers battle for daily.

He also states that "Insisting on the scientist-type versus artist-type distinction reflects the sort of dense bureaucratic worldview in which happiness hinges on everyones's keeping his three ring binder neat."  Watching my children navigate our artistically deprived school systems has made this statement more viscerally resonant. The struggle to reconcile success and pleasure may be harder in schools than anywhere where we are taught (between the lines) that success is tied to the core curriculum, being on time, and getting the worksheet done.

Gelernter also reveals how Microsoft beat Apple because of "cuteness" -  a sad but convincing argument exposing our testosterone laced culture whose discomfort with beauty can stifle creativity. Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind digs in to the theoretical aspects of this example especially in discussing Men, Women and Empathy as well as references to to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work on creativity and the advantages of the androgynous mind. At this point you really wonder about the structure of our social and educational foundations!

This is a very thoughtful book that for over ten years I have gone back to over and over, and it is loaded with scribbles and note cards...if you care about growing creative minds and cultures it should be on your shelf.

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