2.15.2012

IDSA Innovation Intro - Winter 2011


<3 Problems

Designers are never far from problems. The problems, most often, are projects that we undertake on behalf of a company, client or assignment. We tackle them with energy and confidence that there is a better something to be uncovered as a result of our efforts. Sometimes, though, we encounter problems in the form of adversity, or we seek out problems from our passions. This is when it becomes more  personal. Sometimes personal causes are our platforms and our mission. Other times they are private.
In either case, taking things personally and overcoming huge barriers sounded like a design story. Overcoming barriers  became the common  denominator. Examples of people and groups working against the odds are all around us. Women in a male-dominated workplace, age, ethnicity, economics and geography are all obvious examples where we know of design warriors, products or causes that have taken on big problems and fought the status quo.
I have always found age to be an especially mystifying barrier, and it is a quality that all these warriors share at some stage. So much brilliance, passion and energy seems to be idling as we force young people through career paths before we give them positions  of influence. But that doesn’t stop everyone. Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, Dyson all saw the system as a barrier and broke out—and at an early age—while many also failed. Not many people have had the courage and belief in themselves to chart their own course and figure out for themselves how to break out. So even the modern Western “path” intended to groom us for success can be a barrier to progress.
Back in 1942 Einstein said that “a person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do  so.” This could be a statement of individual genius, but it could also be a warning that we’d better make sure not to bottle up the young.
This issue was guest edited by two people who are living the theme. Kate Hanisian and Ramsey Ford decided early in their careers to break from the status quo and combine their backgrounds in education and design to empower others to overcome their barriers. Their story was told in the summer 2011 issue of Innovation, and they return to pull together a collection of remarkable stories about others who are taking on similar pursuits. As one of our contributors, Tom De Blasis, put it, “We can use our talents to become game-changing problem solvers and in the process work to create a better world.”


finally, a request
In the summer 2010 issue of Innovation, which was devoted to interactive experiences,  I wrote about the interactive irony of a printed journal on the subject. There is a lot of passion for keeping a tangible printed object and equal passion for having a modern digital publication. So to test our passion, this issue will come to you in digital form only. It will reduce costs, increase distribution, and save  material, chemicals and energy from printing and sending, but it will maintain the form and design of the information. It will not live on your coffee table or in your archive of Innovation journals in the same way. You will not feel the pages or smell the ink, and you will have to turn it off during take off and landing! I hope that it inspires your feedback. Please tell IDSA and Innovation what you think, either directly at editor@innovation.org or when you receive a request via email.


This will be my last issue as executive editor. Mark Dziersk, FIDSA will return to the post starting with the spring 2012 issue.  Thank you to the generous efforts of the guest editors and authors who  have volunteered over the last couple of years, to the staff at IDSA and especially to Karen Berube, whose mind and hands make this such a valuable and important product for IDSA—whether it be atoms or bits.



Alistair Hamilton, IDSA
Innovation Executive Editor

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