Dumb ideas

Everyone is not a designer

A great many people, many of whom are not professional designers, have begun telling people that they are designers.

Consequently, a great many people who have never systematically practiced design have come to expect acknowledgment of the fact that they designers, and they especially come to expect this from professional designers.

A professional designer who won’t embrace everyone else as fellow designers is a snob or a jerk.

Well, I happen to be one of these snobbish jerks.

I have good reasons for this, in addition to actually being a snob and a jerk.

For one thing, part of my job is attempting to get other people to do design, and I’m here to tell you: a lot of people suck at it and can’t do it.

For another, I have to use things that non-designers have designed or product managed, and that has led to the miserable existence of this garbage blog.

Now, of course, the idea that everyone is a designer is not entirely wrong. After all, we do all design, sometimes multiple times a day.

But does this mean that everyone is a designer? Isn’t a designer someone who has put enough effort into developing design skills that they’re good at it? I mean, think about it. Everyone prepares food. Do we go around claiming that everyone is a chef? Don’t we reserve that term for someone who has deliberately cultivated their cooking skills?

It is strange to me that out of all the professions, it is design that is required to flatter everyone else that they’re also designers.

Now I’m all for the idea that everyone can and often should participate in design.  I’ll also say that most people could benefit if they improved their design skills. Some people have talent and can potentially improve their design skills a lot and become really great designers. And a great many people just don’t have the ability and temperament and won’t ever get that good at design. So what? Nobody’s good at everything.

So, everyone designs. Not everyone designs well. Not everyone cares if they design well or not. Some think they design well, because they aren’t even clear on what a designer is supposed to do, and don’t bother going about it the right way.

Those who do care if they design well, and work at figuring out the best methods for doing it well, and then practice these methods in order to get better and better at them — those are the people we should call designers.

Moral: Until we say that everyone who cooks is a chef, everyone who obeys the law is a lawyer, everyone who speculates on other people’s minds are psychologists, everyone who puts a bandaid on a cut is a doctor, everyone who has a theological opinion is a priest, everyone who believes in gravity is a physicist — let’s please fucking stop saying everyone is a designer.


1Password on iOS

Cloud computing sounds so ethereal, ubiquitous and all-enveloping, doesn’t it? All your data is up there and if you reach up, as if reaching for the stars, the data is just there for you.

Bullshit. It never is. The data gets all constipated and backed up in some corner of your device or detained in some very physical and faraway data center and is more often than not unavailable where and when you need it, creating an impression less of ubiquitous availability than of arbitrary belligerence.

You take you duckface selfie on your phone and it is supposed to also be on your computer, too, like magic. Except it isn’t. And these software wizards seem to think it will spoil the effect if they give you any visibility into the kludgy syncing process that’s stalling out, so you can, you know, know what the fuck is going on with your photo.

These cloud companies behave like bad magicians. They prance about and carry on as if everything is going just beautifully, and nobody is noticing that nothing is working right. But all the dramatic cape swooshes and wand waving only highlights how badly the trick has failed. Oops, no rabbit in the hat, but ta-da, anyway.

(By the way, when I am in charge, companies will have to prove they can pull off cloud-computing effects before using the word “Cloud”. Those who can’t will be required to use a more appropriate description: “Sky-Gravel Computing”.)

But 1Password in iOS is a whole new level of spastic. They can’t even sync between their app and their own plug-in. And this is not an occasional annoyance. This is every single time I make the mistake of setting up a new account on an iOS device. I’ll go to the 1Password app and enter a new login and password. Then I’ll try to pull up the 1Password plug-in, and it’s never heard of any of it.

It’s like how many nanometers to sync a handful of bytes across? You can’t even cloud compute a minute string of data across the space of a single device? I’m sure it is all super-damn technical and complicated. But again, if you can’t pull off an operation as expected, don’t say “ta-da.” Just put a message up explaining that Apple’s made it impossible for our developers to make the scattered chunks of 1Passwork functionality work in a graceful coordinated fashion, probably because they are hobbling our product so everyone will use their even worse Keychain password mismanagement. And to help it along, do these fourteen easy steps, or just wait around for x number of minutes. Whatever. Just let me the status of the sync. Handle it like Palm Pilot did back in 1997 and say what’s syncing from where to where until it finishes. It’s not magical, but it is something far better: it helps me know what is going on.

Moral: If you can’t pull off a magical effect, don’t attempt magic. Observe the limits of your technology and design within what the technology can do gracefully. You might be proud of pushing the technology beyond its limits, but frankly, what has been actually been pushed beyond its limits is your own competence.


And yes. This 1Password tantrum was ignited in the process of trying and failing to get this shitty blog up working with the WordPress iOS app. I had to write this whole diatribe on a browser based WordPress interface. That, of course sucked, because it defaulted to “block editing” which is pointless and distracting. For no fault of my own, half my paragraphs are inside a block and half are not. I’m leaving them looking all misspaced and stupid purely out of spite. I’m sure my fruitless attempts to disable this scope-bloating impediment will be the topic of the next post.


WordPress again

Honestly, I have no one to blame but myself for installing WordPress again, knowing its current toiletward trajectory.

Of course, I know it will suck right away. But, because I’ve been using WordPress since the long-past days when it was actually good, I know from painful experience that this suckiness will positively pale in comparison to the suckiness of the next ill-conceived update to WordPress, where they will break the remaining functioning remnants of this demented mess with some product manager’s vision of how other people ought to want to work. Because what is WordPress other than a vehicle for some ambitious jackass’s ego bloat and career advancement?