Thursday, September 8, 2011

Packing a perfect lunch for them

There is the romance, the thrill, the excitement of Excalibur. "If I had that weapon (or that horse), I could win a kingdom!"  The Sword in the Stone kind of thing, a main plot of many current stories where this man or that group wants a nuclear warhead or plutonium and thinks they could reach their goals if they were so equipped.  That is about the superiority of a weapon or other equipment.

There is another, related thrill that is more prosaic but also more realistic and more commonly available.  Whether it is the mom packing a perfect lunch or a quartermaster listing the perfect set of equipment to be delivered to a camp site, the pleasure of knowing what is needed and delivering it well, compactly and in a timely way, can be great.  To go a step further, finding just the right towels and mat for the guest bath, adding an imaginative and fascinating touch to what is typical -- that is a genuine satisfaction.  

Imagine a surgical assistant who has worked with the surgeon on just this operation before.  Knowing exactly how to lay out the instruments, placing them right where they are expected - that person is doing a valuable service.  Redesigning the office so there is more room, a more usable layout, positioning the lighting a little better, a little smarter can not only be fun and a genuine accomplishment but can make every minute on the job more productive and less stressful.

We are entering an age of "open source", where the individual user may be empowered and equipped to modify tools and equipment to suit individual needs and tastes.  With worldwide competition and more education available in design and design tools, we can expect at least some instances of remarkably ingenious ideas and designs.  At the same time, whimsy, art and daring can produce some very surprising objects and equipment.

Daniel H. Pink, in his excellent and popular book, A Whole New Mind, emphasizes the need and demand for design education.  Not that everyone must be educated before being able to invent, investigate and obtain funding to launch new or improved products.

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