Monthly Archives: May 2001

Meccano Nuts

Interviews with architects and engineers on how their childhood
obssession with Meccano influenced their design careers – and also how
they still use the toy as a design tool.

“Computers will achieve perfection, but there is less
flexibility,” he says. “The problem with drawing on a computer is that
there is no way of knowing whether it will work. I think it is a
tactile thing. If it isn’t right, gravity will make it fall over; that
is very instructive because it teaches you about mistakes.

This makes me envious. Most constraints that interaction
designers play against aren’t so tangible or immediate in their
feedback – they’re cultural, psychological – I wish there was some toy
or technique that could give that satisfaction of knowing something
will work while tinkering with a design…

Society | Role models


One of the hit’s of last year’s Doors Of Perception conference was
Sugata Mitra. His experiments in using technology to teach through play and exploration in rural India captivated the audience.

More inspiration from India in this all-too-short report on it’s grass-roots innovators.

“To communicate the excellence of the ideas he was
encountering in village India, he started something called the Honey
Bee Network, based around a magazine describing these sort of
innovations in eight different languages.

The organisation now has 10,000 ideas on a computer
database – local lore and the inventions of dozens of village boffins
available to inquirers, and to companies who want to licence the ideas
and pay for them.

“Why should intellectual property merely benefit big
corporations?” asks Professor Gupta, as he encourages businesses to pay
the equivalent of hundreds of pounds to make things such as the tilting
bullock cart. ”

BBC News | FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT | India’s bank of ideas

Pass the napkins

“People look like they‘re working when they‘re sitting
at a computer typing, people don‘t look like they‘re working when
they‘re reading a magazine or sitting around talking. It does look like
working when you‘re sketching, but that‘s not always a highly valued
skill. Mark Mentzer, a drawing teacher at Carnegie Mellon, once said to
me, “I‘m going to teach a class called ‘Drawing on the Back of a
Napkin,‘” which I thought was brilliant because everybody today has
ideas that they‘re trying to communicate that are generally complex.
Everybody goes to the white board in a meeting or is drawing on a scrap
of paper trying to communicate his idea. It‘s important for people to
feel that it‘s okay to just be able to draw something quickly to
communicate and not be judged on the quality of the drawing. We need to
foster the ability to connect the mind to the hand so that one can
communicate effectively. I think those are extraordinarily valuable

AIGA Loop Journal #2: Terry Swack Interview