To be honest, I seriously struggle with Design Thinking. My background was in logical thinking. Drilled over and over through probably thousands of hours math in my Physics curriculum, creative thinking was not encouraged. In fact, typically the best thing to do was to understand precisely how the instructor would approach a problem, then mimic it until you could replicate it flawlessly. As a result, when it comes to the logical leaps necessary for good design thinking, I often feel not only intimidated, but become anxious at the thought of how forcing my mind into that mold typically results in utter silence.
So these articles were enormously helpful. There are many ways to frame the discussion of design, but a helpful framework for me is through looking at the absurdity of the real world as it is now. I really enjoyed Dunne and Raby’s approach – extrapolate weird niche applications of technology to their extremes to see if an interesting concept or conversation emerges. I also strongly identified with John Maeda’s idea of simplicity. The complexity of technology is often frightening. Less so these days, but I think that’s largely to do with design buddying up with technology.
So what does all this have to do with Food? Well, I’ve, not surprisingly, been really struggling with what I want to talk about. What is it that I’m not only really interested in, but represents a significant problem within the food system? And what small piece of it can I bite off? I get overwhelmed just thinking about it.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that we, as (warning: buzzword approaching) technologists, are in a unique position to empower the consumer, the everyday human. Tackling large scale, deeply embedded problems overwhelms the mind, but figuring out how to give ourselves even a modicum of control is where we can live. So, if I want to do something that comments on the current state of our food system, then I can think big, but if I want to make something that attempts to solve a problem, then I have to think really small. And simple. Really, really simple.