30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall
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It's not the suburbs I hate, or even McDonald's, per se, it's the overwhelming noise of mediocre homogeneity that is thrust upon you anywhere, anytime. I'm sitting on a Frontier flight between DC and Denver; every seat has a TV in the back -- a TV which I have no way to turn off. And on this TV runs constant advertising for new shows on TNT, FOX or some other international cable station.
If I have to see that American Idol ad one more time... Well, I can't say because Homeland Security would probably be on my ass.
It's not even the content; I'm not anti-TV, there are shows I absolutely go out of my way to watch. But it's not my choosing, just as the fact that I'm fine with burgers and cheap chinese food doesn't mean I want to be forced to smell the mall food court all day or have someone constantly walking by with samples of chicken on a stick.
Let me drop you in a mall in DC or Denver or Portland for that matter, and you'll have no clue where you are. Just some mall in America. Now, you're transported to a house in a residential development. Go ahead, step outside, and you still won't know where you are.
Now, let's put you on a plane and put a TV in front of you; you're not even at 30,000 feet going 500 miles an hour, you're just in a noisy room in the the 'burbs.
To me it's that "been-there-done-that" familiarity that is so wearing about TVs, fast food and generic architecture. Heck, generic design in general. You're not learning anything new in these familiar places, and you're not saying anything of interest when you design them.
The web has this problem, and as with many things on line, it has the problem the way a crack addict has a "dependency issue." Internet communications are all about creating something accessible by as many people as possible, so your message has to make sense in Brooklyn and Bangor.
I always push for creative design, but it's not easy. Not only do we fight the limitations of the boxy display, but with the limitations of web technology in general; it's not just the broad audience that waters down the message, it's the tools you use.
My rants against tools like Dreamweaver or Microsoft Songsmith aren't rants against the tools, they are rants against settling for what the tool can do and, worse yet, accepting the results of an unskilled tool user because the results are functional or near enough so.
You can't live on a diet of McDonald's despite what the company says (Supersize Me proved that one pretty well). Just as your body fails on a diet of poorly conceived food, you spirit fails on a diet of poorly conceived creations. We need more to thrive, and we should demand more.
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Be sure to see my blog over at Cloudenity. This week's topic:
Identity Isn't Just for Users Anymore