The Occupy Movement is About Flaws in the “Progress” of Mankind October 26, 2011Posted by Stephen Dill in Business, Life Experience, Observations, Spirit.
Tags: Declaration of Independence, economic development, Occupy Bucharest, Occupy Wall Street, US Constitution
Key to understanding the challenge I am about to relate is the opening phrase of the following blog post: “I am still reading”. That’s right, I had not completed my reading of the Occupy Bucharest Manifesto before I was moved to write a post about it. As a result, I offered an evaluation of this document based on an assumption that was incorrect. Instead of this being the compilation of a group’s thoughts, it turned out to be one person’s thoughts, someone who was quick to comment on this blog and reach out to me through Twitter, Luca Oprea.
While my premise—that this was a collective product—was premature, my respect for the quality of the ideas and delivery remain true and accurate. Luca is a remarkable thinker, and I look forward to learning more about his ideas and efforts.
I am still reading through this manifesto by the group at Occupy Bucharest, but this struck me as being a remarkable observation:
Occupy Wall Street can be seen as a basic, natural, global response to this fundamentally flawed state of things. The mindless segregation of life and energy flows from human consciousness is what led to the existence of the flowing crowds of Spain and Greece and Portugal and the rest of Europe. They have very little past and no apparent future, and as such cannot be understood through economic theory, although they are created by it. Fundamentally, human communities should cover the full spectrum of evolving life, from primary biological production, through innately collaborative social life, to consciousness and then mind.
Instead, the current state of things sees rural and urban areas feeding off of each other in production cycles that deplete the earth, social ties, and individual lives. The reason is simple – while they may appear to be separate and different communities, in fact they are only one community, its production and social flows stretching over very long distances. Capitalism speaks of competition, consumption, business and trade as essential factors which create value, but the reality is that these are low level processes which only make sense between partially developed communities.
The challenge of writing well is so large that most will never address it, much less accomplish it. But this manifesto immediately establishes itself as a record of deep
thought. Cogent, succinct, and nothing short of visionary, that this document was developed by a collective is all the more extraordinary!
Have you ever wondered how it was the the United States Declaration of Independence was so well written? The language is refined, focused and accurate, so much more effective and compelling than the majority of all written work of that day, and ever since. I have often tried to imagine the mindset of Thomas Jefferson as he wrote the first draft, the level of concentration of John Adams and the others at they read it and suggested edits. What amazing clarity and understanding! We saw it once again in the US Constitution, but not as much in some of the amendments, and even less in the reams of legislation that have been generated by federal and state bureaucrats ever since.
I believe the key difference is in the thinking that comes before the word, perhaps that’s not obvious, given the vast quantities of words with no meaning that are published by the minute. Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues were all focused on an urgent need for freedom from tyranny and how to make that happen, on this they thought long and hard.
No doubt, the people in Bucharest spent considerable time discussing what brought them together. The process of writing well—the distillation down to the fundamental issues and then to convey them in compelling words and phrases—is no mean feat. This evidence of those thoughtful conversations tells me that many of the Occupy sites are having similar conversations, and that alone could be enough to justify the movement, in my opinion. As a species, humans do not gather together often enough to tap into the astounding power within their minds.
Some points about the dark road where capitalism has taken us will be argued by those who feel it is a perfect system. Regardless, in my opinion the writers of the Occupy Bucharest manifesto have done what few writers, much less groups of writers, have done in recorded history. It is well worth your time to invest in reading this document for understanding. I would love to hear your thoughts on this (to include how long it took you to read it!).
Good design will always be important October 20, 2008Posted by Stephen Dill in Business, Observations.
Tags: Insanely Great, SRD InterActive, Web design
1 comment so far
A recent discussion with a friend over the perceived value of elegant design, using Apple and OXO products as examples, reminded me of an article I wrote years ago on this topic. I took a minute to go back and examine it on my company website and found it worthwhile repeating:
What Are the Benefits of Good Design on the Web?
Let’s examine how important Web Design is to the success of any Web-based marketing campaign. In a September 2003 report from Forrester Research titled “The Best and Worst of Site Design, 2003” the authors stated, “Most of the problems we found were self-inflicted wounds resulting from site managers who naively allow designers to: hide value, turn interfaces into dexterity tests, favor “white space” over information, and leave users hanging.” The traps are subtle, but good design is a triumph over more than the pitfalls. Good design is the result of a process of deep thought. And therein lies the biggest benefit of good design: visitors to the site who are thinkers know that the designer is a thinker. They know that the designer was not acting out of ego, but of thinking of the needs of others.
Sites that exhibit good design — those that anticipate the needs of their visitors, prospects and patrons — are directly rewarded with ROI: return on investment. Using scenarios and personas to truly step inside the visitor’s likely situation(s) give designers clear priorities in the numerous decisions around navigation, use of imagery, arrangement of content, linkages within the site, and required functionality. Without clear objectives and a firm grasp of the audience, misuse of the opportunity to communicate value to each and every visitor is the likely outcome. Using technology to dazzle does little to convey meaning, much less compel thinking customers to stay. For those who use the Web as art, technology prowess is fine. For those who are intent on conducting commerce and generating qualified leads, the name of the game is conscientious, concise, controlled experience of the features and benefits of the products or services the site owner offers.
There is more to achieving a site’s objectives than good design, and we will in future issues address some of them, but at the first view of a Web site is the visitor’s impression of the whole site formed. If it’s not positive, the rest of the site and its intent is fighting an uphill battle. Thinking becomes the most important step in any site design. Who are the visitors? What are they looking for? What is their situation, are they rushed? Are they knowledgeable? Are they looking for opinions or facts? Are they the kind of prospect the site owner is looking for? Knowing the answers to those and more questions will better inform a designer than any images, cool Flash techniques, or PHP application.
At first I wrestled with context. Are all websites expected to be well designed (as herein defined)? Or is there a delineation among the simple marketing, the complex e-commerce site, the social media, the game and the many other flavors and roles websites play? Should the variables of time, budget and available resources dictate whether the beauty of a site is more than skin deep?
Once my role as strategist becomes that of general contractor and project manager I am often struck by the drop in understanding of “insanely great” web design that is directly commensurate with the drop in the price. This is a much deeper discussion, but suffice to say that you get what you pay for, and in-depth thinking in order to design on the order of Apple Computer is not something done overnight.