Design Science

May 17th, 2003 | Category: Essays, Me

I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Man’s
I will not Reason and Compare; my business is to Create.

— William Blake

Bucky Fuller used the name “Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science” for his field of holistic, generalized engineering. In this endeavor, he tried to include every possible angle and scenario in designing his wares. I’ve been attempting to merge this sentiment with Richard Saul Wurman’s idea that the most important design project one can undertake is the design of one’s life. I adore the phrase “design science,” and I think applying it to one’s existence is challenging and ultimately rewarding.

I’ve long been an advocate for change. If you’re not where you want to be in a situation — be it location, a relationship, a job, anything — change it. Even if you end up worse off than before, you will have learned something that you can use when you make the next leap.

Build. Destroy. Rebuild.Design Science attempts to foresee these changes and anticipate failure. Foolproof, it is not. Quite helpful, it can be (Who am I? Yoda?). Think of it as small-scale scenario planning.

Call me corny, but here’s a list I have in the inside cover of one of my notebooks. These aren’t necessarily rules, but reminders. They could be considered the loosely-constructed tenets of my version of Design Science:

  • Pay attention.
  • Design everything.
  • Put energy in its place.
  • Focus and follow-through are the keys.
  • Acquire tools — not toys.
  • Seek results — not praise.
  • Everything you do matters — even the smallest effort counts.

Over the past few years, I’ve witnessed a large consolidation of all the things I see wrong with the world (all of my enemies are friends, as Dave Grohl would say). I’m just trying to consolidate the good stuff as well. My version of Design Science is about having a say in every aspect of one’s existence. It’s about living as close to the limits as possible.

It is by being fully invovled with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly. — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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