06 September 2005

The Incomplete Manifesto

Written in 1998, The Incomplete Manifesto, penned by Bruce Mau Design Group, seems like a blueprint of Web 2.0 creativity. Read through these salient points and notice how distant--or how close--We are as a People to this kind of creative energy. (Bold text indicates The Jenius is adding his "Amen!")

Bruce Mau: The Incomplete Manifesto

1. Allow events to change you.

2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we've already been.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question.

7. Study.

8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis.

10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications.

12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it.

13. Slow down.

14. Don't be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black.

15. Ask stupid questions.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ----------. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven't had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you've gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you're separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent.

20. Be careful to take risks.

21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don't like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things.

23. Stand on someone's shoulders.

24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don't clean your desk.

26. Don't enter awards competitions. Just don't. It's not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our "noodle."

28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between "creatives" and "suits" is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don't borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry's advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It's not exactly rocket science, but it's surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully.

33. Take field trips.

34. Make mistakes faster.

35. Imitate. Don't be shy about it. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp's large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else ... but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces - what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place."

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life.

41. Laugh.

42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can't be free agents if we're not free.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

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