Designers Block

Artemy Lebedev
§ 162. Designer’s block
February 16, 2010


Let’s run a simple experiment. Try saying out loud without pausing all the words you know (or ask a friend to do that). The first ten words would be no problem. Then you’d start looking around and naming things in the room—perhaps ten more. Then you’d be able to recall a handful of peculiar words from the back of your vocabulary. And then you would run out of words and stop.


If you were to describe in your own words any known phenomenon, you’d have no lack of words. One person would give a good description, another might do worse—that would determine each performer’s skill level. But none could get stuck for words in the middle of a simple narrative.


Designer’s block may only occur if a designer deliberately aims to create something original and extraordinary.


There is no way to think up an original and extraordinary design—it can only come as a result of pursuing a given task. In the same way running down a list of words is different from making a narrative.


Designer’s block is the dead end of a pointless journey.

"Even no order is order"

“There is an exercise I had students do. There would be two tables in a room, and we would videotape what went on. One table would be piled with junk, and the other table would be vacant. The instructions to the students were to move the junk to the table and organize it, and we would observe their ordering system. There are so many ways to organize things, but it’s so basic to art—how do you put a structure on seemingly random information? […] Even no order is an order.” John Baldessari curates the first “Ways of Seeing” show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Listen to Baldessari’s interview with assistant curator Kristen Hileman.


Can I be green and surf the net?

Every time you go online you increase your carbon footprint. Is it possible to be a green surfer?

o Lucy Siegle
o The Observer, Sunday 28 February 2010
o Article history

Somewhere in California (and soon to be in India and possibly Iceland) there are vast tracts of hulking warehouses containing thousands of energy-guzzling servers – it's farming, but not as depicted in The Archers.

Server farms provide the network to transmit websites. They are powered by electricity, predominantly from coal-fired power stations. Add in the energy required to make your PC in the first place and computing is responsible for 1bn tonnes of CO2 each year – more emissions than aviation. In pollution terms, using t'internet could be your equivalent of an Arkwright mill at full throttle during the Industrial Revolution.

Last month some headlines suggested that a Google search generated 7g of CO2 – the same as making a cup of tea. This left the eco-minded home worker in a real quandary: I chose the cup of tea. Later Google corrected this to 0.2g per search. But still, it all adds up.

The latest research suggests that you create 20mg of CO2 per second per visit to a website. The more whistles and bells on the site the higher this gets – up to 300mg of CO2 per second for one with video content. Running an avatar in Second Life uses more electricity than a live person in Brazil. Ask yourself: is this watt necessary?

Employ a spam filter, too. In 2008 an estimated 62 trillion spam emails were sent globally, creating the same greenhouse gas emissions as 3.1m passenger cars.

I know what you're thinking: what's wrong with a reference book? Well, US academics remind us that driving a mile and back to the library produces 100 times more greenhouse gas emissions than a web search. Remaining ignorant is carbon free.