Design Intelligence

April 9, 2006

from Communication Arts, March/April 2006, Cecelia Holland

 People design as much as we can, from a powerful instinct in a chaotic an hostile environment to get some kind of control over something. Design is a profoundly individual, egotistical art: the imposing of a single person's viewpoint on the whole wiiie world. Design is about choice, and choice is about will, individual will, and deicsion.l Design is control. In this sense, design is certainly the antithesis of evolution: an action one person takes, directed purposefully toward the future, as opposed to the long mindless accumulation of part accidents that is evolution. 

The relationship between evolution and design is nowhere more vital than in human communiteies. We're social beings and our societies are among our most powerful constructions. But every functioning society faces a continual problem. Its design is stable, but the world is not. Change is necessary, to stay relevant, but change is also toxic, since the more complex a structure is, like a house of cards, the harder it is to change it without toally destroying it. Managing this process of adapting to change is how socieites survive, and failing at it is how all of them, eventually, die.

 Any design is a fixed pattern imposed over this constant evolution of reality, and the more rigid the design the faster the shifting chaos tears it apart. Yet the design can cause profound changes, like the gator hole. So a give and take between evolution and design, between two kinds of pressure, change and stability, make the world, cosmic, and every day. 

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