Dan Sinker. Knight Mozilla OpenNews Project. “Oh my god, don’t make things for “Everyone.”
When you begin with “Everyone” you’re just stuck: How do you make any honest decisions? How do you solve any real problems? You don’t. You start to invent people and you start to invent their problems and it’s amazing because those people and those problems line up almost exactly with what you’re building and how you’re thinking about it—imagine that. Lying to yourself is amazing for productivity.
Real audience is hard. Solving real problems is f****** bananas. But it’s the only way you make something that lasts, because you made something that someone actually cared about.
There’s nobility in helping other people to achieve their dreams; to be the architect to bring those dreams from thought to reality. But when that becomes your function and your only device to bring value into the world, things begin to look bleak. Suddenly, the value you create isn’t value at all – it’s listening to thousands of mini-bosses that have magically replaced your autonomy over time.
We, the pixel jockeys.
We, the code monkeys.
We, the copy magicians.
We, the doers.
Providing a service or services to others can, and should, be beautiful. It has the potential to be a magical exchange of power and possibility. In actuality, it’s life-sucking and soul-hardening. When your work becomes losing yourself in other people, you forget what made you love it in the first place.
When I started designing websites all those years ago, I didn’t do it because I thought it would make me a lot of money. I did it because it presented a creative challenge. I didn’t know how to do it. I had spare time in spades. When I wasn’t in school, I was creating for the simple pleasure of it. I didn’t necessarily have to share it with anybody (although I’d show my folks the finished product, more often than not).
I did it because I wanted to.
Over the years, my art has become secondary: secondary to work; secondary to craft; secondary to life.
Although my designs are the best they’ve ever been, they’re not art. There’s a vast difference between design and art (and not because the former can’t be the latter).
Perhaps the real sticking point is that I don’t want to be the doer anymore. I don’t want to look into other businesses, find solutions to problems, and implement them.
Perhaps what I really ache for is to make art again.