Friday, August 3, 2007

Hacking the Physical World: What we taught software designers, and what they're trying to teach us

I attended a conference in the suburbs of Portland last month, hosted jointly by local chapters of the Project Management Forum and the Product Design and Management Association. The topic was collaboration—a broad and encompassing theme that had the effect of attracting a satisfyingly wide cross-section of skilled professionals from across Portland's high-tech industries. And as is becoming more and more the case with such events, there were designers and planners present who work in both the physical and virtual worlds: industrial designers, software developers, project managers who deal with new airplanes and tractor-trailers, and those who deal with Java and Ruby. It makes for interesting conversation usually, but it placed me in an awkward semantic situation I've seen many times before: having to put an untoward amount of energy into convincing people that I design actual things.

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