IXD102 – Wilson Miner: When We Build

I watched the following speech by designer and web developer Wilson Miner:

Link to Video


Wilson Miner

Wilson Miner is a designer and web developer based in San Francisco. He is currently the head of design for Rdio, a new social music service. Wilson has also previously been responsible for co-founding neighbourhood news site EveryBlock, leading the first comprehensive redesign of Apple in more than 10 years during his time at Apple, and co-creating the original version of the Django web framework. Wilson is returning to Build after speaking at the first conference in 2009.

When We Build

Miner begins his talk by showing us pictures of his house, and memories of a childhood filled with good moments with his father. He tells us how he began to become focused on these things after his father passed away, and he began growing interested in the things he would have been interested in, such as cars. He says that we put so much ourselves into these things, but in the end, they are just things. Tools to fulfil a need, and take us where we want to go. But they are totems, and symbols of ourselves. We fill them up with our stories, our desires, and our hopes for the future.

“We shape our tools and our tools shape us.” – Marshall McLuhan

He talks about how the things we make create new environments in which we live in. When you introduce a new medium into a society, it changes your outlook. It changes your attitude towards the world, and feelings towards things such as politics and war. A car, while it has evolved to be more efficient, has not really changed much over the past hundred years in terms of the fundamentals of it. However, it has rapidly changed the world surrounding it. It has placed changed in society, culture, architecture and science. We changed our entire way of living based on the car.

“At times of change, the learners are the ones who will inherit the world, while the knowers will be beautifully prepared for a world which no longer exists.” –  Alistar Smith

I found this speech by Miner incredibly inspiring, in terms of how far the world has come because of designers and technology alone. We would not be as technologically advanced as we were today if it were not for society’s adaptability to change, particularly in the past hundred years. I have realised that even a small invention or creation placed into society can change it for the next century, and more, and inspire endless numbers of people continually. If we think about how much time is spent for the average person using technology everyday in our modern world, we realise how dependable humans have become on the medium. Without mediums such as cars, or the internet, we would not be able to work how we do today, or travel, or speak to our friends and family across the world. We realise how much of an effect designers have on civilisation, and will continue to do so for the rest of time.

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