Fidelity of The Tool Should be Proportional to The Maturity of The Idea

  • if you have just a rough idea of what you're trying to accomplish (a "sketch"), having precise tool can be counterproductive
  • as a crude example, high-precision vector graphic editors don't put you in the right mindset when doing divergent thinking and explorations; on the other hand, trying to create a polished design for a new poster with sharpies is also not a great idea
    • this is closely related to Tools Building Us - the tools we use shape at what "level" we think, and should be changed (or adapted) through the gradient of sketching (or Understanding Through Building) to engineering ("graphic design" is also a form of engineering in this context)
  • high-precision in tools is often achieved by making everything explicit (all the knobs to twiddle with), which moves the focus from the problem at hand, to the tool used to solve it

Early designs are best considered as sketches. They illustrate the essence of an idea, but have many rough and/or undeveloped aspects to it. When an early design is displayed as a crude sketch, the team recognizes it as something to be worked on and developed further. Early designs are not limited to paper sketches: they can be implemented in a video, an interactive slide show, and as a running system as yet another way to explore the ideas behind a highly interactive system. When systems are created as interactive sketches, they serve as a vehicle that helps a designer make vague ideas concrete, reflect on possible problems and uses, discover alternate new ideas and refine current ones

— Usability Evaluation Considered Harmful (Some of the Time) - Bill Buxton

  • this quote shows that it's not only helpful to use tools of proper fidelity when thinking and doing, but also when sharing with others - the "sketchiness" impacts what kind of feedback others will give, and in early stages the feedback should be about the "idea", not the color choices or the roundness of corners

Sketchiness of tools. Importantly, this is not a matter of leaving hand-drawn marks, though having them helps. This point is more about working with half-formed ideas, and a big part of it is that the Fidelity of The Tool Should be Proportional to The Maturity of The Idea. Basically, computers are great at enforcing rules (Computer Science Positivism), but tools in the earliest stages of thinking, should provide the exact opposite freedom to poke at the problem from multiple ends, freedom to leave unfinished pieces lying around in your Peripheral Vision, freedom to be messy.

Szymon Kaliski © 2022
mailtwitterwebring