(A philosophy of action) provides a framework of values, ideas, and practices that nurture my ability to create a path in life, to define myself as a person, to act, to take risks, to image things differently, to make art. -Stephen Batchelor
Design is not a commodity. It is treated like one at virtually every single Fortune 500 corporation. Design is intellectual capital. Jean Mignot, a French architect, in the late 14th & early 15th Centuries coined the Latin phrase "Ars sine Scienta nihil est". It translates to "art without science is nothing". In medieval literature the Latin term "ars" (art) generally applied to things created and fashioned by humankind as distinguished from all else in nature. The Latin term "scientia" referred broadly to the accumulated knowledge and theory associated with a profession. This dictum came about when he was shown the plans for the Milan Cathedral. It was a beautiful, artistic design, but the plans didn't take into account the mechanical strains of the huge building. Mignot argued that the building would collapse if there was no rigorous mechanical engineering in the support structure. They listened to him, and the edifice still stands today, as does his saying.
The Design Wizard
Design is a mixture of inspiration, art, science, creativity, labor and reflection. As such, it should be created by a combination of work and fused with a process that others call magic. The great author, Arthur C. Clarke once said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", and digital design should fall into that category. Once you start practicing the craft and creed of the dharmas or key concepts of design, and start turning out works of excellence, you will indeed become a practitioner of magic, albeit digital and creative magic. In Sanskrit, there is a word for such a person and it is dharmika, which in fact means wizard. Having that power is priceless. However, we must have a system of creating and measuring the magic, and benchmarks are the way that it is done.
Benchmarks on the Craftsman's Bench
Before one can become a craftsman, one must have a framework as a standard to judge work and progress by. The framework itself becomes the constitution of the persons practicing the craft. That entire concept of integrating a framework with a tutelage and the work, was formed throughout the history of man in specialized work. Young apprentices learned design and construction frameworks from their masters and honed their skills by measuring it against the framework. The underpinnings of what they did was codified, and spread through education and example. It is how secret societies based on technical knowledge arose.
The higher the level of skill, the more tightly grew the community practicing it. Guilds were form, and the craftsmen gathered in guildhalls. The technology of their skillset was a trade secret, and consequently secret societies were formed to protect that valuable knowledge. That is how we got the Masonry guild and Freemasons, among others groups as well.
The ultimate priority of these guilds and craftsmen, was to protect the public face of their work and of their skills. It was a testament to the dedication of their vocation and a pride in their work. For example, a stone mason would hone his skills and abilities creating work such that a piece of paper could not be inserted between two stones that he laid. A stone carver could make a stone cherubim that looked life-like enough to fly away. These craftsmen put their character into their work, and let their work speak for itself, and as a result their work has endured through the ages. These craftsmen even took the names of their professions as a mark of pride. That is why we have surname s like Mason (stone worker), Fletcher (arrow maker), Cooper (barrel maker), Baker, Carpenter, Barber, Bowman etc. It was a calling, a community and source of identification.
That sort of dedication to craftsmanship is lacking among digital designers, programmers and web developers. We have fallen into the trap and started believing what money-pinching managers believe, that the work we do, is a commodity. We need to be respected specialists and not journeymen. We need our own guild -- even if it a virtual one.
Excerpt from "The Ten Living Principles - The Craft And Creed of Transformative Digital Design"