In grad school we were counseled to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was supposed to be a groundbreaking work on design. I thought that the thinking was stale. Yes, art and science are locked in an embrace of intuition and craft. I thought that that was a given--not a revelation. What modern person with any love for either science or art was worried about them being friends?
But that prompted a conversation about what WAS the best book about design. My friend Daniel Lee told me I needed to read Understanding Comics, and I can say with certainty that it changed my life. Scott McCloud's ability to articulate the cognitive mechanisms of comics came at the same time that I was realizing that all design was about experience. So this was a powerful, emotive tool for sketching experience--both to make it clear to one's self, and to communicate it to others. But there was something even deeper in there. It was the idea that the smiley face could be anyone, but a photorealistic drawing of Prince Valiant is only ever Prince Valiant. The more ambiguous your sketch or prototype, the more universal its application. THAT was groundbreaking for me.
So anyway, I saw that Scott spoke at TED this year. Here it is.