Getting down and dirty: Prototyping

I’ve always had a pretty active imagination. I don’t think as a young person you realize how important it is to be able to imagine! A rock, stick and some dirt can be transformed into an epic battle between monsters and aliens, if you play it right. You don’t have to be an amazing artist or think of world changing ideas to be imaginative. The imagination is valuable and a key ingredient to problem solving.

I don’t think the imagination is a dominate character trait in today’s youth; it’s undervalued and de-prioritized. The young’uns look at a rock, stick and dirt and say “WTF do you want me to do with that?” Then they go inside and play with their Nintendo DS.

Where am I going with this? I think investigating the world around you, sitting down and getting your hands dirty is necessary to develop and satisfy the curious mind. It is vital to a healthy mind and a happy heart. Those problem solvers, leaders and people of change are the imaginers and the prototypers. We have to remember that prototyping can be a scribble on a piece of paper or a functional computer program. Anyone can be a prototyper. If we start talking a bit abstractly, all good ideas begin with some dirt and sticks and evolve into something better.

Sometimes you need a bit of reminding and a dab of inspiration to get that imagination and thought process charged up again. I recently had the opportunity to attend the first event of Prototype Camp in Chicago. Prototyping is what the dirt and sticks are and through that early prototyping you can discover and solve all kinds of things from testing, building and rebuilding those ideas and processes. By attending this Camp I think my idea of what prototyping was and how it is/was used was definitely expanded upon.

Two of the speakers that I very much enjoyed were Jared Spool and Sharlene King. Jared talked about the importance of prototyping and usability and the resulting shared understanding of problem and solution. He even reminisced about back in the day when he used the original mouse…his finger, which he called “Mouse Classic.” Sharlene spoke about using the program InDesign to build your websites. She reminded us about not getting too comfortable in processes and tools because you have to change, adapt and grow.

In order to change, adapt and grow I think you need to investigate and seek out the unfamiliar – To hold it in your hands and mold it into something truly remarkable. People need to go sit in the mud make some mud pies or an epic battle, and just plain get dirty more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *