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19 SEPTEMBER 2014

Agile Software Development: what we've learned at Forty

"The general idea behind Agile is that instead of arguing about the wording of a requirements document written three months earlier with little perspective into the current situation, it's often healthier to acknowledge that the project is going to be flexible and evolving, and put processes in place that allow it to be that way.

Barely over 200 words, that manifesto become the foundation for a movement that has changed the world of software development forever. Endless writing and speaking has explored the various ways the manifesto could be interpreted, and many specific frameworks and methodologies (such as Extreme Programming, Kanban, Lean, and Scrum) have been developed to formalize its principles. A whole 'Agile industry' has emerged, with successful companies offering tools, training, consulting, certification, and other products and services. The economic engine behind the Agile movement as a whole is massive. ...

On the surface, it seems like design and Agile should magically work together, but there are some underlying philosophical issues you have to wrestle with before figuring it out. Design is all about big-picture thinking: planning, strategy, working out all the details, thinking everything through, making it perfect, etc. (Eric Karjaluoto called it the 'masterpiece mentality.') Agile, on the other hand, is more often about doing the basics and saving details for later: iteration, minimum viable products, 'perfect is the enemy of done,' etc. Those two worlds don't blend smoothly together, at least at first. Agile developers can get frustrated with designers for over-thinking things ('Why can't they just let it go? We can get to that later.'), while the designers get discouraged by the perceived low standards of Agile developers ('Don't you want it to be good? Don't you want the user to be happy?').

In both cases, though, the problem comes from a misunderstanding of each other's perspectives (as problems often do). The designer isn't being obsessive, they're just trying to do right by the user. And the developer isn't being lazy, they're just following a process that actually gets things done with minimal navel-gazing. Both sides could learn some important lessons from each other."

(James Archer, Forty)

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agile development • agile model • agile modelling • agile software development • current situationdesign process • development methodology • Eric Karjaluoto • evolving needseXtreme Programmingfacing unpredicted challengesflexible management methodology • flexible process • formalised principles • iterative approachiterative design processiterative developmentiterative processjust-in-time (JIT)Kanban • Lean (methodology) • management methodology • over-thinking • perfect is the enemy of done • requirements documents • saving details for later • scrum software development processsoftware developmentsoftware development methoduser experience design • UX design • waterfall modelwhirlpool model

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
19 SEPTEMBER 2014

New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual

"In the 1960s, the New York subways were a mess, sign-wise. Station names and metro lines were spelled out in a hodgepodge of sizes, shapes, and styles. The original mosaic tiles had been joined by cut stone and terracotta—all of which clashed with newer enamel signs. They were not only inconsistent in terms of style but also in where they were placed, so straphangers didn't know where to look for directions on how to get from point A to point B.

In 1970, following the merger of the IND and BMT lines, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) hired Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda, designers at the firm Unimark, to put an end to the typographic chaos. The system they devised still informs signs made today and is painstakingly outlined in a 174-page manual"

(Belinda Lanks, 15 September 2014, Businessweek)

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1960s1970Bob Noorda • Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit • Christopher Bonanos • clashing design • communication designdestination identificationdirectional informationdirections • fastidious detail • graphic communicationgraphic designer • Hamish Smyth • Helvetica • hodgepodge • inconsistencies • Independent Subway System (IND) • information design • instruction manual • International Typographic Style • Jesse Reed • Kickstarter • letter combination • manualMassimo Vignelli • merger • metro line • metro station • Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA • Michael Bierutmodern design • modernist graphics • New York City • New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual • New York subway • Niko Skourtis • official font • organisation and communicationPentagram Designrationalisation • reissue • sans-serif typefacesignagesigns • spacing • spatial orientation • standards manual • straphanger • style guidesubwaysymbol system • system signage • train station • typographic chaos • typography • Unimark • wayfinding

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 SEPTEMBER 2014

To Singapore, with Love: Singaporean political exiles remember

"Some places are better observed from a distance if you want to grasp their inner essence. For this portrait of her hometown, the tropical economic powerhouse of Singapore, Tan Pin Pin decided on a strictly external perspective. She meets with political exiles in London, Thailand, and Malaysia who had to leave the city thirty-five or fifty years ago – and who are to this day not permitted to return unless they die and their relatives bring back their ashes. The protagonists of the film fought for increased democracy and for Singapore to be freed from colonialism. They escaped long prison sentences and judicial capriciousness, but at the price of exile. They have a heightened view of the city today, full of dreams yet also analytical: To Singapore, with Love [星国恋] is a homage to individual fighters whose lives have been shaped by emigration. They tell their stories more as utopians than as victims, opening up amazing perspectives on an ultra-modern city in a democratic coma as well as on life in exile, whose path is never straightforward for those who do not lose sight of their goals, even when far away from home."

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2013activist • Asian Cinema Fund • British Colonial Government • Busan International Film Festival • card carrying communist • censorshipcolonialismcommunism • communist party • democratic coma • detention without trial • displaced • documentary film • emigration • English countryside • escape • exile • fled • homagehometown • Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin • judicial capriciousness • life in exile • lives • Malaysia • not permitted to return • political exile • political exiles • political persuasion • prison sentence • Singapore • Singaporean • student leader • Tan Pin Pin • Thailand • To Singapore with Love (2013) • United Kingdom • utopian

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
16 SEPTEMBER 2014

Peter Saville: Abstraction and Design

"Legendary designer Peter Saville says abstract art is part of our everyday lives. From Kasimir Malevich and his Black Square through to contemporary product design, in an exclusive film for BBC Arts Online he makes the argument that modern devices such as iPods owe their shape and feel to pioneers of Abstraction, via the fundamental building blocks of the Bauhaus and Dieter Rams."

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20th century design • Apple iPod • Bauhaus School • BBC Arts Online • black squaredesign history • Design Museum London • Dieter RamsFactory Recordsgraphic designiPodJonathan IveKazimir Malevich • mainstream culture • Marcel Breuer • mass production • Model B3 chair • modern devices • modernist design principles • our relationship to technology • Peter Saville • pioneers of abstraction • product designreductionist aesthetics • shape and feel • Suprematismvisual abstractionvisual simplicity • Wassily Chair

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
15 SEPTEMBER 2014

Paul Pangaro: What is cybernetics?

"Cybernetics as a process operating in nature has been around for a long time ... as a concept in society has been around at least since Plato used it to refer to government.

In modern times, the term became widespread because Norbert Wiener wrote a book called 'Cybernetics' in 1948. His sub-title was 'control and communication in the animal and machine'. This was important because it connects control (a.k.a., actions taken in hope of achieving goals) with communication (a.k.a., connection and information flow between the actor and the environment). So, Wiener is pointing out that effective action requires communication.

Wiener’s sub-title also states that both animals (biological systems) and machines (non-biological or 'artificial' systems) can operate according to cybernetic principles. This was an explicit recognition that both living and non-living systems can have purpose. A scary idea in 1948."

(Paul Pangaro)

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1948 • achieving goals • animal and machine • biological systems • complex human goals • control and communication • cybernetic principles • cybernetics • effective action • goal-directed systems • goals • Heinz von Foerster • human perception • living systems • man machine • navigator • non-biological artificial systems • non-biological systems • non-living systems • Norbert Wiener • Paul Pangaro • Plato • steering • systems that embody goals • taking action

CONTRIBUTOR

Liam Birtles
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