Q: So what’s the point of all this design school talk, anyway?
A: I finally figured out what I want to major in!
Granted, it’s 20 years late, but I think I figured it out. Maybe I can’t get a second degree and change careers, but I’ll never know until I try.
When I look back on the past 15 years of my career, I can’t point to much that I’m proud of. I did some great work supporting businesses that never made a profit (and in some cases never shipped a product), but it’s all gone. You’ll have to take my word for it that it was great work and that you should hire me, and that I’m not a complete goober who can talk a good story about how great their work was.
In itself, that isn’t a reason to change careers, but it got me to thinking about what I would be proud of 20 years from now. It got me to thinking about what I like doing, not what I tolerate doing because people pay me to do ti. And that brings us to…
Doing Something Meaningful With My Life
It sounds hokey, but it’s true. I want to do things that make a direct difference in other people’s lives. I feel like I’ve taken a lot from society, but that I haven’t contributed much back. Ok, so I’ve helped VCs spend a lot of money, and who knows how many sales rep’s kids i’ve helped put through college, but I’m not sure how proud I am of those things.
Take a look at the TiVo remote. It’s amazingly different from every other remote, it’s easy to use, and it’s pure genius in so many ways . You might say that re-inventing the remote is not the most useful goal I could have, but it sure as hell beats anything I’ve done in the past 15 years. Maybe I can come up with a better instrument cluster for motorcycles, or develop new video game controllers, or make better interfaces for tele-operated robots. And maybe I can’t. Maybe I’ll suck as a designer, but I’ll find that out quickly enough. There’s plenty of other things I’d like to do, and some of them could be done whether or not I become a designer. Two things that come to mind are building custom vehicles from scratch like John Britten did and setting up an arts/education organization like The Crucible.
Hey, if the school thing doesn’t pan out, at least I have grandiose plans that can easily go awry!
 I don’t have a problem with the symmetric design, but the lack of any tactile feedback to let you know which end of the remote is “front” really bugs me. I’d have put a weight in the bottom side, or some sort of textured surface on the plastic to give the holder a non-visual cue that they’ve picked the remote up backwards. Or am I the only person that fumbles for the remote in the dark and picks it up backwards?