Design a f@##ing bright, positive future!

Bet that got your attention! This is what got MY attention:

“Designers cannot be, by definition, pessimists. It just doesn’t go with the job. We’re supposed to be defining the future, aren’t we? […] If we can’t see the world as a better place to live in, than what chance does anyone else have?”

“History tells us that before great business can happen, it first has to be a mission. And a mission starts with a dream. As designers, we potentially hold enormous power. And with it comes responsibility. Wield it imaginatively and wisely. And optimistically. Or f@#k off and do something less dangerous.”


That’s written by Richard Seymour, Futurist & Designer of Seymourpowell in the UK — one of the world’s leading product design & branding strategy firms. If nothing else, do look at their website — it is outstanding, to me — compelling, simple. Love it.   Seymour wrote the above in ACM’s Interactions (that’s a site you should frequent as well) in 2008’s “Optimistic Futurism” , in which he “he points to the potential, the role, the necessity and the responsibility of designers to dream and design bright, positive futures.”

I”m working on strategic planning. I work a great deal on strategic planning. It’s not only our work, it’s our passion. We’re passionate about libraries, so how can we NOT be passionate about facilitating their future-directed planning?We always say to clients they SHOULD enjoy developing the plan, especially the vision.  If you don’t enjoy developing the plan, how the heck are you going to enjoy implementing it?And Seymour’s simple statement made me realize it’s even more than “should”; it is the “responsibility” of those developing the strategic plan or the future goals to “dream and design bright, positive futures.”

Let’s take his words and make them directly applicable to libraries:

“Those designing the future – be they Library Boards or Staff –  cannot be, by definition, pessimists. It just doesn’t go with the job. We’re supposed to be defining the future, aren’t we? […] If we can’t see the world as a better place to live in,  & the Library as a better place to work in or be engaged in – than what chance does anyone else have – or what chance does the Library have?”

“History tells us that before great business or great Libraries can happen, it first has to be a mission. And a mission starts with a dream. As designers of the future or strategic plan, we potentially hold enormous power. And with it comes responsibility. Wield it imaginatively and wisely. And optimistically. Or f@#k off and do something less dangerous.”

Wow.  Now, I’m not about to say that to those involved in strategic planning — in those exact words. Ahem. But we will convey that passion & that responsibility to “stand in a positive future” & dream all that the Library can bring to its community or campus or school or clients.  Librarians cannot be, by definition, pessimists.

Back to why I encourage you to scan (I know most of you scan – we read a few things, but we scan lots more) Interactions. Libraries are all about interactions — the interaction between people & published information, between people & entertainment, or among people. Community engagement is all about interactions.  And we need to – we MUST – look at interactions from other perspectives.  Interactions has articles on design literacies, that will enrich our perspective & approach with transliteracies, and articles on blending physical & digital interactions — & libraries are grappling with the same issue.  Interactions’ focus is “To place an emphasis on the people, technology, and experiences that merge in contemporary culture to create meaningful and positive interactions” — and, isn’t that the focus of libraries?


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