Hands on

The NYT had a good piece about how digital designers rediscover hands-on activities. With examples from Adobe and Mike Kuniavsky's Sketching in Hardware gatherings, the article describes the renewed interest in manual tinkering "or innovating with the aid of human hands". Some of the reasons for that described in the article:

" “A lot of people get lost in the world of computer simulation,” says Bill Burnett, executive director of the product design program at Stanford. “You can’t simulate everything.” (...) The hands-on part is for me a critical aspect of understanding how to design,” said Michael Kuniavsky (...) Such experiences hone instinct and intuition as opposed to logic and cognition, advocates say, and bring the designer closer to art than science. (...) At Stanford, the rediscovery of human hands arose partly from the frustration of engineering, architecture and design professors who realized that their best students had never taken apart a bicycle or built a model airplane. (...) “Students are desperate for hands-on experience,” says Neil Gershenfeld (...) “People spend so much time in digital worlds that it creates an appetite for the physical world,” says Dale Dougherty, an executive at O’Reilly Media"

Why do I blog this? Beyond the obvious interest in this interest in bricolage, these remarks echo a lot with my personal experience with students. Few years ago, in a course about interactive table, we asked master students to design tables per se: drawing shapes, cutting huge pieces of woods, adding a beamer, etc. and they really loved it saying that it was the first time they had to design something physically in their engineering school.