The social life of design

Michael Nott pointed me to this great must-read interview with John Seely Brown in the current issue of @ issue: The Journal of Business and Design. Brown, former director of Xerox PARC, was one of the originators of the term “paperless office,” which he now admits missed the point.


Do you see new media replacing old? Will online documents replace hard-copy ones?

Brown: Creative use of new documents no longer involves direct challenges to old ones. These new forms appear to reinvigorate the old, extending their useful life. For example, online library catalogues providing abstracts, indexing and, in some cases, full texts for print journals, have reinforced these print journals rather than undermined them. Journals remain the best social filter for the flood of writing available on any topic and the best repositories of the development of ideas and attitudes. As yet, digital media do not compete in these realms. But electronic resources have made using print journals much easier.