Every quarter, John Maeda assigns us homework. I call it homework, because of how it feels:

“Choose one of these prompts. Sure, pick the one that you think will be less work :smile:. Construct and defend an argument within the context of one of the things in this other list, don’t open the link just yet because you’ll miss a teaching moment–! 😑. Here’s the word limit, so don’t forget to omit needless words. You have three long months to turn this in. Don’t worry, it’ll be painful for me too.” (That’s not actually what he wrote, this is my Millennial paraphrasing).

I also call it homework, because of how I leave it to the last minute. It used to be that I could write 15 pages on short notice about serious things, like science, or my very deep insights about something in the humanities. Writing isn’t really what I was hired to do, anyway. Write? Wrong.

Perhaps Maeda can’t wash the academic out of him, and he’s getting at something deeper, or at the very least, ironic:

1. That designers need to be able to be as effective and articulate in their writing, as they are in pitching a concept or critiquing their colleagues’ work. Probably, especially, for the future, when the machines come (or just some 20 year olds), and they take our Sketch away.

2. Or simply, that there’s something funny and not funny at all about working on WordPress of all things, so why is writing 800 good words here and there so hard?

Designers who have truly added to the discipline and industry have all known how to write well. To be able to write well is to be able to think critically about…anything. And who wants a designer who can’t think?

Grade me: When Design is Not About You