Ways of seeing

Three ways of seeing.

First, how developers, especially back-end engineers, look at humans:

Technical Human 1
From Google’s identity platform. Link here.

That cog in the system. The human with a line as an arm and a circle as a face. And we get it. Because most of the time, back-end engineers are looking at the following images to learn and apply their craft:

Technical Van Neumann
Van Neumann contributed to mathematics, economics, computing, statistics, etc. This is the computer architecture he made. Source: Here

And I present one more, just to drive the point home.

Technical Diagram 1
The ‘basic’ computer architecture from the 1970s. Source: here

Since they look at complex logical systems all the time, it fits that they see humans as part of those systems.

How about the way (some) artists look at humans?

Rembrandt 2
Rembrandt, the Dutch master, a self-portrait. Source: here

Notice the contrast. In the first image, the user’s face was literally a circle. And here in this face, you could read books. The eyes, the way he looks at you. The eyebrows, the forehead, the mouth. The way light accentuates the face. This seems more real than people we see everyday.

One can assume visual artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Caravaggio spent a lot of time looking at humans very closely, their smallest features, and how light played with the features, how micro-emotions came and went.

One can also assume they did not pay much attention to systems, or interactions of humans with systems.

Finally, comes another interesting part – how do designers look at humans? I sense, somewhere in between, but that’s not all. They have to look at the humans, and also the overall system, but also how humans interact with the system.

Like in this set of personas:

Personas. Image Credit: Bolt|Peters, a design firm acquired by Facebook

Look at the pictures of people. The faces are not circles. But they don’t contain dead-painter level of detail either. You can relate to these faces – you might know someone who resembles these people.

But more than that, this image explores the relationship of people with products, the meaning they assign to products. This makes design fun and can give rise to truly great products which people love.

The intersection of art (old as those paintings) and technology (new as the latest iPhone) makes the craft of design extremely appealing.

One thought on “Ways of seeing

  1. Pingback: Why we need pictures – Curated Intelligence

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