The first presentation of the conference began with "I'm old, I'm
fat. I'm not smart" Such are the words of Richard Saul Wurman describing
himself. This statement reflects his belief in the power of ignorance.
To get to a point of understanding, the ignorant must ask a question
and there lies Mr Wurman's belief in the power of design.
What is it like to understand what it's like not to understand?
As with most good designers, Wurman's method of working directly reflects his
need and interests: from not being able to find a decent road atlas he went out
and designed and designed one himself. From his not being able to understand
his country well during the millennium, he produced a book on the USA. Every
book is an attempt to answer his own 'dumb, bad questions'.
Wurman ended the presentation by describing us. Most of us are not curious. Most
of us are not asking enough questions. Most of us are selling expertise that
we will bank on for the rest of our lives. The field of graphic design perhaps
at this moment holds the best talent in the world today, he believes. The fact
we as designers are ignorant is an asset in helping us work from ignorance to
understanding. Embrace the ignorance, and ask the right questions. (RZ)