Inside outside


I spent some time today helping to design a computer system. I may have missed something, but I’m sure that twenty years ago we used to design the system from the inside (the data structures and logic) to the outside (the screens and reports). Today we were designing the system from the outside (the web pages) to the inside (the data and algorithms).

Have all design processes evolved like this? In the olden days did every product development start with the engineering (the inside) and end with the customer experience (the outside)? And now, does everything start with the consumer experience and get cobbled together?

This would explain things like Peter Storm cagoules in the 1970s (innovative fabric, but like wearing a wet polythene bag), the driving position in a Peugeot 505 (1970s-80s), the atom bomb and popcorn (still produced in the old fashioned way – exciting to create, but rubbish to eat).

It would also explain current trends like fascination with celebrities (all outside observation, nothing but speculation about what goes on inside), fast food, the Jubilee Line (nice looking, but usually fails to get you to your destination) and Beach Volleyball.

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