Mar 01

Jef Raskin

I learned today that Jef Raskin died on Saturday. From the press release, “Jef Raskin, a mathematician, orchestral soloist and composer, professor, bicycle racer, model airplane designer, and pioneer in the field of human-computer interactions, died peacefully at home in California on February 26th, 2005 surrounded by his family and loved ones.”

This last year, I was really thrilled when I noticed Jef Raskin posting to a relatively new listserv I subscribe to. What was really nice was that he seemed happy to discuss interface/interaction design with everyone no matter their level of knowledge or experience. One of his later posts in reply to someone starting out seems to sum up his life well. It also contains a good deal of advice that I find appealing.

My problem is that I want to move on to bigger things, but feel like I have to make a choice between techy or arty roles. I’m happy to sit in a smaller company at the moment as I can do / be both.

Can I be a programmer and an IxD?



Of course you can be both. In fact, people can hold many simultaneous roles. You just have to be good at each of them independently.

As part of being an interface designer, which is my primary occupation, I make a point of strongly being both in art and in technology. I’ve had works at major art museums and published papers on aerodynamics. I’ve designed both computer electronics and (of course) interfaces. I was an opera conductor for a couple of seasons and a professor teaching math. And I do program.

I’ve hired lots of switch-hitters over the years, some with equally wide backgrounds, with excellent results. Our head of technical writing is also a professional guitarist and music teacher, a professional illustrator, has a few published books in this and that, is a paid movie reviewer, and can explain computer software inside and out in clear language; another person I hired is also a musician but also a musicologist, an expert machinist, a fine writer, has an EE degree from Stanford, and so on (aside from being able to do his primary job in the company). I like such people because they can bring a wide variety of skills and views to a project. Avoid people and employers who are so doctrinaire that they pigeonhole you.

Comments & TrackBacks

Comments and trackbacks are closed.

A Few Related Entries

Yay Professor Roy
Human Desires