73 Ideas that Should Provoke You


Not everything that can be imagined should come into being.


The mind can only suspend so much disbelief, especially when it’s trying to be productive.


A more aware machine is far more valuable to us than a more crowded visual field.


Should technology determine what it means to be a designer, or should the progress of technology be designed?


We must resist the cultural entropy that associates interaction solely with screens.


On the list of problems to solve, communication has sat at the top for far too long. Meanwhile, the logistics of life in the real world run on infrastructure a century old.


It would be a shame to be remembered as the generation that tweeted while the world crumbled around us.


Feeding the machine has usurped priority over feeding the soul.


Recognize that you will never truly understand someone else’s feelings for you, for better or worse.


Learn to imagine the people around you as children.



Choice can be an existentially maddening luxury.


In the future, you’ll be as likely to create something invisible as something visible.


Design made in ignorance of the damage it does is not good design.


Who would admit to a true accounting of time spent over a lifetime agonizing over trivial choices?


Having everything is virtually the same thing as having nothing.


You can pretend that tab-surfing is multitasking, but the fact is that no matter how many things you’re reading, writing, clicking, tapping, liking and sharing, you are feeding the machine, not the other way around.


Choice sounds nice. But more is nothing more than more.


Why do we assume that gaps between attention are meant to be filled?


Sameness is the enemy of creativity.


All luxury is an admission of ignorance or insensitivity or both.



Design that takes inequalities for granted is not good design.


When we feel resistance, that is reality reminding us that it is more complex and powerful than our solution was designed to handle.


Ambient influence is the dark matter of the creative universe.


Creativity is as a form of rebellion as it is a constructive act.


There will never be enough wind turbines or solar panels to stop us from burning things to keep our screens on.


If technology helps us do more with less effort, what do we do with the savings?


Some ideas are intrinsically valuable, irrespective of their truth or practicality.


Sometimes an idea is brutally effective; after its brief moment of acclaim for moving the needle so well, it is looked back upon with regret once it becomes clear how it did so.


Creativity finds diversity of experience within uniformity of constraints.


There is no separation between the value of an idea and the nature of its effects.


Design with short-term goals that can only exist by ignoring long-term effects is not good design.


Technology has made cheerful the new sinister.


Quantification does not increase self-knowledge.


Before we scoff at the limited design of a technology, we should consider its merits; choosing to not make something is just as much a philosophical matter as it is a pragmatic one.


Laziness is an unhealthy manifestation of imitation and the crowding of ambient influence.


Creativity is often described as as a form of problem solving, but it is also a form of rebellion.


Creativity finds diversity of experience within uniformity of constraints.


Design that ignores available data is not good design.


Predicting the future is a parlor game; something entertaining but not reliable; insightful about who we are but rarely correct about where we’re going.


Independence is an illusion.


Convenience is the greatest threat to innovation.


Design that produces something easily thrown away but not easily salvaged is not good design.


We are all working for different futures. Few of them will happen.


A robot is the product of an inherent irony; that the work it was created to do exists makes its creation a destructive luxury.


The screen has always been a window upon another world and has always had the power to seduce us away, mentally, from this one.


If progress isn’t permanent, is it progress at all?


Artists are more than just the makers of future clues.


You need to take some risks and think some crazy thoughts publicly and not worry about looking ridiculous.


Isn’t it strange that the only people who we believe are capable of making a better future are those who profit most from the present?


It won’t be interesting again until we can’t see it anymore.


The filter bubble, as initially coined, was the unintentional result of the datamined social networking experience. What happens when we intentionally create filter bubbles of our own that follow us everywhere we go?


Design that treats grifted information as proprietary material is not good design.


It’s a wonder how doing nothing suddenly makes time feel as if it’s in great supply.


A journal entry is a gift to your future self, like a message in a bottle that you toss into time.


Life at its most basic yields profundity the likes of which technological complexity rarely manifests.


The more we, as a culture, unify our attention, the bigger the void will grow into which most things will disappear.


A good future object is designed for the same reality it creates.


Isn’t technology more than computers? Isn’t technology also how we shelter, feed, clothe and move ourselves around? Isn’t it also about how we stay well and heal ourselves? We must get past technology as just a mechanism for entertainment and distraction.


What if we thought of a limited machine as a kind of cultural firewall, one that ensures we pursue relationships with one another rather than retreating into digital fantasies?


Design without philosophy and ethics is not good design.


An advertising system sold on the merits of its precision and reach must also accept responsibility for shaping culture.


If you believe that Democracy is vulnerable to dictators who obstruct truth, consider advertising and those who profit from it. We are already under their thumb.


Can we really call it progress when it creates so much waste?


Imagine a future where technology is inherently altruistic and humane.


A good future object is locally controlled; indefinitely powered; sustainably made, used, and disposed of; safely autonomous; discreet.


If advertising didn’t monetize so much of the web’s information and our engagement with it, would a search engine dependent upon the aggregate authority of incoming links have been the final word on how best to organize the world’s information?


Progress isn’t complete if it’s not experienced by everyone. What good is a starship if a single person who had a hand in making it goes hungry?


Forever-wear exists, and yet, the economic system built around apparel relies upon a constant churn of cheap manufacturing, low-prices, and short-lived products that compromise its ability to have its intended impact.


Modern meritocracy has failed because it has only ever been interpreted as an individual phenomenon.


Most of what we know, we know because someone we trust told us so.


Thanks to information anxiety and our subjective solutions to it, we now live in a world defined by distortions.


There is no such thing as a self-made success.


If we must think of time as a currency, then it is better to think of it as invested, not spent.


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Written by Christopher Butler on April 12, 2021,   In Essays

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