Episode 81 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with design evangelist, educator, and coach Peter Bogaards. Peter has been sharing insights and knowledge in his blog InfoDesign since 1997; I’m one of the many people who have benefitted from his generosity.
Recently, he shared a proposed canon of user experience. At the time, he wrote,
Without being familiar with the ‘classics,’ there is always the danger of repeating mistakes from the past. And also, proper knowledge of the ideas, theories, and works of previous movers and shakers is always interesting, valuable, and useful.
This resonated strongly with me. I’ve been in the design profession long enough to see old ideas reemerge in new guises with little awareness or acknowledgment for precedents. (I’ve been guilty of it myself.) So, what is a ‘canon’?
a canon is a sort of list of important works familiar in the humanities, I would say. And it sort of provides an overview of what are considered the important works of [a] field from a historical perspective.
Emphasis: this is a canon — Peter’s canon:
Now, of course, somebody has called it a personal passion project. So, it’s my view on our history. But it’s an attempt to collect and to curate a set of works from a long time ago, which are considered to be foundational for our field. So, in that respect, it’s my list, which of course shows how I see our fundament, historically speaking.
Of course, the list isn’t definitive; it’s one person’s perspective. (Albeit, one with a lot of experience and perspective.) And Peter acknowledges it’s just a start; he’s calling for recommendations on resources that may add to the canon.
That said, I agree with his initial choices. This list is very similar to the one I’d come up with. If you’re a design practitioner, student, or (especially) educator, these works deserve your attention.