Phonies drawing ponies

Phonies drawing ponies

Don't draw ponies


Today's post's gonna be short and sweet. A single book recommendation.

David Kadavy's Design for Hackers

Such title may led you to assume that it is a pragmatic "how to" approach to design. Hack your way into producing ok-looking design.

Alas, it is not. At all.

I invite you to read the Amazon reviews for the book.

Most people want to learn how to draw beautiful ponies. But they don't want to understand what ponies are. How they are built, how they work and what makes them, well, ponies!

And here's the kicker. Kadavy points out what design is.

Design is whatever you do in order to communicate clearly, how the damn pony is built, how it works, and what it is. As YOU see it.

There is no way to create good design by simply following a list of rules. Instead, develop a new set of eyes through which to see the world anew.

Design, it follows, is how you communicate your unique perspective and insight with others.

It goes without saying that design, as I am using the word here, goes way beyond graphic design.

A disclaimer and a tangent (feel free to skip)

A small disclaimer. I am biased towards "theory". All my education has been theoretical. And I have pretty much 0 technical or practical training. (although I am trying to change that!)

But I get the importance of being pragmatic. As Andy Hunt and David Thomas say in The pragmatic programmer, one of my favorite books.

The tangent XD

I just want to point out that pragmatism for pragmatism sake is probably something you shouldn't aim for.

Oh there is a lot to discuss about that! Don't get me wrong. I pretty much subscribe myself to the philosophical tradition of pragmatism.

American philosopher and logician Charles Sanders Peirce, one of the fathers of pragmatism, wrote the article "the fixation of belief" where he identifies four methods that people use to acquire and fixate their beliefs.

Only one of them is the preferred one. The scientific method of fixating belief. In which you keep ideas based on whether you have enough external (empirical) evidence for them.

Contrasting with the other three.

  • clinging to ideas we already have, or that we find comfortable (the method of tenacity)
  • adopting the ideas that a community holds as true (the method of authority)
  • reasoning from first principles based on already-held intuitions (the a priori method)

Think for a moment, which method is implied when you watch yet another tutorial on YouTube about making a MERN social media app or something like that.

Hopefully this gives "escaping tutorial hell" some philosophical grounding.

Here is a very nice summary of Peirce's paper

Sorry for the tangent :D


Well, that was out of left field. Or as I call it ADHD-powered writing! Old habits die hard, I guess.

Anyways, I hope you find the book useful and full of insight!

See you tomorrow!

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