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blog / 4 Ways to Weigh in

11/01/15
Ryan Snelson

People make stuff. What’s so good about it anyway? Here are 4 ways to analyze what’s going on around us.

1. Technique

In the Olympics, if an athlete does 5 flips and dives without making a splash, it’s considered better technique than the athlete who does a cannonball off the high-dive. We might be a fan of cannonballs, but the Olympics aren’t the place for cannonballs. And so the cannonball is bad diving technique because it’s not the desired outcome. Technique is about doing something well or getting the desired outcome. It’s weighed by standards and execution. Technique gets fuzzy over time because it changes based on our approach. This leads us to new trends or standards. The best part about technique is that it’s always measured by some standard even if that standard is still being defined.

Examples

  • Diver completes a perfect dive with no splash.
  • A band does a great live performance but it doesn’t sound like the recording.
  • The design is pixel-perfect.
  • The painting looks like a photo.

Way to weigh in

Is the technique or execution good or bad based on the standard it’s being measured against? Is the outcome desired?

2. Opinion

It’s the most subjective and easiest way to weigh in. Opinions depend heavily on personal experience, understanding and expectations. We might be biased, or know and love the subject matter. Whatever it is, the way we feel about something shapes our opinion.

Examples

  • It was a beautiful dive.
  • The first album was better.
  • The design needs to pop.
  • I hate sculptures.

Way to weigh in 

Doesn’t matter, the reason is yours to decide.

3. Originality

It needs to be creative and new to be original—not a cliché. Most of the time originality is a new interpretation, idea, or creation based off something that previously exists. We see a lot of this in remix culture today. Everything is a remix at some level. One of my favorite quotes is “originality breeds imitation which breeds originality.” Things that are original may have not been thought of or done before. Sometimes things appear original if we are exposed to them for the first time. Being original doesn’t always mean it makes sense or works.

Examples

  • Diver does cannonball backflips while on fire.
  • Singer lights his guitar on fire.
  • An animated fireball pops up when you click the save button.
  • An installation of “fire” in a museum.

Way to weigh in

Based on what’s known, do we think it’s original or not?

4. Understanding

Does it make sense or work? Perhaps the creator wants us to think about a theme, or that a new product is going to change the way we do things. When we experience something we attempt to look for meaning or application. Understanding is often removed from the intent of the creator and shifts to the observer.

Examples

  • Was the series of dives a success for the judges to make their decision?
  • The theme of the album is actually about the isolation of aliens.
  • Is the app doing what it’s supposed to do?
  • The painting is a self-portrait of the artist.

Way to weigh in

Bottom line, do we understand what we are experiencing? Does it translate and make sense?

Summary

Weigh it all and give credit where credit is due. Unless of course you think it's just awesome.