Week 3.33 Entry 28: You Can (Not) Fail Fast - Scattered Thoughts on Project Direction

Amraj Singh Sukhdev Singh - Tue 17 March 2020, 9:56 pm
Modified: Tue 17 March 2020, 9:56 pm

Parts of DECO3801 last year focused on the idea of failing fast, the thought that to know whether your idea is successful or not, you're sending it out into the real world early, and often, because early mistakes can be corrected before you get too heavily invested in an idea. Essentially, catching problems early means the difference between having to 2.0 an idea to start again, or being able to wing it and have something fitting the Architect's Vision in your hand immediately.

Speaking of winging it, there's a risk, ... a margin of idea motion (if that makes sense), of changes and adjustments I think one can make, before the projects find themselves being a blazing barrel bizzarely blasting through stratosphere, slowly angling straight downwards into oblivion. Failing fast is meant to be something that gently nudges you away from that reality... but too much "failing" can end up feeling like all options have been exhausted, and only a half hearted compromise is left.

We're still investigating and trying to figure out what we can do for the presentation next week but privately, I've been reviewing ideas I've had before even sharing them with my group - at which point, well, it's sounding ridiculous as I say it, but maybe the ideas need a chance to get a breath of air before I declare them to be explosive rockets headed for the abyss.

With the things I've managed to create recently, be it a Digital Musical Instrument thats supposed to simulate a baton that plays music - or a tool to teach medical students how to identify different stages of cancer progression... it's certainly felt like I shot for the stars with the possibilities.

But well, as evidenced by how I haven't talked about these unique design opportunities yet - theres a lot to break down with regard to how they went. I would say that I failed, but it's more nuanced that that, they were just succesful in unusual ways - things that made them cool as ideas, but were personally unsatisfying to me.

But that ambition being so large and subtly pushing the idea toward imperfection... is hard to come to terms with. The Architect's Vision specifies a pretty particular thing, and failing fast would mean that theres chances for that vision to be denied. You realise small parts that need to be adjusted often, and eventually, the vision shifts to accomodate compromises. So much so that its essentially a different idea altogether.

Looking back at some of my thoughts on Bash's Q&A, perhaps something I'd not considered fully aside from the variety of the work, simply having a lot of stuff out there, a lot of small failures telling you something about different spaces, gives you a chance to mastermind something new out of their ashes that couild only have come from a combination of failures leading up to it.

But well, I dont want to only feel like I'm failing... sure, theres lots of success, but success is expected. I think performance metrics, as a student, as a business etc, means that you cant just not put a number on things either. Maybe the way forward is simply better categorisation, sure you got a 3 on that, but a 7 on this, which is good.

Well, provided I can address my binary perception. As it is, something that's a 9 is basically a 0 to me, because it's still imperfect. Theres no such thing as something that cant be improved, but this... inability to accept anything less than flawlessness from my own efforts is going to continue to be an issue.

Thought Train
  • More coherent reflections would be better
    • Might want to consider a little longer at drafting instead of just putting this out stream of conciousness
  • Investigate David C Roy's kinetic sculptures to see how the Engineer and Architect can be the same person