I have been thinking a lot lately about my career path, and chosen major to direct me to the correct on–ramp. I know that whatever I do has got to be in the field of computing and software; likewise whatever I do has got to relate to design, because that is what I truly feel passionate about. So I have decided on this: a major in Computer Information Systems with a minor in Art, emphasis in graphic design.
At least it sounds impressive. Where will I go with this degree? My thinking is into user interface design, controlling the layout and usability of graphical software applications. My largest area of interest is operating systems. It is no secret that I love the Mac OS, the design and usability is astounding, and will forever be apart of my career aspirations. If the opportunity never arises for me to work at Apple (and in all likelihood it will not) I can see myself behind an interface that could finally make Linux viable in the consumer market. One of those two forks is my intent, and I will be happy with either one.
It is my opinion that computer based graphic design is heading for an apex, much like software development has already reached. In this, I simply mean talent wise. In the early days of software development, there were very few programmers available, and the ones that existed mostly had Ph.D.s and thusly were expensive to come by. As computing made its way onto every desk, and into every home, programmers increased accordingly; reaching an apex years ago. I see the same thing happening here as graphic design becomes a more important aspect of software development. It is becoming increasingly more important for software to look good, as well as function the same way for everyone. This precedent sets the path for an increase in the role of the graphic designer.
By majoring in CIS with the minor in Art, rather than just the Art major with emphasis in computer based graphics, I can see a much more substantial and important role for myself. I imagine in the future working with a team of people who can not only put together a fantastic design for an interface, but at the same time work together to program and build the underlying code. Much like today’s web developers are not only responsible for layout and function, but the XHTML and CSS that gets the desired outcome.
Imagine if this was the role of the people working on OSes like Linux, a dual design role, if you will. Designers of interface and code. Linux as it is, is an excellent operating system. It is stable, it is functional, it is powerful, and most of all, it is secure — perhaps even more than these, it is cheap. The downside to this is that it can sometimes be difficult to use. There is no great amount of graphic designers around ready to free up time and work on a functional interface for the OS. This is where Apple has got Linux beat. They have a Unix based kernel, the stability, power, function and security are all in place with additions from their own Code Designers; but on top of that they have their history of intuitve, easy to use and easy to manage interfaces. They also have their history of well designed APIs for developers on top of that, making it easier for the average developer to create software on the platform, without having to worry about the interface.
Those two halves in the description of the Mac OS above are exactly what I would strive to be able to do. I would like to design code that is powerful and secure, while at the same time having the design capability to accent that code with an intuitive graphical layout. I love web design because of that duality. I love to have total control of my product, it is then that I can assure that the outcome be what it was originally intended.
Perhaps this whole idea is far too artsy for a fast paced, multi-faceted industry like software development. Or perhaps it is just a natural phase in the evolution of our technological culture, but either way this is where I am headed, and it feels so nice to actually have directions this time around.
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