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Re: [XP] Looking for a word for a design concept..

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  • Cory Foy
    Michael, I want to see if I m capturing the essence of your question. Although you may have discovered your term for it by now - nearly a month later. ;) ... -
    Message 1 of 23 , Oct 30, 2005
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      Michael,

      I want to see if I'm capturing the essence of your question. Although
      you may have discovered your term for it by now - nearly a month later. ;)

      Michael Feathers wrote:
      > There's something I want to discuss, but I can't find a word for it.
      > Maybe someone here can help me find it, if it exists, or help create one.
      >
      > Here's the concept. When we design, we can end up with mechanisms that
      > serve more than one purpose in a design and when we use them our design
      > can be simpler and more economical.

      - Serves more than one purpose
      - Simpler or more economical

      > One example is a type of hair dryer that I run into often. Hair dryers
      > need to have a way to be turned on and off and it's great to be able to
      > hang them up in a bathroom so that we don't shock ourselves. The
      > conventional way to handle this is to create a wall mount and create an
      > on/off switch. Users can flip off the switch when they are done, and
      > then hang up the dryer.

      - Functional in a generally expected way

      > Now, that works, and it is good solid design, but there is this other
      > way that you can do it. You can design the switch so that the act of
      > taking the dryer off the hook turns it on and the act of hanging up the
      > dryer turns it off. I think that example nails the concept that I want
      > a name for.

      - Provides value beyond the expected performance level
      - Provides a feature beyond expectations

      > Sometimes this is called "elegance" at other times it is just something
      > that makes you go "aahhhhh, that's sweet" when you notice it, but I
      > don't know that there is a name for it.
      >
      > I know that Christopher Alexander speaks of what he calls 'the quality
      > without a name' but I think that what I'm describing is a little
      > narrower. Or not. Anyone have any ideas?

      Well, for some reason the term convergence is in my head. I wonder if
      the design would have come to light without the previous experiences
      guiding it. For example, how many thousands or millions of people have
      used the hair dryers in hotel rooms, and provided feedback on them.

      So, it makes me wonder if the only way to truly get to something as
      elegant as what I picture when I read your question is through an
      evolutionary process. You have two features - shutting off and hanging
      up - and you bring them together based on the experiences of those using
      them individually. Convergent evolution.

      But that doesn't seem to capture the description of the design - it
      ain't an adjective. (ya'll - just to prove I'm from the Southern US ;))

      I just found Convergent Synthesis - a strategy that aims to improve the
      effeciency of multi-step chemical synthesis.

      http://www.chemistrydaily.com/chemistry/Convergent_synthesis

      Ah! Synthetic. Or Solution. Chemistry terms.

      I'll keep thinking about this some more.

      Cory
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