Design Story
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Design Story


Do humans dream of eclectic Tweets?

Design dreams from the front lines

Last night I had a dream that I was standing in the middle of the Twitter timeline UI, which was stretched before me like a highway-sized piano keyboard of only white keys.

I started tapping out a little melody on the white keys like Tom Hanks in Big. I picked out a few melodies that worked as little private jokes to myself: Dido’s lament morphing into the Moonlight Sonata and the Oscar Meyer TV jingle.

At a certain point I looked down. Each of the keys was someone’s dreams. Someone’s hopes. Someone’s moment of self expression. Someone’s urgent plea or goofy lolz. Each key was someone’s connection to the world.

I stopped and read the Tweets for a while, but the Tweets moved by too quickly to read them all. I was suddenly adrift in a sea of Tweets that were floating like felled trees towards a timber mill. I climbed aboard a Tweet and straddled it like a surfer sitting on a long board between swells. Paddling through the flotsam, I eventually docked at hashtag island.

Staring up at the stars (for by this time it was night), you could just about discern any shape or design if you tried hard enough to connect the dots. The meaning is there. You just have to look.

The best human efforts solve for fundamental human needs: The needs range from “clean water” or “safety for my family” to “fun on a friday night” or “existential reflection” but every gainful human enterprise solves for some aspect of the human condition.

This holds true for poetry, screenwriting, flash mobs and design—particularly design—as people don’t have a fundamental human need to click a button or read your marketing copy, but they do have a need to make their lives better and to connect meaningfully with others.

Your job—no matter if you are a lead or a line worker is—to help the people who use your product have a better life, and to help your teammates make their best work.

Let’s find the meaning in the work we do. Let’s connect the dots.




Complements to the human condition.

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James Buckhouse

James Buckhouse

Design Partner at Sequoia, Founder of Sequoia Design Lab. Past: Twitter, Dreamworks. Guest lecturer at Stanford’s GSB &

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