Adobe’s VP of Experience Design Michael Gough on Paper dependency and the omniscient gadget
Every week, a new and interesting human being tackles our decidedly geeky take on the Proustian Q&A. This is the Engadget Questionnaire.
In this week’s edition of our regular answer sessions, Adobe’s VP of Experience Design Michael Gough discusses digital sketching and six-fingered spies. Head to the other side of the jump to peruse those and a number of other topics in this coup d’état of queries.
What gadget do you depend on most?
My iPad. I’ve always been obsessed by drawing. I sketch all my meeting notes, and pretty much have to draw to tease out a coherent thought. About a year ago, I tried switching from pen and paper to doing all my drawing digitally. Now that I can use an active stylus with my tablet, I’m hooked. And to further create an even better drawing experience, we’re working on our own “cloud-connected pen,” we have named Project Mighty. I get really anxious when the battery dies and I can’t sketch. Sometimes it feels like withdrawal.
Which do you look back upon most fondly?
My drawing table and all the great non-digital tools that I used with it. I loved my collection of circle templates, triangles and French curves. I had a particularly sensuous set of translucent ships curves and a couple of ﬂexible curves that seemed, at the time, to oﬀer inﬁnite possibilities. And my green felt-lined case with my compasses. And Radiographs and mechanical pencils and electric erasers and eraser templates and little tape dots.
Did you know that Adrian Newey is still using analog drawing tools to design the aerodynamics of the world’s most advanced racing cars?
Which company does the most to push the industry?
Apple gets the nod for the experience they enable. You’d think by now that other tech companies would get beyond thinking about the product or its capabilities alone to consider the experience holistically, like say an automobile company does, but not so far.
What is your operating system of choice?
iOS all the way.
What are your favorite gadget names?
I’m pretty happy with the project name for our digital ruler. We call it Napoleon because it’s short and, uh, a ruler.
What are your least favorite?
Which app do you depend on most?
Paper by FiftyThree. It’s a really simple drawing app that just draws the way I like to draw.
What traits do you most deplore in a smartphone?
Short battery life, too small text, embarrassing autocorrect-adjusted messages, inability to bounce oﬀ of concrete surfaces.
Which do you most admire?
Baseball score updates, ability to ﬁnd restaurants and access to loved ones.
What is your idea of the perfect device?
I can no longer remember who I am paraphrasing, but I want the same thing from my devices that I want from my relationships. The perfect device should:
Understand my desires, anticipate my needs, foresee consequences, make connections, handle routine chores without asking, remind me when I need reminding, filter out the noise and find matching socks.
“I’m pretty happy with the project name for our digital ruler. We call it Napoleon because it’s short and, uh, a ruler.”
What is your earliest gadget memory?
“Six ﬁngers, six ﬁngers, man alive… how did I ever get along with ﬁve?” For those of you that aren’t a half-century old, it’s the marketing jingle for a really cheesy spy toy.
What technological advancement do you most admire?
It’s a tie between the internet and my Sonicare toothbrush. Oh wait, deﬁnitely the sailboat.
Which do you most despise?
Any TV remote. They should all be burned. Don’t the people designing them realize that all that interface should just be on the TV since that is what I am looking at?
What fault are you most tolerant of in a gadget?
I’ll put up with all kinds of dysfunction if it’s beautiful. I think my iPhone love has more to do with looks than function.
Which are you most intolerant of?
When has your smartphone been of the most help?
There have been numerous potential family emergencies that have been averted by phone use. I would go into detail, but my wife would ﬁnd out and add to her list of child-endangerment accusations.
What device do you covet most?
Like thy neighbor’s device? I lust for an NKE Gyropilot with the carbon housing wrapped in a Chantier Naval Structures Pogo 12.50.
If you could change one thing about your phone what would it be?
The maddening way it receives calls, emails and text messages from people that I am not interested in talking with.
What does being connected mean to you?
It means having a sense of security and perhaps a touch of omniscience.
When are you least likely to reply to an email?
It’s interesting. I used to avoid answering phone calls by using email. Now I avoid email by texting. So I am least likely to reply to an email whenever I feel like I can get away with not replying.
When did you last disconnect?
[A] 25th anniversary vacation in Belize. But only when we couldn’t ﬁnd a cell signal or WiFi.
By Billy Steele