[Haskell-cafe] the problem of design by negation

Michael P Mossey mpm at alumni.caltech.edu
Sun May 24 21:35:50 EDT 2009

Richard O'Keefe wrote:
> Design-by-negativity can *be* a way of being creative.
> I've lost count of the number of times that I've been
> explaining to someone why something can't be done, and
> suddenly realised that one of the reasons was invalid
> and seen how to do it.
> The key is not whether you explore the design space
> from a positive end or from a negative end, but whether
> you *explore* it.

Hi Richard,

I think we using "positive" and "negative" in a bit of a different sense (which 
may be my fault for not explaining perfectly in the first post). There are both 
positive and negative *facts* about design. There are things you can do, and 
things you can't. These are facts. I'm referring more to a specific kind of 
process (a specific kind of exploration)---in my terms, "design by negation" 
means that you dominant activity in design in cutting away possibilities, and 
what's left (however awkward) is what you must build. I have done this by habit, 
but I would like to shift into a mode of design that is focused on construction 
rather than destruction---to view design as an opportunity to meet most goals by 
clever combining of facets.


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