What this blog is about

Fourfoldway is about the pragmatic philosophy of design, in the broad sense of the term. It focuses on applications of one particular heuristic, the ’four-fold way’ of the title. There are four approaches available for improving anything: change the tool (device, machine, building), change the technique (skill, method, schedule), change the task (application, domain, location), or change the intent (value, objective, belief).

Thanks to the vast success of industrial methods in addressing the problems of scarcity, we are today prejudiced in favour of industrial methods to solve the problems of abundance and excess. Whether it’s pollution, or climate change, or traffic congestion, or obesity, or the failures of education, we tend reflexively to favour better gadgets, better machines, better cars, better stuff.

I think that cognitive bias needs correcting, and offer the four-fold way as an antidote. By consciously directing attention to each of the other three approaches, we can solve environmental problems better, create more grace and beauty in the world, and live happier more engaged lives.

This journal will cover a lot of ground, and attempt to apply the fourfold heuristic to a broad range of problems. I hope to offer some genuine insights, inevitably mixed with assorted mistakes and misunderstandings. With luck and care, the former will outweigh the latter. Postings will be infrequent and variable; I suggest you follow via RSS. Next up: a richer explanation of the fourfold heuristic, with real-world examples.

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