Articles

Why I make screens

So it's partly because I used to be a graphic designer and no matter what I try to do, I still have an inordinate obsession with type and fonts and where words go and all that. But it’s also because you need to show things to a human. More importantly you need to show things, your idea, your application, your whatever, to a human and humans like to look at pretty things. You can produce hundreds of black boxes and arrows on white paper and nobody will give a shit, but give them something that has some personality, something that takes a visual and human stand, and you’re one step closer to getting them to give a shit.

I gave my healthcare to an app and my ear is still screwed

So one day in between reading about the NHS collapsing and the hounds of various right wing elements nipping at the entrails of one of the finer things the UK has managed to pull off since the Magna Carta, I’ve decided to make a foray into privatised health care for the first time in about over 15 years. I should have started by a brief history. I’m from the US, and having grown up under the Reagan and Bush regimes was used to the idea that you’re on your own, especially when it comes to health care.

So sure enough here I am decades later in the UK, pushing middle age and watching my earthly body follow the same trajectory as our beloved National Health Service.

And then sure enough there’s an app. It’s called, very weirdly, especially for any other listeners of reggae pirate radio, Babylon.

I’ve had a weird itch in my ear. First in the left, then both and then it got really bad. I go to the pharmacy and they give me a spray. Said spray seems to make things worse and then scabs, weird water in ear type thing, etc. etc. I’m still alive here to tell you about it, but I’m sure I’m among the lucky.

So I download the app, get sucked into putting in my credit card details for the £5 monthly subscription with the free first month and off I went. I booked an appointment with someone who by all looks of it is a qualified doctor. They all have nice little pictures and “Dr.” before their name. You can chat by phone or by in-app video link-up and it sort of is that simple. Of course there’s that bit about no signal, missed calls, etc. but in the end we chatted for the allotted 15 minutes, just like the regular local GP, but without the waiting room, and for the most part whenever you want, and sure enough I got what seemed to be a reasonable answer and a prescription forwarded to my local pharmacy. I get a new spray which I use and the itch goes away sort of but more gunk builds up and then some weird under water thing going on in my head.

Now the thing is, and I’m no medical expert, that the fine person who seems to be qualified on the other end of the internet or phone can’t see into my ear through the phone. Even with the video, there’s only so much you can do.

The one thing I really like this is the fact that I get records of what transpired. But so do they which is the slightly worrying bit. I have a recorded copy of the actual phone conversation, a write-up by the “virtual” GP and then also an email. This is very nice. I can even have the record sent to my local registered GP, but I hate mine so irrationally thought I wouldn’t give them the pleasure.

I booked another appointment a week later once I was due to stop the prescription and sure enough they suggest, since they can’t look into my ear, that I go to my local GP, the very place all of this was supposed to avoid. Thus I should have not signed up for the £5 a month to go about the reassuring calls and blind hope that I wouldn’t have to go to my GP and that the sharing economy or whatever the hell this is could actually sort out this problem.

So I go to the GP and try to explain, albeit in a sheepish, masked way, who I’ve got through two different types of medicine for my ear without actually going in there and he seems really miffed at the whole concept. And that was the last time I used it really.

I actually quit you Adobe

That's right. Actually quit. I summed up the balls of the design ages and nailed my thesis to the cathedral door and all of that. I even went so far as to uninstall all of it. Well on one machine at any rate. Adobe, I’ve quit you. I'm still scared though. And this is sad. I'm aware of that.

The fact of the matter is that in my old age I've taken to thinking about design in all sorts of high falutin' ways that didn't much matter before. When you're young(er), going to obviously live forever, drunk and partying a lot and full of optimism with a horizon of mainly imagined opportunity, you don't think about the politics of how you do things. However, recently I have.

It started with first deciding to not have any of my kids on Facebook because I didn't like the fact that a massive Internet company owns the images. Then it was more or less quitting Facebook altogether. Then I realised after using Sketch for a while and having to open Illustrator that not only are Adobe's interfaces anyeurism-inducing monuments to bloat and legacy software, but that one company had not just a global monopoly but an absolute chokehold on using a computer to create images. This flat out drove me old man, armchair yelling at the TV mad. So I quit. Going indie and all that. And we'll see how far I get, but its sadly exciting.

It’s also been a semi contrived exercise in creating constraints for my work. If I can't do it in Sketch, well, I guess I just won't do it - and if I can't find an example of it in Motion instead of After Effects, well, then I'll just have to actually work a little bit harder and be a proper designer about things. And that’s that.