File this under: Everyone makes mistakes sooner or later. I received an email recently from the very respected and respectable Institute...
I received an email recently from the very respected and respectable Institute of Design at IIT*, advertising a "design camp."
The advert included the old chestnut about the NASA "Space Pen" versus the Russian pencil. Specifically, the ID advert includes the following text:
There is a well-known story about NASA spending enormous sums of money on a pen that writes in space. Upon arriving at the International Space Station, a Russian cosmonaut said, “Oh, we use a pencil.” Framing problems well is key to solving the right ones. At Design Camp this summer, you will learn how to identify problems worth solving.It's a well-known story that is patently false. There's copious, easily found evidence that explains the facts of the case; for instance, both Snopes and Scientific American have pieces about this
There's no question that the design camp that the ID will run will be beneficial to design practitioners, instructors, and even researchers. But, honestly! Can't we make the effort to fact-check our adverts? I consider it an ethical obligation of designers (and pretty much everyone else) to take the time and make sure that they aren't misleading their potential clients - even in such trivial matters as an advertisement.
If there's any truth to the (allegedly Zen**) saying "The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything," then this kind of mistake bodes poorly for ID.
* I note that as of 25 May 2015, the ID website is offline. I'm sure it'll be back soon.
** I have looked but cannot verify that this aphorism is in fact derived from Zen tradition. If anyone can provide a fact-check on this, I would greatly appreciate it. BTW, a variation of this is my Rule #1: Everything matters, all the time.