Small Systems Design Associates

Home page for work in Story Telling at the root of design.

Our company is rooted in the idea that good design work is the fastest path to the solution of very difficult, very expensive problems in IT, in the arts, in media, and in the fixing of a wide range of other busted mechanisms and systems.

Agile methods - our favorite system of design - integrates brief individual stories by the customers about the problems they are trying to deal with. These are called "user stories" in Agile. In a project we mash these stories up with procedures and practices taken from other Agile Methods, Extreme Programming, Design Patterns, and The Whole Earth Catalog to see what works best for us, and for the customer in producing a workable system. Good design, in other words, starts with good story-telling.

With their stories laid down, Agile Methods is a structured way, during the project, of connecting the story tellers who will use the final product of a design process, with the communications, software engineering, and other technical experts who will ultimately build it. Agile Methods are discussed elsewhere on this site, and in many places on the web. A Google search on "Agile Methods" yields 320,000 hits.

"Design Patterns" is a term of art taken from a popular book among physical design professionals titled: "A Pattern Language - Towns, Buildings, Construction." The book is authored by Christopher Alexander, and several others; Published: 1977 by The Center for Environmental Structure in Berkeley, California.

The "Whole Earth Catalog" first appearred in the Fall of 1968. The WEC cover sub-title was: "Access to Tools." There is an Ohio-based effort now to restore the WEC to some of its' former glory as one of the great books of the 20th century. "...the internet before there was an internet," according to Steve Jobs, the founder, sage, and guru of Apple Computer.

We include the WEC in our mission statement, and we are on board with that effort. The new WEC web site offers readers an opportunity to contribute a personal story about how the WEC influenced his or her life.

Here is a link to my personal story as it appears on the WEC page on FaceBook. If you have a tool story you want to add, this link takes you there :

Do you have a story?