Doing vs Telling


Do things, tell people. These are the only things you need to do to be successful — Carl Lange

I love this quote, because it boils down the elusive goal of “success” to two simple, common things. And just like Nike’s “Just Do It”, it sounds both very deep and overly simplistic at the same time.

But even if you’ve understood the need for both doing and telling, the real challenge is in finding the right balance.

I was reminded of this again with the whole Svtble thing (I know you’re sick of reading about it by now, but trust me it’s only tangential to my point).

Among various debates on free access vs closed network, stealing vs copying, Pepsi vs Coke, etc., one point that came up was, “Dustin Curtis sure talks big, but what has he actually done?“. Or as Daniel Howells put it:

Fundamentally, I have no idea who he is or what sort of work he has done, other than redesign an airport boarding card, and create

In fact, this question routinely comes up about Dustin Curtis, as well as other famous bloggers like John Gruber.

It’s like we feel these guys haven’t earned their fame, and don’t deserve their success. They’ve done little, they’re just good at telling us about it.

But the thing is, telling is an art in itself. Dustin Curtis is obviously a very good communicator and marketer, with a feel for interesting stories and a talent to complement them with great layouts.

Having personally experienced how much work it is to make people care about your products, I’m in awe of Dustin’s obvious talent to do just that.

Whether we like it or not, the truth of the matter is that telling is just as important as doing. Far more people are aware of my existence thanks to one hour of work than after months of work for France’s number one newspaper, all because of one blog post.

Sure, you shouldn’t be all fluff and no substance. But remember that old Zen koan: if you design something and nobody sees it, did you really design it?


One Response to Doing vs Telling

  1. Pingback: Refocusing | Francis Cortez

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>