The DWIM Switch

A long time ago in a land far away (okay, so it was about 28 years ago and only 80 miles or so from where I sit right now), there lived a graphic artist/typographer living in an exciting and changing time. The pica ruler, Exacto™ knife, ruling pen, wax roller, blue board and burnishing tools were soon to be as extinct as dinosaurs, and she knew it. All the years and effort she had put into learning the locations and uses of the myriad tools and vast array of function-keys on a wide range of different proprietors’ typesetting machines was about to become distilled into something that, if one believed the hype of the time, would be “so easy that anyone with a computer and software could easily do in far less time.”

We all need to learn how to use new tools as technology changes and improves, just as I had to learn how to lay out a page using every tool that has come down the pike since then, and put the ideas into whatever medium it was intended for.

Some of what I’ve learned is that, whether you are using a pencil with an eraser, or an iPad and Pages, there is no magic switch that does what you mean it to do. You have to learn HOW to tell each tool, with your hand’s motions or using keys, buttons or menus, what your intention is.

Translating what is in your “mind’s eye” into the finished product you want is a matter of learning how to manipulate the tools you have to work with.

Sorry to say, and true then as it is now, there simply is no DWIM* switch.
*Do What I Mean

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