Evolutionary Constants & Thingamabobs

A portable Ouija Board, but then what?

The techno-media’s yadda-yadda about Apple’s iPad reached fever pitch late last week.

The Twitter chatter

…you drove from Vancouver to Seattle, without reservations, and still got an iPad faster than I did!

drove me to my un-follow tipping point.


I tagged the iPad-as-Serving-Tray image above with:

gizmo, gadget, contraption, doohickey, thingamabob, and thingamajig. 

I amended my tags to include conspicuous consumption because of the flocks of would-be-kitchen-waste-recyclers camping out and clamoring for tomorrow’s disposable consumer electronic device. Tag that with irony, then remember to save your iPad for future tea ceremonies.

If Steve Jobs is really as obsessive about details as Apple lore suggests, why would his product designers choose a form factor whose dimensions 9.56 inches by 7.47 inches don’t yield the golden ratio?



How is it that a shell, or a sunflower seed pod, or a palm leaf spiral evolved over eons to conform to a number like 1.6180339887?

How is it that the proportions in various parts of a dolphin’s body incrementally optimize over eons to yields universal evo-constants?

Is it professionally reckless for designers to ignore these evolutionary constants?

Perhaps not. But in my mind, the designer had better have a compelling reason for ignoring time-tested constants found in nature.

2 thoughts on “Evolutionary Constants & Thingamabobs

  1. Maybe Apple took their inspiration for screen size from the old fashioned piece of note book paper 8.5×11 (Sorry UK – A4 is just wrong); rather than the golden ratio.

    11/8.5 = 1.3
    9.56/7.47 = 1.3

    Maybe it was inspired by the muse. Does it matter? It is attractive and feels good in the hand (so I'm told), is a wonderful experience (so I'm told); all adds up to a good design.

    The great thing about a neocortex; it allows one to move faster than evolution.


  2. The designer was probably just conforming to the standard XGA resolution 1024×768, a 5:4 ratio. Maybe next they'll come out with the phiPhone; exactly the same but with a display that follows the golden ratio.


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