Noodling and Hunkering

One of my favorite technical words is “noodling”. I have my students noodle around with code to see how it works – have them break it and then fix it again to get control.

I often noodle around with code when working on a project, trying to stretch things a little more, trying to find out “What happens if I do this?”. This is especially useful when working with CSS and a new website design.

At South by Southwest I heard Jared Spool from User Interface Engineering talk about design and user interfaces. I’m on their mailing list now and today he introduced me to another technical term: hunkering.

Here’s an excerpt from his article:
The behavior of hunkering was the same [for all types of people]:

  1. They lay out whatever physical pieces they have — raw materials,
    sketches, and images they’d collected.
  2. They work to put things close to where they’d be in their final
    form, relative to the other pieces.
  3. Then they step back and ponder it for a while.
  4. In some cases, they walk around to view it from a different
    angle, to see what it looked like from another perspective.
  5. Then they start back up to work.

This can be done in any type of business from web design,  to programming, to cabinet making, to dress designing.

Hunkering also ties in with a book I’m reading, A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink. Daniel talks about using both sides of the brain, both the analytic left side as well as the more artistic, free-flowing right-side in order to deal with challenges we face in today’s world. No longer can we just be analytical thinkers working a problem in a straight line. Instead, we have to become more artistic thinkers, looking at things as a whole and getting ideas from other disciplines. Jared’s term “hunkering” describes how to do this process in a very real manner.

So, next time you are starting a project, before you start writing code or hammering nails, do some noodling around and hunkering to kick your right brain into gear.

Here’s Jared’s article: Hunkering: Putting Disorientation in the Design Process.