"Open design" is an oxymoron

In a post about the Verizon iPhone, John Gruber deftly pointed out something many people misunderstand about design. He was responding to a post by Dan Lyons, who feels Apple's "control-freak nature" is a weakness. Here's what Gruber says:

We’re going to make these decisions for you and offer a limited number of choices” is indeed the company’s philosophy. That’s called design.

Too few think of design in terms of limiting choices. Many times the creative folks get pulled into a project when there's a perceived need for more options. Exploration is absolutely part of the design process. But the difference between creativity and design is commitment. At some point, you have to make a decision, choose a direction and go. Creativity is generating a list of vacation ideas; design is the real adventure, with milestones, risk and (importantly) a final result.

I can understand some folks' aversion to Apple's clarity of intention. If that's not the trip you want to take, fine. Maybe you prefer the freedom to wander around on your own. Personally, I really like the places Apple takes me, and don't want to be handed the keys to the truck with a full tank of gas. I admire Apple's ability to come up with new design directions, but I really admire their ability to choose one and take it farther than anyone thought was possible.