One of my favorite things about the NY Times is reading the columnists on the Op-Ed page. Yesterdays column (registration required) by David Brooks was super. Even consumerism in America is democratic. That is what I love about this country. Not that I think consumerism is a good thing, but he is making a good point and he ends the column with this zinger:
"Alexis de Tocqueville wrote a rather important book on how, in America, the democratic personality supplants the aristocratic personality. The democrat smashes hierarchies. The democrat is interested in everyday happiness, not lofty excellence. The democrat simply does not acknowledge the existence of social class. Nobody is above me and nobody is below me. We are all equal, and we are all Lucky."
That is what I love about the US - hierarchies can be breached.
On a similar note, I came across this article by a former software developer Joel Spolsky (who now owns a software company) who writes about two very different work experiences at two tech companies - Microsoft and Juno. At Microsoft, hierarchies are meant to be breached. When I live in Seattle for a year after grad school, I worked at a Starbucks a couple blocks away from the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond. My good friend Darrell was working there and I had a real desire to work there too. Mainly because it sounded like a really good place to work - - intense, but good.
On a final note, to continue the thread about good design, here is a great example how Joel Spolsky really worked hard to create a well designed working environment for his software developers. He calls it a bionic office. I call it a great place to work.