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Jon Kolko » Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis
"Designers, as well as those who research and describe the process of design, continually describe design as a way of organizing complexity or finding clarity in chaos. Jeff Veen, founder of Adaptive Path, has noted that "Good designers can create normalcy out of chaos."[1] 1 Jeff Veen, The Art and Science of Web Design (Indianapolis: New Riders Press, 2000). Jim Wicks, Vice President and Director of Motorola's Consumer Experience Design group explains that "design is always about synthesis—synthesis of market needs, technology trends, and business needs."[2] During synthesis, designers attempt "to organize, manipulate, prune, and filter gathered data into a cohesive structure for information building."[3] Synthesis reveals a cohesion and sense of continuity; synthesis indicates a push towards organization, reduction, and clarity.

Yet despite the acknowledged importance of this phase of the design process, there continues to appear something magical about synthesis when encountered in professional practice: because synthesis is frequently performed privately ("in the head" or "on scratch paper"), the outcome is all that is observed, and this only after the designer has explicitly begun the form-making portion of the design process. While other aspects of the design process are visible to non-designers (such as drawing, which can be observed and generally grasped even by a naive and detached audience), synthesis is often a more insular activity, one that is less obviously understood, or even completely hidden from view. Designers may follow a user-centered discovery process to immerse themselves in a particular subject or discipline, and then go "incubate" that material. After a period of reflection, they will produce a tangible artifact as a visual representation of the reflection. When synthesis is conducted as a private exercise, there is no visible connection between the input and the output; often, even the designers themselves are unable to articulate exactly why their design insights are valuable. Clients are left to trust the designer, and more often than not, the clients simply reject the insight as being "blue sky" or simply too risky.

For example, a designer developing a new digital device might study the use of digital devices used in the workplace. Typically, a designer will observe four or five users as those individuals conduct their work. The designer will ask questions of each user about their jobs and record details of their responses. The designer might also take screen shots or photographs of the tools being used, and probe for details about each item. The designer will then return to the design studio. In the privacy of his or her natural work place, the designer will attempt to make sense of what he or she has learned. The goal is to find relationships or themes in the research data, and to uncover hidden meaning in the behavior that is observed and that is applicable to the design task at hand.

The user research sessions will produce pages of verbal transcript, hundreds of pictures, and dozens of artifact examples. Because of the complexity of comprehending so much data at once, the designer will frequently turn to a large sheet of paper and a blank wall in order to "map it all out." Several hours later, the sheet of paper will be covered with what to a newcomer appears to be a mess—yet the designer has made substantial progress, and the mess actually represents the deep and meaningful sensemaking that drives innovation. The designer will have identified themes, and will better understand the problem he or she is trying to solve; the designer will have discovered "the whole," as described by Daniel Fallman: "Fieldwork, theory, and evaluation data provide systematic input to this process, but do not by themselves provide the necessary whole. For the latter, there is only design."
design  sensemaking  jonkolko  2010  magic  transparency  process  synthesis  fieldwork  jimwicks  jeffveen  howwework  bluesky  risk  messiness  demystification  canon 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Manipulation and Design | UX Magazine
"Most design is manipulative. Physical affordances manipulate people to hold or push or pull things. The urgency of alerts manipulates us to take action. Colors shift our mood or direct our attention. This is interaction design 101, applying basic principles of cognitive psychology to our work in order to leverage mapping, visibility, physical and logical constraints, labels, and feedback. Interaction design is largely about removing cognitive friction or producing a happy path—in order to manipulate someone into realizing a goal. That type of manipulation is typically called “helping,” and it is often, actually, helpful.

Pelle Ehn describes this as, ideally, an emancipatory practice—one that identifies with oppressed groups and supports their transcendence in action and reflection. It would be a stretch to describe online learners or startup founders as oppressed, yet the larger point is that of design as rooted in a historical context of empowerment.

Participatory design places a heavy check on manipulation by including the people who will use or live with the design in the process of its creation. An empathetic approach means feeling what someone else must feel, truly finding a way to live their pain or wants or needs or desires, and many designers embrace this approach. Design frequently serves people who otherwise cannot serve themselves. But if that’s true, then there exists a dynamic of disproportionate power influence. Design is biased and cannot be apolitical.

I fear there are practitioners who are competent or even extraordinary craftsman, but have learned no real ethic, no guiding set of axioms in which to ground their work. I don’t mean that designers are lacking morals, or are even bad people. I mean that many practitioners seem to have no consistent set of values that they automatically fall to when doing their jobs."
design  jonkolko  ux  manipulation  viktopapanek  advertising  behavior  feedback  2013  ethics  designethics  misdirection  values 
july 2013 by robertogreco
To Pursue Accreditation? An Overview of Oversight | Austin Center for Design
"What’s the benefit of moving through these levels and going through these largely managerial motions? I see two main benefits to the school and students:

* Accreditation allows students to receive federal financial aid in order to attend.
* Accreditation allows students to transfer credits from and to the school.
* I don’t know if either of these would benefit the type of students that come to Austin Center for Design.

I think a lot about accreditation. I appreciate the signal it provides to the larger academic world: we are serious about education, and we value the integrity ensured by outside review. At the same time, the process demands a huge amount of resources, which can only result in higher operational costs – which inevitably get passed on to students…

The educational model of tomorrow may not need accreditation, if it is to truly embrace qualities of community and peer led learning."
cost  education  openstudioproject  lcproject  2012  accreditation  jonkolko  ac4d 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving - Welcome
"This book was started with the intent of changing design and social entrepreneurship education. As these disciplines converge, it becomes evident that existing pedagogy doesn't support either students or practicioners attempting to design for impact. This text is a reaction to that convergence, and will ideally be used by various students, educators, and practicioners:

One audience is professors and educators of design, who are challenged with reinventing their educational curriculum in the face of a changing world. For them, this book should act as both a starting point for curriculum development and a justification for why this development is necessary—it should answer the question "what should design and social entrepreneurship education look like?"…"

[See also: https://www.createspace.com/3775207 ]
socialdesign  social  ac4d  socialentrepreneurship  disruptivedesign  disruptiveinnovation  disruptive  ebooks  jonkolko  criticalthinking  problemsolving  designforgood  books  design 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Heart of Darkness: A Mild Polemic, by Jon Kolko - Core77
Really too much to quote from this Jon Kolko piece, but here's the conclusion:

"We were broadly untrained in making sense of things, in creating an understanding of how systems work, and we ignored consequences that were diffused, but present. We critiqued the aesthetic of our designs but did not dare to judge our subject matter and content, as we had no spirituality of technology upon which to compare. And so our "progress" has been, as Steve Baty describes, "cold, relentless, asocial, and unapologetic." We are now, collectively, wiser, and in that regard, perhaps the glory day of design—as an integrated discipline of humanizing technology—is finally upon us."
jonkolko  design  humanitariandesign  education  scale  capitalism  systems  systemsthinking  lcproject  depth  unschooling  deschooling  meaning  purpose  technology  progress  massivechange  2011  demise  us  sensemaking  humanity  humanism  dennislittky  emilypilloton  projecth  bertiecounty  kenrobinson  cv  designeducation  agriculture  society  corporatism  growth  audiencesofone  complexity  slow  middleages  scalability  canon  projecthdesign 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Teaching Social Innovation | Austin Center for Design
"“We [need to] teach decidedly unglamorous, small scale tools that allow people to make meaning in as significant ways possible, not only in terms of outcomes, but in terms of process.” That’s precisely the right message for design educators – to emphasize significance in process, rather than object, and focus on small-scale, deep impact. It’s a rejection of an exhausted focus on metrics, scale, and artifacts, and for many of us, it means ignoring the hype of design tourism. I’m positioning the program at AC4D on creating founders who have a sensitive, passionate, and intellectual approach to their work. And I’m thrilled to see more and more programs embracing social innovation, and re-evaluating – and in many cases, massively overhauling – tired design curricula."
jonkolko  design  education  learning  socialinnovation  designeducation  projectbasedlearning  2011  metrics  measurement  success  humanitariandesign  depthoverbreadth  timelines  time  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  ac4d  meaning  meaningfulness  eziomazini  commitment  relationships  tcsnmy  communityengagement  krissdeiglmeier  socialimpact  assessment  tracking  accreditation  credentials  convenience  responsibility  designtourism  entrepreneurship  helenwalters  shrequest1  pbl 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Jon Kolko » Interaction design and design synthesis. ["The Conflicting Rhetoric of Design Education"]
"We must train generalists. We must train specialists…

Skills of craft, building, and beauty are more important than theory or systems thinking. Theory and systems thinking are more important than craft, building, and beauty…

We must focus more on ethnography, anthropology, and the social sciences. We must focus more on science, cognitive psychology, math, and engineering…

It's clear that a change is needed in design education, and it's equally clear that the discourse of this change must advance beyond simply calling well-intentioned designers to action…"
jonkolko  education  design  designeducation  nuance  paradox  generalists  specialization  specialists  craft  making  doing  building  iteration  theory  systems  systemsthinking  well-rounded  balance  lcproject  pedagogy  teaching  learning 
july 2011 by robertogreco
» A Focus on Founders: The Anatomy of a New Design Education Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive
"In a word, the intent of our educational model is disruption. At AC4D, we intend to empower our alumni to make a difference in the world, using the persuasive, thoughtful, and provocative ualities of design (or “design thinking” combined with “design doing”) as the mechanism

But there’s another question that we ask, and strive to answer, and this question is more important: what should we design, in the first place?…

…our initial question – what should we design, in the first place – alters the conversation about “career.” When we start to question the fundamentals of our industry and the economic system that contains it, we arrive quickly at a rejection of “corporate vs. consultancy”, “job titles”, and the other baggage of our jobs…

And this poses a problem for designers acting as entrepreneurs: how can they remain focused, passionate, and excited during the process of packaging, refining, detailing, and producing the actual offering?"
ac4d  jonkolko  education  socialentrepreneurship  designeducation  independence  meaning  disruption  2011  focus  passion  creativity  designthinking  altgdp  entrepreneurship  empowerment 
july 2011 by robertogreco
» A Focus on Founders: The Anatomy of a New Design Education Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive
"In a word, the intent of our educational model is disruption. At AC4D, we intend to empower our alumni to make a difference in the world, using the persuasive, thoughtful, and provocative ualities of design (or “design thinking” combined with “design doing”) as the mechanism.

But there’s another question that we ask, and strive to answer, and this question is more important: what should we design, in the first place?…
…our initial question – what should we design, in the first place – alters the conversation about “career.” When we start to question the fundamentals of our industry and the economic system that contains it, we arrive quickly at a rejection of “corporate vs. consultancy”, “job titles”, and the other baggage of our jobs…

And this poses a problem for designers acting as entrepreneurs: how can they remain focused, passionate, and excited during the process of packaging, refining, detailing, and producing the actual offering?"
ac4d  jonkolko  education  socialentrepreneurship  designeducation  independence  meaning  disruption  2011  focus  passion  creativity  designthinking  altgdp  entrepreneurship  empowerment 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Austin Center for Design | An educational institution in Austin, Texas, teaching Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship
"Austin Center for Design exists to transform society through design and design education. This transformation occurs through the development of design knowledge directed towards all forms of social and humanitarian problems.

AC4D offers a one year program - held on site (on nights and weekends) in Austin, Texas - emphasizing creative problem solving related to human behavior, through the use of advanced technology and novel approaches to business strategy.

The program is ideal for designers, artists, business professionals and technologists with 2-5 years experience doing professional work, or for more seasoned professionals looking to change the trajectory of their careers.

Our curriculum includes instruction in ethnography, prototyping, service design, theory, usability testing, and financial company structures."
education  design  teaching  schools  highereducation  alternative  highered  jonkolko  austin  texas  lcproject  incubator  designthinking  human  behavior  business  technology  humanitarian  humanitariandesign  socialentrepreneurship  entrepreneurship  prototyping  servicedesign 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Humanitarian Design vs. Design Imperialism: Debate Summary: Change Observer: Design Observer
"Bruce Nussbaum started a firestorm with the question "Is humanitarian design the new imperialism?" — and the conversation has spread through the blogosphere. Here, a digest of essays and related posts on this subject."
brucenussbaum  cameronsinclair  emilypilloton  susanszenasy  jonkolko  avinashrajagopal  robertfabricant  alexsteffen  patrickjames  nitibhan  infini  mariapopova  johnthackara  valeriecasey  davidstairs  timothyogden  shahanasiddiqui  humanitariandesign  design  imperialism  designimperialism  projecth  projecthdesign 
august 2010 by robertogreco

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