14 January 2009

Definitions to inform a thesis

For my studio class this semester, I have to come up with at least 10 definitions of words that are appropriate to my research (to help those who are viewing it gain a better understanding). Here's my list so far:

A general note of introduction:
An overarching reality of my work is that I am looking at it through the lens of limited (or no technology) and have had to work as a communication designer who lacks a shared language (as experienced in Rwanda). These are a few words that cover concepts I am considering in the work that step beyond the more obvious areas of technology and language.

1. Human-centered design (IDEO)
“Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a process and a set of techniques used to create new solutions for the world. When we say solutions, we mean products, services, environments, organizations, and modes of interaction.
The reason this process is called “human-centered” is because it starts with the people we are designing for. The starting point of the HCD process is to examine the needs, dreams, and behaviors of the people we want to affect with our solutions. We seek to listen to and understand what they want. We call this the Desirability lens. It is the lens through which we view the world through the entire design process.”
User-centred graphic design

2. Design for social impact
“Design as a tool to address such global social issues as poverty, health, water, economic empowerment, environmental activism, and the need for basic services. Design for social impact seeks to incite transformational change in underserved, underrepresented, and disadvantaged communities.”

3. Co-creation/Co-design
Co-creation is the practice of product or service development that is collaboratively executed by developers and stakeholders together. Co-creation could be seen as creating great work by standing together with those for whom the project is intended.”

Liz Sanders is someone who employs and writes about this methodology.
CK Prahalad (Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid) popularized this term in the business arena.

“In co-design there is an understanding that all human artifacts are designed and with a purpose. In co-design one tries to include those perspectives that are related to the design in the process. It is generally recognized that the quality of design increases if the stakeholder’s interests are considered in the design process. Co-design is a development of systems thinking, which according to C. West Churchman ‘begins when first you view the world through the eyes of another’.”

4. Cultural Probes
ACM Article
“The probes were part of a strategy of pursuing experimental design in a responsive way. They address a common dilemma in developing projects for unfamiliar groups. Understanding the local cultures was necessary so that our designs wouldn’t seem irrelevant or arrogant, but we didn’t want the groups to constrain our designs unduly by focusing on needs or desires they already understood. We wanted to lead a discussion with the groups toward unexpected ideas, but we didn’t want to dominate it.” (Gaver 22)
Probe Pack

5. Public sphere
“The public sphere is an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. It is a discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interest and, where possible, to reach a common judgment. The public sphere can be seen as a theater in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk and "a realm of social life in which public opinion can be formed… The study of the public sphere centers on the idea of participatory democracy, and how public opinion becomes political action.”
Example of an application of this:

6. Collective creativity

“Collective creativity occurs when bisociation is shared by two or more people.
We are beginning to see that collective creativity can be very powerful and can lead to more culturally relevant results than individual creativity does. This is what happens with really good collaboration based on teamwork.”

7. Bricolage
“A French term for improvisation or a piece of makeshift handiwork. It is sometimes applied to artistic works in a sense similar to collage; an assemblage improvised from materials ready to hand, or the practice of transforming ‘found’ materials by incorporating them in a new work.”

(This plays out in my work that is investigating materials that are sourced in Rwanda as well as the need to shift away from high technologies to low to no technology access)

8. Critical design

“Critical design, popularized by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, uses designed artifacts as an embodied critique or commentary on consumer culture. Both the designed artifact (and subsequent use) and the process of designing such an artifact causes reflection on existing values, mores, and practices in a culture.
A critical design will often challenge its audience's preconceptions and expectations thereby provoking new ways of thinking about the object, its use, and the surrounding environment.”
Dunne and Raby are notable figures in the field of critical design

9. Design for the periphery, the other 90%, or the majority, base of the pyramid*
There are various words that could be used to describe those who live in abject poverty. These are a few I have found most often used in identifying the group I am seeking to work with and understand better:

Periphery: “The term refers to countries which have a marginal role in the world economy, and are thus dependent on societies in a ‘core area’ producing materials for trading relationships.”

“…the four billion people who live on less than $2 per day, typically in developing countries. The phrase “bottom of the pyramid” is used in particular by people developing new models of doing business that deliberately target that demographic, often using new technology.”

5 Ds of BoP Marketing

*While these words are in no way ideal or finite, they are common terms used in various spheres who are seeking to assist those who have limited access to health care, clean water, education and other basic needs. Rwanda specifically has some objectives that even exceed these in the pillars of its Vision 2020 objectives.

10. Sustainable development
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
-the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
-the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."
(from the Brundtland Report, 1987)

“The word “sustainable,” however, conceals as much as it reveals. Hidden beneath the rhetoric are assumptions about growth, technology, democracy, public participation, and human values.”
(David Orr in Ecological Literacy)

11. Persuasive Design
While typically used to discuss people’s relationships with technology (capatology), my interpretation of this word gets slighted adjusted when technology isn’t actually available. How can a lo-tech product or activity persuade a new behaviour?

12. Narrative Inquiry
“Narrative inquiry is the process of gathering information for the purpose of research through storytelling.”

13. Appropriate Technology

“Appropriate technology (AT) is technology that is designed with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. With these goals in mind, AT typically requires fewer resources, is easier to maintain, has a lower overall cost and less of an impact on the environment compared to industrialized practices.”

14. Democratization of knowledge

“…can be used to describe the rather recent advancement in the way knowledge is constructed, most notably influenced by the internet… Democracy is "Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole...," applied to the concept of knowledge, implies a body of public knowledge that can be manipulated by the people, not necessarily experts.”

In Design Research Now, Beat Schneider references this idea as a important field of activity in the future of design: “ Visual design plays a vital role in the democratization of knowledge. Designers are therefore urgently called upon to help make orientation in information networks transparent…What significance should be attached to visual knowledge (alongside traditional knowledge imparted via spoken language)? What role can it play in the acquisition of knowledge and in fostering communication between holders of knowledge?” (page 209)

This applies in my research when I consider issues of good governance as a designer who has worked in the developing world where communication at the best of times is problematic (never mind issues of demographic or language).

15. Transformation design
Applies broader design thinking to new contexts. Builds on design skills to address social and economic issues. Uses the design process as a means to enable a wide range of disciplines and stakeholders, an approach that places the individual at the heart of new solutions and builds the capacity to innovate into organizations and institutions. Often doesn’t look or feel like design in the traditional sense. Doesn’t fit with the paradigm of master designer.

1 comment:

Karin said...

Okay, I just felt I HAD to write you a comment. I just found you via flickr and started reading your blog. Can I just say, I LOVE IT! You have so many wonderful ideas, and the field kit - wow! I've been thinking for the longest time about the possibility of sending some cameras out into the world, about being able to share the lives and endeavors of other people... And you're making that a reality! I can't wait to read more and find out what happens to your kits. I'm an International Relations student myself, and I will definitely remember these points for my Masters thesis. Thank you so much, you've made my day!! /Karin