24 July 2009

Design and Democracy

I watch this video footage of the Design Awards (that is available for download on the White House website) and am proud of the accomplishments of those who have gone before me. To see design honored in such a stately affair makes you feel like you are a part of something larger. I found Michelle Obama's speech to be slightly stuck on the science and art pairing but appreciated that she identified the idea that "great designers pursue a mission."

It is also notable that we get to witness events like this: a sign of the transparency of information. And made possible by a government-related event that celebrates those who help make this information flow freely.

22 July 2009

In this presentation in Madrid, Jocelyn Wyatt gives a great overview about how design can be used when approaching social sector complexities. She highlights IDEO's five principles that I find helpful in understanding the process of this type of thinking:

1) Design puts people first
2) Design thinking starts small and starts now
3) Design balances the eco-system
4) Design experiments to learn
5) Design thrives in constraints

(And at about the 13 minute mark, Jocelyn comments on my adaptation of their toolkit where I used a camera for self-documentation.)

21 July 2009

When I grow up, I want to be a design researcher

I'm grateful for a new opportunity. Or perhaps an ongoing opportunity.

I get to keep being a design researcher.

Over the next four months I'll be working alongside my advisor, Maria Lantin, to develop an analysis that will help focus future project opportunities for this funding at ECUAD. Specifically, we are considering how the application of digital media and design can contribute to developments in the DTES.

(click on this chart by IDEO to see it larger)

Some key words for us in this process? Repeatable, scalable, sustainable, transferable, adaptable and technological.

I'll keep you posted on any pertinent news (and we'll likely be creating a blog-like space to exchange ideas and process).

10 July 2009

SMS Rapid Prototyping

This research by Google, that employs rapid prototyping, is something I wish I could have explored more thoroughly in my own process. The main question I ask in watching it:

How can these ideas be translated when literacy/language may be an issue? What if someone can't text in English or can't even text in their native language?

Regardless, this is a fundamental work toward applications that become relevant in these contexts. I think of people who live remotely and have a far distance to go to see a doctor. This could drastically improve the way people deal with medical issues, not to mention understanding weather and agricultural issues.

And I have little grin surfacing as I recall using those MTN minute cards in Rwanda.

08 July 2009

Back to Morris?

What do you think about this quote?

To understand the language of design, we also need to understand how the designer has evolved as a professional. Ever since design emerged as a distinct activity, closely linked to the development of the industrial system towards the end of the eighteenth century, designers have lurched from seeing themselves as social reformers, idealists, profoundly out of sympathy with their times, like William Morris in nineteenth-century England, to become the charismatic snake-oil salesman led by Raymond Loewy in mid-twentieth-century America. Morris hated the machine age, and tried to find a way to re-create the tradition of the hand crafted object.

-From The Language of Things by Deyan Sudjic

Are we, like Morris, in a place of rejection of the pains our industrial age has inflicted? DIY replaces expert, handmade becomes the new high-end and what was seemingly mechanized is less appealing compared to the seemingly organic. How has (must) the designer changed his or her role? Are we in a design reformation or is it actually a revolution?

How do you view your role as a designer? Reformer, idealist, salesman or ?

An interview with the author

07 July 2009

A great article on human-centered design (that hosts a wee quote from my work with the kit in Rwanda).

06 July 2009

Design is a Life Skill, Not Just Style

I think this footage speaks for itself.