June 02, 2008

creating links

I've been reading an article by Zeeuw (a cybernetician), he's been reading Pask's Interaction of Actors writing, he is describing different ways of doing research and the incorporation of values into research.

He describes a researcher wanting to reduce freq of women being raped on campus.... in looking at all the responses they found no 'one' answer... however they found that if they invited women at risk to look at all the responses they received then they found those women would synthesise something of use... the researchers were no longer treating the at risk women as partners in creating collectives (P-individuals)...

so the stories allowed the women to 'keep thinking'

these stories are acting like morals... they help us to read situations and react appropriately

moral tales are like the apache stories woven into the land, they guide us through the land.. again the Picador Nature Reader book chapter about the North American Indigenous people and their stories...

communication design as conversation, as negotiation, as story-making, involving the other....

April 25, 2008

new philosophy...

and of course it is easy to get lost in this stuff

Roy Bhasker
and his Realist theory of science...
this is interesting because it is a humanist philosophy that sits between the modernist positivist project and post-modernities relativism...the way he puts forward the reality of the existence of structures which are independent of our own experience while at the same time not having to rely on experimental logic to fundamentally prove them.. he talks about the 'tendencies of systems' in this way his philosophy has a lot to offer a humanist design project.

Gunnar Olsson
and his new 'Critique of Cartographic Reason'... which connects to

John Carroll
The Wreck of Western Culture

this connection to the fundamental structures and valuing systems has implications from design education through to 'ethics of social space' questions...

but in a slightly less dramatic tone.

April 16, 2008

writers on the dialectic

so then from Glanville and Law, I have moved on to

Karl Popper
and the way he describes 'conjectures and refutations' as a theory for how scientific knowledge is generated... and I recently read, ummm, Nigel Cross I think it was talking about how C and R could be seen as how design is developed...

now I'm not sure about this but it is worth looking into Popper, his name keeps cropping up, and looking into his theories and how they might apply to design because he did apply them himself far more widely than just into science...

Popper also said 'we must remember to learn from our mistakes' and this strikes home to me... from early experience and from the 'failures' paper I presented at Izmir...

I also need to have another look at

Terry Rosenberg

and his work on knowledge and what it is possible to know or not know....


Richard Saul Wurman

and his Information Anxiety book and writings is important too.. in as much to say how much information we have and what we have, and how we access it, and who owns it, is importnat...

and then there's

Jacques Lacan

and his work which built on top of Freuds, and talks about systems to analyses Self and Other etc...

April 14, 2008

more writers, thinkers, makers


Gordon Pask,
and his work on cybernetics... since it seems to connect strongly to design and design process... it doesn't oversimplify and it is not overly interested in problem-solving but more interested in 'what design does other than problem-solve'

and of course
Ranulph Glanville
is a cybernetician... and he writes about design in a way that seems to connect to my ontological foundations...

not that I'm particularly looking for someone to connect to, so someone like Cross would be good to look at too...
Nigel Cross
or even
Per Mollerup

perhaps even
Herbert Simon...

also, I got some feedback on the New Views 2 submission... it was OK, actually it was good feedback and I wanted to ring up the anonymous reviewer and thank them for their input...

they pointed me to

E T Gendlin

and his work on Phenomenology and 'thinking at the edge (TAE)' since it deals with the investigation of previously ineffable things... he's developed his 'focusing' technique that promises to make the inexpressible, expressible...

the reviewer also pointed me at


who talk about metaphors and their connection to how we (unconsciously) use them to speak and constuct our thoughts, etc... this work might be useful to help explain the possibility of a altered description of design...

and then I think of someone else, someone very important who I have missed out up to now...

John Thackara

Peter Downton

Theodor Adorno

Michel Foucault

Ivan Illich

Nicolas Bourriard

April 08, 2008

more writers 2

and I've also been thinking about

Cameron Tonkinwise
Lisa Grocott
Michael Biggs

more writers...

also on the list for consideration is

Walter Benjamin
The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility

for it is in the power to access reproduction that the intensified power of the communication designer lies. It takes them, as authors, beyond the power of the everyday. Reproduction also divorces comm designers from an inate ability to intuit the impact of their own work, the power of reproduction is explosive, uncontrollable and yet not flagged as 'dangerous'.

Pardon this analogy but it helps me... when one is snorkeling then it is OK to dive, it is OK to do whatever you want, you lungs tell you when you are running out of air and in danger, they give one direct signals 'I need more air'... contrast this to Scuba, a technologically enabled activity, where there are no 'natural' warning signals... we don't 'know' when we are underwater too long, or too deep, or when we are coming up too fast.. the body doesn't report this as pain or in any way. We have to be rationally aware of these issues and carry with us devices which remind us of these dangers... thus with communication design and reproduction, suddenly we extend ourselves, through media, out 1000 fold, or 100,000 fold... our impact can be immense yet our sense of 'danger' is still that of the snorkeler.

and also his
Arcades Project
....which was one of the books I looked into during my masters. I wanted to go into it more and this was one of the things which made me first start to think about continuing study into doctoral level...

March 31, 2008

other writers...

and I am also thinking of the following writers:

Bruno Latour
Re-assembling the social

Although this is for sociologists, there is something in this and in the writing of John Law that speak to communication design.

So also

John Law
Enacting the social
[as I would argue that communication design visualises the social and in doing so enacts the social

and a paper by
Barbara Bolt
in the journal 'Studies in material thinking'. Bolt comes from a fine art perspective, I do tend to continually hark back to fine art research methods and writing... it is where I came from and seems to provide a stronger, less fragile foundation for design research thinking.

somehow I need to go back through all those papers and find a way of systematising them and bringing out their connections, contradictions and overlaps.

Donna Haraway
and her cyborg manifesto, definitely because Margolin used it extensively in his Politics of the Artificial essay... and she crops up again in Bolts essay.

March 26, 2008

choice of texts

I am going to choose 5 or so design writers... and critically analyse them. Look at the implications of their writing to Communication Design practice (a lot of them come out of Industrial Design or Architecture, or do not actually practice).

This critical review will form the start of this, my doctoral research project.

I have a list of writers to choose from, my shortlist needs to have certain characteristics:
- writings on communication design (or applicable to comm design)
- fairly recent theory - no, second thoughts, this is not important, and it may be better to go back to first principles
- seminal texts or key texts (OK if this is just for me, not everybody)
- contrasting opinions... will help to define the 'gap' for my own doctoral research
- theoretical writings, or writings which can be applied to design theory and thence back into practice
- by non-practitioners... and by practitioners

list at the moment is:


and it's just started

next is, why am I looking at these writers and what do I want to get out of them?