Today I continued to work on mapping the content connected to my research into design methods. After some much needed feedback and reflection over the weekend I have started to see how I can target my topic. I spent the majority of the day mapping out my personal understanding of what designers do, what methods they use and why, and where those methods came from. The map is far from complete, but I am starting to feel more comfortable putting topics on the page. My hope is that this map is a skeleton that I will build out over the course of my work. Starting with a map that I created from my own understanding of design, should help me maintain my perspective on the research, and allow me to see gaps in my own knowledge as I develop my argument.
As I was reading up on the design process today, I had a little positive reinforcement for my mapping exercise. Last year in a graduate seminar at North Carolina State, our class read a short article by Hugh Dubberly, Shelley Evenson, and Rick Robinson on their Analysis-Synthesis Bridge Model of the design process. After I looked up the article, I perused a few other resources by Hugh Dubberly related to models in design. He has done a fair amount of work that points to the potential for models to have a profound impact on the way designers communicate not only with each other or clients, but with academics and researchers. If designers share models—what Dubberly defined as “an idea about how part of the world works”—we are then able to critique, build from, and refine them, thus bringing rigor in both research and practice. On that note, I am back to visualizing my model of design practice and design methods. I’ll certainly have to save a copy of my early maps, because undoubtedly they will undergo some drastic transformations as I share them with my advisors and colleagues.