Weekly Update 03: Early Readings

This week was a little less productive than I was hoping it would be, but I made progress on a few things. I spent some time reading about epistemological perspectives on design. My understanding of the terminology and theory is still pretty limited, but I think I will be approaching the study of design from a constructivist standpoint. Right now I am waiting on two books that seem relevant to this point in my research: How We Think by Dewey and The Reflective Practitioner by Schön. Without any full texts to read, most of my week was spent collecting and reviewing a variety of shorter articles, spending most of my attention on three articles which I have summarized below. I also worked on specifying the type of methods that I am interested in studying, however I don’t have much to show for that yet. By the end of next week I hope to present a much clearer picture of where I am going.

Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking
Weick, Sutcliffe, and Obstfeld, 2005

My first reading on sensemaking per the recommendation from Anna. The topic seems very relevant to design, especially in group work and the role design practice plays in an organization. I believe sensemaking has a history in HCI, and there are a few popular designers who have written about it or adopted it as a way to describe their practice (e.g. John Kolko, www.humantific.com). Still a lot for me to learn here if I am going to use it.

Design facilitation as an emerging Design skill: A Practical Approach
Body, Terrey, Tergas, 2010

My interest in facilitation came out of an article by Sanders and Stappers Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. This was a pretty shallow article, but I was digging around for work specifically focused on facilitation and the design process. As I was reflecting on co-design, the role of the designer as facilitator seemed pivotal to the process, yet I couldn’t think of much literature on the topic. If designers are acting more and more as facilitators — often without formal training in the activity — is it important to understand how they choose methods, work with people, evaluate their performance, etc? The authors do a little work on defining what a “design facilitator” is and how that differentiates from a “general facilitator” based mostly from reflections on their personal experience. After a bit more reflection and a few comments from Malin, I am not sure I want to delve too deep into design facilitation. Mostly I am hesitant to focus on analyzing the role of the designer. I am more interested in the perspective of non-designers.

Rethinking Design Thinking: Part II
Lucy Kimbell, 2012

This article relates back to my epistemological stance on design. I only read it last night, but I am interested in the way she deals with “design thinking.” I have had troubles with the phrase for awhile and she describes a theory of design practice that seems like a more specific way to look at design. She suggests two concepts of design practice: design-as-practice and designs-in-practice. I believe theories of practice is related to Lave and Wenger’s “communities of practice,” but I have some more reading to do on the topic. Kimbell cites Andreas Reckwitz in her explanation: “Practice theories shift the unit of analysis away from a micro level (individuals) or a macro one (organizations or groups and their norms) to an indeterminate level at a nexus of minds, bodies, objects, discourses, knowledge, structures/ processes, and agency, which together constitute practices that are carried by individuals (Reckwitz 2002).” Again I have more to learn, but this perspective seems informed by pragmatism, which aligns with my view of design. Overall, I thought it may be a valuable way to maintain perspective in my research and avoid the ambiguous meaning of the phrase design thinking.