Avoiding Informatics Overload

Peter Jones Design for Care, Information Ecology, Sensemaking

Mark Hurst posts on Good Experience the argument that information overload suppresses comprehension and creates an absence of understanding and retention: To solve info overload, make friends with The Nothing In my experience this is true, and is moreover a testable proposition.  Mark says: Because the only way to really make information disappear, these days, is to surround it by a sufficient amount of competing information. Case in point is Side Effects? These Drugs Have a Few. Here the NYT references a Harvard study showing that there are, on average, 70 side effects listed on drug labels. Some labels contain over 500 side effects. What would be the possible benefit of a drug maker listing over 500 side effects? Easy: it gives coverage in a liability lawsuit. What’s clear is that the patient experience is harmed by these labels. Patients now know less about side effects than they did before. Sure, a drug might hypothetically bring about any of 500 side effects, but what are the few most common ones to look out for? The drug label story teaches us …

Experience research: Making Sense of Sensemakers?

Peter Jones Design research, Sensemaking, Wu Wei

Consider design research – is it a discipline or no? Consider design researchers – researchers or are we really design consultants? A discipline has a body of knowledge, and a clear way of contributing to literature so that we know what we know.  A real discipline has a theoretical base, and ways of using that theory toward outcomes in line with accepted values of the field. In design research, what are the guiding theories and epistemologies that we recognize as credible and meaningful? What are the underlying philosophical assumptions that distinguish design research from market and user research? From social sciences or business research? Is it all really just (perhaps) a difference in methodology?  And if so, isn’t that just technique and an activity that only supports the instrumental goals of a design project? Even if design research is not leading innovation per se (see Don Norman’s Technology Leads and the recent DRC 2010) we should be leading with theories that help us make sense of what we’re inventing. If we are not creating contexts and joint understanding of impacts, …

Making Sense of Sensemaking

Peter Jones Sensemaking, Wu Wei

Dr. Brenda Dervin presented a lecture and workshop at University of Toronto’s KMDI, kicking off the Making Sense Of series led by professor Peter Pennefather, KMDI outreach director. Peter and I hosted Brenda as befitting this first session in a series of workshops on “how we make sense” in several different domains. What’s new is the focus on new forms of media for aiding sensemaking. Brenda is Professor of Communications at OSU and one of the founding thinkers of sense-making, along with Karl Weick. Their 1980’s work developed theory and cases for how people individually (Dervin) and organizationally (Weick) make explanatory sense of situations in everyday life and breakdowns. Newer contributors to the sensemaking literature Gary Klein, Dave Snowden, and the PARC (now Google) team of Russell, Stefik, Car, Pirolli have contributed versions that extend their prior work in cognitive science. In Dervin’s lecture she explicated each contributor to the canon from the perspective of her recent publication in the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences. While there are other authors contributing to the discourse, Dervin finds these are the …

Making Sense of Sensemaking with Dr. Brenda Dervin

Peter Jones Dialogic Design, Sensemaking, Wu Wei

Sense-making in Collaborative Practice: Can Media Design Support Sensemaking in Professional Practice Collaboration and Decision Making? This conversational workshop is designed as a “dialogue” between a panel of 5 question-askers and Dr. Brenda Dervin. The framing for the conversation has been developed by the panelists. Through a series of questions and answers, Dr. Dervin will attempt to build a bridge between her approach to Sense?Making Methodology and the different approaches to sense-making/sensemaking that ground the panelists’ questions. We envision a two-hour workshop-conversation inviting researchers and practitioners working in problems information seeking, interprofessional practice development, and other joint decision making challenges. Why has sense?making/sensemaking recently emerged as a lens through which we describe human experience with information, decision making, and complexity? Haven’t people always tried to “make sense?” If so, what have we learned from our attempts to describe the phenomenon of sensemaking in research and practice? Multiple disciplines have recognized a need to describe the human experience of coping, struggling with, working around, and making decisions in situations where complexity reigns. The lessons learned from such experiences are not simple …