Media Ecology: Emergence, Second Life, Real Life

Peter Jones Information Ecology

A second post on the Toronto Media Ecology dialogue. Starting from a prompt question (something like): How does emergence arise in design ecologies (see prior post below) when we are intending creative innovation? Optimal solutions to complex design or problem situations often arise (emerge) from the improvised mix of pre-existing features and relationships in a well-diversified design ecology, analogous to a biologically-diverse ecosystem. Of course, as human agents we can accelerate the rate of evolutionary innovation when we have some control over the resources and number and type of relationships in the ecosystem. In other words, just like an enriched home environment (with toys, books, friends, intellectual conversation) helps children learn and develop, an enriched design ecology fosters innovative outcomes that we desire. At this point inthe conversation, the turn toward general systems theory spurred a round of attaching people’s favorite theorists to the story. Buckley’s work in social systems theory, Giddens structuration, I would have tossed Banathy and Buck Fuller into the mix if we had time to go on and on. I don’t know Buckley, so if someone …

Dialogue on design ecologies

Peter Jones Dialogic Design

How rare an event to walk unexpectedly into Socratic dialogue, in process. Friday’s Media Ecology workshop at U of T, hosted by Mogens Olesen and Bob Logan, was found in Bob’s office, where he and about 7 others were in process already, and after us, 2 more walking in, into an intimately cramped space. The tight office required everyone to lean in, make contact, and attend closely. In future sessions, I would recommend alternating these informal dialogues between larger and smaller rooms to encourage the interaction that results from people having to sit on tables or stand by the door. It lends urgency and a conspiratorial air to the proceedings. Proceedings which ranged quite widely – And if you weren’t there, my reporting from notes may not make sense as a narrative flow, as it was an open dialogue. I’ve tried to capture the spirit of the dialogue here, but there may be insufficient background – that could take all day to do, if it were possible. From walking in, to ending 90 minutes later, the conversation opened a lot …

Dialogue as unmediated design

Peter Jones Dialogic Design

Or at least, less-mediated design. A goal and an inherent value of participatory design is that of engaging users directly in a design processes, to minimize the translation of features by designers. The goal of direct participation is not to reduce the cycle time incurred between cycles of user-centered design, prototyping, and user assessment, although that happens. The goal is to maximize user ownership of the design for their own work practices, and to minimize the influence designers have in articulating the significant features in the application space. Participatory design has a values orientation that respects the intelligence and autonomy of participants in their own work practices. Dialogic design also aims to minimize designer mediation, even if through a facilitated process. By enabling participation of all stakeholders in a design dialogue – aspires to immediacy. The principle of requisite autonomy is honored in all SDD sessions, which requires the autonomy and authenticity of all individual stakeholders to be preserved. Nobody can alter a contribution made by a participants in structured dialogue. Dialogue happens with a committed group of people, during …

IDEO Smart Space – A transformation of what?

Peter Jones Transformation Design

IDEO’s Urban Pre-Planning Can its “Smart Space” practice shake up the lumbering world of infrastructure, zoning, and public process? IDEO gets so much press on their approach to architectural projects – perhaps because its a relatively new space for design, and few other firms are taking it on in the way they can. They have the size, the rep, and a diverse mix of design disciplines. They have balls, you have to give them credit – their developing practice in urban planning, land use, and housing planning is taking on a complex, hyper-sensitive, “sprawling” territory where results will be hard to measure, because cities and new initiatives in urban spaces take time and community commitment to happen. IDEO does not have to care if they design it, and nobody comes. So they can reach far with ideas and aim for excitement and inspiration. But it is not innovation of urban planning, it seems to be a innovation of urban packaging. This has implications for design strategy, because IDEO gets to set the top bar for the profession. If conceptual design …