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 …

What is our “Standard of Care” for Design?

Peter Jones Human Values, Wu Wei

Designers and people in the caring professions may have different and valid ways to think about caring and systems. On the Wenovski design community a wide-ranging discussion involves the question of designing “systems that care.” I take a position that we can care for systems practices, but systems will not perform as caring agents. (We could talk about future robots and the “uncanny valley” of likenesses and human qualities, but robots are not what we mean by systems, or even organizations). What is care and where does it show up in systems, by design or by emergence? Care is a deeply-held value to people, but when services designers explicitly adopt a language of values, they risk demeaning that value with real customers. I’ll try to say why I think so. First of all, can systems care? It would be like asking “can we design systems that love?” What is the standard of care for a service or an information system? Without the accompanying duty of care that the professions have to honor, it may be meaningless. Care is at once …

Designing for Circles of Care

Peter Jones Human Values, Wu Wei

Posted from Designing for Care blog on the Rosenfeld site. Designing for Care introduces the framing, if not the framework yet, of integrating design practices within healthcare as a legitimate practice of care. We are already both direct and complementary healthcare professionals. We care and provide care, both personally and professionally. There are many notions of care we could draw from. But my intention is to contribute to a broader impact within healthcare enabling designers to position and act from a legitimized stance as healthcare professionals. In my view the call for this is clear. Designers, whether digital, information, industrial, or device designers, are already serving in critical health support and institutional capacities, and are introducing artifacts and making decisions that have meaningful direct impact on people’s lives.  We need to care about our artifacts and systems as if they will save lives. Because many of them do so, directly. Occupying this position will take time, the evolution and exchange of design knowledge, and it will require us to create common vocabularies for sensemaking. If you consider the disciplinary history …