Augmented reality & consumerism

The debate whether AR could reduce consumerism has generated the poster that Monica will present at the Persuasive Technologies conference at the University of Waterloo. Monica advocates for the benefits, while her co-author, Miriam Salah argues against.

Stan invited as expert to the Creating Peace Summit in Guiavare, Colombia

From Jan 20 – Feb 4, Stan participated at a summit in the Amazon jungle, organized by the International Development Innovation Network. The purpose of the summit was to pilot a co-design process that can help local communities and the communist guerrillas imagine a better future together. Stan helped to lead the ideation process, using a workshop developed around Dator’s model of the four futures: growth, discipline, collapse, and transformation. Juan de la Rosa and Natalie were also there, working as design consultants.

What is an experimental prototype?

There is a sense in which all prototypes have an experimental purpose, since they are made to instantiate some features of an artifact that does not yet exist.

However, there is a useful distinction to be made between prototypes in practice and prototypes for research purposes. The latter would be ones that aren’t intended to address a problem directly, but instead to learn more about some general principles that could apply not only to the current problem, but also to others.

Stan invited to speak in China

From Nov 23 to Nov 29, 2017 Stan was a guest at the Dalian University of Technology. He presented the following talk:

What is New Knowledge in Design?

Many design practitioners would rightly claim that research is a part of practice. For example, in order to produce a new design, it is often useful to learn about the people who will use the design, which involves research about people. In order to get the configuration of a design into a satisfactory condition, it is necessary to consider materials, the manufacturing process, requirements for styling, and so on, all of which involve research about the components of the design. However, research from design practice is usually not intended to produce a generalized understanding. For that to happen, it is useful to introduce additional questions like what theories are we attempting to build, what do those theories predict, and how can we best validate the theories by testing their predictions? In this talk, we will examine, using a series of examples, how new knowledge is created through design research, and how design practice can potentially contribute.

Stan invited to speak in Bogota

Stan visited the Masters of Design program at the National University of Colombia from Nov 13-17, 2017 to present a public talk and two workshops.

The first workshop was for graduate students and the other for people involved in research with communities. Both explored the use of experimental prototypes for gathering data in design research, using Dator’s 4 possible futures: growth, discipline, collapse, and transformation.

From the public talk:

This discussion will focus on the topic of validity in research, and in particular how different research results in design can be evaluated, given that design research may concern itself with the past and present, some preferred future, or the transition period from the present to that future.

The premise is that the same standards of validity that are applicable in the sciences and the humanities, which focus on studying the past and present, are not entirely transferable to the situation in design or other generative disciplines such as engineering and computer science.

We will examine a number of published design research projects from this perspective, drawing on interdisciplinary work with the sciences (the pill browser), the fine arts (the simulated environment for theatre), and the digital humanities (speculative timelines). We will also look at projects that represent collaborations with industry (decision support) and community members (bubblelines machine).

Why design concepts?

We are an emerging group of researchers who share a belief that design practice could benefit from better models of abstract concepts. For example, we hear a lot about opinions in the news, but, from the design perspective, what is an opinion? How can we help people form, change, or strengthen their opinions?


Research methods

In all of our projects, we use design research methods involving iterative prototyping–sometimes experimental, and occasionally provocative. We often also do user testing. Finally, for projects where we are developing new theories, we typically use grounded theory creation, following the method by Glaser and Strauss of constant comparison.