Here follows a private post from Rob Curedale reposted to Ph.D.-design with
his permission. This suggests the specific virtues of IDFORUM. It also
suggests how Internet communication is changing many professions today, our
own among them.
My point in posting the earlier note on IDFORUM is that we need both kinds
of fora. Good practice requires the development of better research -- as
medicine once did -- and good research requires rich engagement with
The challenge in design is that the fields and disciplines of design are --
and will remain -- integrative frames involving many kinds of research and
many kinds of practice. This is what makes design so broad and challenging
to cover, a domain with what often seems like far too much information.
Consequently, people sometimes grow impatient, feeling that a forum is bad,
rather than simply saying, "I can't use this specific information" or "This
thread isn't useful to me."
Many good threads occur on IDFORUM. I have always been aware of the value
of IDFORUM as a valuable educational resource. Now, reading Rob's post, I
am also aware that IDFORUM has become an important international meeting
place for practicing design professionals.
-- Ken Friedman
Here follows Rob's post:
Over recent months I have met a number of subscribers to idForum face to
face. Today I was discussing offline with one consultant the large number
of clients who seem to be designing the same product in the US at the
moment. We had together come across close on 20 separate companies.
I spoke to a couple of people at the recent IDSA conference in New Orleans
who are design managers at major US companies who are connected to idForum
as well as designers from a number of consultancies. I organized recently
for an article to be published in a new Design Journal in London through a
contact made on idForum. The editor is connected to idForum and is using
the Forum to get feedback on the magazine's content. I am currently
contributing to a book on design research being written by one of the group
members. I received an email today from a Spanish designer who I had worked
with in Silicon Valley but who first met me virtually on idForum when in
I received two emails off line recently from designers working in isolated
environments saying that idForum was their only connection to other
industrial designers and that they very much valued being connected.
I received an email today offline from one of the world's major design
software companies who are using members of the list to develop ideas for
the next big conceptual step forward in the development of their products.
I have read postings from academics who have been annoyed that people
discuss materials technology on idForum. Well, that is industrial design.
But maybe those people's interests lie somewhere else.
idForum like all groups is only the sum of efforts of those willing to
contribute and it takes some positive effort to contribute positively.
It is as far as I know the most extensive industrial design web group in
terms of people connected. A print out of the people connected shows
members from many of the most influential industrial design organizations
in the world. Including the RCA, Art Center, manufacturers like Bose, Sun
and Minolta. idForum can be like question time in a large auditorium. The
auditorium is the world but it still takes people with motivation to ask
intelligent questions for everyone to consider.
In this area of the world where designers are nomadic (the average length
of tenure at some of the Bay companies is 5 to 8 months) idForum offers a
way to stay in touch across the world. I believe that at some point in the
near future, books and articles will be superseded by dynamic information
gathering an editing tools which collect contributions from controlled
sources and put them together into one digital document which is updated
continually. A reference from a large number of sources which is never out
of date. This offers a new democracy of knowledge, access to millions of
brains in real time.
So let's stop complaining and start contributing because these forums are
all we have. They are the beginning of a useful tool for communication.