My interpretation of "discipline" is neither as situated or consensual as
many of you have indicated. It is perhaps too overtly American in that it
emphasizes rigor and intelligence in an individual mind. That rigor and
intelligence can be tightened or loosened to meet the challenges of a need
or desire in any context - whether individual, communal or professional.
Education should not seek to discipline the individual mind to utilize
delivered information in a way appropriate to some designated problem, nor
to conform to a social consensus. Rather it should help the student
understand how rigor and knowledge as well as freedom from situated
constraints can be orchestrated to help them realize their goals - which
invariably will have some social component and linguistic expression.
Training disciples is so 50's, sorting out silos of practice so 70's, and
getting confused through definitions so eternal that these efforts aren't
what teaching design should be about.
Whether designated by a noun or verb, in my view, design is a coherent,
universally applicable mental discipline that becomes instantiated when
applied in any problematic situation, profession, or field.
Best to all,
Dr. Charles Burnette
234 South Third Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215 629 1387
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On 9/30/07 7:24 AM, "Ken Friedman" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Dear Klaus,
> Thanks for your reply. I understood the intention -- when you asked
> that we recall the meaning of the word based on its etymology, I
> wanted to clarify the etymological descent from study and learning.
> But this also points to the issue you raise here, in part to suggest
> that designers are not "undisciplined" and to say that as a community
> they cannot be undisciplined.
> All human groups establish some form of symbolic community through
> which they establish meaning and create a common culture. This is how
> we transmit information and -- more important -- how we transmit the
> internalized actionable information the constitutes knowledge. It is
> how we share values and build communities. It is how we create and
> sustain the symbolic universe within which each groups creates,
> enacts, and gives voice to (languages) its world.
> As you do, I prefer a human-centered approach. I am also aware of the
> social reality of the design profession. All professions that shape
> strong cultures and professional solidarity deal with the problems
> you label as abstractions: disciplines, professionalism, culture,
> governance. Whatever you want to label them -- and whether or not you
> wish to give them any abstract label at all -- the phenomena they
> represent are part of the cultural and behavioral repertoire of
> designers. Becoming undisciplined is a personal choice, and
> individuals often make this choice over and against the social
> pressure of the groups to which they belong. They must frequently
> make this choice over against the sanctions and punitive reactions of
> their communities.
> We do not differ on the human-centered approach. We differ in the way
> we talk about it. The concepts of "human-centered approach" and
> "stakeholder" are abstraction in just the same way that concepts such
> as "culture" or "profession" are abstractions. The words we use
> create and give rise to the world through abstraction -- it seems to
> me that you are criticizing my use of words as abstract while suggest
> that the words you use are not abstract. I'd say that all words are
> abstract, since they describe things rather than being the things
> they describe.
> Designers should be remain accountable to their stakeholders. Like
> lawyers, physicians, senators, and even professors, they ten to count
> their professional colleagues and social communities among the
> stakeholder groups to which they must account -- the challenge of
> understanding the nature of the stakeholder is as problematic for
> designers as for any other group, and, as with all groups, designers
> can sometimes be more loyal to one group of stakeholders than to
> This is especially the case for social groups with strong cultures --
> hedge fund financiers with six thousand pound suits are an example of
> such a group, as are lawyers, uniformed military officers, or a
> convocation of black-suited Jesuits. The convocation of black-suited
> designers in my example was no less cohesive than any of these
> others, and my observation of most design studios suggests that most
> design disciples submit themselves to disciplinary thinking,
> demonstrating obedience by putting loyalty to stakeholders within the
> firm above loyalty to outside stakeholders (again, see Byrne and
> Sands 2001).
> We agree on what should be. I argue that what should be is the
> abstract here: you describe an ideal situation. The realities on the
> ground are different.
> Byrne, Bryan and Ed Sands. 2001. "Designing Collaborative Corporate
> Cultures." In Creating Breakthrough Ideas. Bryan Byrne and Susan E.
> Squires, eds. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group,
> Klaus Krippendorff wrote,
> dear ken,
> it is late here.
> only two points.
> (1) i did not want to develop a complete etymological history of the word
> discipline - whether disciple came before discipline and such - to me a
> disciple submits him or herself to disciplinary thinking and is no longer
> him or herself, has internalized the disciplinary aspect of discipline.
> (2) i deliberately qualified my preference for design as an undiscipline by
> saying that designers remain accountable to their stakeholders. the latter
> avoids the kind of abstractions that you introduce like disciplines,
> professionalism, culture, governance. i prefer a more human-centered
> approach as you know.