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PHD-DESIGN  February 2008

PHD-DESIGN February 2008

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Subject:

Re: Evidence of what?

From:

Ranjan MP <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ranjan MP <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 3 Feb 2008 22:45:12 +0530

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (228 lines)

Dear Friends

I agree with Michael. In design the "Evidence" of the kind that would be 
found embedded in the "Artefact" would have many meanings, each one that 
corresponds to a particular point of view that is held by the 
researcher. One position is influenced by the very nature of design and 
its layers of influencing factors. Design influences can be felt and 
measured across many layers from the material and aesthetic to the 
technical, economic and the social and the political levels and we will 
also need to factor in the systems levels of ecology and spirituality 
before we complete our analysis of any given situation or product 
completely.

I have been using a model to explain this for my students and I call 
this the "Iceberg Factor" in design, with a few visible and measurable 
attributes as seen in the "Artefact" and a huge layer of intangible and 
invisible attributes that would represent the intentions and the value 
that the particular event, product or service could or would provide. I 
have shared this model in the context of the debate about to 
introduction of the world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano, that was 
unveiled at the Indian Auto fair in New Delhi last month by Ratan Tata. 
I have shown this model in my blog post at this link below:
<http://www.design-for-india.blogspot.com/2008/01/tatas-one-lakh-car-systems-failure-on.html>

In another situation when we studied the bamboo crafts of the 
Northeastern States of India in the late 70's and early 80's we 
collected as many as 400 baskets, all different, from the field work 
that extended over a region that included seven states of the region and 
from as many as 50 different tribes and communities who lived there. Our 
analysis of the these products was done in order to understand the 
basket in the context of material properties of the bamboo used as well 
as the form and structure as appreciated by the local mind, a sort of 
traditional wisdom study, that would give us a basis to use the material 
for our intentions which were to bring development to the region 
socially and economically using a local resource and by not imposing our 
own notion of aesthetics while doing our design work, very complex 
agenda. Our book, The "Bamboo & Cane Crafts of Northeast India" by M P 
Ranjan, Nilam Iyer and Ghanshyam Pandya published in 1986 was based on 
our 1979-80 field work and has a very detailed index that looks at many 
dimensions of the product universe that was studied. I now call it the 
Traditional Wisdom guide since we were able to identify and list both 
visible and invisible attributes in the two distinct indexes, the 
Subject Index that covered names and places while the Technical Index 
covered the structural, material and geometric attributes as well as 
properties of materials, techniques and local knowledge that we found in 
our discourse of these products and these included as many as 8000 
attributes in all. These hidden and visible attributes have informed our 
further work in product design with the local material, bamboo , as well 
as our formal and aesthetic decisions that we could keep aligned to the 
expressions that we found and articulated through detailed drawings and 
textual descriptions in the research process that led up to the book.

If I were to extend this method to a range of artefacts from our 
contemporary culture we can see that our electronic products as well as 
our automobiles could be subjected to such an elaborate analysis that 
includes functional, social, aesthetis as well as economic and 
ecological parameters and we would that be discussing the influence 
across all these parameters in a design discourse. History of design 
misses such a deep analysis and most of the descriptions that I am 
familiar with is stylistic analysis or technological advancement related 
studies and much work needs to be done in this area. So the whole issue 
of "What Evidence" is both complex and related to the point of view and 
the hypothesis that is held by the researcher. Each discourse of the 
research would open up new layers of meaning and contexts that can be 
further explored. In a recent post I have shared some preliminary 
systems analysis work that was done by one of my students in a systems 
design class that was conducted in 1991 about the Lego Toy at the 
systems level. You can see this at my blog post below:
<http://design-for-india.blogspot.com/2008/01/lego-toy-for-all-ages-can-it-be.html>

The analysis of the product showed the multiple dimensions that needed 
to be examined in order to both understand such a product as well as to 
apply these principles to a new system of similatr complexity and 
effect. She found several dimensions:
The Geometric Module: Form, Dimension, Compatibility
The Functional Module: Hinges, Pins, Tubes, Features
The Marketing Module: Packaging, Economic Groups, Age Groups, Interest 
Groups
The Semantic Module: Form, Colour, Texture, Terminal Elements, Context
The Ergonomic Module: User Capability, Need, Age Matching, Complexity
and finally
The Economic Module: Production Features, Finished Product 
Configuration, Set Configuration etc.,
See this post at the link below:
<http://www.design-for-india.blogspot.com/2008/01/lego-toy-for-all-ages-can-it-be.html>

Lego has just completed 50 years and going and some of our product 
systems in India and elsewhere have a lineage of over 5000 years of 
tradition behind them which are very complex to fathom, even if we were 
to look at all the possible angles, even if we could.

With warm regards

M P Ranjan
from my mac at home on the NID campus
3 Ferbruary 2008 at 10.40 pm IST

-------------------------------------------------------------- 

Prof M P Ranjan
Faculty of Design
Head, Centre for Bamboo Initiatives at NID (CFBI-NID)
Chairman, GeoVisualisation Task Group (DST, Govt. of India) (2006-2008)
National Institute of Design
Paldi
Ahmedabad 380 007 India

Tel: (off) 91 79 26623692 ext 1090
Tel: (res) 91 79 26610054
Fax: 91 79 26605242

email: [log in to unmask]
web site: http://homepage.mac.com/ranjanmp
web domain: http://www.ranjanmp.in
blog: <http://www.design-for-india.blogspot.com>
education blog: <http://www.design-concepts-and-concerns.blogspot.com>
education blog: http://www.visible-information-india.blogspot.com

---------------------------------------------------------------



Michael Biggs wrote:
> Dear List Members
>
> "Evidence" is not a category that exists independently of everything else. A
> bloodstained carpet may be "evidence" in a murder investigation, but may
> simply be inconvenient when Spring cleaning. Something BECOMES evidence in
> relation to an hypotheses, and it provides additional reasons for proving or
> disproving that hypotheses. Thus to activate something as evidence one must
> build a narrative in which there is a role for this particular artifact
> (etc). The strength of this artifact AS evidence depends on its
> instrumentality in the narrative, e.g. what we claim, on the basis of the
> blood-stained carpet, happened on the night of the murder. Telling a
> different story, for example by the defense, may marginalize or completely
> contradict the role claimed for the artifact in the first narrative.
>
> In design, we need a narrative which situates the artifact (etc) in a
> process. We need to be clear about what we think this artifact adds to our
> understanding. This clarity comes from the way in which this
> artifact/evidence is connected to other parts of our hypothesis. Therefore
> it is not so much "what kind of object" do we have, but "what kind of
> narrative" do we have. I think that means I agree with Chuck, Clive and Ken.
>
> Michael Biggs
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related
> research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ken
> Friedman
> Sent: 01 February 2008 23:01
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Evidence of what?
>
> Friends,
>
> As I understood it, Dori is asking "What kinds of artifacts count as 
> evidence in design research?" This would mean that there is no exact 
> "what." The "what" is always situated within a specific research 
> question or a series of research questions.
>
> At each moment, the research question for any specific inquiry 
> involves products and processes of different kinds. As Chris noted, 
> one recent survey identified over 500 journals to which research 
> scholars submit papers in the art and design sector. Terry Love, M P 
> Ranjan, Fil Salustri, and I are working on an inventory of fields and 
> sub-fields, disciplines and sub-disciplines in design and design 
> research and we're up to something like 700 different rubrics. We're 
> still sorting and trying to separate cognates from distinct rubrics, 
> but there's no question that there are many fields.
>
> The kinds of things people might investigate in HCI are different to 
> those in product design engineering. Communication design, 
> typography, the history of type, design anthropology, user studies -- 
> all may overlap in some studies while remaining quite different to 
> each other in some.
>
> This is a general question, broad and vague. For what I understood 
> Dori's purposes to be, the answers here are quite useful because they 
> are broad.
>
> I'm sitting here next to five or six meters of running shelf-space 
> filled with books specifically on research methods and comparative 
> research methodology as well as research skills. The come from and 
> are applied to several fields, including about a meter of books 
> specifically titled in different design areas. All of these fields 
> fit some area of design research. Even within the fields of origin 
> that titles outside design represent, they are purposely general. 
> They grow specific when they become situated in a specific research 
> question. In this sense, Chuck's point is well taken and Francois's 
> question is worth considering. The answer emerges within any given 
> research project.
>
> Take a method such as hermeneutics. You'd use it one way to determine 
> the meaning of an eighteenth century English commentary on 
> manufacturing or a French encyclopedia entry on tool or industrial 
> artifacts. You'd use a different approach within hermeneutics to get 
> at the meaning of a contemporary software artifact and how it helps 
> to structure social relations in an organization.
>
> All the answers had uses, and I learned something from each of them. 
> It seems to me they overlap. They're a spectrum with some points of 
> consilience and some points of friction. The kinds of issues I raised 
> fit together nicely with Carl's comment on journal articles and 
> papers. Most of uss fit togerther with aspects of Chuck's comments 
> and David's.
>
> Clive's got it right -- this is an area of substantive complexity. 
> Each research question is a specific instance, and the for of 
> instantiation determines the method that best suits the problem. 
> This, in turn, determines the forms of evidence.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Ken
>
>
>
> Francois-Xavier Nsenga wrote:
>
> "EVIDENCE OF WHAT, to begin with?"
>
> Chuck Burnette wrote:
>
> "We need to be careful not to let research on design focus on things 
> that are not situated and unclear regarding interpretive intent."
>
>   

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