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PHD-DESIGN  August 2009

PHD-DESIGN August 2009

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Subject:

Clarifying an epistemological and ontological confusion

From:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 15 Aug 2009 08:22:19 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (47 lines)

Friends,

At some point, I may reply at length to Terry's post and the rejoinders. A
short note must do for now. There is an epistemological and ontological
confusion in Terry's notes, and I think that both Robin Hodge and Gunnar
Swanson have identified some of the problems.

The short argument is this -- people design, machines do not. Design is a
thought process. If design is a thought process, machines can't substitute
for the design act. Rather they provide useful tools, and some aspects of
research have made the tools work better. Some machines take over process
acts and replace skills. But as Gunnar notes, using a computer to design a
page is quite different to designing the type we set. Of course, computers
also assist those who design type, but the point is clear. One is a desk-top
task that junior designers and even amateurs can now manage. The other
remains an expert-level skill, even with a computer and the proper software.

Nigel Cross's work on designerly ways of knowing examines what it is to
design. Beyond this, it is worth noting that designers in many fields use
design thinking to design many kinds of artifacts and processes.

Design research involves many projects and problems -- designing and design
acts are merely one range. Materials, reception, meaning, emotion may all be
subjects of design research. In the sense that a science is an organized
body of knowledge, the research we do in design schools means that design
schools are becoming scientific -- but science does not mean that computers
replace designers any more than computers replace researchers. Computers
assist and speed up the work that researchers do in mathematics and physics,
too, but they do not replace mathematicians or physicists.

For the rest, I shall wait.

But please -- I request again that those who post trim the prior posts when
replying. I've read Terry's full post three or four times now. Those who get
daily digest will have a sorrowful time with this thread.

Yours,

Ken

Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS 
Professor 
Dean  

Swinburne Design 
Swinburne University of Technology 
Melbourne, Australia 

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