Thank you for your message. You express exactly the general state of mental
play of the design field on this issue .
" Visuals ... have a huge potential when we are talking about understanding
complex problems" and "... *may* [my emphasis] be more than just
representations", Visuals *may* "... have the potential for predicting
directions or outcomes"
This has been the speculation for decades. All of these are tentative and
appear as yet to be without evidence that visuals can actually do these
things. I'm wondering if they are simply wishful thinking and false claims?
A test: "In complex design situations (multi-feedback loop and more than 3
dimensions) is there ANY evidence visuals can accurately predict the
behaviour of dynamic design outcomes?
If anyone has any evidence, I'd be very interested to see it as it would
open up a significant new area of design education and practice. It would
also open the door to Visual Design being able to start to justify claims
that design thinking approaches apply to more complex areas such as business
strategy and other real world complex design situations.
From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related
research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Constanza
Sent: Friday, 9 April 2010 1:03 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Are visual approaches to design outdated?
Actually I'm doing research in this area. Visuals, which is one of the
knowledge evidence in design research, in my opinion, have a huge potential
when we are talking about understanding complex problems regarding the
design interaction not just in the computer, but as Meredith Davis mentions,
outside of them. Complexity regarding: access to particular communities, a
diversity of disciplines working together or just networked individuals.
This is the new scenario that design educators should acknowledge. Something
more than a "trend", but a new conception of the discipline. We can go back
to Sapient's experience models, that though, they were born for rapid
business cycles, they can be a referent for the applied world in complex and
interdisciplinary areas like public service. Visuals may be more than just
representations. They might be used as models [simulations or theoretical],
something that Hugh Dubberly has been addressing since around 2001, if not
earlier. In this form, they have the potential for predicting directions or
outcomes and, depending if the analysis is driven by statistical or more
qualitative approaches, they might be more or less reliable.
2008 Toto, I'Ve Got a Feeling we'Re Not in Kansas Anymore. Interactions
On 8 April 2010 09:51, Terence Love <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi David,
> First a big thanks for the pointer to Bob Horn's work.
> The fundamental issue to be addressed in any kind of design (and often not
> addressed by graphic designers) is accurately predicting the behaviour of
> the outcome. For example, how does one know if a poster and a public
> promotion program will achieve its aim of reducing smoking by 50%? Why did
> or didn't the design produce the right outcome? To ask these questions
> behaviour is central to design as a profession and to development of
> suitable design methods, design processes and design education. Many early
> engineering design methods to predict behaviour were visual. With
> complexity, they ran out of steam which is why engineering designers now
> different methods that primarily use visual for input and final
> Bob Horn's work is tremendously useful and interesting. Thank you for
> reminding me about it. I remember his hypertext book in the late 80s.Bob
> Horn's visuals and visual language approach however are not about
> predicting behaviour of designs in the manner of a design method, nor
> primarily about predicting the outcomes of complexity (many feedback
> Their main role is knowledge mapping to make complicated information
> bits) easier to access and think about. They do this in part by acting as
> an external memory store in the manner similar to that proposed by Tony
> Buzan some years ago with mind maps. They are primarily visual
> representations of knowledge content rather than design methods that
> behaviour. Similar, though less attractive approaches were developed in
> 60-s and 70s in the 'for beginners' comic books (e.g. Foucault for
> and Marx for Beginners etc), soft systems CATWOE maps, criteria maps(which
> echo critical path maps), logic maps, decision tree maps, group decision
> making support diagrams and flow diagrams.
> Horn's description of the Cognome visual language project and problems it
> faces, identifies the same limitations and problems as above
> hasn't yet added the behaviour prediction problem as his aims as a design
> method don't reach that far... yet. It is, however, implicit in his top
> long range goal.
> For improving the quality of design activity, the paper on his site that
> really made me sit up was the one of images that identify what we don't
> A paper that might be useful for design research PhD students is on how to
> conduct research to get little or no effect
> Amazing. Horn's recent papers and diagrams are at
> Best wishes and thanks again,
> -----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 David
> Sent: Thursday, 8 April 2010 3:14 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Are visual approaches to design outdated?
> Terry et al,
> A provocative question. I would suggest a resounding NO. I think we are
> beginning to scratch the surface of possibilities in visual approaches.
> work of Bob Horn just mentioned is an example of this. I think we are at a
> very early but highly productive stage in this kind of work. Look at
> argumentation mapping as another example. Or the growing uses of MRI.
> BTW, in talking about complex systems, stakeholders, relationships,
> loops and multidimensional problems you are using some of the prime
> metaphors of our time.
> blog: www.communication.org.au/dsblog
> web: http://www.communication.org.au
Constanza S. Miranda M.
PhD Student NCSU-Design
"Develop Design, Design to Develop"