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PHD-DESIGN  February 2012

PHD-DESIGN February 2012

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Subject:

SV: some more questions on research design RE: Is claim/research on 'success' one-sided?

From:

Birger Sevaldson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Feb 2012 23:21:01 +0100

Content-Type:

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Dear Derek
I gladly apologies for firing from the hip but it comes from a period with building irritation. I do not disagree with what youíre saying below except for you insisting that there is ONE academy. Its not true. But let that be.
What really annoys me is that you enter the design field very un-humbled and very loud and telling us about rigor and evidence based design while you donít live what you preach.
The below quote comes from your speech in Gothenburg found here:
http://designleadership.blogspot.com/search?q=derek+miller

"Today, design does not seem to be centrally concerned with building theory or processes that can be disproved. In fact, it doesnít seem to be interested in process at all."

How can you state such a thing? It is an insult to a large portion of the people on this list, but also the entire design profession especially the tradition of industrial design. I have taught in that field since 1990 and there is process, process, process. You might criticise it but do not come with false statements that there is nothing there....  This demonstrates to me that you donít bother reading up on design practice, teaching,  theory and its history. Don't you know about the early period of design methodology where hard scientific methods and perspectives such as yours were tried to be applied in design processes and design research and why this was largely but not totally abandoned? 

Since we have taught together at AHO where i invited you to teach in my studio i sent you several off-list emails to discuss these issues of evidence, research by design etc. I sent you links to one of my papers to get you going on the issue of research by design which you said you did not understand. You never bothered answering these invitations to dialogue once. 
 
To me the question of being inside or outside is not about where you are coming from but where you are going to. I have numerous good colleagues and friends who are not designers but who come from the outside of design. These people are extreemly valuable. But entering the field of design requires to read up on what is going on, to listen and involve in a dialogue and to contribute in a critical yet respectful way.
Your speech linked to above is far from that but full of ungrounded statements and insults to the field: You're talking of grown up issues, well design has always dealt with grown up issues. Many design tasks are about life and death and designers can be held personally responsible of messing things up. We have insurances for this so donít tell us about grown up issues. But design is also about play and culture, emotions and the irrational, thanks god.
Many of us in design research have read Popper but did it never occur to you to think that there might be a reason for the concept of falsification not being more spread in design and design research?

I respect you very much from your fields perspective. That is why i invited you in the first place. I also in the beginning enjoyed your criticism and share many of your concerns. But as long as you donít want to read up on the field of design research and only want to preach rigor without living it yourself you will stay an outsider to me. 

I am sorry to be so hard but I need to say this because you are running the risk of entering the field of design research and doing great damage, exactly what you say might happen if design enters your field uninformed. The damage might come from nummerous young design researchers being lead astray from your approach because it promises a false certainty and they have not yet read up on the whole picture.

Hoping for improvement
Best
Birger

________________________________________
Fra: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design [[log in to unmask]] p&#229; vegne av Derek B. Miller [[log in to unmask]]
Sendt: 8. februar 2012 19:26
Til: [log in to unmask]
Emne: Re: some more questions on research design RE: Is claim/research on 'success' one-sided?

Birger, I think the "insider vs. outsider" thing doesn't hold.  I can't accept an argument that says "What is relevant for design research is defined by the field."

No. It really is defined by the questions people are researching.

It may well be that people working in the field of "design research" are more concerned with some kinds of questions than others. That would be normal and expected for people in any field. But whether they have succeeded in answering their questions will be judged by the same standards as all other claims to knowledge. There is ONE academy, bicker though we do.

Method is the difference between alchemy and chemistry, altrology and astronomy. The method of answering the question ó and whether it is appropriate to the question being asked ó will be the significant factor.

I am making no claims, whatsoever, about what can or cannot be learned through "design research" or "research through design" (etc.). I'm saying that, a grounded argument by any name, is a grounded argument. And good arguments ó help together by logic ó can come from anywhere. But to paraphrase that dead French chef from Ratatouille, that doesn't mean all arguments are good. Only that good arguments could come from anywhere.

If they're good Ö

_________________
Dr. Derek B. Miller
Director

The Policy Lab
321 Columbus Ave.
Seventh Floor of the Electric Carriage House
Boston, MA 02116
United States of America

Phone
+1 617 440 4409
Twitter
@Policylabtweets
Web
www.thepolicylab.org

This e-mail includes proprietary and confidential information belonging to The Policy Lab, Ltd. All rights reserved.

On Feb 8, 2012, at 4:14 PM, Birger Sevaldson wrote:

> Dear Derek and all
>
> <<encroaching and furtive notion that design and design research is either "above" all this or somehow different and therefore gets to operate under different rules. It isn't and it doesn't.>>
>
> The similarities and differences between the different modes of design research and other research fields have been written about and discussed for a long time now.
> Before one makes such cathegoric statements as above one should read up on the litterature, especially coming from outside of the design field and especially when talking of evidence and rigour in research.
> What is relevant for design research is defined by the field and not by outsiders trying to impose their conception of research in their field onto another field, forgetting that the same happened to them only decades ago. It is equally ridicolous as imposing research designs from natural sciences onto social sciences.
>
> Best
> Birger
>
> ________________________________________
> Fra: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design [[log in to unmask]] p&#229; vegne av Rosan Chow [[log in to unmask]]
> Sendt: 8. februar 2012 15:48
> Til: [log in to unmask]
> Emne: some more questions on research design RE: Is claim/research on 'success' one-sided?
>
> Dear Derek,
>
> I am enjoying this conversation very much and hope to get some more feedbacks concerning research design.
>
> Before I do that, I should declare that I have followed the discourse on 'Research Through Design' on and off for the past decade and have made some small contribution myself. So I am sensitive  to read <<encroaching and furtive notion that design and design research is either "above" all this or somehow different and therefore gets to operate under different rules. It isn't and it doesn't.>> It is unclear to me exactly what you were referring to and I am very interested in finding out.
> I want to remark that there are design (research) by logic, rhetoric and magic but unfortunately often the magicians attract a lot of attention. Anyway,
>
> Returning to research design, you have suggested to me how I might approach answering the question/impression on whether accounts of success of Apple under Jobs are often one-sided. My aim here is to discuss the issues that come to mind when I think about your suggestion.
>
> First, I ask myself whether answering the question will help me. Ultimately, I am interested in finding out what has made iPod, iPhone and iPad so successful on the market or more specifically, are their designs a success factor.  Now, I have learned that I could not trust the accounts or explanations out there because they seem untrustworthy. Incidentally, some anti-trust lawyers have probably been working hard to prove that iPod/iTune achieve market dominance not by Apple making superior product but by violating anti-competition regulations. Will the decision of the court have any impact on answering the question?
>
> Can I study whether Apple designs are a success factor without proving that other accounts on success are untrustworthy, although I see great values in making the case?
>
> Second, even if I were to prove and argue that other accounts are untrustworthy, given my ultimate interest, I wonder if I need to show a general tendency, or whether it is sufficient to point out some examples of invalidity to make the point?
>
> Third, perhaps you notice that I am very pragmatic about specifying the research question: I am not interested in establishing facts and truth per se, but doing that to achieve my goal. Do you find this attitude too limiting?
>
> Look forward to your reply.
> Best Regards,
> Rosan
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Derek B. Miller [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Montag, 6. Februar 2012 10:22
> Subject: Re: Is claim/research on 'success' one-sided? RE: Apple Success under Jobs
>
> -Snip-
>
> I think a Ph.D. list should - among its others values - be a sort of colloquium. we should be able to work as a virtual design studio ON research design. And when the research is finished (or parts are, anyway), we can help at other phases too.
>
> So more than anything, this is what I meant to promote in my note.
>
> And what I also, by implication, want to encourage a movement away from is the substitution of research for mere conventional wisdom; the use of "groupthink" to relieve of us of the duty of independent thought; and the encroaching and furtive notion that design and design research is either "above" all this or somehow different and therefore gets to operate under different rules. It isn't and it doesn't.
>
> -Snip-

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