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PHD-DESIGN  March 2013

PHD-DESIGN March 2013

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Subject:

Re: Illusion of Self? How is This Relevant to Design Research?

From:

Keith Russell <[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, 13 Mar 2013 08:40:14 +1100

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Dear Johann,

I agree with much of what you say about dynamic selves and experiential design (or design for experience etc.).

While design researchers might take benefit from considering the kinds of self that typify their designing process ( I am the god like narrator says Steve Jobs - you will use my mouse the ways that I tell you to), I think there is potentially much more benefit from considering  the varieties of selves that users and consumers and experiencers of design might find themselves constructed as when they engage with a design object or any object that becomes designed by the user in their appropriation of the object or event in the objective (other than subjective) world.

As I have mentioned several times on this list, my own PhD explores three kinds of identity affects that can be observed in the reception of the three literary genres (Dramatic, Epic, Lyric). (See http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/28951 for my thesis). These identities, of relation, can be observed in the worlds of design (self-object relations).

These identity affects offer structured understandings as to why people might want to engage with a dress, a car, a washing machine etc.

I don't see much general benefit from sending all designers to post-modern philosophers for instruction about their leaking identities. Those who might benefit have probably already undertaken this kind of self-hygenic - these rest would mostly get angry as they are asked to think of themselves as NOT being something or other (what do you mean I'm not god?).

I do, however, see much benefit from designers including structured understanding of identity possibilities in their design considerations. This is not therapeutic, more like a PR professional having the rhetorical skills to convince people about a particular argument or proposition (why universal health care is no good in a democracy). So, with this identity knowledge, a designer can potentially get people to be more attracted to a worse car, or he/she can even get people to fall in love with particular rectangles with particular rounded corners. Knowledge is there to use; it does not come with ethics attached.

cheers

keith
 
>>> Johann van der Merwe <[log in to unmask]> 03/13/13 3:27 AM >>> 
As a designer you will only leave the consumer with the notion that the
self is stable if you work for an advertising company, since you would not
want to admit that you created the fleeting "self" in the first place ...
"buy this dress, and you too can look like a star ..."

It is an accpeted fact that "the self" is unstable, a construct that we add
to (orsubtract from!) just about everyday ... what does this have to do
with design research?
Everything.

Design (on this list) is not (and should not be) engineering design, nor
civil, nor any design discipline that requires nothing but hard (stable)
facts. Our design deals with the human spirit, which is why so many people
can speak about "experience" design as if it encompasses all of design ...
it's not the product (anymore, on its own), nor simply just the process.

It's really about the experience (widely stated) that is/can be created
between the designed object/system and the user/viewer/observer, and,
however slight the change might be, every experience adds to the "self" of
the person being designed for ... as a discipline design itself cannot
ignore this unstable fact ... and design research must keep up (catch up?)
with reseaqrch in other fields that study human beings.

Sociologically speaking the self must be seen as temporary (to understand
that people "change their minds", i.e., that "the self" changes over time),
or laws and rules and whatnots will be rigidly enforced and the
transgressors punished ... as has happened in the past and still happens in
too many parts of the totalitarian wolrd today.
Design research should find itself on the cusp between choas and order:
surfing is more exciting that a train ride any day.

Johann
-- 
Dr. Johann van der Merwe
Independent Design Researcher


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