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PHD-DESIGN  May 2014

PHD-DESIGN May 2014

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Subject:

Re: Request 'Son of Rittel Think'

From:

Terence Love <[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:

Fri, 16 May 2014 10:22:31 +0800

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Hi Jerry,

 Did you read the earlier parts of my post? Workspace and solution space are epistemologically different. It is straightforward to create a parallel analysis with workspace BUT it is a different analysis. It does different things.

Of course, human politics plays a part in everything. The ability to abstract independently of insisting on human interpretation as the core of everything is a  useful tool as much and I believe more than thee awareness of the political and manipulative communication  between humans.  Part of the  focus of the use of abstraction-is,  and has been, to address the problem issues that you raise about human interaction (i.e. that interest and power is not benign). It does this by addressing it separately with the both as separated layered communications. 

This seems to give you a problem? That abstract representations also assume they are not definitive (i.e the maths is not the world) and that the world is shaped by political and subjective manoeuvring, is in your eyes not ok. Yet, you seem to be claiming a  perspective that focuses only on political and subjective manoeuvring is better. Seems odd. I'd go for both rather than part.

The abstraction from human perspective as you know is,  and has been, central to humans' development (albeit also involving human wrangling and a dose of misinterpretation) has been of benefit widely in most of the world we live in. Arguing against using it seems odd.

Taking your position  to extremes would be similar to saying that we cannot eat an apple because its name is an abstraction ( an abstract theory that doesn't include humans) that defines itself in terms of the object  and does not explicitly define itself in terms of the human process of political negotiation that led to the word apple. In  terms of the difference between 'solution space' and 'workspace', your position seems to  suggest  that instead of seeing and referring to 'apples' as items of 'fruit' (solution space) we should refer to them as 'discourse ' (the workspace). Different issues.

Abstract concepts deliberately shaped to be independent of human actions and influences are useful and effective tools. Certainly, it also requires an occasional awareness of the role of human activities in shaping and using them. However,. I suggest that although this awareness must happen at some time, it is helpful if it is only occasional. It doesn't need to be continuous and is better if it is not so.  Otherwise it becomes a bit like 'health and Safety' making all the decisions for product design (yes I know it happens).

Reminds me of some advice by a mystic about awareness and responding to the moment continuously. He pointed to the need for most of the time to be dealing with the real world in a practical rational way to ensure catching trains etc. and avoiding getting run over, and at that time to keep awareness but as a background. Same would seem to apply about keeping the understanding of human communications and political issues as a background element when trying to do something else, rather than forcing it to the foreground.

As a test of the simple balance between these two perspectives (abstract vs human interaction issues) how about a simple research experiment:

Take an experimental situation in which you are focused on the political, cultural,  power, interest and  communication or similar issues.  Then in undertaking the experiment and its discussions, identify how much you depend on abstractions that  provide you with the essential tools to undertake the task *because*  they  are defined independently of human actions.

You can conduct it as a thought experiment. 

Jerry, on a personal note, after moving away from engineering  and IT design in the 80s. I was convinced the problem was the need to move to a human centred position on design and to see design activities as a purely human process with socially constructed knowledge dependent on  and defined by human communication.  You will find this in my papers from 1996 to around 2003 and in some cases later.  Nowadays, it seems more helpful to include both the abstract universe-centred and the subjective human -centred aspects of analysis. The important thing seems to be  to allocate  them to the right roles. In addition there seems to be    always the requirement to understand the small role of human-centred in the universe-centred and vice versa.

This discussion is an example of this.

Warm regards,
Terry

---
Dr Terence Love
PhD(UWA), BA(Hons) Engin. PGCEd, FDRS, AMIMechE, MISI
Director,
Love Services Pty Ltd
PO Box 226, Quinns Rocks
Western Australia 6030
Tel: +61 (0)4 3497 5848
Fax:+61 (0)8 9305 7629
[log in to unmask] 
--




-----Original Message-----
From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jerry Diethelm
Sent: Friday, 16 May 2014 2:23 AM
To: PHD Design
Subject: Re: Request 'Son of Rittel Think'

I'm not Ken but I don't agree.

I read this piece of TerryWorld as a well-intended but innocent technocratic view that the experts who program their smart machines will always do so with value-free representations of "the right situations" and that the results should therefore be received as "good" for everyone.

The innocence comes I think from believing that interest and power is non-existent or benign, that cultural evolution is rational, and that human life can be accurately and satisfactorily represented mathematically.  To paraphrase Korzybski, the math is not the world.

I also prefer "workspace" to "solution space, 1,2,3,4,..." because it has people in it democratically representing and working out their interests with one another.

Jerry


On 5/15/14 8:34 AM, "Terence Love" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I suggest that in light of the above,  ANY and EVERY perspective on 
> design that focuses on design as choosing selections from within a 
> solution space must naturally assume that design is not a purely human 
> activity, and instead can be computerised and automated. Do you agree?

--
Jerry Diethelm
Architect - Landscape Architect
Planning & Urban Design Consultant

    Prof. Emeritus of Landscape Architecture
           and Community Service € University of Oregon
    2652 Agate St., Eugene, OR 97403
    €   e-mail: [log in to unmask]
    €   web: http://pages.uoregon.edu/diethelm/

    €   541-686-0585 home/work 541-346-1441 UO
    €   541-206-2947 work/cell


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