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PHD-DESIGN  May 2014

PHD-DESIGN May 2014

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Subject:

Re: Styles of Debate

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:

Sat, 10 May 2014 08:26:25 +0000

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Dear Terry
First: my name is Birger, not Berger.
I feel I am going to regret this but I canít help at least give it a last shot. I tend to agree with Ken that your style of argumentation is slippery and avoiding responding in ways that would help to clarify what you mean and bring this mystified debate forward.
You wrote: 

< Berger's post was of the order of 'Prove everything beyond reasonable doubt in every bit of detail, and only then should people start thinking about what is proposed.>

This is very upsetting and provoking!

I did NOT ask for proof of everything beyond reasonable doubt, and I am very far from ideas that people should start thinking only when everything is proven. In contrary I think the argumentation and debate is central in generating evidence. But at a certain point we need to demonstrate and point at cases to bring the discussion further on. You had your ample time to argue without pointing at any evidence, cases, examples or tests. I was only asking for SOME examples that could ground the discussion and support your claims, and you produce nothing.

I was asking you first to bring up just ONE case that supports your claims and in the latest email to show us your cases and your body of work that supports your claims. If your claim is not produced out of thin air this should be easy. I ask you for this so that we can see what you mean and that you can demonstrate in cases what you are talking about. So far I simply donít understand you. This might be because my lack of mathematic understanding. But even with a limited understanding of mathematics for me it would take me half an hour to produce ten examples of projects that show that some designers did have great use of a fairly advanced knowledge of mathematics even though this is not my research interest. So this being one of your favorite concepts it is very puzzling that you are not able to produce one singular example. 

E.g. In the field of parametric architecture insight in mathematics is needed:
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=grasshopper+parametric+architecture&FORM=HDRSC2  

But this does not indicate or validate that ALL designers would be better off with more maths.
But from this you can deduce that SOME designers benefit from good insight in mathematics.

I would never dare to say math is beneficial for ALL designers. Such a claim is easy to falsify. Somebody has just to find one designer who does great work without maths and the claim would be proven wrong.

Thatís maybe where your problem is: that you cannot even slightly underpin your claim that all designers need math. Since you canít prove this claim and this claims nature is a falsifiable hypotheses and I can think of thousands of designers who do very well without math I regard this claim as falsified.

I am in a similar position as you. I claim that advanced visualization and visual thinking is more needed in design. I have proposed a particular approach to such visualizations. I call these visualizations Giga-maps. I could show you 50+ cases from teaching and research and 20 + cases from business (but there are some time issues and confidentiality issues with the business cases. We are working currently to document these emerging practices in the Oslo area). These cases indicate that designers are better off with visualization on this level. It does not prove it beyond any doubt. It is probably impossible or at least immensely difficult to prove it beyond any doubt. The reason for this is because these are unique design projects that are solved by unique designers escaping comparative studies. Also it is nearly impossible to create large studies that are based on statistics. I understand these problems of evidence in design research, as I have stated frequently in earlier posts and hence I asked you not for evidence beyond any doubt but for validation by pointing us to some cases. 
Despite the problems with evidence the cases demonstrate what I mean with Giga-mapping and it validates the claim that for some designers it is beneficial based on their reporting and responses to the approach. Then I would have to reflect upon these cases and write down and publish my arguments. Then people can discuss it and criticize it and it becomes clear what kind of visualizations and techniques I am talking about and on what kind of literature and practice I base my argument on. This is the type of validation I am asking for and itís the most useful to my mind in design research. It should be very easy and not time consuming at all for you to at least show us with one case what you are talking about. 

Here some of the source material www.systemsorienteddesign.net 

I was only asking you to show us the experience you base your claim on. Start with showing us how you use mathematics in your book illustrations.

Then: It is very provoking to read you last sentence:
<snip> If the suggestions seem interesting,  then it's the role of the reader to do the work to explore the ideas, rather than asking me to create teaching material to do it for them!<snip>

You have very loudly presented us for very strong claims. There is nothing suggestive about your way of presenting your arguments though you claim them to be suggestions in your last email. You present them as true but fail to validate them. It is not unfair to ask for some grounding of these claims.  You refuse this and then you say itís our role to explore it? No thank you very much! If you want to be taken seriously you have to do your own homework and demonstrate the validity in you claims. And since it is about design practice you have to demonstrate it through cases. I am very bewildered that this is difficult for you. If there is the slightest hold in your suggestions I would think that you would try it out, practice it yourself and instruct some students to do so? So there should already be at least a few examples to show?

Before I see anything close to this I regard your claim for falsified and without any value and I dismiss the whole discussion for now.  


All the best


Birger Sevaldson (PhD, MNIL) 
Professor at Institute of Design
Oslo School of Architecture and Design
Norway
Phone (0047) 9118 9544
www.birger-sevaldson.no
www.systemsorienteddesign.net
www.ocean-designresearch.net


Berger, however, did not ask  a question about theory, he asked for a body
of evidence, I've already pointed to books and papers that contain examples
of maths approaches that appear to apply. To create a body of evidence will
require creating a body of case analysis of different projects analysing
exactly when and how particular mathematical methods were used, or could
have been used and whether this improved the design outputs and outcomes.
That is a substantial undertaking.  Berger's post was of the order of 'Prove
everything beyond reasonable doubt in every bit of detail, and only then
should people start thinking about what is proposed.  Your position seems to
echo this.

Ken, I'm not trying to prove what I say is true absolute and fixed in stone.
My own thinking moves on continually and I critique and doubt my own
conclusions. I make suggestions as to how I see the lay of the land for the
future.  It's up to anyone to use or not, to engage in discussion about them
or not, take what is offered or not.

If the suggestions seem interesting,  then it's the role of the reader to do
the work to explore the ideas, rather than asking me to create teaching
material to do it for them!





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