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PHD-DESIGN  February 2017

PHD-DESIGN February 2017

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Subject:

Re: Jumping a burning ship

From:

Clive Dilnot <[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, 1 Feb 2017 09:36:37 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (179 lines)

Written in response to Milena Radizikowska’s post of Jan 31st.



Dear all,

As I have watched this list over the last months I have become more and
more depressed at the thought that the “debates” that take place here
represent, in theory, the best of design research and the best of design
researchers.



Like Milena I am these days a more or less invisible member of this list.
Like her the list does not feel welcoming to me as a participant. The
difference is that I am an old, near-dead, white male with a comfortable
academic position. I should, therefore, in theory, feel comfortable. I do
not. Very often I have felt ashamed to be even a silent participant in this
list.



Two things in particular have struck me over the past weeks. The first is
the contrast - encapsulated today by Milena’s letter - between the
maturity, the *grace* (and the sheer intelligence) of most of the recent
posts by women and younger researchers, and the too-often immaturity,
gracelessness and over-defensiveness of many of the posts by the hierarchy
of this list.



The second point is how this bears on the conception and understanding of
“design research.” Some who have defensively posted here appear to have the
implicit notion that they are the keepers of the sacred flame of
“research.” This is nonsense, both personally and intellectually. The truth
is that while “design research” has globally made great institutional
strides since the 1980s (as represented by the number of PhDs and the like)
intellectually – and especially in terms of the models majorly represented
on this list - it has made almost no real advance. Frankly, in its most
conventional modes, "design research" is of little interest, either to
thought or practice, and far less so than some here seem to imagine.



(I found it ironic that just this week one poor poster was feeling he had
to apologize for raising the question of the relation of designing, making
and researching as of “specialist” interest – when of course it is (one of)
the most fundamental issues to be thought today).



If this field is to advance as a field of thought, understanding and the
modelling of action it requires an infinitely more open dialogue. But that
can only happen not just through intellectual openness (if only!) but also
personal openness.


This is to come back to Milena’s post. She, and many others who have posted
here and have tried to talk sense to power, are exactly right. Unless real
openness, personal and intellectual is extended to *every* serious design
researcher this list will become (as it is already very close to becoming)
an empty echo chamber of decreasing relevance.



Design research is NOT in its conventional (and now historic) models an
intellectually vibrant field that requires the endless vigilance of
self-appointed guardians. It just isn't that important. It hasn't, in
truth, accumulated the intellectual worth that some seem to self-ascribe to
it. On the contrary, this is a highly deficient field whose hope for future
development lies not in a defense of what was but *only* in openness to
wider ranges of thinking and practice represented by younger researchers
and thinkers - precisely the people the managers and guardians of this list
are currently managing to push away.



Milena is gain exactly right when she finishes her letter with a plea for
*listening*:



More clarity: what would I like to see happen? For those most senior, with
the most privilege to listen. Just listen and hear what they have been
saying. Believe them. Accept without defense. Look in yourself for what
there's still time to change. Then educate yourself on how to support that
change.



It is that or it is slipping further into irrelevance.



*CLIVE **DILNOT *| *THE NEW SCHOOL*
Professor of Design Studies
Parsons The New School for Design
6 E16th St., Room 731
New York
NY 10003

[log in to unmask]


On Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 10:40 PM, Milena Radzikowska <[log in to unmask]
> wrote:

> Dear all
>
> I've been an invisible member of this list twice: once when I was doing my
> MDes in the early 2000s and I returned again when I started working on my
> PhD.
>
> Let me make this as clear and direct as I can: this list does not feel
> welcoming to me as a participant. It does not appear inclusive. It does not
> appear to take as "enough proof" or "strength of argument" the experience
> of certain academics. There are enough times that it utilizes the methods
> of gendered and hierarchical toxicity of the world beyond it that I have
> never felt comfortable in engaging in its discourse.
>
> I respect and know many of you by your work and your writing. I would love
> to feel a part of this community - as a designer, a professor, a PhD, a
> researcher, an academic - but I do not.
>
> Let me answer the most obvious first question - I don't feel safe because
> when ever I've seen someone raise these kinds of issues on this list, the
> response from those with amassed hierarchical worth, is to deny them,
> defend those with power, or demand specific, itemized, weight of proof,
> similar to what happens in the "outside world" when women (and not only
> women) call out sexual harassment or assault or discrimination or any of
> the other countless feminist and intersectional issues.
>
> I am intentionally not naming names. I am intentionally not offering
> proof. I am intentionally attempting to call your attention to the voices
> that are being silenced (yes they are). When enough of them unsubscribe,
> you will be left with an echo chamber, filled with only those ideas you are
> most comfortable with.
>
> Then others might join: younger, newer, and with more energy. But unless
> they are heard when the same issues arise (and they will), this toxic
> situation will just repeat itself.
>
> More clarity: what would I like to see happen? For those most senior, with
> the most privilege to listen. Just listen and hear what they have been
> saying. Believe them. Accept without defense. Look in yourself for what
> there's still time to change. Then educate yourself on how to support that
> change.
>
>
> Milena Radzikowska, MDes, PhD
> Associate Professor of Information Design
> Faculty of Business and Communication Studies
> Mount Royal University
>
> mailto:[log in to unmask]
> http://www.milenaradzikowska.com
>
> It's a great life if you don't weaken.
>
> This communication is intended for the use of the recipient to which it is
> addressed, and may contain confidential, personal, and or privileged
> information. Please contact the sender immediately if you are not the
> intended recipient of this communication, and do not copy, distribute, or
> take action relying on it. Any communication received in error, or
> subsequent reply, should be deleted or destroyed.
>
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> PhD-Design mailing list  <[log in to unmask]>
> Discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design
> Subscribe or Unsubscribe at https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/phd-design
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
>


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