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PHD-DESIGN  February 2017

PHD-DESIGN February 2017

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Subject:

Re: Are politicians designers?

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:

Mon, 6 Feb 2017 19:31:34 +0800

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text/plain

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Dear all,

There is a need to be careful with words.

Much of what is happening in the discussion  is like the 'cat has four legs, dog has four legs so a dog must be a cat (or not)'.

Many professional activities have an aspect whereby  designs get created. In that part of their activity the professional undertaking it is designing and they are a designer. That doesn't however mean that the whole of their professional activity is as a designer.

 This can be seen in engineering design and the engineering profession.  There is good clarity about different roles in the engineering profession: sometimes a part of an engineering professional's role is as an engineering project manager; sometimes as a mathematical modeller; sometimes it is negotiating with stakeholders, etc and sometimes it is creating designs as an engineering designer.  Because engineers are aware of the variety of different roles and activity. they keep the 'designer' label for one specific part of engineering professional activity.

Other fields in which design activity occurs also have many other roles besides design activity but do not have the same clarity of separation. An equivalent would be if there were 'graphics professionals' and one aspect of their role is designing, i.e. creating graphic designs.

For politicians, it is also easy to see that a part of their overall role is the design of some form of political strategy or policy concepts or plans. For this part they are designers, but that doesn't mean to say that it is necessary to insist on an equivalence relation  "poiticians==designers"

Best wishes,
Terry

-----Original Message-----
From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Krippendorff, Klaus
Sent: Monday, 6 February 2017 4:15 PM
To: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: RE: Are politicians designers?

dear ken

you quoted me correctly "if you ask politicians if they are designers, their answer is NO." i would this to be true also of architects, feminists, businessmen, computer programmer, etc. each for their own reasons

but then you question the validity or usefulness of self-designations, and are quoting nixon saying "the president is not a crook." (note that this a 3rd person statement). you argue " If all responsible designations must be self-designations, it would be difficult to discuss the world around us." i never wrote of ALL self-designations and i am not suggesting that professional identities are entirely individualist constructions. 

for example, if someone has studied say engineering, graduates with an engineering degree, is hired as an engineer and says "i am an engineer, not a designer" that person refers not just to him and herself but a whole history of affirmation by individuals and institutions in which he or she was and still is a contributing participant. 

it is a mark of intellectual imperialism when designers claim able to decide whether someone really is (or is not) a designer despite their own affirmed identity. from an ethnomethodological perspective, i come to a conclusion opposite to yours. i seriously the world would be a horrible place if we deny each other their self-identifications and impose our categories on others, for example by saying "politicians are designers" perhaps followed by qualifications, or denying self-identifications to others by asserting that "politicians are not designers."

imposing one's own categories on others without listening to and respecting how they see themselves is the source of all prejudices -- ethic, gender, and professional.

herbert simon did not say that craftsmen, engineers, managers, etc, are designers, he pointed out that they all act to improve something. i don't want to get too deeply into simon's conception but feel the need to add that his science of the artificial is fundamentally limited to problem solving, improving existing conditions, improving the status quo. he was not interested in creating innovations, artifacts and practices without precedence -- something that i try to understand and have written about.

i am suggesting that we, in discussing other professions on this list, should respect how they define themselves and try to learn from what they do well and what makes them fail when handling new situations. simon sought to generalize problem solving wherever they occurred not to categorize professions.

i am reading several responses on this thread as evidence that the identity of designers is being challenged by the radical changes in the world we live in, including the emergence of numerous competing professions. if we have something to contribute to them, we should invite them into our conversations. I guess, most of them have developed institutionalized identities of their own. this leaves us the option to study them in order to improve our own design discourse.

klaus



-----Original Message-----
From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ken Friedman
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2017 10:50 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Are politicians designers?

Hi, Klaus,

You wrote,

—snip—

if you ask a politician whether he or she is a designer, the answer is a clear NO if you ask an engineer whether he or she is a designer, the answer is NO as well even if you ask an architect whether he or she is a designer, the answer is most likely NO 
 
i read that designers design products, politicians don't terry wrote that designers write specifications, politicians don't ken said once a politician is elected he becomes a designer, i wouldn't call a politician a designer unless he or she agrees to this designation, which i doubt any politician will.

—snip—

I’ve got to agree with you in one respect, yet I’ve also got to disagree.

If all responsible designations must be self-designations, it would be difficult to discuss the world around us. I recall the well-known politician Richard Nixon announcing, “The president is not a crook.” Many of us would see key parts of the Nixon career in a different light, but the fact remains that he was neither impeached nor convicted. Of course, we don’t accept self-designation as the only measure of some cases.

In a more reasonable light, I’d say that there are many people who do not self-designate as designers, yet who nevertheless design. That’s the core of Herbert Simon’s definition of the activity of design: “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”

There are several more issues. One is the question of those who self-designate as design professionals, people who are paid to undertake design as professional designers. Another is the question of people who do not self-designate as designers, yet are nevertheless paid as professional actors to “[devise] courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”

I agree with several points of view, including — but not limited to — my own. I have been interested for many reasons in comments by Mitch Sipus, Liz Goodman, and Ali Ilhan. Now you’ve raised an idea that I have not considered. 

Is it is possible to recognize and designate someone as a member of any profession when they do not declare themselves to be such? Does their own self-designation matter if they do what self-designating professionals do when someone pays them to do so?

Simon’s definition includes almost all practicing professions and most professional practices. That virtue may also be a flaw.

Yours,
 
Ken

Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | 设计 She Ji. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in Cooperation with Elsevier | URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/she-ji-the-journal-of-design-economics-and-innovation/

Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| University Distinguished Professor | Centre for Design Innovation | Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne, Australia 

Email [log in to unmask] | Academia http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman | D&I http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cn 


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