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PHD-DESIGN  September 2018

PHD-DESIGN September 2018

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Subject:

Re: Do people from an art and design background avoid posting to the PhD-Design list?

From:

Filippo Salustri <[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, 31 Aug 2018 20:31:41 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (280 lines)

Ken (et al),

Thanks for taking the time to carry out this investigation, and for being
so diligent in reporting the results. I hope you have a great vacation.

As for the survey itself, I would like to offer a few thoughts.

1. The timing of Ken's investigation suggests that some may have not
responded because they're either on vacation or (like me) drowning in
pre-semester admin stuff.

2. The pre-selection of a sub-population could also be influencing the
results, regardless of the diligence that Ken showed.

3. I remain convinced that most of the problems that seem to cause so much
trouble in the list arise from assumptions we all make about each other,
largely because not enough *context* is available of any given post. This
is quite understandable: most of us (including me) just can't afford the
time to ensure every bit of relevant context is provided. Even the
principle of philosophical charity can only go so far. This diversity of
opinions *ought* to be a good thing - diversity breeds new ideas and
perspectives from which we can all benefit. So the question seems to me to
be: How do we promote and support diversity while maintaining a minimal
degree of homogeneity needed to communicate effectively with one another?
It's the kind of balance of opposing "forces" that reminds me of Chris
Alexander's "harmony" and the underlying principle of his design patterns.
But that's another story.

My idea would be to hold a (voluntary) "census" of sorts, with
self-identification being only optional, that is open to ALL members and
asks questions the answers to which could better represent the actual
demographics and opinions of the members. Assuming the census is
well-constructed, and the results well-analyzed, we may gain important
insights that could inform our way forward.

If I were to offer a follow-up to Ken's suggestion that there are
identifiable groups within the list, it would be this: perhaps we need
something richer than a single list.
I mean, if reddit can survive given it's far more divergent audience - some
redditors may hate other redditors, but they all love and defend reddit -
then maybe we need to create a finer granulation of services. While that
might be seen as contrary to the notion of diversity I mentioned above, it
doesn't have to be: the notion of sublists to which individuals can very
easily subscribe and unsubscribe allows for both "safe spaces" for
communities to form, but still allows individuals to be as broadly
participatory in different communities as they like.

Just my 2 cents before I disappear into the quagmire or semester-startup.

\V/_  /fas

*Prof. Filippo A. Salustri, Ph.D., P.Eng.*
Associate Chair, Mechanical Engineering, Ryerson University
"I do not share your view that the scientist should observe silence in
political matters." -Albert Einstein
EMAIL <[log in to unmask]> | WEB <https://deseng.ryerson.ca/~fil/> | ORCID
<https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3689-5112>


On Fri, 31 Aug 2018 at 17:47, Ken Friedman <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
>
> Here are the last replies to the question, "Do people from an art and
> design background avoid posting to the PhD-Design list because they are
> afraid of being attacked or treated disrespectfully by people from a
> background in the scientific or technical disciplines?”
>
> (1)
>
> A few years ago I completed a PhD in design and feel very intimidated by
> this list. I'm dyslexic so writing does not come easy to me so when I read
> the long-winded and at times overly complicated posts it puts me off even
> more from posting anything, in fear of being criticized, mocked and/or
> judged of how I may have described/ worded something (as there are so many
> people that receive this kind of response). I question how inclusive and
> supportive this list is for people with diverse needs...
>
> Thank you for creating the opportunity to air my thoughts in a safe
> anonymous space.
>
> (2)
>
> I haven’t yet posted to the list. Fear is one of the reasons, as well as
> the lack of time for long following-up-discussions and explaining (or
> defending) reasons behind–which some people on this list seems to have
> unlimited time to do. A third reason, and perhaps the most important one
> for me is that the people who discuss the most seems to mainly come from
> one type of perspective, and can back each other up in discussions on e.g.
> gender. That wouldn't be that big of a problem if it wasn’t for the fact
> that I would then need endless hours and energy for follow-up e-mails, as I
> know that few others would help me out. I think my fear might be about my
> own reputation as a researcher, that I don’t want harshly critical things
> about me or my research to be left unsaid.
> I am in the final stages of my PhD, and now working as a lecturer and
> researcher. I come from a practice based, visual communications background.
> When I entered the list, I assumed (due to the name) that it would be a
> mailinglist where PhD-fellows would discuss their challenges and get input
> from other PhD-fellows. I found that it wasn’t such a place, and that it
> was more a place for senior researchers to debate (and also rather harshly
> discuss). What I needed, particularly in the first year(s) of my PhD, was a
> space to reflect openly in the most vulnerable stages of my research, get
> support, help and genuinely curious questions back. I don’t see that
> happening as much in the mailinglist. What I still like about the list is
> that it is nice to see what the design research "celebrities" talk about,
> and how they talk about these things. It feels as if it brings me closer to
> an understanding of what is happening at the "top" and the perspectives
> with definition power in design research. Yet it has disappointed me to see
> that some of these people also seem to lack a genuine curiosity for what
> lies behind other peoples research questions and ways of doing research.
> And perhaps more important, many seem to have low expectations to other
> people–a lack of faith that these people, whom they do not know, may have
> interesting rationale for doing what they do (but perhaps it just wasn’t
> communicated very well yet).
>
> (3)
>
> My background, I have a bachelor in Industrial Design, master in
> Transportation Design and a PhD in Design. I started my career in industry
> 22 years ago and my adventures in academia 12 years ago (I finished my PhD
> just 2 years ago).
>
> Before doing the PhD my understanding of what design is, was extremely
> limited, this I think is still a big issue in many design schools. I think
> we should start from that point, professionals with arts and design
> background (without proper training in science and research) have a very
> strong feeling that the word "design" somehow "belongs to them" and
> "defines them". Hearing people from psychology, engineering, sociology,
> etc. identifying themselves as designers or talking with strong authority
> about it is to say the least troubling. I regularly chat about this with my
> students and the key questions that always come up are, then what
> identifies me as designer? how I am different? how I am relevant? why I am
> studying this?
>
> My answer, making reference to Simon's definition, is that we have been
> trained to produce change with an incredible systemic approach that no
> other profession has (if trained properly).
>
> I don't contribute to the list because I am no expert on all (or even one)
> the science fields that regularly contribute to the list, I know what you
> are talking about, I have read some of the usual references. I find I have
> no relevant information to share; opinions, sure, but would add nothing
> other than pointless discussion and a bit of unnecessary controversy; and
> yes, there is a bit of fear of being hammered by a truly expert... of
> contents and form, don't forget that for many of us English is a second or
> third language and mastering it is not easy for some of us.
>
> I think of my self as an expert of (almost) nothing but a good synthesizer
> of information, a good systems thinker capable of making sense of great
> amount of very diverse information, zooming in to the details and back out
> not to loose perspective of the bigger points and how they connect to each
> other. I focus on producing change in the most ethical and sustainable way
> possible and train new designers to do the same.
>
> Lastly, the expected quality level of the contributions to the list is for
> me another deterrent. I barely have time to teach, be a designer,
> researcher a (proper) dad and a husband. Producing a quality reply would
> take me so much time that by the time I may finish the topic is long gone,
> so I don't even try.
>
> --
>
> My thanks to everyone who responded. At this point, I don’t have any
> comments of my own, but I do have a few tentative thoughts.
>
> It is clear that a significant number of people from an art and design
> background feel uncomfortable posting to the PhD-Design list. There seem to
> be several reasons for this — examining those reasons requires time and
> careful conversation. When I asked questions for deeper insight from people
> who replied, only a few answered my questions. I don’t know why that is,
> and I make no assumptions.
>
> It seems that more people from a traditional background in art and design
> dislike posting to the list than do people from the natural and social
> sciences. This may have something to do with the academic cultures of the
> different fields and disciplines, or it may have something to do with the
> specific culture of the PhD-Design list.
>
> Since we now have just under 3,000 subscribers, it is clear that many
> people read the list while few post. Posting confirmation messages suggest
> that roughly 50 people have left the list during the past two weeks of
> these threads. I don’t know if that is because they find the thread boring
> and uninformative, or because the thread led them to decide that the list
> is no longer worth reading. In the past, I have seen list membership
> increase dramatically during lively debates — some with sharp moments of
> disagreement. At the same time, I have also seen the list shrink
> dramatically during times of complaint and intense inquiry — this has
> happened once or twice a year for the past few years. It seems to be
> difficult to generate a healthy, interesting debate without offending
> someone. One result is that people who formerly took an active part in
> debates no longer do so.
>
> The latest answers also raised an issue that hasn’t been easy to identify.
> This is the fact that different subscribers have joined the list for very
> different purposes. The list began after the Columbus, Ohio conference on
> doctoral education in design in 1998. There were roughly 200 subscribers.
> Almost all of these were people with some sort of responsibility for
> doctoral education, either then or coming up. Nearly all of them had a PhD
> and significant research experience. The list was relatively quiet until
> after the La Clusaz conference on doctoral education in design in 2000.
> Many list members attendee both conferences — and the expanded list
> included similar kinds of people. In effect, the list was a meeting place
> for 200 to 300 people, most of them responsible for doctoral education or
> planning it.
>
> As the list grew to around the current population of around 3,000 people,
> many new subscribers joined, and they brought different needs,
> expectations, and interests with them. Many people who now subscribe seem
> to be doctoral students who look for useful information at advice. Others
> are recent PhD graduates, each with their own views. Some people feel that
> the list should focus exclusively on doctoral education itself — the list
> title. Others feel that the list should have room for any research topic
> that might usefully appear in the context of doctoral training.
>
> One of the points that came up today is the very different set of
> expectations of senior researchers and younger researchers. Senior
> researchers tend to focus on their own, specific research interests. The
> engage rapidly and often in sharp terms on the subjects of their expertise,
> while they tend to ignore issues outside their expert fields. Younger
> researchers often hope that new topics will lead to helpful suggestions and
> courteous mentoring. While this occurs here, it doesn’t occur as often as
> some people might wish — and senior researchers tend to offer mentoring in
> the areas of their own expertise, generally to people they know.
>
> While I’m sure that there are other issues, hopes, expectations, and
> desires that haven’t come up, I also feel that list members ought to take
> the time to raise these issues. Luke Feast has attempted to create a survey
> that teases issues out — and his survey leaves room for specific comments.
> The responses to the survey have been far too few to draw and useful
> conclusion. The issues are serious, but the low response and the lack of
> comments make it difficult to know much — and it is difficult to know which
> issues matter the most to a large group of list members.
>
> In these two queries, I’ve asked for comments and thoughts from people who
> might be nervous about posting. I promised anonymity and guaranteed the
> confidential treatment of replies. Despite this, I had fewer than a dozen
> replies.
>
> While around 3,000 people find the list valuable enough to subscribe, only
> a few among them seem to be willing to engage in these issues. There is no
> way to know whether this is because the general subscriber population is
> more or less satisfied with the list, whether a great many people are
> unhappy with the list but afraid to post, or whether some other set of
> factors inhibits participation — for example, lack of time.
>
> Since I’m about to leave for two weeks with family members I have not seen
> for half a century, I’m wrapping this up. I hope that people who have
> something to say will take an opportunity to address their concerns in a
> note to the list … or at least fill in the survey by Luke Feast, using the
> comment space to deepen the insights of that project.
>
> Yours,
>
> Ken
>
> Ken Friedman, Ph.D., D.Sc. (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 ||| Email
> [log in to unmask] | Academia
> http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman | D&I http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cn
>
>
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