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PHD-DESIGN  November 2018

PHD-DESIGN November 2018

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Subject:

Re: mapping analytical methods for design research (a bit long)

From:

Danielle Wilde <[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, 7 Nov 2018 09:46:14 +0100

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Dear David,

Terrifically useful. Thank you.

Danielle

> Date:    Tue, 6 Nov 2018 14:55:33 +1100
> From:    David Sless <[log in to unmask]>
—snip—
> 1. Over the last 30 odd years I have been developing, testing, validating and refining a suite of methods and procedures for creating designs that achieve a measurably high standards. This is in the area of information design and I would hesitate to suggest that these methods have validity in other design fields. That is for others to decide… One of our earliest published case histories gives a detailed account of this in relation to forms design.
> https://communication.org.au/information-design-methods-and-productivity/ 
> 
> The little diagram we use to illustrate this can be found in lots of our publications. See here for an example on “How to use standards”
> https://communication.org.au/standards-communication-information-design/ 
> 
> While elements of this diagram have their origins in earlier work on design methods, particularly the works of Buckminster Fuller and Chris Jones, they also have many other precursors which will be obvious to many. But for me the most important characteristic of this diagram (apart from its homage to Harry Beck) is that we have tested it and validated its use over some 200+ projects. Thus for us it has become a tool for criticism and review of information design projects. 
> 
> When reviewing other information design work, I use the diagram as a template, a checklist, if you will, to judge the quality of the work. From that vantage point I can pinpoint weaknesses and strengths in particular projects. The most frequently absent step in most of the work I review is step 2: baseline measurement. Sadly, this invalidates most of what follows. Thus a little diagram has become a valuable critical tool.
> 
> 2. The logic of positions—something I tried to articulate as part of my research into semiotics and communication theory—opened up a new way of making sense and attributing value to a whole variety of research methods, many of them appearing in the compilations of design research methods: the postage stamp collections I mentioned in my last contribution to this thread. 
> 
> Using the logic of positions, I discovered that the vast majority of research methods and findings arising from the application of those methods were of little or no value in information design. Such ideas as grounded theory and triangulation crumbled, as did most of the methods used in empirical social science research. Needless to say, this is controversial and I can imagine some of you choking on your muesli, toast etc. Some might even have fallen off their seats. My apologies, not for the idea, but for any discomfort or injury I have caused. 
> 
> For those of you curious to know more, I have written something on this specifically for designers:
> Sless, David. “Where Am I?,” In Designing Effective Communications; Creating Contexts for Clarity and Meaning, edited by Jorge Frascara, 29–37. New York: Allworth Press, 2006.
> 
> For Communication Scholars:
> https://communication.org.au/a-matter-of-position/ 
> 
> 3. One of the recurrent activities that we all get involved in is literature reviews. Like many, my experience is one of finding a wealth of references but few that help me. For example, in the field of medicine information labelling there is a wealth of material but little of it is of value in helping me improve medicine label design. In passing, the worst of all is the peer reviewed medical research literature. 
> 
> The reasons are many, but you can get a glimpse of how our mapping of the design process and the logic of positions has provided us with a critical framework from which to view others contribution (or lack of it) to our field. Below is an example.
> https://communication.org.au/designing-usable-medicine-information/ 
—snip—

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