Showing posts from October, 2005

Design and Theories

[This post is a bit too long! On the DRS mailing list there is an ongoing discussion on the role of theories and the practice of design. This is a version of my post in that debate. Be aware that here it is outside the context of the list. By the way, that list is now and then really interesting. You can search for PHD-DESIGN@JISCMAIL.AC.UK]

I have with interest read the thread on theory in design. One of the interesting aspects is what constitutes a theory that has the power to influence practice. Some valuable comments have been made on this issue. Another aspect that has been mentioned has to do with the possibility of knowing if a design is an actual result of a theory. I just want to make a few comments on these two issues.

First, there is a basic paradox involved when it comes to the idea of theories influencing design. If we accept a very simple definition of design as a process aimed at producing something new, something unexpected, something not already known or existing, then …

I love Robots

An interesting thing today on TV. It is an ad where an automatic vacuum cleaner is advertised. The whole ad builds on the idea that the cleaner is a robot. And the ad ends with people looking into the camera saying "I love Robots". Maybe we are entering the era of robots, finally! Isaac Asimov wrote about our relations and interactions with robots in his famous novels. And in some movies we have seen ads with very similar message as the vacuum cleaner ad, that is, we love robots. I think the idea of robots as a way to interact with artifacts will be more common. The whole idea of artifacts that behave, move and interact with humans is such a powerful idea and image, proven to work in all kinds of fiction. That attractive quality will probably pursuade us to willingly move into the Age of Robots!

Results-oriented UI

Recently Microsoft presented their new User Interface for the new coming version of Office. The basic idea is now "results-oriented". It means that the user should only focus on the desired results and not on how to get there. See for instance Jacob Nielsens comments. All attempts to increase the ordinary users possibility to work in an easy way is welcomed and so is this one. It is however difficult to see the great "philosophical" step that this is supposed to manifest. The distinction between what is an operation and what is a result is delicate. The common way of pointing to a place on a page where you want the page number can be seen as an operation or as results-oriented depending on the chosen level of abstraction. Either you see it as if you command the number to be set at a specific place, or you see it as an act of desire, i.e. you point to a place where yuo want the number to be placed. Of course, the more of actions done by chosing instead of defining i…

Consequence of transformation

Just read this piece on phone services that are free on the net. It seems that there is still a long way to go before we understand the new dynamics of what a long time ago was called the "new economy". It is obvious with companies like Skype and Vonage that we are still only at the beginning of the transformation that everyone talked about in the late 90s. It is also obvious that all those who after the "bubble" made fun of the "new economy" and the "whole thing" maybe laughed too early. I think we all should be humble in front of the changes that in so many ways constitute manifestations of our transforming grounds.

i-Conference, part 2

Well, back from the i-Conference. A growing number of departments and schools, deans and faculty, in the field of information/informatics/computer sciences seem to be recognizing that somthing new is developing. It was a really interesting conference, and I think something that will be remembered many years from now as the first conference, the starting point.

The School of Informatics where I am at is in the middle of this new development.