Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My PhD dissertation (in digital version for download)

I defended my PhD dissertation in 1991. It took me forever to finish it but at the end I was at least quite happy with what I had accomplished. I now and then go back and read bits and pieces from it. Always entertaining and sometimes surprising, encouraging or even depressing. The depressing part is when I realize that I wrote everything in my dissertation that I am still working on, and in many cases better than I could write it today (at least it feels like that).

Anyway, I have not had an digital version of the dissertation but found one today (in the Umea University Library). It is in Swedish so it is of course not really readable to many.

A pdf of the dissertation can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Wonderful movie about Heidegger (and design)

If you have not yet watched the movie "Being in the world" by Tao Ruspoli about the philosophy of
Heidegger, you should. The film is full of comments from many of todays leading philosophers. They talk about Heidegger but in a language that makes it possible to understand for anyone. It is a movie about being a human being. And it is a movie about being a designer!

You can read more about the movie here.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Interesting review 50 years later of Marcuse's "One-dimensional man"

It is 50 years now since Herbert Marcuse published his influential book "One-dimensional man". This has been one of my favorite books since the first time I read it. I have frequently returned to it and is every time inspired by it, usually in a new way than before. It is a book rich of big ideas. Recently I wrote a book chapter on how Marcuse is relevant to the field of interaction design research (hopefully to be published soon).

I am of course not the only one who returns to this seminal book. In a really interesting review, written in relation to the 50 year anniversary,  Ronald Aronson explains the immensely important role that Marcuse has had over the decades. This review is thoughtful and insightful. I was while reading it first a bit concerned by the argument that the conditions during the time when Marcuse authored the book have changed so much that it is not relevant in the same way anymore. However, later in the article Aronson makes the case that I would do, namely that the present society is not the same as in those days but that it has the same foundational qualities, maybe even in a way that makes Marcuse's analysis even more relevant today. It is not the cold war with the big (given) enemy that is the system's engine, instead it is consumerism and the comfortable life. One-dimensionality has maybe never been stronger than today!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

DesignX -- a new collaborative initiative to radically reform design

We do not see a lot of manifestos or White Papers in the field of research, which is unfortunate since they do have certain qualities that almost no other scholarly writings have. Some of these qualities are that they are short, to the point, argumentative, and usually written and signed by a group of people with a stated purpose to influence others.

Today I got one such document in an email. The document is called DesignX and is written by a group of well known design scholars (in alphabetical order): Ken Friedman (Tongji University, College of Design and Innovation and Swinburne University Centre for Design Innovation), Yongqi Lou (Tongji), Don Norman (University of California, San Diego, Design Lab), Pieter Jan Stappers (Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering), Ena Voûte (Delft), and Patrick Whitney (Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute of Design).

You can download the text here. Or you can read the text here on Don Norman's site.

The first sentence states "DesignX is a new, evidence-based approach for addressing many of the complex and serious problems facing the world today. It adds to and augments today’s design methods, reformulating the role that design can play."

The document is only three pages. It gives a brief history of design and a review of where design is today and where it has to go. The text contains several quite succinct definitions of what design is and what design can do.

I think the authors have done a great job in describing design and its distinctive qualities and also lays out an interesting agenda for the future. I fully support the general idea behind this initiative.