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December 2006

An Inconvenient Truth and information design

Last night, Mohammed and I watched Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" on DVD. It is a very disturbing look at the environmental impacts of our way life, but more importantly it is about the lack of political will in Washington to change the our behaviors in spite of the overwhelming evidence of the global warming.

What was particularly compelling was the role of information design in his presentation. The arguments were made with performative uses of charts, graphs, tables, and cool animations by Matt Groening of the Simpson's fame. There is this one point in which Gore shows the graph of the amount  of CO2 in the enviroment for the past 650K years and the relative temperatures at the time. He then gets on a lift and shows how the amount of CO2 in the environment in 2050 will be off the charts literary. He leaves you to imagine what the temperature will be.

What he considers his frustration is that he as spent decades making sure his message is clear, yet people seem to not hear it. Because of the American people's lack of will, the government has not responded appropriately.

One of the most shocking charts was that of the milege standards for automobiles in Europe, Japan, China, Australia, and the US. The US standards are the lowest in the world, lower than than of China. And the standards that California wants to put in place for 2011 are equal to what exists in China today. Now because of the low emission standards, US manufacters cannot sell US cars in other countries without making modifications. And we wonder why Ford and GM are failing, again.

Gore ends with a call for the American people to develop the will to address the environment. He mentions the other "inconvenient truths" that we as a people have overcomed: racial inequality and slavery, gender inequality, and environmentally, the hole in the Ozone layer.

If only he had been president for the past 6 years.


World Usability Day presentation

On November 14, 2006, I presented at the Chicago World Usability Day. My focus was on usability and government, so I talked about some of the research results from my German Marshall Fund, American Marshall Memorial Fellowship, trip to Europe this past summer.

Download Tunstall_WUD06_lo.pdf (1.1 MB in Adobe PDF format)

The title of the presentation was "Design + Governmentality: Comparative perspectives on government receptiveness to citizen-centered design." I defined citizen-centered design as:

A design philosophy and process in which citizens’ everyday knowledge is given extensive attention and inclusion in civic decision-making from policy formation, its implementation, evaluation, and redesign.

I proposed seven factors, the presence of which, indicates potential receptiveness to citizen-centered design:

1_Tradition of direct democracy
2_Citizens’ special interest groups
3_Formal /informal design policy
4_High status of design and usability
5_Design and usability professionals
6_Design and usability education
7_Tradition of user-centered design

I then compared the factors across the US, Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Basque Region in Spain, and Finland. I did not travel to Finland for the AMMF, but it seems to have the current strongest indicators for a citizen-centered design so I included it. Poland has the lowest factors for citizen-centered design, mostly based on its absence of any government support of design and usability.

Overall it was well received. People came up a told me how they appreciated my emphasis on how usability can affect governance (the majority of the other presentations were business focused).

So next steps is to write it up as a formal academic essay, so any feedback would be appreciated.


Rebranding Anthropology - Faux Ad

This year at the American Anthropological Association meetings, I showed, as part of the Anthropology Rebranding Project II, the faux advertisment I did for the field of Anthropology. Some people have asked me to present the clip so that students can see how the language of design can be used to create a more compelling and relevant image of Anthropology.

The tagline: Anthropology, Connect to Our Humaness.

Concept: Demonstrate how the global phenomenon of world soccer can be understood through the four fields of anthropology (archaeology, physical anthropology, linguistics, and socio-cultural anthropology).

Download anthro_rebrand2.mov (approximately 4 MB in Quicktime format. Note it is highly compressed.)

Credits:

The Anthropology logo was created by Cheyenne Medina of StudioLab in Chicago.
The images are taken mostly from Getty Images. Note: These images are not used for commercial purposes, although I hope to convince the AAA to do an ad campaign maybe using them, in which they will be purchased.
The music is from the CD, La Casbah Paris (Atoll 2002). It is the first track "First Transmission" composed by Declan Flynn, and performed by Al-pha-X.


Branding Anthropology + Design Anthropology

Being a "bad anthropologist" I have not attended any presentations during the five-day, 8:00am to 8:00pm, extravaganza that is the American Anthropological Association meetings. Curiously enough, the topics are closer to themes and approaches that I am interested in (ex. public anthropology, activist anthropology, governmentality, and citizenship). The problem is that I do not enjoy academic discourse the same way I did before. I have these conversations with people where I keep wanting to say, "Can you draw me an experience model?" So I have definitedly crossed a design threshold somewhere.

When I was on the plane flying to the conference, someone said, "You can't be an anthropologist. Your presentation looks too good." Someone else told me that they find the workshop form more appealing than going to paper presentations. AAA presentations tend to be made up of obtuse language and the lack of visuals.

The two workshops I facilitated were interesting because they were very interactive. Using a lot of Post-it notes to get participants to brain storm about the brand attributes of anthropology and opportunities to craft audience appropriate messages (via appropriate distribution channels). The Anthropology Rebranding Workshop was excited because AAA Executive leadership were present and was very engaged with what I was trying to say and do about the focus on people who are not anthropologist. I am optimistic that it may lead to opportunities to rebrand the AAA, which is the largest (10, 000 members) and oldest (over 105 years) anthropological association in the world. That would be very cool.

Tomorrow morning, I will probably break down and attend a panel session. It is strange to feel so alienated from your discipline, but exciting to see that it is transforming to become more like you. Ah, the plight of marginality and the promise of centeredness.


World Usability Day

I am presenting today at World Usability Day in Chicago. I am talking about my German Marshall Fund trip. In the summer of 2006, I went on a one-month tour of Europe on a German Marshall Fund fellowship, whose purpose is to encourage transatlantic dialogue among “emerging” leaders. My project was to look at the intersections of culture, design, and civic participation in democracy. I traveled to Krakow and Warsaw Poland; Hamburg Germany: Bratislava, Slovakia; Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain, and Brussels the capital of the EU. I did not travel to Finland, which is in the presentation, but some interesting things are going on in Finland so I included it.

More later. this thing starts at 7:30am. I'm so sleepy.


Issue voter recognized in measures

In the discussion of the election results, AP writer David Crary reported on the results of various ballot measures across the nation. There is an interesting quote that points out political recognition of the issue voter:

Conservatives had hoped the same-sex marriage bans might increase turnout for Republicans, though the GOP had a rough night. Democrats had looked for a boost from low-income voters turning out on behalf of measures to raise the state minimum wage in six states. The wage hikes passed in Arizona, Colorado. Missouri, Montana, Ohio and Nevada.

This is interesting where you compare to Europe where there is little history of direct democracy. There is the Initiative and Referendum Institute in Europe that studies the potential for direct democracy. They have a paraphrase of a quote by Winston Churchill about direct democracy being the worst forms of government except for all the rest, but that is a misrepresentation.

On the Enter Stage Right site, writer J.K. Baltzersen quotes Churchill more extensively and uncovers the complexity of the issues:

We so often hear the famous Churchill dictum on democracy:   

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Indeed quoting Churchill can be used against democracy as form of government:  

      The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

It will be interesting to see how Europe views the American experiment with direct democracy.

 
     


Change in the guard

So yesterday's election results are in and a change in the guard is expected in the House of Representatives and more balance in the Senate. Interestingly enough, the stock market was lower in the news. I hope it had nothing to do with the flurry of referendums passed to increase the minimal wage.

The new DRE voting interfaces had a few problems in some states, but overall it seemed to work okay.

It is amazing how each election both take away and restores hope in the democratic process. I am struck by the extent to which it exposes the weakness and corruption yet the strenght and the hope of the grand experiment.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about good intentions not made manifest in the world as a form of broken promises. Politics is so much about "good intentions" although the corruption scandals of late both in the US and the world show there are bad intentions afoot as well. Yet the intentions rarely make themselves manifest in the world. That to me is now the main challenge and promise of design and govenmentality: having a mechanism to make good intentions manifested realities. This is somehow my personal challenge.


DRS conference day 3

DRS day 3 Am Plenary Presenters:

P1: Leslie Atzamon Visual rhetoric

Literature is the only art capable of rhetoric. Kerry. Masking of visual rhetoric.
visual artifacts are strucutred in same ways of verbal rhetoric.
Way that artifacts are used to define culture. Designers take it for granted that texture, etc. Has rhetorical significance. Literature visual cultural study, design history. Chris Linder

Lose sight of visual as theoretical form. Need to raise visual analysis to verbal analysis. consider design artifacts, culture looks at form. Puta visual artifacts as texts to be interpreted. The art of describing. Alpers.

Art history would look at iconography. Alpers would focus on cultural ambience of scientici occularity.

Dinosaur imagery changes over time based on new scientific knowledge. Curtis.

Flaxman and neo platonic forms and manufacturing design process. Web. Seeks conjuctional meaning. need to talk about intentionality. Imagine form and function for specific audience.

Her work looks at light of X rays in illustrations od Sidney Sime. Warning about strong light rays from hidden sources. Renewed visual culture of the artifact.

Comments Looking at form in historical and cultural context. How is culture embedded in the object. most material studies looks at culture's impact on design, see vice versa. (this the project that I am trying to do democracy artifacts.)

How do you connect in none visual form. She is putting together a complilation. There are some visual essays.

P2: Graham McLaren National identity and british ceramic industry in pre war period.

About how manufacturers understand change. Image of homemaker plate, talked about as influence of x,y, and z, but does not tell you how it got there.

British ceremics was very insular and traditional. Pottery Gazette was main communication vehicle. There was Federation and conferences.

Pre war notions of pottery changed due to world influences, proper and traditional notions were in flux.

1920 30s Finding of ancient British pottery, led to descriptions in books about how represent national culture. Herbert Reed powerful cultural critic. Britishness became criteria of design.

Change had to be handled carefully, this move from tradition to modernity.
Represented in contraversy surrounding Utilityware (virginity, purity) for plain, new Britishness and emphasis on shape over decoration (roses).

These changes were sheparded in by few individuals.

Tension when government speaks about utility. The industry feel imposition of London.

The reaction to Scandinavian design as about morality. Against it, so escribed as feminizing of Scandinavian men. No beer but drink milk and lemonade.

P3:Michael Biggs Fundamental principles of academic research

Two key areas Epistemology and methods

Epistemology issue of should we be concerned that there are different models of design research. Theory is just an explanatory tool which is used by my interest, my questions. There can be parallel worldviews.it depends on motivation. But it should work with internal coherence.

Methodology. What is relationship between question and the answers one is seeking. I go back to looking at the words people use.

Ontology of research Contrast with idea of intention of author for it to be researched.

Research must be disseminated, because must influence the actions of the field. It is accumulative but does not have to be progressive. Needs to be communicated by an effective journal. Need to be community.

Originality, must result in something new for the community not just the indivvidual. Trivial and conseqential originality. researcher must demonstrate that this is new. Does not account for that which is not dessiminated.

Context, need to show the use and interpretaion of the knowledge.

Who decides what meets criteria. Needs to have intentionality of author and audience.

For originality to be recognized in its context, need the critic who has more experience.

Intention is desirable but other criteria are the audience's judgement.

Commentary What is consequential research versus the trivial?

Consequential appears over time. Do not know until there is evidence of resonance and practice is impacted.

Note: excellent panel

DRS Day 3 plenary II

P1: Wendy Wong Design in China Tradition and heritage, difficult for China to adapt to what is happening in last 3 centuries.

yin yang symbol is there, but Confucious is more appropriate for.understaning Chinese design. The master and apprentis model in which makes lots and lots of copies before creating something new is still the mode.

Republican period 1900s -1930s Key question: What is modern Chinese person?
First members criticized Chinese designs.

After 1947 communism take over Two dominant forms of expression emerged: woodcut and grand red nationalistic.

1978 open up to outside world Design is modern in china, expression of obtaining a modern lifestyle.

Note: Since I was on the platform and could not see, I was not able to follow her very well.


P2: Andree Woodcock and John Burns Computer based animation for learning.

Showed animation of Mars Daisy simulation of use of microprobes to explore Mars

Aim facilitate cross faculty liaison Interterdisciplinary process in CSG

Important research topic was cogent computers (ie. Environmentally sensitive and able to form networks.

Why format needs to be engaging Public as stakeholders, recruiting, learning experience Top down approach using video

Why Animation In teaching, enhances the teaching experience and better cognative recall

Influences for design and concept Victorian landscape space exploration Startrek

Iteration process added a person avatar to humanize the experience, especially in the recruiting of women.

Evaluation
Groupwork dealt with abstract concepts earlier in process. Illustrations of new work needed done more completely earlier. Visualizations were problematic

Teaching and learning was successful

Dissemination and recruitment were not allowed to ask questions from recruits

Use of in house animation as research tool Collaborative working Future work by providing public with new opportunities.

P3: Alain Findeli What is design theory?

Note: he had this dogmaesque presentaion where he outlined his talk with images of his physical paper and hand drawings.

Will try to answer but not in traditional philosophical way. Do an empirical study.

Two influences
Le Design by Flamand and Racine Bremen conference paper in by him in Design Issues

5 parts of paper

What is the Research question What is method Apply method and do fieldwork Interpretation and discussion Relevance

Research question Focus only on research question and observed design theory at work. Good situation is theory critique.

Theorie is relationship between discourse and practice.

Method Goethe phenomenonology, one century before Hussell. Soft empiricism no math or statistics. Need to observe the phenomenon.

Criteria is not true but practicality. know when you are ready when you can wrap it up as poem, but use collage and clay.

Result (four types of theorie) 1_Minimal only need practice 2_Interpretive. tradition of history, art criticism, more text and pictures is bad. Theoretical discussion about design are very helpful (anthro) but not interested in the practice. 3_Hard or rigid theory, engineering model. Practice is the reduction of the theory. Have to explain application. 4_Situated theory, dynamic have competent practice. Still cannot observe it in the student.

Interpretation Rudof Steiner's anthropology (neo-Aristotelian), have theory of the human being. Philosophical not cultural anthropology. Freud is popular in France.
He likes Steiner because he is a pragmatist. Concerned with practical application.

Humans have body,soul, spirit.
Soul is capable in thinking, feeling, and willing. Thinking is world acting on person. Feeling is tasting the world. Willing is acting on the world.

Last model is organic flowing of all elements, person who is able to harmonize them. This person is free.

Conclusion What is contribution to design knowledge? What is the consequence for design? What is the consequence for the education for design?

Competent, cultivated, efficient, enlightened is the type of designer produced by each of the four theories 1_Minimal, 2_Interpretive, 3_Hard or rigid theory,and 4_Situated theory.


DRS day 3 am session 1


DRS day 3 Am Plenary Presenters:

Leslie Atzamon Visual rhetoric

Literature is the only art capable of rhetoric. Kerry. Masking of visual rhetoric.
visual artifacts are strucutred in same ways of verbal rhetoric.
Way that artifacts are used to define culture. Designers take it for granted that texture, etc. Has rhetorical significance. Literature visual cultural study, design history. Chris Linder

Lose sight of visual as theoretical form. Need to raise visual analysis to verbal analysis. consider design artifacts, culture looks at form. Puta visual artifacts as texts to be interpreted. The art of describing. Alpers.

Art history would look at iconography. Alpers would focus on cultural ambience of scientici occularity.

Dinosaur imagery changes over time based on new scientific knowledge. Curtis.

Flaxman and neo platonic forms and manufacturing design process. Web. Seeks conjuctional meaning. need to talk about intentionality. Imagine form and function for specific audience.

Her work looks at light of X rays in illustrations od Sidney Sime. Warning about strong light rays from hidden sources. Renewed visual culture of the artifact.

Comments Looking at form in historical and cultural context. How is culture embedded in the object. most material studies looks at culture's impact on design, see vice versa. (this the project that I am trying to do democracy artifacts.)

How do you connect in none visual form. She is putting together a complilation. There are some visual essays.

Graham McLaren National identity and british ceramic industry in pre war period.

About how manufacturers understand change. Image of homemaker plate, talked about as influence of x,y, and z, but does not tell you how it got there.

British ceremics was very insular and traditional. Pottery Gazette was main communication vehicle. There was Federation and conferences.

Pre war notions of pottery changed due to world influences, proper and traditional notions were in flux.

1920 30s Finding of ancient British pottery, led to descriptions in books about how represent national culture. Herbert Reed powerful cultural critic. Britishness became criteria of design.

Change had to be handled carefully, this move from tradition to modernity.
Representedin contraversy surrounding Utilityware (virginity, purity) for plain, new Britishness and emphasis on shape over decoration (roses).

These changes were sheparded in by few individuals.

Tension when government speaks about utility. The industry feel imposition of London.

The reaction to Scandinavian design as about morality. Against it, so escribed as feminizing of Scandinavian men. No beer but drink milk and lemonade.

Michael Biggs Fundamental principles of academic research

Two key areas Epistemology and methods

Epistemology issue of should we be concerned that there are different models of design research. Theory is just an explanatory tool which is used by my interest, my questions. There can be parallel worldviews.it depends on motivation. But it should work with internal coherence.

Methodology. What is relationship between question and the answers one is seeking. I go back to looking at the words people use.

Ontology of research Contrast with idea of intention of author for it to be researched.

Research must be disseminated, because must influence the actions of the field. It is accumulative but does not have to be progressive. Needs to be communicated by an effective journal. Need to be community.

Originality, must result in something new for the community not just the indivvidual. Trivial and conseqential originality. researcher must demonstrate that this is new. Does not account for that which is not dessiminated.

Context, need to show the use and interpretaion of the knowledge.

Who decides what meets criteria. Needs to have intentionality of author and audience.

For originality to be recognized in its context, need the critic who has more experience.

Intention is desirable but other criteria are the audience's judgement.

Commentary What is consequential research versus the trivial?

Consequential appears over time. Do not know until there is evidence of resonance and practice is impacted.

Note: excellent panel