Departing for Hong Kong and IASDR
IASDR07_Day 1.5 and 2

IASDR_Day 01 Collaboration

Here are my flickr images of being in transit in Tokyo.

The first half of the IASDR conference was a blast for me. As I stated before, I was the moderator for the opening keynote by Larry Leifer of the d.School at Stanford. He is a very funny and smart guy. His presentation was about the collaborative projects at Stanford in the d.School and engineering departments. They do some highly sophisticated work.

The presentation did not explain much what collaboration is or how it can be improved, but focused on how it is done at Stanford. I like that aspect of it to some extent, because the theory of it would come later in the day. It made me realize how much better the IPD courses at UIC can be in terms of really engaging the engineering students. The highlight of his presentation for me is the study that one of his students did on social networks in collaborative team over the product development cycle. They did a visualization of it where in the beginning phases everyone is working on their own, as they move into the some of the first milestones, some collaboration is happening, by the time you get to the beta testing, it is lots of collaboration pulling in most team members. These dynamics were displayed in a sort of dynamic web of connections.

The great thing about the conference papers being available online is that I could focus on the impressions of the presentations instead of trying to take verbatim notes.

Again, I moderated the first two smaller sessions on Collaboration. Below are my impressions of the presentations;

The first presentation was by Carolyn Barnes and Gavin Melles of Swinebourn University in Melbourne on Managing Interdisciplinarity and specifically the contextual review. Their perspective was that the challenge of the contextual review for design research projects is that they derive from many different disciplines, so one never has a sense of having a handle on the context. They drew upon the Mode 2 framework which knowledge is "integrated, socially distributed, cross or trans disciplinary, sensitive to context, socially accountable and reflexive, and messy." When I hear things like this, I always think that this is what anthropology has been doing for the past 30 years. That design is not the only discipline that has to draw from interdisplinarity to build contextual knowledge, so why doesn't design draw from there.

The second presentation was from Michael Schmidt at the Center for Multimedia Arts at the University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology. He discussed not being trained as a graphic designer to design interfaces for bioethics. His project is most fascinating for me because it focuses on the Values/Design/Experiences framework that I've been using. In this case it is helping terminally ill children articulate their values in regards to giving informed consent for clinical trials in the context of conflict with parents whose hope sometimes make them ignore that fact that their child might want to spend their last days visiting their grandfather or having a party. They developed several digital interfaces to allow children to list and prioritize their values. They also developed interfaces to walk people through the informed consent protocol and more clear and engaging ways. I want them to submit a case study for the Design Policy book.

Then, it was Joi Roberts', design ambassador for Motorola, presentation on Academic-Industry collaboration. She did a great job of laying out the industry trends, the gaps in current student's knowledge, and the models of academic-industry collaboration that need to be redesigned. She was fabulous as always.

As moderator, some of the presentations went over. I learned to stand up when its time for them to quit so that I can walk across the stage if they are really taking too long. That seemed to work.

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The second session on collaboration started with a presentation by Angus Colvin of University of Dundee in Scotland. He did a wonderful job of explaining the barriers of the Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing phases in team dynamics. He then addressed the role of visualization in taking people out of personality conflicts and getting them focused on the same goal.

The next presentation by Tamara Chirstensenl and Senay Easer of College of Design at Arizona State was excellent in terms of laying out a heuristic framework (actors, artifacts, atmosphere, and activities) for understanding teams and using it to do a literature review of the scholarly papers and books of design teams.  I don't understand why everyone has to create a new heuristic for the same thing, but she did do a nice interactive exercise to get us to think about teams we've been on.  I went back to the best team experience I've ever had which was the Allstate Financial team at Sapient. I still miss Miguel and Soni.

The final presentation I moderated was by Mike Zender, director of graduate studies at University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. He talked about collaborative design project with Dr. Keith Crutcher at Neurosurgeon on visualizing medical concepts for Alzheimers. What was cool is that his science colleagues forced him to test out the efficacy of the icon approach vs. text approach among experts. This provided great quantitative data to support his anecdotal evidence. This is good for design.

So I learned alot about the study of collaboration, which would be useful for the IPD course. Having worked in collaborative environments all my professional life, the experience of collaboration is not emerging, and the CSCW projects go way back, but it is an emerging interest in the context of designing and especially design education, so its interesting to see how the design research community views it.

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