Design Thinking
Beyond the Bounds of Your Own Head
	 - a phenomenological perspective
Thomas Wendt
Surrounding Signifiers
@...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Thomas Wendt
Design Strategist and Researcher
!
Teacher, Speaker, and Wri...
Design Thinking
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
“We all design when we plan for something
new to happen, whether that mig...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
“Design is now too important to be left
to designers.”
Tim Brown
http://s...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
You are not the user.
Design thinking differentiates itself from earlier ...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Research, when done well, creates a
deep sense of empathy for others.
One...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Insight about customer behavior are
never discovered sitting at your desk...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Design is abductive.
http://blog.biarch.eu/wp-content/uploads/abalos-stud...
D-School Process
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
The Stanford Design School teaches this as their design ...
• Empathy through research
• Framing the problem
• Generative ideation
• Prototyping & validation
Four Components
Thomas W...
• Empathy through research
• Framing the problem
• Generative ideation
• Prototyping & validation
Four Components
Thomas W...
Designer’s Paradox
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Before we get in to that, I want to point out a parado...
We cannot think about solutions until
we understand problems
!
AND
!
We cannot understand a problem until
we think about s...
Design and Craft
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Beginning by looking a little closer at the distinction ...
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-86NH6XxIdKE/TyNivgip9oI/AAAAAAAACj0/cprKAG9mibo/s1600/fashmark_fall-2009_the-horn-of-plenty_.png...
Mason designed by Dan Hetteix from the thenounproject.com!
Engineer designed by Dan Hetteix from the thenounproject.com
In...
In the architecture example, the prototype is the model. This model performs a few actions:
1) It communicates the intenti...
Worker designed by Bart Laugs from the thenounproject.com!
User designed by Jens Tärning from the thenounproject.com
Withi...
Wireframe designed by Missy Kelley from the thenounproject.com!
The prototype bridges this gap by acting as an artifact th...
http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/vvL4l4U4JaM/maxresdefault.jpg
Given that design thinking posits a separation between designer and u...
Embodiment
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
This notion of “putting something in between” designer and use...
“Thinking is not an act
of logic taking place in
an isolated mind or
consciousness, but is
situated in an
embodied engagem...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
http://www.thestyleblogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Mike-
China-1.j...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
http://brettselby.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/1327605_243007371.jpg
Fo...
“What counts for the orientation of the spectacle
is not my body as it in fact is, as a thing in
objective space, but as a...
Use Context
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
All technological use occurs within a use context, the place ...
http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/vvL4l4U4JaM/maxresdefault.jpg
http://www.thestyleblogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Mike-China-...
http://uxmag.com/sites/default/files/uploads/pulidopaperinscreen/Step6.jpg
The prototype affords praxis. By observing users...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
“Design-as-practice cannot conceive
of designing without the artefacts th...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
“The activity of sketching, drawing or
modeling provides some of the
circ...
http://dthsg.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/abductive.png
Design thinking embraces this type of potentiality. It builds up...
Multistability
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Design Thinking’s focus on rational analysis of potential ...
!
Don Ihde articulates what he calls “multistability” as the capacity for technology to be used in ways other than what th...
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
http://odorunara.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/img_8126.jpg
The other side o...
http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/vvL4l4U4JaM/maxresdefault.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Speed_hump_with_ca...
“People can only develop a durable
relationship with artifacts if what matters
is not just a matter of style or function.
...
What Now?
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
• serve as in-between objects
‣ decrease our dependence on the
problem-solution binary
!
• allow the exploration of:
‣ use...
• gives design a home
‣ design is the embodiment of
philosophy
Philosophy:
Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
Thanks!
Thomas
Wendt
!
Surrounding
Signifiers
!
@thomas_wendt
!
thomas@srsg.co
!
srsg.co
Help me write a
book!
!
designford...
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Design Thinking: Beyond the Bounds of Your Own Head (a phenomenological perspective)

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This is a revision on a previous talk by the same name. This one focuses more on a phenomenological perspective on design artifacts.

Published in: Design, Technology, Spiritual

Design Thinking: Beyond the Bounds of Your Own Head (a phenomenological perspective)

  1. 1. Design Thinking Beyond the Bounds of Your Own Head - a phenomenological perspective Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt thomas@srsg.co srsg.co - revision of a previous talk -design thinking often relegated to just thinking, i want to argue against that -heavily influenced by phenomenology, theories of embodiment, and situated action -part of a larger book project
  2. 2. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Thomas Wendt Design Strategist and Researcher ! Teacher, Speaker, and Writer ! Founder of Surrounding Signifiers, a strategy and design consultancy ! Background in continental philosophy, psychology, and literary theory ! Writing a book on experience design and phenomenology: designfordasein.com ! !
  3. 3. Design Thinking Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  4. 4. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt “We all design when we plan for something new to happen, whether that might be a new version of a recipe, a new arrangement of the living room furniture, or a new layout of a personal web page. The evidence from different cultures around the world […] suggests that everyone is capable of designing. So design thinking is something inherent within human cognition; it is a key part of what makes us human.” Nigel Cross https://www.launchport.com/uploads/files/LPresidential2.jpeg Nigel Cross lays the groundwork for what we now know as design thinking when he states: ! “We all design when we plan for something new to happen, whether that might be a new version of a recipe, a new arrangement of the living room furniture, or a new layout of a personal web page. The evidence from different cultures around the world […] suggests that everyone is capable of designing. So design thinking is something inherent within human cognition; it is a key part of what makes us human.” ! While there is a lot to argue within this passage, I want to concentrate on the idea that design is perhaps not some “special” thing performed only by designers. Cross attempts to link the activity of changing the natural environment with an act of design. In this sense, we are all designers.
  5. 5. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt “Design is now too important to be left to designers.” Tim Brown http://sheilachristian.com/wp-content/uploads/participatory_design.jpg Tim Brown focuses on business aspects when he states that “design is now too important to be left to designers.” Brown’s objective with this statement is of course to make business stakeholders aware of the importance of design and their involvement with it. ! I believe there has been a widening gap between business-focused design thinking and academic design thinking in the past decade. As someone in the middle ground between academia and practice, I’m interested in bringing the two poles together in various ways. ! I’ll start with a broad overview of some of the claims of design thinking. !
  6. 6. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt You are not the user. Design thinking differentiates itself from earlier forms of creation or craft. In its original sense, craft did not claim a gap between designer and user; the one designing the object was the same person eventually using the object. ! Design, as an evolution of craft, recognizes a difference in one who designs and one who uses. So when designing, it is necessary to remember that the designer him- or herself is not the end user.
  7. 7. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Research, when done well, creates a deep sense of empathy for others. One way that designers attempt to understand the context of their users is to perform research, mostly in the form of qualitative methods. These methods aim to situate the designer into the lifeworld of the user. In this way, the designer is able to generate empathy, or a vicarious identification with another person’s context.
  8. 8. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Insight about customer behavior are never discovered sitting at your desk. The nature of praxis and situated action is necessary for design thinking. There is a separation between users in the world and designers in their studios that must be overcome in order to do good design. The designer must insert him- or herself into the world of the user in order to understand their situation on a praxical level. ! So there is a tension in design thinking between maintaining a separation from users and the desire to understand them in intimate detail.
  9. 9. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Design is abductive. http://blog.biarch.eu/wp-content/uploads/abalos-studio-02d1.jpg Design Thinking does not aim for absolute truth. Unlike scientific thinking or analytical thinking, design thinking seeks to create multiple potentialities, analyze optionality, and make decisions based on contextual information.
  10. 10. D-School Process Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt The Stanford Design School teaches this as their design process. It begins with empathy through research, moves to defining a problem to solve, ideates potential solutions, and finally prototypes and tests those solutions.
  11. 11. • Empathy through research • Framing the problem • Generative ideation • Prototyping & validation Four Components Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Another way to think about these steps is through these key components, which are not always linear, but can overlap with one another.
  12. 12. • Empathy through research • Framing the problem • Generative ideation • Prototyping & validation Four Components Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt For our current purposes, we’ll focus on the latter two components in order to examine how sketching and prototyping provide us with a design praxis and allow us to “get out of our own heads.”
  13. 13. Designer’s Paradox Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Before we get in to that, I want to point out a paradox.
  14. 14. We cannot think about solutions until we understand problems ! AND ! We cannot understand a problem until we think about solutions Designer’s Paradox Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt The designer’s paradox states that we cannot think about solutions until we understand the problem, AND we cannot understand a problem until we think about potential solutions. Knowledge of problem and solution spaces must evolve together and co-construct one another. ! Design theorists long before me have pointed out this paradox, but I want to argue that the creation of artifacts in the design process helps us overcome this paradox or at least understand it better.
  15. 15. Design and Craft Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Beginning by looking a little closer at the distinction between design and craft…
  16. 16. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-86NH6XxIdKE/TyNivgip9oI/AAAAAAAACj0/cprKAG9mibo/s1600/fashmark_fall-2009_the-horn-of-plenty_.png “There is no word in classical Hebrew or Greek that translates our word ‘design’. This etymological fact immediately reinforces the idea that there is indeed something peculiarly modern about design, that design may be indicative of a way of being-in- the-world that is distinctive of the modern historical period.” Carl Mitcham As much as design deals with feasible things in the world, it is also concerned with the theoretical field of what could be. Carl Mitcham points out that ! “There is no word in classical Hebrew or Greek that translates our word ‘design’. This etymological fact immediately reinforces the idea that there is indeed something peculiarly modern about design, that design may be indicative of a way of being-in-the-world that is distinctive of the modern historical period.” ! There was a shift in modern design from craft-based creation to a more linguistically-focused act of communication—something Klaus Krippendorf might call a “semantic turn.” We began to think about creativity as a capacity to convey meaning through our designed objects. This idea of modern design adds a layer of complexity to the design process: not only do designs have to be beautiful and usable, they have to communicate.
  17. 17. Mason designed by Dan Hetteix from the thenounproject.com! Engineer designed by Dan Hetteix from the thenounproject.com Intrinsic in this move toward design as communication are artifacts of the design process: sketches and prototypes, in particular. Design inherently involves the use of physical representations to help plan and/or explore before committing to a final design.
  18. 18. In the architecture example, the prototype is the model. This model performs a few actions: 1) It communicates the intentions of the architect 3 dimensions. 2) It helps the architect think through complex spatial problems. 3) It helps others understand designs through demonstration.
  19. 19. Worker designed by Bart Laugs from the thenounproject.com! User designed by Jens Tärning from the thenounproject.com Within contemporary technology design, the gap between designers and users can be quite large. The design thinking mantra “you are not the user,” while generally true, creates massive distance between designers and users, problems and solutions.
  20. 20. Wireframe designed by Missy Kelley from the thenounproject.com! The prototype bridges this gap by acting as an artifact that both parties can effectively use for communication, observation, and learning. The prototype in digital design also serves as the first opportunity for communication.
  21. 21. http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/vvL4l4U4JaM/maxresdefault.jpg Given that design thinking posits a separation between designer and user, the act of sketching, for example, can be seen as an attempt to establish intentionality between designer and user. That is, through the artifact, the designer orients him- or herself to the user’s lifeworld. The artifact becomes the connective tissue between the two poles.
  22. 22. Embodiment Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt This notion of “putting something in between” designer and user is cause for concern when we think about the role of embodiment in our everyday interactions with things. The ways designers think about artifacts and the ways users interact with products can be very different. ! Philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty famously articulated a theory of embodiment in which the act of thinking is not something that occurs “in the head” of the thinker, but is rather embodied in the interaction between body and environment.
  23. 23. “Thinking is not an act of logic taking place in an isolated mind or consciousness, but is situated in an embodied engagement in the experienced world, and in order to understand human thinking we need to understand ourselves as bodies.” ! Søren Poulsen, and Ulla Thøgersenhttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ANY_1lZRviw/UoRfgBacQCI/AAAAAAAC77w/ne244ay1KPE/s1600/IMG_0878-002.JPG Summarizing Merleau-Ponty, Soren Poulsen and Ulla Thogersen state: ! “Thinking is not an act of logic taking place in an isolated mind or consciousness, but is situated in an embodied engagement in the experienced world, and in order to understand human thinking we need to understand ourselves as bodies.” ! So when a child plays with Play-Doh, for example, s/he is learning about the world through active manipulation of it. By molding shapes and creating connections, the child learns about the nature of the world, what materials are capable of, and how the environments shape experiences. ! This is the essence of situated action.
  24. 24. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt http://www.thestyleblogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Mike- China-1.jpg “Embodiment does not simply mean physical manifestation. Rather, it means being grounded in and emerging out of everyday, mundane experience” Paul Dourish In this way, embodiment goes far beyond simply “being in a place.” It is an active engagement with an environment, both physically and psychically. Being embodied in the world involves acting through technology to accomplish certain goals. Technological objects become similar to design artifacts in the sense that they connect individual and world through deep intentionality. As Paul Dourish states: “Embodiment does not simply mean physical manifestation. Rather, it means being grounded in and emerging out of everyday, mundane experience”
  25. 25. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt http://brettselby.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/1327605_243007371.jpg Following Merleau-Ponty’s ideas on embodiment, Don Ihde explains what he calls “embodied relations” with objects. ! Embodied relations are those in which the object of use becomes incorporated into the user’s body. A common example is a pair of eyeglasses. The user wears glasses in such a way that they become embodied and remove themselves as objects of analysis. The wearer looks through them to see the world, and given that the glasses are not smudged or broken, s/he forgets about them completely. In this relationship, the glasses are more an augmentation to the eyes than they are a physical object.
  26. 26. “What counts for the orientation of the spectacle is not my body as it in fact is, as a thing in objective space, but as a system of possible actions, a virtual body with its phenomenal ‘place’ defined by its task and situation. My body is wherever there is something to be done.” Maurice Merleau-Ponty,http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/95-to_NewYork.JPG Through this embodied relationship with the world, Merleau-Ponty states that we can think about the role of the body as not only a physical entity but also a system of potentialities: ! “What counts for the orientation of the spectacle is not my body as it in fact is, as a thing in objective space, but as a system of possible actions, a virtual body with its phenomenal ‘place’ defined by its task and situation. My body is wherever there is something to be done.”
  27. 27. Use Context Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt All technological use occurs within a use context, the place of “something to be done.” We cannot divorce the designed object from its environment.
  28. 28. http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/vvL4l4U4JaM/maxresdefault.jpg http://www.thestyleblogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Mike-China-1.jpg The peripheral components of a situation shape the behavior. For example, checking email at an airport is different from doing so in a home office. Further, checking email while standing in a security line, waiting to board, and after picking up checked baggage are all vastly different. ! The only way for designers to be involved in use context is to intentionally probe the various environments in which use takes place. It is in these contexts that potential solutions exist, and the motivation for prototyping and testing in context is to examine these potentialities.
  29. 29. http://uxmag.com/sites/default/files/uploads/pulidopaperinscreen/Step6.jpg The prototype affords praxis. By observing users interacting with a prototype, designers can validate their previous assumptions about how a product might be used. ! Sitting down with a prototype that represents a product versus having a conversation about the product are certainly two different activities. There is something special about the prototype as a physical object we can point to and manipulate. ! Conversations are rooted in time; they occur here and now, with any mention of future activity being purely speculative. Prototypes, however, account for the future in the sense that they allow us to enact it.
  30. 30. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt “Design-as-practice cannot conceive of designing without the artefacts that are created and used by the bodies and minds of people doing design. This way of thinking of design sees it as a situated and distributed accomplishment in which a number of things, people, and their doings and sayings, are implicated.” Lucy Kimbell http://www.tkwa.com/img/beijing.jpeg Lucy Kimbell articulates design-as-practice as a systems-level way of thinking about design and its artifacts. She states: ! “Design-as-practice cannot conceive of designing without the artefacts that are created and used by the bodies and minds of people doing design. This way of thinking of design sees it as a situated and distributed accomplishment in which a number of things, people, and their doings and sayings, are implicated.” ! Design-as-practice is a way to situate design within the larger context of design activities. By looking at systems of design practice, we can better understand the nature of the designer’s paradox discussed earlier. How do artifacts like prototypes and sketches allow us to explore problems and solutions at the same time by providing a sense of use context? How do prototypes enable meaningful conversations between designers and users?
  31. 31. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt “The activity of sketching, drawing or modeling provides some of the circumstances by which a designer puts him- or herself into the design situation and engages with the exploration of both the problem and its solution.” Nigel Cross http://www.sheridanmedia.com/files/image/crossbo2_Large.jpg Sketching and prototyping bring the poles of problems and solutions closer together. ! Nigel Cross says: ! “The activity of sketching, drawing or modeling provides some of the circumstances by which a designer puts him- or herself into the design situation and engages with the exploration of both the problem and its solution. There is a cognitive limit to the amount of complexity that can be handled internally; sketching provides a temporary, external store for tentative ideas, and supports the ‘dialogue’ that the designer has between problem and solution.” ! This phrase about the act of sketching “providing some of the circumstances” is peculiar. Cross seems to suggest that the act of sketching, or perhaps the sketch itself, enables the designer to break down the separation between problems and solutions. Though experiencing these circumstances, the designer is able to understand the problem through exploring possible solutions, and generate new solutions through deeper understanding of the problem space. We better understand the current state by exploring potentialities for future states.
  32. 32. http://dthsg.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/abductive.png Design thinking embraces this type of potentiality. It builds upon what we might call business thinking by introducing structured ideation to explore multiple possibilities before converging on a single solution. We might call this process “ideation,” but that word is a bit of a misnomer, as the focus is less about ideas as mental phenomena and more about material instantiations of ideas. ! Design thinking uses abductive thinking to imagine future possibilities and decide which holds the most promise as a solution. This act of divergence and convergence is what Tim Brown articulated in his definition of design thinking as the combination of “empathy for the context of the problem, creativity in the generation of insights, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context.” ! Sketches and prototypes are our objects rational analysis. But we should always remember that these externalized ideas are constantly in a state of evolution.
  33. 33. Multistability Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Design Thinking’s focus on rational analysis of potential solutions has some problems.
  34. 34. ! Don Ihde articulates what he calls “multistability” as the capacity for technology to be used in ways other than what the designer intended. He explains multistability through an example: ! “A hammer is designed to do certain things—to drive nails into the shoemaker’s shoe or into shingles on my shed, or to nail down a floor—but the design cannot prevent a hammer from becoming an objet d’art, a murder weapon, a paperweight, etc. […] No technology is one thing, nor is it incapable of belonging to multiple contexts.” ! A designer has a certain intention when designing an object and creates affordances to help make potential uses apparent. But the dictation of use is impossible. Technological objects are multistable: their use is context-dependent, and goal attainment trumps design intention every time. ! Design artifacts allow designers to explore the multistable nature of objects before committing to a specific design solution.
  35. 35. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt http://odorunara.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/img_8126.jpg The other side of multistability is that it allows us to design for social change. ! In this example from Japan, the sensorimotor activity of climbing stairs might simply mean moving from one area to another. But the layering of semantic information in the form of calories burned provides encouragement to citizens as they choose more healthy options. Or on the right side of the stairs, messages inform citizens about the different types of people who choose stairs over the elevator, creating a collective message: if you don’t need the elevator, don’t use it.
  36. 36. http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/vvL4l4U4JaM/maxresdefault.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Speed_hump_with_car.jpg Another example is the use of speed bumps, both as a sign indicating the speed bump and the speed bump itself. Bruno Latour used speed bumps as an example of what he called “scripts,” or the ability for designers to encode moral objectives into their designed objects. ! Latour argued that while a sign that says “slow down” communicates something like “slow down because it’s the law,” a speed bump communicates “slow down or you will damage your car.” The latter approach is more effective.
  37. 37. “People can only develop a durable relationship with artifacts if what matters is not just a matter of style or function. After all, other artifacts could embody the same meaningfulness or functionality, but no other artifact can be this specific material thing, here and now.” Peter-Paul Verbeek http://www.kamleang.com/images/nonobject/nonobject02.jpg Designers are creating conditions in which objects, users, and contexts are combined to create something emergent that did not exist when these entities stood alone. Peter-Paul Verbeek explains that: ! “People can only develop a durable relationship with artifacts if what matters is not just a matter of style or function. After all, other artifacts could embody the same meaningfulness or functionality, but no other artifact can be this specific material thing, here and now.” (Verbeek, AA 2005) ! Designers are not simply creating an object or an interface, they are creating all of the peripheral context that surrounds it. There is this sense that design of an object or an interface inherently includes a concern for the emergent affects of that object. But this concern is not always apparent in the design process. Prototypes help us explore these emergent effects before committing to a “final” design.
  38. 38. What Now? Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  39. 39. • serve as in-between objects ‣ decrease our dependence on the problem-solution binary ! • allow the exploration of: ‣ use contexts ‣ moral implications ‣ multistable use cases Prototypes: Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  40. 40. • gives design a home ‣ design is the embodiment of philosophy Philosophy: Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  41. 41. Thanks! Thomas Wendt ! Surrounding Signifiers ! @thomas_wendt ! thomas@srsg.co ! srsg.co Help me write a book! ! designfordasein.com

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