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Visual Design

How is design like a comic?

Visual design, visual collaboration, stickies and diagrams are all integral to DDD. But why? How is it so effective? Is it though? We’ll take a look at the role of the visual in communication, collaboration and reasoning, drawing on work in various related areas. Including comics.

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Visual Design

  1. 1. Visual Design Ruth Malan @ruthmalan
  2. 2. “we put our thoughts into the world” — Barbara Tversky <Emergency Appeal to Authority>
  3. 3. How is design like a comic? VISUAL DESIGN
  4. 4. How is design like this comic? buttercupfestival.com/2-91.htm It imagines something new into the world… … that enters the world and changes it
  5. 5. How is design like this comic? buttercupfestival.com/2-116.htm We explore the unseen beneath the surface, go to the roots (and don’t think of roots as linear causes, but rhizomatic and interconnected)
  6. 6. How is design like this comic? buttercupfestival.com/2-118.htm We explore what if, and what then and what else?
  7. 7. How is design like a comic? VISUAL DESIGN • world creation
  8. 8. How is design like a comic? VISUAL DESIGN • world creation
  9. 9. How is design like a comic? VISUAL DESIGN • world creation • dismissed X
  10. 10. Undervalued/Dismissed Stereotyped as For children, juvenile, .. Not “the real deal” Not …“literature”…
  11. 11. Undervalued/Dismissed Stereotyped as For children, juvenile, .. Not “the real deal” Not …“literature”… MisUnderstanding Comics
  12. 12. Undervalued/Dismissed BDUF?! MisUnderstanding Design
  13. 13. Undervalued/Dismissed “Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is a powerful piece of polemic. It is also a work of theory” — Dylan Horrocks MisUnderstanding Comics X
  14. 14. reConsider “Of course, all theory is to some extent polemic; theory is about persuading others to think about things in a certain way” — Dylan Horrocks Understanding Comics
  15. 15. How is design like a comic? buttercupfestival.com/2-31.htm I don’t get it/see something different…
  16. 16. “It is hard to overestimate the significance of putting thought in the world.” “it allows us to share thoughts with others, critical for learning, teaching, coordinating and collaborating” — Barbara Tversky Thoughts in the World
  17. 17. “That's all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. There's no part in it, no shape in it, that is not out of someone's mind.” — Robert M. Pirsig Thoughts in the World
  18. 18. TECHNICAL LEADERSHIP Programming as Theory Building
  19. 19. Programming as Theory Building
  20. 20. TECHNICAL LEADERSHIP Programming as Theory Building
  21. 21. TECHNICAL LEADERSHIP Programming as Theory Building 1985
  22. 22. Theory We Hold in Mind
  23. 23. How Do We Build Better Theories? MisUnderstanding Design X Exploration of visual communication in comics
  24. 24. Thinking with the World “Drawing [..] is a means of orchestrating a conversation with yourself” — Nick Sousanis From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  25. 25. “Our stereoscopic vision is the creation and integration of two views. [..] It is this displacement that allows us to perceive depth.” — Nick Sousanis Integration of Views From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  26. 26. Shift in Perspective “Nothing changed, except the point of view — which changed everything.” — Nick Sousanis From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  27. 27. Dialog Across “Consider instead, distinct vantage points Separate paths Joined in dialog Thus, not merely side-by-side They intersect, engage, interact, combine, and inform one another. As the coming together of two eyes in stereoscopic vision Outlooks held in mutual orbits, Coupled, their interplay and overlap, facilitate the emergence of new perspectives. Actively interweaving multiple strands of thought Creates common ground” From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  28. 28. Rhizomatic We use different perspectives to transcend and see the connectedness that is otherwise obscured “this expansive way of seeing corresponds to an understanding of ecosystems … which despite visual boundaries, remain rhizomatically bound” — From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  29. 29. Span Gaps “Both binding agent and action, imagination allows us to span gaps in perception.” — Nick Sousanis From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  30. 30. Synthesis of Views ‘Expanding our understanding requires divergence of thought and diversity of thinkers.’ — Nick Sousanis From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  31. 31. Cognitive Assist By reigniting our interest in, and practicing, visual design, we give ourselves a perceptual, cognitive and collaborative assist From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  32. 32. “thoughts put in the world become thinking tools. A spiral: we put thought in the world, use it, revise it, use it again. [..] To remember, remind, and record. To inform, to influence — Barbara Tversky Become Tools to Think (Together)
  33. 33. “To contemplate, compare, organize, rearrange, design, and create. To show others and collaborate.” — Barbara Tversky From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  34. 34. Joined in Dialog, they engage, interact they create common ground
  35. 35. Unflattening Design • From Multiple Perspectives • Shift Perspective • Focus, and • Dialog Across • Rhizomatic • Span Gaps • Synthesis of Views
  36. 36. We’re weaving strands of inquiry • Visual • Design • Systems Where Are We? Visual Design of Systems
  37. 37. Sketching and Modeling VISUAL DESIGN We sketch, draw diagrams, model to: Sketch by Dave Gray
  38. 38. Sketching and Modeling VISUAL DESIGN to deal with buffer overflow! to create a shared thought space to explain, to defend, to preserve to probe, to run thought experiments to see, to understand existing To observe, to understand* To think, reason, abstract – to design* To think together, collaborate To explore, to test To document to communicate* * “Let’s go to the Whiteboard,” by Mauro Cherubini et al Sketch by Dave Gray
  39. 39. Why Designers Use Diagrams • To share: Diagrams externalize internal thought making it visible to self and others, reifying the mental model for others to act upon. • To ground: Human communication embeds ambiguous interpretations that need to be clarified in conversations: diagrams can serve this purpose. • To manipulate: By externalizing a mental model in a drawing, part of the cognitive process needed to hold it in memory is relieved and other operations can take place, like joining different parts, evaluating the design, checking the consistency, etc. Once externalized, these phases can happen collaboratively, capturing joint attention and enabling gesturing. • To brainstorm: Ambiguity in sketches is a source of creativity. Unintended interpretations and ideas can arise when inspecting an initial arrangement of a sketch.
  40. 40. Sketching and Modeling Load understanding into our heads — what is, and what ought to be. We have bounded cognitive capacity, so we collaborate So we need to create common ground/shared understanding Image source: Dave Gray VISUAL DESIGN
  41. 41. 1995 Put Thought into the World text too
  42. 42. Put Thought into the World
  43. 43. Put Thought into the World Image source: Mind in Motion talk, by Barbara Tversky (on youtube)
  44. 44. Let’s Try This • Consider the following problem – One morning, exactly at 8 A.M., a monk began to climb a tall mountain. The narrow path, no more than a foot or two wide, spiraled around the mountain to a glittering temple at the summit. The monk ascended the path at varying rates of speed, stopping many times along the way to rest and to eat the dried fruit he carried with him. He reached the temple precisely at 8 P.M. The next day, he began his journey back along the same path, starting at 8A.M. and again walking at varying speeds with many pauses along the way. He reached the bottom at precisely 8 P.M. – I assert that there is at least one spot along the path the monk occupied at precisely the same time of day on both trips. – Is my assertion true? How do you decide? Source: Visual Thinking by Rudolf Arnheim SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE
  45. 45. One Approach Image: Visual Thinking by Rudolf Arnheim
  46. 46. System “The defining properties of any system, are properties of the whole, which none of the parts have. If you take the system apart, it loses its essential properties” — Russell Ackoff VISUAL DESIGN
  47. 47. Boundaries “In order to be recognisable as such, a system must be bounded in some way.” “Weoftenfallintothetrapof thinking of a boundary as something that separates one thing from another. We should ratherthinkofa boundaryassomethingthatconstitutesthatwhich isbounded.” —PaulCilliers Image: from Tom Rosenthal’s Watermelon music video  Andthisis“fractal”:systemsaresubsystemsofother systems;systemshavesubsystems
  48. 48. Design: System (Inside) System Architecture Structure and mechanisms Systemelementsandrelationships • (de)composition • isthiscomponentdifferentiating(keep internal)?ordoweneedtosupportan externalinteraction? Systembehaviorsandproperties • interactionsgiverisetocapabilitiesand properties(emergence) Whymodel?Codeputsthoughtsintheworld,but eventhatgetstoobig!Toreasonacrossthesystem. To reasonaboutinteractions.Toreasontogether.
  49. 49. Recall: Theory Building System-in-Context (use, dev, ops) Product Design Design of system capabilities/properties Architecture Structure and mechanisms System Developing our theory of the problem Developing our theory of the solution
  50. 50. Communicating the Decision
  51. 51. Design in Context “Alwaysdesignathing by considering itinitsnext largercontext.” —ElielSaarinen VISUAL DESIGN
  52. 52. Design: System in Context System-in-Context (use, dev, ops) Product Design Design of system capabilities/properties Architecture Structure and mechanisms • Whatisthesystemusedfor(purpose andidentity)? • Whichcapabilitiesarewegoingto moveacrossthesystemboundary? • Whatnewcapabilitiesarewegoingto bringintoexistence? • Howisthesystembeingadapted(and exapted)tonewuses? Systembehaviorsandproperties • impact(users,partners,operations) experience System
  53. 53. Ecosystem Context Context System-in-Context (use, dev, ops) System (Ecosystem) Strategy Ecosystem interventions “Requirements" Design of system capabilities Architecture Structure and mechanisms product design technical design
  54. 54. Design Across Boundaries Context System-in-Context (use, dev, ops) System (Ecosystem) Strategy Ecosystem interventions “Requirements" Design of system capabilities Architecture Structure and mechanisms internal design: parts and interactions; theory of operation product design technical design capabilities and properties; theory of value Identity and direction; theory of differentiation and role in ecosystem
  55. 55. Design Across Boundaries Context System-in-Context (use, dev, ops) System (Ecosystem) Strategy Ecosystem interventions “Requirements" Design of system capabilities Architecture Structure and mechanisms System design is contextual design — it is inherently about boundaries (what’s in, what’s out, what spans, what moves between), and about tradeoffs. It reshapes what is outside, just as it shapes what is inside. internal design: parts and interactions; theory of operation product design technical design capabilities and properties; theory of value Identity and direction; theory of differentiation and role in ecosystem
  56. 56. Modeling Complex Systems
  57. 57. Sociotechnical Systems Sociotechnical systems refers to systems that have social and technical elements, and there is mutual influence and interaction of technical and social elements
  58. 58. How Complex Systems Fail 1. Complex systems are intrinsically hazardous systems 2. Complex systems are heavily and successfully defended against failure 3. Catastrophe requires multiple failures – single point failures are not enough 4. Complex systems contain changing mixtures of failures latent within them 6. Catastrophe is always just around the corner 16. Safety is a characteristic of systems and not of their components: Safety is an emergent property of systems -- Richard I. Cook Source: Richard I. Cook, How Complex Systems Fail
  59. 59. How Complex Systems Fail 1. Complex systems are intrinsically hazardous systems 2. Complex systems are heavily and successfully defended against failure 3. Catastrophe requires multiple failures – single point failures are not enough 4. Complex systems contain changing mixtures of failures latent within them 6. Catastrophe is always just around the corner 16. Safety is a characteristic of systems and not of their components: Safety is an emergent property of systems
  60. 60. Modeling Complex Systems It’s a lot! To grasp. Still, choose (how much, which views, ..) wisely Diana Montalion’s heuristic equation: Wisdom = f(knowledge, experience, good judgment) VISUAL DESIGN
  61. 61. TECHNICAL LEADERSHIP System Integrity “A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something” — Donella Meadows
  62. 62. Requisite Coherence “And requisite coherence is the idea that if everyone is in a Tower of Babel we’re not able to speak or work together. So the balancing point here is common ground.” — Jabe Bloom “Joint activity depends on interpredictability of the participants’ attitudes and actions. Such interpredictability is based on common ground” – Gary Klein
  63. 63. Common Ground we create … “requires continuing effort to sustain, extend, and repair common ground.” — Richard Cook Image from: Unflattening, by Nick Sousanis VISUAL DESIGN
  64. 64. Design “the designer, is concerned with how things ought to be - how they ought to be in order to attain goals, and to function.” — Herbert Simon VISUAL DESIGN
  65. 65. Making Sense of Complex Systems What is (description; depiction; ..) What could be (exploration; intention) Structure: parts and relationships; boundaries; parts and wholes; .. Behavior: interactions; feedback (self-regulating or balancing; amplifying or reinforcing; ..); dynamics Scope: system (internals); (system in) context; ecosystem Time frame: duration (transaction; evolution); past, present, or future; .. Image adapted Leonardo polyhedra, wiki commons
  66. 66. Unflattening Design • From Multiple Perspectives • Shift Perspective • Focus, and • Dialog Across • Rhizomatic • Span Gaps • Synthesis of Views
  67. 67. Stay in Touch Ruth Malan: Twitter: @ruthmalan Web: ruthmalan.com Web: bredemeyer.com Bredemeyer Consulting

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