Research By Design


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Paper on research methods using design given at COST 298 conference, Moscow 2007

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Research By Design

  1. 1. Research By Design A probe to explore social encounters, urban space and mobile ICTs James Stewart (ISSTI) Mark Wright (ECA and Edinburgh, Informatics) Richard Coyne (Edinburgh, Architecture) Penny Travlou (ECA)
  2. 2. Issues <ul><li>(Technological) Design as a social science and humanities research method </li></ul><ul><li>Techniques and issues in conducting ‘Research by Design’ </li></ul><ul><li>Investigation of ‘User-designers’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment of users/citizens as creators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass customisation - mass configuration </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. User innovation <ul><li>Innovation and technology studies: the active user, user as innovator. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Source, Internet model </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Domestication; Appropriation; Innofusion; Lead user innovators. </li></ul><ul><li>How to make this more than basic configuration, or take it or leave it in the market? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we provide a toolkit and support infrastructure to allow more extensive innovation by non-technical ‘users’? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Users in Design methods <ul><li>Users usually part of a commercial or policy process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requirements Capture, Product verification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User-centred design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Participatory design and co-design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ethnographic techniques: study the context and practice </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive techniques: engage ‘users’ creatively </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rapid Prototyping </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural Probes and Installations </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Creation, not ‘capture’ <ul><li>Too much emphasis on ‘need’. </li></ul><ul><li>We wish to emphasise the creative and the experimental as way of exploring current state of affairs, and inventing the future. </li></ul><ul><li>(alternative phenomenology) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Social Science and Humanities Researchers <ul><li>Working for others: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Qualitative/ Quantitative method </li></ul></ul><ul><li>User engagement as part of own design work </li></ul><ul><li>But SST and SL emphasis way technology reflects social that created it, and leaves impression on non-technical. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus Another mode of enquiry: study user-designers working on a design project shaped by the research agenda </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research by design </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Our Preliminary case <ul><li>Branded Meeting Places Projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interdisciplinary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactions of brand with place and social encounters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changing technological environment for these. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privileged access to a new technology: image matching via picture messaging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Budget to pay a technical assistant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lightweight application development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Initial case with a group of Digital Design MSc students, few with many IT skills. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Mobile Acuity System <ul><li>Image matching system - “unlocks information” on a match. </li></ul><ul><li>Used with low quality images </li></ul><ul><li>Access though a Mobile gateway </li></ul><ul><li>Commercially developed as a marketing tool e.g. snap 2 win ™ : enhance print media campaigns </li></ul><ul><li>Experimentally developed though game </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap way of providing location information </li></ul>
  9. 9. Brief outline <ul><li>Our research theme </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explore, through creation of applications using mobiles and image matching, issues affecting the design and use of branded spaces, particularly related to groups and social interaction and action. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Input to designers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimal Brief </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some exercises on brands and branded spaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstration of use of technology </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Three Teams <ul><li>Invisible Art </li></ul><ul><li>Comera </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Login into branded places and signal social network (Facebook) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>PhoneTag </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Street game with ‘brands’ </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Successes <ul><li>Speed of development </li></ul><ul><li>Inspiration </li></ul><ul><li>New directions </li></ul><ul><li>Toolbox </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge of technical/business weaknesses </li></ul>
  12. 12. Failures <ul><li>Weakness of some of the designers </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to organise groups </li></ul><ul><li>Could we have done more, faster? </li></ul><ul><li>Technology not prepared </li></ul><ul><li>Designers did not engage with concept of brand </li></ul><ul><li>Designers struggled with some of the social relationships, community ideas v. information and one-way communication. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>still in ‘information’ mode rather than community and communication mode </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. What did we learn? <ul><li>No precise answers to anything! </li></ul><ul><li>Opened many doors for exploration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How does place mediate social interaction and how does this change with ICT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How is individual and group identity related to place and brand? How may this be changed via personal technology? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Power of imaginary real </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The normalization of online meeting places - how to make it flow and link more naturally with physical place? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Branded spaces create distributed virtual space and communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New brands of online ‘place’ v. old brands of real place. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Linking with online . Second Life experiment </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Issues <ul><li>How much conceptual help and prodding should we give the designers? </li></ul><ul><li>How much help with the iterative design process and engagement with users do the designers need? </li></ul><ul><li>Need to engage with interests of designers </li></ul><ul><li>Getting designers to engage with technology </li></ul><ul><li>How ‘radical’ or ‘critical’ should we expect the designers be? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Questions <ul><li>How to make this a more rigorous method? </li></ul><ul><li>What questions can we ask? </li></ul><ul><li>What questions can be answered? </li></ul><ul><li>How to chose new groups of user-designers? </li></ul><ul><li>How to adapt for use in a living Lab? </li></ul><ul><li>Who else is doing this? </li></ul>