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The door, the wind, the bird and the valise By Jason Hobbs  Affiliated Researcher at the University of Johannesburg’s Research Centre Visual Identities in Art and Design
Acknowledgments: This presentation is an adaptation of the paper “Maturing A Practice” by Jason Hobbs, Terence Fenn and Andrea Resmini currently under peer-review by the Journal of Information Architecture.  The idea for the paper began at a break away session at the 2009 Euro IA Summit (with Hobbs, Resmini and Eric Reis) for the colloquium On Making: Integrating Approaches to Practice-Led Research in Art and Design at the University of Johannesburg under the auspices of the Research Centre.
For the purposes of this presentation, user experience design is an umbrella term for a variety of practices (including but not limited to information architecture, interaction design, information design, interface design), applied user-centered research methods and an iterative design process involving users, collectively employed in the design of digital artefacts, products and services.
Discipline & Practice
Discipline Role Practice
A doctor, lawyer or architect Discipline Role Practice
Medicine A doctor Healing
Researcher Discipline Practice Role
Theoretical Research (research for knowledge) - Usually in the realm of academia - Infrequently practiced in agencies and commercial spaces  - With validated knowledge as the end product - Usually in the public domain
Practitioner  Discipline Role Practice
Applied research (research for design) - Usually in the realm of practice - Performed in agencies and commercial spaces - With a designed artefact in mind as the end product - Usually ‘hidden’ in private domains
Interestingly, the same research techniques can and are often applied.  Discipline Role Practice
A practice offers an ordered arrangement of activities and action without emphasising theoretical concerns. Activities and actions are driven by know-how. Practice emphasises the production of effective artefacts.
A practice offers an ordered arrangement of activities and action without emphasising theoretical concerns. Activities and actions are driven by know-how. Practice emphasises the production of effective artefacts. A Discipline contains practice, discourses, predispositions and institutional facts  Activities and actions are driven by scientific method and a current body of knowledge Discipline emphasises the production of new knowledge
A discipline provides a framework for and results in a system of orderly behavior. A discipline includes A community of scholars;  A body of accepted and codified knowledge;  A mode of inquiry that produces new knowledge,  A validation process for new knowledge entering the discipline;  The existence of methods of communication
Where are we?
In Pisa.  At a community gathering.  As part of a community of practice.
Our community of practice is comprised of know-how, discussions, definitions and opinions expressed largely via organic Internet-based mediums such as email lists, personal blogs and personal or company websites, a handful of how-to books and public conferences.
Without knowledge, our practice is led by opinion.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boltron/4329185089/in/pool-explainia/
Discipline Role Practice
However, UX is making a huge impact on projects and organizations internationally.  The field is growing because of its particular relevance to digital product design (and the radical impact of the growth of the World Wide Web and mobile).  The field is also growing because the practice of UX offers results that improve the effectiveness of products and experiences.  UX makes companies money.
The user-centered focus of UX, its multi-disciplinary nature and specific techniques and methods applied find it in application in multi-channel projects (for Service Design) and in use by Design Thinking. By any other name, the reach of this practice is increasing at an exponential rate.
What’s the problem?
Good food. Good drinks.  Good company.  Good conversation. Good content.
When we leave this conference we remain  lone-wolves.  And this condition is more than a social one.
When required to justify our role within a company or to clients there is no larger body of (validated, accepted, scientific) knowledge to appeal to.
And where can I learn UX? Where is the accreditation? Where is the consensus? Where is the validation? Where is the credibility? Where is the critical debate? Where is the codification of knowledge? Where is the progression of knowledge? Where is the support? Where are the thought leaders for knowledge? Where does business find verification? Where are the ethics? Where are the standards?
The personal development of the designer, one’s personal growth path or journey, is also affected by the lack of Discipline.
The personal development of the designer, one’s personal growth path or journey, is also affected by the lack of Discipline.  How do I judge my own work?  Beyond answering a client brief, how have I taken my own understandings and practice forward?  Is my work good or bad?  What is my next step as a designer (not just as an employee or provider of services)?
The broader threat
UX is multi-disciplinary. We’ve been surviving off this inheritance. } Library science Knowledge management  Information science Visual design (graphic design / fine arts) Information design Human-computer interaction Industrial design Way finding / town planning Ergonomics / human factors Marketing Branding Business & economics  Art history Psychology Anthropology Ethnography Statistics User experience design
And an abundance of knowhow.  But very little knowledge.
We’ve also been surviving because user experience design really does solve business problems.
An emerging consciousness
"Does IA push any bounds beyond client concerns? Is there any artful or conceptual pursuit in the discipline that's not based on solving the immediate problem?
In the closing plenary of the 2009 IA Summit in Memphis, Tennessee, Jesse James Garrett called for the need for a ‘language of critique’
Klyn’s retort
Saffer: http://www.kickerstudio.com/blog/2008/12/the-disciplines-of-user-experience/
IA Summit Consortium on Research & Practice  (2009 / 2010) IA Summit consortium on research and practice (REG-iA, Research & Education Group in Information Architecture) The discussion will cover: Is IA a field, a discipline, a craft, etc? Maturing IA as a practice-led field and the role of research. Methodologies and theoretical frameworks in research and practice
There are no less than 3 talks at this years IA Summit in Phoenix addressing these issues.  The Practice of Information Architecture: It takes a village of practitioners to raise a discipline (Nathaniel Davis) The Commoditization & Fragmentation of the Information Architecture Community (Nick Finck) Bridging IA Research and Practice (Instone & Resmini)
The benefits of a discipline
Know-how can be validated and absorbed
Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored
Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread
Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread Opinion can be accepted as insightful and valuable or debunked
Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread Opinion can be accepted as insightful and valuable or debunked Practice can be explained against established rules and conventions
Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread Opinion can be accepted as insightful and valuable or debunked Practice can be explained against established rules and conventions The values in our practice can become measurable
Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread Opinion can be accepted as insightful and valuable or debunked Practice can be explained against established rules and conventions The values in our practice can become measurable Levels of expertise can be established for skills and qualifications
The door, the wind, the bird and the valise
Research codifies what practice generates.
Research codifies what practice generates. Practice generates artefacts.
We need to start looking more closely at what our artefactsmean.
We need to start looking more closely at what our artefactsmean. This is achieved through research.
Practice-led research
In ‘Practice-led Research’ the artefact has a central position in the academic research process
Discipline Role Practice
Discipline Role Practice ARTEFACT
Practice-led research is a ‘self-reflexive’ form of research. The designer provides a rigorous critical analysis of their work, positioning it within broader research paradigms. Articulation of the processes involved in making the product of research form an important part of the research findings. Articulation and dissemination of the research findings takes place both through the product of making and established academic means; these are seen as dialogical and interrelated.
Practice-led research could help us to analyse our artefacts to identify and unearth knowledge and begin to reconstitute them under a new disciplinary framework. PLR is an academic method that can help us look at our work differently, as the producers of these artefacts.  It can help us to find meaning.
PLR could help us to create the shift from know-how to knowledge.
What does this mean for us?
We are attempting to describe a practicing designer that is concerned with the underlying theoretical foundations of their work in addition to the work itself.  This is nothing new. For centuries artists have been interested in this.
It is not uncommon in many fields for practitioners to:  Document their work for theoretical purposes Test theory in practice  Develop theory through practice To function within and without of academic institutions (teach and or research) To participate in discourses We find this in fine art, architecture, law, medicine…
Given how busy we are, this may seem like a tall order, and not all designers are interested in academic research. But some are.
And we’re half way there already.
There is overlap in the UX and practice-led research methods
“The designer provides a rigorous critical analysis of their work, positioning it within broader research Paradigms”  We already do research
“Articulation of the processes involved in making the product of research forms an important part of the research findings”  We have a method of design
“Articulation and dissemination of the research findings takes place both through the product of making and established academic means; these are seen as dialogical and interrelated”  We produce artefacts
IDEO Method Cards
There is an opportunity to identify, explore and make explicit the context in which the immediate ‘framed problem’ exists. This could be methodological, historical, cultural, economic, geographic, ethical, etc.  Our research, by its very nature, bleeds into this broader context but our current practice places no emphasis on these relationships.  A wealth of potential knowledge could be unearthed, documented and made visible.
Visualvocab-ucd-process:http://scmdev/ue
Self reflective documenting of process tends not to extend beyond a project post mortem or case study (if they are created at all).  And these kinds of documents do not form part of the ‘act of making’ but rather are bolted onto the end of a project.  The space of documenting-while-designing, recording learning’s, feelings, meanings, decisions, measuring effectiveness and documenting contextual factors while on a project could provide a wealth of knowledge for the practicing community and could provide greater validation of the methods, tools and techniques of the field.
Artifacts become the locus of the research: we share research-for-design (which is different to sharing research-for-business).  Given the broadening of the research context at the start of our process, the breadth of the output expands too. This makes it easier to avoid issues of intellectual property and confidentiality.
How far will this get us?
A broad uptake of PLR will assist us in the production of knowledge.  But this is not all that is required for the creation of a discipline.
We’ll also need to create a framework for: The identification of drivers for the production of new knowledge (including financial)  A community of scholars to communicate and collaborate Methods of communication (scholar to scholar; scholar to practitioner; practitioner to scholar) Agreed methods and terms for the codification of knowledge Agreed modes of enquiry and validation for the production and acceptance of knowledge Validation of knowledge available as inheritance from related disciplines (e.g. psychology, anthropology, etc) Identification of current and required discourses A 'home' for institutional facts and the current body of knowledge and discourse
Wrap up
In summary, could practice-led research help us to:   Create scientifically driven, research-based knowledge  Provide practitioners with an approach to academic research  Facilitate a supply and demand for a structure to emerge, progressing us from practice-led to discipline-led
And could this effort help us to grow and broaden in our personal development as designers through our own creation of knowledge?
Practice informing knowledge which informs practice.
Thanks jason@humanexperiencedesign.net

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The door, the wind, the bird and the valise

  • 1. The door, the wind, the bird and the valise By Jason Hobbs Affiliated Researcher at the University of Johannesburg’s Research Centre Visual Identities in Art and Design
  • 2.
  • 3. Acknowledgments: This presentation is an adaptation of the paper “Maturing A Practice” by Jason Hobbs, Terence Fenn and Andrea Resmini currently under peer-review by the Journal of Information Architecture. The idea for the paper began at a break away session at the 2009 Euro IA Summit (with Hobbs, Resmini and Eric Reis) for the colloquium On Making: Integrating Approaches to Practice-Led Research in Art and Design at the University of Johannesburg under the auspices of the Research Centre.
  • 4. For the purposes of this presentation, user experience design is an umbrella term for a variety of practices (including but not limited to information architecture, interaction design, information design, interface design), applied user-centered research methods and an iterative design process involving users, collectively employed in the design of digital artefacts, products and services.
  • 7. A doctor, lawyer or architect Discipline Role Practice
  • 10. Theoretical Research (research for knowledge) - Usually in the realm of academia - Infrequently practiced in agencies and commercial spaces - With validated knowledge as the end product - Usually in the public domain
  • 11. Practitioner Discipline Role Practice
  • 12. Applied research (research for design) - Usually in the realm of practice - Performed in agencies and commercial spaces - With a designed artefact in mind as the end product - Usually ‘hidden’ in private domains
  • 13. Interestingly, the same research techniques can and are often applied. Discipline Role Practice
  • 14. A practice offers an ordered arrangement of activities and action without emphasising theoretical concerns. Activities and actions are driven by know-how. Practice emphasises the production of effective artefacts.
  • 15. A practice offers an ordered arrangement of activities and action without emphasising theoretical concerns. Activities and actions are driven by know-how. Practice emphasises the production of effective artefacts. A Discipline contains practice, discourses, predispositions and institutional facts Activities and actions are driven by scientific method and a current body of knowledge Discipline emphasises the production of new knowledge
  • 16. A discipline provides a framework for and results in a system of orderly behavior. A discipline includes A community of scholars; A body of accepted and codified knowledge; A mode of inquiry that produces new knowledge, A validation process for new knowledge entering the discipline; The existence of methods of communication
  • 18. In Pisa. At a community gathering. As part of a community of practice.
  • 19. Our community of practice is comprised of know-how, discussions, definitions and opinions expressed largely via organic Internet-based mediums such as email lists, personal blogs and personal or company websites, a handful of how-to books and public conferences.
  • 20. Without knowledge, our practice is led by opinion.
  • 23. However, UX is making a huge impact on projects and organizations internationally. The field is growing because of its particular relevance to digital product design (and the radical impact of the growth of the World Wide Web and mobile). The field is also growing because the practice of UX offers results that improve the effectiveness of products and experiences. UX makes companies money.
  • 24. The user-centered focus of UX, its multi-disciplinary nature and specific techniques and methods applied find it in application in multi-channel projects (for Service Design) and in use by Design Thinking. By any other name, the reach of this practice is increasing at an exponential rate.
  • 26. Good food. Good drinks. Good company. Good conversation. Good content.
  • 27. When we leave this conference we remain lone-wolves. And this condition is more than a social one.
  • 28. When required to justify our role within a company or to clients there is no larger body of (validated, accepted, scientific) knowledge to appeal to.
  • 29. And where can I learn UX? Where is the accreditation? Where is the consensus? Where is the validation? Where is the credibility? Where is the critical debate? Where is the codification of knowledge? Where is the progression of knowledge? Where is the support? Where are the thought leaders for knowledge? Where does business find verification? Where are the ethics? Where are the standards?
  • 30. The personal development of the designer, one’s personal growth path or journey, is also affected by the lack of Discipline.
  • 31. The personal development of the designer, one’s personal growth path or journey, is also affected by the lack of Discipline. How do I judge my own work? Beyond answering a client brief, how have I taken my own understandings and practice forward? Is my work good or bad? What is my next step as a designer (not just as an employee or provider of services)?
  • 33.
  • 34. UX is multi-disciplinary. We’ve been surviving off this inheritance. } Library science Knowledge management Information science Visual design (graphic design / fine arts) Information design Human-computer interaction Industrial design Way finding / town planning Ergonomics / human factors Marketing Branding Business & economics Art history Psychology Anthropology Ethnography Statistics User experience design
  • 35.
  • 36. And an abundance of knowhow. But very little knowledge.
  • 37. We’ve also been surviving because user experience design really does solve business problems.
  • 39.
  • 40. "Does IA push any bounds beyond client concerns? Is there any artful or conceptual pursuit in the discipline that's not based on solving the immediate problem?
  • 41.
  • 42. In the closing plenary of the 2009 IA Summit in Memphis, Tennessee, Jesse James Garrett called for the need for a ‘language of critique’
  • 45. IA Summit Consortium on Research & Practice (2009 / 2010) IA Summit consortium on research and practice (REG-iA, Research & Education Group in Information Architecture) The discussion will cover: Is IA a field, a discipline, a craft, etc? Maturing IA as a practice-led field and the role of research. Methodologies and theoretical frameworks in research and practice
  • 46. There are no less than 3 talks at this years IA Summit in Phoenix addressing these issues. The Practice of Information Architecture: It takes a village of practitioners to raise a discipline (Nathaniel Davis) The Commoditization & Fragmentation of the Information Architecture Community (Nick Finck) Bridging IA Research and Practice (Instone & Resmini)
  • 47.
  • 48.
  • 49.
  • 50.
  • 51. The benefits of a discipline
  • 52. Know-how can be validated and absorbed
  • 53. Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored
  • 54. Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread
  • 55. Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread Opinion can be accepted as insightful and valuable or debunked
  • 56. Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread Opinion can be accepted as insightful and valuable or debunked Practice can be explained against established rules and conventions
  • 57. Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread Opinion can be accepted as insightful and valuable or debunked Practice can be explained against established rules and conventions The values in our practice can become measurable
  • 58. Know-how can be validated and absorbed Established facts and practices can be collected and stored Knowledge can be accessible and widespread Opinion can be accepted as insightful and valuable or debunked Practice can be explained against established rules and conventions The values in our practice can become measurable Levels of expertise can be established for skills and qualifications
  • 59. The door, the wind, the bird and the valise
  • 60. Research codifies what practice generates.
  • 61. Research codifies what practice generates. Practice generates artefacts.
  • 62. We need to start looking more closely at what our artefactsmean.
  • 63. We need to start looking more closely at what our artefactsmean. This is achieved through research.
  • 65. In ‘Practice-led Research’ the artefact has a central position in the academic research process
  • 68. Practice-led research is a ‘self-reflexive’ form of research. The designer provides a rigorous critical analysis of their work, positioning it within broader research paradigms. Articulation of the processes involved in making the product of research form an important part of the research findings. Articulation and dissemination of the research findings takes place both through the product of making and established academic means; these are seen as dialogical and interrelated.
  • 69. Practice-led research could help us to analyse our artefacts to identify and unearth knowledge and begin to reconstitute them under a new disciplinary framework. PLR is an academic method that can help us look at our work differently, as the producers of these artefacts. It can help us to find meaning.
  • 70. PLR could help us to create the shift from know-how to knowledge.
  • 71. What does this mean for us?
  • 72. We are attempting to describe a practicing designer that is concerned with the underlying theoretical foundations of their work in addition to the work itself. This is nothing new. For centuries artists have been interested in this.
  • 73.
  • 74.
  • 75.
  • 76.
  • 77.
  • 78. It is not uncommon in many fields for practitioners to: Document their work for theoretical purposes Test theory in practice Develop theory through practice To function within and without of academic institutions (teach and or research) To participate in discourses We find this in fine art, architecture, law, medicine…
  • 79. Given how busy we are, this may seem like a tall order, and not all designers are interested in academic research. But some are.
  • 80. And we’re half way there already.
  • 81. There is overlap in the UX and practice-led research methods
  • 82. “The designer provides a rigorous critical analysis of their work, positioning it within broader research Paradigms” We already do research
  • 83. “Articulation of the processes involved in making the product of research forms an important part of the research findings” We have a method of design
  • 84. “Articulation and dissemination of the research findings takes place both through the product of making and established academic means; these are seen as dialogical and interrelated” We produce artefacts
  • 86. There is an opportunity to identify, explore and make explicit the context in which the immediate ‘framed problem’ exists. This could be methodological, historical, cultural, economic, geographic, ethical, etc. Our research, by its very nature, bleeds into this broader context but our current practice places no emphasis on these relationships. A wealth of potential knowledge could be unearthed, documented and made visible.
  • 88. Self reflective documenting of process tends not to extend beyond a project post mortem or case study (if they are created at all). And these kinds of documents do not form part of the ‘act of making’ but rather are bolted onto the end of a project. The space of documenting-while-designing, recording learning’s, feelings, meanings, decisions, measuring effectiveness and documenting contextual factors while on a project could provide a wealth of knowledge for the practicing community and could provide greater validation of the methods, tools and techniques of the field.
  • 89.
  • 90. Artifacts become the locus of the research: we share research-for-design (which is different to sharing research-for-business). Given the broadening of the research context at the start of our process, the breadth of the output expands too. This makes it easier to avoid issues of intellectual property and confidentiality.
  • 91. How far will this get us?
  • 92. A broad uptake of PLR will assist us in the production of knowledge. But this is not all that is required for the creation of a discipline.
  • 93. We’ll also need to create a framework for: The identification of drivers for the production of new knowledge (including financial) A community of scholars to communicate and collaborate Methods of communication (scholar to scholar; scholar to practitioner; practitioner to scholar) Agreed methods and terms for the codification of knowledge Agreed modes of enquiry and validation for the production and acceptance of knowledge Validation of knowledge available as inheritance from related disciplines (e.g. psychology, anthropology, etc) Identification of current and required discourses A 'home' for institutional facts and the current body of knowledge and discourse
  • 95. In summary, could practice-led research help us to:   Create scientifically driven, research-based knowledge Provide practitioners with an approach to academic research Facilitate a supply and demand for a structure to emerge, progressing us from practice-led to discipline-led
  • 96. And could this effort help us to grow and broaden in our personal development as designers through our own creation of knowledge?
  • 97. Practice informing knowledge which informs practice.

Editor's Notes

  1. Mature discipline have these elements functioning together in collaboration
  2. Mature discipline have these elements functioning together in collaboration
  3. A practitioner can function outside of and without discipline
  4. We are practice-led; functioning in the absence of discipline
  5. This was the conference where web 2.0 (flickr and YouTube) showed how engineers were devising way more innovative IA paradigms than IA’s themselves. The IA community’s panic over this kind of resulted in the formation of the IXDA and quite severe splintering of the community.
  6. Four years later, the same discussion persists
  7. We’ve been surviving of the inheritance of fields that make user experience design multi-disciplinary
  8. More formal examples of institutionalization are starting to emerge, such as the Information Architecture Institute and the Interaction Design Association. Published thought leaders exist but many do not self-identify as user experience designers (for example, David Weinberger).Specialist publishers like O’Reilly and Rosenfeld Media are printing for practitioners but these are not ‘academic’ or scientific publications. Perhaps the most significant development of late has been the creation of the peer-reviewed Journal of Information Architecture.
  9. Magritte was interested in exploring what representation means in fine art. The back drop to this was a period where artists, designers and philosophers were acknowledging the things in the world could have multiple means. A horse for one person could be a door for another.
  10. The application of the Golden Ratio spans ancient times, Islamic, Buddhist and Western traditions. Is is observable in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods through to Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, De Stijl, Modern and Post Modern movements. It is even found in contemporary music.
  11. The application of the Golden Ratio spans ancient times, Islamic, Buddhist and Western traditions. Is is observable in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods through to Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, De Stijl, Modern and Post Modern movements. It is even found in contemporary music.
  12. The application of the Golden Ratio spans ancient times, Islamic, Buddhist and Western traditions. It is observable in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods through to Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, De Stijl, Modern and Post Modern movements. It is even found in contemporary music.
  13. The application of the Golden Ratio spans ancient times, Islamic, Buddhist and Western traditions. Is is observable in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods through to Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, De Stijl, Modern and Post Modern movements. It is even found in contemporary music.
  14. The application of the Golden Ratio spans ancient times, Islamic, Buddhist and Western traditions. Is is observable in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods through to Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, De Stijl, Modern and Post Modern movements. It is even found in contemporary music.
  15. The boundaries of our research tend to exist in the ‘brief’, the framed design problem. This framing is exactly what is required by the designer to create effective, meaningful and appropriate, outcomes-based solutions.
  16.  e.g. SBSA multi-channel enterprise wide UX design framework
  17. Companies or individuals will have well established design methods and processes that they follow. In some cases these companies and people will experiment with method and process. More often than not, when there are time, resource and budgetary constraints, methods and processes will be amended or written uniquely for the needs of a project. The extent to which our methods and process are documented, validated and shared tends not go further than project plans (project budgets and other management tools).
  18. PLR requires dissemination of research findings. In addition to academic texts as output of the research process there are other accepted forms: exhibitions, books, teaching modules, presentations…Often the research artefact is a part of the art work or design project (planned from the start).
  19. Dissemination of findings and outcomes is controversial 1) both because there have been numerous calls from within the UX community for opinion leaders and community leaders to validate their opinions in reference to their own work and 2) because of the inherent intellectual property and confidentiality issues that we find in commercial projects.