situating design / designing situations
MediaCity Conference
January 18-19, 2008

Mark Shepard
Assistant Professor, Depart...
architecture + situated technologies:
from tools to environments




Mark Shepard                 October 19-21, 2006 | Th...
situations are an anathema to design

• Traditional design practices involve developing discrete solutions to a given
  pr...
situations are an anathema to design

• By definition situations are circumstantial, the product of the forces at play at a...
FREEDOM <> CONTROL
Jean-Paul Sartre

• Two distinct and irreducible categories or kinds of
  being: the in-itself (en-soi) and the for-itself...
Erving Goffman

• Behavior in Public Places (1963)

• A “dramaturgical” approach to human interaction.

• A situation is a...
“Situationism”   Psychogeography and the Dérive:
                 responses to 20th urban design and planning.
“Situationism”   Psychogeography and the Dérive:
                 responses to 20th urban design and planning.
Chombart de Lauwe, “Paris et l'agglomération parisienne”, 1952.
“Situationism”

• A situation is not just ambience, but also an
  integrated ensemble of behavior in time. It is
  designe...
Lucy Suchman

• Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions (2007, 1987)

• Critique of AI research in the 1...
Lucy Suchman

• Thomas Gladwin, “Culture and logical process”, Explorations in Cultural Anthropology,
  W. Goodenough, ed....
Lucy Suchman
Lucy Suchman
Gordon Pask

• Second order cybernetics - moving beyond the study of
  control and communication in animals and machines t...
Gordon Pask
Colloquy of Mobiles   Cybernetic Serendipity
                      ICA London, 1968
Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
To what extent might Pask’s concept of underspecification be helpful
in designing (for) situations? (Usman Haque)

• The re...
Thank you...

Mark Shepard
Assistant Professor, Departments of Architecture and Media Study
Researcher, Situated Technolog...
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Situating Design, Designing Situations

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Presentation @ <a href="http://www.mediacityproject.com/en_EN/events/conference-08/">Media City: Situations, Practices, Encounters</a>, January 17-18, 2008, a conference organized by the Bauhaus to investigate how the social settings and spaces of the city are created, experienced and practiced through the use and presence of new media.

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Situating Design, Designing Situations

  1. 1. situating design / designing situations MediaCity Conference January 18-19, 2008 Mark Shepard Assistant Professor, Departments of Architecture and Media Study Researcher, Situated Technologies Research Group Co-director, Center for Virtual Architecture University at Buffalo
  2. 2. architecture + situated technologies: from tools to environments Mark Shepard October 19-21, 2006 | The Urban Center + Eyebeam, NYC Omar Khan A co-production of Trebor Scholz The Center for Virtual Architecture The Institute of Distributed Creativity and The Architectural League of New York
  3. 3. situations are an anathema to design • Traditional design practices involve developing discrete solutions to a given problem. • Assumptions are made about the extent and scope of the problem at hand, the projected uses and activities that need to be accommodated, and the criteria by which a design solution is to be evaluated. • Clear definition of these initial conditions is essential to ensuring success of the design process.
  4. 4. situations are an anathema to design • By definition situations are circumstantial, the product of the forces at play at a given moment in time. • As such they are open to change and variation in ways that complicate traditional design methodologies. • Changing conditions of physical contexts (site, location) and social contexts (interaction protocols, and activity) frustrate attempts at arriving at discrete solutions to fixed problems. • Designing for situations often entails evolving a field of ad-hoc solutions from a discrete set of parameters. This solution set is by nature partial and open, contingent on feedback from the environment within which its is situated.
  5. 5. FREEDOM <> CONTROL
  6. 6. Jean-Paul Sartre • Two distinct and irreducible categories or kinds of being: the in-itself (en-soi) and the for-itself (pour- soi). Later adds a third, the for-others (pour-autrui). • One is never free of one's quot;situation,quot; though one is always free to deny (quot;negatequot;) that situation and try to change it. • We are always quot;morequot; than our situation and that this is the ontological foundation of our freedom. • We are quot;condemnedquot; to be free. • Un théâtre de situations (1973)
  7. 7. Erving Goffman • Behavior in Public Places (1963) • A “dramaturgical” approach to human interaction. • A situation is an environment of communication possibilities. • quot;The individual is obliged to demonstrate involvement in a situation through the modulation of his involvements within the situation.quot; • That which an individual owes is conveyed through appropriate modulation of situated involvements - conveys respect for the gathering. • The social system found in the quot;little societyquot; involved in the situation is made up from the conduct performed in accordance with the norms of situational propriety • What is owed the gathering is owed the social setting within which it occurs, the joint social life sustained by the gathering being an embodiment of the occasion itself
  8. 8. “Situationism” Psychogeography and the Dérive: responses to 20th urban design and planning.
  9. 9. “Situationism” Psychogeography and the Dérive: responses to 20th urban design and planning.
  10. 10. Chombart de Lauwe, “Paris et l'agglomération parisienne”, 1952.
  11. 11. “Situationism” • A situation is not just ambience, but also an integrated ensemble of behavior in time. It is designed to be lived by its constructors. • Preliminary problems in the construction of situations (Situationist International #1, 1958) • Situations require: • a quot;temporaryquot; director (or organizing group) responsible for coordinating the basic elements necessary for the construction of the decor and for working out certain interventions in the events • the direct agents living the situation, who have taken part in creating the collective project and worked on the practical composition of the ambiance • a few passive spectators who have not participated in the constructive work, who should be forced into action.
  12. 12. Lucy Suchman • Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions (2007, 1987) • Critique of AI research in the 1980s. • AI research at that time was based on the idea that purposeful human activity proceeds according to a preconceived plan which is perfunctorily executed, and able to be reasoned about in objective terms. • Suchman: Purposeful human activity proceeded not according to a preconceived plan, but rather by ad-hoc, moment-to-moment interactions between people, and between people and the environment within which those actions unfold. • Plans become representations of situated actions, produced either before or after the fact, to help us understand a course of action.
  13. 13. Lucy Suchman • Thomas Gladwin, “Culture and logical process”, Explorations in Cultural Anthropology, W. Goodenough, ed. (1964)
  14. 14. Lucy Suchman
  15. 15. Lucy Suchman
  16. 16. Gordon Pask • Second order cybernetics - moving beyond the study of control and communication in animals and machines to systems that account for “observers” and “participants” in these systems. • Best known for his “Conversation Theory”, a theory of interaction encompassing human-to-human, human-to- computer, and computer-to-computer configurations in a common framework. Architecture of Conversations, Gordon Pask
  17. 17. Gordon Pask Colloquy of Mobiles Cybernetic Serendipity ICA London, 1968
  18. 18. Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
  19. 19. Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
  20. 20. Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
  21. 21. Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
  22. 22. Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask, Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, 1968
  23. 23. To what extent might Pask’s concept of underspecification be helpful in designing (for) situations? (Usman Haque) • The reasoning behind Pask’s interest in underspecified goals is that if a designer specifies all parts of a design and hence all behaviours that the constituent parts can conceivably have at the beginning, then the eventual identity and functioning of that design will be limited by what the designer can predict. • It is therefore closed to novelty and can only respond to preconceptions that were explicitly or implicitly built into it. • If, on the other hand, a designed construct can choose what it senses, either by having ill-defined sensors or by dynamically determining its own perceptual categories, then it moves a step closer to true autonomy which would be required in an authentically interactive system. • In an environmental sense, the human component of interaction then becomes crucial because a person involved in determining input/output criteria is productively engaging in conversations with his or her environment.
  24. 24. Thank you... Mark Shepard Assistant Professor, Departments of Architecture and Media Study Researcher, Situated Technologies Research Group Co-director, Center for Virtual Architecture University at Buffalo shepard6@buffalo.edu cva.ap.buffalo.edu www.andinc.org

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