Wednesday, March 11, 2015

DSDN 481: Project 1

Q ~ 1
A critical research paradigm has a propensity to rely on dialogue between the researcher and participants. This tendency towards combining discussion with observation is one of the cornerstones of this paradigm, and allows it to provide a healthy, substantiated critique of the status quo. Looking at why something is and how it could be better is one of my primary avenues of thought with respect to design. Utilising the critical paradigm as a personal philosophy creates a position where describing or commenting on the monitored situation is not enough; I actively want to change it. Design affords a special relationship with society when it uses this paradigm as a backbone for innovation, as creating new products within this theoretical framework grants them a greater degree of credence.

Another element of the critical paradigm that I subscribe to is the recognition of the difference in degrees of positive association between objectivity and subjectivity. This preference towards more commonly objective natural sciences, and said research being "superior", is something that I recognise as being a component of our language and scientifically oriented society. This could be a factor of our societal structure designed to privilege scientific research, the rationale for which I believe might lie in a search for more “absolute” and objective truths. I don’t necessarily see this as a situation that should be questioned, because I still see the merit in these being necessary to create stable laws. I think that the critical questioning should be focussing more on questioning the success and suitability of more subjective research.

Q ~ 2
I believe that design research should be multi-specific, as it often embodies a multidisciplinary approach to designing systems, objects and services. My approach to viewing design as a dynamic system for creating and solving wicked problems suggests a "Research through Design" affinity. This more general approach allows for a broader avenue for critique that can still be situation-specific and tailored to specific projects. At the same time I feel that applied research acts as an enabler for broader design research. Permitting the researcher to look at societal issues and search for solutions while looking through a design lens allows for the “through Design” approach. This ties in with the critical research paradigm because it suggests an analytical approach with a practical outcome. However, I argue that the other two approaches are key in informing this more general research strategy.

The in-the-field type of research that "Research for Design" utilises affords it a more direct channel for solving distinct design challenges. I believe these approaches and corresponding results should then be collected and collated to create knowledge and practices for future designers and researchers, enabling more directed and effective systems to be established. These outcomes should then be substantiated with the theoretical approaches to design from "Research about Design" and create a variety of well-informed systems that operate within the wider design framework. However, these methods and responses should not be afraid to push the boundaries of the larger design framework, enhancing the borders of what we know and consider to be valid in this area of study.

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