Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Questions & Hypotheses Conference Snapshot

Kowning that I only have 5 hours before my flight to India... I still want to provid a really quick snapshot of the Q&H Conference I attended in Berlin. I am happy that all the 15 presentations really reflect the on-going rich design research with a large varity of methodological approaches. The research questions, although some unmatured at the early stage in the research process, are all very interesting and largely human-centred.

I was especailly impressed by Dag and Cucuzzella from the first day presentation. Prof. Findeli, as the keynote speaker, talked about the relationship among research questions, design questions, design answers and research answer in PhD study. I learnt a lot from his talk.

The second day we had our own Lisa - who did excellent and impressed everyone! I particularly found second day presentations interesting, since many of them are very similiar to what we do in Dundee...

God... the taxi is waiting outside... I shall be back in 3 weeks and will refelect more on this wonderful event in Berlin! By the way, the next Q&H might be hosted by Dundee :-)

Oops... that is me and my poster in the conference!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Master of design memories...

I sometimes got aksed what my Master of Design experience was like when I started teadching about two years ago. I think I would discribe it as learning to swim – you gotta get your head under the water to feel the panic moment to learn how to go with the wave. Till now, half way through my PhD, I still get confused from time to time in the process, but I don't panic anymore. I know it is just part of the journey, as far as I stay calm and confident I will be able to see the beauty of this advanture and learn a lot along the way.

Yesterday, I did a talk on Action Research Methodology and Research Methods with the new M.Des students this year, reviewing my Master's project as an example. I hope that my experience as a student two years ago would be helpful to them – even just a reassurance that the messiness is a natural part of the research process and literally everyone experiences it.

My Master's year is a life-trunning point to me. It's a shame that the Computing world lost a very talented software engineer when I decide to switch to pursue Design as a life career—ha ha, I'm not joking ;-) Unlike many other disciplines, the knowledge of design often emerges and diffuses through practice. Practitioners gains highly respect by conducting successful design and research practices that impact the waywe live everyday. The knowledge and experience gained through research are then presented in a visual way that communicate to its audience/ users/ stakeholders, creating impacts on their behaviour, emotion, thinking, even perseption of the world. This ability to externalize their thinking amazes me. I guess this is why I choose to pursue Design after my Master's year—I so want to be part of this active group that shapes people's life in such a beautiful way.

This year we had a wonderful group of young designers enrolled for the Master of Design course—as we alway do! Nice diversity in multi-disciplinary design experiences and also mixed cultural backgrouds among the students. Here is a list of some of the blogs of the current students on the course—very talented and wonderful people who always make me pround to work with!


Tuesday, 21 October 2008

See you later!

I will be off for conference + vacation + conference for the next five weeks!!!

Germany: 22nd Oct - 27th Oct, Berlin, Cologne
India: 29th Oct - 19th Nov, Chennai, Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Bundi, Bijaipur and on and on...
England: 21st Nov - 23th Nov, London
Netherlands: 24th Nov - 28th Nov, Amsterdam Service Design Conference

Good girl go wild~!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Questions & Hypotheses

Questions & Hyphoteses is a conference I am going to attend this week. My second visit to Berlin - should be good. Also I will visit Cologne to have a chat with the Service Design guru in Germany - Prof. Birgit Mager from KIDS. Excited~!

The main body of the poster I'm going to present in the conference:

Friday, 17 October 2008

David Townson Visits...

Had a wee chat with David Townson early this morning on the service design managing topic... Bits about the Service Architecture concepts and the on-going organisational structure revolution... Couple positive feedbacks on some of my ontological assumptions of new design practice and knowledge diffusion - an inspiring guy he is!

I am really looking forward to meeting him again after my wild travelling later this year for a small pilot - hopefully my thoughts will be more matured and research questions sharpened(!)

David gave a lecture on his experience as a product designer + service designer + design manager this morning. He did a session with M.Des and MDE students this afternoon on a detailed case study on Move me and blueprint as a method.

Glad that David also touched on probing, mock-up, quick prototyping, prototyping test, persona and scenarios... I will talk about these methods next Tuesday, so it's always good to have these words buzz around for the students!

Doodle of the day~

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Don't simplify the things that can't be simplified... eg. life

Had a meeting about the new student Plone this morning... one thing lead to another, now they are going to have a showcase website for themselves as well. I often wonder if we go to meetings all the time to solve problems, or to create more problems to solve...

Bryan Lawson wisely says:" design solutions are parts of other design problems". Yeah, welcome to the world of ticky toffee pudding!

Monday, 13 October 2008

timetable clashing

One of the joy of working on M.Des course is handlling four timetables and trying not to mix up... perhaps we spend more time on making these timetable rather than completing the tasks on it...

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Innovation Showcase in Dundee

Innovation Showcase

This inspiring free event will be held in the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee on the 18th of November 2008. Reserve your seat ASAP~

Peter Day, the BBC News' Business Correspondent and presenter of BBC Radio 4's In Business and Global Business on BBC World Service, will host the first day session... also Tom Inns & Colin Burns will give a seminar together on innovation - it seems really interesting!!!

Also, the day after, there will be the Innovation Showcase - for students. Anyone who is interested in creative entrepreneurship might find some inspirations there...

What a shame that I won't be here in November... if any of your guys are going, please please let me know what happens on the event!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Not sure if it is correct to say that IDEO have a new face for their website... eh... at least different from the last time I saw it.

Impressive portfolio of them, and interesting way of presenting. IDEO claims to be behind the emergence of Service Design by supporting/mentoring several small design practitioners (such as Livework). They then start their own service design practice in the early 2000's. Given its human-oriented approach and creative business model, this move is not surprising. As one of world's biggest global design consultancy, they have offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Chicago, Boston, New York City, London, Munich, and Shanghai, doing research and practice in the disciplines of design, engineering, social science, and business strategy.

Also find a lot of job opportunities there: I have my eye on business design specialist and human factors... mmmm... look interesting!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Randomness & Chaos - what a life!

Managed to get up early this morning for Seaton's 'WICKED PROBLEM & STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING' - a lecture for the Master students I teach in the School of Design. Unlike scientific problems, most of our design problems, of course design research problems included, are wicked problems that are not only complicated but also complex... solving such problems (eh, perhaps handlling would be a better word) is like putting your finger into a sticky toffee pudding - sticky & messy. It is just impossible to pull out one bit... everything is linked and of course nothing is easy to be left behind.

Right after that, my friend, also a PhD researcher, Emma Murphy talked about research methodology. I am really happy to see that my talk in two weeks time on Action Research and methods will fit perfectly into hers today...

Right after Emma, Space&Place has Dr Norman Alm talking about Randomness. His example of the importance of randomness in Darwin's evolution, in comparison with artificial intelligence and computer programming , is a very interesting one. Basically he is saying that there are very simple element of any system: natural or artificial. And these elements make complicated results by re-producing itself according to some simple rules. What makes situation complex and also allows the system to survive any comlpex environment or solving complex problem is the occasional randomness inhabits in the system itself. Therefore, for a species to survive, the gene has to create random mutant that allow itself to increase the change of adaptability. For a robort, it has to be able to make random decisions to allow it to jump out the cyclic reforming codes - you know all these 0&1... One thing learned today: random number can be produced by computers automatically and it needs to pass a randomness test to be a qulified random number!

Also contribute to Emma's talk, here is my 'doodle of the day' - don't mistake it as a negative sign towards lecturers, my doodles can only be stimulated by really inspiring speeches!

Monday, 6 October 2008


Case Tranfer, by Rosan Chow on SDN Symposium 2008, is proposed as an improved verson of Case study method especially to be used in design context.

Chow uses 'Transferability' to describe 'the quality of knowledge generation and application in design projection'. Here I hear the eho of a old friend from design management - knowledge transfer. To me, the Case Transfer tempts to answer the question of 'how design knowledge can be transfered from one project/artefact to another?', presuming that artefacts are the resource of knowledge and that knowledge is transferable. Interestingly, Chow's research focus lands in the same area as mine - service design. Chow studies cases of design systematically to articulate aspects/methods/tools that makes service design knowledge transferable. While my study looks at how service management knowledge can be tranfered to service design practices in the context of organisational dynamics.

Service Design has gain a lot of attention currently in the design research - replacing Experience Design and becoming the new buzz word. One of the reason I can think of is that as a new descipline where no established theories or authorities yet exists, therefore, new concepts are more likely to be recognised and accepted. Arguement is encouraged and confusion is tolerated. The inter-discipline nature of new service researches allows more and more creative thinkers from all backgrounds to contribute to the knowledge pool of SSME (Service Science, Management and Engineering), a new discipline pioneered by IBM and Carnegie Mellon University.

So, what role does transferability play in inter-discipline cooperation in service design? According to the principles of complementarity, there is no use to have an excellent design that cannot be transfered to the agents of change in the organsiation. As dynamic social system, service design solution only works when it can be easily adopted by the relevant agents of change. By agents, I mean fuction groups, or even individuals that relates to all organisation activities - sometime we call them stakeholders. The transferability definitely is one of the key criteria when it comes to evaluate the service design solution and, of course, designer's capability. As designers, it is crucial that they are able to identify the agents of change, then create design solutions that influence the behaviour even mental states of certain agents. To achieve such influence, a clear awareness that sees both macro and micro levels of organisational changes becomes the key characteristic of service designer or design manager. Here, the knowledge of management and the knowledge of design meets and sparks !

By the way, a book called SSME is just published. Nice book: easy reading and lots lots of interesting concepts and case studies... if you can't find it in the library, it is because I have it... but everyone is welcomed to borrow it from me ;-)