"Design Science” was an obsession of Buckminster Fuller’. He sometimes called it “Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science.” A primer of his views is here: https://bfi.org/design-science/primer
Regarding design, its role in devising adaptive systems, and efficiency: This becomes really huge, but for some--myself included--an effort towards formal elegance is necessary for a planning exercise to be considered design. That formal elegance could be impalpable, as for instance in the design of a scent, but it needs to be acknowledged as a tension within the process. The outcome of that effort can be a failure, but the effort needs to be there. I other words, I consider the Interstate Highway System a design project, while the Keystone Pipeline is not, even though they are both systems -- Paola Antonelli
I don’t pretend to understand all of your references to cybernetic systems but agree with the premise about complex adaptive systems and the changing role of the designer from planner to participant. There is more to talk about regarding the progression of scientists toward design and designers toward science. That is what I love about the Media Lab you create the conditions where both can happen. Designers can, if they choose ,participate in the science and scientists can use the mechanisms of design to pursue their explorations.
I like the idea of the anti-disciplinary journal and I wonder in what forms this might come to life? A journal of beginnings perhaps, not just endings, where expert crowd funding is used to encourage and sustain the most interesting experiments. Maybe future academic prowess is built not on citations but on connected experiments or flows of funding to the most interesting ideas.
Your intent to create a platform for antidisciplinary thinking and exploration is exciting: particularly in its suggestion of problems that sit in the places "between"; obscured by or invisible to existing disciplinary optics. It seems to me that setting the proper norms for interaction will be crucial to the success of your ambitions. Peer review, whatever its merits, tends toward narrowness (as you say), and the stance and tone of a lecture. Curating antidisciplinary conversations, I think, will be the editorial task set by the kind of journal you envision. This example of a conversation about digital books strikes me a useful and intructive one: https://medium.com/message/the-pickle-a-conversation-about-making-digital-books-8242360378e4#.9zxngkev1
I find this development fascinating as my own research over the last 5 years has indicated that what we call design is in the midst of another evolution. In the last ~200 years, it has gone from craft to discipline and is now starting to become a science in itself… the next stage being philosophy (pointed to by the ethical dilemmas people like Cameron Tonkinwise raises). Of course, design retains its craft and discipline tools, methods, processes and models, but is learning to engage research, experimentation, and collaboration, outside the bounds of mere commercial activity, "for the good of humanity"… here to echo Stewart's evocation of Buckminster Fuller. I look forward to see where JoDS goes and hope to get a chance to engage with your team, @Joi.
In fact, Cycbernetis became a discipline. It produced some good aswers to broad questions, but then it became about those answers, rather than about the orginal questions.
Hey didn't Gandhi say that "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I hope that I didn't miss all the important forms and functions of this article (the possibility is high) but when re-reading the beginning and end ( or maybe opposite sides of a cycle) of the article, I felt first (or mostly) set within a nonlinear system of explaination. Hearing tales of the entangled designers staking claim to the flat open white of non-elephant .....complexities. I would imagine, the shoulders of giants usually have wide tracks of open spaces (for others to stand on). I see in the article the principle target of "design" being the orchestration and/or re-think of process and /or systems, inclusive of expression (thankfully). Our rate of change is always changing. The directions of change is increasingly changing. The age of data is nonlinear. We act on the data. Our actions create more data - continuously preceptive focus or design gives us .......(return to top)
I suppose this is obvious, but experimentation (in the methodological sense) is shared by both design and science as a principle tool for discovery. Is this true for engineering and art?
This is what I have been calling The Entanglement, that is, the entaglement of nature and technology so that the distintion becomes increasingly meaningless.
Do you think much of the strength of this antidisciplinarity comes from this complex mosaic? i.e. the variety of being able to deal with the world in different ways, and the recognition that these are ways of knowing which each have their advantages at different scales and in different contexts? Making connections between the disciplines and ways of thinking, and understanding, shifting into and using each other's perspectives can be adaptive, but trying to wrap them together too tightly might end up removing the very thing which makes the approach successful in the first place.
A format design comment: Gray type on a white background is a pain to read. Legibility counts.
I think this is a key point! Designing complex adaptive systems will likely involve designing rules or algorithms for participants rather than directly designing outcomes. While still in their infancy, many of the concepts from "generative design" (e.g. Generative Design or Dynamic Identities) and "generative science" (e.g. Generative Social Science) will be pertinent for designers of complex adaptive systems.
I am delighted to find this journal, and in particular, this article! We have been creating 3D animations to illuminate the complexities of biological systems for the better part of two decades, but for a long time, it was an uphill road. I found a wonderful book - "Fields of Influence - Conjunctions of Artists and Scientists 1815-1860" a collection of essays on the early cross pollination between art and science when the Royal Society and the Royal Academy shared space in Somerset House in London, and the bifurcation that began when the Royal Academy moved out in 1837. And though there's a lot of noise in the world about peoples' distrust of science, I also get the feeling that more are beginning to see the value in the cross pollination of ideas from unexpected sources. - Beth Anderson
"As participant designers, we focus on changing ourselves and the way we do things in order to change the world."
I've found that Kanji characters, as used in Japan, are helpful for organising thought in this area.
The only time available for action is "now". One thing we do "now" can be illustrated using three simple characters: tree (木), eye (目) and heart (心). A tree is anything observable. The mind's eye scrutinises the tree for evidence of value. The heart responds to a perception of value in the observed object. An urge (想) is created. This is the "being" layer of behaviour.
Movement in the direction of perceived value creates a path (道: "head in motion"). Generally, we want to get where we're going quickly and effortlessly. That would be "good". Tools and guidance can help. So, using the "being" mechanism, we also seek out "good" tools (道具: path items) and guidance (道徳: path merits; morality). This is the "doing" layer of behaviour. Note that "good" is defined solely in terms of the urge we are trying to satisfy.
One quintessential human tool, and the quintessential medium for guidance, is language. In the process of language acquisition, in special circumstances in which shared attention is a crucial precondition, the heart moves in the direction of sound (音) to create meaning (意: sound + heart). Then the heart moves in the direction of meaning to create memory (憶: meaning + heart). This is the "knowing" layer of behaviour. Note that no guidance is possible without reference to shared memory.
The three layers of behaviour influence each other and the heart is often a downright nuisance, but this framework may serve as a "good tool" for those striving to design a "better" world, one in which (in terms of "being") we seek "good guidance" by harnessing the power of "a mind for the other", an idea that is deeply ingrained in traditional Japanese culture.
In fact, the more skilfully we apply "a mind for the other", the closer we will get to an objective perception of value, the better will be our selection of objectives, tools and guidance, and the smoother will be our movement towards a "better" future.
If you perceive any value at all in the "tree" outlined above, you may find yourself moving in the direction of viewing a recent PechaKucha presentation that I made, where one of the objectively "bad" features was the loudness of my voice:
Antidisciplinary is a word that my mind has been searching for for quite some time. It's like that moment when something is on the tip fo your toungue, your mind knows the answer, but can't think of the word.
The growth of AI and data networks might liberate designers and scientists to be more ‘anti-disciplinary’ because the machines can take care of the many forms of expertise we need to tackle problems at the complex systems level. I’m guessing this is obvious to you but my sense that both in science and design the current trend is toward ever greater specialization of the individual in order to compete with the efficiency of the machine. Thank goodness the Media Lab stands for the opposite.
What a beautiful way to attract creative, progressive thinkers.
I really wish I could use a word other than creative here (I thought about iconoclastic but that seemed to confrontational).
That said, Antidisciplinarian has just a great subversive ring to it!
Represent or present?
This is a great idea...truly a need for this kind of journal. In my own work on the history of computing science and design are never far apart. http://blogs.loc.gov/maps/2016/03/computing-space-vi-how-to-read-marble-and-dacey/
It's a great idea and one that can succeed so long as 'prestige' is associated with the journal, no matter how experimental. No academic I know will admit this but they are 'consumers' of knowledge for whom 'institutional brand' is an extremely poweful signal that can immediately validate or discredit an initiative such as you suggest. Can your idea succeed if originating from a lowly state university? No. You are in a unique position to push the envelope so I say 'go to town'.
As it relates to 'evolving design' however, because -- as you suggest -- it has become one of those suitcase words (no thanks to the unfortunate Design Thinking meme) I belive strongly that we need to start at the beginning by understanding it in the context of where we are now (rather than where we may have been a decade or two ago in terms of our understanding of the discipline as such). In that spirit, might I offer a definition I've crafted over some years as a contribution of sorts, even if it only wets the appetite: http://soc.raymondpirouz.com/2016/02/design-and-purpose/
Antidisciplinary seems to be more profound than other concepts, including 'transdidciplinary'; i feel. Dr. Raman Agrawalla
Oxman's cycle is an interesting starting point, being a 2D representation. I feel like you touch on the limitations of thinking about Design and Science in this way, and wonder about the connection between Scientific Method and Design Process and how they might show us another way to represent the relationship between the two. What are the ideas present within those disciplines that are unique?How can those traits be best used to augment the other discipline, and vice versa?
The concept of antidisciplinary space is fascinating. It allows us to think the unthinkable and achieve the impossible. I often think of it as the process of "collecting and connecting the dots", which involves walking and exploring the white space.
is or was?
Have you seen Flaviano Celaschi's diagram? It's (literally) design-centric, but it has a different take on the deal between "Design vs Science" and "Design as a Suitcase Word" you talk about.
You can download his paper "Design as a Mediator Between Areas of Knowledge" here: http://www.flavianocelaschi.it/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/02_mediatoresaperi_fc_eng_red1.doc
Survived or thrived?
This is similar to how I perceived the way disciplinary knowledge is organised with vast open and unexplored prairies lying between the disciplinary settlements. Back in the mid 80s I wanted to pursue my academic career by exploring these ‘spaces between spaces’ as I now call them. This was not possible so I left academia and pursued the matter through other means, only then, I encountered a cognitive bias that goes along the lines "free people (academics) think, slaves (people who are not academics) work." Only it seems very much to me that the free people have stopped thinking because they have become institutionalised, while the slaves are now doing the thinking. I believe we are in a situation like the one Arthur Koestler describes in his book The Sleepwalkers - a divide, between an older science represented by Aristotelian scholasticism and a new science which became known as the science of The Enlightenment. Only now the divide is between the old science of The Enlightenment and a new science that has yet to be defined. A key point however is that this new science will not be shaped only by Western/European thinking, which is still deeply influenced by Abrahamic thought, but by a universal culture that will also encompass the Taoist world of China and other cultures of the East. So it is good to see that a venue has been established for having conversations and discussing the transformation of the old science into something new. I do not however expect to see the ‘olden ones’ putting up the while flag very soon!
Joi, do you have a way of describing what it would mean to advance design?
Not being a scientist, science seems to have a telos of expansion of knowledge towards the elusive theory of everything. Design lacks that clear trajectory, and without it, advancement is trickier to define. Herb Simon's definition of design, is my best way into that question, (http://www.jstor.org/stable/1511391):
Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.
From this perspective, advancing design could be about better devised "courses of action," more "preferred situations," or both!
The rest of the quote, from the same opening paragraph of The Science of Design: Creating the Artificial, unpacks this definition and takes us deeper:
Design so construed, is the core of all professional training; it is the principal mark that distinguishes the professions from sciences. Schools of engineering, as well as schools of architecture, business, education, law, and medicine, are all centrally concerned with the process of design.
With this in mind, we might think of advancing design as advancing "the professions" to develop better "courses of action," leading to more "preferred situations." This feels suitably antidisciplinary and participatory. As a service designer in a financial services organisation, this feels very familiar as I am constantly encouraging professionals like actuaries, lawyers, investment experts and bankers to consider the whole situation they are influencing and to strive to change them for the better.
Design theory needs to distinguish between life-sustaining and life-destroying entanglements. The natural and the artificial are distinct from one another as one is the context of the other. This coalescing of the natural and the artificial is not a benign claim.