Towards refinement!

by Dries De Roeck on June 21, 2010

Long time no write, I guess I’ve doing a lot of thinking in between ūüėČ Anyhow, I’ve mostly been trying to put some boundaries to the topic of the PhD. Based on the three zone stuff I wrote about earlier, I tried to define a main research question;

How can people be supported to create in a pervasive world?

Obviously, this is still (too?) broad. Also, it does not contain the word ‘DiY’.¬†The problem I encountered with the term DiY is that it can be interpreted in so many ways that it quickly becomes a hollow container. I believe that starting from this type of question ‘DiY’ emerges more or less in a natural way. The reason I evolved to this question is that I wanted to combine the ‘technical stuff’ with the ‘people centered stuff’. With ‘technical stuff’ I’m referring to the digital-DiY activities emerging (eg Arduino), the ‘people centered stuff’ refers to the everyday creativity which is re-gaining a lot of interest lately (eg Instructables).

The crucial words in this question are:

  • People
    • The way I see it now, is that depending on¬†who is being supported to create in a pervasive world¬†automatically¬†defines the way DiY emerges from this question. Depending on someone’s level of creativity (Sanders & Stappers), someone’s type of logic (Mogensen) or the way of decision-making (Mintzberg & Westley) the modalities of this person’s DiY can be defined.
  • Create
    • Much like the term ‘people’, ‘creating’ can be interpreted in several ways. It can be creating tangible objects, customising¬†a service, even choosing is TV channel with a remote could be seen as creating (you create the experience on your TV screen by pressing a button). Using frameworks and trains of thought set up in publications like The Craftsman (Sennet), The Design of Everyday Life (Shove, Watson Hand and Ingram) and The Culture of Craft (Dormer) a solid foundation can be found regarding the modalities of this term.
  • Pervasive world
    • The question states the pervasive world as a fact, this is mostly based on ideas gathered from publications like ‘Shaping things’ (Sterling). The modalities of creating will allow to set up some practical experiments with people.

I’m¬†conscious¬†that stating this ‘main’ research question might be risky, but I hope it elicits some¬†conversation¬†about the topic. If I take the above writings about the terms into account the questions could be reformulated to other questions like:

  • How can a designer understand people’s use and interpretation of sensors and sensor based interactions in a better way?
  • How can people understand sensors in the same way we understand a hinge?

Please, any comments thoughts ideas or constructive criticism more than welcome! I hope to finish a more elaborate writeup soon.

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