To Design, we “define and make possible” an idea.
My opinion on Design Thinking comes from the mental simulation a complex network in which all of its nodes are communicating, in accordance with how they were ‘pre-set’ to communicate. I however found that this definition lacks some knowledge of the fact that; I am also a part of the network that is being observed and not existing independent of it.
This revealing point of view suggests that I am not just a detached observer of any design relationship – but in great detail, the design itself includes me. Peeling off the layers of thoughts that I hold as personal beliefs and exploring how the definition of key terms provides the right mindset for thinking about Design, profits me greatly – especially considering access to research material in the wee hours of learning to think by design.
I have approached the understanding of Design by reflecting on some unseen elements that support my hypothesis that; Design is highly influenced and motivated by the combination of thoughts and ideas. I now pause to ponder on where these ‘thoughts and ideas’ originate and why.
When can we say that Design Thinking has begun???
Studying design thinking is studying how to think. I strongly believe design thinking begins when we set out to acquire knowledge of the design concepts. I also believe design thinking has already existed in our subconscious long before we decide to give any conscious thought to it. This is probably why we recall thoughts, emotions, actions and words from a time past, when formulating present thoughts for a future design.
It is however important that we grasp the key concepts. This knowledge is necessary for claiming ownership to our unique creation and we can thereby consolidate a place in the long-standing transcendental order of creative genius.
To own and define our idea, we leverage already existing ideas – then hold space for our ideas to be used for further formulations of future ideas.
I have enjoyed how Martin Irvine’s writings has permitted my imagination to make abstractions while breaking down concepts for easy understanding. Take for instance the line of thought that follows ‘Scale, Scalability and Extensibility’: I considered the Earth, its Solar System and the Interstellar Space in terms of size and dimensional proportionality to one another to interpret how Design exists by principle – man can live on Earth, colonize Mars and tour the Interstellar space back and forth for a family vacation (hey it’s just an example but for sure man is expansive!)
Discovering and applying new ideas should be the ideal attitude towards Design.
In the introductory CCTP 802 Leading by Design lecture, Prof. Irvine stated: “To create the new, we combine as desirably as possible already existing variables” as a response to my question: How do I incorporate a unique variable into my design in order to make it less likely to be replicated?
It helps to understand the origin of our thoughts before measuring how these thoughts combine to create conditions. The Samsung OLED Smart TV for example is “smart” by reason of its ability to communicate terrestrial TV and digital signals via the internet. An ISP is responsible for maintaining a reliable internet infrastructure that provides connectivity for accessing the smart features of the TV. This is made possible by activating a wireless receiver which is black-boxed somewhere strategic within the enclosure of the TVs sleek-style finish. This feature borrows the technology of a PC and enables similar smart functions like web browsing, live streaming, VOD…etc. It even permits downloads and installation of Apps thereby incorporating features like internal memory, cloud storage and system software (like having RAM/ROM, Cloud and OS features in modern computers).
The smart TV technology also holds value for many users who crave the mobile phone experience on a bigger screen and presents affordances like enhancing the overall viewing experience with large-to-ultra-large range of screen sizes that mirror the conventional projector technology. It is reported that many Netflix subscribers for example would prefer to stream movies via a smart TV than streaming via a mobile phone and we can adequately make inferences about why this phenomenon occurs. The obvious constraint with large screen size is immobility – the smart TV is typically installed in a fixed position as opposed to enjoying the affordance of mobility provided by a miniature mobile phone which allows you stream a Netflix movie in a moving car or in an airplane (Well I haven’t seen anyone boarding a flight carrying their smart TV to Netflix and chill!).
When we trace the steps taken by the designers to output a technology such as the smart TV, we begin to detect the combinations of modules and design principles used in the very exact version of the smart TV we are investigating. This process in itself is already defined as a key concept; i.e. to deproductize any specific version or corporate brand to discover the “universal” design principles required for it to work the way that we experience it to work.
I lifted this concept and applied it in refining my thoughts for a smart keyboard technology. This idea of mine combined (a) natural feelings and emotions towards my little brother who is autistic and (b) the hypothetical possibility of having a brain-eye-keyboard communication pathway for mobile devices. In thinking about solutions for making mobile device use ‘less complicated’ for an autistic child, I determined that I could optimize/enhance existing technology to accommodate any unique adaptive method used by an autistic child to operate the existing conventional keyboard on a mobile phone- this would include observing the child’s emotions, gestures and responses while using a mobile phone.
This line of thought was greatly influenced by my knowledge of Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCIs) otherwise called ‘neural-control interface’ (NCI) or ‘Mind-Machine Interface’ (MMI) or ‘Direct Neural Interface’ (DNI), or ‘Brain-Machine Interface’ (BMI). I have also studied briefly the technology that supported and made communication possible for Prof. Stephen Hawking despite completely losing the ability to speak from complications brought about by a motor neuron disease.
What can we learn from technology dedicatedly designed for the disabled?
My reflections on these ideals extends some thought for the future: Modern technology must take some sort of flex-secure approach to design i.e. shift from being technologies that produce fixed physical outputs to technologies that can be combined and configured endlessly for fresh purposes. By ‘Flex-secure’ I mean, the ability to hold safely to balance and stability in the face of ever changing and ever advancing technological developments.
In thinking about design, think simply – lest you miss the big ideas!
Introduction to Design Thinking: Systems and Architectures. CCTP-820: Leading by Design. Professor Martin Irvine. Georgetown University
Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Penguin Random House LLC New York 2018. Stephen Hawking
Universal Principles of Design. Revised. William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers, 2010.