Saturday, January 30, 2010

Design's Role at Present (and perhaps the reason for degrees like ours and IxD)

I had an awe inspiring class last Thursday. First, if you haven't read the course brief, I'll let you take a look:

"The 2010 design challenge explores the emerging role of designing services and the intersection of Social Networking technologies and trends. Service design is a meta design activity for intentionally integrating systems of interaction with customers—via physical systems, information systems, and human systems—to create value and differentiate providers. Think everything from getting a coffee at Starbucks to being treated at your local hospital, from government services to financial services. Social is all about people building and connecting through communities and sharing information and influence. What happens when service meets social? There are some precursors in services such as Patientslikeme™ and some micro financing services—but what happens when service meets social in the mainstream and everyday life? "

In the course of......the course, my group and I have been working on a sort of glorified craigslist, a system by which people can trade their goods/services/skills, with an emphasis on fostering the neighborly stereotype of yesteryear, of the days when people watched out for one another and frankly, did things together. Somewhere along the way, we got am little lost in the green aspect of sharing and reusing resources and lost some focus on the social impact we desired.

Let it be said that we are working towards both of those aspects to play important roles in this design, but the primary focus is the social change we seek to encourage/inspire, and the saving of resources is a natural by-product of using the service.

This is where Axel's inspiring words come into play. He spoke of the future of Design as less and less an issue of creating beautiful things that work well and streamline our lives to incredible efficiency. He went even further to say that in fact, the majority of the products the design world has put out have inadvertently helped spur on the sense of isolation becoming apparent in a world where direct physical interaction between people is becoming less and less of a necessity. The very objects and systems created to help us all live life more efficiently have also served to separate us socially. This is true whether we're talking about full isolation, or just placement in a different social context and removing on some aspects of the original or traditional interaction.

But this was by no means a cynical look at the design world or an accusation of any sort. This was all to underscore the future of design, to let us know that in fact, we as students are beginning work on something new. For the first time, the design world is beginning to focus on what can be done to bring people together on the most basic level, and that job is in our hands.

Exciting isn't it? I think this will be invaluable information to hold throughout the process of this capstone, especially since it is a service that I am working to design, and it really is relevant to all of our projects as well.

Thank you Axel!

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