interesting texts

Tim Ingold (2013) Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. Routledge: UK. Tim Ingold explores the concept of Doing (making) as thinking and as practice in his book “Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture” (2013). Ingold’s core theoretical perspective influences the methods of research promoted as central to engagement in field research especially with a Participatory design perspective as key to the Co-design mixed methods approach proposed for this project. A making / doing experience is about the diversity of knowledge gained through the actions of doing and actively being involved in making something…. as opposed to being taught or told about its activity. An interesting example is given by Ingold when he explores ideas on working and living with groups of people who live with the issues we research and focuses on a Participatory methodology. Ingold’s ‘making’ is about being part of something and being ‘inside’ rather than observing it from an ‘outside’ perspective. This is interesting as an immersive approach and as a graphic designer creating a research project where the creative process of making through a co-design activity and critically reflecting on the learning journies involved in the design of interactivity and experience to construct a series of proposals for new mobile platforms. Ingold’s sensitivity to activities of making, artistic approaches and the practice of being on the inside, the creator of an imaginative body of work (Ingold, 2013) and a communication design practice that inspires


Jesper Simonsen is Professor of Design studies at Roskilde University, Denmark and Toni Robertson is Professor of Interaction Design at University of Technology, Sydney. Their specialist work is a focus on Participatory design which is a key field of research and theory for my research project as this builds on ideas for engaging users and designers in a participatory methodology. Participatory design is a subject and methodology exploring processes of participation, learning and making sense of the principal roles of users and designers (Simonsen and Robertson, 2013) engaging in the development of co-design, new user based knowledge and design experience. This participatory methodology consequently enables learning from these two fields of interaction in the co-design of technologies each group uses and creates. The Routledge International handbook of Participatory Design is Jesper Simonsen and Toni Robertson’s reference guide containing ten different papers from a range of academic and practitioner backgrounds “showing why Participatory design is an important, highly relevant and rewarding area for research and practice”. (Simonsen and Robertson, 2013 p.1). Of particular interest has been the fifth chapter: Ethnography: Positioning ethnography within Participatory design: A paper by Jeanette Blomberg and Helena Karasti that explores Human Action and Interaction from an anthropological perspective through Ethnographic and Ethno-methodological engagement which enables building user centred insights from the place of work and the engagement of the workers using technology. Added to this useful and key discussion is the sixth chapter: “Methods”: organising principles and general guidelines for Participatory design projects by Tone Bratteteig, Keld Bødker, Yvonne Dittrich, Preben Holst Mogensen and Jesper Simonsen that presents four key methods of practice: STEPS, MUST, CESD and Use-orientated design. These explore practical variants in Participatory design to explain how “concrete organising principles and guidelines” (Simonsen and Robertson, 2013 p117) support core perspectives to carry out practical steps.


Marty Neumeier: To explore a commercial industry perspective of design language through the field of branding and the practice of building brand languages, with their design visualisation and metaphors is also an area that has changed dramatically through the shift in cultures of consumption in mobile technology and social media. Marty Neumeier explores the activation of business change through design management rather than product design development discussing the roles consumers of mobile media content users engage in – Neumeier writes about the rise in social media Co-leadership in industry, proposing the consumer and customer is engaged in social media by providing customer feedback that promotes the brand to new audiences. With social media as a major channel for changing the way consumers connect with brands, user engagement in both business and education is experiencing a major cultural shift (Evans, 2015, Walker et al., 2014). The ideas from Neumeier  about brand engagement in the design process through co-design marketing, consumers profiling and connecting media platforms (Neumeier, 2015a) is a phenomenon of blogging culture especially prevalent in Fashion trending and forecasting. (Neumeier, 2015, Schiffman and Kanuk, 2014).


Feedback threads are intriguing lines of historic customer discussion boards reflecting a flourishing consumer culture that participates with and directly influencing product markets and the promotions of new ideas. (Neumeier, 2015b) consequently the co-creative brand process innovates an active engagement of participation in brand successes and social media engagement in new product development cultures. Neumeier’s use of the concept of Interpreter for User-feedback, NonStop Innovation and Co-design through a participatory process which are central ideas to the research methodology I am researching and Neumeier through this perspective of co-design and co-leadership is identifying a major shift in consumer culture from a passive recipient to an engaged and participatory role as key driver for innovation. Neumeier explores the relationships between design, innovation and focusing on the customer as co-designer with customer feedback eliciting new (brand) meaning referred to as: “design thinking as business competence” (Neumeier, 2009). Like Brown’s iterative cycle of innovative development, Neumeier argues that consumer feedback enables a customer / brand relationship that includes writing feedback for prospective new customers as a marketing strategy (Neumeier, 2015a).

Lean StartupERies

Eric Ries:. (2011) The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses. Portfolio Penguin. Eric Ries builds on Evans’ knowledge of technology trends (Evans, 2015, Ries, 2011) also being a senior industry professional in Silicon Valley and building literature focus from a professional and entrepreneurial perspective. As Harvard University Entrepreneur in Residence (2011 to 2014) Ries explores his iterative business methodology to support Lean start-ups through a very interesting cycle of: Ideas input to inform Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to be measured through User-feedback creating Data analytic enabling evaluation of Learning Milestones that can iterate in a core Builds / Text / Learn cycle. (Ries, 2011). Through a series of product and service case studies Ries discusses and challenges business thinking by creating an alternative design thinking process that starts with a “Minimum viable product” to engage user feedback from Early adopters. From this strategic Startup product stage, the process enables agile development in Startup organisations. A methodology of “Pivot” is then used through Ries’s series of Validated learning aims that focus the direction and re-direction of further innovation in an iterative cycle. This builds and is directed through the harvest of empirical research data – as feedback from users to gain clarity for development as an adaptive and progressive strategy.

Ries outlines with phenomenal clarity the practice and progress of his methodology from a Build, Test, Learn cycle that develops into a tried and tested entrepreneurial process for successful start-up and agile innovation by the transformation of user experience through design thinking ideation (Ries, 2011) to inform new communication toolsets for mobile. To relate the theory back to the research project, and as an example…. the University of West London technological internal processes, measuring online traffic, online security for personal data and developing the portability of blended learning communities will create new opportunities for innovation. The portability of mobile technology creates the opportunity for new methods of practice, and new relationships to nurture between stakeholders, to foster, mentor and build communities of knowledge and to innovate online learning.


Verganti, R., (2009) Design Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. US.

Roberto Verganti broadens the discussion about the role of Design thinking by adding a slightly different perspective on user-driven innovation to that of design-driven innovation (Verganti, 2009). Through this shift in thinking Verganti explores the role of highly visionary influencers as “interpreters” to design driven innovation (Verganti, 2009). “Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean”. 2009 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. US, explores a shift in philosophical perspective in the study of design thinking from radical and market driven design to ‘new meaning’. Verganti explores ‘interpreters’ of vision through case studies of European and US examples of game change experiences – this develops a clear shift from user-centred to a more participatory design and a radical rethinking of relationships and methods of practices from industry experts who shape markets in the bigger picture of design thinking. Verganti’s interpreters are the concept drivers who re-invent in a revolutionary process that stems from the core of ‘new meanings to lifestyles’ and environments shaping innovation thinking. Again in Verganti, R., (2011) Designing Breakthrough Products. Harvard Business Review. Vol.89: 10 p. 114-120 Publishing Corporation. US, Verganti explores “technology epiphanies”(Verganti, 2015) interpreters are discussed as “experts from far-flung fields” (Verganti, 2015) with unusual perspectives which challenges Brown’s and Neumeier’s perspectives on User-centred feedback (Brown, 2009, Neumeier, 2009). Verganti clearly identifies that the specialist practice of a visionary with expertise to interpret and make insightful connections about user culture can then be built into design strategy and innovation design.


Richard Buchanan is an academic and has written a seminal work exploring design thinking, wicked problems and their relationships related to the practices of graphic design (Buchanan, 1992). This builds on the ideas of the academic Horst Rittel who had introduced the concept of ‘wicked problems’ in the 1960’s at Hochschule fur Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany (Buchanan, 1992). Buchanan incorporates Rittel’s pragmatic approach that design is often required to resolve confusing issues with various clients, layers of decision makers (often with conflicting values) and incomplete user knowledge engaged in the writing and approving of creative projects. (Buchanan, 1992 p.16). Consequently, Buchanan finds opportunities resolved through linear phases in design practice can restrict innovation. Through de-construction he argues industry practices of design thinking and graphic communication design, comparing problem solving requirements of architectural practices, product development, fine art are all practices that explore; “places of invention shared by all designers, places where one discovers the dimensions of design thinking by a reconsideration of problems and solutions” (Buchanan, 1992 p.10).

Toni-Matti Karjalainen

Toni-Matti Karjalainen is Research Director at Aalto University and has edited Researchgate’s International Design Business Management (IDBM) Volume 2 edition of papers titled: “Understanding design thinking, exploration and exploitation: Implications for design strategy” published in 2012. Of particular interest are the documents forming a collection from PhD and Master’s research through a collaborative university network called Design Management (DESMA) funded by the European Commission’s Marie Curie Actions (Karjalainen, 2012). Of specific interest are the focus on strategic perspectives with industry managers, entrepreneurs and design practitioners who utilise Design thinking and Communication design to gain competitive advantage for design and brand strategies to engage stakeholders and gain increased market share. From an academic deconstruction approach the texts individually analyse industry practices to inform design management strategy building on research evolving User engagement as a strategy to drive innovation where management and strategy co-create to design the core of operational practices, linking design and business innovation.


Katja Thoring and Roland Müller explore how documentation processes for innovation strategy support the phases of the Design thinking methodology from an academic perspective. Thoring and Müller build a mapping exercise and illustrated model from their research steps in the; “Creating Knowledge in Design Thinking” paper (Thoring and Müller, 2011). Interesting from this research is the classification approach to analyse how new findings in ideas, creative approaches and their documentation is presented. As there are many popular theoretical models being supported and adapted from the original IDEO creative approach that became Design thinking as a method of innovation (Brown, 2009, Thoring and Müller, 2011) the relationship between each iterative phase enables comparison between user-driven innovation strategies and Interpreter design driven strategies (Verganti, 2015). Using a deconstructive approach to explore comparative theories Thoring and Müller propose four key and differing types of knowledge: Knowledge delivered through visual design artefacts; Tacit knowledge; knowledge in a “symbolic level” referred to as “Design Rational” and fourth, knowledge from theoretical modules that have been reviewed both in industry and academically (Thoring and Müller, 2011). These phases for identifying knowledge types build an interesting and framework that engages with developing a research methodology to support and document the core five part phases adapted from Brown’s Design thinking model (Brown, 2009) of: Empathise, Definition, Ideation, Prototype and Testing / Critical reflection phases. Thoring and Müller have also compared strategies from Design thinking and Lean Startup (Müller and Thoring, 2012)with both focused on “fostering innovation” (Müller and Thoring, 2012 p.186) and user-centric perspective also utilizing Personas ( authors adaption from Calabria, 2015) and mapping user-journies (authors adaption from Brown, 2009).


The Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA) Surveys of Technology are conducted annually through HE funding. Enhanced through the UCISA network, learning for higher education in the UK is reported via academic involvement in a number of small observational national surveys to form longitudinal analysis that ranges from 2011 to the current report. The 2014 report of empirical data documented by Richard Walker, Julie Voce, Joe Nicholls, Elaine Swift, Jebar Ahmed, Sarah Horrigan and Phil Vincent summarizes this year’s “tracking developments in the delivery of open learning opportunities to external audiences” (Walker et al., 2014 p4). The data and information analytics reported in the 2014 survey is crucial to understanding major shifts in TEL and some of the consistent unresolved issues experiences across the UCISA network of institutions whilst awaiting the 2015 survey to be published, however trends evidence clear shifts from desktop computer interface design to the take-up of mobile technologies as the central agenda reported to TEL and a lack of investment if staff training or development (Walker et al., 2014). A range of recognised digital literacies are explored through case studies in the comprehensive report with focus on Lecture capture and the use of e-assessment and e-feedback…(Walker et al., 2014 p9). The report’s executive summary notes: “Mobile technologies/ learning and staff development remain key challenges and despite both dropping a place in the rankings, their overall percentages have increased” (Walker et al., 2014 p9).


Ella Kahu writes from an academic perspective through the deconstruction of theory in emerging academic and research practices that rely on digital environments for engaging learners. In her paper: “Framing student engagement in Higher Education” (Kahu, 2011) the writer explores four key cultures of learning; learning behaviors, the psychology of learning, a socio-cultural perspective towards learning cultures and exploring cultures of engagement in learning from a holistic perspective. We have discussed how narratives and graphic communication design engage Sticky relationships through the creation of User-experience (Verganti, 2009, Blank, 2015) however through Learning engagement from Kanu’s thesis her research critiques ‘shared understanding’ (Kahu, 2011) within a range of diverse learning cultures to: “frame future research and improve student outcomes” (Kahu, 2011). Kahu also discusses the processes of engagement as; “an evolving construct that captures a range of institutional practices and student behaviors related to student satisfaction and achievement.” (Kahu, 2013 p.2). This is key for the author’s research project as ‘Engagement’ in Blended learning from a user-centered approach, whether through online or mobile environments will highlight insights for developing a communication strategy.


Karen Kear, Frances Chetwynd and Helen Jefferis work in the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology at the Open University support academic ideas from Tina Calabria’s concepts that explore online identity (Kear et al., 2014). In their 2014 paper from Research in Learning Technology Vol: 22 called: “Social presence in online learning communities: the role of personal profiles” (Kear et al., 2014 p.1) they discuss social behaviour and identity looking at social presence in discussion forums and the requirement for personalized imagery, photographs of users so that there are relationships between what Kear et al 2014 call “Real people” (Kear et al., 2014 p.1). The research from case studies that measure “learners’ use and perceptions of personal profiles in online forums”(Kear et al., 2014 p.3) proposes engagement is heightened when emotional signifiers are enabling sticky relationships to build. The need for a sense of community through university online communication raises issues of online etiquette, through online content having _”communication cues such as facial expression and tone of voice” (Kear et al., 2014 p.6) the experience of online relationships is then created with emotional personal branding.

The Tacit DimensionPolanyi

Michael Polanyi (2009) The Tacit Dimension. University of Chicago Press. Polanyi is engages ideas through a highly insightful perspective, one that explore how the learning and creation process operates through experiences. Polanyi refers to this process as the Practice of making – Practice as research (Polanyi 2009) From the perspective of ‘Fuzzy front end thinking’ (Watt et al 2013) creativity my interpretation of Tacit-ness is that there are many experiences in the creative process that need personal engagement – learning visual languages, ‘a person’s practice’ makes the connection of *(for example) what we look at and how that might be explored and expressed as a visual story…the trial and error of making and creative artefacts in the imaginative creative industries. The processes that combine in building visual languages and the learning methods of communication tools through interpretative signals form in Polanyi’s text “a form of symbolic journey” (Polanyi 2009) to become an artist / designer. Tacit knowledge is central to Practice as research as this knowledge in Polyani’s experience is about the internalisation of knowledge and the immersion in of experience in an art form through a ‘making’ process.

Tina Calabria_Pwrsonas2015

Tina Calabria explores the cultures and behaviours of online profiling through the use of avatars referring to these as ‘Personas’. This build’s on Folkmann’s discussion with a focus on creative behaviour (Folkmann, 2013) and gaining further insight to understand user-needs. Calabria cites theory on user-persona profiles, their construction, their communities of practice and trends. Through case studies of empirical user data Calabria’s research enables greater knowledge from a practical focus for the design of UX and UI for interaction design strategy and builds perspective for the functional construction of archetypal users to identify, design and allocate appropriate functionality from the evaluation of user-centred design techniques. (Calabria, 2015). The building of a range of user profiles in Calabria’s paper informs characteristics that are used the Fashion and Brand industry for trend analysis (Methanuntakul, 2010, Calabria, 2015) and are key in developing proposals for UI and UX design phases of my research project.


Beyond Discipline: Design Practice and Design Education in the 21st Century written by Lara Furniss (2015) is a critical collation of perspectives around the influence of the digital shift in making (now common to all industries) from 12 major industry leaders. The document articulates major shifts in design policy, design practice and design education with their reach across global industry platforms.

Furniss proposes that design has become so intrinsic to human interaction and communication that visual design narratives create pivotal cultural shifts in reporting and exhibiting new audiences that have global reach, with the potential of millions viewing (Blank 2015) through social media. The opportunities now available through pioneering contemporary communication design practice are re-shaping design trends, EDIPT, practices and characteristics. Furniss proposes that the pursuit of design in the 21st century has experienced a resurgence in the practice of “designers realising the value of ‘holding’, ‘feeling’ and haptics as a ‘fundamental need”, (Furniss 2015 p11) in response to online cultures of consumption and the digital experience of making, lacking the physical shaping of environments. Lara Furniss writes; “findings highlight key drivers for change and demonstrate their breadth and complexity” (Furniss 2015 p11).