ENGR 101/HUM 200: Technology and Society by 8Rx5ebQ


									 ENGR 101/HUM 200:
Technology and Society
     October 6, 2005
• Wrap-up of yesterday’s lecture
• Announcement of groups (posted to
  course website)
• Group assignment for Monday (preliminary
  list of topics for project)
• Designing the World
Sci-Fi As Snapshot of Culture
“The Psychopathology of Everyday
• What is psychopathology, anyway?
  – The study of the origin, development, and
    manifestations of mental or behavioral
  – In other words, how did the things we use
    everyday come to be so messed up?
• What are affordances?
  – Properties of an object that determine how it
    can be used
  Getting Used to Life’s Difficulties
• We’re all told life is difficult
   – You might have heard the version that goes:
     “No one said life was going to be easy.” Or
     “No one said life was going to be fair.”
• Why should objects be any different?
• Umm….
   – (because one is a philosophical lament, and
     the other is a fixable problem, if only people
     cared to fix the problem)
       A well-designed object…
• Is easy to interpret and understand
• Has visible cues about how it works
• Maps functions onto form
• Takes advantage of physical analogies and
  cultural standards
• Provides feedback to the user about what has
  been done and subsequently accomplished
    – Don’t just tell me I pushed the button; tell me what
      action has been called forth
• Is all-too-rare
     The example of the door
• Why should you ever not know whether to
  push or pull a door? Or where to exert
  pressure on a door?
• The mechanism is not complicated!
• Why should a door ever obscure its
     Principles of Good Design
• Visibility
   – Natural design; Not at odds with aesthetics
• Simplicity when possible
   – Airplane cockpit, no/ VCR, yes
• Appropriate clues
• Feedback for user actions
  How does this “clue” thing work?
• Affordances
  – Look at the shape of an object, consider its weight
    and texture, look at its color in context.
• Constraints
  – What are the gaps in the affordances? What clearly
    can’t be done with the object? Or by the user?
• Mapping
  – Use what people already know how to do! Conceptual
    models are a designer’s friend.
 Why is the world so complicated?
• Setting aside the philosophical lament
• Is it because of too many objects?
• Is it because of too many diverse users?
        Natural v. Designed
• “Designing the World”
  – Objects we live with everyday become
    “naturalized” and we stop seeing what about
    them is manufactured to be a certain way. We
    stop seeing how they are “designed” to be a
    certain way. Whether it is an overpass, an
    energy source, or a book, we learn to stop
    seeing (or maybe we never learn to see!) the
    affordances of an object.
Five (5) Things To Keep in Mind When
• Design is not just about coming up with
  good ideas.
• Don’t design for yourself!!
• Don’t become too attached to one
• Don’t just focus on the top and bottom
• Design is not a linear process.
  1. You Need More Than Good Ideas

• Design is not just about coming up with good
• Creativity is important, but it is probably not as
  pivotal as you think.
• Ask yourself if your design is realizable.
• Ask yourself if your design is based on data.
  How have you analyzed your data?
• Ask yourself if your design is based on informed
  decision-making and analysis.
      2. Don’t Design for Yourself!

• Remember when your parents told you that you
  were special? They were right! DO NOT assume
  you are a typical user.
• Respect your users; their constraints are not
  your failures. (In other words, keeping
  something simple to accommodate user
  constraints doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of
  designing something more complex.)
• Think about the environment in which the design
  will reside. Don’t assume you know the ins and
  outs of that environment; take the time to learn
  about it.
 3. Don’t Become Too Attached to One
• Even after you choose a design solution to
  pursue, revisit your ideas and continue to
  consider alternatives.
• Halfway through trying one approach another
  idea may present itself; remember that you only
  can see that new idea because of the distance
  you traveled down another path.
• Changing direction as you learn more about the
  specifics of your design is not a sign of failure; it
  is evidence of flexible thinking and creativity.
4. Don’t Spend All Your Time Thinking
    About Top and Bottom Levels
• Come up with concrete ways to go from your
  general ideas about function to specific ideas
  about the structure of a product.
• There are many steps between the first abstract
  notion of a design and the final finished product.
  How will you get there?
• How will you accommodate constraints at
  different levels?
• Will you be able to recognize changes to your
  design as you begin dealing with constraints?
 5. Design is Not a Linear Process
• Design requires an iterative process.
• Revisit past decisions often. Don’t be afraid to
  ask yourself whether a decision made four steps
  ago was the right one given what you know now.
• Continue to evaluate alternatives even if they
  are not pursued. Elements of a rejected solution
  may prove valuable.
• Reevaluating past decisions does not mean
  you’re stuck. Looking at past choices through a
  new lens is in fact making a new decision.
   Conceptions (and Misconceptions)
            about Design
• Designing is about:
  –   Making trade-offs
  –   Decomposing
  –   Synthesizing
  –   Generating alternatives
  –   Sketching
  –   Understanding the problem
  –   Using creativity
  –   Visualizing
  –   Making decisions
       What the Experts Say
• Professional designers DO NOT
  – Brainstorming
  – Creativity
  – Visualizing
as critical activities when they talk about
  their work.
      Make It Better example
• http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/243444
                 Next class…
• Meet as a group and come up with a list of preliminary
  topics for design project. Turn in the list (with your
  names!) on Monday.
• Read The Diamond Age
• Read “The Road to Hell is Unpaved,” from The
• Henry Petroski, “The Gleaming Silver Bird and the Rusty
  Iron Horse,” from Beyond Engineering
• “Air Travel: Its Impact on the Way We Live and the Way
  We See Ourselves”
• Preview Powerpoint slides (posted to website as of

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