Belated post: IASDR 2011

I was just going through my Simplenote/nvAlt documents and I came across this preview of my then upcoming trip to Delft for IASDR but never posted. The advantage of posting now is that I get to link to all the publicly available versions of the papers which my colleagues and I presented.

I should have been off to The Netherlands on Sunday for IASDR but the Qantas debacle situation thing prevented it. Instead my awesome travel agent sorted me a new flight with Emirates on Monday. I’ll get in to Delft on Tuesday afternoon instead of Monday afternon, meaning I’ll miss the 3/4 of the first day of the conference. But I’ll still get to present my paper on Thursday.

My research group actually has a big representation at IASDR this year with six of us going to present seven papers.

My paper is on using actor-network theory (or material semiotics as John Law prefers) to think about complex sociotechnical situations. It’s the “introducing ANT to design researchers” paper I’ve been meaning to write since I finished my PhD in 2006. There are quite a few design researchers who know of ANT but either dismiss it as too hard, as amoral (really) or don’t do it the way that I think is useful. This paper addresses the latter of those issues and hopefully helps a few people to try their hand at an actor-network analysis of a situation.

I’m also co-author on three other papers, one with my colleagues Marianella Chamorro, Thea Blackler and Vesna Popovic and one with my PhD student Thedy Yogasara and one with Thea, Vesna, two of Thea’s PhD student, Ragu Gurdur and Simon Lawry and Dr Doug Baker. The other papers are by Thea’s students Simon and Ragu on the outcomes of their PhD research into Ageing and use of complex product interfaces and Diversity in product familiarity across younger and older adults.

Marianella’s paper, which I was to present until my flight was cancelled, addresses some of the different ways that we have used visual representations in our recent research. Drawing mostly on Marianella’s research the paper shows two different examples of how design research can make use of visual representations in both data gathering and analysis while retaining significant research rigour.

Thedy’s paper is the first to come out of his PhD and describes parts of his first study into anticipated user experience. We’re interested in how people imagine or anticipate hypothetical devices.

The paper with Thea and the associated cast of thousands is about intuitive interaction and draws together several years of Thea’s work which we’ve all contributed to in various ways.

I was pretty jet-lagged for most of IASDR this year so I think I wasn’t as social as I could have been. Still, I caught up with some previous conference-friends and made one or two new ones.

I also learned, or had reaffirmed, that our research is more than competitive internationally. The thing that’s missing, from our research, and in design research in general, is the sense of building on earlier work. As a field, design research is good at addressing new problems. It’s not good at drawing together old threads to build new ones. Perhaps, as one session at the conference showed, there aren’t enough (or haven’t been enough) journals in the field to provide that deep repository of prior knowledge. Perhaps we just don’t read enough.

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