I am currently in the process of expanding my pre-writing topic for my final paper, and would appreciate any thoughts/criticisms as I think through the positioning of my topic.

In brief, I am exploring the role of published design precedent in my primary field of instructional design. Most historically-aware design fields include a strong publishing history—think of logo reference books, design annuals, and the like—all chronicling designs that have been done, which has the potential to inform future designs and designers. The way I am envisioning this precedent within the lens of this course is as the medium through which readers and the designer (who presumably wrote the precedent brief) negotiate a shared view of their user and of their artifact.

The diagram below shows one way of viewing the reader/designer relationship, and their potentially shared but potentially disconnected views of the user and the artifact based on their horizon and their specific socio-cultural context. I am viewing the area in the middle, where there is a potential to communicate a shared user and view of the artifact as a fusion of horizons, which could indicate one possible use of precedent. While this demonstrates a “best case” communication scenario, I’m not convinced that this fusion is always necessary for the design precedent to be useful, or even always beneficial.

In my second (and related) diagram, the disconnectedness of the horizons (and potentially lifeworlds) of the user has the potential to result in a different, non-shared view of the user and artifact between the reader and original designer. This lack of shared context may still result in opportunistic connections for the reader as they approach other designs, and could form a helpful type of backtalk to question or support their existing notions in their design process. Unlike most forms of academic literature, where a shared understanding of key terms and outcomes is critical, this form of design knowledge, seen as separate from scientific knowledge, relies on flexibility of communication and intention through the mediation of reader and designer made possible through thick description, failure analysis, and a rich description of the designer and design context.

If you have made it this far, I have broken the cardinal rule of prototyping, in that I am presenting a polished view of a model that is, in fact, quite a work-in-progress. I’d value any feedback to make my presentation or thinking clearer.

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