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This post has been bouncing around in my ahead for a week or so, given that many of our readings include claims or discussion of our sensual perceptions. So, our sensual perceptions, which I will refer to as perceptual faculties from here on out, are those like like sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Theses are the faculties we all have, unless someone is other-abled, and they are the faculties by which our interaction with the external world are mediated. That is, we have our cognitive processes (thinking), and we have our perceptual processes (sensual engagement). We make sense of our perceptual experiences through our cognitive processes.

The thing about our perceptual faculties is that they sometimes deceive us. Think of that time where you thought you saw your friend walking down the street, maybe you even said “hello”, and it turns out to be someone else who is perceptually similar to your would-be friend. These perceptual abilities are further influenced by our cognitive capabilities, especially memory and learning. If I think I see a bird and exclaim” Thats’ a gold finch!” I am relying on my perceptions (sight), as well as my knowledge and memory of what a gold finch is. Yet, that gold finch could quite easily turn out to be a  yellow cardinal, which is distinguishable from the gold finch only by a slightly  different beak shape. In this case, I have mistakenly come to a judgment about the gold finch and possibly went as far as to claim I had a certain type of aesthetic experience. Both outcomes are false.  This is why describing aesthetic engagement as having a visceral component is problematic. Claiming to have had an aesthetic experience (or even a phenomena) when reacting to a some sensory stimulus ignores the important role cognition plays in the meaning-making of aesthetic experiences.

“The first weakness stems from the fact that the aesthetic processing model differs in important ways from our common experience of the aesthetic: as I have argued, it is too steeped in information processing theory to fit with an ordinary person’s experience.

“Likewise, the reduction of holistically experienced phenomena (e.g., emotion) into constituent, measurable parts is also alien to the common aesthetic experience.”

Here, Jeff brings up my argument, but talks about the more holistic experience we as people seem to have when we make aesthetic judgments. I wanted to add the problem of the deception of our perceptions as a weakness to the aesthetic processing model. Jeff makes this point a bit earlier in the paper when he covers what some of the body of aesthetic literautre says about aesthetic experience/response:

“It can educate our perception and challenge and develop our cognitive abilities (e.g., reasoning, sense-­making,learning) in worthwhile ways. An emphasis on active, rather than passive computer use has long been advocated in the work of HCI researcher Yvonne Rogers (2006), and while she doesn’t invoke the language of aesthetics, she clearly is thinking along comparable lines.”

The bit about educating our perceptions, to me, is a response to the limitations of our perceptual abilities. Our perceptions need trained, particularly for specific domains. The ability for an art critic to pick out a fake Van Gogh from a real one is evidence of the cognitive work that is done in the honing of our perceptual abilities. Since Tractinsky takes a layperson viewpoint of what aesthetics is, at least definitionally, I claim that his argument downplays the importance of our cognitive development of our perceptual abilities.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a great resource. Most domains require specific definitions for terms; this is extremely important for understanding what the hell most philosophers are saying.

There is some info on hermeneutics to get you started on the aesthetics paper. This is my go-to instead of wikipedia.

We started to talk about this idea last week in class, and Jeff asked me if I thought reifying design was a problem, to which I reservedly said “no”. Thing was I didn’t really understand how Reification is a fallacy. So I did some research: Apparently some philosophy dude named Alfred North Whitehead came up with something called the “The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness”. I think this is what reification is, but here it is explained through metaphysics.

My understanding on how the reification of Design Thinking is a fallacy, is that is turns an abstract idea or way of thinking (One possible way of understanding Design Thinking) into something which is concrete, either a physical object or something akin to a faculty of our mind like a logical capacity. If one is to reify Design Thinking, then it becomes a capacity, or some form of cognition, that is inherently separate from our other cognitive forms or processes. When I unpack it this way, I start becoming uncomfortable with reifying Design Thinking partly because I think the dichotomy of some logical/creative capacity make more sense without having this third, Design Thinking, capacity added.

Now, if reifying design thinking is committing a fallacy, then I have to reject Cross’ notion that there is an inherent capacity in all humans called Design Thinking. This would leave only Big D Design Thinking as something that exists, thereby removing any possible comparison between the two.


I’ve gone way too quickly here and would like retreat if someone quoted me on this ( hehe), but this is some of my preliminary thinking on the idea of reification and Design Thinking.

After reading Rowe, I don’t really want to write about only one of the case studies, but rather to focus on ‘episode creation’ as part of design thinking. I will explain why my idea on this makes it so that I don’t think the three case studies Rowe used were all that different in process, at least not in what I would call a meaningful way. I will finish with a claim on the need of designing in teams so as to remove periods of ‘blinding’ in the design process.

In all three of the case studies the designers when through different ‘episodes’. The structure of these episodes is defined by Rowe as:

First, there is the ” to and fro” movement between areas of concern-a movement perceived at the time by the designers in our three case studies.

Second, there seem to be periods of unfettered speculation, followed by more sober and contemplative episodes during which the designer ” takes stock of the situation.”

Third, each episode seems to have a particular orientation that preoccupies the designer. We might say that the organizing principles involved in each episode take on a life of their own, as the designer becomes absorbed in exploring the possibilities that they promise. Here a ” dialogue” between the designer and the situation is evident (Schon 1983, ch. 3).

The last part about these episodes “taking on a life of their own” and a “dialogue” existing between designers and the situation is the most meaningful observation made in this paper. Sure, within the three case studies different constraints were applied at different times, different retractions and backtracking was done, and different models were applied in different ways. To me, this was the implementation of episodic understanding of the design process. That is, each designer created a different episode of the process by selecting its content, be it a constraint, exploratory sketches, or an applied model like the classical Villa. In this way, the content of the episode started a string of events that led, in some fashion, to subsequent episodes. In Rowe’s words these episodes:

These episodes are not happenstance events. They possess an interior logic that seems determined partly by the subject matter at hand and partly by the organizational procedures being used. They also have a consequential connection with one another. Without such logic and closure among episodes the emergence of design proposals would be difficult to imagine.

I claim that this interior logic is a priori to the problem at hand, yet developed through the combination of experience and knowledge acquisition (higher education, reading things). In this way, these episodes are colored by our formations as designers up to that point. These episodes are the manifestations of how we understand the design process. To me this explains the difference in the three case studies. I think they are using the same process, here as episodic design, but the creation and understanding of the episodes themselves rely on their ongoing formation as a designer.

This reminds me of the saying “we need a fresh pair of eyes on the project”.  More eyes = more possibilities for a diversity of episodes and in this way removes the ‘blinding’ that occurs when designers move forward even when ” conditions in which obvious connections between various considerations of importance go unrecognized by a designer (Newell, Shaw, and Simon 1967, pp.107-108).” The more designers on the project, even for a few minutes, could decrease these periods of blinding that occur when no one currently on the project can recognize when a team is going down the rabbit hole.

I have read most of the posts on Cross and instead of replying to each one, Ill just write my thoughts here. Like many of you, there are passages in the text that made me want to scream, others made me want to make a strong Gin and Tonic. This is a good thing! One thing I don;t think I read in the critique of the text is that we really need to take into consideration the context surrounding the publication. This was written in the late 1980’s. This is extremely important for a valid understanding of the arguments as laid forth in the text.

This is very first wave thinking, but it is the edge of first wave and the start of the discussion that motivates and propels the coming of second wave HCI.  You can tell by reading it with this perspective that professionals are beginning to have the conversations about what design is and how it is different from engineering, or engineering thinking. Do they get everything correct? No. But its a good start.

I think texts like these are best understood holistically, taking into account all the arguments in the text as well as the historical and cultural contexts that enrich the meaning of the argument. All in all, I think the contribution of this paper is to raise more questions than it answers, and I think it does this fairly well.


SO THIS IS MOSTLY WRONG AS JEFF DID A GOOD JOB AT EXPLAINING (THANKS).  Although I do standby the idea of reading a paper holistically, that part is still pretty cool.

“A chapel speaks a different architectural language than a supermarket, and everybody can read the difference.”


Check out The Limelight from NYC. It was a super popular nightclub in NYC in the 80’s and 90’s. The juxtaposition of the nightclub atmosphere and the old church violates the architectural language that we understand. In doing so, Peter Gatien was able to create one of the most important night club scenes of the 80’s and  90’s.

I wanted to respond to the notions of Utopia and Dystopia as put forth by Dunne and Raby.  I think a central tenant of their argument is that we need to suspend our assent to what we call ‘knowledge’ – particularly knowledge of the external world. Claiming we are capable of constructing a utopian future relies heavily on the belief that we know what we would need to do in order to create one, and for whom such a utopian future would be beneficial.  This is exactly what they are writing against in their argument. To me this is the demotion of dreams to hopes. Hoping for such a future disregards those wonderful ideas that come to us in our dreams. Such reframing of dreams is unnecessarily restrictive and is what we as designers need to make sure we check before we start designing something. Is thinking about our future, or better yet dreaming of our future, benefitted from thinking in the utopian/dystopian dichotomy? Rather, on page 8 of the Dunne/Raby reading they propose the idea:

On a more positive note, with this reduction in top-down governing, there has been a corresponding shift away from the top-down mega-utopias dreamt up by an elite; today, we can strive for one million tiny utopias each dreamt up by a single person.

To me this reminds me fully of the project Descartes set out to do in his Meditations. For those of you who haven’t read Descartes (I am assuming most of you haven’t) what Descartes did was begin a project to build a foundation of indubitable beliefs. That is, Descartes wouldn’t claim something as knowledge unless it, in no way, relied on belief. This type of calming our assents to belief, or the status quo, is key to what we should do as designers. What type of assumptions or norms are we supporting without questioning? What type of future are we ignoring by limiting our ideas to the “possible”?

There is lots more to say but I think I have said enough to get some dialogue going.