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What Designers Know

What Designers Know

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Published by: ravirainbow on Mar 04, 2011
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12/18/2013

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All this suggests that not just computers but also their networks deserve our
attention. It is the ability to transfer information from one place to another in a
variety of ways that makes the network so powerful as an information manage-
ment tool. As Bill Mitchell points out at the head of this chapter the Net has
quite different rules to conventional physical places. Already we are seeing
design proceed around the world as one team passes information to another so
that a project is kept permanently active in successive time zones.
As a result, a large amount of current research is concerned with how com-
puters may be able to facilitate the necessary co-operation between members of
design teams (Peng, 1994). Traditional forms of communication are either one
to one or one to many. Local and wide area networks offer the possibility of
many to many communication, and the chance to communicate with people
who are unknown to you. Many of these forms of communication, such as elec-
tronic mail, are also asynchronous compared with the traditional telephone call
which requires caller and receiver to communicate at the same time. Electronic
mail is more like a letter which arrives almost instantly it is sent but can be

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HAT DESIGNERS KNOW

read at any time. These characteristics are likely to make networks helpful in
the sort of group collaborative situations found in the design process. We shall
return to some of these issues in subsequent chapters on designing with others
and on design conversations.
We are likely to see the development of computer tools which we might call
agents. Such tools will be able to act for us in much the same way as a travel
agent or an insurance agent does. They will know where to look for informa-
tion and come back to us only with that which we need to know. A good travel
agent may not just organize a trip when you require it, but may also be on the
lookout for special deals or opportunities which might appeal to you. So it will
be with our software agents. They will learn what kinds of information interest
us and how important they might be. They will probably learn to deal with the
software agents of other people on the networks and thus propagate messages
about our interests.

Given that design is such a knowledge-rich activity, these developments could
have quite profound and fundamental effects on the design professions. Clients
and their design professionals will be able to find each other and communicate in
quite new ways. Design is almost invariably a team activity requiring a great
deal of information to flow between collaborators. We are only just beginning to
explore the possible ways in which networks of computers can support collabo-
rative work. The roles designers play could very easily be redefined in such a
world. It is quite possible that the effect of networks will ultimately have much
more of an impact on the design process than has the single humble computer.
For now what we can see from all this is that developing computer systems that
share knowledge with designers in ways that they find normal, helpful and
understandable is extremely difficult. Creating such systems may be more prob-
lematic than we thought when CAD first raised the possibly of aiding design and
creative thought. Making progress with this great project is also likely to teach
us much more about the kinds of knowledge that designers work with and how.

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EXCHANGING DESIGN KNOW

LEDGE W

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MPUTERS

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