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Network shapes design activities. ICT supporting open and shared design processes

This paper has been presented in 2007 at IASDR Conference in Hong Kong.
Emerging Trends in Design Research, 12 – 15 November,2007.
School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
conference website

Network shapes design activities. ICT supporting open and shared design processes

get the full text proceeding | by Francesca Valsecchi, Paolo Ciuccarelli
Keyword: digital community, ICT tools, design knowledge sharing


The network paradigm refers to individuals as being continually involved in processes of sharing and being able to organize into creative communities of practice and knowledge.

Some of these communities are developing and act creatively in the digital spaces of the net. They explore and push forward the ICT technology boundaries: everyday we observe on the Internet flourishing sources and authorities, new ways to organize information and pubheritage worked out by different people and organizations that show much more richness everyday and become more and more interesting. Current researches on “creativity support tools” investigate the creative process as situated cognition activity in physical and technological spaces made up of tools such as creativity labs for innovation and frameworks for knowledge intensive activities. (E.g. L3D lab in Chicago, Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany). Research is revealing that creativity spaces should be differently designed for each creative action, which manages a particular kind of knowledge and needs to be supported by specific tools.

Design activity is linked to the design space in which it occurs. It is a knowledge transfer process based on tools, from pencil to cognitive maps: knowledge comes steadily into shape until it becomes a designed artefact. It is a creative and cooperative action itself, presenting the same attributes as network communities. The ongoing research is hosted at Politeca, a Design Knowledge Centre at Politecnico di
Milano focusing on network tools placed into design spaces, exploring which kind of support they can provide in design processes. The aim of research is to verify the need and test the use of tools in design contexts by two different design communities: the design student community (in faculty labs and courses) and the practitioner community (knowledge at work in different design teams). The paper describes the first phase of experiments.
We study design activities “in situ” through participant observation methods derived from ethnomethodology; we are creating a sort of “designers’ observatory” from which we will able to explore design processes from the point of view of both designers and researchers. In order to turn research findings into actions, forthcoming phases will verify emerging needs of knowledge by allowing designers to
try out their work directly with a series of ICT design tools, and then providing for them a custom framework of tools to use.
Network tools are technology to act on and experience knowledge, consistently with our ideas that sharing heightens knowledge and that design activity involves sharing expertise. Proceeding from this, we aim to shape toolkits for design activities in order to enhance creative sharing and to contribute to the development of a knowledge base for design made up of a dialogue between resources and experiences.


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