Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Posts Tagged ‘bill verplank

Bodystorming – Living in the Problem Space

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Contextualizing interaction via paradigms of the computer

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Bill Verplank’s fantastic framework of paradigms for understanding the computer provides a solid start point to setting the context for a particular interaction design project or study. 

Bills grounds his approach in the dominant ‘styles’ that human beings use in perceiving computers, and the resultant spectrum of paradigms that such styles generate. Some of the important ones he mentions are:

1. Style: Dialog/Language/Intelligence; Paradigm spectrum: Person – to – Life
2. Style:  Direct Manipulation/Control; Paradigm spectrum: Tool – to – Infrastructure
Style: Expression/Browing/Engagement: Paradigm Spectrum: Media – to – Fashion.

Bill Verplank - Paradigms of the Computer

Bill Verplank - Paradigms of the Computer


As a psychologist I have a deep interest  in paradigms, which are fundamentally perceptual entities. A paradigm is our understanding of something in a way that contextualizes it among other things. And the fact that Bill uses the word ‘styles’ to communicate the above modes of understanding a computer, is striking.

 The design interest in a project or research area could be centered in any one or more of these styles. I think the complexity of the undertaking will increase with the number of  paradigms the final design solution intends to address. In an earlier post, ‘Emotional Considerations in Ubicomp’, I raised the question of  considering the emotional in designing ubiquitous computing solutions. Even at the level of a theoretical problem, this issue seems an extremely slippery matter to grasp. I see a good deal of that complexity arising from the fact that at the level of usage, solutions need to reconcile an awning gap between two very different paradigms of the computer for users – i)the computer as ‘tool-infrastructure’ (ubiquitous environments essentially characterized by a lack of centeredness/de-personal space) with ii) the computer as ‘person-life’ (the intuitive, the emotional, the responsive – characteristics we essentially consider embodied/centered).

Using the paradigm framework to reframe design problems this way has apparently solid value.

More of Bill’s lecture material here on the Stanford website.

Written by Ashwin Rajan

December 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Why envision the future?

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Bill Verplank raised this fascinating question when critiquing our concepts for the ‘Cartoon House – Envisioning Future Homes’ exercise at CIID.
I can think of at least two solid reasons that makes envisioning the future a valuable practice for .. anyone interested in the future 🙂 The first is an over-used cliche – making sense of the “accelerating pace of change”. I don’t have much to elaborate here, but can point to at least one man who has explained (hypothesized?) with great eloquence what such accelerating change can mean in the span of our very lifetimes. I give you Mr. Ray Kurweil and his badass book The Singularity is Near
For me, envisioning the future is so very cool because of this – envision the future, and then look back to the present through the lens of that future. It fundamentally changes how you see the world around you today. Imagine that whole bunch of disinterested people who went about their lives paying no heed to what was happening around them when powerful, history-shaping concepts came along – like christianity and buddhism, or electricity and the telephone – ideas that didn’t seem like much at the time, but move some centuries forward, and oh boy! its the stuff we live by … Kinda gets you thinking about what wifi and wikis will mean in a hundred years, right? 

Written by Ashwin Rajan

November 23, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Two Models of the Design Process

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Bill Verplank drew for us his comprehensive yet concise model of what constitutes the process of design, in his Open Lecture at CIID a few weeks ago. This is very comprehensive and scalable model for approaching just about the entire spectrum of interaction design challenges in particular.

Beginning with the ‘motivations’ for design, the model traces progressive development into creating ‘meanings’ for human beings via metaphors, on to defining the ‘modes’ of system behavior, and finally, making effective ‘mappings’ to the artifacts and controls that ultimately become tools of usage.

Amazing stuff!

Bill Verplank - the Design Process

A few weeks later, we had another model of the design process up on the wall – this time from Niels-Clausten Stuck. (Drawing from my notebook below). This model is comparatively much more generic than the earlier one, in that sense that it describes an effective approach to challenges across the design spectrum, from interaction and innovation to spaces, physical products and information.

Niels-Clausen Stuck - the Design Process

Niels traced the development of ‘user research data’ into informed ‘insights’, which in turn could be abstracted further to the level of ‘frameworks’ that define the opportunity/solution space for design. The dominant opportunities are then concretized into real-world solutions by developing a multitude of ‘concepts’, out of which are created select final ‘prototypes’ – the design solutions that live and perform in the hands of users.

This (second) model of the design process is also a great approach to looking at the focus areas and work of various types of global design/strategy/innovation consultancies – we CIID are learning from folks specializing in each or many of the different areas of the model. Yes, if I haven’t said it already – its great to be here!