Ash at CIID

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

Posts Tagged ‘paradigm

Fabio Sergio at CIID

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Fabio Sergio of Frog Design gave an open lecture at CIID a couple of weeks back. He was emphatic right at the start about not categorizing ‘interaction design’ as anything different (whether in terms of approaches, skills, or industry) from ‘design’ as such; and from this hub discussed the state of design and the three major waves in design thinking since the industrial revolution.

Form follows function: the craftsman’s aesthetic; phrase coined by Louis Sullivan. The guts and internal workings of an artifact are reflected in its exterior ‘form’. Pure, direct, beautiful, functional, sometimes confusing at the level of ‘interface’, not very communicative of ‘state’, poor at providing feedback. A ‘how it works’, not ‘how it looks’ approach. Yet, I don’t see how some things can be better designed.

Spindle from 1815 in my friend's home in Copenhagen - alive, well and even today runs as smooth as silk.

Form follows emotion: The second major shift – a reaction to the cold wave of industrial mass production, a response to the inhuman montony characteristic of the machine – whose influences included developments in areas like branding, measurement and logic of interacting with aritfacts, GUI, usability, cognitive pyschology, ‘satisfaction’ of user. Don Norman’s ‘Emotional Design’ with Philippe Starck’s juicer on its cover was one of the landmark books that presented the approach to a wide audience. Powerful, and for me, always relevant.

Philippe Stark's Juicer - take me home?
Form follows meaning: The New Shift. The Now. The Tomorrow. The Connected. The Conversation. As digital and physical realms collide and specific, tangible artifacts merge, mingle and morph into others, boundaries are dimmed and designing for people’s values and value systems becomes paramount. Curious and bizarre terms such as mirror-worlds, everyware, spime, mass-customization come into currency. I am presently dipping into ‘Shaping Things’ by Bruce Sterling every now and then, and quickly coming back up for air!
An Internet of Things is here.

An Internet of Things is here.


Written by Ashwin Rajan

December 21, 2008 at 10:57 pm

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