DAY 1 M 26 AUG

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“Design gives tangible form to valuable ideas that improve life”            

– Arnold Wasserman

“Design is too important to leave to designers”            

– Arnold Wasserman

“Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at

changing existing situations into preferred ones.”

– Herbert A. Simon, Sciences of the Artificial, 1969




  1. What is this course about? Who are the instructors? Who are you? What do you expect from this course?
  2. What is the “X” about?
  3. How can one explore an ill-defined problem space?
  4. How did DEXIGN get here? Where are we heading?


4:45-5:15 EST WHO ARE YOU? Student dyads interview and introduce each other making a concept map of each other to explain to the class who their partner is. 5 minutes to interview each other and 1 minute to report back on each person (5+5+20). Post concept maps on the wall.



Instructors present their HEURISTIC DESIGN FRAMEWORK and explain their COOL DESIGN examples





Ground level Arduino an open source electronics platform with flexible easy to use hardware and software.

A printed circuit board.

5K Online Arduino Community. e.g.,

Communities, environments, communications, projects.

Ground to 15K GPS signal unscrambled through executive order by Bill Clinton in 2000. GPS chips now in many smartphones (e.g., iPhone, Android).
Arduino GPS allows DIY projects. 
GPS tracking of fleets i.e., UPS, FEDEX, Police, Taxi, etc
Supreme court says GPS tracking by Police requires warrant.

(Plans, programs, policies, places, …)

5K –  10K DIY radiation monitor on Arduino

DIY radiation monitoring supported by PACHUBE now

Long term public monitoring of  radiation levels in Japan

(Tactical artifacts, interventions –> Regional governments, policies etc)

15K Japan creates new safety standards for nuclear plants, requires nuclear plant safety upgrades, and proposes turning on nuclear plants.

Study suggests Fukashima plant has been leaking for 2 years.

(plans, policies, country level)

20K global conversation on nuclear energy

20K-30K TED community, mashup with Instructables, Maker magazine, Gizmodo, KickStarter, etc Massimo Banzi TED talk.

Open Source Arduino Satellite

6:00-6:30 EST Working Break: Find your Cool Design examples.

Student dyads have a 10 minute scramble to find their own COOL DESIGN examples. Dyads present & discuss their one-minute examples using the HEURISTIC DESIGN FRAMEWORK (10+10+20).



6:30-6:40 EST ASW presents DESIGNING DEXIGN: fifty year evolution of the design field & current trajectory 

6:40-7:00 EST Student dyads discuss DESIGNING DEXIGN evolution path
Please note: What is AW trying to express with this timeline? How successful/effective is he? Does this timeline help advance your understanding of the trajectory of design and its present state? In what way? Pros, Cons, Questions, Agree with, Disagree with, Don’t understand, Want to know more about. Each dyad presents their aggregated thoughts on DESIGNING DEXIGN (TA Scribes on PPT doc)

View timeline presentation with voice over at:  DESIGNING DEXIGN TIMELINE 3.key 

7:00 PS PRESENTS ASSIGNMENT 1 + CLASS DISCUSSES. All general discussion about the course, student expectations, questions, concerns




Moyer, D. (2010). The Napkin Sketch Workbook. Blurb Books. San Francisco

Designers reading for understanding: Concept maps and beyond. Using Don Moyer’s 17 Information Structures.

Students are expected to make sense of data and ideas and find stories they find interesting. One method involves asking the six questions (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, how). Another method involves sketching the relationships that exist between and among concepts, stakeholders, and issues, which helps students see a topic from multiple perspectives and determine other research questions.  Moyer’s seventeen ways to structure information:  (Moyer, 2010).

  1. Just show it relies on making a drawing of physical things that are easier to understand through a drawing than a verbal description of the relationship between parts (e.g., how to set a table, the parts to a watch).
  2. Blob diagrams (a form of Venn diagrams) illustrate boundaries and overlaps and relationships between things.
  3. Hierarchies show the relationship between president and staff, parents and children, and so forth.
  4. Timelines order events on a linear scale.
  5. Vignettes through time show key details through time much like comics, graphic novels, storyboards, and movies.
  6. Quantity graphs such as line graphs, bar charts, and pie charts tell stories about quantities.
  7. Location maps show things in relationship to each other in space.
  8. Process diagrams illustrate the sequence of steps in many natural or artificial systems (e.g, distribution chain).
  9. Stock and flow diagrams illustrate mechanisms and flows in complex systems (e.g., worked hours, billable hours, and cash on hand).
  10. Swimlane diagrams show processes over time with multiple actors; each actor is represented as a lane; this type of diagram shows who does what, and where handovers between actors occur.
  11. Decision trees explain complex topics by diagraming answers to questions; binary decision trees use yes/no questions to map decisions.
  12. Web of connections describe the connections between actors, things, organizations, and places; usually such stories are easier to show than describe.
  13. Gradients show the order of ideas between two extremes (e.g., shades of grey between white and black).
  14. Two gradient matrix allows to compare two gradients at a time (e.g., cost and awards)
  15. Comparisons involves comparing two or more elements (e.g., Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde).
  16. Metaphors use what people understand to explain something that they do not; (e.g., life as a journey).
  17. And finally, combos is using two or more structures described so far together (e.g., placing bar graphs on a map to show sales per city).     (Moyer, 2010)

While Moyer describes his information structures as aiding the visualization of big ideas. Students can use the structures to identify what they know about a topic (i.e., known knows) and in what areas they needed to do more research (i.e., known unknowns). For example, students can use simple information structures, such as a timeline, to visualize their current understanding of the evolution of the topic. The goal of making the timeline is to determine what they know about the topic, and what they do not know, and would like to learn. The act of making the timeline sketch allows students to visualize their knowledge and gaps in knowledge as well.


REFERENCE & RESOURCES for further exploration:


1. Articulate differences in the design practice as it relates to design 1.0, design 2.0, and design 3.0.

2. Articulate the kind of design practice that one is most familiar with, and the kind of design practice one aspires to explore in the course.

3. Use concept mapping to represent information from an interview.

4. Use 2×2 matrices to visualize information on Design 1.0 – 3.0.

5. Practice presenting current understanding of research materials to class.


Students view online, browse & download the following references:

Everyone reads/browses

– Collective Invention: What We Believe

– Collective Invention Web Site  

Team 1


Team 2

– Collective Invention FamilyofYou Booklet 

Team 3

– Collective Invention 2012 Retrospective

Team 4

– Collective Invention LIFE 2050 Online Overview

Team 5

– Collective Invention at SOCAP Sweden


Prepare to discuss in teleconference with Collective Invention (CI) principals: Erika Gregory, CI President and Fiona Hovenden, VP for Research.

What are your reactions, thoughts, questions. What we like, don’t like, question, would change, agree with, disagree with, don’t understand, want to know more about. Compare, Contrast, Evaluate, Good/Not good about Collective Invention  and their work vs other innovation consultancies you know about. Compare & contrast with design work, projects, methods, tools you are familiar with; your own interests, aspirations for your own design career.

Everyone is expected to read and discuss your assigned readings. Take notes on each reading and bring your notes to class.  When reading, consider the following questions:

  • What are the three most important points?
  • How are these points relevant to you as a designer?
  • Was there anything in the assigned reading that confused you? What was it?
  • Would you recommend this reading to a colleague? Why or why not?
  • How does this reading relate to the design projects you are working on?
  • What are some limitations to the ideas in each reading? Does it apply in general cases or in particular ones? What are the exceptions?

OTHER REFERENCES & SOURCES: Readings, Presentations, Videos, Links, Docs, Reference:


DESIGNING DESIGN Text, Voice-over Narration – Arnold Wasserman

The story of the evolution of how designers think and work is to a great extent the story of who we hung out with.

Historically, Design has evolved less from the center than at the edges where we bumped up against practitioners from other disciplines.

In the 1950s and 60s, we worked mainly with engineers to create stuff.

Beginning in the 70s we linked up with marketers to sell stuff.

In the 70s there was also a fashion for design entrepreneurship. Some of us began to collaborate with business professionals.

Around 1980 we began hanging out with human factors specialists, psychologists and sociologists.

In the 80s we began to radically extend the reach of the field. Designers became purposively interdisciplinary, working with anthropologists, cultural ethnographers, software engineers, media developers, corporate strategic planners, other specialists in computer-human interaction (the human factors side) and human computer interaction (the computer science, technology, software side.) Isn’t that silly given the big overlap?

From the 90s to the present we have become highly  . A designer today will be fluent not only in traditional product and graphic design (some wags call it “toasters and posters”) but also in Interaction Design, Experience Design and Communication, Planning & Information Design.

Since the mid-90s, we spend time with operations management, organizational design and knowledge management specialists. Some of us linked up with systems strategists and future scenario planners, finding we have a role to play in bringing 30,000 ft. long horizon strategic scenarios down to ground level so that organizations would know what to do about them starting monday morning.

During the past decade, designers have increasingly moved toward leadership in social activism, change-agency and entrepreneurial innovation in the public and civil sectors. So the evolutionary trajectory of design over the past half century looks like this:

From Artifact-Centric to Human-Centric to Socio-Centric

From Things to People+Things to Complex Socio-Technical Systems

From the design of Content to Content in Context to the design of Contexts

…and… to use conceptual frames that we will apply in this course: design has evolved From Intuition to Insight to Farsight to Forsight to Topsight.

What design does over the next half century is entirely up to you.

Those designers that choose to work further up the evolutionary ladder will be addressing more broadly defined, complex and diverse projects in an era of turbulence, disruption, exponential change…and golden design opportunity.

It is the purpose of this course to explore the design proficiencies required to design the future in exponential times.

Which is not to say that the earlier modalities of design have disappeared. It is quite okay to create artifacts out of your personal intuition if that is what interests you. Not every designer has to design the future of the world. Just be aware that every design act from now on will in some measure be refracted through all the forces above it on the evolutionary ladder.

To borrow a model from Field Theory, each higher field on this continuum extends the fields below it and each lower field is embedded in the fields above. The mathematical expression of that idea would be 3/2/1.

Which brings us to two final ideas to keep in mind as we proceed:

1. Neither the evolutionary path of design nor its present state are so neatly linear as I show here. A more apt representation would be an interdependent all-to-all holographic web, like Indra’s Net, the Buddhist model of universal interconnectedness in which every node reflects all other nodes.

2. Design is an annoyingly shape-shifting pursuit. In its ambiguity Design can be a product or a procedural methodology or a way of thinking – or all of these at once. While doing design certainly requires specialized domain expertise, it is unlike other technical professions like, say, law, medicine, engineering or computer science. Design is not the exclusive province of credentialed designers with an official Big D stamped on their foreheads. Construed broadly, as Herb Simon says, “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”

And we designers only further blur the epistemological boundaries of design by working as hard as we can to give away our most valuable asset – Design Thinking – to anybody that will have it.

And that is where we stand today in the continuing project of Designing Design.



For the first half of my life as a designer I thought about design as a series of problems to be solved. For the second half I thought about design as interesting questions to be asked. The shift did not necessarily make my design work more brilliant. But the shift from problems to questions certainly made my life more interesting. It led me onto paths i would never have encountered otherwise – like doing 6 startups (3 hits, 2 misses, 1 draw). It made my life international. It led me to work on projects along the complete spectrum of design fields from ground level to 30,000 foot level.  If you think of this course as a problem to solve you probably wont get a lot out of it. Think of it rather as an exploration for interesting questions to ask        – Arnold Wasserman



How do you define a space? Take a physical space like this Graduate Design Studio. You define it by its dimensions. Not only by its most obvious dimensions, like its length, width and height, but by a plethora of other dimensions. For example, what are its sensory attributes – light, air, temperature, smell, acoustics. Or aesthetics – color texture, tactility. Or its affective factors – how it makes you feel, is it welcoming? Comfortable? Energizing? Aversive? Are the proxemics of the space Sociofugal or Sociopetal? What about its utility? What is its intended use and how well or poorly does it afford usefulness and usability? What about legibility? Is the room intuitively self-explicating or does it require a lot of instructions? Then there is the whole technological infrastructure of the space – and how well the technology affords the desired social dynamics of the learning programme. What about the economics of the space? The cost/value of building, running and maintaining it? Are there political dimensions to do with scheduling, administration, priority? Amenities? Spaces for intensive privacy, collaborative teamwork, serendipitous encounter?



Now imagine the dimensions required to describe a more complex space, like a city in all its physical, social, economic and political complexity. Or how about a conceptual space like Life in 2050? Or a problem space like designing Pittsburgh 3.0?

To help me tackle the space of complex design problems, with their myriad dimensions – some well defined, but more ill-defined – I have developed a kind of shorthand framework, a small superset of rule-of-thumb dimensions or heuristics shown in this HEURISTIC DESIGN FRAMEWORK.                                                           – Arnold Wasserman






Every designer knows that you have to do three iterations of a product to get the one that is ready for release –  “ship it.” Here is why. Version 1.0 is based on fuzzy assumptions, constraints and definition of requirements. You can’t know how incomplete or faulty they are until you have something in hand to try out. Incorporating that knowledge, you figure Version 2.0 will be the right one. And 2.0 does indeed work pretty well. But it turns out to have unforseen side effects, epiphenomena and exogenous variables that you did not anticipate. So you need Version 3.0 that accommodates and manages for those externalities.

These days, the demarcation between 2.0 and 3.0 has morphed into Perpetual Beta. Version 2.0 is released to get feedback from the field (think Siri or Google Glass) and rapid rolling upgrades give rise to a “satisficing” 3.0.

If you think about it, our current civilizational disagreements can be viewed as a contest among those who would like go back to World 1.0 (independent clans and tribes ruled by chieftains and witch doctors), those who think World 2.0 was quite good enough thank you (the scientific, economic, and political revolution stretching from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution to the democratic [more or less] capitalism of today). Finally there are those who insist that 2.0  needs crucial upgrades to World 3.0 – NOW!                                      – Arnold Wasserman



Herb Simon distinguished between well-defined and ill-defined problems. A well defined problem has a pre-determined structure, a step by step procedure. You fill in the quantities and, like an algorithm, it outputs an end state. An ill-defined problem, sometimes called a “wicked” problem, has unclear structure, no predetermined procedure, no correct answer. In order to discover the shape and boundaries of the problem space, says Simon, you have to “go in anywhere” and work your way through by trial and error.



“A strategy is a plan of action for maximizing one’s strengths AGAINST the forces at work in the COMPETITIVE environment”                                                                         –  Kenichi Ohmae, The Mind of the Strategist, 1982

“A strategy is a plan of action for maximizing one’s strengths WITH the forces at work in the OPERATING environment”                                                                                           –  Arnold Wasserman, 1996




Industrial Designers Play a Critical Role in Manufacturing, Technology, and Innovation:  Results from a New Research Report from the National Endowment for the Arts

What do you think of this report? Does it reflect your idea of design today? What is good about it? What is missing? What clues are there here for our project of DEXIGN THE FUTURE: Life2050 in PGH 3.0? See report PDF here:  Valuing-Industrial-Design, NEA REPORT

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