Designing and Deceiving

"In English, the word design is both a noun and a verb (which tells one a lot about the nature of the English language). As a noun, it means—among other things “intention,” “plan,” “intent,” “aim,” “scheme,” “plot,” “motif,” “basic structure,” all these (and other meanings) being connected with “cunning” and “deception.” As a verb (“to design”), meanings include “to concoct something,” “to simulate,” “to draft,” “to sketch,” “to fashion,” ‘to have designs on something.” The word is derived from the Latin signum, meaning “sign,” and shares the same ancient root. Thus, etymologically, design means “de-sign.” This raises the question: How has the word design come to achieve its present-day significance throughout the world? This question is not a historical one, in the sense of sending one off to examine texts for evidence of when and where the word came to be established in its present-day meaning. It is a semantic question, in the sense of causing one to consider precisely why this word has such significance attached to it in contemporary discourse about culture."(Flusser, The Shape of Things)

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Design for Dasein Launch

Those of you on the mailing list has likely already heard that my book, Dasein for Dasein, was released last week. Even a full week later, I am excited/nervous/relieved to have it out in the world. 

I wrote Design for Dasein contribute to an intellectual history of experience design. The field has grown a lot in the past decades, but I fear that market pressures are forcing many designers into hyper-productive, technical positions, resulting in an implicit (or sometimes explicit) mindset that experience design must be combined with a "productive" task in order to be useful. If we disagree with this sentiment, it follows that we must then articulate the other parts of experience design not beholden (or at least less beholden) to technical production—specifically, the experience part. My book attempts to do this by pulling from phenomenology, design thinking, design theory, and object studies to articulate the relationship between design and experience.

I spent about 5-6 months simply outlining the book. I tend to write linearly (it's about the only thing I do linearly), so I am lost without a good outline. Once that was completed, the next 9-10 months were spent writing. I edited it twice myself and paid an editor to read it and provide suggestions. I've wanted to write a book for many years, but—similar to what has prevented me from ever getting a tattoo—I could never decide on the right topic, which of course needs to be large enough in scope to warrant an entire book-length examination but not so long that one gets lost. Writing the first six chapters came easy...almost too easy. While many authors find the writing process quite grueling, it became one of my favorite things to do, and I would often put off paid client work so I can write. However, that is not to say there weren't challenges; it's just that the challenges are also pleasurable in their own way.

The book is self-published, which allows me more control but also limits my distribution. For my next book (which I'm contemplating now), I think I will pitch publishers. For this one, I chose to self-publish because I wanted to control the content and direction of the book, and I was not concerned about making money or having massive distribution—although, of course more distribution is better. 

Print and Kindle editions are available on Amazon. If you decide to pick up a copy, I would love to hear what you think either in the reviews or via email (thomas at designfordasein dot com). I welcome both compliments and critique.

IXDA Discussions

Things have been quiet here on Praxicum as I get closer to finishing the first draft of Design for Dasein. But I wanted to share some news for the interaction designers here. The IXDA recently launched Discussions, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a place for designers to discuss and debate. There is even a Theory section. 

I've often felt that there was plenty of discourse happening in the IxD community, but there were not many places for it to live publically. It's nice to see IXDA help make those places.