Art or (Rocket) Science

24 Aug 2007 - 2:36pm
7 years ago
30 replies
2958 reads
Cwodtke
2004

Also in B&A, this article caught my eye
http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/design-is-rocket
especially this phrase
"In some ways, Interaction Design the practice is a field that seems
obsessed with process over product. Experience has taught me that if
overall the team lacks creative and artistic skills, the product is
doomed to become unfriendly or inelegant. "

I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
scientist-practitioners

David Malouf wrote:
> Well it is finally published. I think 2 years ago I suggested this
> idea to the B&A web site and they got back to me like 6 months later
> and then it took me forever to actually write it. Well, here it is:
>
> http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/foundations-of
>
>

--
Christina Wodtke
Principal Instigator
415-577-2550

Business :: http://www.cucinamedia.com
Magazine :: http://www.boxesandarrows.com
Product :: http://www.publicsquarehq.com
Personal :: http://www.eleganthack.com
Book :: http://www.blueprintsfortheweb.com

cwodtke at eleganthack.com

Comments

24 Aug 2007 - 2:39pm
Mark Schraad
2006

definitely not artist/craftsperson

On Aug 24, 2007, at 3:36 PM, Christina Wodtke wrote:

> Also in B&A, this article caught my eye
> http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/design-is-rocket
> especially this phrase
> "In some ways, Interaction Design the practice is a field that seems
> obsessed with process over product. Experience has taught me that if
> overall the team lacks creative and artistic skills, the product is
> doomed to become unfriendly or inelegant. "
>
> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
> scientist-practitioners
>
>
> David Malouf wrote:
>> Well it is finally published. I think 2 years ago I suggested this
>> idea to the B&A web site and they got back to me like 6 months later
>> and then it took me forever to actually write it. Well, here it is:
>>
>> http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/foundations-of
>>
>>
>
> --
> Christina Wodtke
> Principal Instigator
> 415-577-2550
>
>
> Business :: http://www.cucinamedia.com
> Magazine :: http://www.boxesandarrows.com
> Product :: http://www.publicsquarehq.com
> Personal :: http://www.eleganthack.com
> Book :: http://www.blueprintsfortheweb.com
>
> cwodtke at eleganthack.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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24 Aug 2007 - 2:42pm
Kevin Silver1
2006

I consider myself a designer! A great quote from Dan Saffer's book:

“Interaction design’s strongest ties are to the discipline of design—
not to, say human-computer interaction or cognitive psychology,
although it does draw heavily on those fields. Interaction designers
are designers, for good or ill.”—Dan Saffer

kevin

On Aug 24, 2007, at 1:36 PM, Christina Wodtke wrote:

> Also in B&A, this article caught my eye
> http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/design-is-rocket
> especially this phrase
> "In some ways, Interaction Design the practice is a field that seems
> obsessed with process over product. Experience has taught me that if
> overall the team lacks creative and artistic skills, the product is
> doomed to become unfriendly or inelegant. "
>
> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
> scientist-practitioners
>
>
> David Malouf wrote:
>> Well it is finally published. I think 2 years ago I suggested this
>> idea to the B&A web site and they got back to me like 6 months later
>> and then it took me forever to actually write it. Well, here it is:
>>
>> http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/foundations-of
>>
>>
>
> --
> Christina Wodtke
> Principal Instigator
> 415-577-2550
>
>
> Business :: http://www.cucinamedia.com
> Magazine :: http://www.boxesandarrows.com
> Product :: http://www.publicsquarehq.com
> Personal :: http://www.eleganthack.com
> Book :: http://www.blueprintsfortheweb.com
>
> cwodtke at eleganthack.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

Kevin Silver
Clearwired Web Services

10899 Montgomery, Suite C
Albuquerque, NM 87109

office: 505.217.3505
toll-free: 866.430.2832
fax: 505.217.3506

e: kevin at clearwired.com
w: www.clearwired.com

24 Aug 2007 - 2:59pm
LukeW
2004

198% informed craftsman.
that's data + creativity = informed craft.

>> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
>> scientist-practitioners

::
:: Luke Wroblewski -[ www.lukew.com ]
:: Principal/Founder, LukeW Interface Designs
:: luke at lukew.com | 408.513.7207
::
:: Blog: http://www.lukew.com/ff/
:: Book: http://www.lukew.com/resources/site_seeing.html
::

24 Aug 2007 - 3:01pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Definitely not scientist!
artist-practitioner works. ;)

Seriously, I think the issue is that there IS magic going on in
design. while it can be informed by measurable means, it is still a
product of neurons interacting in unexplainable ways. We use process
as a means of guiding creativity so that we make deadlines and
address the measurable, but in the end design is not scientific. Not
when it is done really well. My favorite designs come from spirits &
souls, not from calculators.

Our process is also something that we use to help collaborators join
in, or otherwise feel like we aren't wasting their money. 8-) its a
feel good easy to communicate part of what we do.

Our processes are also used as a means of catalyzing our creativity.
Probably the most important reason for process.

When I talk about design processes, I'm trying to exclude research
of any kind as design can and does happen without research (should is
a different question).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=19742

24 Aug 2007 - 3:04pm
Morten Hjerde
2007

To me "Artist" is about emotionally driven self-expression and I try to keep
that stuff outside business hours :-) "Practitioner" sounds a bit anemic.

I'm a Craftsman-Scientist :-) For a Craftsman to become a Master Craftsman,
he must also be a Scientist.

Look out honey, cause i'm using technology!
--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

24 Aug 2007 - 3:18pm
Casey Krub
2007

I have actually had this same conversation recently with a fiber group I
belong to (knitters, weavers, feltmakers, spinners, etc).

Many of us follow patterns/instructions created by others. Consensus in
this group seems to be that folks who create the patterns themselves, or
create items without any pattern are "artists".

Folks who follow patterns (even if they modify the pattern) consider
themselves "technicians". Mostly because this group understands how hard
pattern making is and don't feel that there is as much creative effort
required to pick out a pattern to follow.

Funny thing is - that in our collective experience - outsiders (folks who
do not make things like we do) are amazed at our ability to create and
consider us all to be artists. And this praise makes technicians a little
uncomfortable.

Everyone was at peace with the term "craftsman" (craftsperson,
craftswoman). But this is mostly because the items/activities this group is
focused on can be categorized as "crafts" by insiders and out.

-Casey

On 8/24/07, Christina Wodtke <cwodtke at eleganthack.com> wrote:
>
> Also in B&A, this article caught my eye
> http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/design-is-rocket
> especially this phrase
> "In some ways, Interaction Design the practice is a field that seems
> obsessed with process over product. Experience has taught me that if
> overall the team lacks creative and artistic skills, the product is
> doomed to become unfriendly or inelegant. "
>
> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
> scientist-practitioners
>
>
> David Malouf wrote:
> > Well it is finally published. I think 2 years ago I suggested this
> > idea to the B&A web site and they got back to me like 6 months later
> > and then it took me forever to actually write it. Well, here it is:
> >
> > http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/foundations-of
> >
> >
>
> --
> Christina Wodtke
> Principal Instigator
> 415-577-2550
>
>
> Business :: http://www.cucinamedia.com
> Magazine :: http://www.boxesandarrows.com
> Product :: http://www.publicsquarehq.com
> Personal :: http://www.eleganthack.com
> Book :: http://www.blueprintsfortheweb.com
>
> cwodtke at eleganthack.com
>

24 Aug 2007 - 2:44pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Aug 24, 2007, at 3:36 PM, Christina Wodtke wrote:

> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
> scientist-practitioners

Artist/craftsmen aren't the terms I would use, but having come from
a Graphic Design background, yes, I do lean towards that end of the
spectrum.

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

When I am working on a problem,
I never think about beauty.
I think only of how to solve the problem.

But when I have finished,
if the solution is not beautiful,
I know it is wrong.

- R. Buckminster Fuller

24 Aug 2007 - 3:32pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
> scientist-practitioners

Half and half. There's plenty of science behind interaction design, but
pure, left-brained science can't account for all the creativity required to
do it well.

-r-

24 Aug 2007 - 3:39pm
Peyush Agarwal
2007

I must mildly digress here. Back in school, we designed a T-shirt that said "Architecture IS rocket science!" to assert that designing architecture is an activity as complex and multi-interdependent (creative English?) as rocket building. That all the seeming art that sometimes outsiders see actually requires a large science prerequisite in order to create design alchemy.

I feel the same way about Interaction Design, though the field hasn't had a few thousand years to get technology down (vs. building with bricks and stone) or even a couple of hundred years (vs. building in glass and concrete). The activity is already reasonably complex, but not only because there are so many user-facing variables, but a lot because of fast-changing, highly variable building material (technology and tools). And it decidedly requires a person to be as 'balance-brained' with equal use of left and right hemispheres as architecture.

So I'd say I consider myself artist/craftsman-scientist!

-Peyush

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of David malouf
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2007 2:02 PM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Art or (Rocket) Science

Definitely not scientist!
artist-practitioner works. ;)

Seriously, I think the issue is that there IS magic going on in
design. while it can be informed by measurable means, it is still a
product of neurons interacting in unexplainable ways. We use process
as a means of guiding creativity so that we make deadlines and
address the measurable, but in the end design is not scientific. Not
when it is done really well. My favorite designs come from spirits &
souls, not from calculators.

24 Aug 2007 - 3:49pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

Skewed to the artist/craftsman edge. I'm happy that there are design
researchers and academics, and I'm especially happy when you share your
results in easily-digestible nibbles that even those of us in the far
quadrant can understand. I appreciate the many references to books, field
studies, and research findings in this forum. You guys are a constant source
of new things to read and learn from.

I continue to think of design as a team sport, and can imagine the strongest
teams having both research-trending and craft-trending designers on board.

Michael Micheletti

On 8/24/07, Christina Wodtke <cwodtke at eleganthack.com> wrote:
>
>
> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
> scientist-practitioners
>
>

24 Aug 2007 - 4:06pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Aug 24, 2007, at 12:36 PM, Christina Wodtke wrote:

> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
> scientist-practitioners

I'm surprised that people on this list didn't call you to task for
neglecting to define what an "artist/craftsmen" was versus a
"scientist-practitioner." I mean... hell... you even used a slash
with one and a dash with the other. How much more vague can you get
Xtina?!

Oh wait... this isn't the IA list... getting my HCI/IxDA/UX/IA
acronyms screwed up again. Oh well... it *is* Friday.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

24 Aug 2007 - 4:01pm
Peter Boersma
2003

David wrote:
> [..] We use process
> as a means of guiding creativity so that we make deadlines and
> address the measurable...

I use process to make the design solution space smaller and the resulting design more likely to fit the problem(s).
And yes, preferably in a repeatable, communicable, measurable and predictable way.

> ...but in the end design is not scientific.

I was taught that the scientific process works in the same way as described above. Would that mean science isn't scientific? ;-)

Peter
--
Peter Boersma | Senior Interaction Designer | Info.nl
http://www.peterboersma.com/blog | http://www.info.nl

24 Aug 2007 - 4:11pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

Craft-person infused with science and artistry. Alas, my area, speech
interfaces, gets a bit of negative light.

> I think the issue is that there IS magic going on in
design. - Dave Malouf

Magic. Very appropriate. I consider that we straddle fields, like the
"experience designers" mentioned in this article.

http://tinyurl.com/2kzv3c

Phillip

24 Aug 2007 - 4:12pm
Chris Pallé
2007

Certainly artist/craftsmen. "Scientist" has a cold edge to it. I
think "design" falls into that category too. While it is design that
we're practicing, I'd consider "craftsmanship" the aspiration. The
term connotes something greater.

Even between artisan and craftsman there is a distinction, though. A
craftsman produces something inspiring and evokes emotion. An artist
can create something that that's inspiring and emotionally
provocative, but they don't necessarily put the same consideration
into their finished work (e.g expressionism).

I just always imagine a "craftsperson," tooling away on their piece
of work after thoughtful consideration and design.

So, maybe design is the predecessor to craft?

Designers create... designs. And before you smack me, let me say that
those very designs may very well have that awesome positive emotional
impact on someone and be inspiring and be a masterful work, but, not
all design meets the criteria to be considered a _crafted_ piece of
work... i can show you my archive of design sketches if you don't
believe me ;-P

chris.pallé, {human} experience design
--------------------------------------------------------
blue flame interactive
732.513.3570
chris.palle at blueflameinteractive.com
http://blueflameinteractive.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrispalle

On Aug 24, 2007, at 4:49 PM, Michael Micheletti wrote:

>> I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
>> scientist-practitioners

24 Aug 2007 - 4:15pm
Douglas Brashear
2007

Hello all,

This discussion, and the seemingly timeless debate between design and
development in our trade, reminds me of the occasional disconnect
between architects and those responsible for building out their designs,
general contractors and mechanical trades.

My wife is a PM at a general contractor in the DC area...she can recite
countless anecdotes of architects not detailing designs to the required
level, or (for example) proposing impossible ceiling heights that
overlook the need for ductwork, lighting and mechanical system
essentials. Of course she has also worked with some excellent architects
whose work required nearly no additional detailing. I'm constantly
working out the similarities between her industry and ours in my head.

I'd love to find one of those shirts for her, though ;-)

Have great weekends, all,

- Doug
_________________________
Doug Brashear
Senior Information Architect
NavigationArts, LLC
703.584.8933 (office)
703.725.8031 (mobile)
dbrashear at navigationarts.com

24 Aug 2007 - 4:28pm
Kelly Muñiz
2007

I agree, both disciplines seem to face similar communication
challenges. I just read a post (discussing MS Expression Studio)
that touched on this. To quote:

"This reminded me of one of the main issues that prompted me to go
into software instead of architecture after getting my professional
degree in architecture: the problem was the in order for a three-
dimensional design to be created in three dimensions, it needed to be
abstracted into paper (blueprints). Going from 3- to 2- to 3-
dimensions is inefficient, inexact, and therefore problematic. But
that process is a standard practice all over the world for getting
buildings built. One architect, Frank Gehry found a way around the
3-2-3 problem by keeping the building model digital from design to
construction. That enabled the kinds of designs like the Bilbao
Guggenheim museum."

You can find the rest here: http://blogs.msdn.com/synergist/

Kelly

On Aug 24, 2007, at 2:15 PM, Douglas Brashear wrote:

>
> Hello all,
>
> This discussion, and the seemingly timeless debate between design and
> development in our trade, reminds me of the occasional disconnect
> between architects and those responsible for building out their
> designs,
> general contractors and mechanical trades.
>
> My wife is a PM at a general contractor in the DC area...she can
> recite
> countless anecdotes of architects not detailing designs to the
> required
> level, or (for example) proposing impossible ceiling heights that
> overlook the need for ductwork, lighting and mechanical system
> essentials. Of course she has also worked with some excellent
> architects
> whose work required nearly no additional detailing. I'm constantly
> working out the similarities between her industry and ours in my head.
>
> I'd love to find one of those shirts for her, though ;-)
>
> Have great weekends, all,
>
> - Doug
> _________________________
> Doug Brashear
> Senior Information Architect
> NavigationArts, LLC
> 703.584.8933 (office)
> 703.725.8031 (mobile)
> dbrashear at navigationarts.com
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

24 Aug 2007 - 4:37pm
jayeffvee
2007

Surely you weren't suggesting that science is *creative*, now were you,
Peter? We all know that there is a hard wall of bone between both
hemispheres of the brain, is there not?

Oh, wait -- that would make lobotomies unnecessary if that were true...

Sorry, all -- it's late on Friday, and I'm getting very silly.

I lean towards art/craft, and then normally get really teed-off when the
people around me aren't analytical enough... My personal creative
process is to construct a big, tall scaffold of theory and evidence, and
then once that is built I get on my hang-glider-of-intuition and jump
off the top of the scaffold. I seem to need to do a lot of thinking and
testing before I let myself fly. But fly I do, eventually. And the
scaffold is about the flying, actually. So, art/craft for me.

-----Original Message-----

<<I was taught that the scientific process works in the same way as
described above. Would that mean science isn't scientific? ;-) >>

24 Aug 2007 - 4:52pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Aug 24, 2007, at 5:37 PM, Vermette, Joan wrote:

> My personal creative
> process is to construct a big, tall scaffold of theory and
> evidence, and
> then once that is built I get on my hang-glider-of-intuition and jump
> off the top of the scaffold. I seem to need to do a lot of
> thinking and
> testing before I let myself fly. But fly I do, eventually. And the
> scaffold is about the flying, actually.

That's a very poetic metaphor, Joan. Nicely said—especially
considering it's Friday.

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

First, recognize that the ‘right’ requirements
are in principle unknowable by users, customers
and designers at the start.

Devise the design process, and the formal
agreement between designers and customers and users,
to be sensitive to what is learnt by any of the
parties as the design evolves.

- J.C. Jones

24 Aug 2007 - 6:07pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I think there is lots of overlap in the processes of science and
design, however, design is never objective, and never claims
objectivity. Design is emotional and irrational and guided by gut.

To Morten, I totally disagree that design differs from art b/c design
is not emotional. The best designs in the world all play to and are
inspired by emotion. Intent is the main difference between art and
design. Intention of the creator and intention of the customer.

-- dave

On 8/24/07, Peter Boersma <peter at peterboersma.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> David wrote:
> > [..] We use process
> > as a means of guiding creativity so that we make deadlines and
> > address the measurable...
>
> I use process to make the design solution space smaller and the resulting
> design more likely to fit the problem(s).
> And yes, preferably in a repeatable, communicable, measurable and
> predictable way.
>
> > ...but in the end design is not scientific.
>
> I was taught that the scientific process works in the same way as described
> above. Would that mean science isn't scientific? ;-)
>
> Peter
> --
> Peter Boersma | Senior Interaction Designer | Info.nl
> http://www.peterboersma.com/blog | http://www.info.nl

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

25 Aug 2007 - 3:19am
Morten Hjerde
2007

When the question is "do you consider yourself an artist" I tend to say no.
But I absolutely agree that emotion plays a huge part in design. Maybe the
term "artist" is too broad.

When Picasso used blue in his painting, its because of he wanted to express
his own emotions. When I use blue its because I want to achieve an emotional
effect in the user. I may use blue in a credit card registration form to
give a sense of calm, masculine, conservative, safe.

The difference between what Picasso was up to and what I am up to is pretty
significant :-)

> To Morten, I totally disagree that design differs from art b/c design
> is not emotional. The best designs in the world all play to and are
> inspired by emotion. Intent is the main difference between art and
> design. Intention of the creator and intention of the customer.
>

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

26 Aug 2007 - 8:42am
.pauric
2006

Chris Palle: "So, maybe design is the predecessor to craft?
Designers create... designs."

Definitely Design proceeds Craft* but I would say that Designers
create solutions, create the fundamental underpinnings on to which
they craft aspects of the presentation layer (functional or visual).

*Spool's rule applies.

Chris: "let me say that those very designs may very well have that
awesome positive emotional"

Let me pick up on the emotional theme. I believe that for a design
to illicit an emotional it has to come from
undefinable/unquantifiable nether region of the designer-cortex.

I rarely crack problems sitting at my desk. More often than not the
art/craft ideas come to me when I'm not focused on the problem.
Oddly, a lot of ideas come to me in the early morning as I wake up
and my conscious mind is in a twilight state, still talking to some
core back-end parts of the brain.

Chris, again:"i can show you my archive of design sketches if you
don't believe me"

To give an example, I was working on a issue of displaying network
utilisation on a small home router. I 'designed' this part of the
solution
http://flickr.com/photos/pauric/434301452/in/set-72157600026875384/
and crafted the presentation layer after getting some
emotional-connection/inspiration at a yard sale
http://flickr.com/photos/pauric/455867457/in/set-72157600026875384/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the improved ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=19742

26 Aug 2007 - 11:07am
Dan Saffer
2003

I've been giving this some thought and here is my answer. Interaction
design is both an art and a science, which is to say: it is a craft.

The science of interaction design is in the pieces of a product. We
know, for instance, that Fitts' Law can be observed and replicated (a
tenant of science). For instance, if you design a menu bar that
doesn't take Fitts' Law into account, you are probably guilty of bad
science. There are best practices we can draw upon. These pieces are
the objective parts of a design that usability engineers observe.

How those pieces fit together is where the artistry comes in. There
are millions of ways a product such as a website can be put together.
How that is chosen is determined by the artistry (skill, experience,
talent) of the designer. This is the more subjective part of the design.

Thus, interaction design is a craft like furniture making or
architecture. There is science involved, certainly, as there are
conventions and "rules" (repeatable, testable rules) to be followed
and broken only when there is a good reason. If you make a chair
that cannot support human weight, it is art, not a chair, but there
are tens of thousands of ways to make a chair. Interaction design is
an art in that we are not automatons cranking out products only
according to rules. We have a say in the aesthetics and composition
of the products we build. It is a craft, made by craftspeople,
combining science and art for (ideally) an aesthetically-pleasing
product that suits its context and obeys the best practices of our
craft (as we now understand them).

Dan

Dan Saffer, IDSA
Experience Design Director, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

26 Aug 2007 - 11:43am
Mark Schraad
2006

When I find myself looking up the definition of such words as art,
craft and science, it is obvious just how important semantics are to
this conversation. Those dictionary definitions have proven nearly
worthless to me in thinking about this conversation. More important
are our own personal interpretations and how they effect usage. Here
are some thoughts on each.

Art - the visual or conceptual representation of an artist's own
vision or perspective.

- I don't get much time to overtly or consciously place self
expression into what I do as a designer. I suppose that were I
designing fashion, or buildings that might be different. But I would
hope that the person consuming those items might inject more
influence into their final use.

Artist - a person expresses the above... or... a person that takes a
skill to a new level with unique characteristics that they and only
they can add. I think we all have some perspective on who they are.

- At times I have felt that I achieved this in design and there are
many people in interaction design who are able to do this.

Craft - the process and outcomes of a mature profession. I see craft
as repeatedly solving virtually the same problem the same way time
after time.

- I don't think we are at the stage of craft. We are to rapidly
evolving and changing. Our profession is hardly mature. I hope that I
am not solving these same problems in 30 years.

Science - the near absolute answer to a number of same problems. A +
B = C, always. When mix acetic acid with sodium bicarbonate, the
results are the same every time.

- while we barrow extensively from science, I do not believe that
what we do is science. Each time we define a situation or problem
they are slightly unique and heavily influenced by context. Context
is rarely reproducible. We do not have test tubes to adequately
isolate the elements of our heavily blended elements.

FWIW - I think this conversation has a lot of merit over time. But
for me it is helpful to think of it as a series of sketches...
iterative variations on the design. I think we are a long way from
seeing this 'define the damn thing' conversation result in a crisp
diagram that satisfies all or even most of us.

Mark

On Aug 26, 2007, at 12:07 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> I've been giving this some thought and here is my answer. Interaction
> design is both an art and a science, which is to say: it is a craft.
>
> The science of interaction design is in the pieces of a product. We
> know, for instance, that Fitts' Law can be observed and replicated (a
> tenant of science). For instance, if you design a menu bar that
> doesn't take Fitts' Law into account, you are probably guilty of bad
> science. There are best practices we can draw upon. These pieces are
> the objective parts of a design that usability engineers observe.
>
> How those pieces fit together is where the artistry comes in. There
> are millions of ways a product such as a website can be put together.
> How that is chosen is determined by the artistry (skill, experience,
> talent) of the designer. This is the more subjective part of the
> design.
>
> Thus, interaction design is a craft like furniture making or
> architecture. There is science involved, certainly, as there are
> conventions and "rules" (repeatable, testable rules) to be followed
> and broken only when there is a good reason. If you make a chair
> that cannot support human weight, it is art, not a chair, but there
> are tens of thousands of ways to make a chair. Interaction design is
> an art in that we are not automatons cranking out products only
> according to rules. We have a say in the aesthetics and composition
> of the products we build. It is a craft, made by craftspeople,
> combining science and art for (ideally) an aesthetically-pleasing
> product that suits its context and obeys the best practices of our
> craft (as we now understand them).

26 Aug 2007 - 12:56pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Aug 26, 2007, at 9:43 AM, Mark Schraad wrote:

> When I find myself looking up the definition of such words as art,
> craft and science, it is obvious just how important semantics are to
> this conversation.

Wow, Mark, you did just what Andrei predicted someone would do two
days ago:

On Aug 24, 2007, at 2:06 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
> I'm surprised that people on this list didn't call you to task for
> neglecting to define what an "artist/craftsmen" was versus a
> "scientist-practitioner."

:)

26 Aug 2007 - 2:18pm
jamin
2007

I think the original question was wrong.

I'm curious if you consider yourselves artist/craftsmen or more
scientist-practitioners

It assumes those are the two choices. I believe someone said it
above, but I consider myself to be a designer, which has both
elements of art and design. But I do not think of myself as either an
artist or a scientist.

When discussing interaction design in relationship to art and
science, it might be better to discuss design in general, as
interaction design is merely a subset, and make sure we are not
treading on covered territory. While interaction design is new,
design has a greater history.

Also, work within art, science, or design, is not always exclusive of
each other.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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26 Aug 2007 - 2:20pm
Chris Pallé
2007

Actually, I did it months ago and shared about it on ALA, my blog,
here, and behind top-secret closed doors.</horntoot> :-P

Seriously, though, since this is a semantics discussion, I would
encourage everyone to hit the thesauri and not the dictionaries. It's
a bit easier to get the *feeling* of words and their subjective
meanings as opposed to what we get from the hard-nosed dictionary defs.

Just a thought :-)
CP

chris.pallé, {human} experience design
--------------------------------------------------------
blue flame interactive
732.513.3570
chris.palle at blueflameinteractive.com
http://blueflameinteractive.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrispalle

On Aug 26, 2007, at 1:56 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

>
> On Aug 26, 2007, at 9:43 AM, Mark Schraad wrote:
>
>> When I find myself looking up the definition of such words as art,
>> craft and science, it is obvious just how important semantics are to
>> this conversation.
>
> Wow, Mark, you did just what Andrei predicted someone would do two
> days ago:
>
>
> On Aug 24, 2007, at 2:06 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>> I'm surprised that people on this list didn't call you to task for
>> neglecting to define what an "artist/craftsmen" was versus a
>> "scientist-practitioner."
>
>
> :)
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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26 Aug 2007 - 4:10pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Herbert Simon classified design as a "Science of the Artificial." I
think it's an interesting distinction.

The University of Cincinnatti offers Masters of Science degrees in
Design. On the other end of the spectrum RISD frames their degrees as
Masters of Fine Arts. There's a continuum which individual
practitioners can reasonably embrace at several different points.
Carnegie Mellon, Simon's home until his death in 2001, splits the
difference by offering a Masters in Design. I'm unsurprisingly
aligned with that perspective.

// jeff

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Posted from the improved ixda.org
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26 Aug 2007 - 4:43pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Also, Alan Cooper has bemoaned recently that software is made like a
pre-industrial craft. He's speaking in terms of programming, but
there's an older article where he spends some time teasing apart the
distinction between art and craft. "...it's easy to confuse craft
with artistry." "Art can include craft, but the reverse isn't
true."

http://www.ftponline.com/vsm/2003_06/magazine/departments/softwarearchitect/

// jeff

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Posted from the improved ixda.org
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26 Aug 2007 - 6:15pm
Chris Pallé
2007

On Aug 26, 2007, at 5:43 PM, Jeff Howard wrote:

> Alan Cooper has bemoaned recently that software is made like a
> pre-industrial craft. He's speaking in terms of programming, but
> there's an older article where he spends some time teasing apart the
> distinction between art and craft. "...it's easy to confuse craft
> with artistry." "Art can include craft, but the reverse isn't
> true."

Thank you, Jeff for pulling out the the essential statement of that
article as it pertains to this discussion.

While I have reverence for Mr. Cooper and what he has accomplished by
his authoritative writings with Reimann and Cronin, I have to
respectfully disagree with this exploration. He is thoughtful of the
changing of terminology and meaning within historical context and I
agree about the neg. connotation during the mass-production
industries, but his conclusion in this article is myopic at best
because of the experience drawn off of the story of his father.

Cooper is right in that art can include craft; however, the
reciprocal is true as well. Craft can most certainly include
artistry. Cooper is saying that craftspeople have to work within the
constraints of specifics to their trade. "Thinking _within_ the Box"
as he alludes.

Craftspersons will regularly have to creatively solve problems
(design) as well as work through to build it out (craft). His analogy
may also be suffering from his myopic perspective because he has, at
this point in his life, become accustomed to working within teams who
have specific, well-defined deliverables.

Imagine the master luthier in his shop with his group of apprentices
designing and building out their custom, beautiful instruments. That
is certainly a craft, but all teamplayers could, and probably did,
have creative (i.e. artistic) contributions to the finished products.
This is true in a lot of artistic workshops. Many graphic design
shops, for example, have very similar arrangements. 37Signals is
another good example.

Point is, IAs, IxDs and other UX pros will still have opportunities
(sometimes we're even required because of our expertise) to
creatively solve problems once in final production. In these times,
we may have to break conventions and give artistic input and impact
aesthetics all the while still working our main UX craft.

chris.pallé, {human} experience design
--------------------------------------------------------
blue flame interactive
732.513.3570
chris.palle at blueflameinteractive.com
http://blueflameinteractive.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrispalle

28 Aug 2007 - 9:17am
Dave Malouf
2005

Chris I think you are making a confusion between craft-people and
craft. People never do one thing. Of course a craft-person is
creative and works outside of the box to solve unexpected problems.
But their focus is on implementation at a detailed level and not
solutions at a higher level.

To be great at craft is to be able to do a forgery of the Mona Lisa.
To be an artist is to to conceive of the Mona Lisa AND be able to
paint her in the first place.

Now, this is why there is the term "arts & craft". This is when a
craft-person is also fully embodied and capable of conceiving of a
vision and implementing it all the same. This is where the carpenter
becomes furniture designer.

To me a GUI developer is a great example of a crafts-man. The
designer hands the GUI Developer a specification for that person to
implement, but b/c of their knowledge of their craft often (way too
often) they have to devise solutions to problems actually caused
within the design itself.

further, there is great creativity used in engineering technically a
solution that scales over time (for example). Making code robust
enough to reduce failures is a major creative task, but again it is
about implementing the vision of another person.

Of course there is nothing stopping that developer from being their
own designer. That is a personal choice and a choice of the employer,
but the role of developer in this case is still as craft person.

-- dave

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