Friday, April 25, 2008

Museum Goers: Curious

Answering Erik's Question:
Modularity does effect design. I was actually considering this yesterday- for our software design project, we've very clearly delineated into three sections, that could each be replaced individually, but each set of material is fairly standard. Thus subbing out the scripts to call data would be easy, but the data would still be in a very common MySQL Database. On the other side, making HTML webforms is pretty standard, and they can be easily changed to include PHP or something other language. Any individual piece can be changed without ruining the whole.

I think that modularity allows for iterative design- changing small things and then changing more small things. It seems like a great way to be able to change momentously without having anything be too scary at the time.

What IS Radical interdisciplinary Design?

Diana's speaking with us was interesting- it was the most structured of all of the presentations we have had thus far. It was also the most technical. One of the things that struck me about it was the fact that yes- design can be technical and engineering-y. We'd been discussing about how design tends to be between art and engineering, and this talk reminded me of why it is closer to engineering, from some lenses. The chaos equations are definitely something I regard as highly technical, and math-like, whereas music is an artform. The combination of the two was interesting, and definitely provided a new perspective on design.

At our discussion we also conversed about Artifical Intelligence and how that can also be construed as a type of interdisciplinary design- it's using technical concepts in order to illustrate psychology and other very human factors. By radically interdisciplinary design, were we actually referring to the gap between technical and human factors?

Why Design to be Radically Interdisciplinary?

Do people like it? Is it more interesting? Why? I think one of the things that tends to be appreciated is the "unexpected" and radical interdisciplinary design definintely falls in this spectrum. Why else? Life is radically interdisciplinary- you can't separate how your body works from what you're able to do with it. Your cells have limits, and thus you can only run so fast.

Also, how does interdisciplinary related to integrated? Life itself is integrated, you'll very rarely have someone in the real world come up to say "do this math problem." It's much more apt to be "find a solution this" and along the way you define the math and solve it yourself. It's a question of applicability, and you're sitll involving people along the way. I think the concept definitely ties into User Oriented Design, but also relating different fields. Designing something for a biology start up is different than designing for academia research labs, is different for designing for an elementary school science kit, even if all of them might be working with something basic, like blood testing or DNA.

What types of people find Radically Interdisciplinary things to be entertaining?

Olin students. All I can think about this is the entire war on ICB- and how integrated it should be. As well as how students clamor to take "Materials Science/Stuff of History." People love to learn the context for why they are doing what they're doing- it's motivation. Integrating things makes them both more real, more in the framework of life, and more memorable. Learning math and physics together gives you scenarios to apply the math in. Learning math and physics with a product in mind (antenna, CRT) shows you how and why products people ahve work the way they do.

I think this can more be generalized into "curious people." Curious people tend to want to know why the world works the way it does. These type of people are the kind of people who always want to learn more- taking classes, talking, being involved, going to museums...

So? What next?

Tonight I'm going to an event at the Museum of Science in Boston. The program is basically to help the museum figure out what appeals to adults and how to work with exhibits to keep them fresh and ineresting. My goal for the evening is to somehow spark a discussion about a radically interdisciplinary exhibit...

If there is one once they redo the museum, I will be proud.

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