Search Results for “conversation”

Conversation Theory in One Hour


Gordon Pask at his desk in the late 1980s. Photograph (c) Paul Pangaro.

I was invited to give a presentation about Gordon Pask and his Conversation Theory at the annual conference of the American Society for Cybernetics in June 2016. My great friend and colleague, Jude Lombardi, has kindly produced and edited a video of my hour talk, which begins with an introduction to Pask as an experimentalist and “maker”. From this foundation Pask built a scientific theory of how conversation works, including a detailed formal “calculus of cognition.” He also offers the principle that consciousness is conserved in the same sense that physics says that matter and energy are conserved. Read more…

Workshop on Modeling Conversation

To understand conversation is to understand how we learn about the world and how we communicate and collaborate with others. Products and services can benefit from a better understanding of conversation. Designers benefit from understanding conversation better, because they can design for better conversations.

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Conversation Model by Minsun Mini Kim, SVA IxD MFA Grad. Click for full view.

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Frameworks for Interaction and Conversation

Banner for cybernetics course for designers

In the Fall 2016 Semester, CCS MFA Interaction Design is introducing a new elective, Frameworks for Interaction and Conversation.  It’s an in-depth course that explores cybernetic models of effective action that apply to design of software, services, products, entertainment, or organizations.  Read more…

Conversation about Information Design

Paul Pangaro, Chair of MFA Interaction Design, led a design class in a course called Information Design Theory and Critical Thinking, part of the Information Design and Visualization MFA program at Northeastern University. Twenty grad students in the course and other undergrads and faculty joined in the conversation. See these links for more about Paul’s approach to conversation as design and design for conversation.

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Design is Conversation

The paper “Cybernetics and Design: Conversations for Action” [PDF] has recently gone to print in a peer-reviewed journal. It offers a rationale for the position that design is conversation; perhaps a surprising idea, but the logic in the paper is rigorous. Cybernetics offers a foundation for 21st-century design practice, here is the core of it:

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A Model of Conversation

We converse every day—so why would we need a model of conversation? (First, you might want to review something about models.)

Conversation loop

Conversation diagram, after Dubberly Design Office

If you want to improve something—that is, engage in an act of designing—then it’s extremely helpful to understand well what it is your trying to improve. So, if you’re trying to improve conversation—whether in an organization or team or service or app—then it’s useful to have a model of conversation.

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Designing the first Design Conversation

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Let’s imagine we are the catalyst for starting a new project, some design challenge relating to a new app.

First, we all recognize the value of the participants in a conversation. We all experience the improvement in thinking and outcomes when we work with someone else. This seems to say, “more participants means better outcomes”—hah, you know that’s not such a good idea. Too many voices, too much distraction. So, how would we decide whom to have in that first conversation?

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The Future of Conversation (Generally)

This is a useful review by Jonathen Franzen called “Sherry Turkle’s ‘Reclaiming Conversation’”, about Turkle’s new book.

Franzen says “Conversation is Turkle’s organizing principle because so much of what constitutes humanity is threatened when we replace it with electronic communication.”
Turkle praises one user interface that, “instead of encouraging us to stay connected as long as possible, would encourage us to disengage.” But this is a utopian approach, not a pragmatic one.
Since today’s “electronic communication” is far from conversation, a pragmatic approach would be to make digital interfaces—which are inevitable in our lives, and ever more so, and for more of the world’s population—better at facilitating “human conversation.” While this may not answer all objections, it’s a way to manage “satisficing” our design goals.

Talking about The Future of Cybernetics

Cybernetics is often confused with robotics and AI, chip implants and biomechatronics, and more. Don’t want to disappoint you but cybernetics is none of those things (though it has a lot to say about all of them). Cybernetics is not freezing dead people, neither. (I’m hoping that’s less of a surprise. Maybe not.)

worlds fair nano

Worlds Fair Nano – March 2018 – San Francisco

Hoping to clear up all that confusion in 20 minutes, I’m giving a talk on Saturday, March 10th, 2018, at 2pm at Worlds Fair Nano in San Francisco. One thousand attendees expected (wow).

To speak about the future of cybernetics (as in this short video) is to speak about its past and present (requiring another short video). In an era that vacillates between rampant AI utopianism and rampant AI dystopianism, what does cybernetics have to offer our future? Read more…

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