Designing for Emergence

The Design Ecosystem: Designing for Emergence and Innovation II

In this paper, Beal Institute Chief Scientist Robert K. Logan and Director of Research Greg Van Alstyne explore the roles of designer, client, user, and other parties essential to the design process, and the relationships between them. The authors interrogate the interactions between bottom-up processes of emergence and those characteristically top-down activities of the designer that together give rise to a design ecosystem, capable of supporting the emergence of innovative design. They describe that environment in which the designer operates and characterize the design ecosystem’s dynamic, interdependent processes. Finally, they seek to understand the design of successful innovations of the past so as to be prescriptive about the future of design.

Designing for Emergence and Innovation: Redesigning Design

Greg Van Alstyne
Director of Research, Beal Institute for Strategic Creativity
Associate Professor, Ontario College of Art and Design
Robert K. Logan
Chief Scientist, Beal Institute for Strategic Creativity
Emeritus Professor, Department of Physics, University of Toronto

This paper reveals the surprising and counterintuitive truth that design is not always at the forefront of innovation; it is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the success of products and services. The authors argue that design must harness emergence, for it is only through this bottom-up and massively iterative, unfolding process that new and improved products and services are successfully refined, introduced and diffused into the marketplace.

Thackara on urban sprawl: "it just happens—or so it appears"

While we were participating with Alex Manu in building a thinkmap on car-driven cities, I thought about this great quotation from John Thakara's In the Bubble (Thackara, 2005, 5 or here

"We’re being swept into unknown and dangerous waters by accelerating economic growth.... Our natural, human, and industrial systems, which evolve slowly, are struggling to adapt. Laws and institutions that we might expect to regulate these flows have not been able to keep up.

"A good example is what is inaccurately described as mindless sprawl in our physical environment.

Designing Systems with Emergent Behavior at BayCHI

Thanks to Kelly for showing me this: a recent Bay Area ACM SigCHI panel on "Designing Systems with Emergent Behavior" featured Tim Brown (IDEO), Peter Merholz (Adaptive Path), Larry Cornett (Yahoo), and Joy Mountford (Yahoo), and was moderated by Rashmi Sinha.

Peter Merholtz blogged his thoughts here:

Core77 offers a rundown of the event here:

And the organization's event page is here:

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