Cooper's reprise to the Insurgency of Quality (this time to developers)

25 Jan 2010 - 7:56pm
4 years ago
10 replies
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Dave Malouf
2005

I read the entire presentation with pause and trepidation. I have fought the
agile movement tooth and nail (and this piece hasn't changed my mind). This
piece gave me hope in that it looks towards a new type of software design &
development culture that we haven't seen yet and this I am welcome to.

Here's the link:
http://www.cooper.com/journal/2010/01/an_insurgency_of_quality.html
I call it a "reprise", b/c in 2008 he gave a talk with the same title at
Interaction 08.

The ONE thing that I feel the cooper piece has not evolved enough towards is
where I have left the standard world of software design and its very tacit
view of the world where at best user-centeredness is mostly about fit and
efectiveness towards issues of humanity, humaness, and aesthetics. But
mostly importantly where is the question of "why?" why build X in the first
place? This question which is so important to the "authentic interaction
designer" as Alan calls us (or is it them?) is missing from his piece. Also,
there is no mention of aesthetics and in fact a push that the interaction
designer is "analytical and empirical" which in my mind is as "inauthentic"
as an interaction designer can be.

What are you thoughts?

-- dave

--
Dave Malouf
http://davemalouf.com/
http://twitter.com/daveixd
http://scad.edu/industrialdesign
http://ixda.org/

Comments

25 Jan 2010 - 9:27pm
Donna Fritzsche
2005

I thought the talk/paper was excellent. While I do not believe that
there is only one way to get to an effective end product - I think
that Cooper's proposal is a sound step forward that will hopefully be
embraced by the Agile community.

Dave, I also had to wonder - what is wrong with "analytical and
empirical" work?
From you comments, I gather (and please correct me if I'm wrong :-)
) - that you don't think that they are part of the artistic process.
Based on my coursework with working artists - they are very much a
part of the artistic process.

I think Cooper's process description leaves plenty of room for
aesthetics to be part of the work. While he doesn't mention it
explicitly, he talks of vision, strategy, etc. Also, within the
generative process, there is definitely a place for aesthetics (to
adopt some of his and agile's terminology).

Although, I would agree that more whole-brained thinking terminology
might be added (He did seem to lean toward left-brained terminology
more than right or whole-brained.)

Just my thoughts based on a quick read. It is an excellent article.
Alot of the meat is after page 20.

Thanks for bringing the article to our attention. Also, in a separate
email, I will describe an art school activity/project that I thought
of based on your email.

-Donna Fritzsche
Ontologist, Information Architect, occasional Interaction Designer

>
> The ONE thing that I feel the cooper piece has not evolved enough towards is
> where I have left the standard world of software design and its very tacit
> view of the world where at best user-centeredness is mostly about fit and
> efectiveness towards issues of humanity, humaness, and aesthetics. But
> mostly importantly where is the question of "why?" why build X in the first
> place? This question which is so important to the "authentic interaction
> designer" as Alan calls us (or is it them?) is missing from his piece. Also,
> there is no mention of aesthetics and in fact a push that the interaction
> designer is "analytical and empirical" which in my mind is as "inauthentic"
> as an interaction designer can be.
>
> What are you thoughts?
>
> -- dave
>
> --
> Dave Malouf
> http://davemalouf.com/
> http://twitter.com/daveixd
> http://scad.edu/industrialdesign
> http://ixda.org/
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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>

25 Jan 2010 - 10:49pm
billabel
2006

Dave -
Agile is not one way of doing things. It's a movement away from traditional software development. Agile embraces a process much more in step with the traditional design process. The people I've worked with who are leaders in agile, debate agile methods among themselves - and practice those methods that work for them. There is no agile movement to disagree with or fight - there is just the idealistic manifesto which is only the spark that ignited a flame. Real world agile is simply a collaborative development process rather than a development team locking themselves in a room and not coming out until the product is finished. Cooper speaks very clearly to this and suggest the interaction designer take the leadership role in the early stages of the product. I agree.

I believe Cooper's reference to aesthetics is through the word 'tactile'. The vast majority of developers do not discuss aesthetics - they don't understand it because it is not concrete. They have little knowledge and understanding of typography, color theory, or the basic principles of visual design.

Since when is interaction design not analytical or empirical - that is at our core is it not? It's interaction design's empiricalness that makes it so useful. If you recall from Cooper's 2008 keynote, he gave the advice that interaction designers should utilize their research and data as a tool to engage the developers. They respond to data and logic.

I read this new presentation feeling that what he describes is what I've been doing for the past year.

-b

26 Jan 2010 - 12:10am
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Donna & William,

"analytical & empirical" are not bad so long as they are only a
part of a greater whole. If you loose the abduction process (using
the term "artistic" is a way to be pejorative in Cooper's piece
which I also find quite insulting) that is at the core of design
process and only concentrate on the linear deduction process that he
is describing, you basically loose the soul of design's power.

I often here (and now I'm responding to William) the phrase, we need
to speak their language, or in terms they understand. But I only hear
this phrase when considering how designers should speak to
developers. I NEVER hear anyone tell developers that they should
change their language, process, or methods to meet the designer's
understanding. This is the equivalent of developer/designer sexism.
What I mean is that rhetorically there is the same power arrangement
and assumption that one's way needs to be followed in order to have
authenticity. An interesting term that Cooper invokes again as a
device to be dismissive of designers who do not follow his total path
of interaction design, as if it is the path.

William,
While there are many forms of agile, they are grouped together due to
affinities. I can be an atheist (anti-religion) in my relationship to
all religions and it is understood that I do not believe in a
higher-power. This is my feeling about Agile development methods.
They agree in some core things w/o which they are no longer Agile.
These are the things that I have been at odds with. Unlike Cooper
though, I have not been challenged to find a peaceful place within
Agile. Finding these lines of similarities assumes that this is a war
actually worth finding peace with, or more importantly worth fighting.

This notion of designer as craftsperson that Alan uses is at the same
time language I would use (design/craft) but twisted it into something
I find quite atrocious. By limiting the purview of designer to craft
alone "analytical & empirical" he has amputated the highest value
that design can offer any solution: humanity and humility. All for
the sake of making "developers feel comfortable" or so "[they] can
understand".

Now to the "core of interaction design" piece William talks about.
Yes, in much of practice we have limited ourselves to discovering fit
and validating design. But for many of us, this is not interaction
design, but interaction engineering. The design is in both the
emotional and in the ways we create new behaviors (not just fit
existing ones). This requires a temperament of strategy built on
understanding "why" as much as how and what. Cooper did allow for
the role of IxD as strategy builder/owner which is great, but he
isn't building that strategy on a design for impacting human beings,
but rather for fitting.

I do appreciate his push to developers. That they understand the
importance of vision creation. THAT was the one spot where I felt
hope amidst the trepidation in his piece.

I do think though his vision of IxD is one emblematic of Silicon
Valley and is in some ways in discord to that of more European
traditions of IxD.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to have quality engineering done
efficiently with the goal of the customer in mind (BTW do we design
for "customers" or "humans" or "humanity"?) but the developer
at his soul is a carpenter there to take the order of the architect,
contractor and building mogul. The designer is the architect who
works under commission and appreciated on his past value which
appreciates over time. The developer is appreciated for quality &
speed which is a commodity. (oh! that's going to hurt in the
morning!)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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26 Jan 2010 - 12:11am
Dave Malouf
2005

... or maybe, I'm just not a real interaction designer.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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26 Jan 2010 - 12:12am
Dave Malouf
2005

(ok, last one I promise)

... did Alan just start the red state/blue state equiv to the design
community. I mean do I live in N. VA which is not real America for
some reason? Are there real interaction designers?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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26 Jan 2010 - 12:13pm
jet
2008

dave malouf wrote:
> There is nothing wrong with wanting to have quality engineering done
> efficiently with the goal of the customer in mind (BTW do we design
> for "customers" or "humans" or "humanity"?) but the developer
> at his soul is a carpenter there to take the order of the architect,
> contractor and building mogul.

Yet amazingly enough, we ignorant developers managed to create all sorts
of amazing products in the 80s and 90s without designers holding our
hands or telling us where to put the pixels or what color they should be.

If your (collective, not just Dave) general attitude towards developers
is that they are robots ignorant of design or aesthetics who exist only
to do your bidding, I think you have bigger problems than how to
implement agile or whatever.

When I started writing visualization software and implementing
infrastructure at startups, it wasn't because "at [my] soul" I wanted to
do the bidding of designers. It was because I got to find and solve
really hard problems and work with really bright people at the same time.

--
J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
Design, Fabrication, Hacking
design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

26 Jan 2010 - 12:38pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Jan 26, 2010, at 10:13 AM, j. eric townsend wrote:

> Yet amazingly enough, we ignorant developers managed to create all sorts of amazing products in the 80s and 90s without designers holding our hands or telling us where to put the pixels or what color they should be.
>
> If your (collective, not just Dave) general attitude towards developers is that they are robots ignorant of design or aesthetics who exist only to do your bidding, I think you have bigger problems than how to implement agile or whatever.

I wouldn't take Alan's attitude toward developers to be the norm. In fact, I find it a little dated. It might have been true or warranted in the 80s or 90s that there was a strong line and animosity between designers and developers, but I haven't found that to be the case on any project I've worked on, at least in the '00s and I hope going forward.

Most of the developers I've worked with have been valuable collaborators, and the line between design and development gets blurrier every day. Especially with web work, designers and developers are often the same person. I've stolen some great design ideas from developers that have definitely improved the end product.

We shouldn't forget that we're not the ones who create the product: developers, engineers, and manufacturers are. We're just making the plans. We rely on their skills to execute and hopefully improve upon our ideas.

Dan

Dan Saffer
Principal, Kicker Studio
http://www.kickerstudio.com
@odannyboy on Twitter

26 Jan 2010 - 2:21pm
Dave Malouf
2005

JET,

The economic realities are what I'm alluding to, not how practice
should be. The reality is that coding is a commodity akin to other
craftspeople and that is a different problem. Designers who are
craftspeople are similarly in the same position. The designers who
are looking towards converged design and transdisciplinary business
management that are moving (for now) beyond the commodity.

I like how Dan spun my take a bit. respect those that do the
building. That is definitely true. What I dislike is the assumption
that they get my respect and not visa versa. That their implicit role
is all that is necessary for them to earn my respect, yet I have to
change my entire framework and language system to gain theirs.

My major point here though is that this discussion about agile has
been framed incorrectly. Alan's talk is part of a reframing and I
appreciate that effort. I disagree with his attempt, but agree with
its necessity. As I said recently on Twitter. I believe in the power
of Big Design Up Front. Alan seems to be trying to cover it up w/
language that softens the blow and say that the people doing it now
are better than the people who did it before, but he doesn't quite
fess up to what he's asking for.

I often fall back on Buxton's talks that fight the push towards
agile when he talks about how software dev folks have tried to
reframe design to fit there, as opposed to reframe dev to fit design.
Design in other areas is very upfront and doesn't really seem to be
problematic. It is indeed iterative and collaborative, but definitely
up front.

-- dave

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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29 Jan 2010 - 10:56am
ScottL
2008

Hi Dave

Do you have the links to the talks by Bill Buxton where he talks
about this as I would be very interested in listening to them too.

And a comment, as the work by Donald Schon about reflective
practitioners stands out as being more applicable to both disciplines
even more. As software developers and interaction designers must take
on the right responsibilities for learning how to work in these teams
.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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31 Jan 2010 - 9:48am
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

Here's a good Buxton video on 'Design Thinking: Action and Ecosystem'
from CHIFOO
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTfNMJ9ONpg

On Jan 29, 2010, at 8:56 AM, ScottL wrote:

> Hi Dave
>
> Do you have the links to the talks by Bill Buxton where he talks
> about this as I would be very interested in listening to them too.
>
> And a comment, as the work by Donald Schon about reflective
> practitioners stands out as being more applicable to both disciplines
> even more. As software developers and interaction designers must take
> on the right responsibilities for learning how to work in these teams
> .
>
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48622
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

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