Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Functional Purpose' keyword pg.1 of 1
22 NOVEMBER 2015

Questioning how we relate to the world in functional ways

"JODI's disruption of mapping and video games reminded me of Situationist artist Guy Debord's calls for a 'renovated cartography.' For Debord, when we blindly follow the same directions over and over, using the easiest paths, we get stuck relating to the world in 'functional' ways and imagination withers. Debord wanted people to use the wrong map in the wrong place — to get lost in order that we might see our surroundings anew. Similarly, JODI strips away the usual instrumental goals of our engagements with digital media — to win a game, to communicate information, to navigate quickly. What we are left with is a bare awareness of the random components of our digital lives and a glimpse at the other possibilities for technology."

(Leila Nadir, 30 April 2012, Museum of the Moving Image)


2012agency of access and engagementcartographycontrolled environments • designing for playful engagement • Dirk Paesmansdisruptive interrogation • diversity of engagement • exploratory experimentation • exploring other possibilities for technology • functional purpose • getting lost • Guy Debordinstructions for useinstrumental conception of technologyInternet artJoan HeemskerkJODI (art collective)Museum of the Moving Imageour digital livesperformativity • questioning our uses of technology • relating to the world in functional ways • renovated cartography • rethinking boundaries • scriptible spaces • seeing our surroundings anew • Situationist Internationalsymbolic controlunfolding possibilitiesvideo games


Simon Perkins
27 MARCH 2015

Is Universal Design a Critical Theory?

"Universal design is a term that was first used in the United States by Ron Mace (1985) although forms of it were quite prevalent in Europe long before. For the purpose of this chapter Universal Design is defined as 'the design of all products and environments to be usable by people of all ages and abilities to the greatest extent possible (Story, 2001, p.10.3). Universal design in recent years has assumed growing importance as a new paradigm that aims at a holistic approach ranging in scale from product design (Balaram, 2001) to architecture (Mace, 1985), and urban design (Steinfield, 2001) on one hand and systems of media (Goldberg, 2001) and information technology (Brewer, 2001) on the other.

Given the popularity, Universal design still remains largely atheoretical i..e. the researchers of Universal design do not explicitly affiliate themselves to any form of theoretical paradigm. One of the reason is perhaps because Universal design is a melting point between cross paradigms. By paradigms I mean basic orientations to theory and research (Newman, 1997, p.62). In this sense Universal design can come under functionalist paradigm (because it caters to utility), pragmatic (because it is instrumental in nature), positivistic (because it strives for universal principles), normative (because it prescribes certain rules) and critical theorist paradigms (because it gives voice to the oppressed).

Conventionally the word universal is synonymous to general and refers to a set of principles that are stable, timeless and value free. In this sense universal design could be interpreted as deriving from a positivist paradigm. However, given its history and perspective, and with the universal design examples I provide, I will demonstrate several instances where the universals do change, are time bound and value laden. In this sense I argue that Universal design follows a critical theory paradigm in its conception and knowledge generation. By conception I mean how universal design came into being as a body of concepts and by knowledge generation I mean how the concepts pervade and are shared by the community of researchers."

(Newton D'Souza, 2004)

D’souza, N.: 2004, Chapter 1: "Is Universal Design a Critical Theory?" Keates, S., Clarkson, J., Langdon, P., Robinson, P. (eds.) Designing a more Inclusive World. Springer - Verlog, pp: 3-10, 5th University of Cambridge, UK.


2004 • all abilities • atheoretical • basic orientations to theory and research • critical theory • cross paradigms • defined rules • designing for usability • Edward Steinfeld • functional purpose • functional utility • functionalist paradigmholistic approachinclusive design • instrumental in nature • Judy Brewer • Larry Goldberg • Molly Story • Newton DSouza • normativepositivism • positivist paradigm • positivistic • pragmatic considerationsproduct design • Ron Mace • Singanapalli Balaram • theoretical context • theoretical paradigm • universal accessuniversal designuniversal principlesusable


Simon Perkins
01 FEBRUARY 2015

Facebook's Like and Share buttons: designing for functional purpose



2014 • change aversion • communicating change • community standards • designing for functional purpose • designing for legacy devices • designing for usabilitydesigning with datadiversity of experiencesengineering designFacebook • Facebook like • functional purposeHCIinstructions for useinterface designer • legacy devices • like button • Margaret Gould Stewart • measurementproduct designproduct usability • share button • TED Talksusabilityusability engineeringuser experienceuser experience designUser-Centred Design (UCD)women designers


Simon Perkins
11 FEBRUARY 2004

non-places: when functionality is prized more highly than experience

"But the real non–places of supertnodernity – the ones we inhabit when we are driving down the motorway, wandering through the supermarket or sitting in an airport lounge waiting for the next flight to London or Marseille – have the peculiarity that they are defined partly by the words and texts they offer us: their 'instructions for use', which may be prescriptive ('Take right–hand lane'), prohibitive ('No smoking') or informative ('You are now entering the Beaujalais region'). Sometimes these are couched in more explicit and codified ideograms (an road signs, maps and tourist guides), sometimes in ordinary language. This establishes the traffic conditions of spaces in which individuals are supposed to interact only with texts, whose proponents are not individuals but 'moral entities' or institutions (airports, airlines, Ministry of Transport, commercial companies, traffic police, municipal councils); sometimes their presence is explicitly stated ('this road section financed by the General Council', 'the state is working to improve your living conditions'), sometimes it is only vaguely discernible behind the injunctions, advice, commentaries and 'messages' transmitted by the innumerable 'supports' (signboards, screens, posters) that form an integral part of the contemporary landscape.

France's well–designed autoroutes reveal landscapes somewhat reminiscent of aerial views, very different from the ones seen by travellers on the old national and departmental main roads. They represent, as it were, a change from intimist cinema to the big sky of Westerns. But it is the texts planted along the wayside that tell us about the landscape and make its secret beauties explicit. Main roads no longer pass through towns, but lists of their notable features – and, indeed, a whole commentary – appear on big signboards nearby. In a sense the traveller is absolved of the need to stop or even look. Thus, drivers batting down the auto route du sud are urged to pay attention to a thirteenth–century fortified village, a renowned vine–yard, the 'eternal hill' of Vezelay, the landscapes of the Avallonnais and even those of Cezanne (the return of culture into a nature which is concealed, but still talked about). The landscape keeps its distance, but its natural or architectural details give rise to a text, sometimes supplemented by a schematic plan when it appears that the passing traveller is not really in a position to see the remarkable feature drawn to his attention, and thus has to derive what pleasure he can from the mere knowledge of its proximity."

(Marc Augé pp.96–97)

Augé, Marc. 1995 Non–Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, London/New York, : Verso.



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