Design: Nemesis

Most of people say that there is merely no dichotomy theory to divide an idea, or identification or explanation to explain about a certain phenomenon in an obvious way since there are the numerous things that we cannot explain. I am so tedious with this opinion since I was also telling to LB, and Sean also said to me it as if that is the life.. How is irresponsible! (Sean sorry, it’s just for me, not you!, and sorry to LB 🙂

I am just thinking that as if we, human beings don’t try to own any other purpose of life but instinctive goals, this kind of behavior seems like we might give up to take up the responsibility to think, question, and then answer to our own questions to exist here . I might not open to door of thinking space.  

If we don’t refuse to take up the responsibility… even though we already know we have not stopped to find the coherence meanings in hermeneutic cycle and the fundamental characteristic of the world has focused on phenomenological issue, that is, we already used to be, are trapped and will be trapped in our own thinking forever, why we cannot to stop analyze and categorize our own language into a sort of structures, creating new breakdowns or subjective interpretations on the other hand. (Anyway we know the both sides of a coin.)  

As a designer who tries to be authentic and flexible, I am also asking to myself. If the thing, we call knowledge, can be coined in a certain consensual domain, design knowledge should be there against the notion of innovation or creativity? (I have no idea if the notion would be called deconstruction or postmodernism or not. Whatever..)   

If putting designer’s own meaning (interpretation) into the center of design consideration will give designer a unique focus that other disciplines do not address, how can they deal with which individual users understand their artifacts and interact with them in their own terms and for their own reason? How do they know the boundary of interpretation in terms of meanings of user in use? Finally, how do designers argue the design knowledge in order to create the consensual area?      

Thus, is it the conclusion by me that design is not subjective or not objective? Hmmm..

I am not confident. I can’t trust myself. Can I be a designer? Do I really think that I am a designer?     

I have no idea why I am unsettled yet. The more I have gathered the evidences to argue my idea, the more my assumption has been agitated. Maybe.. I am worry to collect them since my limitation of design knowledge and ability as a designer would reveals… Maybe.. I would already think I am not good at getting the authorship of meanings of users aroused through their internal and external world.   For me, Designing is like Nemesis that I could not get out of its trap forever. I have no idea why I want to be in the trap, why I want to challenge to it. I could not trust if there is design axiom that could resolve my confusion. Where can I find it?       

If I am avoiding from the nemesis, do I have to be an irresponsible designer who gives up being human? Unreasonable thinking of mine!! 🙂   

Hey! Sean! I don’t get my answer to my humble question yet. Yes, I am just finding my answer as you said to me. However, I have no idea if I can get it finally or not. In HCI filed, I have to think what the design is again. I will learn it from my smart colleagues and thoughtful professors again and will apply the new realizations to existing design knowledge of mine. I guess this is also my duty as a human being who tells what design is and transfers design knowledge to other disciplines. I just try to do it. I just love the design.


  1. jeffreybardzell

    I’m hereby officially responding to Hyewon, who will criticize me in front of class if I don’t! 🙂

    Seriously, it’s actually hard to respond to a post like this, because you are expressing very complex, personal, and even philosophical reflections. You’re not really asking a question, per se, or seeking a reaction to a specific idea. That’s not a criticism–I think it’s one of your strengths that you have reflective thoughts like this. It’s just not always easy to respond.

    I guess after hearing several Hyewon reflections like this, you are uncomfortable with your lack of certainty as a designer. You want to have more certain understandings of phenomena that relate to design than you have. And when you say this to others, they say, “Well, you know Hyewon, you just can’t always have that kind of certainty when you design.” And that answer doesn’t satisfy you.

    And probably it shouldn’t satisfy you.

    So, here is the next step, I think. You can’t be completely comprehensively certain about everything prior to designing, but how do you know when you know enough? Certainly, research can improve your understanding, so even if your knowledge is still incomplete, it is at least less incomplete than it was before. When do you know enough to design? And when do you need to do more research? And above all, how do you know?

    This is not a question that’s easy to answer, but it nonetheless has some answers. First, I believe through continued exposure to designs, to empirical studies of users, and to theory, you can develop a sensibility, or an intuition, that will tell you, in a particular situation, if you know enough or if you need to understand more. Second, understanding different research methods and their outputs will also help you understand what you *can* know, and may help you decide which research method to use, in what order you should use them, and when you can stop.

    So I don’t want you to be satisfied with the response that you just can’t know everything. That belief can lead to complacency and laziness. But at the other extreme is paralysis: one doesn’t act until one knows everything (this was Hamlet’s problem). I hope through graduate school you can learn enough to develop the judgment to keep yourself in the “golden mean” (the Aristotle variety), which is knowing when you know enough to design well, and when you need to learn more before you can design well.

    You probably won’t be satisfied with this answer either, and actually I hope you are not, but at least I responded to you! Aiieeeeee!

  2. Gim, Hyewon

    I guess I can understand what you’ve said for us since the last semester and I’ve realized what is my next agenda.
    I guess the gist of your commant is based on the term ” Semantic” and design for science as klaus said it is both a science of making and a philosophy of realizing artifacts with and for others. I am sorry if my assumption limits your idea within some area. But thanx 😀

  3. seanconnolly

    An interesting approach, though not scientific, is to impose an artificial constraint upon yourself.

    For example, both the working world and the academic world place constraints upon the designer in terms of time deadlines. In this sense, it doesn’t minimizes one’s lack of confidence because whether or not it the designer feels confident about it, they must design.

    Just because one must design doesn’t mean they have to do a shoddy job. The designer must muster all the information, skill, and talent, and manifest an artifact. Once this is done, there is time for reflection (the post mortem) to learn from the experience.

    After this new experience is aggregated with the past, new projects come along. It is a problem of the real world – and of shallow designers – that they do not reflect, and that they do not deconstruct their successes to see how to improve the job the next time. Let us be designers of meaning, and emotion, and intelligence.

    Or rather, interaction, art, and science.

    .. that’s my two cents anyway..


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