Design Research and Domain Representation

JOSEPH, Frances (2009). Design Research and Domain Representation. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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While diverse theories about the nature of design research have been proposed, they are rarely considered in relation to one another across the broader disciplinary field. Discussions of design research paradigms have tended to use overarching binary models for understanding differing knowledge frameworks. This paper focuses on an analysis of theories of design research and the use of Web 3 and open content systems to explore the potential of building more relational modes of conceptual representation.

The nature of this project is synthetic, building upon the work of other design theorists and researchers. A number of theoretical frameworks will be discussed and examples of the analysis and modelling of key concepts and information relationships, using concept mapping software, collaborative ontology building systems and semantic wiki technologies will be presented. The potential of building information structures from content relationships that are identified by domain specialists rather than the imposition of formal, top-down, information hierarchies developed by information scientists, will be considered. In particular the opportunity for users to engage with resources through their own knowledge frameworks, rather than through logically rigorous but largely incomprehensible ontological systems, will be explored in relation to building resources for emerging design researchers.

The motivation behind this endeavour is not to create a totalising meta-theory or impose order on the ‘ill structured’ and ‘undisciplined’, domain of design. Nor is it to use machine intelligence to ‘solve design problems’. It seeks to create dynamic systems that might help researchers explore design research theories and their various relationships with one another. It is hoped such tools could help novice researchers to better locate their own projects, find reference material, identify knowledge gaps and make new linkages between bodies of knowledge by enabling forms of data-poesis - the freeing of data for different trajectories.

Design research; Design theory; Methodology; Knowledge systems; Semantic web technologies.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:18

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