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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Notes on Evolving design cultures - 2 - Deepankar Bhattacharyya

It is fascinating to think of our futures in an expanded reality where we increasingly participate in events that don't always happen in the 'here and now' as in our fixed geographical space governed mainly by our local social, cultural, economic and political spaces.

In my previous article I started to look at communication and information flows impacting us qualitatively enough to make changes that enable us to look at new ways to practice design. When everyone or almost everyone around the world is talking to everyone else, exchanging thoughts, ideas, or just plain happenings in their lives, our personal social and learning spaces acquire new meanings that do not necessarily have roots in past experience.

We have seen how the information/communication forces free our manufacturing and distribution systems to pursue efficiencies of a different order - manufacturing happens in far off locations, orders are placed and delivery is controlled by information systems to ensure minimum lead times and inventories.

We have also seen how people in hitherto unconnected areas get access to real-time information to make decisions regarding the cost of what they produce, the demand and supply positions, forecasting of market trends and other valuable information that has real impact on their daily lives.

We, even in India, are on the brink of the interactive phase of the information and communication phenomenon. This would lead to people everywhere, even at the grassroots and margins to not only access information and act on it but to also generate information and feed the same into the system and thereby impact the quality of the process radically. Not only will questions about the market or the availability of opportunity be answered to help make decisions but data regarding the same and other aspects of our lives will be introduced from a variety of sources, many of which we do not even consider at this time.

This information pool will be many layered and will have shades reflecting social, cultural, economic and other biases and will be a kind of melting pot that must eventually impact on our built world. This, I think, will be a key ingredient of the many factors that designers will need to look at when they get down to doing their stuff.

I think that this is not just a tweaking of the design processes that we follow, but something a bit more radical. For starters, end products and services are likely to have very little longevity and will be subject to enormous and diverse feedback that will encourage modification and variations. Design solutions will have to cater to a basket of 'needs' and 'desires' that will be constantly evolving.

Abilities to mass produce and distribute or local economics that traditionally limit the radical modification of our environment will surely become less hurdles in the face of such widespread and varied 'wants'. The only limiting factors that can impact this kind of wave are the ones relating to our ability to deal with the complexities of the natural world - the characteristics of our planet that makes life possible.

We are gradually waking up to the need to factor this into our ways of doing business, remember that most of the solutions exist already, only our current models of development, economics and politics pose hurdles, surely that will change!

The environments that we build are really a reflection of our internal worlds and when those evolve and expand and become open to each other then anything is possible and indeed probable. There is no longer the bias of certainty and predictability that have hitherto governed our actions and mindscapes.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.