The Idea of Metadesignau_o

A Colloquium for Helping Some Authors to Collaborate on a Possible Book

Morning sessions - 28th June 2007
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10.00am - Introduction

Click on the screen to run an edited movie - or see a transcript of his talk

See the whole video here (external link)

by John Wood (external link)

  • Do we need a miracle to avert famine, climatic disturbances, biodiversity losses and resource wars?
  • Perhaps, if orthodox methods (i.e. politics, science and industry) fail to address these issues effectively.
  • Could 'design thinking' bring a fresh approach? Certainly, because it works differently.
  • Where governments apply bureaucratic sanctions, fiscal constraints and legislation, design (can) create beneficial affordances.
  • Could designers usefully augment existing methods of governance? Perhaps...
  • Unfortunately, many otherwise excellent commercial designs fail spectacularly at the ecological, cultural, or social level.
  • This is partly because designers are constrained by their specialist boundaries professional practice.
  • Could a more holarchic, consensual, transdisciplinary form of design (i.e. metadesign) come to the rescue?
  • If so, what would it look like? We need to synergize many orders and levels of synergy.
  • In other words we need to design interdependent, joined-up solutions.
  • Perhaps metadesigners could be paid to work as entredonneurs for the benefit of the whole community.
  • If metadesign is self-defining it might be a multi-dimensional mode of entrepreneurship.
  • Designers may therefore need to become 4D facilitators of convivial lifestyle.
  • For example, many individuals are attracted to buying the 'greenest' car or house.
  • But if s/he commutes long distances to work this could be counterproductive.
  • The money market needs to be more creatively involved .
  • How would metadesigners think? Rational, and rhetorical reasoning is often inauspicious.
  • We need a more auspicious reasoning that facilitates virtuous circles.
  • Consensual involvement is important. This will inspire awareness to enhance a sense of responsibility and commitment.
  • Commitment and involvement make co-creation possible. This, in turn, builds trust and deepens involvement still further, etc.
  • This is a better (non-temporal) interpretation of the word sustainability.
  • Humberto Maturana (1997) has used the term metadesign (external link) to describe how living organisms co-exist.
  • One of our absent contributors, Elisa Giaccardi (external link), has also used the term to describe consensual planning and management of very large social networks.
  • See her PhD metadesign (external link)) from 2005.

10.30am – The idea of creative democracy (external link)

Click on the screen to run an edited movie - or see the Softopia website (external link)

See the whole video here (external link)

by John Chris Jones (external link) (interpreted by John Wood)
It would be hard to imagine how the global industrial economy could have evolved without the contribution of design specialists.
Their task was to offer increasing customer accessibility to a more desirable range of products and services.
This created the illusion of a more appealing, seamless and all-pervasive system of production.
However, one of the problems of specialization is that it tends to estrange us from one another, and can make us myopic, conservative, or inflexible.
At the turn of the century I envisaged the wholesale de-specialization of industrial living.
I imagined that this process might be facilitated by a digital technology that transformed human, professional roles into 'expert' software applications.
This could be emancipatory. It could enable each individual to re-form the culture in every act and every thought.
It would turn 'users' into designers; and it would turn designers into facilitators.
This would, in effect, be a kind of 'productless' design, perhaps manifest as a process, or simply as a way of living, in itself.
Designers would reframe the contextual factors, and regulate the conditions within which software might facilitate change.
The positive outcome of this vision would be a 'creative democracy' in which the key parameters of intervention would became shareable.
Perhaps this might, more properly, be described as a 'co-creative democracy'.
It would also require a changed consciousness in which 'goodevil', or undivided self-creating nature, is taken as moral reality, the sacred presence of everything.

11.15am - The urgent need for a new approach

Click on the screen to run an edited movie (or see transcript)

See the whole video here (external link)

by Jo Williams (external link)
In 2006 Jo investigated the steady rise in the number of one-person households in England and Wales.
She concluded that people living on their own consume significantly more energy and create more waste than those who share their living accommodation with others. She pointed out that the rise in younger, wealthier one-person households is already 'having an increasingly serious impact on the environment'. Government figures show that between 1971 and 2001 there was a 12 per cent shift from 18 per cent of households being one-person households to 30 per cent in 2001. The figure is expected to rise to 38 per cent by 2026. One-person households are now wealthier than ever and, with the right advertising, may be willing to put money into more environmentally-friendly homes and products according to the research. However, unless this problem is addressed in a coherent fashion - i.e. at the level of 'living style' - it may not lead to helpful conclusions.

11.55am - Can Design Become a Form of Healing?

Click on the screen to run an edited movie (or see transcript)

See the whole video here (external link)

by Otto van Nieuwenhuijze (external link) (See extended Notes)
Otto quit engineering because he was expected to apply mechanistic solutions to complex organic situations.
His subsequent training as a doctor of medicine was disapointingly similar.
Nor is working with living systems something that designers are generally taught.
His subsequent research into healing systems draws upon a vast body of knowledge from different cultures.
In understandiing how the living (rather than the dead) body works it is possible to ascertain some of the principles of self-healing that may be vital for any successful metadesign practice.
One of the central ideas of autopoiesis (external link) (Maturana & Varela, 1973) is that any organism - whether it be a social institution or a cellular life-form - maintains its survival by self-balancing its self-identity with its external identity.
This corresponds to Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety (external link) (1956), which suggests that regulation from within a given system is always more effective than regulation from elsewhere.

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