One of the most interesting aspects of the current intersection of technology and practice is the way that differing disciplines must look at problems collectively, whether under integrated project delivery methods or simple digitally-driven collaboration. Today’s training and licensure approaches are largely silo-ed by individual disciplines, and it’s only after attempting projects “in the real world” do designers, engineers, manufacturers,builders and others begin to understand how to consider the perspectives and ideas of others, and collaborate toward a common goal.
The overlay of digital technology provides a simple but common denominator. “Collaborative” mechanisms that allow information to move quickly and smoothly and be understood transparently reduce the coefficient of friction of working together, and today’s generation of social-networked enabled young designers use these tools without concern for the inhibiting protocols of their baby-boomer predecessor’s. Nobody real cares, for example, who “owns” the information in a highly digital, collaborative exchange of information.
And this stance has enabled the important but largely unrecognized potential of crowd sourcing—the use of collective insight and knowledge—to be applied to design problems. Deploying that collective wisdom in addition to the acceleration of ideas that can come from cross-disciplinary view of challenges suggests that there might be new ways of defining, unwinding and attacking difficult problems where design can help.
I often wonder how my students, who spend as much as seven years studying architecture and working almost exclusively with their peers, can be exposed to such questions, but I observe a recent surge in interest in collaboration. In project’s like Yale’s XS students are breaking free of the traditional constraints of the curriculum to explore the implications of how radically different perspectives add to the excitement and insight of exploration. I think such ideas are a result of this generation’s particular upbringing in the digital ocean combined with a studied indifference to traditional boundary roles. In the main, both good and important stances.
Autodesk University is a place where a lot of Autodesk users, across many disciplines, gather to learn about our technology and generally exchange ideas about design and creation. So this year I thought it would be pretty interesting to explore this topic—how collective design insight can see and solve problems differently—in a more structured way. We’ve put together a session at AU called “The Collective Wisdom of Design” where creators from four different disciplinary silos—building, infrastructure, manufacturing and gaming—are going to look at a problem for their particular and collective perspectives, and marshal their own crowd-sourced networks to generate ideas. These ideas will be presented in Las Vegas, and the attendees will “crowd source” an opinion about their efficacy, and award the best one with a sizable research grant to continue the work throughout the year. I figured this might be a way to see just how these new forces of collaboration might let us see problems and their solutions differently. It’s a pretty wild experiment (even for Las Vegas) and I’m betting on equally wild results.
Here’s some more detailed information about the forum (with apologies for the slightly shameless AU marketing). Take a look at these folks, and these sites. If you’re headed to AU, looking forward to seeing you in Las Vegas and at this session.
We’ll report back on the results of this session in a blog entry after the event in December.
FORUM DESCRIPTION: The Collective Wisdom of Design Across Boundaries
This forum explores the blurring boundaries of design methodologies and how adjacent disciplines look at similar problems in different ways. Faced with tremendous environmental, economic, political, medical, security and social challenges, we must look beyond single, heroic design solutions to solve global issues. For example, a solution for climate change requires scientists, policy-makers, human behaviorists, designers, engineers, builders and individuals. The best answers may lay not in point answers but will a hybrid of the collective expertise of experts in diverse disciplines. Our four speakers are leaders in disparate industries who will utilize their talents, technologies, and social networking and crowdsourcing to consider and propose solutions for the pressing concern of providing healthcare to underserved areas. These four leaders from building, infrastructure, manufacturing and media & entertainment will suggest solutions to this problem using all these resources and present their interpretation of the problem along with the most viable solution, discussing the commonalities and differences in approach, process and technology. The result will be a proposed answer to this global problem based on collective input, ideas and innovation. During the Forum AU attendees will vote on their favorite solution, the winning solution will be further developed by a non-profit or academic organization with an Autodesk grant of $50K and presented back at 2013 AU.
Dr. Myshkin Ingawale, entrepreneur, researcher, co-founder of Biosense Technologies, TED Fellow, Unreasonable Fellow, and long-time Liverpool Fan. His team at Biosense has developed and is commercializing a low cost, non-invasive, anemia screening tool to improve health outcomes for mothers and children in developing countries. Myshkin has previously worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he advised clients across Banking, Healthcare and Technology sectors. Myshkin is also a co-developer of the Copenhagen Wheel, a hybrid electric vehicle concept built at MIT and demo-ed at the United Nations Climate Summit, Copenhagen 2009. He is an Electrical Engineer who got his PhD at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, analyzing the networks behind Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia. He is passionate about startups, technology and football.
(Representing Product Manufacturing.)
Dr. Alasdair MacDonald, Director of Strategic Innovation, Balfour Beatty
Dr. MacDonald has experience developing and implementing innovation, performance, operational and engagement processes in the UK and Australian Infrastructure, Transport and Water Industry. Dr. MacDonald has developed the Research and Development Framework for the UK Highways Agency R&D Program, created the successful innovation approach adopted on the award winning Heathrow Terminal 2B project, and designed the collaboration approach for the Essex County Council Highways Tender. Dr. MacDonald holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering, a PhD in Organizational Performance Management and is a visiting fellow at the University of Bristol.
(Representing Infrastructure Design.)
Liz Ogbu, Environments Designer
An architect, social innovator, professor, and self- proclaimed “Green Giant,” Liz is an expert on sustainable design and spatial innovation in challenged urban environments. Liz was a design director and part of the leadership team at Public Architecture, a national nonprofit that mobilizes designers to create positive social change. Liz’s signature efforts include the Day Labor Station, an innovative design and advocacy campaign that engages day laborers to address issues of space and dignity. She also served as project director for the development of a sustainability framework for International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Bolivian affiliate. She did the same for the Design for Reuse Primer, an e-publication funded by the U.S. Green Building Council, intended to demystify and inspire mainstream material reuse. Her projects have been featured in museum exhibitions and received numerous design awards globally.
(Representing Building Design.)
HCD Connect: http://hcdconnect.org/projects/improving-the-healthcare-experience-for-the-uninsured/
Professor Marla Schweppe, Rochester Institute of Technology
After a decade in the New York theatre painting scenery, building costumes, doing special effects and designing, she transitioned into computer graphics and animation, which she teaches at RIT. She now combines the two interests to design scenery, projections and effects for physical or virtual stages.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MediaEntertainmentCrowdSource