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Cybernetics and Design: Conversations for Action

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Working for decades as both theorist and teacher, Ranulph Glanville came to believe that cybernetics and design are two sides of the same coin. Working as both practitioners and teachers, the authors present their understanding of Glanville and the relationships between cybernetics and design. We believe cybernetics offers a foundation for 21st-century design practice. We offer this rationale: - If design, then systems: Due in part to the rise of computing technology and its role in human communications, the domain of design has expanded from giving form to creating systems that support human interactions; thus, systems literacy becomes a necessary foundation for design. - If systems, then cybernetics: Interaction involves goals, feedback, and learning, the science of which is cybernetics. - If cybernetics, then second-order cybernetics: Framing wicked problems requires explicit values and viewpoints, accompanied by the responsibility to justify them with explicit arguments, thus incorporating subjectivity and the epistemology of second-order cybernetics. - If second-order cybernetics, then conversation: Design grounded in argumentation requires conversation so that participants may understand, agree, and collaborate on effective action. Second-order cybernetics frames design as conversation for learning together, and order design creates possibilities for others to have conversations, to learn, and to act.
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Keywords: conversation; cybernetics; design knowledge; design methods; design rationale; design, systems; ethics; language; models; second-order cybernetics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2015

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