25. august 2008

A revolving world?

by fatcontrollerDefinitions
When new artifacts and services are introduced they are based upon some previous work, either intentionally or as a natural reflection of living in an inter-textual world. The result is a gradual change of the characteristics of designs. This constitutes what I define as the evolution within product design.

The gradual change in an evolution exists within a framework of methods, references and practices that constitute a paradigm as discussed in the previous entry (insert link). In the natural sciences you can observe that the new paradigm fits better than the previous to the experiments and research. This is arguably a result of the positivistic notion that you can reach a final and perfect theory that all observations can be explained by (this is of course debated). In the social sciences and arguably in product design paradigms are human constructions that are subject to judgment by other humans. This result in relativistic paradigms that are true or false based on who you are and where you live rather than objective observations. The paradigms in product design are as a result of relativism able to coexist and operate like parallel discourses with similar rights to survive and to evolve.

A paradigm or discourse is here defined to be a context in which the product development takes place. I believe that the discourse are not intrinsic to the resulting finite product on display, but rather the surrounding content of use, abuse, research, development and the design processes involved in realizing the product. This has then a direct influence on how I would define a revolution within product design. I think that a revolution is not necessary visual in appearance, but is apparent in a sudden change of methods, references and practices that reflects the new paradigm in which the evolution would continue.

The evolution of the radio

The above example of a radio from the 1930's compared to a 2007 model for streaming radio off the internet clearly shows that revolutions in technology and use not necessary have to change the way things look.

These modern day portable radios boast almost the same functionallity and high price tag, but are radically different in appearance. This is an example of how evolutions within the same period can go in radically different directions based on the paradigm they operate within. The radios are a proof of the relativistic discourses within product design.

A shift in paradigm?
The Olinda radio project creates a new discourse centered around ideas brought in from current (2008) uses of online social network services, open source software and modern radio technology (DAB). Their proposed paradigm suggest to include more of the pliability, the possibility for creators and users to adapt products to their own need, asscosciated with good services in physical products. I believe this is an interesting path to follow and that this can be done to a much broader extent than the Olinda radio exhibit.

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