Posts by Hugh Dubberly

Jan 25, 2019

The relevance of cybernetics to design and AI systems

Knowledge of cybernetics is increasingly relevant to both what and how designers design. Cybernetics is the science of feedback, information that travels from a system through its environment and back to the system. A feedback system is said to have a goal, such as maintaining the level of a variable (e.g., water volume, temperature, direction, […]

Jan 24, 2019

Making sense in the data economy

We perpetually interact with our technologies. On the one hand they serve us, and on the other hand they control us.1 Computers, smartphones, and the infrastructure surrounding them now mediate much of our communications, affecting not only whom we can reach and who can reach us but also what we can say and what we […]

Jan 19, 2018

Connecting things: Broadening design to include systems, platforms, and product-service ecologies

  Traditionally, design practice and design education have focused on giving form to physical things—apparel, buildings, messages, tools, and vehicles—the artifacts that constitute material culture. These artifacts are also the material of the traditional design disciplines—apparel design, architecture, graphic design, product design, and transportation design.

Jun 20, 2016

Distinguishing between control and collaboration—and communication and conversation

In their paper “from Autonomous Systems to Sociotechnical Systems: Designing Effective Collaborations,” Kyle J. Behymer and John M. Flach remind us “the goal of design is a seamless integration of human and technological capabilities into a well-functioning socialtechnical system.”1 Recent trends—the sensor revolution, big data, machine learning, and intelligent agents, for example—make their reminder timely.

Feb 4, 2016

Bruce Archer’s Design Process Checklist

The image above is only a small slice (2 of 15 pages) of the overall model. This is a re-drawing of Bruce Archer’s 229-step design process; which is difficult to come by. It also brings together Archer’s descriptive text with the diagram for the first time.

Nov 1, 2015

Cybernetics and Design: Conversations for Action

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 […]

Oct 23, 2015

How cybernetics connects computing, counterculture, and design

Written by Hugh Dubberly and Paul Pangaro. Originally published by the Walker Art Center in the catalog for the exhibit Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia. “Man is always aiming to achieve some goal and he is always looking for new goals.” — Gordon Pask[1]

Oct 17, 2015

A Systems Literacy Manifesto

In 1968, West Churchman wrote, “…there is a good deal of turmoil about the manner in which our society is run. …the citizen has begun to suspect that the people who make major decisions that affect our lives don’t know what they are doing.”[1] Churchman was writing at a time of growing concern about war, […]

Jul 2, 2014

VoteStream: Turning Elections Data into Open Data

Written for DMI magazine — Summer 2014. US elections technology—the infrastructure on which democracy depends—is proprietary, locking up public data; unlocking that data is a design challenge on many levels. — Hugh Dubberly

May 1, 2012

What can Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive teach us about designing?

Written for Interactions Magazine The day after Steve Jobs died, my friend Rich Binell, another Apple alum, asked, “Why did Steve Jobs’ passing affect us more than the passing of other notable people?” Of course, Jobs changed the world, and many of us were moved by his work. How did he do it?