A Model of the Operation of The Model-View-Controller Pattern in a Rails-Based Web Server

This article examines The Model-View-Controller Pattern in a Rails-Based Web Server.


Imagine Design Create

Interview with Hugh Dubberly

A design innovator argues that design learning is a prerequisite for design thinking.

You have said that design is stuck. What do you mean?

Design practice does not learn. As a profession, we don’t even know how to learn.


Design as Learning—or “Knowledge Creation”—the SECI Model

Written for Interactions magazine by Shelley Evenson and Hugh Dubberly.


Designers often speak of design as a process. Typically, design thinking leads to design making, which leads to artifacts. Yet the design process also leads to something more—to new knowledge. Thus, we might characterize designing as a form of learning.

Curiously, the converse is also true. We might characterize learning as a form of designing. That is, the process of observing, reflecting, and making (and iterating those steps) may aid learning. Several designers and teachers have recognized the link between designing and learning and are bringing designing into curricula not just in college but also in high school and even elementary school. See, for example, a recent New York Times article, “Putting New Tools in Students’ Hands” [1].


Ability-centered Design: From Static to Adaptive Worlds

Written for Interactions magazine by Shelley Evenson, Justin Rheinfrank and Hugh Dubberly.

*Editor’s Note: * *After a long career in systems engineering and design, John Rheinfrank died on July 4, 2004. *

John’s Ph.D. dissertation explored what he called “organic systems theory,” or what’s now called “complex adaptive systems”—bridging multiple disciplines and theoretical frames (e.g., biology, computing, economics, psychology, and sociology). John spent most of his professional life applying principles derived from living systems to designing systems for people—from design languages that could serve as the foundation for a broad range of reprographic machines for Xerox, to personal information and communication appliances for Philips. In essence, he wanted us to design systems that are alive.

In the years since John’s death, complex systems have become deeply engrained in our everyday lives, from Facebook and Twitter to the interconnected financial systems that plunged us into the credit crisis. When John learned he was sick, he began working on a book on the relationship between design and systems. Sadly, he never finished, but some of his core ideas were preserved in a presentation on moving from static to adaptive worlds. John saw adaptive worlds as a new way to frame interaction design, which makes it an important topic for interactions. This presentation was his way of helping us make the leap from the present to the future he could already envision. Working from John’s presentation slides and a tape of his talk, we have summarized his ideas.

—Hugh Dubberly


The Space of Design

Models of the process of design are relatively common. (I have found about 150 such models, many of which are presented in How Do You Design?) Each describes a sequence of steps required to design something—or at least the steps that designers report or recommend taking. Models of the process of design are common because designers often need to explain what they do (or want to do) so that clients, colleagues, and students can understand.


Reframing health to embrace design of our own well-being

Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly, Rajiv Mehta, Shelley Evenson, Paul Pangaro.

*Editor’s Note: *

Improving healthcare is a wicked problem [1]. Healthcare’s many stakeholders can’t agree on a solution, because they don’t agree on the problem. They come to the discussion from different points of view, with different frames. Wicked problems can be “solved” only by reframing, by providing a new way of understanding the problem that stakeholders can share [1]. This article describes a growing trend: framing health in terms of well-being and broadening healthcare to include self-management. Self-management reframes patients as designers, an example of a shift also occurring in design practice—reframing users as designers. The article concludes with thoughts on what these changes may mean when designing for health.

—Hugh Dubberly


Designing for Service: Creating an Experience Advantage


We are surrounded by things that have been designed—from the utensils we eat with, to the vehicles that transport us, to the machines we interact with. We use and experience designed artifacts everyday. Yet most people think of designers as only having applied the surface treatment to a thing conceived by someone else. Eli Blevis created an illustration to emphasize the gulf between the general public’s notion of design and designer’s views of design (Blevis et al., 2006) (see Figure 19.1).


The Language/Action Model of Conversation: Can conversation perform acts of design?

Written for Interactions magazine by Peter H. Jones.

Editor’s Note: * *In last year’s January + February issue Usman Haque, Paul Pangaro, and I described several types of interaction—reacting, regulating, learning, balancing, managing, and conversing. In the July + August 2009 issue, Paul Pangaro and I described several types of conversing—agreeing, learning, coordinating, and collaborating—and we proposed using models based on Gordon Pask’s Conversation Theory as a guide for improving human-computer interaction. Peter Jones responded, noting that there are other models of conversation and prior work in bringing conversation to human-computer interaction in particular Winograd and Flores 1986 work with The Coordinator. We agree on the importance of The Coordinator and invited Peter to outline the history of models of conversation and their relationship to HCI. His response follows.

—Hugh Dubberly


Bio-cost: An Economics of Human Behavior

Written for Guest Column in ASC / Cybernetics of Human Knowing

Much of human behavior is directed toward goals: finding food, selling services, curing cancer, making meaning.

Achieving goals requires action. Action requires effort. Effort requires energy and attention applied over time. Effort overcomes obstacles. Obstacles tax our patience, sap our resolve, and cause us stress.


Using Concept Maps in Product Development: Preparing to Redesign

a case study from
Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis

edited by Jon Kolko
Oxford University Press

Dubberly Design Office consults on development of software and services. We follow a user-centered process that often involves mapping. We use concept maps to represent factors that influence the product development process. We regularly map user goal structures and user interactions; business models and resource flows; and hardware and software infrastructure and information flows. Increasingly, we are called on to map data models and content domains.