Design from/with/by Data: Revisiting the ablative framework for design computation

Chris Speed

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Design has consistently used qualitative and quantitative data to inform the development of products, services and systems for many years. From market analytics to observational analysis, and questionnaires to design probes, designers understand implicitly the need to watch, listen and learn from the data that is gathered before and during the design process. However, whilst the methods for gathering data have grown to reflect research through design approaches, there has been little classification of the kinds of data that we are encountering in an age of big data, nor to frame how we design alongside it. This editorial revisits a framework for designers that was originally published in 2016 at the Design Research Society (Speed & Oberlander 2016) conference to reflect on the existing methods that designers have for working with data, in order to anticipate its ability to transform design process as its level of performativity increases. The original paper outlined three kinds of value that data is involved in mediating and then establishes a complexity in which qualitative and quantitative data becomes entangled across social, economic, moral and ethical values. In recognising the need for existing and emerging research methods to address the increasing performativity of data, the paper used the ablative case in Latin that allows designers to better consider when they are designing from/with/by data. This editorial asks that ‘computational designers’ more urgently than ever, to consider how they design from/with/by data to ensure that future systems in which people, things and computers co-exist in the production of data, do so with ethically.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2020


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  • Thing Tank

    Speed, C., Giaccardi, E. & Rubens, N.


    Project: Non-Funded Commission or Consultancy work

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