Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko
Our cover story puts an explicit emphasis on what has been an implicit theme of interactions over the past two years: the desire to improve the world around us through interaction design. Hugh Dubberly, along with his co-authors Rajiv Mehta, Shelley Evenson, and Paul Pangaro, describes the necessity to reframe healthcare toward a personal, self-managed perspective. The authors acknowledge that “improving healthcare is a wicked problem,” yet they offer hope for a solution by highlighting a shift toward a whole-person, contextually sensitive approach to health and wellness. This new approach shifts emphasis from a top-down approach of caregiver as expert, to a bottom-up style of self-management and education.
Emily Pilloton’s work at Project H also tackles these wicked problems, and the culture of design has increasingly embraced her focus on humanitarian work. Not only is her book reviewed in this issue, but we also offer Pilloton’s own thoughts about designing for impact. As she prescribes, “Because social issues are systemic, our community-based work must not only be local and long-term, but also widespread and pervasive, occurring at varying scales, for multiple programs, and for a variety of clients.”
These social issues require new skills from the designers who choose to tackle them; some key articles within describe these new skills, methods, approaches, and philosophies. Kristina Halvorson addresses the importance of content strategy in shaping decisions and creating actionability; Paula Bach’s work emphasizes the emerging role of designers in the creation of open source software; and Eli Blevis notes that design education will need to change to embrace practices of sustainabilityand he offers some pragmatic advice for shaping such curricula.
We find culture at the heart of many of these new skills, methods, and theories, and so we offer a broad view of culture through other excellent articles. Gary Marsden highlights the role of culture in designing for (and with) developing countries, using the example of social media in Africa. A more corporate view of culture is presented by Arnie Lund, who speaks to some of the challenges of introducing design into the engineering world of Microsoft. And Mark Hicks presents ways to introduce creativity into a process through co-design, working with end users to drive innovative thinking in product development.
The process of design is spreading into new areas of society and business, and as it does, our work gets more complicated and more rewarding. From the details of our interfaces to the focus of our efforts, this issue describes the complexity of the changing landscape of interactions. We hope you find the work rewarding, and these pieces equally informative and entertaining.
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