Bridging Artefacts

I began my participation in CHI2010 in Atlanta, USA, participating in the workshop “Bridging the Gap: From Contextual-Analysis to Design“.  At the session I presented our position paper on contextual analysis for infrastructure awareness, and to my satisfaction it was very well received.

Later on, we divided into groups and mine worked on the subject of bridging artifacts. Sincerely, there was a lot of very intelligent and interesting people (PJ Stappers, Pardha S. Pyla, etc), that I felt I was just draining them from their knowledge. Anyway, the takeaways for me were the following:

  1. Building scenarios is a skill to be learned (by doing it), they have to be iterated over and refined over and over again, until their meaning is clear enough.
  2. We wondered whether there is a difference between boundary objects and bridging artefacts. The key point here is that the design process is the key point in bridging the gap, and that design process takes place in the creation on some of the artefacts. So, for example raw data files like survey results and videos are closer to be boundary objects. Whereas scenarios, personas, and others are produced in the design process, or at least some design takes place while creating them; they are bridging artefacts.
  3. A fact supporting the nature of bridging artefacts is that they contain both interpretation of the original data, and inspirational elements.
  4. Bridging artefacts should give account of the fundamental objectives that the design should address, in contrast to the means objectives. For example the mean objectives could say “the users wants a mini van” whereas the fundamental objective could be “the user wants to move goods between his house and his office”. This latter one could be solve by hiring a taxi, or moving closer to the office and carry them by hand. At the same time, the bridging artefacts should hold information about the laddering in the requirements. This means that it should be possible to ask a chain of “why”s to the fundamental objectives.
  5. Finally, there are, perhaps, more than one gap in the transition from contextual analysis to design. One example of this is the gap between the design idea and the actual prototype, or between the designed prototype and the market product.

This are all very interesting reflections about design artefacts. Moreover, it’s clear that whatever artefacts are the outcome of the design process, the process itself cannot be framed or operationalized.

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