Date of Award

2011

Embargo Period

10-11-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Design

Advisor(s)

Richard Buchanan

Second Advisor

Daniel Boyarski

Third Advisor

Suguru Ishizaki

Fourth Advisor

Stacie Rohrbach

Abstract

In the last two decades, emotion has emerged as an important theme in discussions of design. However, there is no framework to date that encompasses both emotion and information design in a single theory. This dissertation was motivated by a lack of substantive theory that would allow design researchers and educators to model the relationships among information artifacts, audiences, and designers in specific contexts. This demand for work in this area also calls for a reconsideration of the current scholarship of information design by shifting its focus from objects to people, from technical rationality to value-laden human communication, from efficiency to holistic experience and effectiveness. Through examination of existing views about information design and the nature of information, this work advances the idea that information can be better conceptualized as a medium in which designers have the ability to influence situated and value-laden human actions, as well as a medium in which designers can be influenced by situated human actions. This conceptualization of information as twoway mediation between designer and audience allows us to reconsider information design as a meaningful social activity, of which designers are an integral part.

This research consists of two parts. First, it proposes a framework called Modes of Wonder that allows designers to model an audience's emotional experience in relation to information artifacts. Through examination of four thematic variations of wonder (wonder, astonishment, amazement, and sublimity), Modes of Wonder provides a meta-language that is able to model one's emotional experience in relation to information artifacts. Furthermore, it may be used by designers in the planning process when solving a design problem, and by educators as a tool for critique.

Second, this research presents a Point of View framework, which allows us to describe design strategies used for creating information artifacts. While Modes of Wonder, in Chapter 3, focuses on the relationship between information artifacts and audiences, the Point of View framework in Chapter 4 – which includes person, perspective, mode, and principle as the primary frames – illustrates the relationship between information artifacts and the designer who has created a specific response to a particular design problem. In order to demonstrate how these two frameworks can help us uncover plausible design strategies in a particular context of information ii design, I examine three cases of information artifacts that respond to specific design problems through use of the thematic variations of Point of View and Modes of Wonder as conceptual tools for analysis.

This research makes the following contributions: it provides a theoretical framework that models the relationship among information artifacts, audiences, and designers in specific contexts. Specifically, Modes of Wonder allows design researchers and educators to articulate the relationships between information artifacts and audiences. In turn, the Point of View framework provides an approach for modeling design strategies that are often implicitly used by designers to create information artifacts aimed at producing a particular emotional effect for an audience.

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