Design empathy

Allen Higgins from University College Dublin will present research into Design Empathy. Read the summary below.

Storytelling and workplace talk have a crucial role in producing designs. Dialogic processes offer a way to access design thinking and creative responses to design challenges. For example, an oft used practice in software engineering is to perform intensive imaginative ‘talking through’ or thinking through code; an approach that pretends conceptual agency to the code that designers then imagine in operation. The voicing of design ideas concretises the designers current intention whilst grappling with other ideas, constraints, contingencies, and opportunities. Edited code then expresses these ideas and ultimately becomes a new active agent, compiled and run to perform and respond within other software/hardware substrates that animate the nascent program. Code is produced through emerging ongoing embodied artistic actions and practical performances. There are layers to meaning and action that deft minds and skilled practitioners pick up and interweave.  An understanding of mutual imaginative interactions constituting software co-design is informed by the phenomenology of empathy. A phenomenology of empathy describes “the self-relation of the ego or self, and its experience of others” (Moran and Mooney 2002, p.22) and thus an account of the experience of understanding the other, of subjective/intersubjective unfolding involving memory, fantasy and expectation. I suggest an outline of a theory of practice for designing, the unfolding of objectivity/subjectivity in design-discovery work and objectification processes with implications for the professional culture of software engineering.

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