This unit’s course content was extremely interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I couldn’t decide on just one subject to discuss with you. I chose two instead, Case Study: Systems Thinking and the Relationship Between Graphic Design Education and Practice. I chose these two subjects, because they reminded a lot of two other subjects that captivated my attention in a previous course, Fourth-Order Design Thinking and the Amateur as Competition.
While reading the Case Study: Systems Thinking, I was reminded of the Fourth Order of Design Thinking. “The fourth order of design thinking moves beyond the domain of considering the needs of the people a problem and designing a solution to taking an active role, in conjunction with other relative individuals, to create a better experience for the consumer.” (Perryman) In that sense, systems thinking is much like fourth-order design thinking. It calls for thinking about the design holistically and realistically, as well as stepping outside of one’s own profession to include professionals from other fields that affect the design. One quote that stuck out to me in this passage is, “Ignorance is not bliss if you are a designer. Designers cannot afford to wear blinders in their practice. Designers have a social, moral, and ethical responsibility to not engage in practices that will have a negative impact on the environment, society, and cultures.” Both Systems Thinking and Fourth-Order Design Thinking require educating oneself beyond the design realm. When reading this case study, I’m faced with fourth-order-thinking-type questions, “Why a new bottle design? Why not redesign the entire experience of drinking water? What would make for a better experience for the people and the environment?”
The second topic that resonated with me was the Relationship Between Graphic Design Education and Practice. When taking Integrated Design Media, one recurring topic on the discussion boards was amateur competition. We would often discuss means of cutting down on amateur competition and protecting the integrity of the industry. I was immediately reminded of those discussions when reading this passage. The passage listed criteria for established professions, and graphic design, if rated, would hold 4 out the 5 criteria. I feel that obtaining criteria number 5 (support from the law for the “protection of the job territory” (licenses/certifications for practice)) in the graphic design industry is just as important as any other industry. It helps to regulate and validate the field. Unfortunately, many are not well-versed on the importance of the design industry or the work produced therein, and it is hard to distinguish the trained professional from the amateur or uneducated. I view the fifth criteria for the established professions in a way that asks, “Would you allow an unlicensed dentist to perform a root canal or would you allow an unlicensed teacher to teach your child?” In the same sense, why allow an unlicensed designer to design for your consumer?
Andrew Keen stated in The Cult of the Amateur, “Today, on a Web where everyone has an equal voice, the words of the wise man count for no more than the mutterings of a fool.” Because it is nearly impossible for the client to distinguish who has a genuine concern for the quality of work presented, valuable design executions are often overlooked and professional designers are often never heard in the mist of the clutter of what is becoming the design industry. To me, obtaining the fifth criteria for the design industry would mean protecting the integrity of the design industry, not only from amateurs but also from ourselves. It would require that designers would take a more serious approach to maintaining their craft and create a higher level of respect for the industry.