I avidly believe in the interrelationships between ideas, design and the environment.
A large proportion of my reading centers around consilience, as a designer one has to be a jack of all trades, always knowing that the more you know the better, but having to decide where to stop (sigh) this is why most of us drink way too much coffee and think aloud.
Anywho, my recent foray into Design + Nature lead me to skim through The Nature of Design: Ecology, culture and Human Intention by David W. Orr. (2002), one of the more recent books to date and less engineering based than say Design & Nature V (2010). In the book Orr explains what he terms as 'slow' (shared, open and co-created, broader, cultural, sustainable) and 'fast' knowledge (high modernity, short time benefits). (*Ahem* think NZ Asset Sales)
Orr goes on to suggest that we should use natural paradigms in our design, in what he terms (unoriginally) as ecological design. Ecological design joins science, arts, ethics, politics and economics...He does not say how this would work alongside Capitalism...
Orr though seems to agree with me that 'fast' knowledge is bequeathed to us by Descrate, Galileo, Bacon and Newton - who encourage us to "separate subject from object, humankind from nature, and fact from value" (206)
Orrs ideology extends to a vision of a 'gentler world' which can be achieved through democracy and education. Orr "believes that higher Education restricts the way we design because of it's focus on unitary and necessarily disjointed objectives, while allowing the long perspectives and awareness of broadened effects to go begging." (91, Design issues, Vol22 (2), 06) He calls for the need to connect fields of knowledge. #futureEd
Here's where my brain did the snappy thing - this is exactly what the online distribution of knowledge can allow us to do. The shift to personalized learning environments (PLE) is an example of centralised to distributed networks - aka a shift in the design pattern.
Again it seems to me that we are closing Descartes divide and getting closer and closer to 'nature' and that this is freaking all the people in control out. Technology is shifting from a mimicking state into a state of self actualisation, and the reflexivity between media is so fluid that it's almost pointless to draw lines. Instead we need to focus on the construction of environments from a learner centered personalized pathway jive. This is how we maintain the humanizing factor in the construction of post human societies - by simply valuing the fact that there is a human at the centre of it all. there is humanness.
It's and/both. not either/or. Orr's work gets very polemic, like so many others. He rejects postmoderism as deconstructive negating to mention that the notion of absolute truth in modernism was even more damaging.
Gregory Bateson in Steps to an Ecology of Mind suggests that it would be foolish to sacrifice such ecological ideas on the alter of pragmatism" (481) So I'm going to keep thinking this way, also I feel, personally that this is ingrained in me - culture and social construction smacks you in the face everyday when one identifies as a queer*
Orrs concept of 'slow' and 'fast' knowledge reminds me, yet again, of Paul Virilio and dromology (a postmodern term for time/space compression) there's no doubt that technology has changed our time/space. If a tree falls in a forest and no one's there to hear it, does it make a sound? ... it depends, is there a webcam?
Speed and time are two VERY important factors in education. I often think they are the chisel and axe, sculpting what are our institutions and policies.
Online environments can be constricting or expansive - or both, pulsating like a heart. An important design question is - are we aiming for a fast or slow environment? Is this environment sustainable? should it be?
No conclusion today, just a bunch of thoughts.