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PRECONFERENCE: Design as Object, Design as Method: Making Critical Communication Futures

Wed, May 23, 9:00 to 16:00, Hilton Prague, M, Hercovka

Session Submission Type: Panel

Abstract

Design, making and intervention have captured the attention of communication scholars in recent years. From explaining algorithmic bias on social media to the creation of online storytelling platforms, contemporary questions of communication require an understanding of the affordances, biases and constraints of communication devices, interfaces and systems—as well as an understanding of the work designers do to create these technologies. Furthermore, there is also growing interest in using design as an inventive method in order inquire about the world and build theory through the making of media, things and prototypes. Finally, communication scholars are also being drawn from different academic disciplines and professional practices, collaborating with a wider range of fields, and forming new identities themselves as they move into new areas that engage with the field of design.

This pre-conference explores the conceptual, methodological and pedagogical possibilities of design research in the field of communication. What are the material and social arrangements that produce the artifacts that exist in nearly every aspect of our everyday life? How might we understand these artifacts better if we engage with them using design research methods? How might design help communication researchers better address the materiality of information? This inaugural meeting will bring together scholars from a variety of communication subfields to begin outlining the core contributions of design research and identify conceptual bridges between the fields of design and communication. We aim to engage scholars working in a variety of formats who take design as an object of study, those who integrate design as a method of embodied knowledge making, and those who are forming new scholarly and professional identities through collaboration and participation in design research and practice. We expect to draw from communication scholarship about a range of topics including: visual communication (e.g. graphic design), technology studies (e.g. software coding), rhetoric of material culture (e.g. architecture), media studies, infrastructure studies, and social histories of technology. We pay special attention to the ways in which design and designers play an important role in the making of communication technologies, as well as considering their values, ethics, justice and equality. We anticipate the inclusion of projects that go beyond traditional academic texts and explore the use of multimedia, video, interfaces and prototypes. As a result of the pre-conference, we will collaboratively produce a list of “Design Keywords" for critical considerations of design within the field of communication.

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