Interpreting music and embodying how you perceive its content in dance is difficult enough in privacy, let alone in a group setting. That is, successfully doing so requires full commitment to intuitive expression and a collective trust – allowing yourself and others to be vulnerable – in which vulnerability is celebrated as it surfaces in commitment. In freestyle sessions during dance class, I learned about the effect this has in building confidence and team spirit, how it creates an atmosphere in which we are true to abilities and open to criticism, look past performance and see intent. In becoming a design researcher, through continuous reflection on my professional identity and vision, the premise made me realize communication exists on a wide range of interpersonal dimensions; as realization turned into fascination, I set out to explore new means and modes of communication in my Master’s.
I am a research-driven creative technologist who is fascinated by how people communicate their knowledge and understanding of things, and I make prototypes to research how that understanding can be mediated through design towards new means and modes of communication. If I would have to describe myself in one word, I’d say curious, which – considering the matter at hand – comes with a genuine interest in others. This is amplified by my attitude in collaborative efforts, for which peers describe my behavior as a motivating effect which often helps a set of individuals form a group. I think this further defines me as a designer; the ability to connect, which I believe is a result of being true to my abilities, open to criticism, look past emotion and see intent.
Technology has allowed for a level of interconnectedness in which we are able to get touch with each other all over the world, however, we must deal with its unforeseen consequences. Exemplary is the restricted interface that online social interaction is subjected to, which, compared to real life social interaction clearly lacks the communicative qualities of face-to-face conversations (Erickson & Kellogg, 2000). The pandemic made it abundantly clear how this still holds true today, where the characteristics of social translucence – accountability, visibility, awareness – as defined by Erickson & Kellogg, have proven to be non-existent in online environments. Due to user centric design, we are dealing with digital environments where social constructs are established by social- and media platforms which foster artificial relatedness and a perceived sense of privacy powered by the need for sensation encapsulated in ever self-assuring algorithms. Considering study suggests individuals born after 1990 – who are dependent on social media to fulfill a variety of needs – lack Interpersonal Communication Competence (Hollenbaugh, Ferris & Casey), I believe that the biggest flaw in humanity is the inability to properly communi¬cate; where misrepresentation and misinterpre¬tation of values, intentions and knowledge leads to misunderstanding and conflict. As we inevitably move towards globalization, design should enhance communicative abilities towards enhanced understanding. I remain optimistic of our future; virtual reality as we know it today was already conceptualized (as science fiction) in the ‘50s and even prototyped upon in the ‘60s. In other words, by taking a speculative approach to design, designers and design researchers can shape the way we communicate long before it is adopted by society. As such, I think the role of designers is to develop products, approaches, practices, services and systems that mediate understanding. Designs and practices that provide clarity during the inevitable entanglements of the digital and the physical. Designs that aid organizations and individuals to see the bigger picture and how they move in it. Design that – in facilitating means for enhanced communication – allows for reflection, direction and purpose through understanding. Design that – through understanding – facilitates change towards the goal of harmony between neighbors, cultures, communities, religions, humanity and nature.Erickson, T., & Kellogg, W. A. (2000). Social translucence: an approach to designing systems that support social processes. ACM transactions on computer-human interaction (TOCHI), 7(1), 59-83. Hollenbaugh, E. E., Ferris, A. L., & Casey, D. J. (2020). How Do Social Media Impact Interpersonal Communication Competence?: A Uses and Gratifications Approach. In The psychology and dynamics behind social media interactions (pp. 137-163). IGI Global.