The Design with Intent Toolkit V.0.9

Dan Lockton, Design With Intent, Apr 13, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is related to some of my thinking recently on the nature of what some people are calling '21st century literacy' (I don't really like the name and would like to come up with an alternative, if only to escape the endless political battles over education south of the border). Dan Lockton has put together an informative and revealing set of design patterns characterizing the relationship between information and architecture. These patterns show how physical design can be used to influence point of view, to change behaviour, to persuade. It is a tour-de-force. And it is exactly the sort of new literacy I have in mind when I talk about moving beyond text, beyond words and propositions, beyond 'facts' and 'principles'.

Lockton is not alone; in fact, I encountered a string of related items over the weekend. Henry Jenkins, who is normally way too self-promotional and fawning-pop-media for my tastes, hits the mark with a set of critical patterns in contemporary media. Then Beth Kanter weighed in with social strategies and tools for communities of practice, another critical piece of this new literacy. Tom Woodward, for his part, addresses presentation skills using new media. Presentation Zen on good visual experiences.

I supposed that if I had really looked I could have found a lot more. The point is, there is a discipline of 'new literacy' (or whatever we'll call it) forming, and it is composed of elements such as the examples that are being shown here. Education in this new literacy can - and must - replace the naive memory-based retention-based fact-based text-and-test model of education that has dominated for the last century or so. As I stated at my talk in Melbourne, one of the problems we had over the last century was that it was too easy to get students to learn things, to remember things - too easy to persuade them, too easy to convince them, too easy to march them into prejudice and war.

With the numerous and complex problems facing society today, we no longer have that luxury. We have to start doing better.
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