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LOOP: AIGA Journal of Interaction Design Education
June 2003 Number 7

Archiving Experience Design
A Virtual Roundtable Discussion


The following discussion was conducted over a six-week period late in 2002. We invited members of Loop’s advisory board and several distinguished guests to address the question of how we, as an emerging community of interest, might begin to address the critical question of preserving the history of our field. Participants include Loop board members, Hugh Dubberly, Jodi Forlizzi, Challis Hodge and Nathan Shedroff; Brenda Laurel, Chair of the graduate Media Design Program at the Art Center College of Design; Peter Lyman, Professor and Associate Dean of the School of Information Management and Systems at UC Berkeley; Philip Meggs, design historian and School of the Arts Research Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University; and Peter Morville, president and founder of Semantic Studios.
       The article represents a “virtual roundtable” in that none of the panelists met in the same place or conversed simultaneously, but communicated exclusively by e-mail. However, as in a “real” roundtable, questions were posed separately to the panelists, and each had the opportunity to respond before moving on to the next question. All panelists were given the opportunity to respond to other’s comments in addition to answering the question. Each had permission to pass on any question. Seven questions were cycled through all eight panelists in a steadily paced and intricate schedule dutifully maintained by Loop’s intern, Kim Fleischman. We are indebted to her for stewarding the process.
       Our questions regarding preserving the history of interaction and experience design appear below. We were very impressed by the thoughtfulness and common sense of purpose revealed in the discussion that ensued. We feel that this is an important issue and hope to continue addressing it in future issues. We encourage you to add your thoughts via the commenting feature that accompanies the article.
       A final question was asked after the completion of the roundtable. It asked for nominations of items for an as of yet uncreated collection of experience design artifacts. The responses are personal and diverse in their approach, but provide an interesting perspective on what might characterize an archive of interaction and experience design.
       It is with great sadness that we announce in this introduction the passing away of one of our panelists, Professor Philip B. Meggs. In the second week of our roundtable, Phil reluctantly excused himself from participation as he began treatment for a recurrence of leukemia. He had intended to continue, if able, from his hospital bed, but sadly, he passed away within weeks of beginning his treatment. While his input is noticeably minimal, we feel it is important and significant to include his voice. Phil was a very generous colleague to us at Virginia Commonwealth University and a highly accomplished educator and design historian. We dedicate this article, and our work on Loop as a whole to his memory in hopes of building upon his important legacy in design history.

Question 1
Do you see value in explicitly addressing the history of Experience / Interaction Design? What role does history and precedent play in your work today?

Question 2
What requirements should be placed on creating a credible representation of an Experience/Interaction design project? What is your current approach to archiving your work, or the work of your institution? How effective has this approach been?

Question 3
If what we claim to design is experience as well as artifacts, how can we represent the historical record of this expanded notion of the significance of a design?

Question 4
How can the design of a website be effectively captured from the Internet—a dynamic and unstable environment? What is a sufficient and appropriate representation of a dynamically generated and possibly tailor-made publication design?

Question 5
How adequate is the case-study model for capturing and archiving work in interactive products and services? What are the benefits of such an approach? What might be lost?

Question 6
Who should be responsible for framing and maintaining the history of Interaction/Experience design? Is this the responsibility of individual designers and design offices, academic historians or organizations like the AIGA? Should an archive be established for maintaining and disseminating experience design? If so, what form should it take?

Question 7
Much of the past history of design has centered on the work of individuals. Does the collaborative and technical nature of Experience / Interaction design make this model obsolete? What is the appropriate organizing principle of a history in these fields?

A Final Question: Items for an Archive of Experience Design
After completion of the virtual roundtable, we asked our participants to imagine themselves curators of a collection of experience design history and to tell us what they would choose to include in it.

Panelist Biographies


LOOP June 2003 Number 7