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Design vs Technology August 29, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in design, real power.
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When one says technology rules, one is only half correct. It’s like claiming only the leader is needed in a country where followers do not matter that much. Design is a system. Technology needs system to integrate. Design needs creativity, that of which requires courage and imagination. – Karen Fu

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Scholarship, research and design – its relevancy to both human society & nature October 12, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, design, education, Innovation, research.
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I have been skimming through the threads on PhDs, education, design and about substance without brilliance. To be honest, I really feel like ‘crying’. So were the few who had read them over my shoulders. First off to clear out the verbose clot, we need to question the basics of education if we are delivering the right skills to students of the right calibre. Next off, we need to ask if we are teaching the right ethics and ideas about what design should be. This includes not only in the area of the arts but in other fields of engineering design, service design, social innovation etc. They are, in my opinion, linked. For without a sound mind of thought and knowledge in a sharp logical way, clear creative thinking cannot be formed. It is as simple as that. We need to also ask if we have been designing for the sake of designing. Or are we chanting the mantra without asking why we need to use a certain technology.  At times advance technologies may be harmful. We need not use ‘progressive’ technologies in certain areas; but we must have a progressive mind to know what is good, and what is bad. Then we are talking about the true usefulness of scholarship, research and design. Many times, we are creating more problems to the problems. Do we really need a microchip to push out the water from the sprout? Does a cup of coffee taste best using a US$3500 machine when someone with the right hand tools would suffice. At some levels, ego seems to be eating us up. Our environment is damaged because we have lost touch with the ground. What is the point of PhDs when you’ve loose the fundamentals? I seem to have been reading a chunk of many words on forums at PhD-Design. Surely the type of words show power and we do need words to communicate over the internet. Its fast & it’s damn quicker to run the keyboards than to even draw or make models.

But at several points, I seem to feel we are students studying English Literature;
while in reality we need to learn design literature, social economics literature, engineering literature, politics etc..Words are there to portray thoughts but words can never display full ideas.  They are definitely valueless if they are always being repeated several times.

Should words be used to create ‘class disparities’ ? Definitely not. But it does appear that certain cultures have to be dogmatically followed. That itself stifles that idea of thought. I think there are some ideas about what design education should be; and what research should be. I really love to study and research on design issues. — its basically about life quality in terms of design. But at times, when I read some research views or work; I would start to question about the methods and the ideas behind it. Do we really understand what is research and how to teach research ? What kinds of mindsets and attitudes should we bear in mind ? Sometimes, I find them ‘funny’. At times I find it frustrating. At rare points, reading them makes you wanna ‘cry’.

Taking up a postgrad isn’t that attractive now as I seem to be seeing more problems than solutions. It’s probably the ‘horror’ I read off from certain people on the forum and also the people whom I met. They seem to sound so rigid at times. But I still like to think I could do a postgrad because of 1 reason: teaching. Colleges don’t hire people without a postgrad qualification to teach unless it were to mean guest lecturing. I am studying on my own and seem to be very happy with it. I’ve also come to realize that in higher education, people tend to despise non-postgrad or non PhD graduates. A certain egoistical pride in the way some people view their post grad degrees. That’s also one of the reasons I keep away from the degree. Then again, people can still say I am not good enough to study for one. I have got a different style in expressing myself in which everyone can understand me. No profound words, no ‘profound’ looks. Plain and simple. Maybe that’s why some people don’t really like my style.
I think life isn’t that complex if we chose not to. We live in a oddball world where many people do not die from the disease that they got in the first place. They often die from the side diseases that they contracted later. Advancement in technologies may curing diseases, but if we fail to understand what is the root of the problem, then we are not eradicating problems.Take some breathing space to ponder about how we live. Then you will understand where I come from.  It would certainly be a question of character if one does something awfully different from what they preach. That’s a shame on design integrity.– Karen Fu, before late bed time snooze..

Aftermath of a Great Reset & Sex & the City – what it means for design of cities / societies (episode 1 – Intro) July 9, 2010

Posted by @Karen_Fu in creativity, design.
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I have been reading books of a different genre. And I am watching films that bear a different genre. I have lots to write and share. But I think  breaking this big chunk into smaller episodes will a better & quicker choice. I think this is really getting interesting.

Well maybe not all that different; just that its in a different style and taste.Something that I rarely would like to touch but realised that I have to because you can’t exactly design/plan or execute anything without a good knowledge of politics and economics. You can’t make fine changes when you don’t understand a wide variety of different ideas & how minds work. Fundamentally, I am more into American style after being Asian and European. I think its a special class on its own.
So what does it mean for new cities to become great cities ? What makes a place really nice to live in? I thought it was chiefly about great people,with essentially fine thinking of gutsy characters. (hence the title of this blog).  It’s really different from the views of an urban planner, an economist, a politician, an engineer or a designer. The personalities among these professions again makes a new multiple of mixes. However the combinations are, the common ground is to improve the quality of living.  The definitions may be different again in different cultures. I’d like to quickly write about 2 items that I have found interesting: a book and a film. The former is a book by Richard Florida’s ‘The Great Reset’ which I have waited for 2 months for the real physical book to swim over when an ebook could have saved the day..(whatever the reason why it can’t be virtually zapped over is another story to be amicably reckoned with…) and a film called ‘Sex & the City 2’ (which actually teaches us a lot of useful lessons apart from the fact that the film has lost a lot of its original flavour that fans like). The former is about discovering new ways of living and working after an economic crisis. The latter is more about new ways of living as a family/view in social life which is really very different to what I know and what I believe in.From an Asian brought-up, European-educated Singaporean, all these appear to be really interesting and on my grounds perplexing. Thus seeing things differently. I might open a can of worms. But after much thought, I think I’d rather open the can of worms. It may be real benefit to share than to keep. So here’s a candid piece of uncensored opinion for everyone to read:

I often day dream about how  a society should be like. In my elfin’s perspective of a cute world, my very first idea is that great cities must be in an optimal state. That optimal state must bear a few chief fundamentals, from namely a low crime rate;  sustainable economy with little or no national debt, a high domestic income without an over reliance on credit facilities of any kind; to low cost of living that yet supports a  high quality of living. Peace & safety within the nation & with other nations and multicultural/ multiethnicity societies are placed high on my ideals of a fine sustainable city.The ability to assimilate and tolerate different ideas without conflict should always be on anyone’s top priority list.

Values may be different and they carry different ideas to point into various solutions. Hence different cities. Some values are controversial. An example would be Confucian values. Confucian values may not be as palatable in the west for many reasons. But Confucian values have merits in where a high sense of order can be achieved through respect in various levels of relationship. No value system is perfect, but what we could really learn is to pick out the best of various worlds and make it our own. Western values value individualism and liberty, which opens minds out for aggressive & quick execution. The values show in the way we live and the way we see the world and the universe. In any way. culturally we are different and by different cultures we can also see different flaws and merits clearer in others to improve our own. The  economic downturn has not only effected the US but almost every nation felt the shock. Should Americans move to a rental society? I think to a certain extent, his ideas and solutions to the problem is valid. But I was wondering for those who start off renting & get mobile. Would this may well increase the income gap between owners and renters? And thus struck up another eminent problem?

Circumstances may need to put in order. On the other hand, I am thinking how long and how values will effect the quality of thinking and creativity that is required to grow as an innovative city. From a Singaporean perspective, will we be great as a tiny dot on the equator in another 10 years time ? Dependent on several factors.

Afterall, creativity involves finding ways to improve or create ways that have never existed before; and this particular skill cannot be taught. It can only be experienced.

More on this episode later.