|November 2015||IASDR: The International Association of Societies of Design Research conference, Brisbane, Australia||Stan Ruecker & Stéfan Sinclair|
In this paper, we discuss a strategy for introducing significant change in general, and in the Digital Humanities in particular. The approach is to negotiate expectations early in a research project by genuinely proposing what might be understood as a “critical design” intervention, in order to produce an effect in the minds of the various stakeholders where a small incremental change will not be felt to be appropriate. Critical design is an attempt to radically interrupt people’s thinking on a subject by designing artifacts that are outrageous. For example, in drawing attention to third-world labor practices in producing computers, a critical designer might make one of meat. Artifacts in this context are not, however, restricted to only industrial designs, but can be broadly understood to include objects, communications, processes, and experiences. In addition, it should be noted that incremental improvement is not an undesirable outcome in itself, and in fact is often positively to be desired in industry. However, in a research context, an incremental change dramatically reduces the possibility that the design component of the project will produce something that is both sufficiently interesting and contestable enough to be worth discussing with the larger community.