From design to cybernetics


Scientific Research is a restricted form of design. Design is thus not necessarily scientific.

Design: is central to the act of design is circularity (…) it is a conversation often involving a paper and a pencil with an other; ourselves or someone else (…) a distinguished element of design is novelty (…) scientific research is a design activity (..) we design our experiences and objects by finding commonalities (simplification) we design how we assemble them into patterns (…) looking at these patterns we make further patterns, thus in doing science, we learn (…) design is the object of study and as a means we carry out this study (…) scientific  research should be judged by design criteria, not the other way around (…) rigorous, honesty, clarification, testing and the relative strength of argument over assertion are essential qualities of design

The role of the observer as participant: making knowledge, abstracting it to theory, theorising about theory, constructing the way we obtain this knowledge, all is done by the actor (…) at every step it is the actor designing (…) the designer is central to science

The nature of these circular systems are examined in cybernetics. According to Norbert Wiener,  cybernetics is the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine, whereas currently it is used as in ‘control of any system using technology’. In Glanville’s terms:

cybernetics has elucidated conversation, creativity and the invention of the new; multiple points and their implications for their objects of attention; self-generation and ‘the emergence’ of stability; post-rationalization; representation and experience; constructivism; and distinction drawing and the theory of boundaries



Ranulph Glanville, Researching Design and Designing Research. In Design Issues Vol. 15, No. 2, Design Research (Summer, 1999), pp. 80-91, available here

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