Discussion Guide for Articles
(Based on guides written by Susanne Bødker (1993), Peter Krogh and Martin Ludvigsen (2006), and Tobias Løssing (2007))
The presentations have two goals. To increase your insight into and understanding for design, but also to practice you in presenting and discuss texts about design and research within design. The first groups might be unsure about the presentation form, but together we will work this out during time. That is why it is important for all to take active participation in the seminars, even though you have not read the texts.
All groups should be either presenters or opponents on an article. To be opponents does not necessarily mean that you are against what is being presented. Though there can be points or things that you do not agree about.
The role of the presenter
Present the most important characteristics of the text, without reading out loud or to include everything. But remember that not everybody in the audience is familiar with the text, so you should present the basics of the text – basics that makes it meaningful for all to listen to the debate between the presenter and the opponent.
Too much reading out loud or quotations is often an indication of bad preparation. Try instead to split the text up in different parts. Try to use as objective terms as possible, to explain the context and the connection in the text.
You do not necessarily have to use chronological order in the presentation – often the contributions are woven into the text several times in different places, and are therefore not necessarily in chronological order. Try to get an overview over the entire text – take notes.
Here is a list of questions that could be useful to analyse the text:
• What audience is the text directed to?
• What part of the “world” does the text about?
• Who is the author? (It is of course the text and not the person that is important, but it can sometimes be important keep track of who the author is)
• What is the agenda of the author? (Researchers and authors almost always have a hidden agenda that is presented between the lines. What are those and how is this done?)
• Who speaks in the text – user, author, other authors? What/whom are we presented to?
• What is the contribution of the text? Is it just presentation? Is it a try to convince us about something? Manipulate?
• What are the basic assumptions of the text?
• What is the primary position of the text?
• Does the author discuss other positions? – Classic versus the new way?
• What contradictions / dichotomies/ pairs of conceptions are there in the text?
• What are the dichotomies of the text, meaning what phenomena can be divided into two categories? What essential pairs of conceptions are used?
• Does the text raise critique towards something existing? Is the text a revolt towards traditional ideas – or perhaps even an indication about a shift in paradigms?
What are the relevant points for you and what do you wish to discuss? There will often be many good points in a text, but they are necessarily not all equally important. Focus on the most important for the task, but take notes on the secondary points to keep to yourself.
You should wait to interpret until you have presented the most important points of the text – if you interpret then point out that you do so! You are very welcome to play the role of the “author” to the text. Try then to understand the author’s argumentation and discussions and try to make them your own opinions. An author will always present the background for their hypothesis first, then the analysis and in the end will there be a discussion and and perspectives to the syntheses. Respect this simplified model in your presentation unless you have good arguments to change it.
The role of the opponent
The role of the opponent is not to be a real opponent, but to be a helping hand to the presenters. The task of the opponent is to create a discussion of the content and points of the text, but also the interpretation/presentation that the presenter contributes to.
• Do you know any other texts that present similar or different views?
• If you do not agree with the presentation, then try to explain why?
• Is there something in the text pointing towards a possible different analysis or conclusion or do you have another view than the author of the text?
It is also the role of the opponent to focus on the meta level of the text. How is the text constructed? Is that a respectful way to the communication of the message of the text? Readability? Layout? Language?
The opponent is welcome to start with questioning the presentation of the text. The questions should be a critique of the content of the text, the form of the text and the achievements of the presenter.(What was good? What should be changed?)
Do not forget to check the guide for how to analyse an article!
And the example of the article "Design: Cultural Probes" analysed with the reading guide.