Update on a year of field work (en Français)

Dans le cadre de la collaboration avec l’Espace Éthique Île-De-France depuis le 10/02/2015, ce bilan d’activité présente nos avancées.

 

How to… writing a PhD thesis

Courtesy: © Og-vision | Dreamstime.com
Courtesy: © Og-vision | Dreamstime.com

This post is not about how conducting research. The best hints I found on that subject come from: Turabian K.L., 2003, A manual for Writers, of Research, Papers, Theses and Dissertations. This post is about the challenge of writing effectively – and it will be completed along my redaction process.

Writing a PhD thesis is hard work, indeed. But what makes it different from other similar tasks?
Working on a report or a story, spending any long-period of labour on a computer… own all common points with the one of writing a PhD thesis. It remains however different, as: it engages yourself, your integrity and identity and therefore, it is oriented toward a specific jury as well as a larger community, it must evidence originality and demonstrate anchoring into shared roots… this activity is closer to building an exhibition for a competition than writing a novel!

Things I’ve learnt (on myself) during the writing process.
Indeed! the most specific part of that activity remains in the fact it is personal. It becomes a path towards knowing self better. This explains why there is no one method, but several redaction hints to try out.

  • Wide and open spaces are good for inspiration, but are distracting
  • Busy places & seing friends is good for stepping back, but opens the way to small talk
  • Tiny and closed spaces are good to focus, but (can) dispirit and dries motivation
  • Meditation is good to break distraction, but should not replace a real break
  • Routine is necessary to avoid starting it all-over again every morning, but does not go well with isolation!

Reflection: How presenting design projects in a research publication (and especially a PhD thesis)?

Image courtesy: https://expertadvantage.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/getting-your-hands-dirty.jpg
Image courtesy: https://expertadvantage.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/getting-your-hands-dirty.jpg

I struggle to chose a way to present my design projects in the manuscript of my thesis, I relay here my random thoughts.
Why presenting a detailed account of a design project, to proof one is a good designer? That would not be part of the desired knowledge shared in a research. It makes sense to detail a design project and its progress steps when design choices and the whole work-in-progress experience generated knowledge that informed the experiment (ie. adjusting the design of the artefact or the one of the experiment protocol). Therefore, if one needs to support a project presentation with something else than text, what would be relevant?
After a quick brainstorm, I came up with three modes for presenting design project along a PhD thesis – this need to be discussed, corrected, mixed and/or combined.

brainstorming - how to publish design practice based research
brainstorming – how to publish design practice based research
Two challenges in publishing design-based research:

What is an appropriated format for design research publication? And especially research through design, within a PhD thesis.
After a quick brainstorm, I came up with two main challenges due to the nature of design artefacts – indeed, they are aesthetically “experienciable”.

  • Challenge 1: text does not provide material/aesthetic perception of artifacts (from photos/videos, to exhibitions, to demos, to experiment – one-shot or period of time)
  • Challenge 2: there are 2 different agendas in a situated design projects (client/project agenda + peers/experiment agenda

 

Challenge 1: visually and aesthetically supported publications
As I see it, behind all the publication question resides in particular two motivations: easing access of design trained researchers to the “production” and “reception” of knowledge. As an answer to this, various formats in the design and HCI communities tend to leave more space for visuals (Pictorials, extended abstracts, work in progress…). However, if a publication is essentially visually supported: how could it be relevant for the research community as well as for non-researchers (designers)?

Let us build on the Pictorials example and ask: what could be pictorials evaluation criteria? according this is a young and evolving format, dedicated to the DIS community.
1 contribute – to scientific knowledge
2 benefit – from being visual
3 crafted – relevantly and professionally
4 text – role, should accompany
5 format – is original

 

A step further would be to wonder, from a more general point of view, how to optimise the text-visual ratio in a visually-supported publication? Inspired by the DIS pictorial format guidelines, I would suggest that:

• visuals have to create a narrative on their own;
• work in progress documentation is only shown if it generated knowledge that strongly informed the design of the artifact or the experiment itself;
• text must not describe (repeat) visuals, it might reveal minutia or extract meaning from linking disparate content;
• Merging findings and discussion might make the presentation more concise;
• Give hints on how to exploit the knowledge produced;
• If pictorials are injected in a thesis: say a word on how it relates to the experiment/whole thesis.

But still, formats as pictorials have present many limitations : how can the layout design enhance the overall aesthetic and functional experience of getting the paper’s content? Is this format similar to the take-away section of a prior (referenced) paper. Then, is the pictorial format confined to be an illustrated case study, or the illustration of a previous paper? Does its restricted amount of text makes it dependent to older research work? Does it contribute to creating a trans-media research publication strategy for authors?

How to go beyond visuals when aesthetically presenting a design project, within a PhD thesis? I would suggest enhancing the reader (or PhD thesis jury) experience of the project, aside of the reading, thanks to:
• Photos, videos, website
• Postal shipped prototype
• Exhibition
• Defense as a performance
• Trans-media (combining the previous propositions)

 

Challenge 2: presenting a situated design project
There are 2 different agendas in a situated design projects (client/project agenda + peers/experiment agenda. I therefore propose two modes for presenting design project along a PhD thesis, using pictorials. Here follows the text description of the brainstorming picture above.

 

Pictorial Mode:
Here, project agenda and experiment agenda are separated to make the research contribution clearer. Imagine this section organization along the thesis manuscript:
• Expé abstract
—• Proj abstract
—• Proj context, demand, client
—• Proj work in progress, answer
—• Proj user test & results (for client)
• Expé related work, questions, hypo
• Expé méthode, protocol
• Expé factual findings
• Expé discussion

Annexed Reflection Mode:
Here the last section allows to reveal the dirty reality of the work in progress phase, and how it informed the making of the experiment. As shown in the picture, this is Inspired by Wendy Mackay triangulation across disciplines diagram ( example) (check also Samuel huron’s PhD thesis defense rework version). Imagine this section organization along the thesis manuscript:
• Expé abstract
• Expé related work, questions, hypo
• Expé méthode, protocol
—• Proj abstract
—• Proj answer
—• Proj user-test
• Expé factual findings
• Expé discussion here or later?
• Expé/Proj interwoven annexed reflection on how the design process influenced experiment adjustments

This last mode is describe in the next picture/brainstorming.
2016-03-02 18.10.35

 

Discussion:
Please, feel free to comment this blogpost, this is a work in progress. I will update this Discussion section later on.

References:
• Wendy E. Mackay and Anne-Laure Fayard. 1997. HCI, natural science and design: a framework for triangulation across disciplines. In Proceedings of the 2nd conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques (DIS ’97), Susan Coles (Ed.). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 223-234. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/263552.263612

Viral videos about war in Syria

Same subject, same medium (video), but two different media strategies (& different aims): getting people interested VS learning something & engaging reflection regarding what we hear in the press.

It feels like emotion and knowledge do not go together. Playing with emotions would ruin the scientific credit of a serious video. Nevertheless, should (the great people of) gap-minder team try unsettling our emotions to also go viral? To be noticed, the medium are diferent in the video (fiction VS interview + data-visualisation), but this difference is minor, as making something emotional is also doable with interviews and dataviz.


VS

Project: Design fiction, the construction of publics – Iteration-1.4 – Experiment & feedback

Next steps of the project here 0. Hypothesis, 1.1 Discovering, 1.2 Defining & Developing, 1.3 Delivering.

I’ve been commissioned by the head of a research department at INRA to propose design artefacts that help scientists take new perspectives on their work. The aim is to discuss social, cultural, economical, juridical, ethical implications of these researches.

Here are the results of the questionnaires. More details on our thoughts on these results to come soon in this blog post.

2014.11.27-expe-01

2014.11.27-expe-02

2014.11.27-expe-03

2014.11.27-expe-04

To get this picture removed, please send an email to maxmollon[at]gmail[dot]com
Pour supprimer cette image de ce blog veuillez envoyer un mail à maxmollon[at]gmail[dot]com
To see more faces & reaction from the audience: check this private post

Project: Design fiction, the construction of publics – Iteration-1.3 – Delivering

Next steps of the project here 0. Hypothesis, 1.1 Discovering, 1.2 Defining & Developing, 1.4 Experiment & Feedbacks.

I’ve been commissioned by the head of a research department at INRA to propose design artefacts that help scientists take new perspectives on their work. The aim is to discuss social, cultural, economical, juridical, ethical implications of these researches.

The main topic is: “Challenges and Opportunities of the BigData for Predictive Biology”. In clear, how does massive statistics turns diagnostics into prognostics – based as much on DNA sequencing as on more general users datas. The targets are scientists and practicians from the fields of medicine and agronomy (plant and animals). The deliverable is a series of scenarios materialising relevant problematics/controversies in the field, presented as a solo poster session aside a one day conference on November 28th 2014.

We proposed 4 posters covering 4 main topics related to BigData and Predictive Biology. Thanks to a questionnaire we collected participants’ impressions. Questionnaires, informal interviews, audio and video recordings of the situation were used mainly to identify the next public where to show this itinerant project.
Team = Charles Chalas (discovery phase), the Sociable Media group (development phase), Jeremie Lasnier (defining and delivery phase), Fred, Juste & Annie (delivery phase).

Here is the questionnaire + the results + the 4 posters.

design_fiction-bio_predictive_big_data-conference-mmollon


Subtlety is a key component. The audience of the conference had voluntarily access to a framed portion of informations, under the shape of these posters. The subject is so vast and the sub-problematics are so numerous, that four scenarios – containing specific trails to specific issues – were the best way to let scientists engage with our approach. Indeed, a poster combines one general topic and clues to sub-problematics. Therefore participants would recognise one or another sub-issue depending on their own sensitivity.

Why hiding these informations (the articulation of problematics between and within each scenarios, plus the path that lead to the generation to these ideas)? Because they were not generated by (or in close collaboration with) scientists. We believe our scenarios to still highlight relevant problematics for biologists. However, if we would have provide those hidden details, we believe participants would pay less attention to the consequences of these scenarios into society and the probable link to their research. Indeed, when we shown them in private, one participant sought to correct our “designer point of view on a biology topic” in terms of precision and scientific validity.

About these details, we could organise the sub-problematics suggested by these scenarios into several dimensions, like a “design-space”. However, in order to respect the medium used during the conference and to reveal the suggested problematics, we just updated the posters, as you will see now.

design_fiction-bio_predictive_big_data-details-mmollon

These four scenarios explore the consequences of three main topics: DNA sequencing; DNA selection; DNA reprograming. They were generated using home made “cards” specifically made for this project, they decompose a list of main problematics and concepts associated to Big data & biology (find more in the previous blog-post). Another key for reading these scenarios is this text. I wrote it to summarise my understanding of the subject – prior to the scenarios making phase:
L’ADN est vu comme le plan du vivant et donc, le programme de développement biologique d’un individu (bactéries, plantes, animaux, humains). La biologie prédictive quant à elle, promet d’exploiter les données issues du séquençage de l’ADN pour prédire un état de santé le long d’une vie (horizontalement) + prédire la transmission d’un patrimoine immunitaire à une descendance (verticalement).
La lecture de l’ADN, le traitement à l’échelle génétique et la restructuration de caractères d’un ADN a différents types d’applications pour la médecine.
La prédiction vient comme 3e paradigme de la médecine s’ajoutant à la prévention et la thérapie, elle complète l’outils diagnostic par celui du prognostic.
L’état et (les prédictions de) l’évolution d’un système immunitaire dépend du patrimoine génétique + condition physique + facteurs environnementaux (épigénétique).
La prévision n’est possible qu’avec le croisement des données des trois catégories précédentes, le défis principale étant celui de l’analyse de ces données (passer d’une donnée, à une info, à une connaissance, informant des prises de décision). Plusieurs autres défis : croiser les bigData issues de la bio et ceux issues des différentes couches de la société, inter-connecter ces données très hétérogènes par leur type et format, trouver des personnes ou des algorithmes aillant les compétences d’en extraire du sens.
L’épigénétique et la microbiotique tendent à transformer les pratiques de la santé: les êtres vivants (dont l’humain) sont conçus comme super organismes (composés de nombreux organismes) dont l’analyse et le soin se rapproche de celle d’un écosystème : un système complexe interdépendant.
Un exemple: une manière d’étudier l’état du système immunitaire animal est le séquençage de l’ADN des bactéries de la flore intestinale au travers des selles.
Mission:
Explorer les conséquences concrètes de ces avancées de la recherche pour le monde domestique, sous forme de produits fictionnels. Plus des articles de drug-stores que des produits futuristes/fantasmés.
Posture:
Le Design Fiction cherche à soulever des questions chez l’audience quand au monde dans lequel on vit, et ce, par la confrontation avec des produits de design venus d’un autre monde et dont la conception repose sur d’autres valeurs que celles que l’on connait.

“Objets à conversation”: les scénarios d’usages et les comportements fictionnels – parfois frictionnels – qui les entourent sont autant de “prises” pour engager autrui dans la réflexion et ouvrir une discussion.
Souvent, ces produits montrent une version domestiquée voir banalisée d’une technologie émergente afin de spéculer sur l’impact de ses usages potentiels, comme une anthropologie d’anticipation.

Project: Design fiction, the construction of publics – Iteration-1.2 – Defining & developing

Next steps of the project here 0. Hypothesis, 1.1 Discovering1.3 Delivering, 1.4 Experiment & Feedbacks.

I’ve been commissioned by the head of a research department at INRA to propose design artefacts that help scientists take new perspectives on their work. The aim is to discuss social, cultural, economical, juridical, ethical implications of these researches.

After collecting an enormous amount of data I went through a processing phase where some colleagues and I tried to define more tightly the topic (we could call this reframing the brief, or building a ‘design-space’). Then we began developing ideas. Here are pictures of the key steps of this process.

There are three main problems in this project: a double complexity (span and depth) and the inter-dependency of all these elements as a complex system.
• The topic cover a large span from biology (plants, animals, humans) to computer science (software, hardware), linked by statistics & prediction;
• For each sub-topic the depth of actors involved is comparable to russian puppets, including many levels of sub-problematics (e.g. from society to family, to a human, to organs, to tissues, to cells, to molecules, to atoms. We could do the same in the bio-informatics sub-topic);
• In each of these layers every actors are inter-related, each layers is also inter-related, these topics are therefore like a giant ecosystems composed of sub-ecosystems.


The mission here is to identify relevant problematics in the domain. Different ways of orgainsing this complexity were therefore used to grasp a sense of understanding of the issues involved. For instance, Latour‘s actor network theory was a source of inspiration when tying to list the series of actors surrounding a tumor. I therefore tried to draw “the path” that takes a tumor (among actors) when a patient gets sick / gets a treatment. We could do the same with actors working around a piece of hardware on a computer dedicated at deep-learning. We could also find more theoretical inspiration in complex system studies.

2014.11.00-define-02
The span of complexity of this topic, from biology to computer science and statistics

2014.11.00-define-04
Actors in contact with a tumor + circulation of genomic data needed for tumor analysis
2014.11.00-define-05
Different layers of ecosystems in a living entity – like fractals
2014.11.00-define-08
Summary of key problematics of the topic, key associated concepts and list of existing practices correlated to these concepts (First (successful) draft (but 6th attempt))
2014.11.00-define-11-cards
Clean version of this summary taking the shape of “cards” to play with in a design session / workshop
2014.11.00-define-13-cards
Cards summarising the general topic: Big data and predictive biology

I therefore summarise the topic with the following text in order to introduce a team workshop.

L’ADN est vu comme le plan du vivant et donc, le programme de développement biologique d’un individu (bactéries, plantes, animaux, humains). La biologie prédictive quant à elle, promet d’exploiter les données issues du séquençage de l’ADN pour prédire un état de santé le long d’une vie (horizontalement) + prédire la transmission d’un patrimoine immunitaire à une descendance (verticalement).
La lecture de l’ADN, le traitement à l’échelle génétique et la restructuration de caractères d’un ADN a différents types d’applications pour la médecine.
La prédiction vient comme 3e paradigme de la médecine s’ajoutant à la prévention et la thérapie, elle complète l’outils diagnostic par celui du prognostic.
L’état et (les prédictions de) l’évolution d’un système immunitaire dépend du patrimoine génétique + condition physique + facteurs environnementaux (épigénétique).
La prévision n’est possible qu’avec le croisement des données des trois catégories précédentes, le défis principale étant celui de l’analyse de ces données (passer d’une donnée, à une info, à une connaissance, informant des prises de décision). Plusieurs autres défis : croiser les bigData issues de la bio et ceux issues des différentes couches de la société, inter-connecter ces données très hétérogènes par leur type et format, trouver des personnes ou des algorithmes aillant les compétences d’en extraire du sens.
L’épigénétique et la microbiotique tendent à transformer les pratiques de la santé: les êtres vivants (dont l’humain) sont conçus comme super organismes (composés de nombreux organismes) dont l’analyse et le soin se rapproche de celle d’un écosystème : un système complexe interdépendant.
Un exemple: une manière d’étudier l’état du système immunitaire animal est le séquençage de l’ADN des bactéries de la flore intestinale au travers des selles.

One of the design steps we took was to list existing practices potentially associated to big data & biology (thanks to the cards shown previously). Here is a non exhaustive list of them. (Thanks Emeline, Ferdinand, the Sociable Media team for your help)

Je pense body hacker bien sûr, et donc rfid/prothèse/contrôle de membre à distance
-
L’oreille de Stelarc, bien sûr http://poubellebleue.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/oreilles.jpg (qu’il a fait poussé sur une souris qui en est morte :( )
Je pense aussi au projet du RCA (je crois) d’organes de remplacement chelou.
Et à the brood, d’une part le rapport corps/esprit/symptôme, mais aussi la manière dont elle le réingère et se réagence http://www.homecinemachoice.com/sites/18/images/article_images_month/2013-08/the%20brood%2001.jpg
Regarder aussi de ce côté : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LI69BQO
-
La question de l’agencement est centrale d’ailleurs. Par exemple aux US on opère préventivement pour retirer les seins/l’utérus/l’appendice dans pas mal de cas. 
Comment on apprend à vivre avec une partie du corps d’un autre ? http://sante.lefigaro.fr/actualite/2013/05/31/20631-apprendre-vivre-avec-mains-dun-autre 
Je ne pense pas qu’il y ait beaucoup d’études sur la question, mais les premières pistes que j’avais entendu supposent qu’il faut une très grande flexibilité du soi de la personne greffée pour que ça marche, tant sur un plan physique que psychologique (coucou les membres fantômes)
Du côté des greffes tu vas avoir plein de choses je pense. Si on fait pousser des organes, on veut qu’ils soient performants. On va essayer de trouver la compatibilité maximale etc.
On a des coeurs artificiels, des vagins artificiels, des larynx artificiels…
-
Toutes les opérations de chirurgie esthétique et notamment autour du changement de sexe concernent ta problématique : on déconstruit un corps pour le rendre plus adéquat. Et d’ailleurs, même si ça va peut-être enfin changer, toute personne demandant un changement de sexe en france est stérilisée… Biologie prédictive, on y est.
-
Enfin, je pense à “l’eugénisme discret” : avec les tests de dépistage de la trisomie, les mères avortent dans 80% des cas. Il y a déjà de la biologie prédictive. On ne veut pas la voir parce qu’on ne veut pas se poser ce genre de questions. 
Oh et bien sûr, les “déshandicapages” à la naissance : assignation d’un sexe aux intersexes, appareillage des sourds avec des implants cochléaires…
-
Aujourd’hui j’apprends qu’il y a eu un boycott massif de Nestlé, qui est responsable de la mort de millions de bébés dans les pays peu développés (année 70 power)
Le lien suivant m’apprend qu’on fait du fromage à partir de lait humain et de bactéries du nombril http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131202-human-cheese-food-biology-weird-gastronomy/
-
Oh j’oubliais les poules de Koen Vanmechelen http://www.koenvanmechelen.be/
———
Les Survivalistes qui stockent des quantités astronomiques de bouffe dé séchée
La trichophagie, les gens qui mangent leurs cheveux en masse
Petit memo flashback il y a 1 an, le buzz sur la drogue des zombies qui rendait soit disant les gens cannibales.
Beaucoup plus sérieux, les haïtiens obligés de manger des galettes de terre pour survivre.
Dans les usages classiques d’aliments pour se soigner:
Coca pour mal de bide
Thym Miel pour rhume
Busserole et herbes pour les cystites
Café pour lendemain de cuite
Chocolat pour la deprime
Carottes pour le politesse
Chewing gum pour la mémoire
Pommes pour les dents
Les épinards qui rendent fort
La bière dans les cheveux pour se blondire
Le champagne derrière l’oreille pour porter chance

More pictures on the ideas development here, soon. While waiting here is just some raw pictures.

2014.11.24-define-19-micro-workshop2014.11.26-develop-05-wip

2014.11.26-develop-06-idees_a_scanner

Thanks to the sociable Media Team, Charles Ultrazapping and Jeremie Lasnier for their help.