Academic journal article Visible Language

Global Interaction in Design

Academic journal article Visible Language

Global Interaction in Design

Article excerpt


Based on a virtual conference, Glide'08 (Global Interaction in Design Education), that brought international design scholars together online, this special issue expands on the topics of cross-cultural communication and design and the technological affordances that support such interaction. The author discusses the need for global interaction in design and its impact on design education and research. Authors in this issue are introduced.


Research occurs worldwide, and the scholarly dissemination of any new knowledge that its processes might reap usually quick starts with a conference presentation. Attending an international conference used to mean traveling by car, train or airplane to a hotel or university situated remotely in another part of the world, to deliver a verbal and visual presentation about one's work. Today, however, a conference presentation can mean something more eco-friendly and democratically accessible. The development of technologies for low- and high-bandwidth contexts and synchronous and asynchronous communication has created opportunities to bridge geographic divides in conferencing and enable virtual presentations- even global collaboration in the classroom.

GLIDE (Global Interaction in Design Education) is a biennial, virtual conference that I organize through the AIGA, the professional association for design. GLIDE aims to bring new voices to the discourse in design research and contribute new knowledge to the discipline's body of work on the technical and cross-cultural facilitation of global interaction in design. Using existing technologies for asynchronous and synchronous communication, GLIDE disseminates the research of scholars from anywhere in the world whose proposals are accepted after a peerreview process. One of GLIDE'S goals is to reduce the carbon footprint created by conferences around the world each year through the primary use of a virtual format. Virtual conferences, like GLIDE, democratize the dissemination of new knowledge by providing low-cost (void of transportation and accommodation expenses) venues for refereed scholarly presentation and open-access to published scholarship. Participants who might have been prevented from attending because of lowincome, lack of institutional support, physical disability, visa restrictions, parenting situations and elder care now have greater access. Thus, virtual conferences have the potential to become invaluable resources for future generations of scholars interested in the conference's interrelated topics.

The virtual format for conferences has precedence within design and other disciplines (e.g. art). For instance, in an email message to the doctoral listserv of the Design Research Society, Australian design researcher Ken Friedman states:

"...This is in essence the model that David Durling and I pursued at La Clusaz.Jn the run-up to the face-to-face conference, Chris [Rust] and I whipped up an informal and highly successful on-line debate. At one point, I wrote something on whether Picasso could have earned a Ph.D. Chris grabbed that idea and channeled the spirit of Zeke Conran to put forward some stimulating ideas. I responded by nailing some theses on doctoral education to the digital doors of the old DRS list. I challenged people to a debate and we were off. The debate lasted from April 2000 through the end of June 2000, just before the conference. In 2003, PhD-Design hosted a more formal on-line conference on Design in the University. We started by looking at plans for a new design school at University of California Irvine, and the conference ran with formal contributions, responses, and debate from 14 November to 18 December. In 2006, Chris and the Sheffield group took on-line conferences to the next level with a conference connected to their UK Arts and Humanities Research Council project reviewing practice-led research. This took place on a dedicated JISCMAIL list, it last[ed] three weeks with weekends off. …

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