Tiffany Tseng PhD Dissertation Defense

May 6, 2016


MIT Media Lab, E15-341


Much of what we design today is mediated by digital processes, from digital tools and software used to create tangible and virtual artifacts, to online resources and communities that enable people to exchange design knowledge. Encapsulating information about how we design into shared digital formats introduces opportunities for democratized education, where people contribute to and use shared digital resources to support their learning.
In this dissertation, Tseng introduces a style of design documentation called make-throughs in which people construct personal narratives of their design process, enabling new opportunities for capturing effort, connecting with other like-minded creators, and reflecting on process. Tseng analyzes make-through documentation in the context of two platforms she created: Build in Progress and Spin. Build in Progress is a web-based platform for visualizing how design projects are developed, while Spin is a photography turntable system for creating animations of design projects over time. Through these platforms, Tseng investigates the following questions regarding capturing and sharing design process: (1) How can tools be designed to motivate and support the creation of process-oriented documentation?, and (2) What role can make-through documentation play in enabling reflective practice?
Through an analysis of shared documentation created using both platforms, interviews with select users, and observations of spaces utilizing the tools, Tseng reveals opportunities for integrating documentation into design practice and re-thinking documenting as an expressive and creative activity. Tseng shows how make-throughs support a range of motivations for sharing process, and based on these insights, she provides a set of design principles for learning environments, physical and virtual, championing documentation as a tool for learners to communicate their growth as makers.

Host/Chair: Mitchel Resnick


Maria YangAnnMarie Thomas

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