Data, Design, Decision

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Data, Design, Decision Radcliffe Institute Exploratory Seminar

Convened by

Helen Kongsgaard Robert Pietrusko Charles Waldheim

Event Date



Fay House, Sheerr Room Radcliffe Institute 10 Garden Street Cambridge, MA 02138


Radcliffe Institute

Andrea Branzi/Archizoom Associati, No-Stop City, 1968-71.

“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” -- Herbert Simon, 1971 Recent claims around data and cities suggest that we may be on the verge of an unprecedented wave of information about the contemporary city. While tech­ nological and social change may in fact produce more and better information, the status of that information relative to decision-making has been a longstanding area of research in the design disciplines. Over the past half-century, the discourse and practices associated with design re­­ search have been proposed to describe the role of design in dealing with a surplus of data. In this formulation, design re­search has developed a particular capacity to

The Office for Urbanization Graduate School of Design Harvard University 48 Quincy Street Cambridge, MA 02138

arrive at innovative solutions and catalyze action, often in relation to novel, emergent, and data-rich conditions. More recent developments in the cognitive and behavioral sciences have shed light on creativity and decision-making processes. This exploratory seminar will examine contemporary understandings in the cognitive and behavioral sciences in relation to decision-making as informed by design thinking. What paradigms, historic and contemporary, are available for the role of design in the representation of data attendant to decision making? How might those models be informed by contemporary understandings in the behavioral and cognitive sciences? What import might those understandings have for the intellectual and professional commitments of the design disciplines? Featuring Beth Altringer, Joshua Epstein, Orit Halpern, Ghazal Jafari, Laura Kurgan, Jennifer Light, Shannon Mattern, Kiel Moe, Dietmar Offenhuber, Kelly Peters, Antoine Picon, Robert Pietrusko, Michael Rock, Eric Rodenbeck, Charles Waldheim, Roger White, and Andrew Witt.

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