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Democratizing Collaborative Design

Update: Added a picture of the Envisionment and Discovery Collaborator table.

Professor Gerhard Fischer from Center for LifeLong Learning & Design(L3D) was at SAP Labs today talking about: Democratizing Collaborative Design: Meta-Design, Social Creativity, and the Long-Tail


Big words, every single one of them interest me – well, may be not the Long-Tail that theme is just too worn out 😉 Having all of them tackled in one session was very intriguing, so I skipped Toastmasters(sorry folks) today for this lunch talk.


Great Einstein quote on the first slide: Wisdom is not the product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.

Our plans for this year’s Future Salon is a series of sessions about learning and education, which made the theme even more relevant for me.


Here are my running notes:

Definition of  Meta-Design: Design for designers. Example is Second Life, which is designed for people to create their own space, giving them the tools to create.


Social creativity: Transcending the limitations of the individual human mind.   

Transformational Framework for the work:


Established framework                  ->         Framework for the future

School learning                         ->        Lifelong learning

Unaided individual human mind  ->        Distributed intelligence

Consumers                               ->        Active contributors (meta-design)

Learning when the answer is known  ->   Group learning when no one knows the answer.


To help the individual mind we humans developed the following technological aids that help us learn: Reading/writing, printing press, Internet, Web 2.0 technologies.  


With every step we are also loosing capabilities. Once you can write things down, you loose the capability to memorize things. Example: Since cell phones arrived how many numbers can you dial from memory?  Will this trend continue to improve our capabilities or have we reached the saturation point? Interruptions, that bring down your IQ, over-reliance on gadgets.


Meta Design: Democratizing Collaborative Design “Design for Designers” Very un-conference like and therefore a lot what we are doing at our Community Day. Didn’t know that we are Meta Designers 😉


What will make people contribute / share?

The equation of Utility = Value / Effort needs to be a high one for someone to participate.


Avoid information overload with Context Awareness. From anywhere, anytime, anyone to the right information at the right time in the right place in the right way to the right person.   


Goal is to identify the background knowledge needed for a task at hand in high functionality environments and provide exactly these. Asking:

What is the ‘task-relevant information’?


Creativity – For all of us?

Competitiveness beyond productivity.


The thinker of Rodin is the wrong image for creativity. 

Rudyard Kipling: “The strength of the wolf is in the pack, the strength of the pack ist the wolf.”


They created the Envisionment and Discovery Collaborator. A table that enables visualization and aids to collaborate. It brings people together.

In the slide above the Colorado city council really engaged when they were able to view their city in Google Earth and had the capability to see the changes for examples of new buildings to the city landscape. One comment was that these fractions for the first time really worked together, which proofs the power of architecture / design. 



New Challenge understanding the changing producer/consumer models in a consumer culture.


Long tail of education? How can we take advantage of information in the long tail?

– new synergy and hybrid model.

– Basic knowledge of skills


Cultural Literacy

– Standard knowledge is available that everyone should know?


Improvisations versus standardization

SAP example: Reduce the number of custom developments as a goal when upgrading. 



SAP / L3D Project: Giving all stakeholders a voice: Understanding and supporting the creativity and innovation of communities for using and evolving Software products.

I think they should take a very close look at SAPLinkas an excellent example for the community involvement in that innovation. 

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