Ken + Jen Visocky O’Grady

October 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

On Wednesday, Oct. 27 the husband and wife, tag-team duo of Ken and Jen visited the Herron School of Art + Design auditorium for a speaking engagement. They recently published “A Designer’s Research Manual.” I had a chance to look at the book a few weeks ago and was impressed by the layout and presentation of a sometimes tough topic. Most research-focused books are targeted toward the scientific or scholarly fields so it is nice to see one written for designers, both students and professionals alike. Research is an often overlooked aspect of the visual communications/design process but, as the book description states, “In an increasingly crowded marketplace, embracing research practices will ensure a continued viable role for designers in business.”

I was excited for their appearance and to learn more about their views on design research. Unfortunately, they didn’t really speak about design research. Fortunately, they still gave an interesting presentation, one with valuable information for designers of all ages, and specifically for those transferring from academia to professional practice. Highlights for me included:

  • Design schools breed rock stars. We need more bands.
  • All designers have different skill sets. Know where your strengths are.
  • Maintain a crush list of designers, artists, business people, etc. Identify why you like those on your list and how they became successful. Write your list down. Reach out to them if you can.
  • Your competition may be your ally. Collaborate.
  • Celebrate every single victory. Not just your own.

Proposed Proposal Work

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

After submitting our proposals our instructor suggested insisted that we create an action plan for completing the proposal by the end of the semester (and as it turns out, creating a poster to share our proposal with others). I feel pretty good about where my work is at the moment and feel as if I my main work is in refinement and in getting feedback and/or approval so that I feel comfortable moving forward. Of course, now that I have my thesis committee members as well I need to begin establishing a working relationship with them.

I’ll tack a copy of my action plan near my desk, but if you want to check up on me you can download your very own copy as well.

On Draft: Thesis Proposal

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

flurry of activity

There was a flurry activity going on earlier this week and to close the last one as I prepared to submit the first draft of my Thesis Proposal. The proposal will be the final deliverable for this class so it is good to have a draft done with six weeks remaining. However, that does not give me time to relax and enjoy life as there is still much work to be done. It felt good to put pen to paper (or as the modern writer works, fingers to keys) and begin putting my thoughts in verbal/textual form. I had previously made visualizations that captured what I was researching and synthesizing but had yet to write logically about my research area. While it is tough to compose articulate, academic, appropriate prose, it felt good that my work and research areas came together as I had hoped knew they would.

There are 5 core sections of the proposal and I was able to get a healthy start on four of them. The fifth has a significant skeletal structure of my reasoning, but not a comprehensive argument. Regardless, I feel good about the state of my proposal and actually feel like a small weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

Click here to view a PDF of my first Thesis Proposal draft.

Please read and send me or post any comments that you have. Any feedback will be embraced.

Synthesize, Research, Repeat

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

I see.

Since we last spoke I’ve been continuing my research using the methods I described earlier. Occasionally I’ll pull out my note cards and sort them, looking for key facts and connections in effort to make sense of sensemake the mass amount of information I’ve been going through. I was able to build a nice visual that helped me better comprehend the connections and engage others in conversations about my topics – local government, citizens, communication, visualizations, and participation.

The image above represents one corner of my synthesized visualization. Click here to view the full visual.

Postcard from Researchburg

October 5, 2010 § Leave a comment


I’ve been traveling through the vast land of thesis research, reading books and articles the past week and am filtering through them, building my knowledge and stack of key fact cards. In the past week I’ve studied collaborative research methods, citizen participation in government, sense-making, and visualizations. The previous week I visited local government innovation and positive deviance.

After deliberation I’ve narrowed my focus to local government viewed through the design lens of visual sense-making.  After working as a designer for five years at a non-profit organization serving local government needs, I’ve developed an interest in the inputs, processes and outcomes of local governments.  In addition to the books and journals I’ve collected I come across insightful stories existing only on the web. Here is an interesting short article, a longer blog, and a website with beautiful and informative images I came across recently:

Graphing the Stimulus

Transparency is Not Enough (Web2.0 + government)

Information is Beautiful

My plans are to sort through my latest round of gathered info and develop a synthesis of the data. After that I plan to visualize and also write research questions. I’m feeling good about where this is trip is headed.

See you soon,


Where Am I?

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