My writing for my dissertation was done in a somewhat unorthodox manner and one which I know my adviser will not be too chuffed about to say the least, but I think it works. Instead of going straight into reading books and taking time to read through numerous ones before I put pen to paper, or in the case nowadays, fingers to keyboard, I took my proposal, which was already aiming straight and true in the direction that I was wanting to write about, took parts of it, and in a way, expanded them. Alongside, I would use all the internet based references found in the proposal along with others that I had bookmarked along the way, and wrote what I could call a first draft. Six thousand plus words in about a week, or if it is compressed into time of writing, about four days.
Now that the first draft is written using about fifty percent of the material I was hoping to use (alongside a rudimentary email based interview with a lecturer on Automotive design at Coventry University) I have started to read all the physical material that I hope to fully cement details and information in my writing. For most of the books, it is not the first time I have read them. For my proposal drafts, I read certain chapters of books in order to harvest the information I needed there and then, and it was more often than not, information regarding to the topic I was reading. Now, when I am going through the books again, I am reading it all, cover to cover, even if the information is not directly related to what I am writing about.
The first book that I have fully completed, and made basic notes about/from, is Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge. It is not an easy book to start with either at almost eight hundred pages. It is a retrospective of interacting with computers from the early days of Douglas Engelbart working at the Stanford Research Institute where he invented the computer mouse, leading through the process in the eighties of the creation of the subject of Interaction Design, right up until modern day technology and beyond. It details many different designers and showcases a lot of varied pieces of work that have in one way or another influenced the face of interaction design and even design in general.
Whilst there were small mentions about vehicles scattered throughout the book, the parts which I found most interesting were in the early chapters of the book. The early days of humans interacting with machines. It was in these chapters that I ended up making most notes about. The notes were, I should point out, basically a page number, where on the page the piece of information was that I found interesting, and a quick note to jog my memory when I look through them. Even though these chapters do not relate directly to what I am writing about, or even relate at all, I can make comparisons. Comparisons using examples that people can relate to themselves was a hint that I was told would help make my final dissertation stand out against everyone else’s.
One of the chapters I found least influential as I read through the book, and this came as a surprise to me, as I was very tempted to skip this chapter completely was about the future interactions, or to give it the name in the book: Futures and Alternative Nows. I couldn’t really connect to the information that was written on the page. Some of the designers interviewed spoke about projects that I couldn’t find interesting even if I tried, and I am being honest there. Even though I know who they are, as in I have had exposure to some of their work previously, I couldn’t help fell that their work was, in my opinion, going in a direction that I didn’t believe in. I am saying this even though they were not designers who design products to go on sale, but instead, designers who produce things for the purpose of being in an exhibition and to get people thinking.
To end on a positive, I feel that reading this book will evidently help me in my final year on my main project as well as my dissertation, not only by providing some insightful information about different products, their history and problems encountered, but just the sheer amount of knowledge it provides. It isn’t an encyclopaedia type book, or glossary so it isn’t quite one that you could just have on your shelf and look up when needed but it is useful nonetheless.