8 Digital tools for creative hinges

Sean Hanna

Distributed intelligence in design

For nearly half a century, digital tools have been used in design not merely as a means of speeding up or automating various aspects, but to allow us to see, analyse and produce what we are designing in substantially different ways. To the extent that intelligence is distributed across a group of collaborators in the design process, the manner in which communication is mediated by such tools has a marked effect on what they produce. If knowledge and creativity, rather than being products of a single mind, are emergent properties that result from this collaborative work, computation might thereby aid in realising this powerful distributed intelligence in design. But what does design itself involve and what sort of intelligence is necessary?

I propose here that there are two roles for technology in communication and the emergence of design ideas: rationalisation and innovation. The primary focus of our effort and understanding currently and in the past has been on the former role, but perhaps the most interesting and untapped possibilities exist for the latter: innovation. The reason these are as yet underdeveloped is partly technological, but is also rooted in conceptual and philosophical views of cognition and intelligence more generally that were current nearly 50 years ago when the first CAD software was being proposed. We have inherited these, and their very powerful implementation in working ...

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