Speculative Social Design Methodologies

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    Ridiculously Long Subtitle: A Design Process and Approach to Categorize a Community’s Social Systems as a Method of Change by Using People-Centered, User-Centered Sustainable Services, Developing Places for Designers to Work on Projects, Think Through Problems, Creating Objects and Experiences that ask, “How?”
     
    Speculative Social Design Methodologies is a methodical means of investigation that acts as a foil to my more typical means of learning through trial and error. It’s a critical look at the contemporary tendency to develop and define so many “new” social design methodologies, many of which are ultimately very similar processes. 
     
    After assembling a large collection of what I consider to be social design methodologies, approaches, and philosophies, I selected five actual methodologies or approaches and analyzed them down according to a set of variables: the number, arrangement, and content of the component steps or principles, the specified medium, and the specified functionality. I mixed and matched these deconstructed variables to create three new, speculative social design methodologies. I had differing degrees of control over the construction of these new methodologies; for example, every variable in Methodology #1 was randomly computer generated, leaving me with an inflexible, linear process that wouldn’t allow me even have a conversation with my audience. At the other end of the spectrum, I had complete control over choosing the variables that make up Methodology #3 and ended up with a much more iterative, flexible, and ultimately successful design process. I applied all of these new, speculative methodologies to a common, small-scale social issue: a single New York City resident who doesn’t vote in the primary elections.
     
    The primary goal of this experiment wasn’t necessarily to find a design solution that makes this person vote. The focus was on evaluating the methodologies against each other rather than measuring whether or not each individual methodology “worked.”