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Communication Doctor

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 2 months ago

Communication Designer as Communication Doctor?

In the last 150 years or so, designers made most of their money helping people sell things, people or ideas. But it's starting to feel like the logic of selling stuff has changed to the point where the real value of design and especially communication design has to change.


In an information rich world, things are not sold so much as they are bought. When you can google prices and features in seconds, does "selling" make sense any more? When manufacturers created limited choice of products, the job of convincing people that what the manufacturer made, was what people wanted was a hard job.


But as the technology of customization is becoming common place in industry after industry, the job of selling is changing to - making stuff people want, making it easy for them to buy it, making the transaction pleasant so they will do it again.


So where does that leave the advertiser aside from getting the information about features and benefits to the right person at the right time?


With non physical products like music, movies and books, it can be much harder to figure out what people want. But when a Youtube video gets 2,000,000 views in a couple of days, you don't need to sell it. Just make it available.


The good news is that this finally frees the designer to do something a little more difficult, but much more important. The big problems of society create stresses that need great communication to be resolved without the danger of wars. Healthy communities and societies need healthy communication systems to grow and perhaps even survive.


The new sources of money that is being spent to solve pressing social problems has never been greater or easier to get. Health and education are the true "defense" industries of the 21st century. The global economy has created a world where the best defense strategy are healthy growing world communities that use the Earth's resources in a sustainable way for long term stability.


So what does this have to do with communication design.


The central craft skill of a communication designer is to get the right information to the right person at the right time...in a form that will be understood and acted upon.


Isn't that the central process of education?

Isn't that the central process that is needed for a sustainable health system?

Isn't that the central process that can lead to sustainable local development?

Every person on the planet needs "actionable intelligence."


This means a very different focus for the design perspective that started to explode in Europe when Guttenberg cobbled together a couple of different technologies to be able to publish books using movable type. In the 21st Century and at the global scale, the Communication Designer can bring an enabling perspective to help shape better outcomes from systems of human activites.


Maybe this means that designers have to think more like doctors?


Think like a doctor

Doctors have the longest tradition of managing the possible effects of interventions in living systems.


If communities are at least to an important extent communication systems, maybe there is something designer can learn from the way doctors think.


A doctor's activity is based on the practice of managing the outcome of complex input-transformation-output cycles, organized into systems within systems, that go on in the human body. They can't afford bullshit, becuase the results of their actions have very clear and important consequences.


But, they work with changing and imperfect knowledge of the systems they have to keep healthy. The best of them tend to be realistically humble in the face of a ulitmately unknowable complexity. Their practice - at it's best - is a model of collaborative pragmatism. No one doctor knows the most about every possible condition. That's why they are divided into expert specialities. An yet it is lead by an general practitioner or an internist to organize a network of experts to make the most likely to work decisions.


So, suppose the communication designers focused on the big or smaller problems - which often can be defined as communication problems - and intervened in the service of making the system more healthy.


How much money do you think someone would pay to fix the communication system of public schools systems and produce healthier education?


How much money do you think someone might pay to fix the communication system of health delivery so that it would become a healthier system?


What would be the value of intervening in the political process, stop focusing on advocacy of this or that solution, and focus instead on creating a healthy polticial system.


Maybe someday, instead of communication designer, people will start to describe it as Communication Doctor?

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