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An Introduction to Hypermedia Diagramming for Engineering Design and Research

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Engineering design combines concepts from heterogeneous sources like personal experience, colleagues, digital and hardcopy media. Despite this challenge, support for thinking across levels of abstraction and between heterogeneous representations is widely neglected in digital support systems. Further, the relative isolation of existing software tools is not conducive to documenting thinking behind design work without substantial reporting effort. An emerging class of “hypermedia diagramming” software has demonstrated significant potential to help fill this gap. In order to reach their full potential within complex modern work environments, however, methods and theories require a great deal more development.

Nathan will attempt to integrate the literature across disciplines as well as a variety of field work to ground the already documented value of these tools and to address practical issues involved in their introduction to engineering design practice. Examples will be provided to show specific cognitive advantages for practitioners “thinking with pictures” and to highlight changes that may be required in visual literacy skills. The presentation will conclude by looking at applications of these tools to research activities such as meetings, literature work and qualitative data analysis.

This talk is part of the Engineering Design Centre series.

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