Probing - two perspectives to participation

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Practitioners from different fields of design and research apply the ‘Probing’ method as means of getting a better understanding of their users and to inspire their designs. During the 15 years since its first appearance, the probing method has been extended for deployment in different contexts and for different uses. In this chapter we first briefly introduce what probes are about, then we look at probing from two perspectives: (a) as a process of collaborative discovery and learning, and (b) as a tool for entering the users’ contexts. We illustrate these perspectives through cases in which probes have been introduced in educational and professional environments. Based on the findings, we discuss how a making process of probes can engage a design research team to the issues of concern, and present a set of problems and challenges encountered while probing professional work. Finally, we propose a set of considerations for designing probes for different purposes.




Mattelmäki, T., Lucero, A., & Lee, J. J. (2016). Probing - two perspectives to participation. In Collaboration in Creative Design: Methods and Tools (pp. 33–51). Springer International Publishing.

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