Unfixing design fixation: From cause to computer simulation

  • Dong A
  • Sarkar S
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This paper argues that design fixation, in part, entails fixation at the level of meta-representation, the representation of the relation between a representation and its reference. In this paper, we present a mathematical model that mimics the idea of how fixation can occur at the meta-representation level. In this model, new abstract concepts derived from the meta-representation are not simple combina- tions of the design ideas expressed in the primary representation. Instead, the process of meta-representation corresponds to the abstraction of new features at a higher, hierarchically separated level of representation from an existing one. We show a computational process of pattern extraction from existing design representations that results in the crystallization of design ideas or ‘chunks’ at an abstract level. The relation between the representation and its referent is explicitly described in these ‘chunks’, yet the ‘chunks’ have different properties from the properties of the original representation.

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