The research process has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past decade. This is partly a result of advancing technology, which has facilitated the widespread and decentralized availability of data. Since today’s design researchers have access to modern tools and methods for managing and analyzing this content, a new way of conducting research has emerged. Those entering the profession today are part of the generation known as Digital Natives, people who were born between approximately the years 1980 and 2000— people who grew up immersed in information and user-generated content. This is the Google generation, a culture that expects to have any fact, image or bit of information available with a few quick keystrokes and a mouse click. This freedom of resources enables an attitude of unfettered curiosity: Digital Natives are not afraid to try new interpretations of old processes. As a result, Digital Natives are more likely to adopt processes from various disciplines, incorporating and amalgamating principles from fields such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, design, and business.
Spurred by its newest practitioners, design research has evolved into a more holistic approach that explores the convergence of the equally important analog and digital worlds and examines the interaction between the two. In fact, the interplay even influences how research is conducted. Like the content itself, the way people continuously process, gather, analyze, and communicate information has also adapted. It is dynamic, ever-changing, agile, and never finished. This is not to negate the relevance of the traditional social science research processes, which still play a critical role in the field. Modern practices are not meant to change the intention of traditional research processes and methodologies, but rather to foster the natural adaptation of the way research is conducted by harnessing today’s ubiquitous data, tools and social behaviors.
This paper addresses the evolving tools and techniques that Digital Natives bring to the discipline, and what this shift means for traditional processes in design, strategy, and business. As society changes, researchers need to adopt new strategies for exploiting an abundance of content, dealing with ambiguity to create meaning, and taking advantage of the ongoing multi-directional conversation that technology enables.
|Keywords:||Digital, Design Research, Tools, Techniques, Social Science, Strategy, Human Behavior, Digital Native, Digital Immigrant, Generation, Content, Processes, Internet, Data, Methods|
Design Strategist and Researcher, Strategy and Research, Karten Design, Los Angeles, California, USA
Design Researcher, Strategy and Research, Karten Design, Los Angeles, California, USA
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