Facing Factoids: GIS Pseudoscience in Agency of Design, a Warning

By Hans Curtis Herrmann.

Published by The International Journal of Design Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As collegiate architectural research centers engage expanded issues of study, conditions of fact and fiction often become difficult to discern. Engaged by communities to provide expertise and guidance, a voice of surety is required but what exactly are we sure of? How do we guide with conjecture? The ability to distill subjective data and draw meaningful conclusions is a trademark of design research centers. The work presented is reflective of an effort to put a cogent Face on somewhat questionable facts while studying how educators might approach information design with a professional ethic. Facing: Facing puts image to data, it attempts to fix a reading of what is important and how that data is useful to the future. This investigation finds it’s footing particularly difficult to delineate in that the work confronts a mass of largely subjective data coupled with slippery issues of political interest. How does one assign an image to such issues? Factoids: The word appears in the Oxford English Dictionary as "something that becomes accepted as fact, although it may not be true." However, the word can sometimes mean an insignificant but true piece of information. In either formulation, factoids are potentially factual, just not self-evidently so. This work seeks to coalesce factoids as relevant yet clearly provincial assertions in the agency of design guidance. Conclusion: At the community design center we find ourselves in the presence of many things potentially factual but not clearly so. Much of the work of our center is the distillation of “soft-data” and application of reasoned interpretation. Emphasizing ordered logic and hieratical value this research confronts two important themes of representation and “Factoid Facing”. One is a linear reasoning and projected implementation while the other considers the totality of the issue in an attempt to open the reading for additional consideration.

Keywords: Information Design, Community Design, Information Ethics, GIS, Design Analysis

The International Journal of Design Education, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.11-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 584.084KB).

Hans Curtis Herrmann

Assistant Professor of Architecture, School of Architecture, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi, USA

Hans Curtis Herrmann, AIA, LEED Green Associate, ASLAS, is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at Mississippi State University focusing on Collaborative and Comprehensive Design studio education including Design|Construct as a method for improved learning. Prof. Herrmann offers seminars on building technology, site design, representation, and the adaptive Superuse of materials and sites. His teaching and research address Design|Construct Pedagogy as an element of Foundation Design and the role of Collaborative Design|Construction as a function of accountable if not sustainable development. He holds a Master of Architecture from Clemson University and is completing a Master of Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University. As a licensed architect in the state of New York, Prof. Herrmann developed a special professional interest with issues of residential design and construction and the role of architectural renovation as a means of ecological practice. Before entering academia Prof. Herrmann worked with several east coast offices including Lubrano Ciavarra Design and the firm Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects, an Architectural Digest Top 100 design firm located in New York City. While practicing in New York, Prof. Herrmann worked on projects across the US including homes in Martha's Vineyard, MA, Bedford, NY, San Francisco, CA and Miami Beach, FL. Prof. Herrmann currently maintains his own design practice as the sole practitioner of H. Herrmann Design, an multidisciplinary practice offering design and construction logistic/supervision services. Published research and awards include areas of Community-Based Design|Construct, Landscape + Contemporary Urban Design including issues of GIS, Foundation Design Pedagogy, and Alternative Media + Architecture.