Introduction

John Thackara

What are the key success factors in setting up design research projects? In November 2004, jointly with Virtual Platform, we organised a meeting in Amsterdam for sixty project leaders from 10 countries to discuss this question. When inviting participants, we focussed on projects that addressed real-world issues or situations, were collaborations between more than two organisations, and which treated technology as a means, not as an end-in-itself. The format was a series of short project presentations interspersed by round tables. We divided the projects into three themes: Tools For Citizen Services; Resource Ecologies (eg Food, Space, People); and Design And Local Knowledge. Running through the day was the idea of project observation as a design research activity in itself. In learning from each others' projects, we also looked for ways to do it better in the future.