Identifying and Exploiting Tacit Processes in Design Thinking: What Can Phineas Gage Teach Us about Making Better Systems?

Rob Gleasure, Sheila O’Riordan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


This study presents a design thinking technique that facilitates the discovery and exploitation of tacit processes in advanced system users. The design thinking technique targets tacit processes that have accumulated over prolonged periods of technology use, in the absence of conscious reflection. Such tacit processes may be impossible for users to verbalize, as the manner in which they have been learned means that users may be unaware that they exist. This makes them difficult or even impossible to uncover with traditional discursive and participatory approaches. For this reason, the proposed technique offers a means of ‘lesioning’ information sources, i.e. removing aspects of the information system and observing how and when behavior breaks down. This deconstruction allows dependencies to be exposed, resulting in a better understanding of tacit processes, and consequently, improved assimilation of them into design ideation. This technique is tested over multiple experimental iterations in the context of Twitter, a social network and micro-blogging service. These iterations present several insights regarding how users determine which users to follow, as well as how information is consumed on a user’s content feed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the The 3rd international SIG Prag workshop on ”IT Artefact Design & Workpractice Improvement" : ADWI 2014
Number of pages12
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event3rd International workshop on IT Artefact Design & Workpractice Improvement - Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany
Duration: 2 Jun 20142 Jun 2014


Workshop3rd International workshop on IT Artefact Design & Workpractice Improvement
LocationZeppelin University
Internet address

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