Service Design at UC Berkeley
When I compiled my overview of US service design education last month I realized that one of the only service design programs west of the Mississippi river was right in my own backyard. Professor Robert Gushko from the UC Berkeley School of Information recently invited me over to their campus to take a closer look at what they’ve been up to.
As seems appropriate for the iSchool, their view of service design focuses on “information intensive” systems. They explore how information supports services. Another phrase that came up was “ruthlessly practical.” What does it take for a system to work in the world? What’s the information choreography?
The final projects from Information System and Service Design [PDF 12k] last semester explored messy problems involving a web-based textbook system, a smart bookstore, a student registration system for UC Berkeley and an energy management system for an apartment complex in Albany.
Two of the current students in the program, Jonathan Breitbart and Luke Rhee were kind enough to share their team presentations from the course.
It’s become pretty clear that there are almost as many different ways to approach service design education as there are service design programs. UC Berkeley’s program stakes out their territory near the service science end of the spectrum.
Many of the concepts, techniques, and curricula for service design originate in and emphasize person-to-person services. However, they do not fit well when person-to-person services are replaced or complemented by self-service, and hardly fit at all for automated information-intensive services.
The School of Information’s program definitely addresses this concern. They focus on the systems that support services. An understanding of these practical aspects is something more design students could benefit from.