In Search of Truth: At the Crossroad of Critical Theory and Technology in the DesOps World

[This is the paper I delivered at Department of English, Baba Bhairabananda Autonomous Mahavidyalaya, Jajpur, Odisha ( on 16th July]


This UGC seminar session was an attempt to understand, from a non-traditional lens, the relevance of critical theory in context to today’s ever-changing technology space that is moving towards the Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Distributed Computing, become much more important in history than ever, as it deals with softer aspects of human identity and socio-cultural dimension through communication or human expression.

This interactive session will have two major focus:

1. A brief overview of the critical theories from a diachronic lens that will be helping the students in grasping the fundamentals in a socio-cultural context.

2. A cross-discipline comparison with the modern design-driven practices in the software industry that would help the students understand the potential and opportunities in the real world scenario where these theories would help.]


© 2018, Samir Dash. All rights reserved. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License

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Rourkela – The Illustrated Journey Into The Life Of The City Around India’s First Public Sector Steel Plant

A new type of history book about a city ..600+ illustrations, 270 pages , about India’s first public sector steel plant and a city around it… legends, facts, figures..about tribals, their life, about the British Raj and post modern Indian scenario..about how the steel industry came up in the remote area and how the city got into Narendra Modi’s smart city list..

A new type of history book about a city ..600+ illustrations, 270 pages , about India's first public sector steel plant and a city around it... legends, facts, figures..about tribals, their life, about the British Raj and post modern Indian scenario..about how the steel industry came up in the remote area and how the city got into Narendra Modi's smart city list..


Completely illustrated narrative about Rourkela, a city that become one of the iconic industrialization urban symbol in post independent India. A remote village of the ‘Roulia’ tribe, surrounded by dense forests and hills amidst India’s one of the mineral rich valleys, got selected by the makers of modern India to host India’s first public holding Steel and Iron company Hindustan Steel Limited. This story is the the journey of becoming one of the founding stones of modern industrialization of India. “History of a less travelled yet one of the cult cities of modern Indian town retold disguised as a compelling and gripping story through pictures” Explore the fine details about the place, it’s aboriginal, the migrant population, the culture and the impact of urbanization in social life. An unique experimental book of it’s own kind.




How UX Fits in Different Models of SDLC?

In my last post “Challenges in UX integration with different SDLC models” we explored about the challenges of fitting UX into different SDLC models. I would like to extend that discussion in the current post.


he pre-agile era saw many attempts of UX getting fitted into the waterfall and it’s derivative models of SDLCs. Such attempts by the many developers were natural outcome of the post-projects disasters, where ‘design’ was never the personality of “software product engineering” and the lack of usability doomed the products even after the initial set of requirements check list was fulfilled.

More demands for Graphic User Interfaces (GUI) in software application (due to GUI’s power to offer better visibility and power to the end users) tempted the developers to follow emerging UX practices which included a task to add “design phase” to existing SDLCs. Waterfall model was good enough to accommodate a notion of design in its phases and become popular despite its limitations (which later pave paths for Agile era). Most of the design approaches and techniques created during this era were having mostly a goal “to eliminate any deviation during the development process, by telling the developers exactly what we expect of them”.

Let’s see how different models of SDLC accommodated UX differently in the following:


Waterfall model

In this process the developers follow the different phases described in the previous section in order.




UCD components in Waterfall model:

Historically the waterfall model of SDLC can use the UCD components in its engineering process and the product to translate the “set of requirements into something beautiful”. It is relatively simpler and easy to spot the to spot the areas within different phases where UX can be easily fits in as each phases are clearly














In this model once one phase is finished, it proceeds to the next one. Reviews may occur before moving to the next phase which allows for the possibility of changes. Reviews may also be employed to ensure that the phase is indeed complete; the phase completion criteria are often referred to as a “gate” that the project must pass through to move to the next phase. Waterfall discourages revisiting and revising any prior phase once it’s complete.


Spiral model:

In this model deliberate iterative risk analysis, particularly suited to large-scale complex systems happens at a predefined frequency. It emphasizes risk analysis, and thereby requires customers to accept this analysis and act on it. So the developers typically spend more to fix the issues and are therefore often used for large-scale internal software development.

The Spiral is visualized as a process passing through some number of iterations, with the four quadrant diagram representative of the following activities:

  1. Formulate plans to: identify software targets, implement the program, clarify the project development restrictions
  2. Risk analysis: an analytical assessment of selected programs, to consider how to identify and eliminate risk
  3. Implementation of the project: the implementation of software development and verification




Because of frequent risk analysis and more effort spent by the developer to analyze the risks accurately, the cost factor goes up in the project.


UCD components in Spiral model:

In Spiral model, the UCD design can work across different quadrants of activities. The first quadrant where the objectives are determined, the usability and user research can happen as this is where requirements are planned. In the second quadrant the activities involving risk identification can best use UX activities involving IA and prototyping. The third quadrant of development and testing can utilize consultation and usability testing. The final fourth quadrant of activities can be used for feasibility evaluation and setting up usability metrics and bench marking for the next release.





















Iterative development model

This method helps to develop a system through repeated cycles and in smaller chunks at a time, allowing software developers to take advantage of what was learned during development of earlier parts or versions of the system.

Incremental development divides the system functionality into increments (portions). In each increment, a portion of functionality is delivered through cross-discipline work, from the requirements to the deployment. The unified process groups increments/iterations into phases: inception, elaboration, construction, and transition. It identifies scope, functional and non-functional requirements and risks at a high level which can be estimated. 

Applying this model to multidisciplinary complex project with large volume can come with a risk as inability in the developers part to uncover important issues early before problems can spoil the project.















UCD components in Iterative development model

In this model each iteration cycle can be divided into different activities phases to incorporate UCD methodologies for UX integration. Each iteration activities block that are mostly split across concept, design, build and test phases can be used for different UCD activities.
















Agile development

This is perhaps today’s the most widely used SDLC model. It uses iterative development as a basis ,but uses people-centric viewpoint through user feedbacks rather than planning as the primary control mechanism. The feedback is driven by regular tests and releases of the evolving software.

There are many variations of agile processes “:

  1. Agile Data (AD)
  2. Agile Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF)
  3. Agile Modeling (AM)
  4. Agile Unified Process (AUP)
  5. Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM)
  6. Extreme Programming (XP)
  7. Feature Driven Development (FDD)
  8. Scrum
  9. Usage-Centered Design (UCD)



UCD components in Agile development

This is the most popular and successful SDLC model as of today as it allows better scope in providing continuous and iterative refinement to the product.


Historically when developers out of their frustrations with waterfall model turned to the growing Agile Movement to regain their control over the process, they found that “like its ancestors, Agile also didn’t take UX into account. Several of the Agile methods, such as Scrum and XP, recommended users sitting with the team during the development process, but that isn’t the same as design. Everyone who figured out how to get what they wanted from plugging UX into a phased waterfall approach was now struggling to work inside the Agile methods. The Agile principles, that focus more on communication and less on contracts, didn’t fit the status quo UX processes”. So efforts were made again to implement UX into Agile methods just like the way it was implemented into waterfall model . But it was not easy as , in waterfall model there are 2 things which helped implemented UX :


  1. The objectives of the project stays same from kickoff to the point where the finished product is launched.
  2. The designers created the set of design specifications as a contract which the developers had to implement into the final product.


And above two cannot be expected from Agile model as it is based on iterations and gradual exploration of what is best fit for the final product . On ejust simply cannot predict the final design from the start of the project. So many attempts were made to get the best agile SDLC practices that can incorporate the UX , before “Lean UX” was born.


As the above figure shows the documentation and guidelines are stripped to their bare minimum components, providing the minimum amount of information necessary to get started on implementation. Also Long detailed design cycles are discarded in favor of very short, iterative, low-fidelity cycles, with feedback coming from all members of the implementation team early and often.

(c) 2013-14, Samir Dash

Jayanta Mahapatra’s “Relationship” is available for iPhone/iPad/Android and as Standard eBook Formats




Relationship by Jayanta Mahapatra.

published by


Original Price: $2.00   

Promotional price: $1.40

Coupon Code: BG98H

Expires: December 31, 2014

Available eBook Formats :

Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps) Download
Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others) Download
PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing) Download
LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don’t support .epub) Download
Palm Doc (PDB)

Jayanta Mahapatra needs no introduction. Any discussion on Indian English Poetry is incomplete without reference to his poetical works. Mahapatra holds the distinction of being the first Indian English poet to have received the Sahitya Akademi Award for the current book “Relationship”. “his international reputation has been compared to that of Wordsworth…”

The Hindu, Sunday, Jan 29, 2006

‘History’ in Criticism – the ‘Other’ Side of the Story (Part – 1)


[Fig: Michel Foucault]

Focault and his contemporary post structuralists might make it a part of his consciousness that ontological studies of literature leads towards a future of studies without a point of convergence, as knowledge necessarily entails power relationship – that the moment one attempts to define in strict tones some aspect of ‘text’, it becomes something else. Exploiting this power relationship of knowledge with the interpreter’s environment (which is essentially socio-political). Said in Orientalism, adopted a different methodological standpoint – the method of “historical generalization”. And after publication of Orientalism the subaltern poststructural critics like Spivak termed it as the “source book” for the related disciplines  to which she belongs. The reason to present this fact is that, I want to direct our attention to one distinguish point of today’s criticism – that the so called anti-historic criticism (like post-structuralism) lead the way to point a fault i.e. “ontological interpretation” is never free from bias and thus it gives way to ‘historical generalization’ or (more specifically) to ‘use of history in critical interpretation of texts’, to which it is totally against. That means, in plain words, through the structuralists and post structuralists, deconstructionist distorted history, by assigning it the title of a ‘system’ with changing ‘center’ (For instance, Derrida thought his articulation of his deconstructionist ideas as an event, and this he showed as a process of change of “center” – by replacing “metaphysics” with the “deconstruction”, at the center of our belief system), they later paved the way (through Focault’s theory) for a new mode of interpretation where history plays an important role – in post colonial, subaltern and Oriental studies (more specifically in the words of Said and Bhaba).

Thus the most interesting point that comes to our notice is the relationship between two modes of idealism – one that supports the use of history and the other that is totally against the use of history in the study of literature are infact are the two sides of the same coin. This point as we observed in case of modern critical theories, tempts us to examine its validity in every phase of critical history itself, and in the following I am attempting to give this temptation , a mode of reality.


[From my essay with the same title written in December 2003]


© Samir K. Dash, 2003

Two oldmen


Two oldmen

Two oldmen met each other
One entered from a door
The other leaving

Both smiled at each other
Talked insane to the other
One has learned this world
The other yet to
One thing common
Both innocent at the moment
Rest too complex to explain
Like life itself!


“Two oldmen” (c) Samir K. Dash: 2011,

All Rights Reserved. No part of the above poem(s) can be published any where in any form (electronic or non-electronic ), with out the written permission of author. However you can direct yours links to this page in your websites.



Small hole in my heart

Let’s all emotions loose

Now is hence but a dry pot

Where lonely wind screams

At its solitude.


“Solitude” (c) Samir K. Dash:  2011,

All Rights Reserved. No part of the above poem(s) can be published any where in any form (electronic or non-electronic ), with out the written permission of author. However you can direct yours links to this page in your websites.