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Design Manifesto

Posted January 18, 2015 by Karen Lorena

Transformation of what we consider technology has been changing increasingly over the last few decades, what we consider now a “lighter- more interconnected” world is actually “heavier” and it is bringing us more apart than ever. The hidden wires of our cool “wireless” devices are in fact all over us, as Shannon Matters [1]writes” connectivity is neither as untethered nor ethereal as wifi implies”. Cities, instead of being wireless, are being rewired through highly reconfigurable paths of chipset. The wireless world as we perceive it is also a metaphor of the “free” relationship to technology we think we have.

“The rise of the web was a rare instance when we learned new, positive information about human potential. Who would have guessed (…) that millions of people would put so much effort into a project without the presence of advertising, commercial motive (…) people did something cooperatively, solely because it was a good idea, and it was beautiful.” (Lanier, 2010) From the creation of the world wide web, where, as incredible as it was, we all (as mankind) worked together in its creation to this day we have not yet figured out what is the proper way to design the world we are living in, and I am speaking here as Design in the broadest sense: economically, physically and digitally (to name a few). We do not know, as we also do not know about the cables underneath us, but we act as if we did since we do not take any precautions and not giving it a thought can bring to disastrous finale.

We should, as designers, place ourselves in the context and be able to know the ethical approaches we want to consider for the future. But rather than placing us in the context, we might need to place ourselves out for a second since it seems we are so immersed in the context that we cannot see it, and we need al this people to point out what should be obvious. But it is a difficult task to think outside what is happening and try to be poignant and spot how it is affecting us and what are we going to do about it.

For us, designers, we need to be aware of this and be aware of the catastrophe that is ahead us but without losing sight of the problem we are trying to solve. Knowing the catastrophe, we sense that although we live in catastrophe, we no longer live in condition where our future as a species can me assumed (Clive, Oct. 2014). All societies have a sense of the future. But the inability to think of the future contrasts with how we think of the future. That is what we should question ourselves as citizens and as designers: taking in account all the technological changes and the catastrophically world and try to avert or predict what will happen.

If we do not act hand in hand collaborating to reshape the future then someone else will. Big technology-driven corporations are already ages ahead of us, every time we give them more access to our information, and in a world where data is used as much as we used them, information and data are more valuable than we give it credit. With our current economic model the gap between the rich and the poor is more and more immense each day and centralization of design and technology (as is happening now) will lead to a few rich people controlling everything and all the rest of us struggling to survive in the bottom. Having us being whom they’ve used to place themselves on the top. “Capitalism does not contain an inherent tendency to civilize itself”[2], David Graeber said. That is our economical model but is it really working? We think that by having a free access to the World Wide Web we have a free relationship to technology, but what is what is a free relationship to technology, anyway? (Clive 2014) Is there’s such thing? Is there anything free at all? Information being free only gives power to s few, it sounds good at first. Anything that is “free” sounds good to us humans because it implies that you don’t have to make an effort to win it, it goes against everything that we’ve learned, unless we do pay for it, just that we do it without really being aware of it. Like Lainer said in he’s book “you are not a gadget”

“For instance, the idea that information should be “free” sounds good at first. But the unintended result is that all the clout and money generated online has begun to accumulate around the people close to only certain highly secretive computers, many which are essentially spying operations designed to gain information to sell advertising and access or to pull money the online elites aren’t necessarily bad (…) but nevertheless the structure of of capitalism for everyone in the long term.”

This is the question we should ask ourselves. Having free information is not entirely bad, what is bad is not having a well thought economic system that sustains it since it leads to centralization of power.

It all seems to come down to the money. Profit. It is absurd how progress can only be obtained by those who have the economic power to achieve it. Truth is globalization has not been inclusive, technology has not been inclusive and design has not been inclusive. We live in a world that is finite. It is finite in resources, and we have not finished putting our heads into it. By not having done it so far we have condemned ourselves to the artificial. Everything around us is this way because we are in an era where we wear down our resources and the use technology to satisfy our needs. We need to find a way to be sustainable and find a way you make a more inclusive technologic change.

This is why I think that design should be centered in what is good for the people not by “what would sell more.” I know this disrupts greatly with our economical system but I believe that if it was more humanitarian then we can all take a step together into rethinking the world and it will not only be in the hands of a few. Design should be more humanitarian; it should be think of with empathy to create tools that are useful for humans, mindful of the environmental aspect and socially and ethically responsible. By designing with a more humanitarian point of view technology will be used by humans and not the other way around (technology using humans). It would be able to understand the user’s desires and needs, being a mindful product.

This is also why designers must understand what is happening and be able to pass this knowledge. Currently, people know how to use software, but people do not know how to make it and write it. [3]We, as designers must learn to and be able to create interfaces that user can use expand their knowledge throughout these tools. Hopefully this will result in humans being able to understand technology and be able to engage in it so that we can together and collaboratively take a role in reshaping the future..

  • “Infrastructural Tourism” retrieved Oct 20, 2014, Shannon Mattern
  • Jaron Lanier, “You are not a gadget”, Knopf edition, 2010, x.0.
  • Savage capitalism is back” retrieved Oct 20, 2014
  • Heidegger, Martin. “Overcoming Metaphysics.” In The End of Philosophy, 102-110. University of Chicago Press, 1973.
  • JDouglas Rushkoff, “Programmed or by Programmed” (2011) Soft Skull press Berkley, 19
  • JHerbert A. Simon, “Understanding the natural and the Artificial World” MIT-Press, first edition, Cambridge, Massachussetts.
  • Clive Dilnot “2014. Class Design for this Century from Parsons the New School for Design, New York, NY, Oct 2014.
  • Clive Dilnot “2014. Class Design for this Century from Parsons the New School for Design, New York, NY, Sept 2014.
  • Clive Dilnot “2014. Class Design for this Century from Parsons the New School for Design, New York, NY, Sept 2014 mentioned: Ian Golding “Navigation or Global Future.”