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A Historical Primer of Political Artifacts

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A short talk from Design Engaged 2005 about the social consequences of design from a historical perspective. Understanding these consequences can help interaction design better understand and consider …

A short talk from Design Engaged 2005 about the social consequences of design from a historical perspective. Understanding these consequences can help interaction design better understand and consider the social consequences of its actions.

Published in Design , News & Politics
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Transcript

  • 1. A Historical Primer of Political Artifacts by Joshua Kaufman
  • 2. How this happened
  • 3. The idea • Talk about the social consequences of design from a historical perspective • Don’t include any modern examples • Use it as a basis for discussion on how current interaction design can better understand and consider the social consequences of its actions
  • 4. How artifacts have political properties 1. Invention, design or arrangement of artifact becomes a way of settling an issue in the affairs of a community (we live in this space) 2. Some artifacts are inherently political (we deal with these from time to time)
  • 5. Many examples of political design can be found in architecture and city planning.
  • 6. Rober Moses’s low overpasses
  • 7. Barron Haussmann’s thoroughfares
  • 8. Concrete buildings and plazas at universities
  • 9. Other examples of political design can be found in industrial machines.
  • 10. Cyrus McCorrmick II’s molding machines
  • 11. These examples show how artifacts can be used to increase the power, authority or privilege of some over others.
  • 12. But we often don’t inquire whether a device/artifact has been designed in a way to produce consequences prior to any of its professed uses.
  • 13. We must move beyond the language of ‘tools’ and ‘uses’ and look at the meaning of the designs
  • 14. Design intentions are not always malicious
  • 15. The mechanical tomato harvester
  • 16. How design choices affect the relative distribution of power 1. Yes or no choice 2. Specific features in the design or arrangement or an artifact after the decision to go ahead with it has already been made
  • 17. Artifacts are ways of building order • Devices allow us to order human activity in many different ways • Society chooses designs that influence how people are going to work, communicate, travel, and consume over a long time • Design is legislation • Careful attention needs to be given to seemingly insignificant features for they have the potential to divide and unite people
  • 18. Thanks