Introduction: Values, Technology, and Design
What does it mean to build a technology that has a good impact on society? Can "values" even be built into technology? If not, does this mean designers have no responsibilty? If so, what values do technologies already have? How do they impose these values? How can we start designing with values in mind?
Technology, Design, and Social Impact
An introduction to the class. We'll review course mechanics, get a sense of the wide variety of approaches that have been used to design for a good social impact, and consider some of the possible social issues that come up in design.
. This is a great documentary about contemporary product design, with some discussion of social impact. Includes and an interview with noted critical designers Tony Dunne and Fiona Raby.
Values in design
How have values been thought about as part of design? We'll look at key perspectives from technology and product design.
: A classic reading on how to bring values into the design process along the lines suggested by Nissenbaum: Flanagan, M., Howe, D. and Nissenbaum, H. Embodying Values in Technology
. In Information Technology and Moral Philosophy
. Jeroen van den Hoven and John Weckert (eds.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 322-353.
We'll adapt Gaver's design workbook technique as a method to explore cultural and social issues in and through the early stages of design.
: Note: these papers, like many on the syllabus, are available only if you are logged in on Cornell networks. An easy way to get access from off campus is to use the Cornell Library's Passkey plug-in
Not feeling confident about sketching? For a great how-to, see Mike Rohde's article on sketching as a design tool
Another awesome paper describing design work drawing on speculative design is Gaver and Dunne: Projected realities
. For more on how we can think about designs as a form of conceptual reflection, see Bill Gaver and John Bowers. 2012. Gaver and Bowers: Annotated Portfolios
interactions 19, 4 (July 2012), 40-49.
Responding to readings through speculative design
We'll continue honing our skills at speculative design as a way to explore conceptual issues related to design.
The 'impact' of design
What does it mean to say that a technology design has a certain social 'impact'? How can we understand the consequences of design?
Edgerton: Significance (This reading - like all those without a web link - is available in the course reader for purchase as the bookstore).
Case study of values and impact in design: Modernist architecture
We'll look at a detailed example of designers aiming for social impact with their design. In part, they achieved these aims; in others, they were wildly off. We'll use this case to think through the complexities of how to approach social impact through design.
Scott: The High-Modernist City
Using design to persuade
One way in which we might create a positive impact is by using technology to persuade people to think or act differently, by providing new forms of information or by suggesting different ways to see what is happening around them.
Designing software and hardware to persuade people to alter their ways of thinking or their behavior, and thereby contribute to solving social problems.
Politics of artifacts
How do artifacts more generally 'persuade'? By what mechanisms do they encourage us to do some things and not others?
Political information visualization
How can - and should - we use information visualization to make a point?
Using game design to communicate political points of view..
Persuasion or coercion?
Reflecting on the politics and experience of persuasion
: In class, I'll also be covering this argument: Brynjarsdottir et al: Sustainably unpersuaded
Expanding our theories of social change
How do you decide what the problem is you are trying to solve? How can we expand our imaginations about how technologies - or non-technologies - can make change?
So far we've considered social issues mostly at the level of the interface and application, but sometimes social issues arise in the details of the code. Programmers may have difficulty knowing or addressing those issues, since they aren't generally trained in values. How could or should engineering practices be altered in order to embody different values?
Using open-source methods to expand the range of values embodied in contemporary engineering practice: why and how to.
Designing technologies to fulfill activist agendas.
Politics of algorithms
How do political issues become embodied in the details of how computer programs work? How could they become embodied in new ways?
: An oldie but goodie - Introna and Nissenbaum:
Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matter.
. This article explores the political consequences of search engine algorithms. It was the first landmark article to argue that search engines shape our political discourse, intentionally or unintentionally. While this article was written before the launch of Google (was there such a time?), its analysis is still relevant to search engines today.
The Silicon Valley theory of social change
How do IT developers in Silicon Valley frame how they are making a difference? What kind of a difference are they making?
Technology design beyond Silicon Valley
What alternative framings of technology innovation exist if we stop assuming Silicon Valley is its center?
Expanding participation in design
Until now, engineers and designers have mostly been in the driver's seat. Here we expand beyond experts in technology - how can individuals and communities be involved in design decisions that affect them? Can we use this to improve the design of technology and its impact?
Developing methods and philosophies for designing technology directly with non-technically-trained participants.
Mental health day
Everyone needs a break sometimes. Take one today.
Dialogic art practice
Art practices intended to engage communities and develop their abilities to comment on issues that matter to them
Challenges in participatory design
What happens to participatory design when it is deployed in complex social worlds that sometimes resist its central message.
Technologies act not only through what you can do with them but also through the ways they shape our imaginations of what technology could be, who it could be for, and what kind of lives it could fit into. In this section we'll look at the social meanings of technology and how to design explicitly to use and reflect on this dimension.
When the impact is the narrative
Sometimes - perhaps much of the time -the primary impact of a technology is not what it does, but how it shapes our imaginations of what is possible or should happen.
Guest lecture: Social impact in the real world
In this class, we'll talk with Jehiel Oliver, the founder of social impact start-up Hello Tractor. His company is developing a cloud-based system to allow small farmers in Nigeria to affordably rent access to tractors. Jehiel will tell us about his experiences in working towards social impact in the tech startup world.
Critical design as a strategy for reflecting on the social implications of technology and the design process itself.
Dunne & Raby: Chapter 4, Design Noir
Critical and speculative design workshop
Refining design techniques to express and question values and futures in design
Nov 23 - Thanksgiving Break
Afrofuturism as design fiction
Imagining alternative technological worlds and histories which start from experiences of the African diaspora.
Womack: Evolution of a space cadet (in the course reader)
Course review and wrap-up
Dec 8: Our regular 24-hour take-home final exam will begin at 2pm
Dec 10: Our back-up take-home final exam will begin at 4:30pm. If you want to sign up for this date, you must do so on CMS before Dec 1.