Design, Destruction, and Reading

Here’s what was important this week…

As the web and technology become ever more ingrained in our day to day lives, the role of designers becomes more apparent. Designers have been around since things began to be created, and according to one man, they’ve destroyed the world.

It’s a bold statement. But designers (architects, if you’re a designer of buildings and structures) have designed prisons, and even the solitary housing units (SHUs) that unconstitutionally detain inmates.

Mike Monteiro wants to change that. In his 45 minute long talk (it’s worth it, though I admit my attention was wavering at the 40 minute mark), he passionately declares that it is the responsibility of all designers to be gatekeepers for bad, and outright harmful, design. And he has a point. If something isn’t designed, it can’t be built (or at least, not very well). He calls on designers to recognize the power that they have, even if they don’t realize it.

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Location, Location, Location

Here’s what was important this week…

An article in the Guardian makes the case for choosing OpenStreetMap over Google Maps:

Place is a shared resource, and when you give all that power to a single entity, you are giving them the power not only to tell you about your location, but to shape it.

There isn’t just a responsibility in the users of maps to be conscious of the power that maps hold, but those who create maps, the cartographers, must also be aware that:

“maps are political, that maps exhibit and promote a political orientation. They’re about something. They have an agenda.”

He continues to say that cartographers:

“want to pretend their hands are clean: maps are just a tool. But you can do bad things with a tool and you can go good things with a tool. I’ve been suggesting to the hardest-edged people of all that they could put their epistemological and ontological arguments on a really firm foundation by simply acknowledging the fact that they are making the world.”(emphasis added)

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