Everything: Make It Better

The Internet is a tool, and like any tool, whether it is creative or destructive comes down to how it’s used:

United Nations Proclaims Internet Access a Human Right http://rww.to/lDMw9n

When Social Networks Become Tools of Oppression http://is.gd/1veNN5

Many of the contradictions of the Internet are wonderfully contained in “Made for Humans: A Digital Manifesto”, on Crush+Lovely, whose mantra is:

  • Behavior can and does change through design. People respond to their environment.
  • There is no substitute for the richness of the physical world. Go out and play.
  • Digital remains in its infancy and will evolve for better or worse. Make it better.

At the 2009 World Economic Forum in Dubai, the Global Agenda Council on Design created a set of design principles based on the idea that “design is an agent of change that enables us to understand complex changes and problems, and to turn them into something useful. Tackling today’s global challenges will require radical thinking, creative solutions, and collaborative action.”

As MoMA curator Paola Antonelli puts it in Seed Magazine, this translates into a design approach that is:

  • transparent (complex problems require simple, clear, and honest solutions);
  • inspiring (successful solutions will move people by satisfying their needs, giving meaning to their lives, and raising their hopes and expectations);
  • transformational (exceptional problems demand exceptional solutions that may be radical and even disruptive);
  • participatory (effective solutions will be collaborative, inclusive, and developed with the people who will use them);
  • contextual (no solution should be developed or delivered in isolation but should instead recognize the social, physical, and information systems it is part of);
  • and sustainable (every solution needs to be robust, responsible, and designed with regard to its long-term impact on the environment and society).

What designer doesn’t aspire to these lofty goals? The trick is to get policy-makers to adopt them as well, and to recognize that society’s problems are often if not always in need of designer solutions.