Today, we will examine the historical and philosophical roots of biocentrism, biomimicry, explore the quality of the relationship it presupposes with nature, and question its ecofriendliness. We will introduce emerging alternatives to biomimicry and discuss the challenges it promises.
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What I want to share is one way of thinking about how we’re going to design and build the technologies and the sociotechnical systems that we need for a Green New Deal, if such a thing is what we do want to build. And what that could look like through the lens of this community of practitioners that I’m part of, which is the Design Justice Network.
I think that Damian asked me here in large part to talk about this essay from last spring in Places Journal that begins pretty timidly with this line,
I don’t know when the myth of designers as climate saviors began, but I know that it’s time to kill it. Which as you can imagine got me invited to lots of dinner parties at Harvard.
I think we need to start thinking critically about things that we perceive as wholesome. Empathy has become a big business, and we ought to be able to examine it. Everyone’s always trying to diagnose disabled people. But I’m gonna have a little bit of fun. And I’m actually gonna diagnose all of you.
We should use our toolbox to make complexity understandable. We need to use the tools at our disposal to build data literacy by showing the context that data exists in. Because with that data, and with context around the data, we’ll be able to build understanding…
Rather than begrudgingly pushing society forward to be ready, I ask designers to critically reflect on the limitations of their own design practices and to remember that to design for one intersection of society—namely, affluent middle-to-upper-class white American men—does not mean that those designs will work for those who do not identify as such. Even with modifications.
I’m here to talk about digital culture, but a strange, very interesting aspect of it: how close it has brought us to nature. How much it has brought us closer to the dream, to the Holy Grail of all designers and architects and engineers and you name it, to do it like nature does because nature does it best.
I think it’s important to say that one thing about our work is that we are not fixated on the future as a strict linear progression. We start by acknowledging the fact that the future is not a fixed destination but a constantly-shifting and unfolding space of diverse potential.