I teach my students that design is ongoing risky decision-making. And what I mean by ongoing is that you never really get to stop questioning the assumptions that you’re making and that are underlying what it is that you’re creating—those fundamental premises.
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There is this very bizarre alliance between world-changing geeks on the one hand and policymakers who only care about outcomes. They no longer care about how those outcomes are arrived at. They have stripped politics of all meaning. All they want is to get people to do the right thing. They don’t care why they do it.
I’m here today to talk to you about food and design. About what’s cooking in design, and what’s designing in food. But most of all I’m here to recommend to you never to let designers decide what you will eat.
Some of my artist friends think what I’m doing isn’t art, and I’ve given up on art. It’ll take care of itself. You know. I mean it’s always been there, it will always be there, and we always know that new art never looks like art at first, ever. So why should this be any different? We just have to trust the process. And I would say that must be true for every other discipline.
“But how can you be so disciplined?” friends always ask when I tell them my job is to get up every day at 6 AM Monday to Friday and think up insane stuff. Easy. If I didn’t work this hard for myself, I’d have to go work for somebody else. Plus, I can go to my office one room away from my bedroom in my own house dressed in my underpants if I want to.
We live between despair and hope. No one knows why we are here, and nothing makes sense. Don’t forget that. You could ask yourself, “What is the point?” until you go crazy, literally. So, the starting point is to not know. And then to proceed.
Work on what you love. This is such an easy thing to say, and it seems so obvious. What else should we work on? What else could we work on? And yet the problem of aligning our passion and our production, our love and our work, remains one of the great life challenges that we face as artists, as designers, and as citizens.
We have to be aware that when you create magic or occult things, when they go wrong they become horror. Because we create technologies to soothe our cultural and social anxieties, in a way. We create these things because we’re worried about security, we’re worried about climate change, we’re worried about threat of terrorism. Whatever it is. And these devices provide a kind of stopgap for helping us feel safe or protected or whatever.
I often try to tell people that Google is not providing information retrieval algorithms, it’s providing advertising algorithms. And that is a very important distinction when we think about what kind of information is available in these corporate-controlled spaces.